News

Back in production - COVID-19
Published: 30 Jun 2020

As we start the journey to return to work we are all seeking guidance and advice from the government and other national and international agencies. Here at Cedrec we are collating relevant guidance documents to help you return to work safely and with as little impact on the environment as possible.

Manufacturing and COVID-19

Whether production has just begun to resume on site or production has never stopped, there are now even more things to consider in the workplace to ensure employees health and safety.

There is numerous specific guidance to keep track of on:

that all aim to help employers and business in the manufacturing sector to operate or restart operations safely, and minimise the risk of the spread of coronavirus in the workplace.

General information on COVID- 19

Cedrec has created a detailed In Focus which sets out relevant advice about working safely during the pandemic across several sectors as well as being a central access point for many relevant guidance documents. This will be particularly useful for those responsible for managing health and safety on various sites around the UK. It is updated regularly so we recommend it is checked as often as possible in order to remain up-to-date on current advice.

The page can be accessed using the following link:

Owner of the Cornhill Hotel in Blackpool, Alan Diamond, has been given a nine-month suspended sentence after a two-year investigation by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service (LFRS) found extremely serious safety failings.

In May 2018 the hotel was visited by Fire Safety Officer Stephen Simm who found numerous issues with the hotel, including no window restrictions, cracked tiles and loose fixtures and fittings. Later that year in August, there was a complaint made by a paying guest to the Council's health and safety department, which prompted a second visit by fire safety inspectors from LFRS. This time they discovered the fire alarm system was being switched off whilst paying guests were still in the hotel. There were a range of fire safety issues discovered in the hotel from inadequate fire safety management, fire separation, means for giving warning and means of escape.

The hotel was ordered to close temporarily in order to address concerns about its inadequate fire alarm system. Only those undertaking remedial work were permitted to use the premises however the owner continued to accept paying guests. LFRS found evidence of three separate occasions where the owner had allowed paying guests to stay at the hotel during this time.

A total of ten improvement notices had been handed to the hotel owner following evidence from both LFRS and the police. In January 2019 it was found that the hotel had failed to comply with nine of these notices.

Fire Safety Officer Stephen Simm commented: ''the issues were so serious I felt the property would put anyone staying on the premises at risk of death or serious injury.''

The hotel owner Mr Diamond submitted a letter to the court in January 2019 stating that most of the required remedial work had been undertaken and he had signed over the running of the hotel to another hotel group in the town.

However due to the seriousness of the safety failings LFRS decided to prosecute Mr Diamond for failing to:

  • make a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment;
  • make and give effect to appropriate arrangements for planning, organising, controlling, monitoring and reviewing preventative fire safety measures at the hotel;
  • provide appropriate firefighting equipment, detectors and alarms suitable for the premises;
  • ensure that escape routes and exits could be used as quickly and as safely as possible;
  • provide adequate fire doors throughout the premises;
  • provide adequate and sufficient’ staff fire safety training; and
  • comply with the prohibition notice.

Mr Diamond pleaded guilty to offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order SI 2005/1541.

LFRS Fire Protection Group Manager Mark Hutton commented: ''These were extremely serious fire safety failings which, had a fire occurred in the hotel, were highly likely to have led to widespread loss of life, serious injuries and potentially far-reaching damage to the wider community and reputation of Blackpool as a safe place to visit and stay. Our team of dedicated fire safety inspectors, and business safety advisors, work tirelessly to support all businesses that set out to comply with fire safety regulations. Sadly in this case the owner of this business chose not only to ignore that support, but also elected to repetitively breach a prohibition notice and allow his building to be used for guest sleeping accommodation even though he knew there were serious problems with fire doors and the fire alarm.''

Boris Johnson has signalled there could be radical changes to the planning system as part of Project Speed to get the country building again after the COVID-19 crisis.

Vacant buildings will be able to be converted into homes by developers without the need for planning permission under new regulations. Buildings that can be converted include existing commercial properties and newly vacated shops. Buildings that will not be included are those seen as essential to the local community such as libraries, pubs and village shops.

It is hoped that the new rules will come into effect by September, with Downing Street claiming they are the "most radical reforms to our planning system since the Second World War".

Other reforms mentioned include developers being able to demolish and rebuild vacant and redundant residential and commercial buildings if they are rebuilt as homes and a fast track approval process will also allow property owners to build additional space above their properties.

Johnson claims the UK's planning system causes delays in building homes and has suggested that the UK is trailing far behind its European counterparts when it comes to building homes at pace.

By moving away from building homes in new locations, and using old buildings not currently in use instead, the Government is hoping to ease pressure on greenbelt land.

The announcement of new changes is followed by an economic statement from chancellor Rishi Sunak.

A new £80 million fund has been announced by the Government to help cut emissions from homes and energy intensive businesses. It will allow appropriate businesses to apply for grants to install technology that will help them cut carbon emissions and reduce their energy bills.

The fund includes £30 million aimed at manufacturers from car factories to steel plants to help them invest in green technologies to lower their carbon emissions.

