Minutes: 20th May 2021 – HSE update

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There were 18 members and guests in attendance.

Robert Bradford welcomed attendees to the online meeting and introduced Dave Charnock, Principal Inspector, HSE Edinburgh.

Presentation from Dave Charnock to introduce himself and re-establish lines of communication as well as give an overview of the HSE workplan for the coming year. Details of the work plan is available on the HSE website and Dave provided an overview of the key points.

The plan takes into account that there may be changes due to covid and that the formation, development and embedding of the Building Safety Regulator may influence how the construction division structures and undertakes its work.

Inspections and high hazard regulation will focus on:

  • A respiratory risk health campaign is planned for Q3 of 2021, the focus for this will be dust and effective dust controls and may also include other potential respiratory risks.
  • Licenced asbestos work
  • Proactive inspections, including ‘major project’ interventions
  • Re-cladding interventions – primarily in England
  • Decommissioning and dismantling of offshore assets

Investigations will be carried out for all fatalities, other reported accidents and ill health conditions in accordance with HSE incident selection criteria and reported concerns.

In relation to the pandemic response the HSE will currently include checks on covid related controls along with any investigation or inspection, no dedicated covid spot checks are being carried out at the moment but this may change if required. The HSE will also continue to support the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) in the delivery of an industry recovery plan.

Other activities across the sector include supporting and communicating innovation and developments, Revitalising CONIAC as the primary coordination body for H&S in the industry, promoting mental health strategy and the HSE Talking Toolkit and the Asbestos Licencing unit may take on a wider remit as part of the review of the 2012 Regulations.

Full information on the meeting can be found on the Scottish Construction Safety Group website http://www.scottishconstructionsafetygroup.org.uk/

Robert Bradford asked for any members interested in getting involved with Working Well Together to get in touch.

CECA have an upcoming Drug & Alcohol seminar on the 3rd June, contact Robert Bradford for an invitation.

Minutes: 22nd April 2021 – Chris Steel HSE, Hearing protection

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Robert Bradford introduced Chris Steel the HSE noise and vibration specialist, who was giving a presentation on hearing protection in the construction industry focusing on active hearing protection. The full presentation can be found on the Group website.

Active hearing protection can be fitted to muffs and plugs and mainly has electronics that filter the noise to allow the wearer to hear others speaking to them. These filters are especially useful when noise is variable and they stop the need for wearers to remove hearing protection when talking to others. They will also allow wearers to identify sounds such as emergency warnings which will have been identified in the risk assessment. They also solve the problem of overprotection. There is an onus on the employer to ensure that the hearing protection is in good condition with systems in place to ensure that checks are carried out regularly by the employer and user. Things to look for include –

  • battery condition,
  • overall condition of the hearing protection (the cost of active hearing protection might encourage some employers to make users wear them in poor condition with botched repairs)
  • fit – check seal, tension in headbands
  • cleanliness (especially important for in ear devices)

The employer also has to check that the hearing protection is being worn correctly e.g. under hoods not over them.

HSE has a new noise calculator on their website which explains the SNR, HML and octave band analysis methods for calculating the hearing protection provided by devices. The HSE has also provided typical noise levels for some common tasks.

The design stage is where the biggest improvements can be made to noise, dust and vibration levels in construction.

The next meeting will be on the 20th of May when Dave Charnock Principal Inspector of the HSE will give a presentation via Teams on the HSE workplan for the coming year as well as answering questions about the HSE. Connection details can be found on the SCSG web page.

Minutes: 18th February 2021 – The Lighthouse Club

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There were 20 members and guests present at the Zoom presentation. Bob Bradford advised those present that the Group had donated £10,000 to the Lighthouse Club due to problems they were having getting funding during the Pandemic and asked whether member companies would consider donating to the Charity. He then introduced Bill Hill the Chief Executive of the Lighthouse Club. The full presentation is on the SCSG website.

