REVISED METHOD FOR HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES IN GROUNDWATER
Under the UK legislation that transposes the Water ‘Framework' Directive (2000/60) and Groundwater ‘Daughter' Directive (2006/118), UK environment agencies must consider whether a substance liable to cause water pollution should be a ‘hazardous substance' or a ‘non-hazardous pollutant'. The method used to classify substances under the Groundwater Directive (80/68) is now being revised, and views on the new proposal are invited.
The consultation is aimed at anyone who discharges pollutants to groundwater or carries out activity that could result in discharges to groundwater. This includes business managers and advisors, and trade
associations. The consultation, which ends on 24 August 2011, is at: www.wfduk.org/jagdag/jagdag/Open%20Consultation
UPDATED GUIDANCE ON CHEMICAL SPILLS
The Environmental Agency (EA) has updated its guidance on how to plan for the possibility of chemical spills. Where there is risk of a chemical spill that could harm health or the environment, employers should have an effective procedure for pollution incident response. The EA adds that where substantial quantities of harmful chemicals are stored, a ‘spill alarm' may be necessary to help with evacuation.
The EA's ‘Pollution prevention guideline: Incident response planning' (PPG21) is at: http://publications.environment-agency.gov.uk/PDF/PMHO0309BPNA-E-E.pdf
LIFTING OPERATIONS AT PORTS
Loading and unloading at ports involves a wide range of lifting equipment, ranging from gantry and slewing cranes to forklift trucks. Following a number of recent failures of lifting equipment, the HSE has issued basic recommendations for the routine maintenance and thorough examination and testing of cranes and other lifting equipment at ports. Recent accidents have included falling loads and workers being crushed by a moving load or lifting equipment.
The document may be of interest to other sectors and is available from: www.hse.gov.uk/ports/lifting-operations.htm?ebul=hsegen&cr=18/23-may-11
FIRE SERVICE DECISION ON BUSINESS FIRE ALARMS
The Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) has announced that it will no longer respond to automatic fire alarms (AFAs) at commercial premises between 9am and 9pm.
A spokesperson for the RBFRS said the majority of call outs were caused by "faulty or poorly-maintained fire detection systems". The RBFRS decision will not include Berkshire residential care homes, sheltered accommodation or other premises with a "specific identified fire risk". However, such a decision may lead other Fire Services to review their own stance on commercial AFA call outs.
OFFICIAL RRO GUIDANCE NOW AVAILABLE
Official enforcing authority guidance on the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO) from the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) is now available from www.cfoa.org.uk/12002 The guidance says that it should be used by fire and rescue services in conjunction
with the RRO.
The aim behind the guidance "is to provide enforcing authorities with a standardised approach to the articles contained within [the RRO] in the interests of promoting consistency of application". However, the guidance also notes that all definitive interpretations of the RRO will be made "by the courts".
LEADERSHIP IN CONSTRUCTION
An HSE report summarises the final phase of a project aiming to improve health and safety practices in construction through leadership and worker engagement.
The report finds that a web-based, interactive toolkit was found to be useful for SMEs. The toolkit's prescriptive (‘how to') nature with simple tools and techniques was particularly applauded.
Copies of RR880 ‘Development of a Web-based Leadership and Worker Engagement (LWE) Toolkit for small and medium enterprises in construction' can be obtained from www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrhtm/rr880.htm
INVESTIGATING SUSPICIOUS SICKNESS ABSENCE
Care is needed when dismissing an employee who is off sick. This warning comes from solicitors Wedlake Bell, which points to a successful employment tribunal claim for unfair dismissal.
The dismissal took place after the company and its insurer arranged for secret filming of the employee. On the basis of the footage the employee was dismissed on the grounds that he had falsely claimed company sick pay while he was fit for work. Even though the activities shown were consistent with medical advice from his GP the employee was dismissed without any further medical evidence.
More information: www.wedlakebell.com/Default.aspx?sID=45&cID=631&ctID=43&lID=0#page=1
PROTECTION FROM HARASSMENT ACT RULING
A Court of Session ruling on what is required to amount to a course of conduct under the Protection from Harassment Act (PHA) is highlighted by solicitors Shepherd and Wedderburn.
In Marinello v City of Edinburgh Council the Court of Session (the highest court in Scotland) followed the decision of the Court of Appeal in the recent case of Iqbal v Dean Manson Solicitors (see ‘Monitor' April 2011, page 9) and held that the proper approach in deciding whether a course of conduct amounts to harassment is to look at the course of conduct as a whole rather than to assess each of the individual incidents relied upon.
Shepherd and Wedderburn says the decision highlights that conduct which, at the time it occurs, may not appear sufficient to amount to harassment under the PHA may be deemed in retrospect to have formed part of a course of conduct amounting to harassment when taken together with other behaviour. Shepherd and Wedderburn says that employers should ensure that policies and advice to staff about inappropriate conduct covers this potential pitfall.
More detail available from: www.shepwedd.co.uk/knowledge/article/1198-3189/employer-s-liability-under-protection-from-harassment-act/email?utm_source=GCLH91F&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Employment%20E-Bulletin:%20Friday%2010%20June%202011&utm_campaign=e-bulletins
OFFICIAL GUIDE TO ARTIFICIAL RADIATION DIRECTIVE
The EC has made available a non-binding guide to the Artificial Optical Radiation Directive, in force in the UK through the Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations 2010.
Many workplaces contain artificial optical radiation sources and the Directive lays down minimum health and safety requirements regarding exposure of workers to such sources. The guide pinpoints applications posing minimal risk and provides guidance on others. It sets out an assessment methodology and outlines measures to reduce hazards and check for adverse health effects.
‘A non-binding guide to the Artificial Optical Radiation Directive 2006/25/EC' is available from: http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=148&langId=en&furtherPubs=yes
TITANIUM DIOXIDE GUIDELINES
US safety organisation NIOSH has issued a ‘Current Intelligence Bulletin' on titanium dioxide (TiO2). The product is an insoluble white powder that is used in many commercial products, including paint, cosmetics, plastics, paper and food.
‘Current Intelligence Bulletin 63: Occupational Exposure to Titanium Dioxide' can be obtained from: www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2011-160/
‘YELLOW TAPE' ALERT
Health and safety ‘yellow tape' is identified as a burden by half of the respondents to a survey from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). The survey, entitled ‘Health and Safety: a risky business?', surveyed nearly 6,000 employers.
The BCC calls for a review of the UK implementation of EU Directives and says: