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Safety knives: Cutting the risks and boosting the benefits 22/09/2021

FAMILIARITY WITH knives in everyday life can lead to a widespread blind spot when it comes to their provision and use in the workplace. Here, Ian Crellin outlines factors to consider when choosing safety knives to ensure they are both fit-for-purpose and safe to use

Safety knives are hybrids: part cutting tool, part safety equipment. The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 1998) applies to safety knives, as does the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Remember, too, that PUWER applies to all knives on site being used as work equipment, including those provided by staff, agency workers and contractors.

Enhanced risk assessment

An enhanced risk assessment combines the requirements of both regulations in one assessment process and can be summarised under five criteria:

  • Knife suitable for use, and for purpose and conditions in which it is to be used.
  • Risk of cut injuries created by using the knife eliminated where possible, or controlled as far as reasonably practicable.
  • Risk of avoidable damage and spoilage to products, material and other assets created whilst using the knife, are eliminated.
  • Knife maintained to be safe so that health and safety are not at risk and it remains suitable for its intended purpose.
  • Staff wellbeing is prioritised by involving knife users in the selection process.

Observe, engage, consult

The HSE’s 'Five steps to risk assessment' provides a tried and tested template, but with extra focus on the first step of identifying the current position with knives throughout the workplace in order to overcome blind spots. To assist future selection, a record of the assessment should include information, such as material being cut, cutting task, intensity of knife use, department, and knife currently used.

  • Observe: The person with overall responsibility for safety in a workplace needs to see for themselves, or delegate to a competent person, actual knife use throughout the site. Assessment and records need to cover all criteria of the enhanced risk assessment to get the best outcome. Observations should be supplemented by checking the accident book for cut injuries and spoilage records for avoidable damage and waste associated with knife use. Check the organisation has a policy for knives in the workplace and the extent to which these arrangements are being practised. Be prepared for surprises: Illustrations from knife amnesties in just two companies, as recently as 2019, are examples of the knife blind spot. 
  • Engage: From the outset onwards, engage and consult with individual users and their representatives. They have experience and direct responsibility for making a success of implementing any agreed changes.
  • Consult: Seek free advice from safety industry suppliers, trade associations and safety knife manufactures.

Safety knife choices

In its information sheet 'How to reduce hand knife injuries', HSE groups safety knives into five basic types of safety mechanism, summarised below in order of inherent safety.

  • Group1 includes bladeless cutters, such as reel snails and disposable concealed blade knives.
  • Group 2 are concealed blade cutters with the facility to replace the blades.
  • Group 3 fully automatic blade retraction knives
  • Group 4 semi-automatic blade retraction knives
  • Group 5 manually retracted blade knives

Each group has benefits and limitations. Group 1 safety knives, for example, have restricted uses; Group 5 offer limited protection against accidents to people and products.

Groups 2, 3 and 4 include the largest range of options, with features that address fitness-for-purpose and safety. Achieving this balance is the best way of reducing risk; users are more likely to adopt a change that makes their job both easier and safer.

Efficiency and wellbeing

Beyond the safety groups, the focus is on fitness for required tasks, individual users and specific workplaces. Factors include:

  • Ease of use and user acceptance
  • Blade length required for task
  • Blade specification – depth, thickness, round or pointed tip, shape and bevel
  • Functional efficiency of knife: accuracy and speed of use
  • Ease and safety of blade change
  • Ergonomics of blade holder
  • Robustness and reliability of blade holder and blade
  • Storage: eg holster or work station tidy
  • Safe disposal of used blades
  • Stock of replacement blades and knives

The final choice is best made after arranging on-site demonstrations and trials involving existing staff. Where possible, seek support from the safety knife supplier to train staff in correct use of knives to be trialled to ensure a fair assessment. 

Be prepared for surprises – not just on knife blind spots, but on the scale of potential benefits the right knife can deliver.

Ian Crellin is marketing manager at the BSIF

www.bsif.co.uk

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Monitoring for welding fume 27/07/2021

Welding is a very common fabrication process, used across production and maintenance operations, that uses heat to join (or fuse) two or more materials by heating them to melting point.

Fusion welding processes can be grouped according to the source of the heat, for example, electric arc, gas, electrical resistance and high energy. All these processes generate fumes to a greater or lesser extent and according to EH40 (1), fume is a word that is often used to include both gases and vapours. This is not the case for occupational exposure limits where ‘fume’ should normally be applied to solid particles (dust) generated by chemical reactions or condensed from the gaseous state, usually after volatilisation from melted substances, as is the case with welding.

The breathing of welding fumes has long been associated with chronic respiratory problems, including bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, emphysema and pneumoconiosis. It has been common practice, therefore, to carry out a risk assessment by undertaking workplace air monitoring in the welder’s breathing zone (a 30cm radius centred on the nose & mouth) for some of the common metal oxide compounds and gases, namely:

- Iron oxide

- Manganese

- Chromium VI & III

- Nickel

- Ozone

- Nitrogen Monoxide and Dioxide.

The accepted method for sample collection, employed for the last six decades, is to draw a known volume of air through a suitable medium housed in a sampling head using a sampling pump followed by appropriate laboratory analysis. For dusts and fumes this would be a filter paper or solid media and for gases and vapours, through a sorbent tube. 

In the case of welding fumes, the dust is collected on an MCE filter which can be analysed directly without further sample preparation by X-ray fluorescence spectrometry. The type of sampling head depends on the size fraction of interest i.e. inhalable or respirable. Advice on the method for sampling and analysis is provided by the HSE (2) in the UK and OSHA (3) and NIOSH in the USA.

Interestingly, the basics of sampling with a pump haven’t fundamentally changed much in 60 years. Lithium-Ion batteries and Bluetooth connectivity are recent technology developments along with improvements in digital flow calibrators that all improve the equipment user’s productivity and increase the successful outcome of a sampling campaign. 

It is very important to check that the sampling pump meets the latest standard i.e. ISO 13137 (4). In particular, if using a cyclone head for gravimetric sampling, don’t assume that the pump has sufficiently low pulsation, which the ISO standard states shall not exceed 10% of the flow rate. A large pulsation value means that the size cut performance of cyclones can be affected because their performance is flow rate dependent. In addition, less sample is collected using pumps that generate significant pulsation (5)

To ensure that the pump is performing to specification it is important to check that it has not exceeded its recommended run time between services, typically 2-3000 hours. In the field, it is good practice to check the pump’s flow rate calibration in a clean environment both before and after use each day using representative sampling media which should be retained for control purposes.

Hexavalent chromium and nickel are already defined occupational carcinogens, however, in the UK, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released a safety alert in February 2019 (6) highlighting new scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer suggesting that exposure to all welding fumes causes lung and kidney cancer.  Following the findings, the Workplace Health Expert Committee has endorsed the reclassification of mild steel welding fume as a human carcinogen.  Mild steel is the most commonly welded metal used in both manufacturing and construction.

Local exhaust ventilation

According to the HSE, at present, general ventilation does not achieve the necessary control. HSE is therefore set to strengthen its enforcement expectation on all welding fume, including mild steel welding. This means using effective engineering controls such as local exhaust ventilation (LEV) supplemented by suitable respiratory protection equipment (RPE) if there is any chance of residual fumes (which can be confirmed by personal monitoring) but RPE must be worn when welding outdoors. A typical LEV system comprises a hood, ducting, an air cleaner or arrestor, an air mover, and discharge.

With a mechanical shaker type LEV unit, unclean air is drawn through the unit by a fan and over filter bags which trap the contaminants. The filter bags are shaken by a motor and the particles fall off into the dust collection bin. The clean air is then drawn through the fan chamber and let to exhaust, either by ducting to the outside, or back into the workplace. If the unit exhausts back into the workplace, a secondary HEPA type filter is needed to ensure the quality of the returned air.

There are different filter bags available to fit into the LEV unit, dependent upon the particular contaminant. They can be of a different pore size (down to around 5µm) or treated for oil or heat resistance for instance. The filters wear over time, the seals on the bags may degrade, they get clogged and they become less efficient.  If there is significant dust present on the ‘clean side’, this is a clear visual indicator that the filters need changing. 

However for routine checks, you would not rely on just a visual inspection but ensure that the system is working efficiently by testing the ‘clean air’ leaving the outlet for levels of dust using a suitable measuring instrument.

Real-time dust monitors

Hand-held, data logging instruments for the real-time detection of dust, fumes and aerosols are available. As it is real-time, instant decisions can be made with regards to the effectiveness of controls and required intervention.  Real-time instruments wont tell you the composition of the dust, such as the ammount of metal in fumes, but can be highly effective at showing the effectiveness of control measures, and how these may change on a day to day basis.

Whilst the process of interest is ongoing, placing the probe close to the outlet and view in real time the data will give you a clear idea of the efficiency of the filtration compared to blank, ambient readings. To check for residual fumes use the, monitor the area around the worker. This will provide quantitative data to enable decisions to be made and assess the situation armed with more information. Is the positioning of the task and the worker to the LEV adequate for instance? 

The heightened concern over welding fumes and in particular of mild steel places a significant new challenge on many diverse sectors to ensure that the workforce is protected through effective control methods. It is vital that LEV is regularly maintained and workplace ambient levels are routinely monitored using quantitative methods such as real-time measurements and/or routine personal sampling to ensure a ‘belt and braces’ route to compliance.

References:

(1) EH40/2005 Workplace exposure limits, 4th Edition

(2) MDHS 91/2 Metals and metalloids in air by X-ray fluorescence spectrometry

(3) OSHA ID-125G Metal and Metalloid Particulates in Workplace Atmospheres (ICP Analysis)

(4) ISO 13137:2013 Workplace Atmospheres: Pumps for personal sampling of chemical and biological agents: Requirements and test methods.

(5) Anderson et al 1971, Lamonica and Treaftis, 1972, Caplan et al 1973, Blachman and Lippmann 1974, McCawley and Roder, 1975.

(6) http://www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins/mild-steel-welding-fume.htm#utm_source=hse.gov.uk&utm_medium=refferal&utm_campaign=welding-alert&utm_content=cross-site-banner

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Luke Neale in the spotlight 27/07/2021

This issue's BSIF column takes the form of a Q&A with with the new Registered Safety Supplier Scheme audit & compliance assessor – Luke Neale

TELL US a bit about your role and how an additional Auditor benefits the RSSS?

With a membership of over 300 organisations, each requiring an annual audit, it was a challenge for the team to conduct all of the audits as well as invigilating the final SSA exams and also dealing with the many day-to-day enquiries from our membership and external organisations. I was primarily brought on board to conduct Audits and respond to enquires our members may have in relation any number of topics, such as the various standards in place covering PPE, testing, documentation, certification and UKCA to name a few. I genuinely love my job and enjoy engaging with our members each day.

After six months working within the scheme, what has been the biggest challenge?

Obviously the pandemic has had a massive impact on our members in many ways, and the reduced staffing levels and remote working situations have been a challenge to the audit process. The regional and national lockdowns have prevented the final invigilated Safe Supply Accreditation course exams taking place, but I’m pleased to say we are in the process of arranging these exams now, so if any of our members are in the position to sit their final exam, I would encourage them to get in touch so we can make arrangements to invigilate.

UKCA is also representing a challenge for our members as they try to get to grips with their obligations in relation to the transition from CE to UKCA.

Has your perception of members changed since you started here?

It has – whilst I already held the view that our members were committed to the RSSS, conducting the audits and engaging with our members has shown me just how dedicated they are to the supply of compliant safety products and services.

Conducting the audits and engaging with our members has shown me just how dedicated they are to the supply of compliant safety products and services

How do you think the RSSS helps the marketplace and general standard of H&S in UK workplaces?

Earlier in the year, Roy Wilders and I conducted a ‘Supermarket Sweep’ where we had one hour to source as much PPE from non-members as we could. I bought motorcycle clothing, protective gloves, safety footwear, Hi Vis and flame retardant clothing. I have to say, the results shocked me – for the most part the products were supplied without any of the required documentation – Declarations of Conformity, User Instructions etc. and when these were requested from the supplier, more often than not we were met with silence.  Some of the products tested didn’t perform as claimed either – I tested a glove claiming to be cut level F and it only achieved level B – needless to say these products and traders have all been reported to the relevant Market Surveillance authorities.

I’m pleased to say that we don’t have any such issues with our members, and the audit verifies their status as a fully compliant supplier of safety equipment & services. In short, membership of the scheme makes the marketplace safer and in turn saves lives.

Do you find enthusiasm for the scheme from the companies you audit?

In all honesty, the members of the scheme wear the Shield of Protection with pride – without exception all of our members are eager to ‘do the right thing’ in terms of the relevant legislation and the systems many of them have in place are really impressive.

What is involved in an RSSS audit?

As many of our members will attest, the audit process is relatively quick to do and really straightforward – we make checks to ensure that the member is aware of their obligations under the relevant legislation and that they have correct and relevant systems in place. Where relevant we also perform an indicative test on PPE to verify the claims made through a UKAS approved lab.

What advice can you give to people looking for a supplier?

The BSIF/RSSS website has an excellent search feature where you can filter by product type or service, these can be found by visiting www.registeredsafetysupplierscheme.co.uk

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BSIF Special Interest Groups 24/03/2021

IN THE normal course of everyday life (if anyone can remember that far back) by far the most frequent encounter with personal protective equipment (PPE) that you are likely to have would be with an item of protective clothing or protective gloves.

Whether it is the headline grabbing shots on the evening news of government experts, investigating an alleged chemical poisoning in their all-encapsulating protective suits, to the thousands or orange and yellow jackets and trousers being worn by teams repairing a worn-out motorway. Your builder will wear gloves to protect his hands when moving bricks, as will the supermarket assistant stocking the freezer cabinet with frozen food. Landscape workers rely on protective clothing and gloves when applying herbicides, as do those who use chainsaws, or carry out welding. There is PPE for those who ride motorcycles too, but the point is not the task or the occupation but the risk that the user faces.

The starting point for all PPE is an understanding of the risk to the worker, and the type of protective equipment which will be required. Once that has been established the crucial work of developing a “standard” for the equipment begins.

Standards are essential to the user and to the manufacturer. To the user they specify that a minimum level of performance for the PPE has been attained, with a clear indication of the product properties which have been assessed to determine that performance. To the manufacturer it focuses design and enables economy of scale to be achieved in manufacturing to a national or international standard.

In the UK standard development work is carried out under the authority of BSi – the national standards body. For each area of protective equipment there is a standards committee (known as PH committees) whose task is to develop standards on behalf of the UK, whether as standalone national standards or as participants in the development of international standards through CEN (The European Committee for Standardization) and ISO (The International Organization for Standardization).

At the heart of the BSIF lies the Special Interest Groups (SIGs). There are currently eight and each one focuses on an area of safety and safety equipment. The Protective Glove and Clothing Special Interest group (PG&C SIG) does exactly that. Drawing on the unsurpassed expertise of its members the group seeks to advance the cause of safety in any matter that relates to protective gloves or protective clothing.

The PG&C SIG currently has over 200 members across all sectors of the safety industry, from design and testing to manufacture, sales, distribution and consultancy. As the leading body for the Safety Industry in the UK the BSIF sends representatives to all relevant BSi PH committees, ensuring a healthy flow of vital information to and from the ‘front line’ to the standard and law makers.

In the case of PG&C the SIG monitors and sends representatives to 25 PH committees.

So, what are the key issues of the moment?

  • Logos and Laundering

The impact of adding a logo to a piece of protective clothing for instance, or of laundering it can be very considerable – and very often totally ignored or overlooked. Clearly the act of stitching on a logo can compromise barrier properties, but there can also be an impact on performance areas such as antistatic or flammability. 

The laundering process can have a significant adverse effect on the performance of PPE

Similarly, the laundering process can have a significant adverse effect on the performance of PPE. The User Information Sheet, along with the CE label in the garment, provide clear instructions on the use, care and maintenance of each item of PPE. This is key to ensuring the garment is compliant for its appropriate life-cycle - not following these instructions can result in the garment no longer complying to the certificated standards and potentially not providing the protection anticipated.

For example, if reflective tape is washed or dried at excessive temperatures, then the glass beads can come away from the silver backing of the reflective tape. 

