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Safer Schools Bulletin January 2014

Legal Updates:

Revised legionella ACoP to provide 'greater clarity' (Nov 2013):

Information on managing and controlling legionella bacteria in water systems has been updated and clarified by the HSE.

The Legionnaires' disease Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) L8 has been revised, removing the technical guidance, which has been published separately online.

The ACoP - aimed at duty holders, including employers, those with health and safety responsibilities and those in control of premises - was one of several identified for consolidation, withdrawal, or review and revision, in line with a recommendation in Professor Löfstedt's review. 

The revised publication was subject to consultation and received HSE board and ministerial approval. It includes information on:

  • identifying and assessing sources of risk; 
  • preparing a scheme to prevent or control risk; 
  • implementing, managing and monitoring precautions; 
  • keeping records of precautions; and 
  • appointing a competent person with sufficient authority and knowledge of an installation to help take measures needed to comply with the law.

The HSE's legionella policy lead, Lorraine Medcalf, said: "The revised ACoP provides greater clarity for duty holders on what constitutes legal requirements and what is guidance. Where possible we have simplified terminology.

"The review also enabled us to update technical guidance to incorporate technological advancements and separate it from general guidance on the regulations, making it available on our website."

The revised ACoP L8 replaces the previous version, which included technical guidance. The updated guidance HSG274 has been published separately.

Legal responsibilities to protect workers' health and safety are not altered by any changes to ACoPs.

To coincide with the update to ACoP (L8), Water Environmental Treatment Ltd (W.E.T) have created an animated information video intended to educate people about where legionella comes from, how it infects the body and what measures employers, facility managers and health and safety teams can take to prevent future cases of Legionnaires' disease.

Operations manager at W.E.T, Lisa Parkinson said: "There are many common misconceptions amongst duty holders about how organisations should control the risks associated with legionella. We are determined to be clear about employers' responsibilities and how to manage their systems efficiently and effectively."

("Revised legionella ACoP to provide 'greater clarity"

HSE Poster:

Employers have a legal duty under the Health and Safety Information for Employees Regulations (HSIER) to display the approved poster in a prominent position in each workplace. The 1999 poster must be replaced with the 2009 poster no later than 5th April 2014.


Old HSE Poster


New HSE Poster

Accidents/Incidents Advice:

Gate incident (October 2013):

A child sustained a serious injury in October whilst playing near a gate.  As the gate was opened a shear hazard was created, between the gate and the post, severing the child's finger.  To ensure we eliminate this hazard a review of all gates across the Borough must be completed. 

ROSPA states that there should be a minimum spacing of at least 12mm throughout the range of the gate. The use of a stop plate fitted with rubber buffers is a preferred way of maintaining a gap when closed.  For gates on multi use games areas (MUGAs) the gap should be at least 18mm. It is important that the gap is on both sides of the gate, especially the hinge side.

Following further discussions with our contractors it was agreed that this gap should be extended to 20mm to ensure all areas are assessed in a uniform manner.

Therefore could all Caretakers and Maintenance staff please inspect all of the gates under their control and ensure that there is a minimum gap of 20mm to eliminate shear and entrapment hazards.  Please contact Asset Management and Design if remedial works are required.

Options available.

Gate 1

· Hinges on gates can be designed so that the gate doesn't meet the gatepost.

· Alternatively, if this isn't possible, gate opening limiters can be fixed upon the gatepost -whether they are metal or wooden- (see photo above) to effectively prevent the gate opening past 90 degrees and thereby creating a "pinch-point".

· If the gate can be locked in an open position this can be used to reduce the hazard.

· If the gate is only accessed by adults and is kept locked - this is low risk.

· We need to look at the pedestrian gates first where access can be gained by <8 years old.

For further information on the safety of gates see:

WWII Gas Masks - Action points for schools (October 2013)

No gas mask of WWII vintage should ever be worn.

