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									Health & Safety News 1/06
January 2006
A newsletter for NERC safety advisers, published electronically every 2 months.
SAFETY DOCUMENTATION

Editor: Richard Pope
tel: 01793 411577 e-mail: rbp@nerc.ac.uk

Stuart Dobson produced a paper on this subject for the NERC executive board – see the copy at Appendix 2. Our safety documentation is becoming more accessible to people outside NERC because of the Civil Procedures Rules 1999 (also known as the “Wolff rules” after the law lord who introduced them), ERMS and the Freedom of Information Act. We need to be more careful about how we record decisions and actions in safety-related meetings (and, indeed, in all the letters, memos, reports and emails that we write or send.) Stuart‟s paper, which has been approved by the NERC executive board, explains the situation and suggests ways of dealing with documentation so as to mitigate the effects of increased access. OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH Managing the DSE regulations: the procedure on the use of display screen equipment concentrates on risk assessments and overcoming the problems associated with setting up DSE. In 2004 Stuart Dobson wrote guidance for CEH on how to manage problems arising from the use of DSE, particularly upper limb disorders. He has revised this guidance, which has been approved by the safety management team, to serve the whole of NERC; a copy is attached as Appendix 3. CO-OPERATION WITH OTHER ORGANISATIONS Regulation 11 of the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 sets out the rules for managing safety where 2 or more organisations share a workplace. Stuart Dobson has written guidance on this which has been approved by the safety management team and is attached as Appendix 4. LEGISLATION AND LEGAL ISSUES Update of legislation: for the 6-monthly update on legislation, see Appendix 1. Fire: the new fire regulations, originally scheduled to come into force in April 2006, are being delayed because the official guidance is not yet ready. They may now be introduced this autumn. Asbestos: all the existing regulations are to be repealed and replaced by a single new set of regulations. No timescale has yet been announced for this. USE OF LADDERS When using stepladders look at p9 of HSE leaflet INDG402, Safe use of ladders and stepladders on
http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg402.pdf .

ROAD TRANSPORT Trailer towing guide: see the attached web address http://www.nu-riskservices.co.uk/news/briefs/cms/1133438652212694732468_1.htm for details of a useful guide to the towing of light trailers. Managing vehicle safety: new guidance is available from the HSE in the form of a free leaflet entitled Managing vehicle safety in the workplace. You can obtain a copy from the HSE website at

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/tranindx.htm . Priced guidance is also available; for details see the HSE news release at http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2005/e05163.htm . OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH New EU health travel card The E111 form, entitling UK residents to free or reduced cost health care in most European countries, was superseded on January 1, 2006. If you want to travel in Europe shortly, apply for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which replaces the E111. You can apply for the EHIC online, by phone at 0845 606 2030, or by post to EHIC Applications, PO Box 1115, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE99 1SW giving your name, date of birth and NHS or National Insurance number. For more information see the Department of Health website at – http://www.dh.gov.uk/PolicyAndGuidance/HealthAdviceForTravellers/fs/en

Health & Safety news 1/06 Legislation A: new legislation in the period 1 July – 31 December 2005 Physical Agents (Vibration) Regulations 2005 B: forthcoming legislation Noise Fire Construction (Design & Management) Regulations Construction (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations Electromagnetic fields Working time Replacement of Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 Corporate manslaughter Asbestos 15 Feb 06 autumn 06 6 Jul 05 Date

Appendix 1 HSN no

1/04, p1, 2/05, p1 5/05, p1

2/05, p1 1/04, p2, 4/04, p1, 5/05, p1.

Oct 06} may be } merged 2/04, App 3, 6/05 Oct 06} p1, App 3 2006 2006 2006 2006 2007

NB dates often slip; the ones above are the best estimates of HSE or the safety press, or my guess.