This may not be clearly visible during daylight but will mean the essential reflective properties of the tape will not be present in darker environments, when light needs to be reflected back off the tape in order to make the wearer visible. Where garments are being altered or repaired by a laundry service provider, it is imperative that factory original components are used. So, if a trouser certificated to EN 11611 (welding) and EN 11612 (heat & flame) is repaired with a standard poly-cotton fabric then the entire garment performance is compromised, and the wearer is no longer protected in line with the garment certificate. 

  • Gloves protecting against mechanical risks

The standard that covers these risks – EN 388 – is probably one of the most used of all. It addresses properties such as resistance to abrasion, puncture and cut. Those familiar with the industry will be aware that at the last revision some significant changes were made to how cut resistance was dealt with. A second test was added and the marking of performance levels on the gloves was changed. The PG&C group published guidance to help users and choosers understand the changes. The standard remains under scrutiny as a programme of coordinated international laboratory tests seeks to improve the cut test to improve repeatability within labs and reproducibility across labs with the aim of increasing confidence in the results. This is one of the many topics BSIF members monitor and influence though their participation in PH/3/8.

  • Clothing that protects against chemicals

Protection against chemical (and biological, radioactive and nuclear) risks are addressed by PH/3/3. One of the emerging topics which are members are engaged with is the proposal to review ISO 16602 which establishes minimum performance, classification and labelling requirements for this category of PPE. The current ‘type’ classification system was established over 20 years ago in Europe and was mirrored in the ISO standard. A proposed revision of the ISO standard seeks to take a more risk orientated modular approach to classification. There is considerable interest in these suggestions in Europe, with the potential that a joint EN-ISO standard may result. 

https://www.bsif.co.uk/

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Safety signs in the workplace 10/02/2021

AS YOU walk through any business – whether that be a high street shop, a prestige office block, a manufacturing plant, a construction site or a local school/hospital – there should be one constant on view across all industries and all locations; the humble safety sign

We all see them on a daily basis, we should all understand them and hopefully we all follow the guidance they provide – in truth, we don’t always stop and study the sign but even on a subliminal level they can play a key part in keeping staff and visitors safe. But are they really worth bothering about – do they really bring a benefit by displaying a message that many of would consider common sense anyway?

The short answer is YES! And for a multitude of reasons – business compliance, safety improvements and perhaps most surprisingly of all – the ability to the ability to grow your business through attracting customers!

One of the simplest explanations for the importance of safety signs is that they are a legal requirement for any workplace, and installing them therefore represents a key element of basic regulatory compliance.

signs are required to be clear, legible, visibly placed and well-maintained

The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 mandate that signs are required where significant risks to the health and safety of employees (and others) continue to exist even after all other relevant precautions have been taken. These signs are required to be clear, legible, visibly placed and well-maintained, and should be used in the following circumstances:

- To warn against dangerous and prohibited actions in a certain area

- To highlight safeguards and procedures that must be followed, or equipment that must be worn

- To draw attention to a nearby hazard or potentially dangerous situation

- To direct people towards essential safety gear and fire safety equipment.

If companies fail to meet their legal requirements and something does go wrong, they could be at risk of regulatory fines and severe damage to their reputation, which is why no responsible business should ever underestimate the importance of investing in essential signage.

COVID-19 signage

That idea that safety signage could boost profitability might be surprising to hear and hard to believe but the devastating impact of COVD-19 on businesses during 2020 has helped to highlight how important clear and professional signage is throughout a building.

Research has revealed that 80% of shoppers in the UK feel safer in shops with clear signage. More than 40% of UK shoppers have stopped visiting stores that have unclear signage on social distancing, new research reveals. The study by digital printing solutions firm Roland DG reveals that 78% are more likely to shop in stores with clear practical instructions on social distancing measures.

The findings also indicate that brands risk reputational damage from inadequate COVID-19 signage, with UK shoppers saying the number one emotional impact of poor signage is the feeling businesses are not taking their safety seriously (40%).

The stores with the most unclear signage are clothes shops (21%), followed by supermarkets / grocery stores (19%), and restaurants and bars (16%).

It is apparent that businesses displaying clear and professional signage are more likely to see customers returning through their doors. I am sure we have all seen sheets of A4 paper stuck to a window or door to display a COVID19 message and it is little wonder that such signage does little to enhance customer confidence.

The ability to customise and run corporate colourways throughout the store on signage should not be overlooked. Combining key safety messages with corporate branding can go a long way to encouraging customers back through the door at a time when shops and businesses need them most.

Understanding safety signs

The UK has long since led the way in the development of safety signage, in terms of technical design and comprehension levels. As such, the British Standard BS 5499 was the blueprint for the harmonisation of safety sign design on a global level when ISO 7010 was released in 2011. This international standardization of safety signs meant that a consistency in design was enabled across the world. By using common pictograms and symbols it meant, for the first time, that a fire exit sign in the UK would look the same as it would in any other EU country, ensuring universal recognition/understanding of safety signs could be maximised (even if the sign’s text was displayed in a foreign language) and as our workforces and customers become ever more diverse that cannot be underestimated.

Of course, displaying a sign is one thing but displaying one that is technically correct is not always so straight forward. Many companies will print and supply signage but very few fully understand the complexities involved – hitting specific colourmetrics for the colours used on the sign, knowing the font (style and size) to use, choosing the correct material to print the sign on, choosing the correct size of a sign for the location it is being displayed etc are all areas for consideration and areas often overlooked.

This is perhaps best highlighted when looking at photoluminescent (glow in the dark) signage, used for fire exit signs and an essential aid when it comes to guiding people out of a building if power is out or in smoky conditions. There are varying classifications of photoluminescence (from Class A to Class G) which offer varying levels of luminance and longevity of afterglow. It is important to know that not all signs are equal and to maximise the chance of  evacuating a building in the event of a fire then a higher grade should be considered.

