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HSE SCIENTIST WINS ROYAL SOCIETY OF CHEMISTRY’S EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE AWARD

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) principal scientist Dr Jackie Morton has received The Royal Society of Chemistry Exceptional Service Award.

Dr Morton, based at HSE’s Science and Research Centre in Buxton, is part of a biological monitoring team whose work involves determining workplace exposures to chemicals. Her area of expertise includes the analyses of toxic elements (such as lead) in biological samples.

She was nominated for the award for her ongoing voluntary commitment to the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Sheffield and District Local Section; and, the RSC Atomic Spectroscopy Group.

Dr Morton is the programme secretary of RSC Sheffield and District Local Section and organises a variety of chemistry themed public events during the year including lectures, school and pub quizzes and school visits. This included a street event in Buxton earlier this year where school children were invited to visit booths and take part in hands on science experiments.

Dr Morton also acts as treasurer for the RSC Atomic Spectroscopy Group a national group of scientists and academics who share information and knowledge to collaborate in the pursuit of science. As part of this group Dr Morton supports younger scientists working in the Atomic Spectroscopy field and helps to organise a biennial conference to bring together national and international researchers.

She was nominated by colleagues from her team at HSE for an outstanding contribution to proactively and inclusively supporting colleagues and the wider scientific community.

After receiving the award, Dr Morton said: “I am honoured to be nominated for this award; my colleagues are very kind.

“I feel that promoting chemistry, locally in Sheffield and nationally in the atomic spectrometry world is important and worthwhile. If one child has been inspired to follow a scientific path, then that is reward enough. The volunteering that I do is always as part of a dedicated team and I thank them all.”

Professor Andrew Curran, HSE’s Chief Scientific Adviser, said: “We are proud of Dr Morton’s lifelong efforts to further the advancement of science.

“She is a valued member of the team whose innovative work is helping to keep employees safe, while her voluntary activities are contributing to new developments through collaboration and inspiring the next generation of scientists.

“As a regulator we value having colleagues who are dedicated to their industry and community and Dr Morton is clearly a fantastic ambassador of science.”

Dr Helen Pain, acting chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry said: “We live in an era of tremendous global challenges, with the need for science recognised now more so than ever. It’s incredibly important to recognise those who are making significant contributions behind the scenes towards improving the world we live in as well as inspiring colleagues within the chemical sciences community to do what they can for the people around them.

“This award is about celebrating the efforts of the unsung heroes who go above and beyond to support their colleagues and our wider community. It is for this reason we are proud to be presenting this award to Dr Morton, for her outstanding service to the Royal Society of Chemistry through the activities of the Sheffield and District Local Section and the Atomic Spectroscopy Group.”

The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Exceptional Service Award recognises and celebrates those members who have made a positive impact by contributing through a variety of volunteer positions or over a sustained period of time.

As well as being named winner of the award, Dr Morton also receives a medal.

For further information, see rsc.li/prizes-awards

Of those to have won a Royal Society of Chemistry Award, an illustrious list of 50 have gone on to win Nobel Prizes for their pioneering work, including 2016 Nobel laureates Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Fraser Stoddart and Ben Feringa.

Last year, the Royal Society of Chemistry announced it is reviewing its recognition mechanisms. Details of how the awards structure will be changed – to ensure that the way excellence is recognised is fit for today’s needs – will be announced later this year.

ENDS

Issued by Weber Shandwick on behalf of the Royal Society of Chemistry

For further information please contact:

Morag MacDonald: +44 141 343 3253/ +44 7715 658492/ morag.macdonald@webershandwick.com

Amy Moore: +44 1224 806 604/ +44 7966 321194/ amy.moore@webershandwick.com

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

Rewarding Excellence and Gaining Recognition

The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Prizes and Awards recognise achievements by individuals, teams and organisations in advancing the chemical sciences. We want to reward those undertaking excellent work in the chemical sciences from across the world.

There are over 80 Prizes and Awards in our main portfolio, all of which aim to accurately reflect the broad scope of achievement in our community. So whether you work in research, business, industry or education, recognition is open to everyone.