Bill advised that the Lighthouse Club was formed in 1956 as a charity fully dedicated to construction workers in the UK and Ireland. They help in situations where workers are killed, injured, suffer from ill-health or have mental health problems and are now providing food parcels to workers. The construction industry has the highest suicide rate for any industry with GCEO’s being particularly affected with 2 suicides every day in the UK and Ireland. To ensure that no construction worker is on their own the Lighthouse Club has a 24 hour helpline to cover emotional, physical and financial assistance. In the previous week they had provided 30 food parcels to workers. The helpline deals with 200 calls from families per month. The Lighthouse Club also has an app which has been downloaded 2000 times since its introduction.

The biggest challenge the Lighthouse Club is becoming better known especially with smaller companies.

Following are connections to useful resources provided by the Lighthouse Club

Building Mental Health and the 5 Step Road to Wellbeing:

The 5 step plan is here .. 5 Steps – Building Mental Health

The downloadable Toolbox talk is here .. Tool Box Talk – Building Mental Health

The first step is signing the charter and be part of a 600+ strong community driving for culture change within construction .. Sign our Charter – Building Mental Health

If you cannot easily organise the toolbox talk then this video covers the basics of how to help others in distress .. Ask Twice-Listen-Be Kind

The Group has recognised that many companies raise moneys for charities unrelated to the construction industry, why not consider donating to the Lighthouse Club.

The next meeting will be on the 22nd of April when Chris Steel (Noise and Vibration specialist) from the HSE will give a presentation via Teams on hearing protection.

Minutes: 19th March 2020 – HSE Vibration

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There were 16 members and guests present at the meeting. Robert Bradford introduced Susan Donnelly and Adele Tinkler inspectors from the HSE who assist in the management of occupational health. They were giving a presentation covering the revision to the Control of Vibration at Work guidance and some practical advice.

Susan and Adele were involved in the work to update and revise the guidance to the Control of Vibration at Work which resulted in a re-ordering of the document and a reduction in the number of pages (35 fewer). The document was released in August 2019 and it should be noted that the regulations themselves have not changed. When preparing a risk assessment the following points should be covered –
• work activity
• number of employees,
• frequency of exposure,
• multi tool use,
• make and model of equipment
• control measures and
• calculation of likely daily exposure points against the EAV/ELV
The table in Appendix 3 gives magnitudes for common tools which eliminates the need for measurement. The figures in the table are given for percentile groups. When using the figures the k value has to be considered. For manufacture’s Lab test data (not in use); add K the value (but still may not be right). When the users own data is gathered from site (i.e. in use); no K value to add (should be representative if no concerns over measurement process etc.). When the HSE data table the 10%tile to 90%tile indicate the credible range and the 75%tile is the starting point when no other data is available. The EAV likely to be reached when the risk assessment indicates exposure is likely to be above 2m/s2; therefore Health Surveillance is required. The HSE will update figures in the table using the HSE website.

Health surveillance is required to identify vibration related disease at an early stage; to help prevent progression and disability and to check the effectiveness of the employer’s control measures. Pre-assessment should be carried out by a competent person to identify all underlying health effects. The HSE often find companies with no competent personnel and systems are poorly managed. A lack of understanding results in these checks being carried out as part of a wellness campaign. The HSE also finds that referrals aren’t being made and information is not being passed to the employees. The information provided on health surveillance isn’t always reported correctly in the health record i.e. fit, unfit or fit with restrictions. Read these reports to make sure you understand what is being said, if you are unsure ask questions many reports are confusing and / or misleading. Make sure that the provider knows how to contact all parties including the employee and site manager. There are also significant delays when the Tiered assessments are being arranged and OH providers often can’t demonstrate the competence of their employees. When companies are employing a provider they should ensure that the provider has experience of the work type (invite them to a site). Paragraph 168 of the guidance requires that those at particular risk must receive health surveillance even when exposure is below the EAV previously the guidance only required surveillance for those with a diagnosis of HAVS. Before carrying out surveillance the provider should have seen the risk assessment provided by the employer, this information is important as it gives the provider better detail on the work ensuring a more accurate report and reduced delays. The OH provider should provide in their general information on trends within the business to allow the business to provide better information to the workforce.

When setting up a contract with an OH provider a service level agreement should be included so that requirements are clear. Issues found include:-
• No details of service required.
• No definition of competency to perform HS;
• No consistent, proportionate, and transparent decision making that is auditable.
• No agreed timelines for initial, follow up, referral appointments;
• No agreed timelines for feedback;
• No agreement re quality of reports and fitness advice to manage/employee
• No system of monitoring compliance with recognised standards or review of outcomes ;
• No arrangements for transfer of Medical Records;
A top ten tips document will be produced by the HSE in the coming months.

Other business
The exposure limits for wood dust have changed, therefore consider what you are using especially sheet materials which may have a mixture of hard and soft woods.

Minutes: 20th February 2020 – Select (Regulation & 18th Edition)

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There were 24 members and guests present. Robert Bradford informed the Group that it has been three years since we discussed Electrical as a topic and subsequently introduced Dave Forrester Director of Select.

SELECT is the trade association for the electrical contracting industry in Scotland. Founded in 1900 as The Electrical Contractors’ Association of Scotland, SELECT became the first trade association in the world to serve the Electrical Industry. (Electrical Contract Association in England). SELECT is the largest Trade Association in Scotland with over 1200 member businesses who employ over 15,000 electricians. They operate the largest construction Modern Apprenticeship scheme in Scotland with the 2 main objectives being to:

  • Protect public safety by driving up industry standards
  • Provide for the future of the industry by training apprentices

The Current situation:

The SJIB (Scottish Joint Industry Board for the Electrical Contracting Industry) has a register of 15,000 electricians but independent research suggests there are around 23,000 electricians operating in Scotland. SELECT’s own research suggests that around 3500 of those are not qualified. The work that they might be doing accounts for about 7% of all fires in Scotland (relates to 360 incidents) and costs £9.6m to rectify, usually through insurance claims which pushes all of our premiums up.

SELECT commissioned a report on the economic impact of regulating electricians in Scotland. The report estimated that the “human cost” of faulty electrical work in damage from electrical fires, human costs of injury and death caused by electric shock and the general costs of replacing poor or dangerous work is around £120m per year.  That report also pointed out that regulation would offer an opportunity to grow the industry by attracting more aspirational entrants, where reward and reputation is enhanced, and the value of an electrical apprenticeship is more widely accepted.

As things stand at the moment, anywhere in the UK, anyone can call themselves an electrician.  Buy a van, buy some tools, set up a trade account at a wholesaler and start trading as an electrician.  No insurance, no comeback for the customer, perhaps dealing in cash only etc. These people generally charge less than qualified electricians and so undermine those who have got themselves qualified and keep their knowledge up to date.

British Standard BS 7671 “Requirements for Electrical Installations. … The current version is BS 7671:2018 (the 18th Edition) issued in 2018 hich came into effect 1 January 2019.

Unqualified electricians have little or no knowledge of up to date industry standards and as the majority of the installation is hidden in the fabric of the building, who’s to know what dangers might be hidden?

In the Gas Industry there is a Gas Safe Register – this provides both business and individual registration. In other countries such as US and Canadian states who operate a licensing scheme. Stats show that there was a reduction in the number of injuries and deaths of electricians after licensing was introduced. Closer to home, European countries operate different types of schemes. One of the best known throughout Europe is the German “Meister” scheme which requires those who run businesses to hold technical and business skills qualifications.

The Scottish Government has therefore set up an Electricians Working Group and has committed to three things:

  • To first and foremost protect consumers
  • Secondly, to protect scrupulous traders and create an inhospitable environment for miscreants i.e. the cowboys of the industry
  • And finally, to maintain an environment that allows competition within the provision of electrical services to thrive

The benefits of implementing these are obvious. We estimate the net reward to the Scottish Economy of regulating the industry would be around £58m. There has been a great deal of support:

SELECT has been pursuing this goal for many years.  The next steps is for Select to arrange a meeting with the new Minister responsible for Business, Fair Work and Skills, Jamie Hepburn.  This will take place soon –

SGT has started two strands of the work

  1. working with the sector to develop options for a consumer mark or register and
  2. independently assessing the current risk and build a business case to determine if this is a proportionate response.

Alongside that Jamie Halcrow Johnston MSP is preparing a Motion for Debate in Scottish Parliament on the subject to gain further Cross Party Support.  That motion asks the Scottish Government to consider how the Parliament’s powers over protection of title could be utilised to reassure the public of the safety of electrical work, in domestic and non-domestic premises.

If you want to follow SELECT’s campaign or indeed add your support, you can do so via the SELECT website https://www.select.org.uk/safer/ or through the SELECT social media account #itsashocker.

Details of most recent amendments to British Standard BS 7671 “Requirements for Electrical Installations, can be found in the Presentation on the SCSG website.

Part 7 – Section 704 – Construction & Demolition Site Installations

Section 704 prohibits the protective measures of obstacles and placing out of reach (Section 417), non-conducting location (Regulation 418.), and earth-free local equipotential bonding (Regulation 418.2). (IET, 10/2018)

A note in the regulation also refers the reader to BS 7375 (Distribution of electricity on construction and demolition sites. Code of practice.)

It is usually impracticable with Protective Multiple Earthing (PME) to comply with the bonding requirements of the Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations 2002 (ESQCR) on construction sites, and a PME earthing terminal should not be provided.

Where a construction site is part of an existing building and the building is supplied using a PME earthing facility the construction site will have to be separated from the PME building earth and be part of a TT system having a separate connection to earth that is independent from the PME building earth, unless the bonding requirements of Regulation 704.411.3.1 can be met.

Where the construction site earthing and the building earthing are separate the earthing arrangements must not be simultaneously accessible.

110 V reduced low voltage supplies, with the centre point of the secondary winding of the step-down transformer earthed, limit the voltage to Earth to 55 V for single-phase supplies and 63.5 V for three-phase.

Limiting the voltage to 55 V or 63.5 V between a live conductor and Earth effectively eliminates the risk of dangerous electric shock from exposed-conductive-parts

The value of earth fault loop impedance at every point of utilisation, including socket-outlets, must be such that the disconnection time does not exceed 5 seconds. Consideration to be given to the risk of damage to electrical equipment by corrosive substances, movement of structures and vehicles, wear and tear, tension, flexing, impact, abrasion, severing and ingress of liquids or solids.

Cables on a construction site location should preferably not be installed across walkways or site roads as they are susceptible to mechanical damage. If cables are installed in this manner they would require the appropriate level of protection against mechanical damage and contact with construction plant machinery. Surface-run and overhead cables must be protected against mechanical damage, taking into account the environment and activities of a construction site. These cables remain flexible at lower temperatures than standard PVC cables.  Commonly referred to as arctic grade cable sheathed yellow rather than blue.

Assembly for Construction Sites –

  1. overcurrent protective devices;
  2. devices affording fault protection; and
  3. socket-outlets, if required.

Safety and standby supplies must be connected by means of devices arranged to prevent interconnection of the different supplies.

Equipment for external use should be at least IP44; however equipment installed in a weather protected location such as an office being refurbished, would have no specific IP requirement.

I&T every 3 months with RCDs tested daily by pressing the test button.

Robert thanked Dave for his presentation before moving on to other business.

Any Other Business

 One question was raised from the group in relation to Inspection, Testing of Installations in Temporary Accommodation. A good discussion was had – Please note Section 704 does not apply to installations in administrative locations of construction sites (for example, offices and canteens).

