Commodious | Regulation Changes, Health and Safety News 03/05/21

A weekly roundup of the most important news concerning health and safety developments, enforcements and regulatory changes.

Metal fabrication businesses set to receive HSE inspection

The start of May marks the beginning of a new campaign from HSE to protect worker’s health in the metalworking industry. With World Asthma Day falling on 4 May 2021, the HSE intends to highlight the risks of occupational asthma and the devastating impact of occupational lung disease by visiting metal fabrication businesses across the UK.

Every year thousands of people in the UK die from occupational lung diseases. Breathing in welding fumes can cause cancer, and the mist created when using metalworking fluids can cause asthma.

The focus of the HSE inspections will be on welding work and the use of metalworking fluids. Inspectors will be checking that guidance is being followed, risk assessments have been performed correctly, and adequate control measures are in place.

You can find HSE guidance on welding work here and metalworking fluids here.

Future changes to fire safety regulations

After the Grenfell Tower tragedy, greater attention has been placed on fire and building safety regulations. Currently, both the Fire Safety Bill (FSB) and the draft Building Safety Bill (BSB) are progressing through the Parliamentary process, however, it may take some time until they come into force.

The FSB is intended to make amendments to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO), which will clarify the application and assist in the enforcement of the RRO. The FSB has passed its final reading in the House of Commons and is set to become law.

In addition, the Home Office stated that: 

“The Fire Safety Bill clarifies that under the Fire Safety Order, owners and/or managers of multi-occupied residential buildings (the “responsible person”) must manage and reduce the risk of fire for the external walls of the building and the entrance doors to individual flats.”

In a controversial move, the Government overturned proposed amendments to the FSB from the House of Lords. The amendments would look to stop costs of necessary remedial work from being passed on to leaseholders of properties with fire safety defects. The cost of such work is potentially ruinous for individual leaseholders and it is thought that this issue will be readdressed when the BSB is introduced to Parliament in the near future.

Alongside this proposed change, the BSB will mean that breaches of fire safety regulations could result in unlimited fines for business owners. The Home Office has stated that anybody “caught obstructing or impersonating a fire inspector as well as to those who breach fire safety regulations under the Fire Safety Order” can be fined.

New measures of the BSB will also look to improve fire safety risk assessments by ensuring the people performing them are competent, and making it easier to identify who is responsible for fire safety. The provision of suitable Fire Safety Training enabling employees to comply with fire safety regulations is emphasised throughout the Bill.