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Safer Schools Bulletin April 2013

Legal Updates:

Electric safety code due in summer (March 2013):

A new set of guidelines and regulations covering electric safety management is due to be published this summer. The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is drafting a new code of practice for electrical safety management.

It will be the first single authoritative source on good practice for managing electrical safety in organisations and give a high level understanding of what managing electrical safety involves. The code will include an innovative practical self-assessment process established on known health and safety management fundamentals.

There are currently various technical publications on specific aspects of electrical safety, but not one code unifying all these. Chairman of the IET standards committee developing the code of practice, Malcolm Sarstedt, said the new code will be "eminently suitable" for large and small firms.

Mr Sarstedt added: "It will be very useful for hard-pressed managers who do not have time to research what to do, and who would be reassured to comply with a product from an influential and authoritative source such as the IET.'

(Issued on behalf of IOSH - Copyright Press Association 2013)

Council prosecuted after school caretaker injured in fall (March 2013):

A local council has been found guilty of breaching health and safety law after a school caretaker was injured in a fall from a shed roof in Oldham. The 61-year-old, who has asked not to be named, injured his knees, ankles, neck and right hand in the fall at Beever Primary School on Moorby Street on 27 July 2010. He was unable to return to work full time following the incident, and has now had to retire.

Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failing to take sufficient measures to prevent the fall. During a two-day trial, Trafford Magistrates' Court heard that the caretaker had been carrying out maintenance work to the roof of the shed at the school, which is used to store equipment for a neighbouring children's centre.

The roof had recently been vandalised and the felt had been ripped off, causing it to leak. The worker had climbed onto the roof and was attempting to place plastic sheeting on it when he tripped and fell backwards. He landed on a concrete floor three metres below.

A HSE investigation found the injured worker had started working as a caretaker at the school in 2004, six years before the incident, but had not received any training on working at height.

Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council was found guilty of breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The local authority, of West Street in Oldham, was fined £7,000 and ordered to pay £12,260 in prosecution costs on 18 March 2013.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Alex Farnhill said:

"It's disappointing that the caretaker had been working at the school for six years without receiving any training on how to work safely at height.

"Using a stepladder or carrying out other work above the ground was part of his job, and it should therefore have been a council priority to make sure he could do this safely. Work at height is one of the biggest causes of workplace deaths and injuries in the UK, and this case should act as a warning to employers about the dangers."

Information on preventing workplace falls is available at www.hse.gov.uk/falls

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

http://www.southtyneside.info/article/15839/Health-and-Safety-Manual-2012

Accidents/Incidents Advice:

Carbon Monoxide:

"What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas produced by incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels, including gas, oil, wood and coal. Carbon-based fuels are safe to use. It is only when the fuel does not burn properly that excess CO is produced, which is poisonous.  When CO enters the body, it prevents the blood from bringing oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs.

You can't see it, taste it or smell it but CO can kill quickly without warning. According to the HSE [1]every year around 11 people die from CO poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues that have not been properly installed, maintained or that are poorly ventilated. Levels that do not kill can cause serious harm to health if breathed in over a long period. In extreme cases paralysis and brain damage can be caused as a result of prolonged exposure to CO. Increasing public understanding of the risks of CO poisoning and taking sensible precautions could dramatically reduce this risk.

What are the signs that you can look out for which indicate incomplete combustion is occurring and may result in the production of CO?

  • Yellow or orange rather than blue flames (except fuel effect fires or flueless appliances which display this colour flame)
  • Soot or yellow/brown staining around or on appliances
  • Pilot lights that frequently blow out
  • Increased condensation inside windows

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Early symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can mimic many common ailments and may easily be confused with food poisoning, viral infections, flu or simple tiredness. Symptoms to look out for include:

  • headaches or dizziness
  • breathlessness
  • nausea
  • loss of consciousness
  • tiredness
  • pains in the chest or stomach
  • erratic behaviour
  • visual problems

For more information visit the NHS or telephone NHS Direct on 0845 4647.
If you or your family experience any of the above symptoms and believe you may have been exposed to carbon monoxide, you should seek urgent medical advice from either your GP or an A&E department." (1)

"What should I do if I think my appliance is spilling carbon monoxide or there is a gas leak?

