Issue 8: April 1999
This newsletter is produced by
HSE's Research Strategy Unit.
PORTFOLIO EVALUATION OF RESEARCH
The purpose of research evaluation in HSE is: to
determine the effectiveness and efficiency with which the overall research activity was
carried out; to identify and establish the longer term impacts of HSEs research
investment; and to use the information obtained to improve the performance of research.
Within HSEs Mainstream Science and Technology Programme the evaluation of research
activity occurs at two levels, namely project evaluation and portfolio evaluation.
Evaluation of the impact of research can, in some cases, be undertaken at the project
level but is normally more appropriate at the portfolio level in order to assess the
effectiveness of the research in meeting the Health and Safety Commissions and
A portfolio evaluation protocol was developed on behalf of HSE by
PREST at Manchester University. The protocol was used initially in 1996 by DTZ Pieda, who
won a competitive tender exercise to carry out an evaluation of HSEs research on
respiratory sensitisers. This evaluation was completed in Autumn 1997 and the results were
considered by HSEs Occupational Lung Disease Excluding Pneumoconiosis and Malignancy
Research Subgroup. In Spring 1997, DTZ Pieda were commissioned to carry out two further
evaluations on HSEs noise and zoonoses research. These two evaluations were
completed in early 1998 and the results were considered respectively by the Physical and
Biological Risks Subject Research Groups.
A further set of three evaluations were let by
competitive tender in 1998. Technopolis Ltd successfully tendered for an evaluation of
HSEs jet-fire research and Science Connections Ltd for evaluations of personal
protective equipment research and research carried out by HSEs Local Authority Unit.
All three of these evaluations will be completed by the end of April 1999. Again, the
relevant Subject Research Groups within HSE will consider the evaluation findings, and it
is intended to publish the final reports from these studies.
A further batch of four portfolios of research for
evaluation covering shiftwork, display screen equipment, momentum releases and respiratory
protective equipment have recently been competitively tendered and this work will be
contracted in the next few weeks.
On completion of the current batch of evaluations,
HSE will have carried out ten separate portfolio evaluations and at this stage it is
intended to carry out a comprehensive evaluation of the whole portfolio evaluation
PUBLIC PARTICIPATION METHODS: AN OPERATIONAL FRAMEWORK
(Contractor: Institute of Food Research)
The Government's Better Regulation agenda has laid increasing
emphasis on the need for accountable and transparent processes for regulatory activity.
This is reaffirmed in the principles for good risk communication adopted by HSE, in
particular that risk communication should be integral to policy development and to the
stakeholders involved in the process. However, as innovative ways of involving
stakeholders in the process are introduced, eg focus groups, citizen's juries,
stakeholder conferences and the Internet, there is an increasing need to test, evaluate
the effectiveness and develop good practice in the use of these techniques.
This Department of Health/HSE joint-funded project intends to
increase understanding of the factors that impact upon the effectiveness of public
participation procedures and through the development and testing of a theoretical
framework, previously produced by the contractor. The work aims to develop a practical
tool which can be used to assess the effectiveness of participation methods and to design
better methodologies. The work will also be used to develop policy information on the
appropriate use of public participation methods.
TESTING OF MASONRY FIXINGS
Expanding anchors are commonly used to tie scaffolds to the face of
a building in front of which the scaffold has been erected. This is in accordance with
legal requirements. Expanding anchors are also increasingly used as the sole connectors
for temporary guard-rails on scaffolds. Unfortunately, all of the standards dealing with
scaffolding and temporary guards presume the anchor will provide the necessary resistance
to loads. Unless the anchors are installed in accordance with the manufacturer's
instructions (i.e. with a hole of the correct diameter, drilled to the correct depth)
there is some doubt as to whether the anchor will achieve the required strength.
The problem of predicting the strength of an anchor was approached
theoretically in a previous HSE research project. However the results from this work were
inconclusive. This current research projects intends to carry out field trials to measure
the effects of variation in anchor installation parameters on anchor strength and to
relate the strength to an easily checked torque-spanner setting. From these trials, it is
also expected that advice on how to assess the efficacy of anchors for scaffolds will be
ANALYSIS OF NATIONAL INJURY RATES
(Contractor: University of Warwick)
With the impending arrival of devolution, it is likely that
increased attention will be given to statistics on work-related injuries for Scotland and
Wales. The overall injury rates in Scotland and Wales are higher than in Great Britain and
in many cases, the specific injury rates are also higher. The reasons for this are
The aim of this work is to establish a set of demographic, social
and economic variables which are relevant in the context of varying injury rates across
Great Britain. Appropriate probability models will then be developed to explain the
relative effects of these variables in the constituent countries of Great Britain.
EFFECTS OF NEW WAYS OF WORKING ON EMPLOYEES' STRESS LEVEL
(Contractor: Corporate Solutions Consulting (UK))
New working practices such as 'hot desking' and aspirations to be a
'learning organisation' have the potential to exert either a positive or negative
influence on employees' well-being.
This project intends to examine four organisations (two study
organisations plus two controls) through a questionnaire survey of employees, in order to
examine the effects of new working practices on employees' mental health.
This project arose as the result of a successful proposal submitted
in response to HSE's Competition of Ideas exercise which featured in the 1998/99
Mainstream Research Market document
HAZARD ASSESSMENT OF HIGHLY REACTIVE SYSTEMS -
Each year a number of incidents occur due to runaway chemical
reactions. These have the potential to release large quantities of toxic, flammable or
otherwise harmful chemicals into the environment and may result in injuries or death.
Research has shown that many such incidents can be avoided if the reactions are properly
assessed at the process development stage. A number of assessment techniques are
available, but these are not widely used and there is no standardised assessment
methodology across Europe. HarsNet is an initiative under the EC Industrial Materials and
Technologies Programme, aimed at creating a forum of 25 companies and organisations with
experience of chemical reaction hazard assessment. The project will be aimed at exchanging
knowledge and information, to develop a common methodology and to disseminate information
on chemical reaction hazard assessment, particularly to smaller and medium-sized
TREE HARVESTERS - OPERATOR MUSCULOSKELETAL DISORDERS
Investigations have shown that tree harvester or processor operators
are potentially at risk from work-related musculoskeletal disorders. In the UK there are
two main types machinery for tree harvesting, either excavator-based or purpose built. The
drivers of such machinery have to operate the controls of complex multifunctional
hydraulic systems for long periods of time. Stresses created by the operation of these
controls are exacerbated by excessive static loading and whole body vibration to the upper
body and back, caused by the uneven and steep terrain on which these machines work. The
aim of this project is to investigate the prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal
disorders amongst operators of excavator-based and purpose built tree
harvesters/processors, as well as investigating the possibilities for improving their
ergonomic working environment and the identification of other control measures to reduce
the risk of musculoskeletal disorders.
IDENTIFYING HIGH RADIATION DOSE SITE RADIOGRAPHY
(Contractor: University of Aberdeen)
HSE Dose Trend reports (1993 and 1998) have shown that
radiation doses received by industrial radiographers have not decreased in line with
improvements seen in other sectors. The majority of radiographers receive low annual doses
(<1 mSv). HSE inspection has shown that most of this work is done safely with no scope
for dose reduction. About 10% of radiographers receive doses in excess of 5 mSv and this
has a disproportionate effect on the average dose for the industry. HSE wishes to target
its inspection resources at the high dose activities but does not have sufficient
information to be able to clearly identify high risk work. The aim of this project is to
identify industrial radiography work responsible for the highest doses and to recommend
the additional steps which can be taken by employers and employees to enable the doses of
radiation to be kept as low as reasonably practicable.
EVALUATION OF THE GOOD HEALTH IS GOOD BUSINESS CAMPAIGN
(Contractor: Entec UK Ltd)
In May 1995, HSE launched its biggest ever campaign, Good
Health is Good Business to raise awareness to occupational ill-health and improve
employers competence in managing health risks in the workplace. The improvement of
occupational health standards was a priority objective for HSC/E and the campaign
specifically targeted small and medium sized enterprises.