£25 million will be spent on heat networks to help cut carbon and heating bills for residential customers. One such project in Gateshead will use geothermal water from disused mines to heat 1,250 homes.

There will also be £24 million spent on a retrofit scheme that will install green technology and insulation in houses to help them to become more energy efficient.

Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng, commented: ''We want to invest now to ensure we continue to propel the UK towards a stronger, greener future. This new £80 million investment will help to reduce emissions across our economy, which will save people money on energy bills and protect jobs in heavy industry.''

Business and Planning Bill published
Published: 29 Jun 2020

The Government has published the Business and Planning Bill which contains a range of measures aimed at helping businesses and the economy recover from the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had.

The provisions of the Bill address different business sectors as well as the planning process, introducing both temporary and permanent changes to legislation which will hopefully make things easier for businesses and the economy to transition from the period of lockdown to recovery.

Background

When lockdown measures were introduced in March 2020 in a bid to tackle and slow down the spread of Covid-19, many businesses had to cease trading. This period will have had an obvious and significant impact on businesses across the UK, all of which now face the strange prospect of re-opening their doors and beginning trade once more in a very different world.

The recovery will, therefore, be difficult without additional support.

That is where this Bill aims to help. Once it receives Royal assent, it will remove some short term obstacles for some business sectors, albeit temporarily, to help them bounce back more quickly following lockdown. Some of the measures proposed in the Bill are described below.

Changes to the planning system

The planning system has faced its own challenges during lockdown but has continued to operate throughout this period to try and support the economy and construction.

However, to ensure the system in England continues to operate effectively and that planning continues to support the construction sector and the economy, the Bill aims to introduce several new temporary measures, including:

  • a way in which developers can request that working hours on construction sites are extended, where such hours are included as a planning condition on planning permission;
  • an extension to the expiry of some planning permissions and listed building consents to ensure that planned developments which have not yet been started are given more time to be implemented given the disruption that the pandemic has had on the construction industry;
  • a similar extension granted in relation to outline planning permission;
  • more flexibility for the Planning Inspectorate to choose which type of procedure it will use to determine planning appeals - i.e. written representations, hearings or local inquiries (these amendments are permanent). The change will also cover appeals relating to listed buildings and conservation areas and also to hazardous substances consent;
  • temporary removal of the requirement for the Mayor of London to make the current Spatial Development Strategy available for physical inspection and to allow hard copies to be provided on request.

Goods vehicles

A test certificate issued within the past 12 months is required to use a heavy vehicle such as lorries or buses. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the vehicle testing regime and it is assumed that once testing resumes there will be a surge in demand for such tests.

The Bill, therefore, will allow the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to manage the demand by prioritising road safety. For example, it may test vehicles used for carrying dangerous goods as a priority, choosing to delay the tests for safer vehicles.

Once again, this is a temporary change implemented as a response to Covid-19.

Bounce Back Loan Schemes

Bounce Back Loan Schemes are a way for small businesses to quickly access loans to help with the economic disruption caused by Covid-19.

Usually, extensive paperwork needs to be submitted for loans and detailed examinations of business plans etc. have to take place. The Bill will allow lenders to rely on self-certification that they meet the eligibility criteria for the scheme and that they can afford to repay the loan. Lenders will, however, continue to carry out fraud checks.

Alcohol licensing

The Bill modifies existing legislation to ensure automatic extensions to on-sales alcohol licences to allow for off-sales, allowing licensed premises to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises if they cannot already do so. This change allows businesses to trade but maintain safe working practices and social distancing measures.

This temporary change will last until September 2021.

Outdoor seating

The Bill provides temporary measures to allow those selling food and drink by introducing a temporary fast-track process to obtain permission to put street furniture, such as tables and chairs, on the pavement outside the premises.

This will help some businesses to operate safely and to enforce social distancing measures whilst helping them to maximise opportunities for income.

For more information, see the:

After introducing an innovative strategy in 2018, Guernsey is now recycling and composting 73% of its household waste. Its 70% target on recycling of household waste by 2030 was exceeded in the first year of implementation of the strategy.

The increase is down to implementing measures such as separate food waste collections for composting and fortnightly general waste disposal. Also, the successful introduction of the pay-as-you-throw scheme, which involves placing a sticker with a separate charge of £1.40 for smaller bin bags up to 50 litres or £2.50 for a 90-litre black bag. This has helped islanders separate all possible waste for recycling or composting, before discarding items into the general waste bag.

In comparison, the average recycling rate of household waste collected by local authorities in England in 2019 is below 45% and has not improved over the last ten years. This figure falls short of the EU target of recycling a minimum of 50% of household waste by 2020.

Waste management in Guernsey is quite expensive, where on top of paying for each waste bag there is an annual standing charge of £85. This is because charges need to account for waste shipment due to the main landfill site on the island now reaching its capacity. The cost of disposal could pose an increased risk of fly-tipping, however, prosecution for such an offence carries a £20,000 fine and a criminal conviction, which is viewed by the authorities as a good deterrent.


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