The impact of accidents

The Grenfell Tower fire tragedy has already led to a number of changes to legislation as the government seeks to act on the multiple safety issues the fire revealed. While cladding has been the focus of scrutiny to date there are a lot of other issues that also need to be addressed, among them, signage and wayfinding for firefighters.

In the evidence from Phase 1 of the inquiry, the difficulties firefighters faced when repeatedly going into and out of the building were highlighted. Their efforts were delayed by the building’s poor signage – some floors had no floor numbering at all while others had been handwritten in pen. As a result, firefighters had to pause several times during the operation just to find out which floor they were on as they progressed up the tower. However, even floors with good signage were difficult to identify, due to the density of smoke in the stairwells.

Richard Hippel, a firefighter based in Kensington, said the sixth floor was ‘completely filled with smoke, with zero visibility’. He said: ‘I’d never seen smoke like that in a domestic fire and can only say it’s like smoke when tyres burn. It was the first indication I had that this incident was something unusual.’

As a result of the findings of the inquiry, the government is looking to update the guidance on signage and wayfinding in buildings to aid the fire service in emergency situations. Amendments to The Building Regulations 2010: Approved Document B: Fire safety, Volume 1 – Dwellings and Volume 2 – Buildings other than dwellings, will see a new recommendation for floor identification and flat indication signage within blocks of flats with storeys over 11m.

Similar amendments and improvements were introduced in the USA as a result of the 9/11 attacks where similar issues highlighted the need for more effective safety way guidance systems (SWGS) to be put in place to aid with evacuations and to assist fire crews which resulted in the development of  ISO 16069:2017

The importance of proper maintenance

Any responsible business will already be displaying relevant, conformant safety signs all across their workplace, but proper health and safety stewardship needs to go beyond simply buying the right signage.

It is essential to ensure that all members of staff understand what all of the signs mean – not only by providing proper training, but also by making sure that their messages and pictograms are self-explanatory. Businesses also have a responsibility to keep these notices clearly displayed, unobstructed and well maintained, as a hidden or damaged sign could pose a significant danger to staff wellbeing if an emergency situation occurs.

An employer must provide safety signs where they can help reduce risk and where all other methods of reducing that risk have been employed but a danger to employee health and safety remains. By completing a walk-through of your facilities and working environment it can help you review the suitability of current signage and make observations of locations where new or additional signage may be required.
An effective audit should consider the following four areas:

A: Risk Assessment:

A walk through of the premises will help to a formal risk assessment to:

- Identify risks that may cause harm to employees and/or visitors within your premises

- Qualify the likelihood or possibility of any occurrence or incident likely to cause injury or harm to employees or visitors within the confines of your premises

- Assess the possibility of any consequential injury or harm likely to be caused by any event or incident.

- Define the measures, steps or actions needed to be taken to prevent the possibility of any occurrence likely to cause injury or harm to employees or visitors. Liaise with emergency services and create an emergency plan.

B: Communication, education and training:

You should communicate, educate and train employees and visitors in the actions they need to take to prevent injury or harm to themselves or others in accordance with the health and safety management system. You should take into consideration possible confusion if English is not the first language of staff/visitors during this process.

take into consideration possible confusion if English is not the first language of staff/visitors

C: Application, use, siting and maintenance of safety sign and statutory notices

For an effective application strategy:

- Safety signs should not be surrounded by other signs of a similar size and colour

- Safety signs should be located in areas where colour contrast is good

- Add supplementary text to safety signs to improve comprehensibility and legibility

- Consider whether lighting conditions are good enough to see the safety signs clearly at all times

- Ensure the signage is at a suitable height to prevent the sign being obscured by office furniture – check that the signage can be viewed from all areas of the room.

- Make sure the safety signs used give the complete message and are unambiguous (their design should comply with ISO 7010 standards wherever possible). Once your safety signs are in place, it is important that they are cleaned and visually inspected regularly.  Actions should be taken to remedy defects immediately (this may include fading, vandalism, removal of signage etc).

D: Choosing the right materials and size of sign:

Having established the need for a safety sign, consideration should be given to the substrate from which the sign is made to ensure its suitability for the environment where it is to be displayed (eg internal/external signage). Every substrate has its own unique characteristics. Consider also the viewing distance of signs – a large open plan building may require larger signage then a small office in order to maximise visibility.

In summary, if you consider the relatively low cost to install safety signage against the possible repercussions in the event of an accident/fire then there can be little excuse for not taking the time and effort to ensure your premises are compliant and up to date.

http://www.bsif.co.uk

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Technology can improve road safety 30/11/2020

DESPITE MORE than 50 years of drink drive campaigns, road traffic accidents caused by driving after consuming alcohol are showing a rise in numbers.

When the preliminary Department of Transport figures for 2018 were released in August 2020, they showed that the total number of crashes, where at least one driver was over the alcohol limit, rose by 3% on the previous year to 5,890, an average of around 16 crashes a day. The figures also showed that 23 people are killed or injured as a result of drink driving in the UK every day!

These statistics highlight that we have a significant road safety issue which has personal, economic and societal impact for both individual and commercial road users. As a result, following the publication of the figures, we carried out some research with YouGov. Our objective was to understand Public attitudes to drink driving, and also to the use of technology to help prevent a further increase in drink driving related accidents.

