Taking a stand for public health – Bulk soap is a proven risk

Washroom hygiene has come a long way in recent years, helped by advances in technology and design. Mike Sullivan, Managing Director for GOJO Industries-Europe, explains how the latest systems can help achieve even higher hygiene standards.

Advances in terms of technology and materials have the power to change many aspects of our lives. History is littered with landmark moments when a new idea, manufacturing method or scientific breakthrough helped to re-shape the way we live and work. In public washrooms, for example, we stopped using bars of soap as safer, cleaner and more sanitary options became available.

No organisation would expect their employees or visitors to leave the washroom with more germs on their hands than before they washed them – and this is why the method used to refill dispensers is such a crucial consideration. Yet, despite breakthroughs in hand hygiene, millions of people worldwide are using refillable bulk soap dispensers, even though scientific evidence shows 1 in 4 of these dispensers is contaminated.

Although they are an old fashioned hand washing method, bulk soap dispensers are commonly found in schools, restaurants, office buildings, health clubs, shopping centres and other public places, exposing people to an unnecessary health risk. Organisations, including the World Health Organisation, have recognised the bacterial contamination risk of filling up these bulk soap dispensers and have issued guidelines against it1.

A bulk fill dispenser is one where the soap is poured from a bottle into an open reservoir at the top of the unit. Because the reservoir is open to the environment, bacteria can contaminate the soap, which leads to the formation of a biofilm on the inside of the dispenser. Biofilms are groups of bacteria that coat surfaces and are difficult to wash off or ‘kill’. Because the biofilm is formed on the inside of the dispenser it leads to contamination of any new soap that is subsequently added to the dispenser.

Countless employees and other unsuspecting hand washers are washing using this method every day, potentially putting themselves at more risk than using the outdated bar of soap. Hands can have 25 times more germs after washing with contaminated soap. This can make people sick from fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, or eye infections due to the level of pathogens found within the soap. The young, elderly and immunocompromised are at greatest risk.

So can the dispensers be disinfected?

Recontamination can occur even after cleaning and soaking the bulk soap dispenser in bleach, so it’s not a case of simply disinfecting the dispensers to remove the risk. A study found that, after multiple cleaning methods, including bleach based products, contaminated bulk soap dispensers became re-contaminated within 2 weeks of cleaning. Biofilms were found in both plastic and stainless steel bulk dispensers and the dispenser would need to be replaced to eliminate the contamination.

The health of washroom users and the image of building owners is put at risk

Companies invest millions in technology, innovation and recruiting the right people to gain competitive advantage, and it’s easy to understand why attention to these areas is so important. Sometimes however, the significant difference a relatively small investment in providing access to effective hand hygiene systems can make is overlooked.

Washroom facilities are a major source of complaints in office buildings, with extreme temperatures (47%) and unclean / understocked washrooms (32%) being the top two grievances. Upgrading health and hygiene facilities provides building owners and managers with a clear opportunity to increase overall tenant satisfaction and will leave users with a positive lasting impression.

Refillable bulk soap dispensers are messy, labour intensive and prone to environmental and deliberate contamination. Time and effort is required to pour the soap and clean up spills, drips and stains. Parts can wear out or break and need to be replaced. Permanent nozzles can easily clog, causing complaints that the soap has run out. Once bacterial contamination occurs, dispensers must be replaced. All these factors work against efforts to create a healthy, productive building environment.

The right refills

This doesn’t make for comfortable reading, but there is an alternative. Sanitary sealed refills are increasing in popularity because the product inside is protected from contamination, as it is factory sealed and includes a fresh valve with each refill. All GOJO and PURELL® refills are SANITARY SEALED™. This means that the soap is never open to the environment and so cross contamination from the air or other sources is prevented. The hygiene and health benefits are obvious – and in addition they also make for efficient use of time for hard-pressed maintenance staff, because they are so much simpler and quicker to replace.

By investing in the best hand hygiene solutions, organisations not only protect their facilities, but also demonstrate their commitment to improving the well-being of end-users, and their dedication to providing the very best service.

