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Set Descending Direction
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.


Falls from height account for a significant proportion of workplace and at-home serious and fatal accidents in many countries around the world. In this article Andrew Sharman argues that we must to engage, encourage and empower workers to think differently about how they perceive risks in the workplace.

Falls from height account for a significant proportion of workplace and at-home serious and fatal accidents in many countries around the world. In this article Andrew Sharman argues that we must to engage, encourage and empower workers to think differently about how they perceive risks in the workplace.

We’ve all seen them haven’t we? The images in magazines and on the internet, those adrenalin-fuelled daredevils hell-bent on extreme sports. Each time we see them we catch our breath as we observe how they constantly push the limits whilst at the same time carefully seem to manage the ultra-fine balance between life and death. As we look on in wonder, are we witnessing a super-high degree of skill, learned through years of dedicated practice? As we look on in disbelief, though, we can’t help but wonder if they’re just lucky. Or plain stupid. What’s in their mind? Why do they do it?

Now, to set the record straight, I’m apt to partake in some pretty unusual hobbies. B.A.S.E. jumping, paragliding, sea kayaking, motorcycling and swimming with sharks would all feature in the ‘Hobbies & Interests’ section of my CV. But I’m not referring to these sorts of activities here – in fact, to be abundantly clear, I don’t even consider these ‘extreme’ sports, they are (at least to me) simply an activity with a degree of risk to be managed – just like football, rugby, martial arts, trail-running – and, arguably, even table tennis and almost any other sport you can think of. Rather, I’m referring to those idiots on ladders. The chap repairing the roof. The bloke installing the new satellite dish. Those two guys who realise they don’t have enough scaffolding and so create an alternative access using whatever comes to hand. The worker stretching out to joint a cable just out of reach. The engineer replacing a broken streetlamp. The painter leaning out to get that last little bit… These aerial acrobats have become so popular that there’s even now dedicated PowerPoint slideshows doing the rounds with photographs of such high-jinks, typically generating a guilty giggle and often incorporated into safety toolbox talks.

It doesn’t matter where we are in the world, we’re likely to find at least one ‘idiot on a ladder’ or working at height somewhere. Some of you, as health and safety practitioners or operational managers may have even found them in your own workplaces. Only last week during a site visit the factory manager I was with did a double-take as we turned a corner to find a forklift truck, engine running, driver in place, its forks raised to maximum height, with a ‘working platform’ made out of an old pallet, upon which stretched upwards the longest ladder I’d ever seen. Right at the top, many metres above us, was an intrepid maintenance technician – clearly no sufferer of vertigo – with wrench in hand, attempting to fix a leaking pipe. A few metres away, a pile of temporary scaffolding pipes and clips sat silently, just begging to be noticed.

Work at height has been a priority issue for most workplace safety regulators and inspectors around the world for many years. Without doubt, most readers of this journal would consider work at height as a potential ‘high risk’ task that requires careful assessment and planning, and diligence in execution. But why isn’t our assessment of these risks shared by the workers engaged in carrying out the task? And why is it that they seem so… oblivious to the very real and present danger that they place themselves in?

Falling from the stars (and stripes)

Falling from heights is one of the most common causes of admission to hospital in the United Kingdom, USA and several other supposedly ‘developed’ nations. Unsurprisingly it also ranks in the top ten of Accidental Deaths for many of these countries too. So why has our thinking not developed to such a degree to allow us to see the risks for what they are? But it’s not just the ordinary folks – in the last twelve months legendary tough guy Brad Pitt has taken a tumble leaving his handsome face scuffed and scarred, and Tom Cruise suffering a similar fate too.

Assessing the risks

The accidents above highlight two key issues. The first is around assessment of the actual risks – subsequent investigations in each case found that the formal risk assessments were, at best, lacking. In two of the events, risk assessments were not even completed.

For example, in its investigation of the oil platform death, the Health & Safety Executive found that the task had not been properly planned: “Assessing the risks of the job properly would have identified that the potentially sharp edge presented a very clear danger to anyone suspended and working on ropes rigged against it.” But it transpired that the risk assessment had failed to include the risk of ropes being cut or damaged by such sharp edges and instead simply referred to “generic (work at height) procedures… rather than being really focused on the job in hand.”