The respondents in the research sample all had a full driving licence and consume alcohol, and when asked about their attitude to drinking and driving, the findings showed that more than half of these respondents would drive after consuming alcohol. Although, interestingly, this figure reduces after more than one drink, with only 14% saying they would drive after consuming two drinks and just 2% after consuming three or more.

The YouGov findings also indicated that men are more likely than women to drive after consuming alcohol – less than half of female respondents (47%) said they would drive after one drink, compared with 62% of male respondents.

As one in nine drink drive convictions occur ‘the morning after’, we were keen to understand the attitude to driving the morning after consuming three or more alcoholic drinks. Just over a third of respondents (35%) would drive as normal but again women are less likely to drive the next morning, 27% of women compared with 43% of men would drive as normal. 

Devices are fitted into a vehicle and require the driver to take a breathlyser test before the engine will start

This research precedes the publication of a PACTS (Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety) study which is part of the Government’s assessment of interlocks. The devices are fitted into a vehicle and require the driver to take a breathlyser test before the engine will start. There are mechanisms available to prevent circumvention of the system and when installed mean that if a driver is over the limit, they will not be able to drive their vehicle.

The PACTS study, which is due to be published before the end of 2020, has investigated the feasibility of using this technology as part of drink drive offender rehabilitation programme and will draw on existing research, experience and expertise from countries around the globe where interlocks are required as part of offender programmes.

Offender rehabilitation programmes been operating in countries such as Australia, America and parts of Europe for many years and the data gathered demonstrates that use of interlocks in a rehabilitation programme can be effective. In America, the evidence suggests that interlock devices have prevented 3 million journeys where drink would have impaired the driver. Closer to home, a study carried out in Sweden showed an 80% reduction in RTAs among those who opt for the rehabilitation programme in the five years after taking part, compared with the five years before. While in Holland, a research paper published earlier this year showed that only 4% of those on the programme reoffended in the two years after the programme was completed, compared with 8% in the control group, a finding which is statistically relevant.

So what do the UK Public feel about the use of interlock technology and the introduction of rehabilitiaton programmes? The findings of the YouGov research showed that four in five respondents (82%) support the introduction of interlock devices for vehicles which transport large volumes of passengers, for example buses, coaches and school tranport, as a safety mechanism. There was a higher level of support for this among women, with 57% strongly supporting the step compared with 49% of men. However the support was strongest among respondents with children (51%) with 67% of those with three or more children under 18 in their household strongly supporting this kind of initiative. 

When it comes to drink drive offender programmes, there is public support for repeat offenders to have interlock devices fitted before their driving licence is returned (83%) and for first time offenders (56%).

We must wait a few more weeks before we learn the result of the PACTS study but the research indicates that the use of interlocks for drink drive offenders has broad support from the General Public. If the PACTS report is in agreement, the next step would be a trial of the technology.

This article was provided to BSIF by BSIF Member Graham Hurst, Marketing Manager Impairment, Draeger Safety UK Research

Respondents had a full driving licence and consumer alcohol (a sample of 1336 adults). All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 2162 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 18th - 21st September 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

https://www.bsif.co.uk/

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Beware non-compliant PPE 24/09/2020

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has been a hot topic over the last few months as the shortages and difficulties in procuring products have been felt across all industries that would regularly use them for protecting their workforce

In particular Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) has seen a huge increase in demand not just in the workplace but also as a means for protection by the general public. With face masks and face coverings being made compulsory in large amounts of society it is vital that the right products are sourced for the situations they will be used within.

This increase in demand for RPE has been seen as an opportunity by some to move into the sales of these life saving products. This may be their first attempt at selling any kind of PPE and the knowledge of the products may not be as it should. The market place has been flooded with non compliant and fake products originating from sellers that have no experience with this highly regulated industry. The concern being that someone buying RPE will not know what they are looking for and purchase an item that will not actually end up protecting them, in the normal world you would look to the supplier to advise but with PPE being available from so many new sources, the expertise from the seller have been compromised.

The market place has been flooded with non compliant and fake products

It is also vital to stress that tight fitting RPE must be fit tested by a competent fit tester. Having a fit test will ensure that the sourced mask fits the wearer and therefore offers protection from the hazard. Fit testers who are accredited throught the fit2fit scheme (www.fit2fit.org) will have experience of many different masks and using an accredited fit tester could help with mask selection as they may be able to identify non compliant versions more easily than a first time user of RPE.

Investigations have been launched into several products and BSIF have reported well over 200 companies to Trading Standards for selling products that do not comply with the industry standards and therefore should not be being sold. There have even been links to organised crime relaing to PPE offers and sales. One such investigation can be found at https://www.bsif.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/OCCRP-Article-002.pdf

In this instance PPE has been offered for sale with fake or non compliant certification, every item of PPE sold has to be produced to a certain standard, this is checked by a notified body or test house who then independently certifies that the item of PPE meets the standard and is therefore safe to use. That test house must have the ability to certificate PPE, which in the case here it did not. Where is the danger here? Well it is in the fact that the product appears to be compliant and could be trusted but actually it is not and could result in wearers of the products being exposed to hazards they believed they were protected against due to the product not performing as it should do.

With so many new users of PPE it is safe to say that a lot will not have experience of purchasing these products let alone using them and so there is a real danger that exploitation could be taking place. The regulator for Health & Safety in the UK, The Health & Safety Executive (HSE), recently confiscated over 1.5million face masks due to them being non compliant. This is just an example of the ones that have been identified!

So, if you have now been told that you need to consider PPE within the workplace how can you be sure you can purchase equipment safely and know that the products you are purchasing will provide the expected protection? This is where the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme comes in.

