The Welsh Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn, has confirmed that Wales will ban single use plastics as part of wider measures that hope to make Wales the top recycling nation in the world.

They want to restrict single-use plastics which are hard to recycle and commonly littered. These plastics include:

  • straws;
  • stirrers;
  • cotton buds;
  • balloon sticks;
  • plates and cutlery;
  • food and drinks containers made of expanded polystyrene; and
  • certain types of carrier bags.

The ban will form part of a wider integrated approach by the Welsh Government in moving towards a circular economy. 

A consultation is expected in the coming months on the proposals. The Welsh Government hope that restrictions will come into force in 2021.

Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn commented:

"The single use plastics we want to ban are hard to recycle and often found on the beaches and seas around our coast, blighting our beautiful country and harming our natural and marine environments. It is vital we don’t throw away our future – which is why we believe taking this direct action will have a significant impact on changing people’s behaviour and make them think about their waste when "on-the-go".

"The measures I am announcing today are part of a range of potential solutions to the plastic problem. I am committed to working with stakeholders to understand the impact of this proposal, particularly on any citizens who may be reliant on some of the items we have included, to make sure we get it right. We’ll be launching a consultation on the proposals soon, and I want to encourage the people of Wales to share their views with us."

Wales' circular economy strategy "Beyond Recycling", already states the country's commitment to waste and unnecessary plastic reduction, with the strategy aiming for Wales to achieve zero waste by 2050.

IOSH publish coronavirus guidance
Published: 18 Mar 2020

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) have published new guidance for employers and occupational safety and health professionals on the important role they have to play in the prevention of the spread of coronavirus.

On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 coronavirus a pandemic. The respiratory illness has caused unprecedented levels of disruption world wide and led to emergency legislation and radical change to help tackle the virus in many countries.

It is important in these uncertain times that occupational safety and health (OSH) professionals, managers and employers ensure open communication with employees to provide clear and consistent advice.

Tim Eldridge, IOSH vice-president, stated: "During events like these and other communicable disease outbreaks, where employees may feel anxious or uneasy, letting them know that you have strong controls and contingency plans in place is important in allaying some of their concerns and maintaining business continuity."

With Government tactics and advice being updated daily on measures to help tackle the spread of the virus, it can be confusing for people to know what measures should be adopted. Whilst many workers are able to take advantage of home-working, in many industries and job roles this is not an option for employees.

In response to help organisations, IOSH have launched a dedicated coronavirus section on their website. This will be regularly updated and sets out what IOSH believes organisations need to consider when responding to communicable diseases, in ensuring proportionate preventative measures are adopted.

These include:

  • ensuring workers know that if they feel unwell they should not be coming into the workplace;
  • planning how your organisation will function if employees, contractors and suppliers can't come to your place of business;
  • considering plans for variations of working shifts so employee overlap is minimised, splitting sites or location operations if feasible;
  • planning and looking at modifying processes in the event large numbers of employees are absent from work.

Tim Eldridge added:

"Involve your workers in the discussion, seek their views and include them in planning and preparations. Think about their health, safety and wellbeing, and ensure you let them know that if they require support, there are clear options available to them.

"COVID-19 has made an impact across the globe, and organisations now more than ever must listen to the knowledge and expertise of OSH professionals. By demonstrating professional integrity, empathy and transparency alongside the ability to provide the right advice at the right time in extreme situations, we can all make a positive influence within the workplace and demonstrate our true worth."

For more information, see the:

The Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, has authorised a temporary relaxation of the drivers' hours rules in England, Scotland and Wales in a bid to "help deliver vital goods to the stores across the UK; while understanding that driver welfare must not be compromised" during the COVID-19 outbreak.

This move comes as a response from the industry due to the unprecedented demand for food, personal care, cleaning products and pharmaceuticals brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has consequently been decided that the rules set out in Regulation (EC) 561/2006 on the harmonisation of certain social legislation relating to road transport should be relaxed to help companies cope with demand.

The new rules apply for the following journeys:

  • distribution centre to stores (or fulfilment centre);
  • from manufacturer or supplier to distribution centre (including backhaul collections);
  • from manufacturer to store (or fulfilment centre);
  • between distribution centres and transport hub trunking;
  • transport hub deliveries to stores.

This temporary relaxation applies from midnight on Wednesday 18 March 2020 until 23:59 on 16 April 2020 and will apply only to the drivers and deliveries specified in the notice.

For the drivers and the work that this notice applies to, the following rules can be temporarily relaxed, as follows:

  • replacement of the EU daily driving limit of 9 hours with one of 11 hours;
  • reduction of the daily rest requirements from 11 hours to 9 hours;
  • lifting weekly (56 hours) and fortnightly driving limits (90 hours) to 60 and 96 hours respectively;
  • postponement of the requirement to start weekly rest period after six-24 hours periods, for after seven 24 hours period; although two regular weekly rest periods or a regular and a reduced weekly rest period will still be required within a fortnight; and
  • the requirements for daily breaks of 45 minutes after 4.5 hours driving replaced with a break of 45 minutes after 5.5 hours of driving.

For more information on this subject, see:

New draft Regulations have been published for England, which aim to restrict the supply of single-use plastic straws, single-use plastic-stemmed cotton buds, and plastic drink stirrers, in order to prevent pollution of the environment or harm to the health of humans and animals.

