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Set Descending Direction
Andrew Sharman has become the President of his field’s professional bodyRead More
Teledyne Technologies Incorporated announced today the successful completion of the previously announced acquisition by Teledyne of the gas and flame detection business of 3M for $230 million in cash. The gas and flame detection business includes Oldham, Simtronics, Gas Measurement Instruments (GMI), Detcon and select Scott Safety products.

“We have now completed two corporate carve-out acquisitions in 2019, and we closed each transaction within two months of announcement.”

"The gas and flame detection business provides a portfolio of fixed and portable industrial gas and flame detection instruments used in a variety of industries including petrochemical, power generation, oil & gas, food & beverage, mining and waste water treatment"

The Oldham, Simtronics, GMI and Detcon brands bring together over 100 years of industry experience across a wide range of standard products and customized solutions. These rugged trace gas analyzers feature fast response time, intrinsically-safe sensors and satisfy multiple international certification standards.

“We are excited to welcome this new core business and its employees to Teledyne. The gas and flame detection business utilizes similar technology and serves related markets as our portfolio of environmental instrumentation businesses. However, our respective products do not compete and we generally serve customers in complementary geographies,” said Robert Mehrabian, Executive Chairman of Teledyne. “We have now completed two corporate carve-out acquisitions in 2019, and we closed each transaction within two months of announcement.”

Teledyne management expects the transaction to be accretive to GAAP earnings per share in the first year after the acquisition.


Under OSHA’s injury and illness recordkeeping rule at 29 CFR Part 1904, most employers are required to maintain records of work-related injuries and illnesses their employees incur. (Very small employers and employers in certain low-hazard industries are exempt.) These requirements are not new; however, many organizations struggle to understand and apply all the nuances of the standard when it comes to determining whether a case is recordable, how to record injuries and illnesses that affect contractors and temporary workers, and how OSHA’s requirements overlap with and diverge from state workers’ compensation laws, to name just a few of the many common points of confusion. And with recent developments around severe injury reporting and electronic record-keeping, mistakes can be more costly than ever for employers.

More Information Flowing to OSHA

Historically, injury and illness records have been primarily internal documents. OSHA compliance officers would review them at individual establishments as part of the inspection process, and some employers were periodically asked to submit them to the government for research purposes, but OSHA did not receive the vast majority of employers’ injury and illness data. But beginning in 2015, a series of revisions to Part 1904 steadily increased the flow of information on workplace injuries and illnesses to OSHA.

First, in 2015, a rule took effect that imposed stricter requirements for the reporting of fatalities and serious injuries. Under the previous rule, employers were required to report both fatalities and incidents resulting in the inpatient hospitalization of 3 or more workers to OSHA within 8 hours. Under the revised standard, the fatality reporting requirement remained unchanged, but employers were newly required to report all inpatient hospitalizations of one or more employees, amputations, and eye-loss incidents to OSHA within 24 hours.

The new requirements dramatically increased the number of severe injury reports OSHA received. In just the first year of the new reporting requirements, federal OSHA received more than 10,000 reports of severe injuries. Responding to the influx, the agency created a new inspection method called the Rapid Response Investigation protocol. Under this strategy, rather than sending a compliance officer to investigate every severe injury report in person, a triage system was implemented that allowed certain cases to be handled by directing an employer to conduct a root cause analysis of the incident that led to a severe injury and submit the results, including evidence of corrective actions, to OSHA. An inadequate response could open the door to a full in-person inspection.

OSHA hailed the rule change as a success, stating that the new reporting requirements gave the agency timely information about where and how severe workplace injuries were occurring, allowing it to better target its enforcement and outreach efforts, and created opportunities for employers to work with the agency to prevent future incidents.

Electronic Recordkeeping

If the severe injury reporting changes started the flow of workplace injury information to OSHA, the electronic recordkeeping requirements that were finalized the following year opened the floodgates. The 2016 rule required establishments with 250 or more workers to submit all three OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping forms—the 300 log, the 301 incident report, and the 300A annual summary—to OSHA electronically each year. Establishments in certain high-hazard industries with 20–249 employees were required to submit the 300A summary form only.

