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Local Authority (LA) / HSE Partnership Conference 2008
-Delivering Priorities Together-

Hilton Hotel, Manchester Deansgate, 5 November 2008

This is a further reminder that this year’s national Local Authority / HSE Partnership Conference will take place at the Hilton Hotel , Manchester Deansgate, on 5 November 2008.

We anticipate an exciting programme of speakers including Lord McKenzie, Minister for Health and Safety and HSE Chair, Judith Hackitt.   

Due to popular demand, in 2008 we are reinstating the HELA Awards for Innovation.

In addition to having the usual overall award winner and runner(s) up, decided in advance by a panel of judges drawn from LAs, HSE and HELA, we will this year for the first time, also hold a ‘people’s award’, voted for by delegates attending the conference.

We are pleased to report that this year we will  be reducing the cost to delegates of this year’s conference to £110 plus VAT and as in previous years, elected members may attend free of charge when accompanying a health and safety professional.  The delegate rate will include a buffet lunch and all refreshments.

We will start taking bookings soon, but in the meantime, please make a note of the date in your diaries.

STOP PRESS…Small regional events are being held towards the end of 2008 in Scotland, Wales and the South West.  More details will be available soon.

2008 HELA Awards for Innovation

In the last edition of LAU News we announced that due to popular demand we will be reinstating the HELA Awards for Innovation in 2008.  Winners will be announced and presented with their awards at this year’s Partnership Conference which will be taking place on 5 November 2008 at the Deansgate Hilton Hotel, Manchester.

We can now report that In addition to having the usual overall award winner and runner(s) up, decided in advance by a panel of judges drawn from Local Authorities (LAs), HSE and HELA, we will this year for the first time, also be having  a ‘people’s award’, voted for by delegates attending the conference.

Six entries will be shortlisted from those received and each one will be asked to give a poster presentation at the conference.  Each shortlisted entry will be awarded one free place at the event and successful applicants will be notified immediately after selection, shortly after the closing date below.  Judges will select their own winners in advance from this six and conference delegates will have an opportunity to vote for the entry which they consider to be the most innovative.  All winners will be announced in an awards ceremony at the end of the day.  We think this will be a good opportunity to add some extra interest and delegate participation to the day’s proceedings as well of course being an excellent way to share good practice.

The revised closing date for entries is Friday 26 September 2008.

Once again, examples of where innovative working could be demonstrated might include:

Application packs can be downloaded from the LAU.

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The Regulators’ Development Needs Analysis (DNA) Tool – What’s it all about?

HSE and Local Authorities (LAs) both put a lot of effort into inspector’s early years training to ensure they have the right skills for the job. The development they receive subsequently isn’t always so well planned, structured or targeted and HSE and LAs don’t therefore get the best value from it.

Part of the problem is the lack of an agreed benchmark to base development needs on, so it is difficult to demonstrate consistent standards of regulation, let alone apply a structured approach to development needs analysis.

These views were confirmed by research* and as a direct result the Long Term Training Needs Project Board was set up. With representatives from LAs, LACORS, CIEH, REHIS, LAU and all operational parts of HSE (Field Operations, Hazardous Installations and Nuclear) the project aims to produce a Regulators’ DNA tool to allow an individual inspector’s development needs to be identified and managed in a common, robust and consistent way. 

In February a paper version of the DNA tool was trialled across 12 LAs and parts of HSE. The results were very positive with lots of constructive feedback. This has lead to the piloting of a much-improved web-enabled DNA tool in over 25 LAs and 14 operational units within HSE. The DNA tool for use by inspectors and their managers captures the regulatory skills required of all warrant holders, prompting them to identify ongoing and further development needs.

The earlier trials also indicated some scepticism. Participants supported the approach but some doubted whether an organisation’s management would have the ‘will’ or the time to make it work. The Project team’s response to these concerns is to make it clear that developing staff is an essential part of management. 

This view is supported by Phil Scott (Head, LA/HSE Partnership Programme) who said -
“Developing staff is a fundamental element of good management, and one which benefits from a structured approach, so that good judgements can be made about the balance between the needs of the business and the aspirations of the individual. It follows that both managers and staff need to take responsibility for development - when it is completed the DNA tool will provide the structure for individual development plans to be agreed between them. Applying the tool will also help to make sure that the overall objectives of good staff development will be met: an efficient use of development resources, assurance of good reputation through a clearly competence-based approach to staff' skills (building on the qualification stage), and most importantly, of course, to produce a more confident and competent workforce. All of this will I believe contribute to strengthening the partnership between HSE and LAs. I encourage you all to use the tool.”        