BSIF has created the Registered Safety Supplier scheme (RSSS) to support the UK safety market. Companies displaying the scheme’s logo have signed a binding declaration that the safety equipment and services they offer meet the appropriate standards, fully complies with the PPE regulations and is appropriately CE marked.
The Mission of the scheme is to provide assurance to users that only compliant and correctly performing products are being supplied through a capable, educated, competent supply chain. The scheme provides a recognised route to enable a member to demonstrate compliance with due diligence – discharging the obligations of an economic operator under PPE Regulation (EU) 2016/425

A Registered Safety Supplier Scheme member…
• Formally declares and commits to selling only Certified PPE  and safety products that perform to claims made
• Submits their products to random independent scheme testing
• Commits to having their customer facing staff educated and accredited in the Safe Supply Course
• Maintains a company Quality Policy
• Holds necessary authorisation for service provision
• As a Federation member trades honestly and ethically
 Who benefits …
• The purchasers and end users of  safety products and PPE – with product that performs as it should
• The purchasers and users of safety products and PPE—sourced from capable, value adding suppliers
 The obligations of a Registered Safety Supplier
•    Completing a formal, binding declaration that all products will comply with the requirements of applicable legislation and that any specific product performance claims are genuine
•    Having the capability to manage a product recall process and take other corrective actions and maintaining a quality policy which includes the BSIF prescribed statement
•    For PPE, submitting to the testing of one product per year (randomly selected from their offering) to indicative performance clauses to any standards for which certification is claimed. This audit will include all relevant documentation
•    For Safety Equipment outside of mainstream PPE, not regulated by publicly available Standards and audit of relevant documentation and assessment of claims will be made against one product/service for the published range P.A.
•    For organisations authorised by manufacturers to service , calibrate and or re-certify products, submitting an audit of the manufacturers authorisation.
•    Proof of adequate liability insurance
•    Commitment to educate and accredit customer facing staff within the BSIF Safe Supply Qualification
•    For Distributors/Importers of PPE, demonstration that they comply with the “Obligations and Responsibilities” required by (EU) 2016/425 through maintenance of the audited Compliance Protocol

BSIF encourage the companies who purchase PPE to sign up to become a Supporter of the scheme. Supporters agree that they will always try to buy from a company that is a member of the RSS Scheme meaning that they recognise the vital importance of sourcing PPE that does its job properly and can be relied upon. Companies that sign up to be Supporters show their commitment to safety in the workplace and this is recognised by the RSS Scheme by putting their logo onto the website to highlight the commitment made.

To find a Registered Safety Supplier you can go to the dedicated website; www.registeredsafetysupplierscheme.co.uk and use the ‘Suppliers’ tab. This will give you a full list of the members of the scheme and will help you to source products from those that know what they are talking about and have years of experience within the PPE industry.

Remember, ‘anyone can sell safety, but you shouldn’t buy safety from just anyone’.

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Fit2Fit and Face Fitting 29/07/2020

During the last months we have all seen the media attention on the availability of face masks for workers in healthcare and social services. What the media has not seen and something which I want us all to appreciate is the work being done by the Fit2Fit accredited face fitters in the UK.

For a tight fitting mask to provide protection it needs to be adequate for the hazard and suitable for the individual. To ensure that it is suitable for the individual it must be fit tested for that person. Face Fitters around the country have been working 7 day weeks to try to cover as many people in healthcare as is humanly possible. This task is monumental and I would like to pay tribute and thank them all to a person, for this heroic effort.

Face Fitting can be up close and personal and in these difficult times, a task that carries with it risk. The length and breadth of the UK the face fitting activity has gone on and on, just a fantastic effort!

Again we pay tribute to you all.

In some cases where there have been logistical limitations face fitters have created and delivered online training with follow up personal telephone support.

Training courses have been redesigned to fit available time with refocussing content to reinforce key messages on avoiding cross contamination.

the task of the face fitting and reassuring wearers has been fraught

The challenges in healthcare face fitting have been added to with some confusion of guidance on which mask is suitable for what application. Whether there are actually distinct differences in the advice given by Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive or not, the task of the face fitting and reassuring wearers has been fraught.

The government cabinet office team’s objective included a coordinated approach to prioritising face fitting around the UK from a central point. Advice was sought from Fit2Fit on harnessing resource and helping to point it at priority areas, this has not yet been put into action.

As well as dealing with mask supply problems we have had to support the authorities on shortages with components for face fitting kits. While our BSIF members have been doing all that they can to supply kits we have supported, through the Fit2Fit community, alternative manufacturing of fit test taste solution.

When we come out of this COVID 19 crisis it is crystal clear that a strategic approach to face fitting as well as the availability of PPE in Healthcare is absolutely essential for preserving the health of the UK workforces.

HSE advises on the importance of fitting respirators correctly

If a respirator is incorrectly fitted, it will not provide you with protection.

HSE is advising healthcare workers currently using respiratory protective equipment (RPE) on the importance of ensuring it is fitted correctly.

Tight-fitting respirators rely on having a good seal with the wearer’s face. A face fit test should be carried out to ensure the RPE can protect the wearer.

If you need to organise a fit tester you can find a list of all accredited fit testers on the scheme website:

www.fit2fit.org

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Beware of suspicious PPE certificates 09/06/2020

While the safety industry is working flat out to provide suitable and adequate legally compliant PPE in the wake of Covid-19, the market is awash with offers of product with questionable provenance, supported by certification that is at best misleading

With an incredible surge in demand and a dislocation of the traditional supply chains, suppliers and importers, previously not known to us, have appeared offering products, especially RPE and Medical Masks. The domestic supply chain, starved of these products has been understandably desperate to access product.