More information is available at: rsc.li/prizes-awards

Royal Society of Chemistry

We are an international organisation connecting chemical scientists with each other, with other scientists, and with society as a whole. Founded in 1841 and based in London, UK, we have an international membership of over 50,000. We use the surplus from our global publishing and knowledge business to give thousands of chemical scientists the support and resources required to make vital advances in chemical knowledge. We develop, recognise and celebrate professional capabilities, and we bring people together to spark new ideas and new partnerships. We support teachers to inspire future generations of scientists, and we speak up to influence the people making decisions that affect us all. We are a catalyst for the chemistry that enriches our world.

Health and Safety Executive

For further information please contact:

Katie Storey: +44 151 922 1221/ media.enquiries@hse.gov.uk

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise. www.hse.gov.uk

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HSE safety alert issued against KN95 facemask

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is warning against the use of KN95 facemasks as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

A safety alert has been issued today, Thursday 11 June 2020, urging all employers and suppliers not to purchase or use KN95 facemasks as PPE.

KN95 is a performance rating that is broadly equivalent to the EU standard for FFP2 facemasks. Products manufactured to KN95 requirements rely on a self-declaration of compliance by the manufacturer. There is no independent certification or assurance of their quality.

This respirator has been identified as suspect by HSE experts and locally arranged testing has confirmed they would not meet requirements, including to protect against the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. About 90% of the PPE concerns and queries currently being received by HSE involve KN95 masks which are often accompanied by fake or fraudulent paperwork.

HSE has quarantined around 1.5 million KN95 masks, prevented 25 million items claiming to be FFP3 respirators entering the supply chain and prevented a further four lines consisting of many millions of items entering the supply chain.

Rick Brunt, HSE’s director of operational strategy said: “The KN95 facemask should not be purchased or used.

“KN95 has not been a principal source of PPE for the NHS, who has already made the decision not to supply this respirator to frontline clinicians fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have found that the lack of independent testing has contributed to there being a substantial quantity of inadequate and poor-quality masks on the market, claiming to comply with the KN95 standard.

“We understand a lot of people, mainly in sectors outside of healthcare, have bought these facemasks without realising they are non-compliant. We are concerned that people wearing them are not being protected from breathing in harmful substances in the way they expect. Protective equipment must protect.”

Domestic, European and international organisations continue to raise concerns regarding KN95 masks, including details of counterfeit and illegal products. HSE is working to remove them from the supply chain with colleagues in the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), Border Force, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and Trading Standards to identify manufacturers and suppliers of these masks and prevent them entering the UK.

The safety alert does not relate to N95 masks which are manufactured to a US Standard and have been given permission for use specifically in UK healthcare settings.

A copy of the alert can be found here.

 

 

About HSE

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise. www.hse.gov.uk

 

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Manufacturing company fined after worker fatally injured

IFG Drake Ltd has been fined after a worker suffered fatal crush injuries whilst working on a machine at the site in Huddersfield.

Leeds Crown Court heard how, on 24 March 2017, Mr Javeed Ghaffar, was working on the stretch godet section of a synthetic fibre manufacturing machine at Victoria Mills, Victoria Lane, Huddersfield. He became entangled in the machine when he was performing a task of removing a lap from around the rollers. A lap occurs when fibres stick to the rollers of the machine and begin to wrap around them.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the machine was not adequately guarded. It had become custom and practice for employees to reach around the inadequate guarding in place to deal with problems of this nature

IFG Drake Ltd of Old Mills, Drighlington, Bradford pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £366,850 and ordered to pay £23,993 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector John Boyle commented: “This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the company to provide adequate guarding against dangerous parts of the machine.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards”

 

ENDS

 

Notes to editor

  • The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise. www.hse.gov.uk
  • More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at:www.legislation.gov.uk/
  • HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk

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Oil company fined £1.2m after two workers suffer multiple burn injuries

Oil refinery company, Phillips 66 Ltd was sentenced for safety breaches after two workers in North Lincolnshire suffered life-changing injuries from an uncontrolled release of high pressure and high temperature steam.

