Fee for Intervention delay
Published: 16 Mar 2012
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has this week announced that its "Fee for Intervention" cost recovery scheme is not going to go ahead in April 2012, as planned.
The scheme sets out to recover costs from those who break health and safety laws for the time and effort the HSE spends on helping to put matters right, through investigation and enforcement action.
Gordon MacDonald, the HSE's programme director said, "The Government has agreed that it is right that those who break the law should pay their fair share of the costs to put things right. They intend to proceed with the FFI scheme as recommended to ministers by the HSE's Board in December in response to the formal consultation that took place last Summer. Discussions are still taking place on the technical details of the scheme, which we expect to conclude soon. Therefore, the FFI will not be introduced in April but at the next available opportunity, which is likely to be October 2012."
The HSE is taking advantage of the extra time to work further with businesses to improve their understanding of the scheme and how it will affect them. It is hoped that detailed guidance for employers and organisations will be available on their website by the time the FFI scheme comes into force.
New GB Control of Asbestos Regulations
Published: 15 Mar 2012
Revised Control of Asbestos Regulations SI 2012/632 have now been published and will come into force on 6 April 2012.
The new Regulations have been made in order to comply with a legal opinion issued by the European Commission which determined that the previous Asbestos Regulations SI 2006/2739 had not fully implemented the relevant European legislation.
The main change is that employers carrying out some types of non-licensed work will now be required to notify that work, make sure the employees carrying out such work have medical examinations at least once every three years and to keep a record of the work carried out by each worker. However there will be a three year transition period until 30 April 2015, before the new requirement on medical examinations comes into force.
The core requirements of the previous Regulations to carry out a risk assessment, plan work, put in place suitable control measures and train workers are all unchanged. The work for which a licence is currently required is also unchanged, as are the requirements relating to licensed workers.
For more information, see:
- Proposals for the Control of Asbestos Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012, which outlines the current situation in Northern Ireland.
Permitted development rights extended
Published: 14 Mar 2012
Permitted development rights in England are being extended to include the installation, alteration or replacement of microgeneration equipment on non-domestic buildings. The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order SI 1995/418 provides such permitted development rights, which means that certain specified developments can be carried out without the need for planning permission as the permission is already granted through the Order.
In 2008, permitted development rights were extended so that microgeneration equipment, such as solar PV, could be installed, altered or replaced in relation to domestic buildings. However, from 6 April 2012 those rights will be extended so that an application for planning permission will not be required for the installation, alteration or replacement of the following in relation to non-domestic buildings in England:
- solar PV or solar thermal equipment;
- stand alone solar;
- ground source heat pump;
- flue, forming part of a biomass heating system on certain buildings;
- flue, forming part of a combined heat and power system, on certain buildings.
However, these permitted development rights have strict conditions and limitations that have to be followed in order for the development to be carried out without the need to apply for planning permission.
Hosepipe ban to be imposed
Published: 14 Mar 2012
A hosepipe ban has been imposed on parts of Southern England as water levels still remain low. At the end of February, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman hosted a drought summit called in response to very low groundwater levels. At the time, Ms Spelman warned of a possible hosepipe ban, which has now come to fruition.
Southern Water, South East Water, Thames Water, Anglican Water, Sutton and East Surrey, Veolia Central and Veolia South East are going to be enforcing restrictions on water use from 5 April as the South East and East Anglia face the worst drought in 30 years.
Although the drought conditions are mainly contained in the South East and East of England, the Environment Agency has warned that drought could spread north as far as East Yorkshire, and as far West as the Hampshire-Wiltshire border. As a result, some measures to save water are being pushed onto businesses and farmers to try and mitigate more restrictions later in spring.
Farmers are expected be amongst the worst affected, particularly those who grow fruit and vegetables. A reduction in production could mean that the price of fruit and vegetables increases whilst water is scarce.