PPE is a highly regulated product category, for good reason, these are life sustaining products. For the sake of the health of workers we cannot afford sub - standard product that has not been properly assessed to be placed on the market. Over the last 3 weeks BSIF has typically been reacting to more than 30 requests per day for help in authenticating certificates. At times this has been almost overwhelming.

But who would be carrying out this vital service if not BSIF? We have been supporting members who are keen to do the right thing and we are following up with non-members to ensure that only safe compliant products get through. We are working with the Trading Standards Authorities, BEIS and OPSS continually.

The image shows some of the examples of dubious certificates that are in the market, and while not accusing these companies directly, as there are forgeries around, I would draw your attention to the ECM certificate. This is a voluntary certificate allowing the use of the ECM mark, but carrying the CE logo which is actively misleading manufacturers and importers into believing that the certificate is a valid EU document. It is not. Please do not be misled. We have seen this type of scandalous practise in other institutions and have continuously called on the EU Commission for action.

users should look to a Registered Safety Supplier for quality products

The risks of product entering the market through businesses that do not know what they are doing has never been more obvious. It has never been more apparent that users should look to a Registered Safety Supplier for quality products provided by capable knowledgeable staff.

Fit2Fit and Face Fitting

In the last weeks we have all seen the media attention on the availability of face masks for workers in healthcare and social services. What the media has not seen and something which I want us all to appreciate is the work being done by the Fit2Fit accredited face fitters in the UK.

For a tight fitting mask to provide protection it needs to be adequate for the hazard and suitable for the individual. To ensure that it is suitable for the individual it must be fit tested for that person. Face Fitters around the country have been working 7 day weeks to try to cover as many people in healthcare as is humanly possible. This task is monumental and I would like to pay tribute and thank them all to a person, for this heroic effort.

Face Fitting can be up close and personal and in these difficult times, a task that carries with risk. The length and breadth of the UK the face fitting activity has gone on and on, just a fantastic effort!

In some cases where there have been logistical limitations face fitters have created and delivered on-line training with follow up personal telephone support. Training courses have been redesigned to fit available time with refocussing content to reinforce key messages on avoiding cross contamination.

The challenges in healthcare face fitting have been added to with some confusion of guidance on which mask is suitable for what application. Whether there are actually distinct differences in the advice given by Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive or not, the task of the face fitting and reassuring wearers has been fraught.

The government cabinet office team’s objective included a coordinated approach to prioritising face fitting around the UK from a central point. Advice was sought from Fit2Fit on harnessing resource and helping to point it at priority areas, this has not yet been put into action.

As well as dealing with mask supply problems we have had to support the authorities on shortages with components for face fitting kits. While our BSIF members have been doing all that they can to supply kits we have supported, through the Fit2Fit community, alternative manufacturing of fit test taste solution.

When we come out of this COVID 19 crisis it is crystal clear that a strategic approach to face fitting as well as the availability of PPE in Healthcare is absolutely essential for preserving the health of the UK workforces.

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BSIF extends partnership with Western Business Media 05/02/2020

The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) has signed a multi-year extension to its partnership with Western Business Media (WBM), which will see the BSIF continue to exclusively support WBM’s publications and the Safety and Health Excellence Awards.

The extension sees the continuation of the long-standing partnership between both parties and Health and Safety Matters (HSM) magazine will remain the official publication of the BSIF and the only independent voice of the health and safety sector. HSM is the market-leading publication in the health and safety market and has 18,000 circulation for its print edition and more than 50,000 unique monthly visitors to its website www.hsmsearch.com

HSM will also continue to produce dedicated e-newsletters to promote the BSIF’s activities to the sector and directly to the inboxes of BSIF members. The BSIF will also continue to support and provide content for WBM’s other publications, which include Fire Safety Matters, Handling and Storage Solutions, Industrial Plant & Equipment, Manufacturing Matters Ireland, Controls Drives and Automation, Cleaning Matters and Security Matters.

In addition, the prestigious BSIF Awards will remain the focal point of the Safety and Health Excellence Awards, which will take place on 29 April at the VOX, NEC Birmingham and be hosted by comedian Hugh Dennis. The Safety and Health Excellence Awards were jointly founded by WBM and BSIF in 2018 and have fast become the must-attend networking event for the health and safety and fire safety sectors. Last year, more than 550 attended the awards and there were in excess of 200 entries to the awards categories. 

The new agreement comes just weeks after Mark Sennett, Danny Kosifou and Keith Gabriel completed the purchase of the publications and the Safety and Health Excellence Awards from Nineteen Group and re-branded as Western Business Media. Since partnering with WBM (previously Western Business Exhibitions), the BSIF has seen a significant growth in its membership and HSM also seen significant growth in its readership. BSIF chief executive Alan Murray comments: “ BSIF value hugely our partnership with WBM. For us and our members a media partnership needs to recognise our ambitions and be truly aligned philosophically with our objectives. I am extremely proud of our association and our partnership with WBM."

Western Business Media CEO Mark Sennett adds: “We’ve worked with the BSIF for a number of years and they have been a key partner for us in helping establish our magazines as the market leaders in their sectors. The Safety and Health Excellence Awards have also been embraced by the sector and continue to grow from strength-to-strength.

“We are excited to extend our partnership with BSIF who work tirelessly to continue to raise safety standards. The BSIF's growing membership are hugely engaged with our publications and the awards. We look forward to providing them with the latest news from the sector to help them in the vital work that they do to keep people and premises safe."

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