Providing solutions to meet development needs is a key element of the project. There are very effective ways to develop staff other than formal training courses. Learning by doing, with the right support, can be the most powerful method, and this is in the hands of the manager who allocates and supports the work (work plans and development plans must be linked). The project is about getting more from the investment made in training, not about cutting costs. The needs and priorities identified via the DNA approach will feed in to the planning of learning and development enabling through partnership to focus efforts jointly to meet identified need. The project team are also talking to other like-minded regulators to ensure a consistent and joined up approach.

Subject to a successful pilot, it is the intention to launch the tool in late 2008/early 2009 as a tool kit for the Section 18 Standard.

This link provides information about the tool as well as a Q&A section specifically related to local authorities and a facility to give feedback. Updates on the progress of the project will be given in later newsletters.

*(Local Authority Health and Safety Enforcement Officer’s Perceptions of their Support Information and Training Needs)

HSWA (Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974) enforcement at COMAH retail/warehousing sites

HSE has just published a consultation document containing proposals to amend the CHIP (Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packing for Supply) Regulations to implement changes to the Dangerous Preparations Directive.

One of the proposals is for a minor modification to the enforcement provisions in COMAH (Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations) at sites involved with the sale or storage of goods for wholesale or retail distribution.

This is necessary because the changes to CHIP will extend to very low levels of generic concentration limits that are used to classify preparations containing powerful biocides as ‘Dangerous for the Environment’.  As a result, more water-based products, such as emulsion and anti-fungal paints, wood preservatives, and pesticides, will need to be classified.  Because of the way COMAH uses the CHIP classification system to trigger its application, it is possible that some very large DIY-type stores or warehouses could become COMAH sites if they have sufficient quantities of these types of products.

Currently, if premises enforced by the local authority become a COMAH site, the Competent Authority will enforce COMAH, and responsibility for other occupational health and safety legislation (the HSW Act etc) automatically moves from the local authority to HSE.  This arrangement reflects the fact that most sites likely to come into the scope of COMAH are industrial rather than retail in nature.

The proposed change would still leave the Competent Authority as the COMAH enforcing authority but would allow enforcement of occupational health and safety to be transferred back to the local authority, subject to the agreement of HSE and the relevant local authority.  This would not be automatic, but would allow sites to be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The retail and warehousing sectors believe that they will be able to maintain stock levels below COMAH thresholds, so the modification of COMAH is really a precautionary measure.

Asbestos Licensing Unit Update

Revised Asbestos Notification Form (Asb5) and amended Licence Condition

From 1 September 2008 asbestos licence-holders (LHs) will no longer need to submit a method statement every time that they notify the Enforcing Authority of a new job. The aims are to avoid producing duplicate paperwork and to place the ownership of the method statement with licence-holders, not the Enforcing Authority.  Details of how to draw up a method statement can be found in the Asbestos Liaison Group Memo 01/08.

LHs are legally obliged to produce a method statement (called a plan of work in the Regulations) and to ensure that it is implemented on site.  Enforcing Authority Inspectors/Officers can still ask for a copy of the method statement once the job has been notified.  If no method statement is forthcoming the licence-holder will be required to re-notify the job giving 14 days notice.

The new FODASB5 form will require LHs to sign to say that they have already produced a suitable method statement.  Enforcement action should be considered, in line with Operational Circular (OC) 265/50, where no method statement is found on site or where the method statement is inadequate or is not being fully implemented.

All licence-holders (except labour providers and equipment maintenance companies) will be sent a licence amendment between June and August this year to remove the requirement to send in a method statement with each notification.

It is hoped that the electronic notification of asbestos work will be possible by the end of 2008.