The hosepipe ban means that hosepipes cannot be used on gardens, plants, cars or boats for "recreational use", to fill ponds, pools or fountains, or to clean paths, walls, windows or other artificial outdoor surfaces. If someone breaches the ban, then they could be prosecuted and fined up to £1,000.
Ms Spelman said a temporary ban would, "Help protect the public water supply in the areas most affected by the record low levels of rainfall we have experienced over the last 17 months. We can all help reduce the effects of drought by respecting these restrictions and being smarter about how we use water. Taking action now to reduce how much water we use will help us all in the future."
Some tips to save water include:
- taking shorter showers;
- collect water you run from a tap and use it to water plants;
- install a water saving device in the toilet;
- turn off taps when brushing your teeth;
- fix dripping taps;
- don't overfill the kettle, only boil what you need;
- only use the dishwasher and washing machine when there is a full load.
For more information, see the:
- Water Use (Temporary Bans) Order SI 2010/2231.
Council fined for accident
Published: 14 Mar 2012
Durham County Council has been fined £13,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,212.50 after a groundsman lost his left arm in a wood chipper machine in 2009.
The 25-year-old man was working in Spennymoor on 4 August 2009 cutting back bushes. When feeding the trimmings from the bushes into the mobile chipping machine, his glove or sleeve became caught on the machine itself, which dragged his left arm into it. Although co-workers managed to shut off the power to the machine, the Council worker's arm had been severed at the shoulder.
Surgeons at the James Cook University Hospital were unable to save any part of his arm, and could only treat the shoulder wound.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the potential for injury whilst using the machine was known to the Council, but they had failed to take it into account in any risk assessment. It also discovered that the worker's gloves or high visibility vest had become entangled in the trimmings he was feeding into the machine. Durham County Council admitted that it had failed to ensure the safety of an employee.
Victoria Wise, prosecuting for the HSE, said, "This was a tragic but avoidable incident that resulted in a young man experiencing a traumatic loss. Anyone who has reason to use machines like this should take note of the harm they can cause. It is essential that the machine has the appropriate safeguards and is adequately maintained. Operators should have had the relevant training and be provided with the correct personal protective equipment."
She added, "Specific health and safety guidance on the use of wood chippers was produced in April 2003 which clearly advises the use of non-snag outer clothing and gloves that are close fitting or tucked into the sleeves to stop them being caught on the material as it is fed into the chipper."
For more information, see:
- HSE Information Sheet, on Power-fed mobile wood chippers - Operator protection at infeed chutes;
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations SI 1998/2306;
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations SI 1999/3242;
- Personal Protective Equipment Regulations SI 2002/1144.
Ignoring EU environmental laws costs 50bn euros every year
Published: 09 Mar 2012
Member States' failure to implement environmental legislation is costing the EU around €50bn each year in health and environmental clean-up costs, the European Commission stated in a recent Communication.
The Communication on better implementation of EU environmental law seeks to emphasise the benefits of green laws, stating that fully implementing EU legislation would not only cost industry €72bn less than ignoring the rules, but also generate an additional 400,000 jobs.
Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said, "EU law is not an invention from Brussels; it is democratically adopted by all Member States and the Parliament for the benefit of citizens. Our environment is protected by some 200 pieces of well established law, but all too often they are not properly applied. This doesn't just harm the environment - it also damages human health, leads to uncertainty for industry, and undermines the Single Market. In a time of crisis, these are costs we cannot afford."
The Commission goes on to say poor implementation is often exacerbated by a lack of accurate information on environmental issues and patchy monitoring efforts. It suggests Member States can improve the effectiveness of their response to actual or potential problems by stepping up inspections and surveillance, allowing greater access to justice in environmental matters, and building knowledge sharing between countries and agencies.
The communication will now be passed over to the European Parliament, Member State ministers and the public, with the outcomes forming part of the forthcoming 7th Environment Action Programme.
For more information, see:
- http://cedr.ec/2v, Commission Communication on improving the delivery of benefits from EU environment measures, COM (2012) 95.