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Roof Worker Height Safety: Tips from the Experts

Without the correct safety measures in place, working at height can be hugely dangerous. In fact, accidents from height are one of the leading causes of workplace fatalities and injuries1. Critical safety experts Reece Safety, who have recently introduced a new typical inclined roof structure into their critical training centre,

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Door & Hardware Federation supports Fire Door Safety Week 2021

More than four years following the tragic fire in the Grenfell Tower, we are still waiting for the full legislative response from the government.  While it is accepted that the public inquiry has yet to complete its work, are there measures, perhaps including some of those contained in Dame Judith

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Fall protection training: 10 top tips for success

Phil Rashbrook, European Training Manager for Fall Protection at MSA Safety shares his 10 top tips to refer to when considering fall protection training. MSA Safety is a global designer, manufacturer and distributor of industry-leading safety products and provider of quality safety at height training.  1.)    Preparation is key The

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HSE INSPECTIONS TO TARGET CONSTRUCTION FIRM DUST CONTROL PRACTICE

Firms across Great Britain are to be targeted in a new series of inspections focusing on dust control by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), it has been announced today. Over the next few weeks, HSE will be concentrating on industries such as construction where occupational lung diseases, including in some

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Considerate Constructors Scheme expands to offer registration to professional services

Professional service organisations can now demonstrate their considerate credentials. The Considerate Constructors Scheme – the organisation established to improve the image of construction – has expanded to offer professional service organisations the opportunity to register with the Scheme. Eligible organisations providing professional services to the construction industry, such as architects,

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Fall protection cost-cutting: a step too far?

Any work at height carries risk. Preventing accidents from falls relies on all stakeholders using an informed, joined-up approach to practices and systems. Specifiers, contractors, system installers and end-users all play a part in risk mitigation. James Sainsbury, Fall Protection Sales leader for MSA Safety, explains why a holistic approach

Read More »

Lincolnshire Welcomes Beach Management Scheme

Coastal flood risk in Lincolnshire is due to be managed by a £7 million Beach Management scheme, which will benefit around 20,000 homes and businesses. The Environment Agency scheme will see contractors pump around 400,000 cubic metres of sand onto Lincolnshire’s beaches to help protect people and their properties from

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Latest Issue

BDC 318 : Jul 2024

safety

Roof Worker Height Safety: Tips from the Experts

Without the correct safety measures in place, working at height can be hugely dangerous. In fact, accidents from height are one of the leading causes of workplace fatalities and injuries1. Critical safety experts Reece Safety, who have recently introduced a new typical inclined roof structure into their critical training centre, have provided some top safety tips for those working at height. Plan Effectively It’s vital that correct plans have been put in place for any at-height work, including roof work. Before work is completed, thorough risk assessments should take place, identifying potential area and personnel risks. Always consider measures that protect everyone who is at risk (collective protection) along with measures that protect only the individual (personal protection). Current laws state that the following should also be taken into consideration by employers before allowing any work at height: Take account of weather conditions that could compromise worker safety, and check the location every time before work takes place.  Take suitable and sufficient measures to make sure no one can be injured, for example using exclusion zones to keep people away or mesh on scaffold to stop materials such as bricks falling Store materials and objects safely so they won’t cause injury Plan for emergencies and rescue, including setting a procedure for evacuation. Ensure employees know the emergency procedures thoroughly before undertaking work. Correct Training Employers should always ensure that those with sufficient skills, experience and knowledge are employed to perform any task at height. Where necessary the correct training should be provided and revisited at required times to ensure continued knowledge and adherence to safety regulations. “It’s vital that those working at height get the relevant experience and training before undertaking real world work, to ensure safety of themselves, and those around them.” Andy Graham, Managing Director at Reece Safety had to say. “At Reece Safety we have recently launched a new roof working training rig which is a great solution to those needing a practical training course and will meet the needs of people needing to work safely at height on similar clad roof areas found on industrial and retail units, domestic structures, schools and hospitals.” Correct and Well-Maintained Equipment Employers are required to provide the correct equipment appropriate for the task at hand, along with training of correct implementation and use. Equipment, such as scaffolding, should be assembled or installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and in keeping with industry guidelines. It should also not be used until it has been inspected by a qualified and competent person who has the necessary skills, experience and knowledge to manage health and safety. Any equipment exposed to conditions that may cause it to deteriorate and result in a dangerous situation should be inspected at suitable intervals appropriate to the environment and use. Supervision Working at height can be an evolving situation, so it’s vital that the equipment and workers are monitored as the work is carried out. This will help reduce the chances of accidents occurring from distractions or equipment deterioration. Any changes in the surroundings should be reported and acted on immediately.

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IPAF Summit hears falls from the platform will be focus of 2022 safety campaign

A campaign emphasising the importance of working safely to avoid falls from the platform when using Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs) to enable temporary work at height has been launched by the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) at its annual Summit in London, UK, on 10 March 2022. IPAF’s Don’t Fall For It! safety campaign outlines the possible underlying causes of falls from the platform when using MEWPs, which almost always lead to serious injury or death. It offers operators and managers key advice to mitigate the most common risks and avoid accidents of this type, as identified in IPAF’s ongoing incident reporting and analysis via the www.ipafaccidentreporting.org portal. Peter Douglas, CEO & MD of IPAF, comments: “MEWPs are designed to safely conduct temporary work at height in just about every environment, but every year the most common type of accident we see reported are falls from the platform, which as you can imagine nearly always lead to serious injury or death if they occur while using machines at height. “We are determined that our new Don’t Fall For It! targeted global safety campaign will help to instil safe working practices and remind operators and managers of some fairly basic positive steps they can take to reduce the risk of such incidents occurring. The messaging is really simple – select the correct machine for the job, don’t take risks, don’t cut corners, and wear the correct personal fall protection equipment in boom-type platforms.” Brian Parker, IPAF’s Head of Safety & Technical, says: “Operators can help avoid this type of accident by focusing on the principles we’ve set out as part of this campaign. If they are properly trained and familiarised on the MEWPs being used, then hopefully none of this guidance should be new, but we know that complacency breeds contempt, and that too often corners are being cut or fundamental principles of safe use ignored. “With this safety campaign, IPAF is saying that, if you find yourself tempted to do something different to what you know is the right and proper way to work, or if you are ever asked to do something that you think just isn’t safe by a work colleague or supervisor, then ‘don’t fall for it!’ Far better to think twice and save a life – whether it is a workmate’s or your own!” Key points of guidance in the IPAF Don’t Fall For It! global safety campaign include: Plan thoroughly – conduct a proper MEWP site survey/assessment, select the correct machine for the work and use professionally trained operator(s) and supervisor(s). Know your machine – operators should be trained on the machine type they are using and familiarised on the specific model. Operators should assess that the machine is suitable for the task and conditions, and adequate in terms of reach, articulation, and load-bearing capacity. Machine knowledge includes whether personal fall protection equipment (PFPE) should be used and, if so, what type to use, and how to attach it. Clip on – If personal PFPE is required, all occupants of the platform must attach their lanyard to the correct anchor point. Ensure movement within the platform is possible while attached, and do not move the machine or elevate the platform until and unless all occupants are attached. Set up and manoeuvre the machine/platform effectively – occupants should never need to over-reach, unfasten PFPE, step or climb on guardrails or otherwise extend the safe working envelope of the platform. Ensure vertical MEWPs are positioned and repositioned as necessary to allow easy access to the area of work to be undertaken; operators should not overreach or stand on guardrails to access a work area instead of taking the time and effort to correctly reposition the machine. Stay inside the platform/attached – the guardrails of the platform form the primary fall prevention and define the operational envelope of the machine being used. Always stay inside the platform. Where there is a requirement for PFPE, you must wear it. Do not exit the platform at height; unclip/exit only on completion of work when safely lowered to the ground. IPAF offers further guidance on using MEWPs that provides more detail on specific risks and advises on safe operating procedures. For more information on all of IPAF’s safety campaigns and links to relevant technical guidance visit www.ipaf.org/safe or see www.ipaf.org/contact to find your nearest IPAF office or representative. ● Please visit www.ipaf.org/training and www.ipaf.org/resources for the full range of IPAF training course and the latest safety and technical guidance materials from IPAF. 

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Door & Hardware Federation supports Fire Door Safety Week 2021

More than four years following the tragic fire in the Grenfell Tower, we are still waiting for the full legislative response from the government.  While it is accepted that the public inquiry has yet to complete its work, are there measures, perhaps including some of those contained in Dame Judith Hackitt’s report from 2018, which could have been introduced already? The Door & Hardware Federation (DHF) is convinced that there are initiatives which could be undertaken today, without pre-judging any findings of the public inquiry.  For example, chief among these would be the introduction of a legal requirement for third-party certification of fire-resisting doorsets.  The Hackitt report calls for third-party certification of safety-critical construction products and it is clear that fire doorsets at Grenfell failed to protect the landings and the stairwell from smoke and fire spreading from the flats.  This failure to protect the escape route had fatal consequences.      Fire door certification could be introduced without affecting requirements relating to other components or structures which may be still under consideration.  There are several certification schemes in existence today covering manufacture, installation and inspection of fire doorsets, but, even so, some time would inevitably be required for existing facilities to be expanded.  This makes it all the more important to begin the process now, without waiting for decisions to be made in other areas. “Fire-resisting doorsets are obviously safety-critical and should therefore be subject to third party certification, at least when the intended use is in high-risk buildings,” explains DHF’s General Manager and Secretary, Michael Skelding.  “There really should be little need for discussion on this.  If we wait for all the other issues raised by Grenfell to be debated before dealing with this one, we are missing a golden opportunity to make a significant improvement in fire safety in high-risk residential buildings”. DHF’s recommendations come on the cusp of this year’s Fire Door Safety Week, a national safety awareness campaign that was first launched in 2013 and is, this year, taking place from 20th – 26th September.  DHF has been a long-standing supporter of the objectives of Fire Door Safety Week, and as always, the federation will be putting its weight behind the campaign’s objectives to raise awareness of the critical role that fire doors play in saving lives and protecting property.   “We are very pleased to be able to support Fire Door Safety Week once again this year, and applaud its efforts to increase the public’s understanding of the role that fire doors play,” says Michael.  “We continue to stress that the use of fire doorsets, correctly installed and with robust fire door maintenance procedures, are a vital part of fire safety and urge those in positions of responsibility to seek the correct training with regards to installation and maintenance. Equally important is that companies carrying out the manufacturing, installation and repair of these doorsets are also certified.”

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Fall protection training: 10 top tips for success

Phil Rashbrook, European Training Manager for Fall Protection at MSA Safety shares his 10 top tips to refer to when considering fall protection training. MSA Safety is a global designer, manufacturer and distributor of industry-leading safety products and provider of quality safety at height training.  1.)    Preparation is key The old adage of ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ carries significant weight when it comes to working at height. Preparation is critical, and it all begins with quality training, so consider your fall protection training carefully. Ask yourself: Is it with a reputable company with a wealth of experience across many sectors? Are they best placed to prepare your workforce for working at height safely and efficiently? Remember, you can’t put a price on the safety of your workers so do your research. Invest in the best training available that will leave your workforce confident and competent. 2.)    Theory and practical: finding the balance Some trainees are impatient to get going with the practical straight away. Others prefer ample time to carefully digest the theory and ask any questions they might have. Everyone learns differently, which is why it’s so important to strike a successful balance between the two. Training should be delivered in a manner that is effective for everyone. 3.)    Added confidence Working at height safely and efficiently depends not only on skill but having the confidence to make the right decisions at the right time; whether that’s knowing the limitations of equipment and how to use it properly or deciding whether conditions are safe enough. Confident operatives will feel empowered to thoroughly and accurately assess their surroundings for safety risks, ask questions and raise potential safety concerns with their site or safety manager. This generally makes for a much safer working environment. 4.)    Creating safety ambassadors Get your team onboard. Work at height operatives returning from fall protection training will feel more encouraged to share their safety knowledge with colleagues. This helps to not only foster a safer working environment but discourage any semblance of a ‘no blame culture’. 5.)    Don’t forget the wellbeing benefits While the main priority of quality fall protection training is to help prevent physical harm, the mental wellbeing benefits it offers should not be overlooked. Being asked to work at height without proper planning, preparation and training in place can be extremely distressing. A well-trained, competent operative will likely make for a more confident, comfortable worker. 6.)    Keep it fun! Something that’s often forgotten is the value of keeping training fun and engaging. In my experience, if you enjoy training you will learn and retain more information. An enjoyable experience generally helps to nurture a positive change in attitude. 7.)    Location, location, location Conducting training on site in conditions workers face on a day-to-day basis is preferential, but not always possible. The next best thing is a state-of-the-art training centre with both indoor facilities protected from inclement weather, and outdoor facilities with multiple applications. Choose training providers that can offer both. 8.)    Follow-up support Support shouldn’t stop once training has finished. Follow-up should be a key feature of a quality training provider, from offering the option of return visits and continued support, to conducting site audits and helping operatives to fully realise the benefits of the training. 9.)    Think of it as an investment Quality training not only makes for a safer workforce but helps to provide operatives with the know-how to do their job better and more efficiently. And, in my experience, a more confident, competent workforce is usually a happier and more productive workforce. The long-term business and wellbeing benefits of a well-trained workforce cannot be underestimated. 10.) Just get it done My other nine tips are important, but if you take away anything from reading this it should be this: whatever you do, do not take risks. The safety and wellbeing of your workforce is too important for you not to provide them with the very best training, so don’t delay. Do your research and choose a training provider you can depend upon.

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HSE INSPECTIONS TO TARGET CONSTRUCTION FIRM DUST CONTROL PRACTICE

Firms across Great Britain are to be targeted in a new series of inspections focusing on dust control by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), it has been announced today. Over the next few weeks, HSE will be concentrating on industries such as construction where occupational lung diseases, including in some cases occupational cancers, are more common. Inspectors will be visiting businesses across the country to see what measures have been put in place to protect workers’ lungs from the likes of asbestos, silica, wood, and flour dust. They will be looking for evidence of businesses and their workers knowing the risks, planning their work and using the right controls. Where necessary, HSE will use enforcement to make sure people are protected. HSE’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor David Fishwick said: “Exposure to asbestos, silica, wood, flour and other dust can have life-changing consequences. “Each year work-related lung diseases linked to past exposures are estimated to kill 12,000 workers across Great Britain. In many cases these diseases take a long time to develop after exposure, so the damage done may not be immediately obvious. Others, such as occupational asthma and acute silicosis, can occur more quickly. “These conditions can and do have a significant impact on both the individuals affected and those closest to them, so it is imperative that workers take the necessary precautions to protect their lungs.” Sarah Jardine, HSE’s Chief Inspector of Construction said:“We are carrying out this series of inspections to ensure businesses are fulfilling their legal duties to protect workers from harm. This includes controlling the levels of dust in workplaces. “We want to ensure employers and their workers are aware of the risks associated with any task that produces dust. Such work needs to be properly planned and use the right controls, such as water suppression, extraction and masks. “The bottom line is we want everyone, workers and their employers, to be protected from harm and ill health so they can go home healthy to their families.”

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Considerate Constructors Scheme expands to offer registration to professional services

Professional service organisations can now demonstrate their considerate credentials. The Considerate Constructors Scheme – the organisation established to improve the image of construction – has expanded to offer professional service organisations the opportunity to register with the Scheme. Eligible organisations providing professional services to the construction industry, such as architects, engineering consultancies, surveyors, accountants and lawyers, are now able to join the 7,000 plus construction sites, companies, suppliers and clients of construction projects who register with the Scheme each year. Professional services account for around 11% (£186 billion) of the UK’s Gross Value Added and employ around 13% (4.6 million) of the UK’s population.* This exciting development comes at the request of those already registered with the Scheme to ensure their entire supply chain is part of the Scheme, as well as an increasing number of professional service organisations wishing to be part of the Scheme to help improve their standards in considerate construction. Edward Hardy, Chief Executive of the Considerate Constructors Scheme said: “We are delighted to welcome eligible professional service organisations to the Scheme. This is a significant development for our entire construction industry, as professional services form an integral part of the industry’s supply chain. “The impact such organisations can have in becoming part of the Considerate Constructors Scheme to improve their standards will no doubt have a significant influence on improving the overall image of our industry.” Click here to find out more and to apply to become a Scheme Registered Professional.

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Safety Smart – Health & Safety training, but not as you know it!

The words ‘health & safety training’ do not fill bosses or staff with excitement, and why should they? The thought of sitting in a quiet room watching a never ending Powerpoint is no-one’s cup of tea. This is why SafetySmart has launched a new and unique interactive training platform which has injected a dose of fun in to what is normally a bland subject. And what better way to show this than through a humorous spoof, yet informative, video from the very talented Tim Oliver…. According to the Health and Safety Executive, 1.4million people suffered from a work-related illness from 2017/2018 which resulted in a total cost of £15 billion, so health & safety in the work place must be a priority. But if the training being delivered isn’t engaging and the information isn’t retained by staff then it’s not doing the job, e.g. it’s box ticking but not working! SafetySmart is an impactful learning platform that requires participants, split into teams, to play a giant board game, where they will come across different situations and scenarios as they play. Directly involving people and playing the game has numerous benefits, from creating discussion and debates, to having a lasting impact on the individuals. Plus, splitting the group into teams always develops some healthy competition, which again aids information retention as well as team building. With its updating ability, SafetySmart meets legal requirements and companies can choose the option of trainer or learner led, so individuals can teach themselves or learn in groups from four to 30! Preparing for sessions of this nature can often be very time consuming and tough, which is why on this function a lesson can be prepared in minutes, through quick shortcuts that take people through to specific and relevant information. Kevin McGrath, Founder and Company Director of SafetySmart, said: “With over 25 years’ experience in Health and Safety, I have been exposed to many serious incidents that could have easily been prevented through a change of attitude and behaviours. This was why I felt compelled to create this new fresh learning format as it actually engages the learner and increases the attention and retention of information, therefore creating a safer workplace!” SafetySmart already has credible test partners, in the form of Digital INnov8ors, which said it encourages teamwork and its competitive angle brings a positive new vibe to the training environment’ and Merlin Change Management Consultancy Ltd, which added it was ‘very impressed with its application and flexibility of use. The questions and exercises are skilfully crafted to get the best out of the product and maximise the learning potential for those interacting with it.’ The company is also currently working with Touchwood Shopping Centre in Solihull, Birmingham For those that enjoyed SafetySmart’s video, please feel free to head over to www.besafetysmart.co.uk for more information, or even better, give one of the team a call on 0121 661 6855, they will be more than happy to answer any questions.

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Fall protection cost-cutting: a step too far?

Any work at height carries risk. Preventing accidents from falls relies on all stakeholders using an informed, joined-up approach to practices and systems. Specifiers, contractors, system installers and end-users all play a part in risk mitigation. James Sainsbury, Fall Protection Sales leader for MSA Safety, explains why a holistic approach to safety is needed, and highlights the potential risks of making ill-informed changes to a defined safety system specification. Gravity is a an ever-present force. It doesn’t offer second chances. And however diligent safety planning and preparations may be, a fall is always a possibility. With workers’ lives at stake, there’s simply no excuse for inadequate fall protection systems and personal safety equipment. Accident prevention: the UK picture Despite the fact that almost all falls from height can be prevented, it’s a sobering reminder that they still remain the leading cause of workplace fatalities. The most recent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show that in 2017 alone, falls accounted for 28% of all UK fatalities in the workplace. Digging deeper, between 2013/14 and 2017/18, falls from a height accounted for more than a quarter of all fatal injuries to workers. That’s an average of 37 deaths a year. In addition, a staggering 43,000 non-fatal accidents involved falls from height too. Over 60% of deaths when working at height involve falls from ladders, scaffolds, working platforms and roof edges and through fragile roofs. It’s no wonder that HSE research has also revealed 19% of people think their health and safety is at risk at work (2010). Whilst the UK, like much of Europe, is a mature market, with comprehensive regulatory standards for safety systems and practices, there is still much room for improvement. Setting realistic safety system budgets, honouring specifications, understanding the suitability and quality of different equipment, accurately assessing risk and training users to be competent are all on the agenda. Creating the plan: specifiers As the first link in the chain of creating safer working at height, the value of consulting specifier professionals cannot be overstated. The decisions, assessments and recommendations they provide result in the most appropriate fall protection system specification for the building at the outset: one that will maximise protection for users and allow work at height to be carried out more safely and efficiently. A system specification can be defined by architects, consultants or engineers, or by safety system industry professionals, such as professional installers. A thorough specification takes account of both the unique risks posed by the structure and the practical access requirements needed for safe works. It will also mean full compliance with all local and national health and safety and regulatory conditions. Manufacturers, too, can provide consultation and system design, helping to make sure that the very best equipment and system is installed. Controlling the project: contractors One of the most important elements of the specification – at least for contractors – is the independently-calculated budget allowance required to procure and install the recommended system. Unfortunately, specification-switching down-the-line by UK contractors seeking to reduce costs can be problematic. This worrying trend has the potential to put workers’ lives at risk. Simply changing or substituting elements for alternatives that are perceived as less costly can be short sighted and dangerous. Any specified system for working at height, and any attendant cost, is usually proposed for sound safety reasons. High-quality equipment benefits from advanced engineering and rigorous testing, both of which contribute to full compliance and reliable performance. Lesser products may wear, degrade or fail more quickly, requiring premature replacement and increasing Total Cost of Ownership. When equipment is well designed and easy to use, the risks of equipment failure are naturally lower. Putting it all in place: Installers The performance and safety of fall protection equipment depends on correct installation, testing and commissioning. Quality installers have a responsibility to check that only technically-competent professionals install equipment. Leading companies are fully familiar with the leading manufacturer systems, are usually accredited, and will have undergone specialist training to be certain systems are installed exactly in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines, including all compliance checks at sign-off. Once equipment is installed, the installer will be responsible for commissioning, testing and ongoing maintenance and, in some cases, arranging user training. Experienced installers are also used to quickly overcoming any unexpected challenges a building may pose – for example, undertaking a retrofit system installation within an older or historic building. They will also spot and highlight any new risks or findings that may impact the effectiveness of the fall protection system. Confident and capable: end users There’s no value in provisioning fall protection equipment if workers are unable, or are unwilling, to use it properly. Whilst overseeing safety, risk assessments and method statements for those that work at height falls to the site manager and/or health and safety officer, all equipment users should be ‘competent persons’. That means expert PPE and or fall equipment system training from a qualified provider. Can users check equipment before use? Do they know when and how to use it correctly? Do they possess the expertise and confidence to make the right decisions at the right time? Can they execute an agreed rescue plan if needed? Safety and accountability: inextricably linked If UK working at height safety statistics are to improve, the sequential chain from specifier through to user requires close scrutiny. At every stage each party has a duty of care to respect the integrity of what should remain an optimal safety system. Specification-switching and making arbitrary changes to carefully chosen solutions may have serious implications. Equally, users deserve to feel confident using systems, and must be supported with quality training and rigorous equipment checks. Most falls from height are preventable. All parties engaged in fall protection should be aligned and accountable to keeping workers safe.

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Lincolnshire Welcomes Beach Management Scheme

Coastal flood risk in Lincolnshire is due to be managed by a £7 million Beach Management scheme, which will benefit around 20,000 homes and businesses. The Environment Agency scheme will see contractors pump around 400,000 cubic metres of sand onto Lincolnshire’s beaches to help protect people and their properties from coastal flood risk by preventing damage to the sea defences along the coast and reducing the risk of overtopping. “Our Lincolnshire Beach Management scheme helps us protect thousands of homes and businesses on the Lincolnshire coast. The scheme also offers real value to Lincolnshire’s coastal tourism economy, by maintaining the sandy beaches that are so well-loved by residents and visitors alike,” said Mark Robinson, senior flood risk advisor for the Environment Agency. As well as local homes and businesses, the Lincolnshire Beach Management (LBM) scheme will also protect 24,500 static caravans and 35,000 hectares of land. “While our annual beach nourishment works continue to be very effective, our long-term estimates suggest that it will not be sustainable to continue with just sand as a method of flood risk management in the future due to the impact of climate change,” added Mark. “This is why we have worked over a number of years to review our strategy for coastal flood risk management between Saltfleet and Gibraltar Point. We took a shortlist of options to public consultation in early 2019 and are currently finalising our new draft strategy for coastal flood risk management over the next 100 years, which we will be taking forward to consultation later this year.” Work will begin on the project on Monday 13 May and run for six weeks. Beaches at Trusthorpe, Mablethorpe, Ingoldmells, Trunch Lane, Wolla Bank, Chapel Six Marshes and Huttoft will be replenished during the programme.

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Building Safety Group reports 33% increase in Hand Arm Vibration breaches on construction sites

BSG (Building Safety Group), the UK’s largest construction safety group, has reported a 33% year on year rise in the number of ‘Hand Arm Vibration’ breaches recorded on construction sites. The increase is based on over 42,000 independent site inspections conducted over a two year period, comparing 2017 to 2018. Hand-arm vibration comes from the use of hand-held power tools and is the cause of significant ill health (painful and disabling disorders of the blood vessels, nerves and joints). Exposing workers to the risks of ‘Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome’ or HAVS can result in symptoms such as such as tingling, pins and needles, numbness and pain in the affected person’s hands. The condition can affect sleep when it occurs at night and cause difficulties in gripping and holding things. Between 2008 and 2017 there were over 7,000 new claims for HAVs according to the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB). BSG’s announcement coincides with a series of recent HSE blitzes which have focused on ‘Vibration’ in construction as a serious health risk. In many cases, HSE visits have frequently led to FFIs (Fees for intervention) penalties being imposed. A recent case saw Balfour Beatty fined £500,000 for HAVS breaches over ‘several years’*. Paul Kimpton, Managing Director for BSG commented: “Hand arm vibration can be a significant health risk wherever powered hand tools are used for prolonged lengths of time. And unfortunately, once the damage is done it is permanent.” Paul continued: “However the good news is that HAVs is easily preventable. What construction companies need to do is find out what their workers’ exposure is likely to be as part of a vibration risk assessment. The HSE advises that the employer carries out a period of monitoring to understand how long workers use particular tools in a typical day or week. Once you know enough about the work to say what the exposure is likely to be and whether it is likely to exceed either the ‘Exposure Action’ or ‘Exposure Limit Value**’, focus can shift to investigating, as well as taking practical steps to reduce the exposure and the risks.”

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