Minutes: 21st November 2019 – Drilling Equipment

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There were 21 members and guests present at the meeting. Robert Bradford introduced Jon Christie a Health and Safety Advisor from BAM Ritchies who is the Chairman of the British Drilling Association (BDA) as well as being a representative on the BSI centre for EU normalisation which then brings together EU standards on the way to becoming ISO standards; currently they are working on EN 16228: Drilling and Foundation Equipment which is being revised.

The BDA was founded in 1976 and covers all sections of drilling except oil and gas and has representatives from all aspects of the industry including manufacturers and consulting engineers. The aim of the organisation is to improve health and safety and to establish a minimum standard that companies work too. The majority of the membership work in ground investigation and geotechnical areas. The BDA produces documents that are essential for those working in the industry including clients with the main document being the Health and Safety Manual although other guidance documents are also available. The BDA have also developed an NVQ covering drilling operations and member companies are regularly audited to ensure they meet minimum standards. Members of the drill crew should now all hold relevant CSCS cards for the operations they are undertaking.

The BDA run technical standards to keep industry up to date with developments in the industry and during meetings fully analyse incidents to ensure that member companies are aware of issues, information on incidents is then used to influence the standards committees such as EN 16228. Due to the influence of the BDA standards have been improved on shell and auger rigs where secondary winches have been introduced minimising the risk of collapse during erection and dismantling. They are also heavily involved in ensuring that guarding standards for rotary rigs are continuously improved. Drilling and blasting operations have recently become part of the remit of the BDA who now work closely with the Mineral Products Qualifications Council.

When working in drilling operations there are two types of rig that you are likely to encounter Shell and auger also known as cable percussion rigs (look like a tripod) and rotary rigs.

When working with a shell and auger rig clients should understand what they are looking at (BDA guidance can help with this).
When working with cable percussive rigs the rig should be sitting on a level surface and the horizontal bars (spreader aside stays) at ground level and above head hide should be fived in place using pins and R clips. Guards should be fitted over the open winch drum and clutch plate assembly but remember that the rope has to be able to freely move so the gap may be bigger than you expect. Older machines are having these guards retrofitted. At the top of the mast there should be a loop to prevent the wire rope from jumping off the pulley wheel. Secondary winches have been in use for many years so rigs should no longer be in use without these.

When a rotary rig turns up on site there should be guards in place to prevent people becoming entangled in any rotating parts. Generally these guards should be fitted with interlocked guards and the guards should cover all rotating parts (check when drilling inclined or horizontal holes that the guarding is adequate). In vertical drilling a space is permitted at the bottom of the mast and the guard should be positioned to prevent people from reaching over the top to the rotating shaft. The interlocked guard should stop rotation very quickly but not immediately as this may cause damage to the machine. In some circumstances for example when another drilling rod is being added to the drill string the operator will have to enter the area. In this case there should be a system in place to allow the rod to be screwed in place at very low rotation speeds. This control has various other controls built in to discourage use of the rig with the guard open.

The BDA is developing a guidance document to cover key points that clients should be aware of when a drill rig turns up on site.

Robert thanked Jon for his presentation before moving on to other business.

Minutes: 24th October 2019 – Sygma Solutions, Service Avoidance

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There were 22 members and guests present at the meeting. Ricky Guy introduced Peter Ashcroft of Sygma Solutions who was giving a presentation service detection. Much of the presentation was based on drawings and videos.

Peter began his presentation by advising that Sygma are a training provider focussing on one topic the detection of underground services. During the training they also cover the interpretation of service drawings. Peter started his career with Radiodetection and has only worked in the service detection industry. Sygma was formed in 2005 and provides courses to the NVQ level 2.

It is important to recognise that the CAT and Genny are used for service location not service avoidance and that users are not confident when using the Genny. For this reason Sygma start the training with the Genny so that the users fully understand the importance of the Genny. The Power and Radio modes are passive detection modes whilst the Genny is an active mode.

The CAT alone in Power mode is not necessarily totally accurate as it can be difficult to identify individual cables (this is partly due to the design of modern cables where each current leakage is minimised and each phase sends its own signal which interferes with the other phases all of which can cause confusion with other cables signals and can give the strongest signal to the side of the actual line of the cable). The detection also depends on the
• current draw, at the extreme if there is no current you cannot detect an example given was when a survey is carried out at breakfast time you will find more services than at mid-morning and
• background magnetic field

A problem in Power mode is that there are two sensors for picking up the magnetic field the first at ground level and the second near the top and when a service is being traced during a trial dig when the CAT is used in the hole if there is a cable at a higher level the signal may be cancelled out.

In Radio mode the signal being traced is a MOD signal and this is switched off every Thursday morning making service detection in Radio mode more difficult at this time (may also switch off at other times, times listed on a website – didn’t get the web address). Services being traced in Radio mode require to be continuously earthed, however modern cables to homes are only earthed only at one end. Radio mode is more accurate as you dig.

The Genny mode is therefore the most accurate as a signal is induced either by direct clamping, wrapping the clamp cable around a service when clamping isn’t possible, setting the Genny above the service or through the use of a sonde in a pipe. Peter then went on to give a demonstration in the room in the various modes and gave advice such as
• when connecting to a lamp post keep the earth spike as close to the post as possible to allow the cable to be identified closer to the post.
• Placing the earth spike at a distance when a pipe is being followed (there is an extension earth cable available)
• Moving the location of the earth spike to get a better idea of some services
• Laying the earth spike on the ground and pouring water on it if there are concerns about services (or on hard standing where the spike wont penetrate the ground e.g. concrete)
• Pulling the earth spike partly out of the ground if the signal is too strong and an accurate position can’t be found
• The Genny should be at least 10 metres from the area of concern to minimise interference
• Careful use of the drawings can help you to trace individual services
• High voltage cables have a low magnetic field and due to this can be difficult to locate
• As the Cat reaches the Genny or clamp it can be swung on its side to cause a blank spot when they are too close. It should be noted that this will show up as misuse on the record of use.
• If a CAT with data logging is used the split of the functions would ideally read 80% genny, 10% power and 10% radio and although these will vary with the specific location the genny mode should always be the dominant function.

Minutes: 19th of September 2019 – Occupational Hygiene – Exposure Hazards in the Construction Industry

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There were 19 members and guests present at the meeting. Robert Bradford introduced Carolyn McGonagle from the Institute of Occupational Medicine who was giving a presentation on exposure hazards in the construction industry.

Carolyn began by advising that she was the section head of the Chemistry and PPE division within the IOM. The IOM was started by the National Coal Board in 1969 to work on pneumoconiosis in mineworkers and from that base improved sampling techniques and improved knowledge including on silicosis. The IOM became independent of the NCB in 1983. They have three offices in the UK – Edinburgh, Chesterfield and Stafford with three divisions consultancy where they carry out analytical services, occupational hygiene, asbestos surveyors, H&S advice, consultancy and act as expert witnesses; a research division where they are currently carrying out research in to exposure, mineralogy and examining nano particles. The final division is the services division.

The chemistry laboratory carries out high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC); Ion chromatography (IC), Gas chromatography (GC), Inductively coupled plasma (ICP), Atomic emissions spectroscopy (AES), Ultra violet spectroscopy (UV) and Wet chemistry techniques. The mineralogy lab carries optical fibre counts (PLM), differential fibre counting (SEM / EDXS), elemental composition of dusts by SEM / EDXS, crystalline silica by XRD, quartz by FTIR, bulk asbestos analysis (PCOM) and asbestos in soils as well as dust and fibres. There is also a PPE testing facility.

