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Safety

100% Hackitt initiative to ‘drive cultural change in construction’

A new industry initiative has been launched to encourage the government to deliver all of the recommendations contained within Dame Judith Hackitt’s report in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy.

100% Hackitt is being led by Local Authority Building Control (LABC) and the British Board of Agrément (BBA), who say they have united to bring focus to industry calls for a full adoption of Dame Judith’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.

The initiative has a dedicated website at www.100-hackitt.co.uk and has ‘pledge cards’ for supporters to sign up to the initiative and pushing for an Early Day Motion debate in the House of Commons.

Dame Judith attended the launch, delivering a keynote speech to a large number of cross-party politicians, policy advisors and industry body representatives, telling them there was ‘massive need’ for culture change throughout the industry, with responsibilities clearly defined at every stage of a building’s lifecycle.

“Much remains to be done to bring the construction industry up to the standards of other industries in terms of accountability, transparency and record keeping,” she said. “Don’t tinker, don’t tweak, it has to be fundamental.”

Claire Curtis-Thomas, BBA Chief Executive, said: “The BBA is backing this initiative as strongly as we possibly can because we want to see bad practices in the industry eliminated and protection for the public and companies that are fully committed to high standards of delivery.”

Paul Everall, LABC Chief Executive, added: “The LABC and the BBA share the same outlook and are determined to make a difference in our industry. But we’re not waiting, we’re getting on with building a safer future together – right now. The 100% Hackitt initiative is a space for everyone who wants to see systemic change in the construction industry and I hope the whole industry gets behind it.”

The launch event was facilitated by cross-party think tank Policy Connect through its parliamentary forum for the built environment, the Westminster Sustainable Business Forum.

The initiative has the support of senior figures across the construction and fire safety sector including the Fire Sector Federation, whose Executive Officer Dennis Davis said: “We are backing the 100% Hackitt initiative because we need a mandatory, controlled system that allows us to balance what we want – innovation, good buildings, new ideas, growth in our economy – with sensible restraint that ensures short cuts and economies aren’t made and shows that people are competent, resulting in safe building for those who occupy them.”

Jonathan Shaw, Chief Executive of Policy Connect, added: “The Hackitt review represents a once in a generation opportunity to recast the building system and start to build safer, better designed homes. We will discuss how the review can bring about positive change in the construction industry, what still remains to be done and where the Hackitt review could have gone further so that we can encourage the industry to push for change.”

100% Hackitt unites those who wish to see cultural change in the construction industry, promoting safety and public trust via a forum which provides on-going opportunities to discuss cross-discipline issues whilst keeping pressure on Ministers to adopt all of the Hackitt review recommendations.

“Dame Judith’s review of building regulations and fire safety showed systemic change is required within our industry,” added Curtis-Thomas. “Her report came with a warning that cherry-picking recommendations would compromise their overall effectiveness and it is this ‘pick and mix’ approach that the BBA and LABC are urging the government to avoid by accepting the recommendations in full.

“The construction industry has overwhelmingly taken on board her views and aspirations and wants to drive change – shifts in practices and working relationships have already been voluntarily introduced by many – but we need government backing to ensure this happens across the board. Many of the recommendations fall to government rather than industry. We are doing our bit and it now needs to do its bit and if this needs new regulation or even legislation it will have our backing and the backing of those who recognise that business as usual is not an option any of us want to consider.”

For full information about 100% Hackitt and to keep abreast of its latest developments visit: www.100-hackitt.co.uk

Fire Door Survey 2018 yields surprising results

By Precise UK Managed Services

Half of all tradespeople do not feel confident about advising customers on fire door safety, according to a poll of 2,000 individuals carried out by online trade supplier Ironmongery Direct, which was supported by the Fire Industry Association.

The survey results have been published after Fire Door Safety Week, which was 24th to 30th September to raise awareness of the importance of fire doors in saving lives.

Less than 20 per cent of the tradespeople polled had seen an increase in demand for fire safety products or, just as importantly, replacement intumescent (smoke seal) strips for fire doors.

The poll illustrated an alarming lack of general public and industry awareness of the life-saving role of fire doors, which are a legal requirement in all commercial, public and multi-occupancy buildings.

Fire Industry Association chief executive Ian Moore said that fire doors were one of many essential elements to keeping people safe from fire.

He added: “A fire risk assessment should determine, through thorough inspection, any potential risks or hazards so that they may be resolved.”

Whatever building you work in or visit ask yourself these questions: ‘how do I get out of this building?’; ‘are the Fire Doors actually fire doors?; and beware the signs on the door, as the fact that there is a sign doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a Fire Door.

Precise Managed Services undertake Fire Risk Assessments, Fire Risk Assessment audits and Fire Door Inspections and reports and are members and are trained by the Fire Protection Association.

Quarter of British accidents go unreported

New research by the Accident Advice Helpline has found that a quarter of employees have had an accident at work, yet one in six people wouldn’t report a potential hazard if they saw one.

The figures also revealed that nearly 23% of people polled wouldn’t know who to report a potential hazard to, meaning broken machinery, trailing wired and uneven floor often get left unfixed and unattended.

Out of 2,014 people polled, a third claimed they don’t have time to worry about hazards in the workplace, and 24% said they would ignore things like frayed electrical cords, spills or blocked fire exits, assuming it wouldn’t directly affect them.