Grimsby Crown Court heard that on 30 October 2013, the two workers – one an employee of Phillips 66 Limited, the other an apprentice – were re-assembling high pressure steam pipework following maintenance of a steam turbine driven pump. During the process, they were exposed to an uncontrolled release of high pressure, high temperature steam of around 250oC. The uncontrolled release resulted in the 53-year-old employee receiving burns to his lower back and legs, and the 20-year-old apprentice receiving extremely serious burns to his torso, chest, arms and legs. At the time of the incident, these injures were life threating.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found a series of failures with Phillips 66 Limited’s ‘safe system of work procedure’ which the workers adhered to. A number of personnel involved in the implementation of the company’s safe isolation procedure of the steam system had failed to complete all the required checks and verifications to reduce the associated risks.

Phillips 66 Ltd of Aldergate Street, London pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company has been fined £1.2 million and ordered to pay £20,450.05 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector, Jarrod King commented: “Safe systems of work procedures are in place to ensure the health and safety of workers. Companies should ensure that all relevant employees and personnel who are involved in their operation and execution are suitably trained and competent to complete their roles within the system.

“Where a significant risk gap leads to an incident which results in injury to workers, HSE will take the appropriate enforcement action irrespective of the size of the organisation.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise. www.hse.gov.uk[1]
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk/ [2]
  3. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk[3

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HSE to prosecute Lightwater Valley Attractions

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has informed Lightwater Valley Attractions Ltd that it will be prosecuted after a seven-year-old boy was ejected from a Twister ride at its theme park in North Stainley, Ripon on 30 May 2019.

Following the investigation by HSE, Lightwater Valley Attractions Ltd, of Sherborne, Dorset, will face a charge under Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

HSE is currently liaising with Leeds Magistrates’ Court to fix a first hearing date.

ENDS

Notes to editor

  • The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise. www.hse.gov.uk
  • More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at:www.legislation.gov.uk/
  • HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk

 

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Company fined £1.1m after worker injured in fall from height

A London-based relocation and refurbishment company has been fined after a worker was seriously injured when he fell from height.

Luton Crown Court heard that, on 5 September 2016, an engineer was testing a sprinkler system for leaks at a site in Hemel Hempstead. He climbed onto an internal roof and was inspecting the leak from an extension ladder. The ladder slipped away from him and he fell almost three meters into the gap between the internal roof and the external wall. The worker suffered severe blood loss, amounting around half of his bloodstream. He required a blood transfusion and needed 14 stiches to his head.  He also sustained fractured vertebrae and suffered soft tissue damage.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that reasonably practicable measures had not been taken to prevent a fall from the internal roof for both the engineer and other contractors working on the roof. The investigation found that Modus Workspace Limited, the principal contractor, had failed to discharge its duty to ensure those not in their employment were not exposed to risks, in particular that of falling from height.

Modus Workspace Limited of Greencoat Place, London was found guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and, after a five-week trial.,The company was fined £1.1 million and ordered to pay costs of £68,116.18.After the sentencing, HSE Inspector John Berezansky, commented: “This case highlights the importance of taking reasonably practicable measures when planning and managing the risks regarding work at height within the construction industry.

“Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities and injuries in this country and the risks and control measures associated with working at height are well known.

“The engineer’s injuries were life changing and he could have easily been killed. This serious incident and devastation could have been avoided if basic safety measures had been put in place.”

Further information can be found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/index.htm

http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/workingatheight.htm

 Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk/
  3. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk

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Message from Chief Executive Sarah Albon – My first International Workers’ Memorial Day

This year, International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD) feels more important than ever. It’s my first time commemorating the day both as HSE’s Chief Executive and personally, I can’t help but think on it in the context of these extraordinary times.

Before I started at HSE, I wasn’t that aware of the day. But clearly, it’s significance for us, as the national workplace health and safety regulator, really can’t be overstated. The opportunity to take a minute together (even virtually), to reflect and to remember those who’ve died at or because of work is so valuable and a clear reminder of why the Health and Safety Executive exists.

I believe firmly in our mission – that no-one should get ill, be injured or die because of work. And as I write this, I’m thinking about the key workers who are risking their own health and wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak. I want to recognise them and their efforts which are so instrumental to the national effort. The extra levels of risk they’re now exposed to at work are in some cases unavoidable but let me be clear that all risk must be managed appropriately. I’m proud of how hard HSE is working to make sure employers put sensible and pragmatic approaches in place, and keeping our guidance, based on science and evidence, updated. These efforts are a vital part of keeping essential services going. So to my colleagues, and all those duty holders adapting to the current circumstances, thank you.

As well as all those affected by the coronavirus outbreak, I also want to think about everyone else we’ve lost.

In 2019, 147 people died while at work in Great Britain. That number is still far too high. But our work is about more than numbers. Work-related deaths fracture families, they shatter communities, and so many of them can be avoided. In my short time as HSE’s Chief Executive, I’ve seen first-hand, the continuing work by duty holders to assess and appropriately manage risk to their employees, to seek out guidance and to uphold the law so that no-one dies as a result of work in Great Britain.

Usually, we’d mark International Workers’ Memorial Day with small ceremonies at our offices around the country. We’d invite many of our partners and in some cases the families of victims to join us, and together reflect on our shared work to make our country the safest place to live and work in the world. Unfortunately, this year, we can’t do all of that in the same way.

Instead, we’ll be commemorating the day using our social media channels to share our message as widely as possible – that no-one should die because of work in Great Britain. On Tuesday, using the hashtag #IWMD20, I hope you’ll help us spread that message.

I’d also like to invite you to join HSE and people nationwide observing a minute’s silence at 11am on Tuesday to remember the people behind the numbers and all those who’ve been made ill, injured or died from doing their job.

Thank you.

Sarah Albon

 

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HSE assembles specialist unit to support UK’s coronavirus response

Britain’s workplace regulator has assembled a team of specialists to assist the Government’s national effort to get personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline health care workers fighting the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Supporting the Government’s PPE Plan, the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) PPE Unit is made up of regulatory inspectors, policy makers and scientists. It has been evaluating materials and specifications against relevant PPE requirements, to rapidly provide agreement that new and novel sources of supply have been properly assessed and can be deployed to frontline workers without unnecessary delay.

Working closely with the Department for Health and Social Care, as well as Public Health England, the NHS and other government departments, HSE’s expertise in managing workplace risk combined with its knowledge of PPE material science and regulations is helping the Government’s aims to ensure there is a continued supply to where PPE is needed.

The unprecedented global demand for PPE during the coronavirus pandemic has meant that the UK is sourcing products from new suppliers and HSE is providing the reassurance that these are of the right quality to protect NHS workers.

Rick Brunt, Head of Operational Strategy, explains: “For PPE to be effective and provide protection to the worker, it’s not just a question of supply. It must also be suitable for the task in hand and we need to be assured that protective equipment will actually protect people.

“At this time of unprecedented national emergency, we’re working very hard with other agencies to ensure those maximising supply of PPE have our support and assurance when they need it. Our advice is grounded in science and experience, not just our understanding of the regulations.

“We want to ensure that any PPE destined for our frontline workers, regardless of its provenance, is appropriately tested so that we know it will serve its purpose.”

 

About HSE

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise. www.hse.gov.uk

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Coronavirus – open letter to the food industry

Note: This addresses concerns raised by bakeries but is of relevance to the whole of the food industry.

As you will appreciate this is a fast moving and unprecedented situation. In these extraordinary times, we are constantly reviewing how we can support the national effort to tackle COVID-19 and continue to protect Britain’s workforce.

In support of the Government and to help businesses and workers, we are clarifying and promoting guidance for those continuing to work away from the home.

In bakeries, breathing in flour dust can be a significant risk as it can cause occupational asthma. We are aware that currently there is a restricted supply of dust masks (PPE) across many parts of the food industry and that many employers still rely on them to control exposure to hazardous substances. However, suitable control can often be achieved using good working practices and local exhaust ventilation (engineering controls) which then means that employees do not need to wear dust masks; reducing overall pressure on the supply chain. To advise bakeries on what they can do we have produced the guidelines in Annex 1.

During the COVID-19 outbreak we do not anticipate an increase in cases of occupational asthma. Employers that effectively control exposure to flour dust using good working practices, engineering controls and PPE will not see an increase in cases. However, whenever cases are reported, in line with our publicly available Incident Selection Criteria, we will investigate them to understand the circumstances.

https://www.hse.gov.uk/enforce/incidselcrits.pdf

Guidance on what to report to HSE under the Reporting of Injuries, Disease and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) is available on our website. The guidance includes the restricted circumstances under which cases of COVID-19 amongst employees are reportable:

https://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/index.htm

Following an investigation HSE cannot give a guarantee that, regardless of the circumstances, we would not prosecute, or take one of the other enforcement actions open to us. We will, however, continue to take decisions on enforcement action in accordance with our publicly available Enforcement Policy Statement, which requires that prosecution, must be both proportionate to the seriousness of the breach and in the public interest – it is a course of action used for the most serious breaches of legislation. Employers that can demonstrate effective control of risks with the appropriate combination of good working practices, engineering control and PPE are not likely to face enforcement action.

HSE is doing everything we can to support the nation at this time of crisis. We are working across government and with industry on the response to COVID-19 by agreeing sensible and pragmatic approaches to workplace safety that ensure essential services continue.

Addressing the Temporary Unavailability of PPE in the Food Industry due to COVID-19

Options for using PPE with an APF of 10

  1. If dust masks (PPE) are necessary to assist in reducing exposure to flour dust to a level as low as is reasonably practicable (ALARP), HSE guidance is that it should have an assigned protection factor (APF) of at least 20 (e.g. FFP3, re-useable respirator with a P3 filter or a TH2/3 powered air respirator).
  2. HSE recognises however that the availability of PPE with an APF of 20 may be reduced due to COVID-19. Where an employer is anticipating that their supplies of PPE with an APF of at least 20 will be exhausted and they are unable to source another supply, then they must carry out a COSHH risk assessment.  This should identify the combination of additional dust exposure minimising measures in place to maintain adequate protection and ensure that the risk to workers is not increased by providing PPE with an APF of 10 (e.g. FFP2, re-useable respirator with a P2 filter).  The additional measures should include:
  • Using non-stick coatings on conveyor belts and greaseproof paper on trays instead of flouring the surfaces.
  • Using low-dust flours as a lubricant and for dusting.
  • Using flour improvers in paste or liquid form instead of powder to reduce the airborne dust generated when adding ingredients.
  • Separating the weighing and dispensing of flour and powdered ingredients from the remainder of the production area using enclosures to contain the flour dust within the enclosure to minimise flour dust spreading.
  • Using mixers with lids to contain the dust at the start of mixing cycles.
  • Using effective, adequately designed and maintained local exhaust ventilation for dusty tasks such as bulk flour sieving, dispensing, weighing, tipping powdered ingredients.
  • Ensuring all workers have been provided with information, instruction and training on careful flour handling techniques, including:
    • Safe working practices to minimise flour dust:
      • Ensuring ingredients in powder form are not tipped from a height into mixing bowls.
      • Minimising airborne dust when folding and disposing of empty bags i.e. rolling the bag from the bottom while tipping avoiding the need to flatten or fold empty bags.
      • Starting-up mixers on slow speed until wet and dry ingredients are combined.
    • Avoiding hand dusting; using a sieve / dredger with minimal drop height.
    • Using high efficiency industrial vacuum cleaners and avoid dry sweeping with a brush.
    • Not using compressed airlines for cleaning off dust from equipment.
  • Ensuring supervision to ensure all workers carry out the careful flour working techniques to minimise their exposure to flour dust, and they raise any concerns or defects immediately.

Note:  When sourcing alternative PPE and choosing; disposable, reusable or powered air respirators, a fit test is required for any tight-fitting PPE provided as a control measure unless you can source the same mask, in the same size, for which the worker has been fit tested before.  Inadequate fit can reduce the protection provided to the wearer.  Further guidance on fit-testing can be found at https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg479.pdf.  Advice on undertaking face fit testing to avoid transmission of COVID-19 can be found at https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/face-mask-ppe-PPE-coronavirus.htm.

Alternatively, devices such as loose-fitting powered helmets or hoods, which do not require face-fitting, could be selected for the affected workers.  Further information on these types of devices can be found in the guidance document HSG 53 (Respiratory protective equipment at work – A practical guide), available at the following link: https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg53.pdf.

Complying with COSHH

  1. All control measures must be determined through risk assessment and applied to the extent where they are reasonably practicable. Exposed workers should wear the most practical PPE with the highest APF, necessary to control exposure to flour dust.  If PPE with an APF of at least 20 cannot be sourced, PPE with an APF of 10  used in a combination of the above measures may control exposure to ALARP, achieving compliance with Regulation 7 of COSHH.

Conserve the stocks of suitable PPE

  1. In order to optimise the stocks of suitable PPE, employers are encouraged to take steps which will help preserve them. These could include:
  • Only providing PPE to those workers who need it.
  • Issuing PPE specific to the level of risk for specific tasks i.e. use lower APF PPE, that of an APF of 10, where the level of personal flour dust exposure is lower.
  • Providing instruction on maximising the use life of all PPE, by ensuring adequate user checks, cleaning and storage.

Note:  This guidance will be temporary and limited to the duration of this COVID-19 crisis – HSE is responding to the current challenges faced by the baking industry, in respect of the potential for temporary unavailability of PPE used to protect workers from food ingredient dusts.

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HSE advises on the importance of fitting RPE correctly

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is advising healthcare workers currently using respiratory protective equipment (RPE) on the importance of ensuring it is fitted correctly. A respirator that is incorrectly fitted will not protect the wearer.

Tight-fitting respirators rely on having a good seal with the wearer’s face. It is vital that before using a respirator for the first time, or before using a different brand of respirator, wearers pass a fit test for the model and size of respirator they are going to use. This is to make sure the equipment fits to their particular facial characteristics.

In these unprecedented times, to protect front line health care workers and reduce the risk of transmission during the coronavirus outbreak, if support is required in carrying out a fit test, it should be done following government advice on social distancing. This means making sure instructions are delivered verbally and observations are made from a distance of two metres (6ft) where possible. If closer observation is required, those being fitted should keep their respirator on to minimise the risk of transmission.

Once the wearer has been fit tested for the model of respirator they intend to use, they must ensure they have put it on correctly to protect themselves and others. Wearers should follow three simple steps: R-P-E

Read the guidance

HSE has step-by-step guidance on the correct way to fit the respirator and carry out a fit check. Wearers must familiarise themselves with the guidance and follow the manufacturer’s instructions when fitting their equipment.

Put your respirator on using a mirror

When fitting a respirator, wearers must make sure the straps are in the correct place and are not twisted or crossed over. The easiest way to do this is using a mirror.

Ensure your own safety

Dr David Fishwick, Chief Medical Adviser for HSE and respiratory physician said: “Before entering the workplace, wearers must carry out a fit check to ensure their respirator is on correctly. This allows the wearer to check they are experiencing no leakage around the face seal, and that they have put the respirator on correctly.”

Andrew Curran, Chief Scientific Adviser for HSE said: “Ensuring RPE is put on correctly is crucial. Any gaps between the wearer’s face and the mask face seal, whether through incorrect moulding of the nose clip or by facial hair, will compromise the protection of the wearer.

“Users must ensure they have been fit tested for the size and model of respirator they are going to use, and that they carry out a fit check each time RPE is used.”

For further information, see HSE’s related RPE videos. You can also sign up to our newsletter to receive updates and ongoing information.

 

Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. For further information, see HSE’s guidance on coronavirus

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