Tag Archives: workplace safety

Returning to work support: COVID-19

We’re starting to move towards a relaxation of the lockdown rules surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, therefore many businesses are returning to work. At Amalgamate, we’ve been working to develop health, safety and wellbeing strategies for the reoccupation of workplaces across all different industries.

We have been working closely with our clients throughout the current outbreak to support them in managing the health, safety and wellbeing implications of COVID-19. Our team has built a recovery ready toolkit that allows our clients to fulfil their compliance needs and ensure they are protecting their employees.

These include:

  • Enhanced H&S Policy and arrangements;
  • Tailored COVID-19 secure and task specific risk assessments; 
  • Safe operating procedures for the reoccupation of construction sites, small and medium sized offices and large multi-location organisations;
  • Site inductions and toolbox talks for re-opening;
  • Online and blended learning courses for First Aid & Fire Safety
  • Developing audits and re-opening checklists; and 
  • Providing guidance and support

Our teams are also able to provide:

  • Updates to fire risk assessments to account for revised building operating models
  • Updates to First Aid risk assessments and systems
  • Legionella and asbestos surveys
  • Employee health and wellbeing programmes to ensure that you have a happy and healthy workforce

This a challenging and unique situation so if you need support in your business returning to work amidst COVID-19, please contact us on t: +44 (0)141 244 0181 or email us on info@amagamalgamate-safety.com

Our experienced consultants will be more than happy to discuss your needs and provide practical health, safety and well-being advice to ensure that your buildings are safe to re-open and it is safe for your employees to return.

We’re also able to provide environmental cleaning services through our network of specialist suppliers, for more information on this please click here.

For guidance published from the Government on reopening businesses safely, click here.

New H&S Sentencing Guidelines – Are you ready?

New Sentencing Guidelines come into effect in February 2016. Is your business ready?

The Sentencing Council’s new guidelines aim to ensure a consistent approach to health and safety, corporate manslaughter, and food safety and hygiene cases, and will lead to a more severe response to these cases, and potentially higher fines.

Company directors who are found guilty of “consent, connivance or neglect” in relation to an offence could face unlimited fines, as well as up to 2 years in prison.

Serious health and safety breaches could result in fines exceeding £10million, and corporate manslaughter cases could exceed £20million. 

Different fine ranges will apply depending on the size of the organisation. However it’s entirely possible that the fines could be of sufficient size to put a company out of business, which may be decided to be an acceptable consequence, if the offence is severe enough.

When a fine is being decided, the court will consider the overall seriousness of the offence based on the offender’s culpability and the risk of serious harm, even if no harm was actually caused. They will also take into account various factors including, amongst others, whether the business has:

  • any previous convictions
  • taken action to improve the situation
  • co-operated with the investigation
  • a history of relevant offences
  • committed the offence for the purpose of financial gain.

It is clear that the regulatory authorities expect companies to take positive action, and really prioritise health and safety issues. And although the guidelines will apply only to England and Wales, health and safety law is generally consistent across the UK, so it’s likely that Scotland will follow suit and implement tougher fines.

This news is a timely reminder to ensure that your business is compliant with all the relevant Health and Safety legislation, and that your H&S management systems are truly effective. Taking action now could protect the financial standing of your business.

To find out more about how we can help, call us on 0141 244 0181 or e-mail info@amalgamate-safety.com

Asbestos and the CDM 2015 Regulations

Due to the shift in responsibilities under the new CDM Regulations, there is a potential duty for the Principal Designer and the client to ensure that exposure to asbestos is being managed throughout a construction project.

In the HSE guidance on the new CDM Regulations it places more explicit requirements on duty holders to follow the general principles of prevention.

The HSE has also indicated that the new regulations are more focused on the client’s duties and making the client “accountable for the impact their decisions and approach have on health, safety and welfare on the project”.

We have put together a document to help you understand the implications of the new regulations, and what your responsibilities are. Read more here:  Asbestos and the CDM Regulations

Dealing with Lead Paint – The Risks of Lead Exposure

In the last 20 years, a lot has been done in the UK to remove the risks from lead exposure, but there is still a significant amount of lead paint in older buildings. Up until the mid-1960s, lead was used to make some kinds of paint – for windows, doors and other woodwork, as well as for some metal items, like radiators. A few minor uses continued until the 1980s.