Provisions of the legislation

The Draft Environmental Protection (Plastic Straws, Cotton Buds and Stirrers) (England) Regulations 2020 are divided into a series of Parts, each covering a different type of single-use plastic.

Part 2

Part 2 prohibits the supply of single-use plastic straws to an end-user, subject to certain exceptions.

The exceptions include the supply of straws by registered pharmacies, the supply of straws by a catering establishment together with food or drink for immediate consumption, and the supply of straws which are medical devices or are for use for medical purposes.

This Part also prohibits the supply of drinks products with single-use plastic straws attached to their packaging from 3 July 2021, again subject to an exception for medical purposes.

Part 3

Part 3 prohibits the supply of single-use plastic-stemmed cotton buds to an end-user, other than for medical, forensic or scientific purposes.

Part 4

Part 4 prohibits the supply of plastic drink stirrers.

Entry into force

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) are proposing for this legislation to come into force on 30 April 2020, and intend to publish guidance for affected businesses around 21 days beforehand.

For more information, see the:

European Climate Law Proposed
Published: 16 Mar 2020

The European Commission have set out their Proposal for a new European Climate law which will write into legislation the goal set out in the European Green Deal for the European economy to be climate-neutral by 2050.

It proposes a new Regulation which establishes a framework for achieving this by setting out main objectives that:

  • establish the long-term direction of travel for meeting the 2050 climate-neutrality objective through all policies, in a socially-fair and cost-efficient manner;
  • create a system for monitoring progress and take further action if needed;
  • provide predictability for investors and other economic actors;
  • ensure the transition to climate neutrality is irreversible.

The EU aims to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 by cutting emissions, investing in green technologies and protecting the natural environment. EU Institutions and Member States must take the necessary measures at EU and national level to meet the target, taking into account the importance of promoting fairness and solidarity among Member States.

This proposed new Climate Law will include measures to tackle progress and adjust required actions as necessary. Every five years progress will be reviewed in line with the global stocktake the EU will undertake under the Paris Agreement.

As part of achieving the 2050 climate-neutrality goal, this proposed Regulation also address the necessary steps to achieve that, which include:

  • a new EU target for 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reductions which will be based on a comprehensive impact assessment;
  • by June 2021, a review of all relevant policy instruments to deliver the additional emissions reductions for 2030;
  • adoption of a 2030-2050 EU-wide trajectory for greenhouse gas emission reductions, to measure progress and provide predictability for public authorities, businesses and citizens;
  • by September 2023, and every subsequent five years, an assessment of EU and national measures with the climate-neutrality objective and the 2030-2050 trajectory;
  • empowering the Commission to issue Recommendations to Member States whose actions are inconsistent with the climate-neutrality objective;
  • Member States being required to develop and implement adaptation strategies to strengthen resilience to the effects of climate change.

Extensive analysis and stakeholder consultation was taken by the Commission in November 2018 on this Proposal. A public conference was then held in January 2020 to provide a further opportunity for open public-stakeholder debate on the European Climate Law before its adoption.

This Proposal has now been submitted to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions for further consideration and if approved, adoption into EU law.

For more information, see:

A worker has appealed against the dismissal of his claim for damages for personal injury.

The claim was brought against his employer following an accident the employee suffered at work, and highlights how important it is that an organisation’s risk assessments adequately identify the risks from the task in hand.

The employee had fallen off the back of a box van or lorry whilst making deliveries.  He had lowered the tail lift on the vehicle and shortly afterwards he had stepped backwards, or lost his footing and had fallen approximately one metre to the ground, causing him to strike his head and sustain serious head injuries. A Work Activity Assessment Form (WAF2), had identified working at height and operation of the tail lift as hazards, both of which were associated with a potential problem or harm of fall injuries. They were placed in a high-risk band. 

The employee asserted that their employer had breached the Work at Height Regulations SI 2005/735, in particular regulation 4 on organisation and planning of work at height and regulation 6 on the avoidance of risks from work at height. He alleged that measures should have been in place to ensure that the tail lift was always raised if a worker was in the back of the lorry.

The judge found there to be no breaches of these Regulations, and that it would not have been reasonably practicable to raise the tail lift when the back of the lorry was occupied. 

The employee submitted that the judge wrongly treated the test of reasonable practicability as involving a simple balancing exercise, rather than one in which a measure was only not reasonably practicable if there was gross disproportion between the quantum of risk and the sacrifice involved in taking that measure. 

At appeal, it was discussed that the Work Activity Assessment Form identified the risk of fall injuries from working at height and operation of the tail lift, but it had wrongly assumed there was a safe system of work document in place for the loading of vehicles. The assessment had also identified a "toolbox talk" for safe working with delivery vehicles, yet that was also not in place. This was only implemented after the accident. The risk ought to have been addressed by the employer pre-accident, and failure to do so constituted a breach of the Work at Height Regulations SI 2005/735

It was also considered whether the previous judge addressed the concept of "reasonable practicality". They concluded that the judge misdirected himself in relation to the test to be applied and wrongly decided that the measure was not reasonably practicable. The risk had been considered by the employer as high and the measure was implemented after the accident. It was also discussed how the claimant had lowered the tail lift and was therefore aware that there was a drop from the back of the vehicle.

The judge allowed the appeal and stated: "I accordingly allow the appeal and give judgment for the Claimant subject to a deduction of 50% for his own contributory negligence".

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