The aim of this project is to evaluate the impact of the campaign on
awareness to health risks in the workplace and the effectiveness of the publicity
materials produced to support the campaign. The project also intends to investigate
whether employers have taken action to improve the management of health risks as a result
of the campaign
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APPLICATION OF PESTICIDES BY PYROTECHNIC DEVICES
HSE are responsible for registering non-agricultural pesticide
products and are consulted as experts on agricultural pesticide products.
Pyrotechnic smoke devices are currently used to apply both
pesticides and biocides. However, there is little available information on the behaviour
of the devices, or of the resulting pesticidal or biocidal smoke: in grain stores or
warehouses; during wood treatment in domestic premises, etc.; or during disinfection. HSE
experts need practical information about these application devices in order to fulfil
their role in assessing the risk of the devices in use, for supply under the Control of
This research intends to investigate the behaviour of pyrotechnic
pesticide devices and to determine typical passive ventilation characteristics for spaces
that may be treated with such devices. The experimental data produced will be compared to
data derived from computational fluid dynamic modelling. The potential of a model to
predict indoor dispersion and workers' exposure through dermal deposition while working in
aerosol atmospheres will also be investigated.
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GENETIC VARIATIONS AND ORGANOPHOSPHATES
(Contractor: University of Manchester)
An HSE-funded study of chronic neurophysiological and
neuropsychological effects resulting from exposure to organophosphate (OP) sheep dips was
carried out in 1995 by the Institute of Occupational Health. Although there was some
evidence to suggest subtle clinical effects in sheep dippers with long-term low level
exposure to OP dips, the results of this study were inconclusive.
This project has been set up in order to investigate
whether some individuals have greater genetic susceptibility than others to OPs, thus
making it more likely that they may suffer from ill-health effects following exposure.
The work will investigate whether sheep farmers with
disabling chronic symptoms contain a greater proportion of individuals with dysfunctional
polymorphisms in human serum paraoxonase than sheep farmers without these symptoms. The
study will also examine the prevalence of other susceptibility genotypes in the two study
groups. Any relationship between the occurrence of genetic susceptibility and the type of
OP product habitually used will also be investigated
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ON-LINE CHECKING OF FLAMMABILITY MONITORING EQUIPMENT
The use of flammable solvents is an essential part of manufacturing
in a range of industries (eg printing, paints and resins, aerosol manufacture and
chemical processing). Fires and explosions continue to occur due to failure to control the
flammable atmospheres associated with the solvents. The key to controlling the problem
lies in the ability to monitor the critical parameter, namely the flammable vapour
concentration, which can be achieved through the use of flammability monitors. In recent
incidents these have failed to ensure safety because of their incorrect installation
and/or inadequate maintenance. This has been a particular problem in small companies,
which often do not have the knowledge or expertise to ensure reliable operation of the
detectors used in the monitors. The reliability of these systems is likely to become more
important with increasing use of gas detectors as the safety critical component of
explosion prevention systems, where the response of the gas detectors initiates some
action to prevent the formation of a flammable atmosphere. If other safety measures, such
as explosion relief, are not in place, then total reliance for safe operation is placed on
The aim of this work is to undertake a review of the current and
potential future usage of flammability monitoring equipment in safety critical
applications and to develop appropriate guidance for industry on the its selection,
installation and maintenance.
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EUROPEAN COMMUNITY FIFTH FRAMEWORK PROGRAMME
The Fifth Framework Programme (FP5) represents the plan the European
Community has to fund research and development activities for the period 1999 to 2002. The
overall budget for the Programme has been set at 14.96 billion euros. Over the next four
years, the Commission will, at regular intervals, put out calls for proposals. These will
usually be against specific areas of each of the work programmes within FP5, and all of
the work programmes currently have initial calls open to proposals. Further information
sources, details of where to find calls for proposals and additional help are shown at the
end of this article.
Although the entirety of the European Commission resigned on 16
March 1999, this will not effect the running of FP5.
Types of calls for proposals
Open calls - Such calls use a continuous submission scheme.
Proposals may be submitted at any time up to the closing date of the scheme. The ultimate
deadline for receipt is included in the calling notice. Proposals submitted in response to
such calls are considered at fixed intervals during the term of the scheme.
Periodic calls - Most calls for proposals fall into this category
where a fixed deadline for the submission of proposals is given. All proposals submitted
before the closing date for the call are considered after the closing date.
Dedicated calls - These calls are published once or twice a year and
address very specific activities and topics, often arising as a result of suggested ideas
received by the Commission in response to a call for expression of interest. A call for
expression of interest invites suggestion of ideas for topics only and not worked-up
Range of activities under FP5
FP5 is split into four activities. The first activity is itself
divided into four Themes or Thematic Programmes, which are of greatest interest to
researchers. The second, third and fourth activities are often referred to as Horizontal
Programmes. The three Horizontal Programmes contain supporting activities.
Each Theme is split into Key Actions and each Key Action is split
into Action Lines. Action Lines represent the priorities within each Key Action. Each
Theme also includes activities of a generic nature and support for the research
infrastructure. FP5s Thematic and Horizontal Programmes are shown in Figure 1 below.
Occupational health and safety research
There are a number of areas within the four Thematic Programmes
where it may be possible to achieve funding for occupational health and safety research. A
few examples are listed below:
Theme 1: Quality of Life and Living Resources, includes:
development of new methods for assessing microbial, chemical and
allergenic risks and exposures;
development of methods and strategies to ensure the safety of new
biomolecules or bioprocesses and their impact on human health (including areas involving
Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs);
various areas under the Environment and Health Key Action to
undertake and exploit research in social, medical, technological, occupational, public
health and environmental domains aimed at limiting and controlling exposure to chemical
and physical hazards in the human environment, including occupational settings;
under the Sustainable Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Key
Action, new and improved production and farming systems which encompass the whole
production process, including where GMOs are involved, are covered;
a generic activity which covers public health and health services
research intended to underpin the Community activities in the fields of public health and
of health and safety.
Theme 3: Competitive and Sustainable Growth, includes:
efficient production methods and mechanisms, including design,
manufacturing and control;
safe and reliable extended life industrial systems, including
production system safety conformance;
monitoring of industrial systems, including analysis of impacts of
the related processes and production systems on health and safety and the environment;
under the Sustainable Mobility and Intermodality Key Action, various
areas relevant to transport safety, security, human factors, environmental impact and
safety assessment, such as the overall safety improvement of vehicles through the
development of safety-associated vehicle features and technology. Regulatory enforcement
techniques and methods, as well as tools to measure the impact of non-enforcement of
regulations, are also covered in this Key Action;
generic activities such as: new and improved materials, their
production and transformation, aimed at improving their safety and reliability; and
measurements and testing research to develop new and improved instrumentation and
measuring systems and to support the development of certified reference materials.
Theme 4: Energy and Environment, includes:
identification and characterisation of technological hazards
relevant to urban development, encompassing risk assessment, management methods and tools
for mitigating the consequences; the safety and security of the supply of essential
resources; health and the environment; and noise and air pollution from all sources;
development of a scientific basis for the inclusion of cultural
heritage protection in safety regulations;
assessing and mitigating the risks associated with natural and
generic activities such as the better understanding of processes,
mechanisms and events generating technological hazards covering risk forcasting,
prevention, evaluation and mitigation.
Contacts for additional information on FP5
Office of Science and Technology have an FP5 helpline to
provide further advice on FP5 and information on EC R&D:- 0171 271 6520/22; fax:-
0171 271 6523; email: [email protected]
UK Programme Contacts: Theme 1 - David Coates: Tel:
0171 271 2012; fax: 0171 271 2016.
Theme 2 - UK/S Helpline: Tel: 0870 606 1515; fax: 0181 848 6660.
Theme 3 - NPL Contact Point: Tel: 0181 943 6660; fax: 0181 943 2989.
Theme 4 - Arwyn Davies: Tel: 0171 890 5271; fax: 0171 676 2356.