I’m confident that readers will be savvy with the art of robust risk assessment and don’t intend to use page space here to harp on about the importance of this, or clipping on, cordoning off areas below, or the use of hard hats above and below. Instead let’s focus on digging deeper. The second key issue is perhaps the more challenging: risk perception. So, let’s return to the oil platform. During the set up of the job, the deceased and his team members were aware that the access ropes needed to run over the edge of the hatch, however they did not spot the very real risk of the rope being severed by the hatch edge, instead they “just saw a rather dirty piece of steelwork and didn’t recognise it as being sharp.”

Golden rules

worker at heightWork at height often features in an organisation’s Golden Rules for workplace health and safety. The logic behind Golden Rules is sensible: identify the biggest risks of fatal or serious injuries and create an absolute non-negotiable rule for their control. Just like on the Pakistan construction site in the case study above, many of our clients have in the past typically include a statement such as “All work at height must be properly controlled. Those working at height must always wear a harness and be clipped on at all times.” But that doesn’t mean that it always happens like that, does it? Could it be that the workers’ perception of the risk doesn’t match the intent of the rule?

The absence of accidents does not equal the existence of safety

Further discussions with our man revealed that he had never suffered a fall from height in his career; he’d “always been careful” he added. This notion that a wealth of experience makes us invincible to risk is reinforced in some people because “it’s never happened to me”. But as I’ve suggested in previous articles and also in my book From Accidents to Zero, the absence of accidents does not equal the existence of safety. In fact, ask anyone who has survived a fall from height and almost all will say that they didn’t see it coming. Some, like Jason Anker[1] will even go out of their way to share their story in the hope that it prevents someone else suffering the same fate.

So what can we do about risk perception? Whether it’s working at height, or any other potentially risky work task, maybe an alternate angle could help. All too frequently risk assessments are completed at the desk-top. In the event that the assessor gets out to the work location, the activity is often done in relative silence, perhaps ignoring the workers themselves. In our bid to create safety in the workplace employee engagement is vital. It’s time to build dialogue rather than assume alignment on risk. Try asking workers “What is slow, inconvenient or uncomfortable about doing this job safely?” – it’s a sure-fire winner to get them thinking. You’ll either get suggestions for improvement, or confirmation that things are under control. With the latter you then have room for a follow-up: “So, if I were working with you today, what would I need to know in order to go home safely after work?” More thinking encouraged, and a verbal confirmation of the risks, rules and procedures associated with the job which serves well as salient reminder to the worker. If you spot a risk that’s not been mentioned this can be dropped into the conversation at this point and discussion continued. You might even try “So what could we do to make this task even safer?” Safety dialogues like this can be done at any time, not just during the risk assessment process, and by anyone, not just the safety manager. They can even be used by managers and supervisors on a daily basis to boost risk awareness right around the workplace.

The time for toolbox talks showing idiots on ladders has passed, let’s move beyond ‘superheroes on stilts’ and use good old-fashioned conversation to engage, empower and equip our workers with enhanced risk perception skills. It might just stop them – and you – from falling from grace.


Research conducted by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare has revealed that only 42% of employers in the UK provide overhead earmuffs to its employees.

Businesses of all sizes across the UK took part in a survey to find out what type of hearing protection is provided for them. It looked at the types of hearing protection offered by companies in the UK. The findings were:

  • Foam earplug 37%;
  • Custom moulded earplug 26%;
  • Ear canal caps 21%;
  • Flanged earplug 20%;
  • ntegrated earmuff 18%;
  • Banded earplug 17%.

    Under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005, it is the responsibility of employers to protect their employees from exposure to excessive noise and noise-induced hearing loss.

    Professions such as aircraft ground control and construction workers are examples of jobs where employees are in risk of hearing damage/loss, if relevant protection is not provided. Noise above 85db (decibels) can cause permanent and disabling hearing damage, which cannot be reversed.

    At a construction site, peak noise levels can reach 120db, for example a chainsaw’s average decibel can reach 106db-115db, which can significantly damage a construction worker’s hearing or permanently cause them hearing loss.

    Jim Lythgow, Director of Strategic Alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, expressed that “employers themselves acknowledge that they are not providing the necessary hearing protection, and by failing to do so, they may be putting their employees’ hearing at risk.”

    Ensuring that hearing protection is highlighted in Risk Assessments could save companies from getting a hefty fine if they also carry out what is stated.

    Jim Lythgow said: ‘It is good to see that at least some hearing protection is being offered. Employers may feel that what they have provided is adequate, but it is important that needs and risks are fully assessed so that the most appropriate type of hearing protection is made available.’

    According to the HSE, between 2015 and 2018, 23,000 workers suffered work related hearing problems, and insurance claims for workplace noise-induced hearing loss in the UK has increased 189% over the last three years.

    Smart noise cancelling earplugs

    Although it is evident how crucial it is to have ear protection for protecting hearing damage, some employees also say that ear protection often compromises their ability to hear other things that could be hazardous in their environment. For instance, with the rise of electric vehicles on construction sites, the risk of accidents may increase due to not being able to hear the vehicles through ear protection.

    Science-based technology company, 3M, has sought to resolve this by introducing the Peltor Electronic Earplug, which enables ambient sounds to be heard by its wearer, while providing protection against louder sounds that could cause damage to their hearing. This improves the ability for employees to hear warning signs, approaching vehicles and crusical sounds emitted by machines and processes as well as communicating with nearby colleagues, thus reducing the need to remove ear protection.

    The earplugs are designed for environments and professions such as metal workng, welding, construction, ship construction and maintenance companies.

    Technical Specialist for the Personal Safety Division at 3M, a science-based technology company, said that “before the Peltor Electronic Earplug by 3M, workers often had to choose between protecting their hearing, or being able to communicate effectively and hear important sounds around them. By recognising this issue and leveraging its state-of-the-art technologies, 3M has delivered a solution that enables them to work smarter and more safely.”



  • A fire breaking out in a warehouse can be one of the real nightmare scenarios for a business, so it is no surprise that organisations are keen to minimise the risk of warehouse fires. Dakota Murphey reports for SHP’s sister -site, IFSEC Global.

    Fire in the factoryIt’s not just the threat of losing expensive business equipment and stock, warehouse fires also endanger the lives of staff and put people at risk of injuries.

    It is vital for companies to take their fire safety seriously especially in a warehouse environment. And one of the best ways to do this is to prevent them entirely. To do so, you need to have a good idea of what actually causes warehouse fires to occur, so that you can put measures in place to minimise the risk. Here we take a look some of the major causes of warehouse fires, as well as how to prevent them from breaking out.

    Common causes of warehouse fires

    Understanding the common causes of warehouse fires puts you in a good position to do the best possible work you can do for fire safety – preventing them before they have the opportunity to start. Some of the common causes are fairly predictable, but others might surprise you.

  • Fires that are set intentionally –

    it is unfortunately the case that by far one of the most common causes of warehouse fires are those that are deliberately started, known officially as arson. There are suggestions that arson cases make up nearly one third of all fire-related property damage and 18% of specific warehouse fires. These arson cases could be a result of a deliberate petty criminal act or even as a part of insurance fraud.

  • Problems with electricity and lighting –

    coming in at a very close second place of causes of warehouse fires is issues with electrical and lighting equipment. These types are fires are typically less damaging to properties than intentionally started fires, but they are still a major problem for those in charge of warehouse fire safety. This is something that those in charge of warehouse safety need to take very seriously.

  • Heating equipment –

    be careful when you are heating up a warehouse during the colder months because while this can be an essential part of the smooth running of your operation, it can be a serious fire risk. Around eight per cent of warehouse fires are caused by heating equipment, making it the third most common cause of fire in this setting.

  • Exposure –

    the next most common cause of warehouse fires is something called ‘exposure’. This is a specific firefighting term that refers to materials that are combustible but that are not currently on fire. So, this applies to warehouses that contain large amounts of materials that could catch fire if they were exposed to a flame or heat source. Exposures account for around seven per cent of warehouse fires.

  • Smoking materials –

    it is probably no surprise, but it is still important to note here that the materials involved in smoking are the cause of a large number of warehouse fires. Cigarettes, cigars, and lighters are responsible for around five per cent of the total number of warehouse fires.

    What can you do to prevent them?

    There are many things that businesses can be to minimise their risk of fires occurring. Here are three key things that you need pay attention to in your warehouse.

  • Fire risk assessments –

    it is a legal requirement to have a fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, however not all assessments are created equal. It is advisable to have professionals manage this process for you to ensure that it is carried out correctly.

  • Smoke detectors –

    you should ensure that you have smoke detectors installed across your warehouse paying special attention to any areas that may be vulnerable to fire breaking out. Some owners worry about the prospect of putting detectors in place with a sprinkler system because they are concerned an overzealous system could be set off incorrectly and items could be ruined. However, it is always more important to think about safety.

  • Fire extinguishers –

    you should have appropriate fire extinguishers in place across your warehouse, however it is important to note that fire extinguishers should only be used appropriately.



  • Exploring PPE, regulation compliance and preventing occupational footwear injuries

    Graham Clements, Certification Manager for PPE at BSI explores PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and how to prevent footwear injuries in the workplace.

    Ensuring that employees are safe at work must be a high priority for all organisations, regardless of industry. According to the Labour Force Survey1, 555,000 injuries occurred at work between 2017-2018. Whilst this can have a considerable impact on businesses, ultimately organisations have a responsibility to look after their people.

    Most incidents in the workplace can be prevented if the correct level of protection is provided. Protective footwear is just one of the most common types of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and an important part of self-protection in the workplace. Footwear incidents can range from a blister due to illfitting work boots, to heavy objects falling onto the feet. Keeping feet at the right temperature is another consideration, particularly in extreme environments or when working outdoors. There is an ever-rising need for organisations to comply with health and safety regulations; therefore, professionals need to explore the use of PPE. However, with so many different types of protective footwear on the market – each with its own use and application, how do organisations invest in the right protection?

    What is PPE?

    PPE encompasses hundreds of products that stretch from head to toe, from protective clothing, helmets, hearing and respiratory protection to body armour and boots. From a legal and regulatory perspective, PPE is defined more specifically as:

  • Equipment designed and manufactured to be worn or held by a person for protection against one or more risks to that person's health or safety
  • Interchangeable components for equipment referred to in point (a) that are essential for its protective function
  • Connection systems for equipment referred to in point (a) that are not held or worn by a person, that are designed to connect that equipment to an external device or to a reliable anchorage point, that are not designed to be permanently fixed, and that do not require fastening works before use

    To keep employees safe in the workplace and reduce health risks, protective footwear has to comply with all the requirements of the PPE Regulation and carry the CE marking to be sold legally in the EU.

    Some types of footwear are classified as Complex PPE, this means that in addition to satisfying the initial requirements of the PPE Directive, the manufacturer must also demonstrate annually to a Notified Body such as BSI, that the product continues to comply with the requirements of the standard it was initially tested against. A notified body is an independent organisation designated by an EU country to assess the conformity of certain products before being placed on the market. These bodies carry out tasks related to conformity assessment procedures set out in the applicable EU legislation, when a third party is required.

    What is the PPE Regulation?

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    The PPE Regulation (EU) 2016/425 recently superseded the PPE Directive, which was revised in order to reflect current technologies and processes for developing and bringing PPE to the market. The regulation replaced the PPE Directive on 12 February 2016 and was published in a document called the Official Journal. The new regulation applied from 21 April 2018, with a one-year transition period until 21 April 2019. All PPE manufactured now will need to comply with the new Regulation.



  • September is here, and we National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) employees have put away our Labor Day picnics to get back to the work of protecting the American labor force…. And, of course, celebrating N95 Day! Right?

    Yes and no. You see, this year is special. This year marks an important anniversary in the history of respiratory protection. One century ago, the U.S. Bureau of Mines initiated the first respirator certification program in the United States. Today, the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) carries out those evaluation and testing duties in order to protect workers who rely on personal protective equipment (PPE). Therefore, as we recognize this important milestone, we are also using this event as an opportunity to expand N95 Day into an annual observance that will include all types of NIOSH-approved respirators.

    Welcome to the first Respiratory Protection Week, September 3-6, 2019!

    As we celebrate 100 Years of Respiratory Protection, this first Respiratory Protection week will specifically highlight information pertaining to the rich history and exciting future of respiratory protection. Amidst our reminiscing about the past and looking to the future, this observance will be chalked full of tools and tips for the “right now” of respiratory protection from both NIOSH and the dozens of partners who have pledged to recognize and spread the word about this special observance.

    Where to begin?

    Be sure to check out our Respiratory Protection Week landing page, where you can find links to new NIOSH products, webinar registration, and general event happenings. Specifically, we want to encourage workers in fields of firefighting and healthcare to check out this year’s two webinars. We are offering a webinar on September 3 to discuss Respiratory Protection Advancements and Potential Options for Firefighters. For our healthcare audience, on September 5, NIOSH is teaming up with presenters from the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) and the Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare (AOHP) for a webinar to discuss the current state of knowledge of PAPRs in Healthcare: Facing Challenges using the Current State of Knowledge.

    Late to the game?

    Perhaps you didn’t catch this article in time to register and attend one of the webinars above. Don’t worry, a link will be available after the observance on the Respiratory Protection Week landing page.

    As we honor the history of respiratory protection, we also want to look to the future. We are hosting a virtual poster session, highlighting some of own, and our partners, research efforts. You can read the poster abstracts and click to watch short presentations on each poster, which will be available all week (and beyond!).

    A look at the history

    Respiratory protection has a surprisingly long, complex history. We did our best to offer the highlights of that history on our new History of Respiratory Protection webpage. This page is a must-read for all history buffs who also have a professional relationship with respiratory protection.

    This year we truly do try to cover a little bit of everything, whether you are interested in the complexities of Respirator Fit Capability Test in Enhancing the Efficacy of Filtering Facepiece (See this month’s web edition of the Synergist!) or are just trying to answer some basic questions … like what even are all the different types of respirators? We hope that you will find information to help make your daily work life, or that of your employees, a little bit safer.

    In addition to the observance landing page, you will find information sources via social media, using #100yrsRespirators on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. We invite you to join to conversation, pass on valuable information, and have a little bit of fun with us along the way!


    Updated NFPA guidelines mean facilities must reevaluate how they perform thermal imaging tests.

    A new era has arrived for electrical equipment maintenance, and worker safety is predominant. The days of suiting up in personal protective equipment (PPE) and hoping for the best are over. The NFPA 70E which deals with how to reduce risk through safe work practices on equipment under “abnormal” conditions and when the likelihood of shock exposure, arcing fault and arc flash are heightened have been updated. One of the standout features, The Hierarchy of Risk Control Methods are no longer optional; they have been made mandatory. These requirements apply to any energized electrical work task to help mitigate exposure and reduce risk. The Hierarchy must be applied in sequence to eliminate the inherent risk or reduce it to as low as reasonably practicable. The Hierarchy of Risk Control is made of 6 control levels – Elimination, Substitution, Engineering Controls, Awareness, Administrative, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Each control level must be considered fully and eliminated asan option before moving to the next lower, less effective control within the hierarchy.

    For many routine maintenance inspections, thermal imagery has become a staple analytical and diagnostic tool. “With thermography, we can’t see through a cabinet, equipment must be energized and operational and we need to see the connection directly in order to see a hot spot,” Lammert explains. “So, we need to do it either with the door open, energized, and with the proper PPE on; or we can install IR windows which minimizes the worker’s exposure to risk.”

    Adding IR Windows to panel covers or electrical cabinets allows technicians to efficiently perform thermal imaging inspections on energized equipment under “normal conditions with all hinged doors closed, covers on and guards in place; workers exposure to any hazard(s) has been greatly reduced. IR Windows protect workers against arc flash accidents because they maintain a sealed barrier between the worker and the connected equipment.


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