The main hazards in the construction industry are dust, silica, welding fume, diesel particulate, lead, isocyanates, solvents, fibres and carbon monoxide. Monitoring is required to protect workers, help set the correct controls. Where exposure is a serious health risk check exposure levels are not exceeded, check the control levels are working, help choose the correct PPE and identify any need for health surveillance. Monitoring can also help when an organisation is served with an Improvement Notice. Before requesting sampling from the IOM the organisation should consider the risk and COSHH assessments as well as information in the hazard data sheets. They should provide information on the accessibility of the site and any previous sampling information. The requirements should be discussed with the IOM to determine the most appropriate analytical method, sampling media, whether substances can be sampled together, detection limits and delivery time of sampling media: the IOM should be provided with enough time to set up the filters as this can take a few days.

Using cement as an example the hazards are irritation of the eyes, nose, upper respiratory system etc. as well as skin irritation and burns with the silica component resulting in silicosis and lung cancer. The MSDS lists quartz (WEL resp 0.1mg/m3), chromium (0.5) and dust (Resp 4 and total 10) as constituents. Discussions with the lab will give guidance on the analytical method, sampling media, delivery time, information on samples gathered together and detection limits. The detection limit is important to help decide on the sampling period e.g. silica has a WEL of 0.1mg/m3 and a detection limit of 0.01 therefore a sample of 960 litres is required (sample drawn through the filter at 2 litres / minute). The lab will supply an IOM cassette with filter which can sample for total respirable and inhalable dust, silica and chromium. To supply this the IOM would require 2 – 3 day’s notice to allow the filters to be prepared.

When sampling it is always preferable to collect more than one sample as a single sample
• isn’t representative,
• would not show any sampling error
• may be damaged in transit
• isn’t cost effective
A field blank should also be included as a check.

Each sample should have a unique identifier (the simpler the better) and there should be a chain of custody record. Other information should include temperature, weather wind speed, tasks undertaken, sampling sites information and information on the 8 hour TWA. After sampling the samples should be stored correctly and in a way to prevent contamination (the IOM can provide guidance). When the samples are sent to the lab there should be clear information on the analytes, information on what is required in the report and contact information. In the lab the samples will be stabilised and weighed twice before the silica analysis is carried out using FTIR followed by chromium and total dust analysis where the filter is dissolved and analysed by ICP. The report will be issued covering all of the topics.

Other hazards include
• fibres where different methods cover different fibres such as asbestos and MMMF.
• Solvents
• Metals which includes weld fumes, lead in water, paint and air
• Carbon dioxide and monoxide

The IOM is accredited to ISO 17025 and is audited by UKAS annually and take part in external proficiency schemes. All activities are not fully compliant with the above however in the few cases where full compliance is not met the IOM has internal proficiency management ad all analysts are trained. All analysis meets the IOM’s stringent quality system.

Robert thanked Carolyn for her presentation before moving on to other business.

Revised editions of HSG 133, 144 and 168 are to be released by the end of October.

Minutes: 23rd of May 2019 – Occupational Health

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There were 19 members and guests present at the meeting. Robert Bradford introduced Roseanne Nixon the Business Development Manager for the occupational health provider SALUS who are owned by NHS Lanarkshire.

Roseanne began her presentation by advising the meeting that she has started working in occupational health in 1996 when companies were relatively new to the provision of occupational health services. And has worked for a number of companies before joining SALUS. SALUS is a part of NHS North Lanarkshire who provide an Occupational Health service as well as a Safety and Return to Work Department. Any profit made is returned to the NHS. Occupational health is defined by the World Health Organisation as “the promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all occupations by preventing departures from health, controlling risks and the adaptation of work to people and people to their jobs”. When a company employs an occupational health provider there is a higher probability that you will comply with the law, improve the health and wellbeing of the workforce, reduce absence costs and risks to the business. Prevention of an illness due to the provision of occupational health results in a reduction in lost wages of about 57%. Employer’s costs can be reduced by approximately 19% due to savings in productivity, sick pay and insurance costs. Government savings as a result of reduced benefits and NHS costs can be around 24%.