In a gas emergency act quickly and take the following safety steps:

  • Get fresh air immediately. Open all doors and windows to ventilate the room 
  • Switch off the appliance (if it is safe to do so). Do not use it again until it has been checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
  • Turn off the gas supply at the mains.
  • If you are feeling ill visit your GP or the hospital immediately and tell them that your symptoms may be related to carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Contact Asset Management and Design or a Gas Safe registered engineer to check and fix the appliance.

REMEMBER: Make sure that your appliance is serviced and maintained by a competent registered engineer." (2)

In an emergency contact 'National Gas Emergency: 0800 111 999'

(1) http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic/co.htm

(2) http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help/gas_emergency.aspx

Asbestos - why is it so important?

Asbestos is responsible for over 4,500 deaths every year and is found in over 3000 products around the world. It has been used for insulation, fire protection and various building products. It has been imported and used in thousands of different building applications in the UK over the past Century up until 2000.

As part of your Health and Safety responsibilities Head Teachers and Governors have 'duty holder' responsibilities under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. The 'duty holder' is a key player in ensuring the Asbestos is successfully managed within the school. The duties include; checking the survey is accurate and updated where asbestos is removed, discovered, sampled, surveyed or if there have been any changes to the condition of Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM's).

Don't worry you are not alone in this duty, asbestos management is a shared responsibility between Asset Management & Design (AM&D) and the on-site duty holder of the occupied buildings http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/campaign/duty.htm . All parties must work together and share information to effectively minimise the risk from asbestos. Mismanagement of asbestos materials can cause physical harm and result in lengthy investigations by the enforcing authority. The enforcing authority may prosecute if a material breach of regulation is proven.

What help will I get?

  • Hands-on advice and help from qualified, experienced Asbestos Officer and Health and Safety Advisers.
  • Work began in October 2012 on a programme of asbestos re-surveys of all schools to update the existing survey information and your on-site asbestos management document - this is due for completion in 2014. All surveys are carried out by our approved independent UKAS accredited building surveyors.
  • Development by BTSTC of secure web portal for building managers to easily access all relevant asbestos management documents, including surveys and legislation. Updates and notifications will be issued by the STC Asbestos Officer. Building managers will be issued with login details and passwords.
  • Development of training matrix for all duty holders and building managers. Training will be offered through the web portal or attending courses arranged by AM&D.

What have I got to do?

  • Make sure you are aware of the Councils arrangements for the management of ACM's as contained in the Corporate Safety Policy http://www.southtyneside.info/article/15839/Health-and-Safety-Manual-2012 and Management Plan.
  • Ensure you have an Asbestos Survey this will identify: the location of any ACM's in the building, the type of asbestos they contain and the condition these materials are in.
  • Ensure that all contractors that undertake work within the property read the Asbestos Survey, Management Plan and complete the Contractors sheet - Appendix 6 in the Management Plan.
  • Report any damage or deterioration of any known or suspected ACM to AM&D via the Asbestos Reporting Procedure.

DO NOT allow ANY work or activity of any kind that will result in the damage or disturbance of ANY known or suspected ACM.

DO NOT allow ANY property work that has the potential to disturb ACM's without first contacting the STC Asbestos Officer within AM&D on 0191 424 7685 or if outside of normal working hours 07557 203 980

Remember!

  • You are responsible for the ACM's on or within the property and the implementation of the Councils arrangements for the management ACM's as contained in the Corporate Safety Policy and relevant Management Plan.
  • Asbestos is only dangerous when disturbed - avoid unnecessary disturbance.
  • If unsure, presume that material contains asbestos - contact the STC Asbestos Officer within AM&D on 0191 424 7685 or if outside of normal working hours 07557 203 980.

Asbestos Incident Procedure -

Policy Update:

'New' Health and Safety Policy for Schools

Following consultation the new Health and Safety Policy for Schools Health and Safety Policy for Schools April 2013227KB is now available for use. Don't worry if you have recently reviewed and updated the old version this is still valid. But if you are due to review and update your Policy could you please use and adopt the new Policy as your template. Please feel free to add or delete information to ensure that the Policy is suitable for your school.

As always if you need advice or guidance on completing your Policy please contact your Health and Safety Adviser.

Head teachers or Managers should ensure that any paper or electronic copies of the policy which are retained on their premises are up to date and are made available to all parties involved.  Any future changes made to the policy will be publicised via the Health and Safety for Schools webpage.

NB: The Health and Safety Policy for Schools should be used in conjunction with the South Tyneside Health and Safety Manual.

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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