IOSH Event Update From Head of Operations Debbie Williams – Compass MS

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I am slightly ashamed to admit that this was my first in-person attendance to an IOSH CPD event since COVID. While I have attended virtual CPD events in the last couple of years, it was good to be back at a face-to-face event and to catch up with like-minded H&S practitioners.

This event was hosted by IOSH and the South Cumbria Occupational Safety Group at Crooklands Hotel just off junction 36 of the M6. The presentation was delivered by Steve Boyd, Principal HSE Inspector and provided an overview of the 2023/34 workplan and a look forward to 2024/25.

The presentation started with a review of the HSE Strategy of ‘Protecting People and Places’, which includes the Building Safety Regulator as part of the HSE. As with previous years, the focus of the HSE continues to be on tackling work-related ill health, with a specific mention of mental health and stress, as well as maintenance of Great Britain as one of the safest countries to work in and ensuring people feel safe where they live, where they work and, in their environment.

The HSE workplan for 2023/24 concentrated on the following areas:

  • Fabricated metalwork/engineering – with a focus on welding fume and metal working fluids and ensuring suitable controls are in place, looking at the hierarchy of control for COSHH;
  • Woodworking – focusing on exposure to wood dust, with suitable controls including LEV and face fit tested RPE and machinery safety. The need for employers relying on close fitting RPE to ensure that workers are clean shaven and face fit tested.
  • Asbestos – with a specific emphasis on hospitals and educational premises.
  • Agriculture – using a hybrid approach to reach as many people as possible, to include attendance at compliance events, targeted inspections and communications. The main risks in agriculture remain as workplace transport, cattle handling, children on farms and slurry pits
  • Construction – with a continued focus on health including exposure to wood dust, silica dust, asbestos and manual handling. The HSE plan to focus their efforts on refurbishment projects and small housebuilders.

 

The workplan for HSE for 2024/25 will focus on the following industries:

  • Woodworking, specifically exposure to wood dust;
  • Bakeries, specifically exposure to flour dust;
  • Motor vehicle repair, in particular the use of isocyanates;
  • Plastics manufacture, specifically the risk from legionella.

The following three health topics will be key in all industry sectors:

  • Asbestos
  • Noise
  • Manual handling

Steve Boyd than gave an overview of notable cases in the Northwest, which included the fatal accident to a forklift maintenance worker which occurred when an untrained driver was in the vehicle while it was being repaired, the truck was also in an unsafe condition with no evidence of statutory examination being carried out.  Other notable cases included a fall from height where the netting was not extended fully, a mobile maintenance engineer who had his left arm amputated in the nip point of a conveyor after the guards had been removed, a visiting HGV driver being hit by a FLT during unloading, a fatality for a worker working under a tipper with no mechanical prop or support in place and an internal fall into a basement area due to a lack of suitable edge protection.

An interesting case was discussed about a company director who was individually prosecuted under s. 20 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act for failing to comply with the HSE, in addition to the company being prosecuted for various health and safety issues including lack of welfare and good order on site. This is a start reminder of the powers that HSE have as a regulator and employers should not obstruct them in fulfilling their duties.

An opportunity was provided for questions and an interesting discussion was held about how HSE will regulate issues around work-related mental ill health and stress. It was agreed that while this is an important area, it will be a challenge for the HSE to regulate. The importance of organisations, employers and H&S practitioners be familiar with the management standards and how these should be used as a basis for assessing the risk of work-related stress.

With this specific focus on work-related health, it is important for employers to have robust controls in place to protect worker health including health surveillance where needed. If you aren’t sure whether health surveillance is needed in your organisation, why not contact our specialist Occupational Health Nurse, Stephanie Townson at stownson@compass-ms.co.uk

Overall, it was good to be back at a face-to-face event and I look forward to attending the next one. To find your nearest IOSH events go to https://iosh.com/get-involved/events