Health surveillance is a statutory risk based programme of ongoing health checks where workers are exposed to substances or activities that may cause them harm. It aims to identify work related ill health symptoms early to allow employers to know if their existing controls measures are adequately managed. To allow this to be carried out efficiently the employer should identify health hazards, staff exposed, have controls in place and understand the efficiency of the controls. When the exposure to noise, vibration and hazardous substances cannot be reduced below the stipulated levels then occupational health surveillance is required. The health provider should be given information on exposures, controls etc. Health surveillance results should be monitored to determine whether there are specific issues (anonymized data analysis), the same information can be used to brief the workforce. Good reporting by the provider is essential. When an occupational disease is suspected it must be confirmed by a suitably qualified occupational health physician.

The requirements for surveillance are
Noise – baseline audiometry pre-employment, annual for the first two years (new employees) thereafter at three yearly intervals.
Vibration – baseline (Tier 1) pre-employment, Annual Tier 2 paper screen and at year three a Tier 3 assessment
Respiratory irritant / sensitizer – baseline pre-employment, 6 weeks post exposure, 12 weeks post exposure and 6 months post exposure.
Skin sensitizer /irritant – baseline pre-employment and thereafter an annual assessment.

When an Occupational Health Provider is contacted ask about their experience in your industry, obtain references, ensure competencies e.g. physicians should be members of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM)), ensure staff are trained (including update training). Note that there is a FOM approved vibration course. Ask whether they are SEQOHS accredited as this demonstrated that they can have systems in place that are audited. (A List of accredited providers is on their website)Ask about membership of the B&CE scheme for occupational health as this may be very useful in the future if it can be made to work. SEQOHS and B&CE membership are now being specified in tender documents.When writing / agreeing a contract with the provider make sure everything is covered and that all statutory requirements are being met – some providers only want to deliver a service managing absence which covers personal or mental health.

Make sure that the premises to be used by the provider are suitable or check whether the provider has a service from a van with an acoustic booth. Ensure that the provider has relevant risk assessments and COSHH assessments before they make the visit.

After conducting the health surveillance you should receive a health record which will not contain clinical information but will advise you on the fitness of the individual to carry out work e.g. fit, fit with restrictions or unfit. These records should be kept with other records held about the individual including exposures. When a company changes ownership the records should be transferred as well. At periodic intervals you should receive a report giving details on what has been done in the previous period. This information will show trends in work related ill health which can identify problem areas you were unaware of. The information should also be used to brief the workforce. If an employee is classed as unfit to carry on with a task, ensure the employee is informed, review the risk assessment, review other employees carrying out the same task and assign the affected person to other tasks. It may also be necessary to report the problem to the HSE under RIDDOR.

When you change OH provider you should inform, the employees of the change to the OH provider and the incumbent provider is responsible for transferring the records to the new provider.

Free access to complimentary services is available from
Healthy Working Lives (HWL’s) are funded by the Scottish Government and provide free OH, H&S & wellbeing advice, support and some services . HWL’s are a SEQOSH registered NHS provider of telephone, email & web chat services. Funding is available in some health boards to deliver free workplace visits to <250 sized organisations. Contact www.healthyworkinglives.com or telephone Tel: 0800 019 22 11
Working Health Services Scotland (WHSS) is a case management Scottish Government funded programme delivered throughout Scotland it is a free and confidential specialist health care supportive programme (mainly telephone) for employees of SME’s (<250) to support employees to remain in work. Employees can access the programme by self-referral or GP referral via National Advice line: 0800 019 22 11 or
Access to Work – Mental Health is a Department of Work and Pensions service. It aims to assist people living with mental health difficulties have more good days than bad ones, it offers up to 9 months support either telephone or face to face throughout UK. Access is via www.able-futures.co.uk or telephone 0800 321 3137.

Suggested steps to take when commissioning an OH service
Top tips for purchasing OH services
Example health surveillance pack
Tips for purchasing Occupational Health Services (HSE NI)
Occupational Health: the value proposition Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM)