News

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have announced their Business Plan for 2019/20, which highlights specific priorities for the coming year.

Their aim is to prevent work-related death, injury and ill health, and the Plan outlines key areas of work for the coming year.

It reinforces their commitment to:

  • lead and engage with others to improve workplace health and safety;
  • provide an effective regulatory framework;
  • secure effective management and control of risk;
  • reduce the likelihood of low-frequency, high-impact catastrophic incidents;
  • enable improvement through efficient and effective delivery.

"Blue tape"

Significantly, the HSE have stated they will launch an in-depth report on the damage to business and regulation inflicted by "blue tape".

Many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) feel health and safety places excessive or unnecessary demands on them. Often these are driven by health and safety "rules" set by third parties (referred to as "blue tape"), not regulation. For SMEs trying to do the right thing, the difference can often be unclear.

In order to support SMEs, and help them easily find the information they need, the HSE are aiming to:

  • improve their guidance material, especially around user needs;
  • improve the user experience of their website from 2020/21;
  • develop new relationships to increase their reach and promote their guidance;
  • reduce the perception that good health and safety management is a burden.

The "blue tape" report could be published by the end of June 2019, with new guidance focussing on risk management and control ready to be tested in 2020/21.

For more information, see the:

The Prime Minister Theresa May has announced today that the UK will end its net contribution to climate change by 2050, compared with 1990 levels, therefore making the UK the first G7 country to legislate for net zero carbon emissions.

The Draft Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order 2019, which will amend the Climate Change Act 2008 to add the target date, was laid in Parliament today (12 June).

This announcement follows recommendations from the Government's independent advisory body, the Committee on Climate Change, that to keep our Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degrees C, we must achieve net zero CO2 contributions from every part of our economy.

Currently, the largest contributions to UK greenhouse gas emissions come from heating, transport, production of electricity as well as agriculture. The achievement of net zero targets might need to rely on the development of carbon capture and storage technology.

However, the UK Government states that it is imperative that other major economies follow suit and for that reason, the UK will conduct a further assessment within 5 years of implementing the new legislation to confirm that other countries are taking similarly ambitious action, multiplying the effect of the UK's lead and to ensure that our industries do not face unfair competition.

Today Theresa May will also meet young science and engineering students to discuss the ambitious new target and what must be done to achieve it, as well as gain views on the progress on the existing commitments on climate, waste and biodiversity.

The Prime Minister said: "As the first country to legislate for long-term climate targets, we can be truly proud of our record in tackling climate change. We have made huge progress in growing our economy and the jobs market while slashing emissions.

"Now is the time to go further and faster to safeguard the environment for our children. This country led the world in innovation during the Industrial Revolution, and now we must lead the world to a cleaner, greener form of growth.

"Standing by is not an option. Reaching net zero by 2050 is an ambitious target, but it is crucial that we achieve it to ensure we protect our planet for future generations."

The Environment Agency's Chair, Emma Howard Boyd said: "I'm delighted to see the PM set a legal target for the UK to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This is not only the right thing to tackle the climate emergency for future generations but a huge opportunity to increase our energy efficiency, improve our resilience and deliver a greener, healthier society.

"We know that investing in zero carbon solutions is good for growth - boosting jobs and the economy - and is cheaper for business, organisations and Government to tackle climate change now than to manage its impacts in the future."

For more information, see the:

High house prices in expensive cities have been caused by the planning system's rationing of new homes in areas of high demand, according to a Report published this week. It suggests the planning system should be reformed to introduce the flexible zoning system used in Japan and some parts of America.

In the Report, Centre for Cities explores the relationship between urban economies and housing wealth in England and Wales. The Organisation found that the "restrictive planning system" has made urban homeowners in the greater South East more than £80,000 richer over the past six years than those in other parts of England and Wales.

In this region, residents tend to earn higher incomes and the planning system "fails" to match the demand for new homes. The Report says homeowners' wealth grew by over £80,000 between 2013 and 2018, this is £46,000 more than the national urban average.

In London, housing wealth increased by £122,000 during this period, while Cambridge saw an increase of £121,000. In Oxford the figure was £89,000, in Brighton it was £83,000 and in Southend it was £79,000.

In contrast, Sunderland saw housing equity increase by an average of just £3,000 since 2013 and Burnley saw an average increase of £5,000.

In total London saw in real terms an increase in housing equity of £550 billion since 2013, more than every other city in England and Wales combined, says the report.

However, home ownership rates in these cities are lower, with 66% of people living in the private housing market in the Capital owning their own home compared with 85% in Warrington. Centre for Cities explains that this means the planning system has redirected wealth to a relatively small band of mainly older homeowners and landlords in these cities. Renters, who tend to be younger, have been "penalised" in South East cities by higher rents.

Andrew Carter, chief executive at Centre for Cities, said: "our planning system is fuelling a North-South wealth divide among homeowners. Restrictive planning policies in many prosperous southern cities are gifting wealth to homeowners in the greater South East.

"This creates two wealth divides: one between homeowners in the greater South East and elsewhere in the country, and another between homeowners, who tend to be older, and renters, who tend to be younger, within the greater South East.

"The best way to address this inequality is to build more homes in the areas that have seen the biggest increases in housing wealth".

Centre for Cities makes a number of policy recommendations, including:

  • reform the planning system;
  • increase housing supply where new homes are needed;
  • stop subsiding home ownership and tax increases in housing wealth.

For more information on this subject, see:

Work is set to start on the final stage of a £1 million scheme to refurbish a vital pumping station in north-east Essex.

The Parkeston pumping station near Harwich, located at the lower end of the Ramsey/Dock River, helps to protect homes and businesses in the area from the risk of flooding and is currently undergoing a two-year overhaul.

The largest and final stage of the work is the replacement of the debris screen, the concrete river banks and a footbridge. New piping will also be installed for emergency pumps, should they be needed.

The work is being undertaken by contractors Jackson Civil Engineering.

Environment Agency project lead Robert Brown said parts of the structure had been deteriorating due to age and needed replacing, he said: "the work will ensure the pumping station can provide the best possible level of flood protection to the low lying areas of Parkeston and Ramsey.

"Without the weed screen the pumps would block and the water levels would rise significantly until they reached the lowest point of the railway embankment.

"We have also been reviewing our emergency plans for the site. In the unlikely event the site has a problem we can set up large temporary pumps. Currently, this would involve closing the railway line, so we are installing permanent pipework to allow the railway to continue to operate.

"The Ramsey/Dock River cannot naturally flow into the Stour estuary so all of the water, including flood water, needs to be lifted up by the pumps into the estuary.

The pumps can lift up to three tonnes of water a second, so the station needs to have a debris screen to ensure they do not get blocked with vegetation and rubbish. The work will start in early June and last for around 18 weeks.

An electricity and gas utility company has been fined after a worker was killed on Winslow Road in East Claydon.

Aylesbury Crown Court heard how in November 2016 a sub-station crafts person for National Grid Electricity Transmission, was to move a delivery crate containing a compressor with the help of a colleague.

The employee was using a remote-controlled lorry loader crane but as he attempted to attach the slings to the hook, the crane struck him resulting in fatal injuries.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found National Grid Electricity Transmission PLC failed to ensure the lift was properly planned, effectively supervised and carried out safely. The Company also failed to ensure the employee had received adequate training in the new lorry loader crane, in particular, the additional risks due to the remote control unit.

National Grid Electricity Transmission PLC pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations SI 1998/2307. The Company was fined £334,000, ordered to pay costs of £17,673.34, and ordered to pay an additional victim surcharge of £170.

HSE inspector Stephen Faulkner commented that "this tragic incident could have been avoided if the company had properly planned the movement of the crate involved. Employers must recognise operating remote-controlled plants carry their own risks and should be managed appropriately, including through providing adequate training for employees".

"Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards".

The Environment Agency seeks views on proposed new Guidance for facilities that take, treat or transfer healthcare waste. The new Guidance, if approved, will replace the technical guidance EPR 5.07 Clinical Waste from 2011.

The proposed Guidance aims to deliver improvements in the design and operation of permitted facilities in the healthcare sector and make sure that appropriate measures are applied consistently. It also incorporates the relevant requirements set out by Decision (EU) 2018/1147 establishing best available techniques (BAT) conclusions for waste treatment.

This Consultation seeks views on whether additional measures should be included in the proposed Guidance, such as:

  • Fire Prevention Plans;
  • labelling checks on loose packaged items;
  • storage and handling of healthcare waste in a building;
  • storage of items on pallets;
  • storage times to ensure effective management of waste inventory; and
  • emissions and monitoring requirements.

The document attached contains draft Guidance which is the subject of this Consultation.

Responding to this Consultation

This Consultation is open for responses from 3 June 2019 until 15 July 2019.

The preferred way to respond is by completing an online survey on the Environment Agency's website.

Alternatively, written responses can be sent by e-mail to: wastetreatment@environment-agency.gov.uk.

For more information, see the:


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