Archive for January, 2013

Construction industry hammered in 2012

According to a recent study, the UK's construction industry will not recover from the recession easily. In fact, it is believed that the industry will only return to its pre-recession peak level of output by 2022.

In 2012, 60,000 jobs in the sector were lost and output fell 9%, in large because of the public spending cuts. Overall, public sector construction fell 20% in 2012 whilst infrastructure fell 15%, commercial construction 10% and private housing 5%. This is despite a radical overhaul of the planning system which was partially aimed to help the construction industry by simplifying the planning system.

Judy Lowe, deputy director of the CITB-ConstructionSkills, said “construction found itself at the heart of a perfect storm in 2012.” She added that the sector has been “hit hard by a combination of public sector spending cuts and a lack of investment in the private sector.”

The study claimed that Greater London would be the only bright spot in the next five years, with most parts of the country continuing to suffer contraction. Employment in construction is expected to pick up in the East of England and in Greater London, but nowhere else.

Steve Murphy, the general secretary of Ucatt, said, “These latest figures make grim but all too predictable reading. The construction industry is struggling as a direct result of Government policies. The Government, the largest client in the construction industry, has cut spending at a time when the private sector has been unable to fill that gap. This has been catastrophic for construction workers who have needlessly lost their jobs.”

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Proposal COM(2012)721 for a Directive on the accessibility of public sector bodies’ websites

Details on this legislative text is provided by Cedrec. Please click here to see the summary.

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HSE publishes consultation on new biocidal products Regulations

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSE NI) have produced a consultative document on a proposed new Statutory Instrument to put in place domestic administrative arrangements on enforcement and the appointment of Competent Authorities/Designated National Authorities to support three EU Regulations on:

  • the market and use of biocidal products;
  • the export and import of hazardous chemicals; and
  • classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures.

The proposals implement a Löfstedt recommendation to consolidate biocides sector legislation, and also to meet EU requirements to establish competent authorities, designated national authorities and enforcement arrangements (as appropriate). Overall the proposal will consolidate seven existing statutory instruments into one (the “7 into 1” package).

The consultation ends on 31 January 2013.

For more information, see:

  • CD249 – Public consultation on regulatory measures to support EU chemicals legislation and proposals on reducing seven existing sets of domestic regulations into one statutory instrument (“7 into 1” package).
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Consultation on a National Local Authority Enforcement Code

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued a consultation setting out proposals for a National Local Authority Enforcement Code.

The Code has been developed in response to the Professor Ragnar Löfstedt report “Reclaiming health & safety for all: An independent review of health and safety legislation” commissioned by the Minister for Employment which recommended that the HSE be given a stronger role in directing Local Authority health and safety inspection and enforcement activity.

It sets out Government expectations on a risk based approach to targeting health and safety regulatory interventions. By providing a principle based framework that recognises the respective roles of business and the regulator in the management of risk, it establishes the risk based approach to be followed by Local Authority regulators that will provide business with a consistency of approach. At the same time, following the principles of the Code will ensure Local Authorities make the best use of their regulatory resource by focussing their efforts where it really matters.

The consultation will end on 1 March 2013 and you can find out more information at http://cedr.ec/kg.

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Parish councillor fined for illegal gas work

Michael Compton, a parish councillor in Blunsdon, Swindon, has been fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £1,840 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations SI 1998/2451.

Mr Compton had removed a gas boiler and installed a new one in Swindon despite the fact he was not registered with Gas Safe Register. The work was therefore illegal and left a householder at risk.

Swindon Magistrates' Court was told that Mr Compton told the householder that his colleague would sign-off the work and provide a guarantee. However, after the colleague refused to sign the guarantee, Mr Compton's failing came to light.

However, this was not the first time Mr Compton had been cautioned. He had previously been cautioned for carrying out illegal gas work and had signed a letter to say he would not carry out such work in the future.

