News

COVID-19 advice
Published: 07 Apr 2020

Here at Cedrec we have received many queries in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and compliance with health and safety legislation.

In order to help you all out, we've put together this In Focus to address some of your main areas of concern, and provide links to useful guidance on Government and relevant agency websites.

This In Focus will cover:

We'll also keep this page updated as things progress.

Does health and safety law still apply?

Now more than ever, the health, safety and well-being of employees should be paramount.

The employer's duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 is arguably more important in this current crisis than it ever has been before, not only to ensure the health and safety of their employees directly, but also because of the potential impact it can have on their families and loved ones.

This means that health and safety legislation still applies as it did prior to the outbreak.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have issued a joint statement alongside the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Confederation of British industry (CBI), in order to express their regulatory position in relation to the current COVID-19 pandemic. They have stressed the importance of maintaining the health and safety of workers, and enforcement action that they will pursue in light of organisations breaching guidance of Public Health England on social distancing.

There will be some derogations and exemptions to this which will be provided for by either the Government or agencies like the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSE NI) or Environment Agency.

Derogations and exemptions

Unless specifically stated in Government or a relevant agencies guidance that there is a derogation or exemption to the law due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the law will continue to apply as it always has done.

These are current derogations and exemptions that have been published so far:

Risk assessments

Due to the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, employers need to continue to make sure that an appropriate assessment of the risk is carried out and measures put in place in line with current Government advice.

Control measures will depend on the level of risk and type of workplace and should not reduce the level of protection afforded by existing measures. For example, keeping fire doors open to reduce touching potentially contaminated door handles may seem like a sensible idea, but it creates increased risk. Instead, appropriate regular cleaning and advice on hand hygiene is more appropriate.

Remember to communicate these new measures put in place to all relevant employees and others at the place of work.

If any work needs to be carried out at locations outside of the employer’s workplace, employees should:

  • comply with site rules;
  • take into account the Government guidance on good hygiene practices and social distancing;
  • consider any other persons who may be affected by their work. 

For the most up-to-date COVID-19 guidance for businesses in your country, see the links in the Useful Sites section of this In Focus.

Social distancing

One of the main areas of concern we've had from our customers is regards to maintaining social distancing in the workplace. Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to work from home and particularly in workplaces where their job roles make them key workers, a lot of you have been asking if the two metre social distance measure announced by the Government is mandatory in the workplace.

So for businesses we advise that you review your risk assessments in line with the advice on social distancing and consider safe working practices. If a task is critical and must be carried out, can it be undertaken in a different way that allows for social distancing and employee/contractor safety, or are there other measures you can implement to reduce and control the risk.

Certain work tasks will make a two metre distancing between employees difficult. Government guidance says that "where possible, maintain a two metre distance from others". 

Remember to check if you have contractors on-site, what additional safety measures are in place for them.

In Wales the Government have went one step further and announced legislation applying the two metre social distancing rule to any workplace in attempts to protect workers from the virus.

All businesses will have to take all reasonable measures to ensure the two metre rule is maintained between people on their premises whenever work is being carried out. This rule also applies to work at homes, where work and repairs are being carried out, and any work in outdoor spaces.

For more information, see:

Homeworking

Ideally, if you can work from home, then you should.

Remember as an employer your duty of care still extends to employees when they are working from home.

The HSE have a specific page on protecting home workers.

In relation to display screen equipment assessments, the HSE say that those working from home on a long term basis must have a workstation assessment.

Those working from home temporarily are not an increased risk, so employers in this instance do not need to do home workstation assessments. With many of us now working from home on a temporary basis, we are also aware that we may be doing so for months to come, however there is currently no further guidance as to what constitutes working form home on a long term basis when the requirement for a DSE assessment would kick in.

We have a specific In Focus covering this topic, Homeworking and COVID-19.

This provides information on:

  • things to consider;
  • flexibility;
  • remote and home working without supervision;
  • equipment and technology; and
  • stress and mental health.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Requirements for any additional PPE will be informed by a revision of your risk assessments. Current guidance only requires social distancing and hygiene measures for hand washing or sanitising.

Some job roles may require additional PPE as a control measure identified in a risk assessment. Where this is the case it is important to ensure these are suitable and appropriate for the task and do not increase the overall risk to the employee.

For more information, see:

Where additional PPE has been used and it may have been contaminated with the virus, there is additional guidance that covers the dipsosal of such PPE:

The Environment Agency have also issued a temporary exemption in a regulatory position statement:

If you do decide to use disposable PPE as an extra precaution, you should adhere to the following Government advice for disposal of it:

  • double bag the PPE;
  • leave it for 72 hours; and
  • dispose of it in the normal waste stream.

For more information, see:

Statutory testing and inspections

Many businesses will have upcoming equipment inspection deadlines, thorough examinations and planned maintenance and are uncertain about what to do in such circumstances. 

Currently there are no exemptions or relaxation of the requirements on inspections for work equipment, statutory inspections and maintenance.

Employers legal duties remain in place as a failure to undertake inspections can significantly increase the risk of harm to workers and members of the public. Under certain circumstances with the agreement of a suitable competent person, some legislation allows the postponement of examinations and statutory inspections, but the duty-holder is still responsible for ensuring the equipment is safe to use.

The HSE have issued a statement to clarify the duties of employers at this time, see:

RIDDOR reporting

There is no statutory requirement to report cases of COVID-19 in the workplace under RIDDOR (the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations), unless there is a direct link between an employee’s work and contracting COVID-19.

Examples of this would include:

  • health care workers who are diagnosed with COVID-19 after treating patients with COVID-19 - they would need to report an exposure of a biological agent;
  • a lab worker accidentally smashing a glass vial containing coronavirus, leading to people being exposed - they would need to report a dangerous occurrence.

