Health and Safety Matters

WOBO thanks HSM for a selection of news items.

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Tata Steel fined after worker suffers brain damage

TATA STEEL UK has been fined £120,000 after a worker suffered serious head injuries after being hit in the face with a scaffold pole, causing him to fall backwards.

Gavin Rowlands, an employee at Monolithic Refractories Limited, sustained permanent brain damage as a result of the incident on 3 April 2017.

He had been preparing to start a paddle mixer to mix concrete at Tata Steel UK’s site in Port Talbot, Wales. The paddle mixer door however would not open as hard concrete had built around it.

Using a scaffold pole, one of Mr Rowland’s colleagues managed to open the door. This caused the pole to spin and hit Mr Rowlands in the face with such force that he was thrown backwards, hitting his head and losing consciousness.

This led to Mr Rowlands breaking his jaw and suffering permanent brain damage.

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PPE combating rise of construction fatalities, Honeywell comments

TWICE AS many construction workers suffered work-related fatalities in the past year compared to other industries, according to the latest data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

The HSE has published its annual work-related fatality report, showing that there were 45 fatal injuries in the construction sector between July 2022 and June 2023 – more than twice that of the second-placed industry.

The number marks a sharp increase from the 2021/22 figures, which recorded 29 fatal injuries to construction workers, and is the highest recorded figure for the sector in the past five years.

According to the HSE’s report, the top three causes of fatal injuries are falls from heights, being struck by moving objects, and being struck by moving vehicles. The rising figures across the board reinforce the continued need for effective worker PPE and for safety to be top of the agenda for construction business leaders.

Michael Garceau, president of Honeywell Personal Protective Equipment comments, “Construction sites can be dangerous places to work and it takes thoughtful pre-planning to reduce worksite hazards. While not all risks can be eliminated, leaders can manage risks to prevent injury and loss. This, of course, requires that employers understand the specific hazards of all various jobsites, from residential, commercial, institutional or industrial construction. Only then can they provide the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to help prevent injuries, saving lives, time and money.

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Scottish ‘Call Challenge’ to combat false alarms

THE SCOTTISH Fire & Rescue Service (SFRS) has adopted a new ‘Call Challenge’ policy whereby it will stop attending automatic fire alarm (AFA) call outs to commercial premises unless a fire has been confirmed. This policy step-change is to reduce unwanted false fire alarms.

Fire alarm systems provide an early warning of fire and are one of the most effective ways to keep people and property safe from fire. But unfortunately, many fire alarm signals are false – triggered by cooking fumes, dust or lack of maintenance. This means fire crews are called out unnecessarily for unwanted fire alarm signals (UFAS). This policy change has now become necessary, as 98% of alarm activations which the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service (SFRS) is currently summoned to are false alarms.

As a result of the change, dutyholders with responsibility for commercial premises will need to safely investigate a fire alarm before calling 999, as control room operators will ask for confirmation of an actual fire, or signs of fire, prior to sending the nearest resource. This change however does not apply to sleeping premises, such as hospitals, care homes, hotels or domestic dwellings. Currently the ‘Call Challenge’ only affects Scotland, but with the heavy cost of false alarms on emergency services’ time being widespread, other areas of the UK may follow suit.

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