Monday, 29 August 2016

SSS systems covering ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 standards

We're well on the way to updating systems to meet the changed requirements of ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015.
Totally new procedures to meet ISO 9001:2015 are:

  • 3.2 prA Context
  • 3.6 prA Risk and opportunity identification and control
  • 4.3 prA Infrastructure

Of course, systems are tailored to suit the needs of the individual company so the actual content will vary but will have the above headings.

For those companies that use the INTACT integrated action management system, there's a new page covering Risks and Opportunities.

We'll keep you informed as the ISO 14001 changes are developed and we aim to get most of out clients systems changed in 2016.

See more about SSS systems support.
See more about the INTACT integrated action management system.

Beware the CE mark, yet again

I make no apologies for being boring about this.

Be VERY cautious when you buy a new machine. Just because it is new, and has the CE mark, it doesn't mean to say it is safe.
The manufacturer is obliged to:

  1. Design and build the equipment so that it complies with appropriate essential health and safety requirements (EHSRs) and harmonised European standards (HESs). 
  2. Assess the equipment for conformity with EHSRs) and (HESs). 
  3. Be able to compile a technical file proving conformance. 
  4. Draw up a declaration of conformity and affix the CE mark to the equipment.
Note that, with the exception of some equipment like press brakes or injection moulding machines, there is no specialist external inspector; it is the manufacturer's self-certification process.  

Make sure that you specify that the supplier must do the above. If you buy a machine from a UK company (or from a company within the EU), then they are obliged to do this, but quite a few of them don't. In your order, I strongly advice you to state that you will withhold say, 10%, until you are satisfied that the machine dies actually conform to EHSRs and HESs.

If you buy a machine from outside the EU, then YOU are the supplier and you take on the above obligations. If you simply buy a machine, then you may run into trouble when you try to sell it. Again, I strongly advice you to state in your order that you will withhold an amount until you are satisfied that the machine dies actually conform to EHSRs and HESs.

See more about CE marking in SSS White Paper 9.

Ensure that you carry out air conditioning leak test

Alarmingly, I see many instances where companies fail to carry out a periodic leak test on air conditioning equipment.
The leak test may be quite simple and even using a spray of soapy water and looking for the bubbles can be acceptable.

Under the Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regs 2015, you must carry out a leak test at intervals dependant upon:

  • The global warming potential (GWP) of the gas, and
  • The amount stored in your system.

It is obvious that this interval is based on the risk. For most companies reading this, the interval is every year.

These two articles give you guidance on leak testing. Although the second one is from the USA, it is still relevant.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Alcohols Limited fined £295,000 after an employee was engulfed in flames.

Alcohols Limited, a distillery in Oldbury was fined £295,000 (inc.costs) after an employee was engulfed in flames in a fire that destroyed the warehouse and its contents.
The circumstances were:
  • On 26 November 2012, ethyl acetate, which is a highly flammable liquid, was being transferred from a bulk storage tank into an intermediate bulk container.
  • There was poor maintenance of pipework and associated valves. 
  • There was a failure to competently inspect the equipment or monitor the systems of work.
  • This ignited, possibly caused by a discharge of static electricity generated by the transfer of the liquid.
  • 21-year-old employee was engulfed in flames. 
  • He sustained twenty percent burns to his head, neck and hands.
  • The fire destroyed the warehouse and caused damage to nearby cars and houses. 

The HSE inspector said:
“Companies that fail to ensure the integrity of their safety critical equipment place their employees, members of the public, emergency services and their entire livelihood at risk of serious harm. 
Poor management of highly flammable liquids can have catastrophic results both for individuals and businesses.”

Defeated interlock on CNC lathe causes severed finger and fine of £16,000,

Repro Engineering Limited, a Hampshire based engineering firm was fined £16,222 (inc.costs) after a worker severed a finger in a metal working lathe.

The circumstances were:
  • The company allowed the custom  practice of defeating interlocks on CNC metal working lathes.
  • This meant that machines could be operated whilst allowing access to the moving parts.
  • His hand came into contact with the moving parts of the machine.
  • This resulted in one of his fingers being severed.

The HSE inspector said:
“This incident could have been prevented by more active and robust management action, it sends out a message to employers that tampering with safety devices can lead to injury and prosecution”

Presbar Diecastings Ltd, fined £149,788 after worker suffers serious burns

Manchester aluminium diecasting producer Presbar Diecastings Ltd,was fined £149,788 (inc.costs) after a worker suffered life threatening injuries when he became trapped in a machine.

The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on am aluminium diecasting machine.
  • The machine was only partially guarded making access to the ladle possible.
  • This was despite there being a risk assessment in place at the time of the incident identifying the hazard of contact or entrapment with the ladle
  • On 7 July 2015 a worker had entered the middle of the aluminium diecasting machine between the furnace pot and the front bar to clear a build up of metal.
  • Whilst carrying out this routine procedure the robot arm started to move, the worker tried to move out of the way but was trapped by the ladle containing 400 C molten metal attached to the robot arm.
  • He suffered a cardiac arrest and fourth degree burns.

The HSE Inspector said:
“A man suffered life changing injuries which could have been prevented if the machine had been properly guarded. Employers should ensure that they regularly check, assess and review the guarding on their machinery to ensure that all access to dangerous parts in prevented.”

Friday, 12 August 2016

Templetown Canopies fined £13,000 for a lack of adequate controls for styrene fumes.

Templetown Canopies Limited, a manufacturing company based in South Shields was fined £13,000 (inc.costs) for health and safety failures.  FFI is additional to this.
The circumstances were:
  • The company used styrene in their production of fibre glass door and window canopies. 
  • This substance is hazardous to health and exposure can cause irritation to the nose, throat and lungs.
  • It can also have a neurological effect including difficulty in concentrating, drowsiness, headaches and nausea.
  • The company should have had an extraction system to remove the fume and provide masks with the correct filters to prevent operators inhaling it.
  • An inspection was carried out on 1 May 2013 and an improvement notice was served on 3 May 2013.
  • The company did not take action to comply with the Improvement Notice until they moved premises in March 2015.
  • Between May 2013 and February 2015, Templetown Canopies did not adequately control exposure of their employees to styrene. 

The HSE Inspector said: “ Workers’ health was put at risk from exposure to styrene for a period of 22 months, even after the company had been made aware of the actions it needed to take. Whilst HSE is sympathetic to the pressures faced by small businesses, this is simply not acceptable. Employers need to take action to ensure they are providing adequate control to protect the health of their employees.”

Herbs in a Bottle were fined £50,000 after a worker died from exposure to a toxic gas.

Herbs in a Bottle Limited, a medicinal herbal manufacturing company in Lincolnshire, was fined £49,842 (inc.costs) after a worker died from exposure to a toxic gas.
The circumstances were:
  • On 2 September 2014, Karl Brader was using cleaning chemicals to clean a changing room.
  • No Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) assessment had been carried out.
  • Mr Brader had not been trained in the safe use of chemicals.
  • He was exposed to a toxic gas (likely to be chlorine) and died at the scene.

The HSE Inspector said:
“This was a tragic industrial incident that was entirely preventable had suitable precautions been taken. Karl Brader had not received any training in the safe use of hazardous chemicals and as a result died from the exposure to a toxic gas. 
Companies should ensure that they assess all the risks associated with the use of dangerous chemical and that exposure to their employees is either eliminated or minimised.”

Concrete Fabrications Ltd., fined £107,000 after worker's arm was torn off in conveyor

Concrete Fabrications Ltd., a Bristol based manufacturer of concrete products was fined £107,758 (inc.costs) after a worker’s arm was torn off when it was pulled into the rotating tail pulley of a conveyor belt.
The circumstances were:
  • On 18 May 2015 a worker had to adjust tensioning rods which were located inside the machine’s guards, in close proximity to the conveyor belt and rotating tail pulley.
  • A sufficient risk assessment would have identified the risks associated with tracking conveyor belts, and identified appropriate control measures.
  • There needs to be clear procedures regarding maintenance and adjustments of machinery. 
  • Arrangements should be in place to ensure that machinery is not run without the necessary guarding in place, and that clear isolation and lock off procedures exist.
  • However, an unsafe system of work existed for the maintenance of machinery, in so much that the dangerous moving parts of the machine were exposed during maintenance operations.
  • The worker noticed that aggregate had built up on the tensioning rod and he tried to knock off the material with a hammer so he could use a spanner to adjust the rod. 
  • However, the hammer was dragged into the rotating machinery along with the employee’s arm which was severed between the shoulder and the elbow.

Pauls Malt fined over £100,000 for fall due to poor work at height method of work

Pauls Malt Limited was fined £102,257 (inc.costs) after an agency worker was injured when he fell from a ladder.
The circumstances were:
  • The worker was in the process of checking the fill level of the malt in a container at the West Knapton malting factory, near Malton. 
  • The container was fitted with a full-size fabric liner with a high level loading flap which would be zipped up once the container was full.
  • The company had not carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the work at height involved in closing the zipped flaps on the fabric liners.
  • A system of work had developed which involved propping a 4-metre long ladder against the rear of the container to gain access to the zip-up flap. The ladder was too long for this purpose and was propped at too shallow an angle.
  • On 6 May 2015, the worker was checking the fill level when the foot of the ladder slipped outwards, causing the agency worker to fall 2m with the ladder.
  • He sustained two fractures to his right foot and bruising to his chest and head injuries.

Lack of non-standard work system nearly causes death

Essential Supply Products Limited, a Worcestershire-based manufacturer was fined £22,714 (inc. costs) after a worker nearly lost his life when a door collapsed and pinned him to a baler.
The circumstances were:
  • On 5 May 2015, two maintenance workers were replacing the bottom of a heavy sectional door at the factory.
  • Managers had failed to recognise the risks involved in the maintenance work that was taking place. 
  • There was no appropriate equipment, instruction or training provided to the workers to ensure the method of work was safe.
  • While removing the hinges and brackets the door collapsed, pinning one of the workers between it and a baler that was next to the door.
  • The worker suffered serious injuries including broken ribs and asphyxiation which led to a lost of consciousness for eight hours. He has since made a full recovery.
This is a classic example of non-standard work. Refer to SSS White Paper 23 for how to control non-standard operations.