WWII gas masks are potentially dangerous as they can release asbestos fibres. They can also be contaminated with harmful chemicals from previous use in gas drills. In addition some post war gas masks can release asbestos fibres and can be contaminated.

Tests have shown that asbestos fibres can be inhaled by wearing the masks. Asbestos fibres can also be released from handling the masks, filters or carrying bag.

· No WWII gas mask should ever be worn.

· If any school owns or has been loaned World War II gas masks to be used in displays or during course work in class please contact Michael Hicks (Asbestos Abatement Officer) 0191 424 7685 or 07557 203 980 to arrange collection and disposal.

· Canvas carrying bags cannot be cleaned and should be treated as contaminated by asbestos fibres. They should not be handled - please contact Michael Hicks (Asbestos Abatement Officer).

· Replica masks are available and can be used without any restrictions at

· Three schools have contacted Health and Safety for collection and disposal.


Council fined after school janitor loses toe (Nov 2013)

"Fife Council has been fined for health and safety failings after a school janitor was injured while undertaking chainsaw work.

Craig Davies, then aged 39, a council employee for more than 20 years, lost his toe while cutting back the branches of a tree that had blown down in high winds.

Fife Council was prosecuted (4 November) after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the council failed to assess risks, implement a safe system of work and instruct and supervise employees on a dangerous task.

Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court was told that in September 2011 Fife Council's Education Service identified a possible extension to the services provided by school janitors. In addition to simple gardening duties in school grounds, they would undertake basic chainsaw work, particularly on fallen branches or trees, duties which were normally carried out by the Council's Parks Department.

In November 2011, Mr Davies and two other workers from the educational facility service underwent basic chainsaw training. On 11 January 2012, Mr Davies was sent to Canmore Primary School in Dunfermline where an ash tree had blown down. On arrival, he realised the job was bigger than anticipated and contacted a colleague for assistance.

The two men set to work, detaching and reducing the branches until they were left with the trunk and a single limb attached at above-shoulder height.

Mr Davies climbed onto the trunk and started cutting through the limb. It sheared away from the trunk, came towards him and landed on his foot trapping it against the trunk.

Mr Davies required three surgical procedures but doctors were unable to save one of his toes. He spent three months recuperating before returning to work.

The HSE investigation concluded Fife Council failed to properly assess the risks to employees in the educational facility service while undertaking chainsaw operations; failed to maintain a safe system of work and provide sufficient training and supervision to enable them to undertake chainsaw work.

Fife Council, of Fife House, North Street, Glenrothes, was fined £20,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.   Following the case, HSE Inspector Kerry Cringan, said:

"The failures by Fife Council resulted in Mr Davies suffering a significant and serious injury.

"Chainsaw operations are, by their very nature, hazardous. Fife Council, having reached a position where these employees had the most basic of chainsaw qualifications, dispatched them to single-handedly tackle a job that was far in excess of their capabilities.

"As a result they found themselves in a situation outside of their experience, but without recognising it was beyond their abilities. Employers must ensure that chainsaw operations are carefully planned and supervised, particularly when employees are not experienced in arboricultural work."

In forestry and arboriculture (between 2004/05 to 2010/11) chainsaws caused five deaths in Great Britain. In addition 131 workers suffered major injuries while using sawing and cutting tools with a further 355 suffering injuries that kept them off work for more than three days. For more information about using chainsaws safely visit:"

(Issued on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive by the Regional News Network)

Policy and Procedures Update:

As part of the continuing Health and Safety support and development for schools please be advised that '3.14 The Control and Management of Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) in Council Owned and Occupied Buildings' 3.14 Asbestos D13591.57KB of the Health and Safety Manual has been updated.  Management Plans will also be updated and provided to all schools to support the Asbestos Survey for each individual school.

Help and Feedback:

If you have any questions about the issues raised or if I can help in any other way, please do not hesitate to contact me.

We would also welcome your feedback generally on this publication and any key topics you would like to see in the next edition.

Further information:

Education Health and Safety Adviser 0800 169 3454 or internal 9 3454

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