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Health and safety forum

Health and safety forum

The health and safety discussion forum was suspended for a while, but we've now re-activated it, and all the original posts are still available.

The forum is a resource for reps and members to discuss health and safety issues among themselves. Please don't use it as a means of seeking advice or information from Prospect's health and safety officer.

STUC calls for an end to health and safety burdens

Author: Colin Gourlay Created: 05 December 2011

STUC calls for an end to health and safety burdens myth Speaking ahead of the publication of the Lofstedt Review on the burdens of health and safety legislation, Grahame Smith, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) General Secretary, said: “Whilst we welcome the conclusion that our health and safety regulation is not overly burdensome, we are aware that there is a sting in the tail of this latest Coalition Government attack on health and safety legislation. “With the prospect that millions of self-employed workers may be exempted from health and safety regulation, the review fails to acknowledge that this is the sector where people are more likely to be killed, injured or made ill by their work. “This is the second review into health and safety and yet another opportunity has been missed to improve health and safety by protecting people from injury, occupational ill health and disease and, as a result, reduce the burdens on our already stretched public services. “By ensuring people stay healthy at work, and in work, delivers economic benefits. It is also, morally, the right thing to do. We should never lose sight of the fact that it is everyone’s basic human right to expect to return home from work not having been made ill or injured by their employer. “The STUC believes that removing the responsibility on self- employed workers to adhere to health and safety regulations will only lead to more workplace injuries and exposure to occupational disease and cause pain and heartache to their families when tragedies occur. “This review should have gone much further in looking at how we improve our health and safety record but what it does do is dispel the myth that our health and safety legislation is too burdensome.” EndsFor further information contactIan Tasker 0141 337 8100 / 07974 966 227

reservoir safety

Author: John Palmer Created: 23 September 2011

We have been approached by the safety advisers here at United Utilities with a question about what our staff should do if they see a member of the public in difficulties in one of our reservoirs.   Although it is unlawful people use the reservoirs for swimming even though there are signs "Danger of Death" etc. widely displayed.

My opinion is that the most they should do is throw a lifebelt (if they haven't been stolen) but they should not get into the water as that would just mean 2 people in jeopardy.

What do others think?

Accident reduction incentive schemes!

Author: David Child Created: 19 April 2011

The company I work for is introducing a scheme which, in simple terms, provides a cash payment for every team that goes through a calendar year without a lost time incident.I have my reservations about this but I would be interested to hear of any experiences or other information you have about such schemes and their efficacy and pitfalls.

My own on-line research seems to indicate that incentives for safety can work but those that centre directly on payments for a reduction in LTIs can result in the suppression of reporting such incidents. Any information you can provide to support or oppose my position would be gratefully received.

Special Paid Leave for adverse conditions

Author: Paul Hockey Created: 22 December 2010

From a health and safety standpoint does anyone have a view, or advice, on the use of SPL to cover, or partly cover, adverse conditions e.g. snow? 

Our office has unilaterally stopped the custom and paractice of giving at least some of the time lost from snow as SPL.  I have observed that people put themselves and others at risk trying to get into work in order to preseve annual leave. 

 Would we have a case against our office, or any other public sector employer, re contributing to unsafe practices or similar?  Duty of care etc.

 Opinions and advice welcomed.

Hearing Damage

Author: Frank Beard Created: 30 November 2010

 Is there any ongoing investigation to damage caused by working in the telephone industry?  Telephone Exchanges could be VERY noisy places in 10,000 line units.  I have been informed  that BT have recognised this and have accepted blame for this type of damage.I was employed in the SE Area of London in this environment andhave been and still suffering with impairment of my hearing

Random Alcohol / Drugs Testing

Author: Colin WK Gourlay Created: 22 September 2010

I would be particularly interested in members' experiences of Random Alcohol /Drugs Testing, whether they be positive or otherwise.

I understand there can be issues relating to fairness of process application and Human Rights to name but two.

Thank you.

Welfare Requirements

Author: Christopher Allen Created: 04 February 2010

I would like some advice please.

I work at Holyhead Port for the Office for National Statistics. The team I work with works on board ferries interviewing passengers and we're away from our base for up to 14 hours involving two crossings of the Irish Sea. During this 14 hours we also work outdoors at Dublin Port in all weathers.

We have no access to the various civilities that staff normally expect such as water (yes, we can't even get a free drink of water), can't heat up our own snacks or make a cup of tea and have no where to change when we get wet outdoors etc.

The ONS did a risk assessment for the work which recognised that the welfare arrangements were not satisfactory and to compensate for the lack of these actually wrote in the assessment that staff could travel business class where free water and hot drinks were available and where rest breaks could be taken in comfort. They've now concluded that this is too costly and have stated that they will simply re-write the risk assessment and remove the business class travel.

The advice I'd like is as follows:-

To us it seems unreasonable to re-write the assessment just to save cash when the risk is still present. How do we object to the risk assessment change?

Is it acceptable to tell staff to provide their own water at work?

Is the ONS under a duty to provide us with reasonable civilities as they would office based staff?

Any other comments, feelings or advice?

Thank you.



Working on a ferry

Author: interviewer99 Created: 05 January 2009

I am a civil servant currently working at a port where I interview ferry passengers as they pass through the ferry terminal. The work is shore based and there's no contractual requirement for me to work on board ships.

My employers have announced that they want to change our working practices so that we will in future interview passengers on board ferries whilst out at sea.

Problem is I suffer terribly from sea sickness. The over the counter medicines for sea sickness all make me drousy to the extent that all I want to do is curl up and sleep and driving becomes risky.

Question is this, can my employer force me to work on a ferry at sea if it makes me ill and are there any legal defences I can employ which will prevent any action being taken against me?

pre-determined work rate

Author: Kath Created: 12 December 2008

Most of our members work from home and are given a set time to complete various assignments. 

One of the ‘principles of prevention’ in the Management of H&S at Work Regs 1999 is: ‘adapting the work to the individual, especially as regards … the choice of working … methods, with a view, in particular, to alleviating … work at a predetermined work-rate’. 

We’ve been faced with doing more work in a shorter time period.  I wondered whether anyone has experience of establishing what is meant by a ‘predetermined work-rate’ and arguing that it applied in a particular case.  I would also appreciate advice on where I could look for more information.   

Photocopies and Laser Printers - air quality

Author: Alan Dowding Created: 24 November 2008

There are some concerns that new photocopiers and laser printers could be linked to poor indoor air quality due to emissions of ozone, particulates, and volatile chemicals.  For example, He, C, Morawska, L & Taplin, L (Environmental Science and Technology, Vol 41: pp 6039-6045, 2007) reported that modern office printers can significantly affect sub-micrometre particle numbers - i.e. cause very high concentrations - in a large open-plan office.  Contributing factors seem to include the toner coverage as well as the printer workload and the age of toner cartridges etc.

I would be grateful for any similar information or personal experience from other H&S Reps which might be relevant to a possible link between asthma and photocopiers / laser printers.

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