Commodious | Regulation Changes, Health and Safety News 03/06/21

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

HSG248 Asbestos: The Analysts’ Guide Second Edition published by HSE

On May 21, Health and Safety Executive England (HSE) published the long-awaited second edition of their asbestos guidance HSG248 Asbestos: The Analysts’ Guide. The new edition has been updated to take into account new evidence gathered from HSE interventions and developments in analytical procedures and technology.

New additions include clarification on technical and personal safety issues, with particular attention given to 4-stage clearances. In light of new developments in analytical techniques, there is also a new section covering soil sampling for asbestos.

You can find out more about the changes to the guidance here.

Guidance on requiring employees to have COVID-19 vaccination

With many people now having received the vaccine in the UK, and the evident health and safety benefits of being vaccinated, many employers now find themselves facing the tempting option of requiring staff to be vaccinated in order to come to work.

This may seem like the right thing to do, after all, it is with the intention of protecting both employees and potentially customers too. However, as the ACAS guidance points out, there is no law that says people must have the vaccine.

Employers should be promoting the vaccine to employees as part of their health and safety policy. It is also important to consider vaccination when updating or performing new risk assessments, as additional measures may have to be put in place for employees who are not vaccinated. 

For the meantime then, it seems there will be no restrictions to work for those who have not had, or do not wish to have the vaccine.

Draft Online Safety Bill published

Following the Queen’s Speech in May, the draft of the Online Safety Bill (OSB) has been published. The Bill was announced in response to mounting concerns over the potential harm the internet can pose to both adults and children. 

The legal framework surrounding the Bill will introduce hefty fines for those who fail to comply with the new rules. Ofcom will have the power to impose fines of up to £18 million or 10% of an organisation’s annual turnover (whichever is higher). 

The OSB covers a wide range of content that can cause harm. Some you might expect including terrorism, racism, child sexual exploitation, suicide, eating disorders, and revenge porn. Others, such as online scams and fake investment opportunities, may be more surprising.

Hopefully, the new rules will help to make the internet a safer place for everyone.

Working from home the future for business?

Most people who work in offices or who can perform their work tasks on computers have been doing so for the past twelve months from home. With lockdown easing, however, many employers are itching to get staff back to the workplace.

Some employees will be looking forward to this, but there will be others who are dreading a return to work. Employers should know that lawfully, they are entitled to ask employees to perform their work in the manner that best suits the business. This includes asking employees to come into the office. 

This may be set to change, however, with suggestions of the Government passing new regulations to oblige employers to facilitate staff to work from home where at all possible. Whether or not this happens is unsure yet, but one thing is for certain: reviewing each employee’s case individually is going to be a lot of work for many organisations.


Recycling firm fined £600,000 after the death of a forklift driver

A paper recycling firm was fined £600,000 after the death of a 20-year-old agency worker. The young man was caught between the forklift truck and the floor when it overturned and suffered fatal crush injuries.

The HSE investigation found that there were significant failings in the management of the workplace transport risks on site. This included issues relating to operator competence and supervision and monitoring.

Restore Datashred Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The accident was a tragic example of what can go wrong when risks are not properly managed. Forklift trucks can be dangerous tools when operated by those who are not competent and trained to do so.