In the event of an accident happening at work, a fifth said they would not know where to go due to lack of communication and training.

David Carter, spokesman for Accident Advice Helpline, said: “Accidents at work can easily be avoided if hazards are reported as soon as they are spotted and the more people who report it the better.

“When in a work environment it’s incredibly important to look out for one another to ensure injuries don’t happen.”

A quarter of those polled say they don’t think it is their responsibility to report a hazard even if it could be potentially dangerous, while just under one in 10 employees claim they have been told not to report a hazard by someone else.

Older generations are more likely to report something they thought was dangerous – with 93 per cent of 35 to 54 year-olds likely to say something compared to 76% of 16 to 24 year-olds.
Just under half admit they see various safety issues on a daily basis which have been around for a while, with 63%t saying they could be dangerous.

The most common hazards reported are a lack of safety around machinery, trailing wires, uneven flooring and the wrong equipment being used for tasks.

A quarter of workers say there are trailing wires in the workplace on a regular basis, while 16% work in an environment where machinery isn’t being used safely, with 17% often see others not wearing the appropriate health and safety protection when they should be.

A fifth of people have even witnessed a hazard within the workplace that has been intentionally masked or ignored.

www.accidentadvicehelpline.co.uk

Guest Blog, Simon Field: Loud noises and preventing damage in the workplace…

When it comes to facilities management, it is not just the health and safety of your employees that you have to worry about, you also need to protect contractors and visitors.

Due to the varied tasks taking place within the facilities management industry, one of the biggest dangers can be exposure to loud noises. Simon Field, a technical specialist at science-based technology company 3M, discusses how a four-step approach can help to keep everyone at your facility safe. 

While the effects may not be immediately obvious, exposure to loud noises can have really harmful – and irreversible – consequences.

Anything from construction work to even lawn mowing could create damaging sound levels and if the correct steps are not taken, it is not only people’s health which is at risk – companies can also face legal action.

One of the most common health issues caused by high levels of sound is noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) – which is a completely preventable but incurable condition.

In the past year around 15,000 people have suffered from NIHL caused, or made worse, by work. It is the most commonly reported occupational medical condition in the EU and between 2011 and 2014, NIHL insurance claims increased by 189 per cent.

As well as NIHL, loud noises can also result in tinnitus, which could lead to associated health problems such as insomnia. Safety can also be compromised, as people may not be able to hear warning messages or alarms if noise levels are too loud.

At 3M, we have devised a four-step approach to help companies keep everyone protected from loud noise.  

Detection

The first step in protecting your employees, contractors and visitors is to assess the noise levels to see if there is a problem. Start by asking yourself some straightforward questions such as, do employees need to raise their voices when speaking to each other or is the noise intrusive? If the answer is yes, then the noise levels are likely to be too high. Noise measurements should be conducted in any areas highlighted during your initial assessment. Noise surveys can be carried out in-house or by hiring a consultant.

It’s important to use the results of noise surveys effectively; deciding on noise control methods, re-evaluating risk assessments

and selecting appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

Protection

As part of The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005, employers are required to eliminate or reduce risks to health and safety from noise at work.

Depending on the level of risk, you should:

  • take action to reduce the noise exposure
  • provide your employees with suitable personal hearing protection

When deciding on hearing protection equipment (HPE), it is crucial to select a product that employees are motivated to wear. If the HPE does not fit correctly or is uncomfortable, the user is less likely to use it properly, which can significantly reduce the level of protection.

The two options available are ear plugs and ear muffs. These products come in different styles to suit a range of tasks, including disposable and reusable.

When deciding on protection, you should ensure that it is effective enough to eliminate risks, but does not leave the worker isolated. You also need to consider the working environment and check that it does not interfere with other PPE.

Training

It’s important to ensure that your workers understand why they need to take care of their hearing and how they can do this. Employers need to provide suitable information, instruction and training covering the noise hazards present, the control measures to be used and the correct use of these, including hearing protection. This could include fitting technique, any maintenance requirements and where equipment should be stored.

Validation

Once you have offered hearing protection to your workers, you then need to be confident that it is protecting them. As everybody is different, it is not a case of one size fits all when it comes to hearing protection, so you need to be sure the equipment is being used correctly.

To help prevent incorrect use, 3M has recently launched its revolutionary E-A-Rfit Dual Ear Validation System. This system takes noise measurements from both inside and outside of the hearing protection, in order to calculate a personal attenuation rating for each employee. The test takes only eight seconds to complete and can be used as part of a robust training programme, showing workers how correctly inserting the right ear plug increases their level of protection.

Following this four-step approach will help employers to feel confident that they are best protecting their workforce from exposure to loud noises.

More information about E-A-Rfit Dual Ear Validation System is available here
If you would like more information on hearing conservation or have questions on other types of PPE, please feel free to give 3M’s H&S helpline a call on 0870 608 0060.
*3M and E-A-Rfit are trademarks of 3M Company.

 

Simon Field has spent the last five years at 3M supporting the personal safety division with technical responsibility in areas of hearing conservation, eye protection, powered respiratory systems and welding protection. He has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in this area, along with an IOSH qualification in ‘Noise at Work Risk Assessment and Management’.