Health & Safety news 1/06 SAFETY DOCUMENTATION

Appendix 2

NATURAL ENVIRONMENT RESEARCH COUNCIL NERC EXECUTIVE BOARD HEALTH & SAFETY DOCUMENTATION ISSUE This paper examines options for a policy on the documentation of safety practice within NERC DISCUSSION At an early stage of implementing new corporate health and safety management systems, it became clear that, whilst safety practice was frequently good in NERC, documentation of that good practice was often poor or absent. It also seemed that both the legislation itself and published guidelines on its implementation, with a few notable exceptions such as biological safety regulations, gave little or no guidance on what appropriate documentation was. We were arriving at the point in safety management where audit should kick-in; audit requires clear endpoints to measure performance including what documentation needed to be in place. Balanced against the legal requirement for documentation was another trend in NERC to overcomplicate the documentation which did exist; risk assessments tended to be over long and reflected a general view at the time that “the more you put in the better chance of covering your back”. The message that documentation, particularly risk assessments, needed to be clear, concise, focussed on the real issues and usable and should not be based on “back-covering” has been a major component of the management and staff training in safety management. There is evidence that this message has got across. A major project was initiated to examine the issue of other safety documentation and to link this to the audit schemes, which, in the course of the same project, have now been developed and trialled against the legislative areas covering our major sources of accidents. The project has now reported. On the horizon, but not implemented when the project was started, was the new Electronic Records Management System (ERMS). Although primarily instituted to satisfy the requirements of the Freedom of Information legislation, it was recognised early that ERMS offered the perfect management system for safety documentation. Implication of ERMS for safety management was added to the project at a later stage. Our early impression that no clear guidance existed in the legislation was confirmed; we have to produce our own, tailored to the particular work NERC does. This is in progress but will take some time to implement for all policy areas. It is being prioritised on the same key regulations related to our accident record. Other lessons to be learnt from the project have been discussed at the Safety Management Team and actions are either in progress or agreed for the future. The most useful information from the project came from interviewing claims lawyers who explained how they would use documentation (or lack of documentation) against us. This relates directly to the perceived benefits and potential problems from ERMS. Key issues are:     ERMS provides an excellent tool for helping managers to ensure that open loops are not left in the management of safety It also provides the means for claims lawyers to identify material they could use against us – ERMS documents relating to the specific issue are fully disclosable under the Wolff rules Lawyers try to show not only that an organisation has failed in managing the particular issue of the claim but also that general safety management is poor Minutes of Safety Committee meetings are particularly useful in this respect; they are disclosable because they refer to the specific issue but also have many other issues in them

  

Anything picked up from one document can lead to demands to disclose other documents which might support the case even where they do not refer to the specific issue – it is a cascade effect No matter how comprehensive our documentation, there will always be another step that lawyers can pursue which we might not have documented On a more positive note, ERMS legal compliance means that we do not need to keep our documentation as hard copy

I do not want to reverse the good we have done in focussing safety documents. I do not believe that we should increase our coverage in a vain attempt to make our documentation fully comprehensive. This would increase the burden on staff and simply get safety a bad name. It requires a balanced approach with careful guidance on what should be documented and how. This should not be rushed into. The NEB should be aware that this represents a corporate risk but should also recognise that it is being managed. ACTIONS NEB is asked to:  DISCUSS and AGREE a view on overall attitude to safety documentation; it is RECOMMENDED that NERC should not pursue documentation just to protect its back and accept a level of managed corporate risk Pending revision of policies and procedures and the publication of general guidelines, it is RECOMMENDED that NEB members take the following action:  Make senior and middle managers aware of these issues  Ask them to take the wording of minutes relating to safety very seriously, whether these are Safety Committee minutes or minuted items on safety from other management meetings  Avoid attributing remarks to individuals where possible  Avoid the common „Actions‟ carried over repeatedly from meeting to meeting (There are often perfectly valid reasons for this but it is powerful ammunition for a lack of serious safety culture) Stuart Dobson NERC Safety Adviser 09 June 2005

Health & Safety news 1/06 OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH: MANAGING THE DSE REGULATIONS

Appendix 3

NERC guidance on the management of the Display Screen Equipment Regulations This is a particularly difficult area to manage. Problems range from staff being unhappy with furniture to major, serious, irreversible injury. Upper Limb Disorder (previously known as Repetitive Strain Injury) is not a single medical condition but a range of them grouped together only because of similarity of effects, not a similarity of cause. The condition is characterised by symptoms (reported effects describable by people) with few, if any, signs (measurable changes in anatomy or physiology) particularly at the early stages. Indications are that reported ULD symptoms are on the increase (though not universally in NERC). The disorder can, and often does, have a rapid onset. Moving from first symptoms to serious injury can also be very rapid. Research by HSE indicates that almost all users of keyboards/mouse have some measurable changes compared to controls; these are only measurable using specialist sensitive equipment. All of us are, therefore, potential sufferers. Management must, therefore, be a continuous process rather than an occasional one. Assessment of VDU Workstations should include these steps:       Completion of regular (annual) self-assessments by users (a new assessment form has been produced recently by HSE and NERC has generated its own version of this which will be available to staff shortly) Completion of new self assessments if circumstances change (new equipment, new position of workstation, significant new software or job specification) Completion of new self assessments immediately if symptoms develop Help with or follow-up of this self-assessment by competent people The competent people can, in the first instance, be NERC staff trained in the basics of assessment. One per Section or Group will be able to keep a regular eye open for problems even if they are not reported by users External assessors may be used but should be brought in only after an internal assessment has been made and, ideally, following an initial diagnosis of the problem (see below) to focus actions

If any of these steps identifies problems, there must be follow-up:          The nature of the problem must be identified because management varies according to the particular type of symptom/injury During this initial establishment of cause, the workstation, work patterns, software etc. should be changed along general lines. Do not wait for final diagnosis. Help with this general management can be obtained from the Safety Advisers. General Practitioners may produce sick-notes identifying specific disorders; these can be misleading because proper diagnosis is not easy in a general practice Staff must be referred-on to a specialist This would normally be the Occupational Health provider for the site in the first instance If more specialist expertise is required for a full diagnosis, the OHS would arrange for a consultation Along with the diagnosis, the specialist/consultant medical staff will give guidance on how the problem should be managed (if they don‟t, ask for it) Some problems can be managed by surgery, however, further disorders can develop as indirect results. All staff who have received surgery must be observed and supported closely afterwards for these indirect effects. Other problems will not require direct medical intervention but might be manageable by changes in working practice; specialist companies are available who will assess the needs and suggest equipment to manage the problem

All of the above steps must be recorded carefully

Responsibility for managing ULD falls with normal line management structures. Within NERC the primary management would be by Section Heads with the assistance of Safety Advisers. Higher management should be informed of the problem and how it is being managed. ULD is reportable under the RIDDOR Regulations. The time to report is when a diagnosis is available. All RIDDOR reports should go through the manager responsible on each site – normally the Site Manager; they will know that copies must be sent to Swindon Office. HSE will normally follow up such reports with either a visit or a questionnaire on how we manage this area of H&S. NOTE: Home working on computers should also be considered in assessments. Other activities can also cause comparable symptoms of ULD; the employer is clearly not responsible for these but any ULD caused by other factors may be exacerbated by work and we are responsible for that. Laptops are a particular problem – see the guidance in the revised NERC DSE Procedure. Stuart Dobson 25 October 2005

Health & Safety news 1/06 CO-OPERATION WITH OTHER ORGANISATIONS

Appendix 4

Health and Safety Cooperation and Co-ordination relating to NERC as an employer, owner of sites and grant-awarding body (Regulation 11 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999). Regulation 11 covers requirements where employees (or „others‟ which includes students) working for more than one organisation share a workplace. This would include shared buildings and shared field facilities, a situation common in NERC both in its own fixed sites and temporary field sites where NERC funding has been given but NERC employees might or might not be present or in charge. Regulation 11 does not cover the relationship between employer/owner of a site and contractors; the latter is covered by Regulation 12 and is dealt with in the NERC Procedure on Managing Contractors No: 13. To comply with Regulation 11, all NERC sites, collaborative Centres and managers of field sites funded and part-funded by NERC grants must have written agreements defining who takes responsibility for safety management. These should not be complex or legalistic documents but simple statements focused on issues relevant to the specific sites and the nature of the work conducted. Issues of supervision and control of students with more than one supervising organisation comes under Regulation 11. There is a requirement that all staff are made aware of the arrangements; a specific requirement for the „competent person‟ appointed under Regulation 7 (normally the Safety Adviser) to be aware of, and party to, the arrangements is given in the guidance. It is recommended that a single controlling individual is identified; this then requires cooperation from others on the site/facility (Regulation 11; (1) (a)). This individual may be the senior manager of the principal employer (sensible for fixed NERC sites) but may be anyone competent. For field sites or shared NERC-funded facilities, it would be appropriate to appoint someone with specific expertise in the science area(s) who was likely to be on site regularly and was familiar with the range of activities. This appointment is known as the “health and safety co-ordinator”. Employers do not absolve themselves of their legal responsibilities by appointing such co-ordinators. An appointed health and safety co-ordinator should have been appropriately trained to demonstrate „competence‟; this would normally be the “Safety for Directors in a Research Environment” or the “Safety management in a Research Environment” course. Extra training relating to specific work undertaken on the site might be appropriate. „Competent person(s)‟ appointed under Regulation 7 (normally the Safety Adviser), may be appointed by more than one employer using a site or field facility. If this is the case, the written agreement must identify which of these „competent persons‟ takes the lead in providing advice. Co-ordination and consultation across the organisations involved is required and an overall management structure must be in place. Dr Stuart Dobson NERC Safety Adviser 30 June 2005


								
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