For FP5 information and work programmes, details of previous FP
projects and up-to-date information on calls for proposals access the CORDIS Internet
site at http://www.cordis.lu/FP5
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DETAILS OF SOME COMPLETED PROJECTS
A REVIEW OF GENE TRANSFER FROM GENETICALLY MODIFIED
(Contractor: Molecular Microbial Ecology Laboratory)
In order to assess the risk posed by gene transfer from Genetically
Modified Micro-organisms (GMMs) in the environment and the hazards associated with 'free'
DNA released by such micro-organism, HSE commissioned a review of these processes in the
broader context of the 'natural' exchange of genes and the presence of DNA in the
Manipulated genes can be transferred horizontally to or from a GMM,
where they may persist and be expressed. The frequency of horizontal transfer was usually
low and the insertion of manipulated genes into carefully chosen chromosomal sites had the
potential to reduced these events even further. Prescribing suitable chromosomal locations
for gene insertion was not necessary unless minimising the chance of gene transfer was
actually required. Although the nature of the constructed chromosome dictated the
probability of gene transfer, the primary consideration remained the phenotype of the
introduced genes and how they altered the ecology and activity of the modified host.
Precise prediction of the change in behaviour arising from the acquisition of new genes
was especially difficult due to the highly complex interactions occurring within microbial
populations. The assessment of risks arising from the transfer of manipulated genes
required the nature and activity of the genes chosen for use in a GMM to be considered on
a case by case basis. Some genes were already common in bacteria in the natural
environment and assessment of the risks associated with release of organisms containing
such genes was easier than in other circumstances. Releases should avoid organisms that
contain genes which would be anticipated to result in harm if they were transferred to a
new organism. Special consideration and careful experimentation was needed to prepare for
the introduction of genes known to express traits relevant to the natural environment.
However, the considered selection of strains of organisms used for GMMs and genes used for
insertion would make the problems arising from novel combinations of traits or altered
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NOISE ATTENUATION OF SHOTBLASTING HELMETS
Air-fed helmets are used in abrasive blasting operations to provide
essential face, eye and respiratory protection. BS EN 271: 1995, the standard which deals
with the construction of blasting helmets, addresses the above matters and also the
problem of noise generated by the breathing air supply. However, it has no requirements
for manufacturers to measure or report the helmet's ability to attenuate the very high
levels of noise generated by the blasting process, typically from 115 to greater than
130dB(A). Protection against noise is currently achieved through the use of hearing
protection which has to be worn in addition to the blasting helmet. This limits the choice
of hearing protection to lightweight earmuffs or earplugs, which may not be sufficient to
ensure safe levels of noise in the ear. If the noise attenuation of blasting helmets was
improved, users would be less reliant on additional hearing protection to reduce their
The purpose of this project was to develop a simple, objective test
method for measuring the noise attenuation of blasting helmets during exposure to
shotblasting noise, so that this requirement could be built into a future revision of BS
EN 271: 1995. The test method which was developed was then applied to a range of available
blasting helmets in order to measure their effectiveness in attenuating blasting noise.
The results from the project showed that the head and torso
simulator (HATS), currently prescribed by BS EN 271: 1995 for testing parameters other
than noise, could be used to measure the noise attenuation of blasting helmets against
typical shotblasting noise. The HATS could also be used to measure noise from the helmet's
air supply, using the method defined in the standard and which is currently carried out on
human subjects. For both the measurement of noise attenuation by the blasting helmets and
measurement of noise from the helmet's air supply, the results from the HATS correlated
well with those from human subjects.
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FEMALE WEARERS OF RPE - THE FIT OF FULL FACEPIECES
Concern has been expressed about the face seal leakage of RPE when
used by women. Much RPE on the market uses face masks which were designed when the user
workforce was predominantly male. The objectives of the work were to measure the face seal
leakage of a range of RPE worn by a group of female volunteers and to assess these results
using the laboratorys experience of fit-testing male wearers. HSEs Field
Operations Divisions (FODs) concerns in respect of this matter initially
centred on problems facing female inspectors having to use RPE when inspecting workplaces.