Following the hearing, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Ian Whittles said, “Mr Compton's dangerous boiler work could have led to injury or even a fatality. He chose to disregard the previous caution, ignored his commitment not to take on further illegal gas work and then expected a colleague to sign-off his shoddy work.” He added, “Anyone working with gas has to be registered as trained and competent to do so and be members of the Gas Safe Register by law. That way customers can be sure they are dealing with an engineer who is qualified to do the job.”

For further information, see the:

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Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Revocations) Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2012/450

These Regulations came into force on 14 January 2013 and apply to Northern Ireland only.
They revoke four Statutory Instruments in Northern Ireland which contain provisions which have mostly been revoked by other legislation or they contain amendments to legislation which has been subsequently revoked.
More up-to-date legislation now applies in relation…

Details on this legislative text is provided by Cedrec. Please click here to see the summary.

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Sparks fly over plastic firm failure

During a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation relating to a separate issue, serious issues were uncovered with the construction and maintenance of the electrical system at a plastics manufacturer in Suffolk.

The Sudbury-based manufacturer, Techplas, were fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £5,930 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Electricity at Work Regulations SI 1989/635.

The court were told how HSE inspectors found:

  • live 400 volt cabling hanging off the wall;
  • a broken socket with live 400 volt cabling coiled on the floor;
  • fused spars and electric switches hanging off single-core cabling, leaving the live 230 volt wiring inside exposed.

Guards had also been removed from a plastic forming machine, exposing heating elements that could become dangerous as soon as the machine was switched on. HSE served three Prohibition Notices on the company ordering urgent improvements to be made.

After the hearing HSE inspector Saffron Turnell, said:

“The state of the electrical systems at Techplas was simply appalling and it is only a matter of luck that nobody had been injured or electrocuted. Employers have a duty to ensure the workplace is a safe environment and this must include electrical installations, whether or not the work carried out at their premises directly involves electricity.”

For more information, see:

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CD249 – Public consultation on regulatory measures to support EU chemicals legislation and proposals on reducing seven existing sets of domestic regulations into one statutory instrument (“7 into 1” package)

Details on this legislative text is provided by Cedrec. Please click here to see the summary.

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Energy Performance of Buildings (Scotland) Amendment (No. 3) Regulations SSI 2012/315

These Regulations came into force on 21 December 2012 and apply to Scotland only.
They amend the Energy Performance of Buildings (Scotland) Regulations SSI 2008/309 by:

amending provisions relating to disclosure of information held on a register of energy performance data;
introducing new provisions which enable the keeper of a register to disclose…

Details on this legislative text is provided by Cedrec. Please click here to see the summary.

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Environment Agency fined for safety breaches

The Environment Agency has been successfully prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after one of its employees drowned whilst dredging an icy watercourse in Cambridgeshire.

Simon Wenn was operating a crawler crane rigged as a dragline to dredge sediment from the bed of a watercourse on 8 December 2010. However, the water was frosty as was the river bank on which the crane was positioned. Timber tracking mats were therefore laid to provide better grip and stability.

Mr Wenn used the crane to move a tracking mat from behind, intending to swing it in front of him. But as it rotated round and through the water, the crane started to slowly slip towards it and then tipped into the watercourse, where Mr Wenn became trapped by the crane's cab. Despite emergency service efforts to save him, the crane and Mr Wenn continued to sink.

HSE investigation found that the crane had been fitted with a 19 metre boom that exceeded the manufacturer's specification; they recommended that the boom was a maximum of 16 metres when used as a dragline.

The Environment Agency was also found to have made inadequate assessments of the technical requirements at the site and of the impact of the cold weather. In addition, Mr Wenn was trained as a dragline operator but had no experience of using a crawler crane for lifting operations.

The Environment Agency was fined £200,000 with costs of £28,548 after admitting to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

HSE inspector Stephen Faulkner said, “Simon Wenn's tragic death could have been prevented had more thought and rigour been given to planning the dredging work, in order to minimise the risk arising from the use of the dragline to maintain this watercourse.”

For more information, see:

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