OSHA stated that it planned to post the injury and illness data, stripped of personally identifiable information, on its website in an attempt to shame employers into improving their safety performance. The agency also said data received under the rule would be used to help the agency more effectively target its enforcement resources.

The rule was controversial from its start, with safety professionals and industry groups alike claiming it would lead to underreporting of injuries and an overemphasis on lagging indicators, considered by many safety professionals to offer a view of safety performance that is incomplete at best. Stakeholders also claimed the public shaming and enforcement targeting OSHA promised were contrary to the agency’s longstanding characterization of the injury and illness recordkeeping rule as a no-fault system.

By the time the first electronic submission deadline rolled around, in 2017, the new presidential administration had reconsidered some of the rule’s provisions. The requirement for large establishments to submit OSHA 300 logs and 301 incident reports was never enforced. In January 2019, OSHA published a final rule officially rescinding those requirements. However, affected establishments are still required to submit data from their 300A annual summary forms by March 2 each year, and those requirements appear to be here to stay.

Impact for Employers

At the end of 2018, OSHA announced its new Site-Specific Targeting program, which drew upon calendar year 2016 data OSHA received under the electronic recordkeeping rule to identify establishments for comprehensive inspections.

Employers with higher than average rates of injuries and illnesses resulting in days away from work, restricted work, or job transfer (DART rates) comprise the primary group of targeted establishments. OSHA also plans to inspect some establishments that were required to submit injury and illness data electronically but failed to do so, as well as a smaller group of establishments with below-average DART rates as a statistical check on the validity of the data.

With civil penalties for OSHA violations now topping out at $132,598 for a single violation, and with OSHA’s new expansive access to businesses’ injury and illness records, the stakes and potential consequences of injury and illness recordkeeping mistakes are higher than ever. OSHA has indicated that it intends to continue to use the data it receives under the electronic recordkeeping rule, combined with severe injury reports, to develop and refine its enforcement strategies. Recordkeeping mistakes or red flags in an employer’s injury and illness data can now lead OSHA right to your door.


Natural gas and LPG (liquid petroleum gas) are commonly used as fuels for heating, cooking, cutting, welding and often in the processing of products. While the majority of us will use gas in some form every day of our personal and professional lives, far too many are unaware of how dangerous it can be if not handled correctly.

In support of this year’s Gas Safety Week (which falls between 16-22 September), David Holmes, founder at Boiler Guide, outlines the serious dangers associated with unsafe gas appliances and how health and safety practitioners can minimise those risks in the workplace.

Gas safety: what are the potential risks?

Employers are legally required to comply with the relevant Gas Safety regulations to help ensure worker and public safety. If your organisation does not have a secure and safe gas supply with properly functioning appliances, you are putting the safety of your personnel at risk, not to mention the potential reputational and financial damage a gas leak could cause. In addition, a business which fails to carry out important checks on gas appliances could invalidate their property’s insurance arrangements.

There are several risks associated with the usage of poorly maintained, damaged or malfunctioning gas appliances, pipes or storage cylinders. From burns caused by direct contact with overheating appliances to fires, explosions and potentially lethal carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, the consequences can be catastrophic.

Gas leaks

Poor maintenance of gas pipes, cylinders or appliances can cause gas leaks. Gas is highly flammable and as such the smallest flame or spark of static electricity could lead to fires or, in extreme cases, explosions.

Carbon monoxide poisoning

BoilerOn average, carbon monoxide poisoning causes 50 deaths each year as well as up to 4,000 medical visits. Carbon monoxide is a colourless and odourless gas which is produced when gas does not burn properly or when there is not adequate ventilation. Improperly maintained or poorly fitted gas appliances may emit carbon monoxide which is why it’s essential to have all gas work carried out and checked regularly by a competent person.