Lead exposure can have serious health consequences, ranging from anaemia, to kidney damage, brain damage, and even death. The groups most vulnerable to lead exposure are children and pregnant women, but severe or ongoing exposure can be damaging to anyone. Therefore it is important to know how to deal with lead paint correctly.

When are you most at risk?

When the work you are doing produces lead dust, fume or vapour you are most at risk. This may include:

  • blast removal and burning of old lead paint;
  • stripping of old lead paint from doors, windows etc;
  • hot cutting in demolition and dismantling operations;
  • scrap-processing activities, including recovering lead from scrap and waste;
  • some painting of buildings; some spray-painting of vehicles;
  • working with metallic lead and alloys containing lead, eg soldering;
  • lead smelting, refining, alloying and casting.

How do you make sure it’s safe?

The easiest way of dealing with lead paintwork thats in good condition is to seal it with a coat of modern paint. But if the paintwork is in bad condition and needs to be removed before you can repaint, use methods that don’t create dust or fumes, like a solvent or caustic-based liquid stripper.

Don’t forget to follow the safety instructions, and remember that solvent-free, water-based paint removers are now available. If you have to use a hot-air gun, use it just enough to soften the paint – don’t burn it, as this will produce fumes. A good guide is to ensure the gun is set below 450C. Keep surfaces moist when removing paint.

Wear protective clothes, gloves and a good quality face mask with a filter conforming to EN143 P2, and shut off the work area. If possible, remove furniture and carpets; otherwise cover them completely.

When you break from the work, store the clothes you’ve been wearing safely (e.g. in a sealed plastic bag) and wash your hands and any other bare skin before you do anything else.

When you’ve taken most of the paint off, moisten the surface and smooth it with a waterproof abrasive paper – don’t use sandpaper.

When you’ve finished, put the paint you’ve removed and any collected on coverings in a safe container, a sealed plastic bag will do, and dispose of it. Clean the room you’ve been working in and any coverings with water and detergent. If you need to get rid of any dust after decorating, you may have to use an industrial standard vacuum cleaner (complying with British Standard 5415), and wash the clothes you’ve been working in separately from any others.


The Dangers of Diesel

IOSH has been trying to raise awareness of the dangers of diesel fumes. The fumes are carcinogenic, and it is estimated that every year 650 people die in the UK (and 4,500 in Europe) from lung or bladder cancers that they cause.

Some facts

Diesel fumes contain 10 times more soot particles than petrol fumes, and regular exposure to them means that you have a 40% higher chance of developing lung cancer.

800 people are diagnosed with cancer caused by diesel fumes in the UK every year.

Around half a million workers in the UK could be exposed to dangerous levels of diesel fumes.

Some of the main risk employment areas for exposure to diesel engine fumes include: construction, shipping, transport/logistics, vehicle repair, and warehousing.

What does this mean for your business?

This is a sizeable problem and, as with all health and wellbeing issues, employers must ensure that they are making sufficient effort to protect their workers.

Things to consider include: the type of diesel being used, the level of fumes, whether they are building up in enclosed areas, and if they are making sooty deposits or a smoky haze which workers are exposed to.

Where diesel fumes are present, a risk assessment should be undertaken. When doing this, you need to think about the following points:

  • What diesel engines or equipment are used in the workplace?
  • Do engines or machines emit blue or black smoke?
  • Are diesel exhaust fumes released into enclosed working areas such as garages?
  • Are diesel exhaust fumes drawn into the workplace through ventilation inlets?
  • Are diesel exhaust fumes concentrated in confined spaces or areas in buildings where there is limited air movement?
  • Are there visible soot deposits on surfaces in the workspace?
  • Is there a visible haze?
  • do those in the work environment suffer from irritated eyes or lungs?