Consequently, the RPE used in the various investigations in this project has been that
available to HSE inspectors. However, this has included a good cross section of the RPE
available on the UK market.
Face seal leakage measurements were carried out on RPE worn by
female test subjects. The results showed that there were potential problems in providing
RPE to female wearers, as there was less likelihood of achieving an effective fit than
with male wearers. The project has introduced a novel classification of wearers by a
combination of facial dimensions which appear to be a useful indication of RPE fit. The
project has highlighted some difficulties in conducting European Standard tests using
female test subjects. A report on this work has been submitted to the peer-reviewed
HSE has subsequently introduced RPE fit-testing for all inspectors
which has allayed FODs concerns. However, the findings of this project are still
applicable to those industries where RPE fit-testing is not widely used.
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VOLUNTARY REPORTING BY UK INDUSTRY OF OCCUPATIONAL
EXPOSURE DATA ON CHEMICALS - A FEASIBILITY STUDY.
(Contractor: Institute of Occupational Medicine)
In the UK, measurement of exposure to hazardous substances is
undertaken by HSE, industry, occupational hygiene consultants and other organisations. For
a number of years, HSE have stored their exposure data on a centralised computer database
- the National Exposure Database (NEDB). It has been difficult to persuade industry and
other organisations to contribute to this resource. The aim of this project was devise a
cost effective mechanism for obtaining occupational exposure data from UK industry and
other sources for incorporation into the NEDB. To ensure that the data collected was of
good quality and suitable for inclusion in the NEDB, an essential core set of
exposure-related information was agreed at the outset. This included data on the company
where the measurements were made, the types of processes being undertaken and details of
In the first phase of the project the contractor used five different
approaches: contact with the relevant trade associations to identify whether their members
held data; a survey of likely users of chemicals in two regions of the UK; contact with a
group of occupational hygiene consultants; contact with major users or producers of
hazardous substances; and contact with several local and national government
organisations, to identify data for one commonly used chemical (toluene) and two
specialist use chemicals (ethylene oxide and acrylonitrile). In total, 810 organisations
were contacted and asked to complete a short questionnaire and around 45% of those
contacted provided a response. Almost 19000 exposure measurements for the three substances
were identified, of which around 5500 met the requirements of the essential core data set.
The measurements were drawn from a wide range of industries and were representative of
measurements made by UK industry. Almost all of the data provided directly were from
companies employing more than 100 people. Only consultant occupational hygienists were
able to supply exposure data for small and medium sized enterprises.
During the second phase of the project, 3000 measurements with
associated contextual information were collected on the three substances. Of these, 75% of
the data were representative of personal exposure with information on local controls
recorded for only about 20% of the data, although information on personal protective
equipment was available for 80% of the data.
||Contract Research Reports: Title
ISBN 0-7176-1648-7, £37.50,1998.
|Consideration of the
feasibility of developing a simple methodology to access dispersion in low/zero windspeeds
0-7176-1663-0, £83.00, 1999.
|Research to develop a
methodology for the assessment of risks to crowd safety in public venues
ISBN 0-7176-1684-3, £20.00, 1999.
|Risks from gasoline
pipelines in the United Kingdom
ISBN 0-7176-1689-4, £20.00, 1999.
thermodynamics in consequence analysis
ISBN 0-7176-1694-0, £60.00, 1999.
ISBN 0-7176-1699-1, £32.50, 1999.
|Use of the FORM/SORM
(most likely failure point) method for quantitative risk assessment
ISBN 0-7176-1691-6, £37.50, 1999.
|Assessing the risk
from gasoline pipelines in the United Kingdom based on a review of historical experience
ISBN 0-7176-1692-4, £20.00, 1999.
magnitude of overload injuries to the lumbar vertebrae and disks of workers exposed to
heavy physical exertions or vibrations
ISBN 0-7176-1693-2, £25.00, 1999.
|Evaluating the impact
of contact techniques
ISBN 0-7176-1698-3, £25.00, 1999.
injuries to workers attending the Royal Liverpool University Hospital
All these titles are available as priced publications from
Added to Internet 12 May 1999