When we inhale carbon monoxide it attaches to the haemoglobin in our bloodstream which reduces how much oxygen the blood can carry. This can have serious consequences within a matter of hours including brain damage or even death.

Because carbon monoxide is colourless and odourless many people are unaware that there is a leak unless they are vigilant and can recognise the early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Tiredness/drowsiness;
  • Headaches;
  • Nausea;
  • Loss of consciousness;
  • Chest and stomach pains.

    Carbon monoxide leaks can also be detected by a carbon monoxide detector which will sound an alarm when carbon monoxide is in the air.

    If you suspect you have a gas or carbon monoxide leak…

  • Open all windows and doors;
  • Shut off the gas supply at the meter;
  • Evacuate everyone from the building;
  • Call the Gas Emergency Freephone Number 0800 111 999;
  • Ensure that investigations and repair work is carried out by a competent Gas Safe engineer.

    If you have any suspicion that an employee or employees have been exposed to carbon monoxide, turn off all gas appliances, take the affected staff to a well-ventilated area and call 999.

    DO NOT:

  • Use electrical equipment;
  • Switch lights on/off;
  • Enter cellars or go into confined spaces below ground;
  • Light matches or any naked flames.

    Finding a competent Gas Safe engineer

    Thermostatic Valve And Plumber Tools On Wooden BackgroundIn order to install, service or fix a gas appliance, a person must be competent. In the UK, this means that they must be on the Gas Safe Register. In some cases, they may also need to have additional qualifications to enable them to work on specific appliances or in commercial settings.

    Every Gas Safe registered person is issued with a unique ID card featuring their photo, company name, their business registration number and personal licence number, a security hologram and start/expiry dates so you can check the ID is currently valid. You can check the type of work they are qualified to do by looking on the back of the card.

    Alternatively, check the Gas Safe Register.

    If the Gas Safe engineer finds an issue during a safety check you will be unable to use the equipment until it has been fixed and declared safe by a Gas Safe engineer. Using or reconnect an appliance that you have been informed is unsafe is against the law and incredibly dangerous.

    Responsibilities of health and safety practitioners

  • Make sure that every gas appliance and flue is safety checked and serviced annually. If you are starting a lease on new premises, check when gas appliances were installed and when the last safety checks were carried out.
  • Ensure that all installation, maintenance and safety checks are carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer and that records of each check are kept for at least two years.
  • Ensure a carbon monoxide detector is installed on every floor of your workplace and check batteries regularly.
  • Before an engineer carries out any gas work, check their ID card AND that they are currently on the Gas Safe Register.
  • Ensure air vents on gas appliances are unblocked and well ventilated.
  • Carry out a risk assessment for any gas usage and storage appliances to identify potential hazards, controls and policies that are needed.
  • Educate all employees about the signs, symptoms and risks associated with gas and carbon monoxide leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning.

    For example:

  • Staining or discolouration around gas appliances;
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms (e.g. headaches, nausea, tiredness) when at work but not when they leave;
  • Gas appliances should always burn with a blue flame; an orange, yellow or red flame is a cause for concer.



  • The most trusted health and safety qualifications in the world – the NEBOSH National and International General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety – have been updated with the input of 3,000 of the sectors leading experts and organizations.

    Listening to what businesses needed their managers to know and do, the refreshed qualifications now even better reflect the needs of today’s workplaces. The result? A streamlined syllabus representative of the role of a real-life health and safety professional and a greater emphasis on risk management.

    Held by 300,000 people worldwide and recognised by many high profile organisations – Maersk, The Football Association, Thames Water, Shell, Skanska, Nestle and the Dubai World Trade Centre amongst them – the NEBOSH General Certificates have long been considered the gold standard in health and safety qualifications.

    NEBOSH Chief Executive, Ian Taylor, said: “Without doubt, the best just got even better. To go home safely at the end of the working day is a right, not a privilege; our General Certificates help secure that right for people all over the world. Through an extensive consultation process we captured not just what companies want their people to know – but what they need to be able to do. We’ve made sure the refreshed qualification truly meets the needs of the hundreds of thousands of organisations and learners it’s designed to serve.”