Demolition and lower risk asbestos materials

Lower risk asbestos materials (ACMs), e.g. decorative textured coatings, were removed from the licensing regime by the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. This resulted in a review of how lower risk ACMs are dealt with in buildings that are due for demolition.  The key changes are:

More details can be found in Asbestos Liaison Group Memo 02/08

Occupational Exposure to Asbestos: Setting the risks in context (OC 265/48)

This HSE Occupational Circular is aimed at Inspectors and Enforcement Officers, but provides 3 separate sections that can be given out to those concerned about an actual or potential asbestos exposure.  There is one version for each of the following audiences: employees/members of the public; employers; GPs/Occupational Health Advisors.

It explains the differing levels of risk from different types of work with ACMs and the effects of cumulative exposure. 

Safety at Pinspotter/Pinsetter Machines in Bowling Alleys

A brief update to the earlier articles on this topic in the December 2007 and February 2008 LAU Newsletters. 

Pinspotter/pinsetter machines set and clear the bowled pins in ten pin bowling alleys, and historically safeguarding standards have not been good.  In 2006 a fatal incident occurred in one of these machines at a London bowling centre, and more recently HSE has learnt of a potentially serious incident earlier this year in Germany where a female operative’s scarf became caught in the machine while dealing with a problem with the ball lift.  It appears the machine had not been switched off and made safe first (fortunately the incident didn’t have fatal consequences on this occasion).

Almost all of the machines in use in the UK have been supplied by just two manufacturers, Brunswick Bowling and Qubica AMF. Over the last 2 years HSE has been actively working on improving the standards of safety for these machines in dialogue with all the manufacturers, the Ten Pin Bowling Proprietor’s Association, and others interested parties, including a number of Local Authority inspectors.

HSE has recently been informed that both Brunswick Bowling and Qubica AMF have now written to all of their known users in the UK:
reminding them of the hazards and risks from these machines,
the importance of maintaining them in a safe condition, and
ensuring operatives are well trained and follow safe systems of work during interventions like dealing with pin jams and machines stops. 

Qubica AMF also announced to users the availability of various upgrade kits for most models of the AMF machines.  It is understood that Brunswick Bowling will also be offering upgrade kits in due course when their design work is finalised.

Bowling centres can of course choose to source the necessary physical safety improvements for their machines from other suppliers, or even do it for themselves, provided a reasonable level of safety is achieved.  A ‘Technical Summary’ is available from HELex extranet.

It provides guidance on these issues and the actions necessary for long-term safety.  As previously mentioned, improving the safety of these machines will take months or even years because of the need for users to fully assess their particular situation and programme in such work, as and when the upgrade parts become available.

HSE is continuing to discuss the safety of these machines with both of these established suppliers, another potential new entrant into the UK market, and an existing 2nd hand supplier of these machines, particularly in relation to new and 2nd hand supply, and would appreciate any news of innovative solutions or problems.

Safety risk to young persons from Pendulum Swings

pendulum swingCertain types of pendulum swing can be adapted to spin very fast resulting in internal injuries to the occupants. The equipment is fully compliant with all current standards and inspected by RPII accredited inspectors but the risk arises from misuse.

Charnwood Council's Leisure Services department received two reports on 20 May 2008 of injuries to young people from this activity on one of its playgrounds in a park in Loughborough. Both were teenagers who suffered a build-up of pressure in the chest due to the centrifugal force, leading to haemorrhages in their heads. Both were seen at the local walk-in medical centre, one was transferred to hospital and has since been discharged. Both are still under medical supervision.

The hospital have stated that if younger children had been subjected to this then results could have been potentially fatal.

The incident was a result of twisting the supporting ropes/chains of the pendulum swing very tightly, and then releasing them to allow the seat to spin at high speed. It can involve using improvised ropes (in this instance it was strips of plastic mesh fencing) to pull the swing's supporting ropes round and put as many rotations as possible onto the seat. When released, the seat then spins at very high speed.

The risk is only present on swings where all the ropes are gathered to a single point (or very close together). Currently, there are no concerns where the ropes/chains are connected to separate points spread further apart.

The Council have removed the swing from use until it is established whether it can be used without risk of this recurring.

Any local authority (including parishes) which provides play equipment is advised to check if they have any swings of this kind. If it is possible to gather and twist the supporting ropes/chains to spin the basket/seat at high speed they may wish to consider further risk assessment, removal or consultation with the manufacturer or an equipment assessor registered by the RPII or RoSPA)

Upcoming CIEH Events

CIEH will be running the following courses over the coming few months.

Visit for further information.

Updated 2019-01-31