The HSE have a specific page on RIDDOR reporting of COVID-19.

Useful Sites

England

Wales

Scotland

Northern Ireland

Other

Cedrec and COVID-19
Published: 20 Mar 2020

In these uncertain times, we feel its right to let you all know what we're doing here at Cedrec in light of the on-going development of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The health and wellbeing of our staff is the most important thing. So we have made sure that we follow the Government's advice, and as of today, everyone at Cedrec will be working from home until further notice.

Business as usual

We wanted to reassure you that you won't see any disruption in our services.

Our Writers are still writing, our Consultants are still consulting and our customer care and sales teams are still...well, available to help you with anything you need!

Also, our phone system and all our phone numbers are working as normal, so if you have a point of contact you can ring though and speak to them. Any general queries you may have will be forwarded, as they always are, to the right person.

Our Consultancy services

If you've contacted us about Registers of legislation or Aspects and Impacts, our Consultants can work through everything with you over the phone and email your reports to you as we would normally.

Any site visits that may be necessary for us to get a better look at things are postponed for now, and we'll pick them up again when Government advice changes and things are back to "normal."

So if you had one booked in with us, or wanted one, don't worry you won't miss out! We'll make sure you get one later.

Training courses

All of our Recharge Courses and our Environmental and Safety Manager courses are unavailable until July. We'll review the situation then, in line with Government advice, and hopefully be able to start offering them again.

Monthly online demos

Our monthly online demos of Cedrec will continue as normal, albeit potentially from someone's kitchen!

You can book onto those as normal here.

Stay safe!

So there you go. Whether you're in the office or working from home, Cedrec is still there to keep you updated!

As usual, if you need anything, or we can help in any way, just drop us a line.

A manufacturer of a steel gate has been fined after an eight-year-old girl was crushed at a London primary school.

Westminster Magistrates' Court heard that in May 2018 the girl was leaving a gymnastics club when the sliding gate fell on her. She suffered multiple fractures to her pelvis as well as internal injuries.

The sliding gate, which was more than five metres long and 1.7 metres high, was designed and manufactured by Metalart Fabrication Limited. The company installed the gate at the school in February 2018, after a paper delivery lorry damaged a previous, two-leaf swing gate.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the mechanism in place to prevent the sliding gate from overrunning and falling over as it opened, was insufficient if the gate was opened robustly.

At the time of the incident, when the gate was opened it became disengaged from the rollers holding it up, which due to momentum caused it to 'ride over' the stop. With nothing to hold it in position, it fell onto the girl.

The morning after the incident the company made changes to the gate's stop mechanism which was verified by a HSE specialist.

Metalart Fabrication Limited pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, was fined £19,327, including full costs of £1,147 and a victim surcharge of £180.

HSE inspector Sarah Whittle said: "The failure to fit suitable end-stops meant that the gate was an accident waiting to happen and could have fallen on anyone at any time with life threatening consequences".

An agency worker at E.G.L Homecare Limited suffered a severe crush injury to his arm as he attempted to remove dirt from a press roller.

He was working on a production line that glued sponge to abrasive sheets to make scourer sponges. His role was to remove the sheets of scourer sponges from the conveyor onto a pallet, when his right hand got dragged into the nip point of two in-running rollers, up to his shoulder.

The worker was diagnosed with forearm compartment syndrome, a painful condition caused by bleeding or swelling within an enclosed bundle of muscles. He had an operation on his arm and had to stay in hospital for six days.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company failed to provide a tunnel guard on the press roller to prevent access to the rollers.

E.G.L. Homecare Limited pleaded guilty of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations SI 1998/2306, was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,314.08.

HSE inspector, Carla Barron, said: "This incident could have been avoided had the company properly assessed the guarding arrangements on the machine when it was installed. Unfortunately access to in-running rollers is a common cause of injury but it can be easily avoided by providing effective control measures such as the provision of tunnel guards".

The year 2019 represented an all-time record, where almost three-quarters of new electricity generation capacity uses renewables.

New data provided by the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) shows that green technologies, including solar and wind power, now provide more than one-third of the world's energy, while fossil fuel plants are in decline across Europe and in the US, with more decommissioned than built.

The world investments in renewable energy cost about $3tn over the past decade, however, to address the climate emergency and fulfil the pledges for net-zero, Irena stresses that annual investments must double by 2030.

Director general of Irena, Francesco La Camera said the huge spending planned by governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic must support green initiatives instead of fossil fuels.

The data provided by Irena shows the increase in new renewable energy capacity slowed in 2019, from 179 GW to 176GW, but that new fossil fuel power capacity also fell. The total green energy installed to date around the world grew by 7.6%, with the UK's total rising 6.1%. The UK is now 11th in the world for installed renewables.

On Sunday morning, less than 15% of electricity came from coal plants and almost 40% of the UK's electricity came from windfarms. Solar power also made up nearly a fifth of the power system.

This swell in clean energy from wind and solar power will mean thousands of British homes will be paid to use electricity during the day for the first time. Homes have previously only ever been able to make money while using clean energy during the night.

Octopus energy offer an "Agile Octopus energy tariff" which will earn customers 0.22p to 3.3p per kWh to make use of the current plentiful clean energy. Customers on that specific tariff were contacted on Saturday to let them know they would be paid for electricity use during the sunniest hours, 11am until 4pm, of Sunday.

While clean energy levels have risen, demand for energy has thought to have lowered by up to 10% due to the closing down of public places, businesses and factories. This is not the case for energy use in homes which has risen due to many people working from home and in lockdown.

This combination of events has lead to the lowest energy market prices in a decade.

For people on variable energy tariffs, energy bills are likely to become cheaper, with the wholesale price of electricity on the UK power markets around £28 per megawatt hour (MWh) compared to £44/MWh this time last year.


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