If you answer ‘yes’ to some or all of these basic questions, there is a risk of people being harmed by diesel exhaust fumes. It’s vital that you arrange a formal assessment of the hazard, which could include measuring elemental carbon concentrations. Depending on the results of the assessment, you may need to either prevent or control the potential exposure. Typical actions to control exposure include:

  • switching to other forms of fuel where possible, e.g. gas or electric
  •  replacing old engines with newer versions with lower emissions
  • making sure that engines are maintained properly – especially fuel delivery systems
  • making sure diesel engine exhausts have filters using ‘local exhaust ventilation’ and good general ventilation in fixed or enclosed workplaces
  • using forced ventilation to draw fresh air into the workplace
  • using connecting extraction pipes for vehicle exhausts in workshops
  • filtering air in vehicle cabs
  • making sure that engines are turned off when they’re not needed
  • if engines have to be left running, making sure the vehicle or equipment is moved outside (checking that no one else is then exposed)
  • making sure cold engines are warmed up in spaces with good ventilation
  • keeping building doors and windows open if it’s practicable
  • rotating jobs between different employees to minimise exposure.

Health surveillance

Ensuring that Occupational Health (OH) checks are undertaken is also key to maintaining workers’ health. Regular checks can alert you to potential problems that may require further action.

Some useful resources



How can you get help?

Hopefully this information will help you to make a start on establishing if there are steps to be taken to protect your employees. However, if you need any assistance with managing Occupational Health please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your requirements. Phone 0141 244 0181 or email info@amalgamate-safety.com.

A call to action on Fire Safety

The sad events at the Glasgow School of Art serve as a reminder of how devastating fire can be. Through the sterling work of the team of firefighters, nobody was injured, but sadly this is not always the case.

People are often surprised by how incredibly quickly a fire can take hold and escalate, leaving little time for escape.

A thorough and well-practised evacuation plan, that includes provision for visitors, people with disabilities, and other people who may need assistance, is absolutely essential.

Too often, companies have a fire safety plan that sits in a folder, fulfilling legal requirements, but staff members remain unfamiliar with it.

Ensuring that fire safety plans are communicated to employees, fully understood, and actively integrated into working practices, requires a pro-active approach. But the benefits are clear.

Staff members who are well-trained in fire safety strategies, who have been shown how to use fire extinguishers (and, crucially, know when it is appropriate to try to tackle a fire themselves), who ensure that escape routes are kept unobstructed, and who know by heart the procedures to follow, can make the difference between a small incident, and a potentially tragic event.

If anything good can come from the damage to such an iconic site, hopefully it will be this: to remind and encourage people to take real action to ensure that similar dangers are reduced in their own environments. Maybe a few lives will even be saved.

Design Safety

A study commissioned by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) demonstrated that safety should be designed into a construction project from the start, and not considered as an afterthought, and digital design tools can have an impact in achieving this.

Jane White, research and information services manager at IOSH, said: “Construction, as we all know, is one of our more dangerous industries. Therefore, with safety as a top consideration in the design phase, the number and severity of accidents that take place could be substantially reduced.

The research highlights the opportunities and challenges of seeing safety issues earlier in the process using digital design models. If safety was a top consideration for everyone at this early stage, then we could potentially see positive change in health and safety within construction.”

Dr Wei Zhou and Professor Jennifer Whyte, from University of Reading, and Associate Professor Rafael Sacks, from Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, brought together designers, builders, industry partners and construction management graduates. It allowed them to look at how builders and designers can interact effectively, with the aid of a virtual reality tool, to design safe construction processes.

Professor Jennifer Whyte said: “Employers need to consider their use of digital building information models (BIM) and the impact they can have on safety practices on a building site. “More needs to be understood about how digital tools, such as BIM, can be developed to foster mindful practices, and active decision making about safety issues.”

The IOSH-commissioned research highlights important issues around the use of digital building design models, and their potential impacts on safety, at a time when BIM is beginning to take off in the industry.

Jane White added: “The study also highlights the role digital models of design may play in the communication of construction design management (CDM) safety knowledge to designers. And with amendments to CDM regulations likely in 2014, things could be set to change, so knowledge is key.”

Courtesy of IOSH

Amalgamate Safety