    The assessment has also been updated. Learners will undertake a single question paper to assess what they know whilst a practical risk assessment will assess what they can do. This holistic approach will ensure successful learners return to work and instantly add value to their employers and colleagues.

    “Risk management is a key part of the role for anyone with health and safety responsibilities so we’ve made it central to the new-look certificate. Thanks to our practical focus on the real, everyday risks that people encounter, our learners will learn how to identify and manage these risks so they provide real value to their employers – protecting people and protecting profits.

    “What’s more, people embarking on a health and safety career will gain the skills and recognition they need to succeed. There’s a reason why 87% of UK HSE vacancies ask for a NEBOSH qualification – because they are the best.”

    Available through hundreds of official Learning Partners across the world, the NEBOSH General Certificate can be taken via online, face-to-face or blended learning options. Learners will gain essential skills relevant to every workplace.

    To find out more about the NEBOSH National General Certificate and International General Certificate, visit: www.nebosh.org.uk/qualifications


    The HSE found that the partners failed to ensure that the work at height was properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out safely.

    Philip Robert Stanley Spring of Blyth Way, Salisbury pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 (1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and received a six-month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months, in which time he must undertake 250 hours unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay costs of £1,836.31.

    Christopher James Barham of Hughendon Manor, Salisbury pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 (1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and received a six-month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months, in which time he must also undertake 250 hours unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay costs of £1,836.31.

    Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Sue Adsett said: “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related injuries in this country and the risks associated with working at height are well known.”


    A man with management responsibility of a static caravan site has been sentenced for failing to have gas appliances properly maintained and inspected and for failing to safely store Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders

    Concerns were raised in April 2016 by North East Derbyshire District Council relating to Felix Rooney who rented out caravans at Blackbridge Caravan site.

    The HSE’s investigation found that Mr Rooney had no Landlord’s Gas Safety Certificates for the gas appliances in the caravans rented out, some of which were found to be immediately dangerous and had to be disconnected. The LPG cylinders not being used were stored unsafely posing a risk of fire and explosion.

    HSE ensured that all the caravans on the site were inspected by a competent person (a Gas Safe registered engineer) to ensure the gas appliances and fittings were safe.

    Felix Rooney of Brandon Lane, Coventry pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was sentenced to an eight-month prison sentence suspended for two years. He was also ordered to pay full costs of £22,235.00.

    Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Lindsay Bentley said “This case highlights the importance of not only looking after your employees but members of the public too. Gas safety is so important and regular inspections of the gas fittings and equipment in the caravans, by a Gas Safe registered engineer, would have ensured that they did not deteriorate to a condition where they endangered lives.”

    Watch: the top 5 most read articles in August 2019



    Preparing for the next emergency based on the past is futile

    Tacit knowledge can be described as the kind of wisdom that experts accrue over their careers. They have deeply embedded this information into their mindset and it has helped to shape the mental models (or, to give them their right name, ‘heuristics’) that allow them to find optimal solutions in reaction to unexpected and emergency situations.

    So, what’s the problem?

    Well, tacit knowledge is so deeply ingrained in these individuals, they are often unaware that they themselves use it and therefore, extracting, communicating and sharing the tacit knowledge of experts is a major challenge in performance psychology.

    Whilst we have our own experience of emergency protection and contingency planning situations, the focus of this article will seek to stimulate discussion around innovative new solutions based on the principles of good leadership and behavioural science. We hope that by doing so, you may become self-aware of some of your own tacit knowledge and be able to both appreciate its value and to share it with your colleagues.

    We live in an increasingly uncertain world; the likelihood of major incidents, emergency situations and disasters has amplified in recent years. Climate change, globalisation, economic and political instability and the rise of automation and Artificial Intelligence have revolutionised the ways we do business. Whilst these situations are becoming more difficult to predict, effective management of such incidents is crucial to ensure that members of the public and our workforce are able and willing to take appropriate protective actions to take care of themselves and others. Those responsible for preparing for and managing such random events are finding it much more challenging in a rapidly changing world.

    They know that “no plan will survive the first contact” and there is even evidence to suggest that preparing for the next emergency based on what has happened in the past is just futile. It is often said that “we plan for the last event, not the next one.” There is a tendency to base assumptions about the size and characteristics of each event that will be faced in the future based on the historical evidence of similar situations in the recent past. But what if the next event is entirely out of character or different to what has happened in the past?

    Recently we’ve been starting our courses and training events in a slightly different way. We have always highlighted our “Ground Rules” for our time together, we create an environment of psychological safety for everyone to share their ideas, cultivating a feeling of curiosity and excitement; a fun element to our learning experience together. Then, there is the inevitable moment when we need to identify and discuss any emergency procedures or alarms that there might be on site. Very often, people have travelled from various locations around the world to be together and they might not be familiar with the risks on site or the systems in place that need to be followed.

    Now when we get to the emergency procedures bit, usually everyone is aware that there will be a fire alarm or alert system on site. Of course, we say, “should the fire alarm go off today, we will need to evacuate the premises quickly but calmly”. We then ask if there are any other alarms or warning systems that we should be aware of, which is usually met with either a blank look or a confused stare. People tend to be much less aware of any alternative alarm systems that might be in place to cover the unlikely event of a chemical or gas leak, or even a terrorist attack warning system. Many of the locations that we find ourselves in should certainly have such warning systems and immediate action procedures. Surprisingly some organisations don’t have them at all and even those that do often have poorly designed emergency procedures that are never rehearsed or properly stress tested. Indeed, envisaging such events happening causes many of us physical discomfort. By implementing an emergency procedure, we are subconsciously accepting that it is a real possibility that could happen to us.

    Scientists and engineers in high-tech industry nowadays are accustomed to working with potentially deadly substances and materials, whether it be radioactive sources or genetically modified retroviruses, these experts, by definition, are usually extremely well educated and trained to manage the risks of their work. Tightly regulated work environments and smart implementations of monitoring equipment make exposure or loss of containment incidents rare, yet the consequences and costs involved in rectifying these incidents is extremely high and time-consuming, often requiring international governmental efforts to rectify.

    For these reasons, industries such as this try, as best they can, to operate in a highly controlled environment. The idea being that systems and staff have multiple checks, measures and in-built redundancies to ensure that the likelihood of a catastrophic event occurring is significantly reduced. Such systems are heavily reliant on operator compliance at critical moments and past experience suggests that reliance on compliance alone, even in such high risk environments, is not so effective.

    Your smartest employees are your biggest liabilities

    Yes, you read that right. In such highly regulated work environments, it is important to consider that both the extreme level of safety measures and the seniority and expertise of our workforce in industries such as nuclear power, pharmaceutical and medicine can breed complacency. When a threat is often invisible, whether it be radiation or viral particles, it is much harder to maintain vigilance and cognisance of risk when a threat is not visible or immediately apparent. In fact, unlike most industries where most accidents occur due to unpredicted slips or lapses from workers at the operational level, it’s the wilful acts of non-compliance, or violations that are of most serious concern in these high-tech sectors, particularly by mid-level to senior engineers and R&D staff.

    These people would not be your typical ‘rebel’ employees, they do not delight in breaking rules or wish to rebel against them. They genuinely believe that they are making a better decision than what is advised by company protocols and SOPs and they generally have the leadership and influencing skills to convince others that they know best in these situations. These are the colleagues you probably look up to, the high fliers who make big decisions and have received a steady stream of positive feedback and accolades for their actions throughout their careers. These are perhaps the biggest dangers to high-tech organisations in emergency situations.

    It’s not so easy to protect your organisation from these kind of factors, because they often inherently have the authority and confidence to override any checks and balances. Indeed, due to the seniority and expertise of these workers, warnings and consequences are even less effective on them than lower-level employees. They have less to fear; even in the event they are fired for a wilful violation, they will be convinced that they will be able to seek new employment relatively easily.

    Bucking the system

    An example of how this phenomenon has manifested in other areas of risk are the investment bankers that manage the $39 billion endowment of Harvard University. These are some of the brightest financial minds around, operating at the direction of one of the world’s most prestigious centres of learning. You would expect such a team of experts to make excellent investment decisions that perform significantly better than any returns gained by simply investing in an Index Fund; i.e. just betting on the whole market, rather than carefully handpicking which stocks to invest in.

    Yet, over the last decade, whilst the Harvard Endowment saw a 4.1% return, the more modest Index Fund option, available to literally anyone, returned 8.1% over the same period. Even in the medical field, there has been a shift towards a ‘systems approach’ to diagnosis and treatment, providing a framework for doctors to work through in order to reduce the effects of human bias and overconfidence.

    Indeed, some of the world’s most dangerous incidents have been caused, arguably, by the overconfident actions of specialists and experts; for example, the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and more recently the failure to contain the Ebola outbreak of 2014, which lead to further spread of the disease and remains yet to be eradicated. Both incidents involved the failings of well-trained senior staff, whose overconfidence and wilful violations of procedures led to potential catastrophe.

    Implementation of carefully considered collaborative plans across multiple NGO’s can only be as robust as the discipline of the employees on the ground making decisions. It is important to consider that unlike your typical ‘rebel’ employees who might eschew their lab coats or hard hats, some of the individuals involved in these incidents genuinely had selfless and well-intentioned approaches.

    Altruistic acts

    Back in 2014, nurse Pauline Cafferkey selflessly travelled from Scotland to assist with the treatment of Ebola patients in West-Africa. Cafferkey herself contracted the disease. The fact that Cafferkey contracted Ebola whilst working with patients in Africa is of course an innocent human error, a slip or a lapse that must have placed her in direct contact with the virus. However, on return to the UK and screening for potential Ebola infection, another medic and nurse who had accompanied her on the trip admitted to falsifying her body temperature reading, which if reported correctly would have triggered a closer examination and quarantine procedures.


    A fatal fall was among the OSHA enforcement cases finalized over the past few days – violations that show a persistent failure among some construction industry employers to address fall hazards. Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in construction.

    In Dayton, Ohio, a company that has been cited for fall protection violations five times since 2014 was cited once again. OSHA inspectors found that Roofs by Antonio LLC exposed employees to fall hazards while they installed shingles on a sloped roof in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Dayton-based company faces penalties of $159,118 for repeatedly violating OSHA’s fall protection standards.

    One willful violation and two serious safety violations stemmed from a July 13, 2019, inspection for failing to provide and install a fall protection system, and failing to have a competent person inspect the worksite daily.

    In Colorado, homebuilder Century Communities Inc. was cited by OSHA for exposing employees to fall hazards. The company faces $132,598 in penalties.

    An inspection at a Century Communities Inc. construction site revealed that the company failed to conduct regular inspections of the jobsite, and ensure that workers used adequate fall protection during framing and roofing activities. OSHA conducted the investigation under the Regional Emphasis Program on Fall Hazards in Construction.

    And a fatal fall at a worksite in Melbourne, Florida resulted in $26,142 in penalties against Hough Roofing Inc. OSHA inspectors determined that the Palm Bay-based company failed to ensure employees used fall protection, train employees on recognizing fall hazards and on the proper use of a portable ladder, and ensure portable ladders extended 3 feet above the upper landing.

    The worker fell while performing roofing activities.

    OSHA initiated the inspection in conjunction with the agency’s Regional Emphasis Program for Falls in Construction.

    “Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in construction,” said OSHA Area Director Les Grove, in Tampa, Florida. “Tragedies like this can be prevented if the employer ensures workers are provided and utilize fall protection during the course of all roofing operations.”

    OSHA offers compliance assistance resources on how to prevent falls from ladders, scaffolds, and roofs on the OSHA Fall Protection webpage at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection/
    Exposure to hazardous substances can lead to long-term health problems and can even be fatal. Alasdair Nairn, UK operations manager at SGS, a leading inspection, verification, testing and certification organisation, explains how the correct use of respiratory protective equipment (RPE) protects the wearer against the inhalation of dangerous dusts, mists, fumes, vapours and gases, and what to consider when selecting, using and maintaining it.

    RPE is a specific type of personal protective equipment (PPE), which is designed to protect an individual against the inhalation of substances that are hazardous to health. Although RPE comprises a broad range of options, it will not perform as intended if used incorrectly and mistakes such as wearing the wrong

    RPE for the job could give users a false sense of security. RPE must be able to do the job expected of it, which is why it is important to understand how it should be selected, used and maintained. Something in the air Hazardous workplace substances include welding fumes; solvent vapours; gases such as chlorine, ammonia and carbon monoxide; silica and lead dust, phosphide, bacteria, viruses and parasites. Breathing one or more of them could lead to a range of respiratory diseases and conditions including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer. It can also lead to other diseases of the airways and lungs such as airway obstruction and bronchitis.

    One of the most well known hazards requiring the use of RPE when being removed or disturbed is asbestos. This relatively common substance is still responsible for the deaths of around 5,000 individuals each year – a figure nearly three times more than the number of people killed on the UK’s roads each year.

    Asbestos was not banned completely in the UK until 1999 and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) claims that up to two million commercial buildings still contain asbestos related materials, while the British Lung Foundation believes that there are 14 million homes in the UK that were built when it was regularly being used. Asbestos fibres cause cancers such as mesothelioma and lung cancer, and other serious diseases such as asbestosis and pleural thickening.

    There is usually a long delay between first exposure to asbestos and the onset of the disease, which can vary from 15 to 60 years, so it is far from a problem of the past. Even so, there is no regulatory requirement for asbestos to be removed, as while products containing it are in situ and remain undamaged, they are not harmful. However, in situations where asbestos needs to be removed or disturbed due to maintenance or rebuilding work, there are strict guidelines in place to ensure that this is carried out safely and RPE forms an important part of the process.

    Last resort

    RPE should only be used where adequate control of exposure cannot be achieved by other means, and when all other reasonably practicable control measures have been taken. Those in a position of responsibility are initially required to attempt to eliminate the hazard at source. If people can still breathe in contaminated air, despite the introduction of other controls, it is vital to use RPE. This also applies if there are short-term or infrequent exposures and the use of other controls is impractical, or as an interim measure while more permanent control measures are being implemented.

    The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 came into force on 6 April 2012 and state that those responsible for maintenance or repair of nondomestic premises, or common parts of domestic premises, have a ‘duty to manage’ the asbestos in them, and to protect anyone using or working in the premises from the risks to health that exposure causes. Relevant parties must identify where it is, its type and condition, assess the risks and manage and control these risks. A management survey provides information of all asbestos containing materials for the register while regular re-inspection surveys monitor the condition of these materials so that the information is kept up to date.

    In the majority of cases, work with asbestos needs to be carried out by a licensed contractor. However, at an early stage, the expertise of a UKAS accredited asbestos analysis service provider should be employed to check the quality of the work and assess whether the area is suitable to be re-occupied at the end of the removal works. Analyst services can prove crucial to the removal process, the protection of workers and safety of other nearby persons. However, analysts do not provide supervisory control for asbestos work and do not directly carry out licensable work as defined in Regulation 2 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

    Risky business

    People should never be put at risk, so RPE should be used where hazardous substances of any kind may be present in the air, where there could be a deficiency of oxygen, or where there is the possibility of a sudden high concentration of harmful substances. It is why a thorough risk assessment is vital to identify the harmful substances that are present and in what concentrations, how workers can be harmed and how to prevent exposure. This should always be carried out before any work begins to determine work activities for which RPE is mandatory.


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