For more information on GOJO dispensers and formulations call +44 (0)1908 588444, email infouk@gojo.com or visit www.gojo.com/united-kingdom


Risk Assessment service surges in popularity

Thousands of risk assessments undertaken on the ECA’s free ‘e-RAMS’ online service

One of the leading risk assessment and method statement services within the industry has surged in popularity, following a major upgrade to the ECA’s free ‘e-RAMS’ online service.

New figures from the ECA show that the number of risk assessments (RAs) undertaken by ECA members per month has gone up by 67 per cent since the end of October. In total nearly 600 ECA member-firms use e-RAMS, creating tens of thousands of practical and concise risk assessments.

ECA Director of Business Services Paul Reeve said: “The upgrades the ECA introduced to e-RAMS – such as being able to carry out quantified risk assessments, and enhanced hazard and control measure text – have led to the service going from strength-to-strength.

“e-RAMS is particularly useful for single tasks or projects, and it can help with virtually any building services engineering activity. Similar commercial products can cost hundreds of pounds or more, so we are pleased to see hundreds of ECA members already utilising this free service, helping them take the necessary steps to ensure health and safety on site.”

Users of e-RAMS have highlighted the benefits to their firms.

Darren Price of Goodwin & Price Ltd comments: “e-RAMS provides good risk assessments that are easy to fill in and then adapt to make them project-specific. The end product looks professional when we send it out to clients. The added bonus is that it’s a free service!”

Matthew Dodson, Director of Vic Coupland Ltd adds: “The ECA’s e-RAMS means we are able to easily create, distribute and store HSE documentation, keeping the safety of everyone involved in our projects paramount. Our company continues to invest in new systems and being part of the ECA enhances our ability to lead the way.”

The ECA’s e-RAMs service is part of the trade body’s wide-ranging support for contractors, to help meet the requirements of commercial clients and to effectively manage health and safety at work. e-RAMS is completely free to all registered ECA members, and more information can be viewed here.


Why Facilities Management Health and Safety is getting a digital makeover

David Davies, Managing Director, Checkit

Digital technology has helped to streamline and modernise many public sector departments and tasks, from finance to HR. Gains range from removing time-consuming processes and cutting manual errors, to improving real-time control of operations. Facilities management teams can also benefit by going digital, with technology helping to transform the way organisations meet their Health and Safety (H&S) obligations.

Organisations understand the potential consequences of failing to create strong policies that protect staff and the public. However, one of the big challenges is finding effective ways of ensuring these policies are consistently adhered to– especially in large dispersed, multi-site organisations where senior managers cannot be constantly monitoring what’s going on. Record keeping is vital, not just to ensure that tasks are carried out, but also to provide an audit trail that can be inspected by managers and relevant authorities.

Manual processes

When it comes to carrying out and recording tasks, until now there has been a reliance on old-fashioned pen and paper and spreadsheets. Manuals provide guidelines on how tasks, such as cleaning or food preparation should be completed safely, and these are coupled with paper checklists to record that they have been done. Not only is this time-consuming for employees, but it also fails to provide much in the way of control.

More importantly, as checklists can be completed incorrectly and sometimes falsified there is no guarantee that staff are carrying out their responsibilities in line with the guidelines. Non-compliance is a serious issue and increases the risk of something going wrong, such as injury to staff or members of the public or illnesses caused by poor standards of food safety. This could result in legal repercussions and damage to reputation that can resonate for years to come.

The essential point is that existing paper-based checklists and basic spreadsheet systems fall way short of what is required. This is why organisations are abandoning them for digital systems that prompt and guide staff to carry out food, hygiene and safety tasks the right way and provide a tamper-proof, time-stamped record.

Moving to digital makes compliance simpler, faster and more transparent. New cloud based systems combine smart sensing technology with work management software for scheduling food, hygiene and safety tasks. These are displayed as interactive digital checklists which staff access through a handheld device. This addresses the industry challenge of tracking staff activity and securely recording the data.

Digital checklists provide step by step guidance on how to perform scheduled routine tasks, with staff logging their activities and results of any checks (assisted by temperature probes and smart sensors where necessary) in real-time, which is automatically uploaded to the cloud. As records and data are time-stamped, trusted and visible, managers can monitor activities remotely, across multiple sites as they happen, with confidence that they have an accurate picture of operations.

Not only does this provide greater visibility, but it also ensures that any problems are dealt with quickly and in accordance with agreed policies. There is also no need to retype hand-written records into spreadsheets, which is inefficient and can introduce errors.

Here are four specific examples of where automated monitoring and digital checklist systems increase efficiency and compliance.

  1. Food safety
    Digital checklists ensure catering staff have clear guidance about what they should be doing from a food safety and hygiene perspective. Catering staff are notified when work is due, what the task is, with it automatically time-stamped when completed. This information is immediately available to managers, giving real-time control and providing a full audit trail for environmental health inspections.
  2. Cleaning
    For building cleaning and inspections, digital checklists provide a time-stamped record of when inspections took place, as well as giving cleaning staff step-by-step instructions on what needs to be cleaned and how. From a legal and compliance point of view, having a digital record shows that the job was actually completed at a specific time – useful if any complaints are made by users.
  3. Security
    Digital checklist systems are an efficient way of recording when building security checks have been carried out. Staff are prompted on what needs to be inspected, along with what to do if problems are discovered, while managers can be immediately alerted to any issues.
  4. Automated monitoring of facilities
    Health and safety tasks, equipment maintenance or ensuring the right temperature and humidity inside buildings usually requires a multitude of manual checks to be carried out in order to maintain an efficient operation and meet quality, health and safety standards.
    Smart monitoring frees staff from these checks, saving hours every week, as readings are recorded and uploaded automatically from sensors within buildings and equipment such as fridges.

The old way of managing health and safety tasks, by using pen and paper or spreadsheets is inefficient and cannot be relied on for compliance. Moving to a digital system transforms the process, bringing automation and control, reducing the chance of errors and providing an accurate, legal audit trail in case of any issues.


New Surtronic Duo with Slip Assessment Tool

Making light work of flooring assessments

Taylor Hobson’s Surtronic Duo is widely used in conjunction with the HSE Slip Assessment Tool (SAT), software for the assessment of slipping accident risk.  Ideally suited to flooring measurements due to its ‘remote control’ operation, the new Surtronic Duo uses familiar smartphone technology for improved performance:

The Surtronic Duo uses the latest Bluetooth technology for quick, reliable communication between the measurement head and its remote control – operators can place the measurement head on the flooring section to be measured and take measurements from a distance at the press of a button.

The look of the Surtronic Duo has also changed – the traditional curved shape of the Duo (which earned it’s nickname of ‘Kenny’ in the field) has been replaced with a much sleeker and more robust rubberised moulding.  Users have the advantage of an intuitive 3-button menu and a crisp 6cm colour LCD screen with graphical display.

The Surtronic Duo uses the latest rechargeable battery technology and incorporates a USB mini port for fast charging.  The unit is then stored in a handy canvas bag ready for use at a moment’s notice.

Use of the hand-held Surtronic Duo requires minimal training – users can quickly make surface finish measurements around the flooring assessment area.  These readings are then used in conjunction with the HSE SAT (Slip Assessment Tool) software to give a clear indication of the potential for slip, allowing H&S personnel to make an objective decision about the safety of their flooring.

Spectrum Metrology is the UK distributor for the Taylor Hobson Duo – with the increased focus on slips and trips by the HSE, Spectrum is seeing orders from sectors such as hospitals, shopping centres, restaurants, public transport networks and local authorities.  Flooring manufacturers also use the Surtronic Duo to control the roughness in their manufacturing processes and meet the increasingly stringent requirements of their customers.

Visit our website http://www.spectrum-metrology.co.uk/surface-roughness/flooring.php for further information.


Lightweight, flexible fall protection for those on the edge

Honeywell has launched Miller TurboLite TM Edge – a new lightweight and highly durable self-retracting lifeline (SRL), which, at just 1kg*, makes it the lightest 2metre Edge SRL on the market. The new fall protection system, which is 15 percent lighter than most comparable products, offers users in the construction, maintenance, utilities and oil and gas sectors increased comfort, freedom of movement and immediate arrest in case of fall.

“We recognised a growing need for a lightweight, fully edge tested and compliant SRL, that would help workers in demanding conditions and environments feel safe and confident with their fall arrest device,” said Corentin Barbieux, product manager of fall protection solutions for Honeywell Industrial Safety, EMEA. “The lifeline has been designed to provide workers with a single solution for protection in all working at height situations, including those at foot level.”

Miller TurboLite Edge is fully edge-tested and certified for workers weighing up to 140kg due to the use of highly durable reinforced webbing. The lifeline is also approved to be attached at foot level (FF2) to protect workers who are at risk of falling over an edge but have no choice for a higher anchorage point (FF1 or FF0). It has a quick locking mechanism for reduced fall arrest distance, especially important when little vertical clearance is available.

Other unique features include two swivels, one on the housing and one integrated to the aluminum anchorage connector, stopping users from feeling restrained whilst moving. The swivels prevent the webbing from twisting and therefore removes any risk of the retractor blocking when it is engaged.

The twist-lock top karabiner enables the SRL to be quickly and easily attached to a harness, while the inclusion of a highly visible fall arrest indicator on the webbing enables both user and safety manager to easily identify when the system has been exposed to a fall.

Miller TurboLite Edge is certified to EN360:2002 and meets all tests VG11.060 (edge), VG11.062 (140kg) and VG11.085 (FF2).

For more information about Honeywell Industrial Safety, its products and services, visit the website at http://www.honeywellsafety.com.

 About Honeywell Industrial Safety

Honeywell Industrial Safety (HIS), part of Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions, helps organisations manage workplace safety. HIS offers the broadest range of industrial safety products — from personal protection gear for a worker’s eyes, ears and head, to fall protection harnesses and respiratory protection, software, first-responder gear and toxic and combustible gas monitors that protect the lives of workers — anywhere they are at risk — while also protecting the operations of their companies. Honeywell Industrial Safety is taking safety to the next level by leading the transformation from point solutions to connected solutions. Whether it’s wearables in gas detection and PPE or portables and fixed devices, our products help our customers with connected, real-time safety intelligence to respond to safety threats, manage risk to the business and improve productivity. HIS helps customers make better decisions by connecting sensors throughout customers’ operations to deliver a real time, accurate picture of safety at all times.

Honeywell (www.honeywell.com) is a Fortune 100 diversified technology and manufacturing leader, serving customers worldwide with aerospace products and services; control technologies for buildings, homes and industry; turbochargers; and performance materials. For more news and information on Honeywell, please visit www.honeywellnow.com


Transform health & safety effectiveness with digital

By Michael McCullen, chairman, Sitedesk

Every organisation must put robust processes in place to meet health and safety requirements. Yet it is often only when something goes wrong that H&S policies and procedures are truly put to the test.

It is incumbent on all employers to make sure that risk assessments are carried out for all types of activity. They must ensure they produce written H&S processes and method statements, and that these are complied with. Staff training is essential, along with certification, wherever appropriate – and the entire system must be continually reviewed and improved.

Health and safety is often derided as getting in the way of ‘good, old fashioned’ working practices – yet its aim is laudable: to protect employees who are potentially risking life and limb in the performance of their everyday duties. Ultimately it protects organisations too, the very future of which can be in jeopardy if found negligent.

Employers must not only devise procedures but assure an audit trail, proving that appropriate information has been provided to operatives and that employees have confirmed their understanding of how things should be done. In any future claim, employers must prove they have taken all possible steps to identify and mitigate risks.

Getting this wrong could be catastrophic. Corporate manslaughter is a criminal offence carrying potential prison sentences and massive fines. Executives could live with the knowledge they have allowed someone to be injured or killed. They may damage their own, and the company’s, reputation – as well as expose it to costs of delay or liquidated and ascertained damages (LADs).

Construction and FM firms both face significant H&S challenges. Considerations can start well before work on site or contract begins. For example: how will a construction site be set up? How will staff comforts be provided?  How will plant and materials be delivered, then operate?  How will work be coordinated to minimise risk? How will this be communicated?  How will all parties confirm their understanding?  Are you certain subcontracted staff are competent?  Are there high voltage cables overhead or underground?  Unsafe buildings nearby?  What about public safety? For FM service providers, their operatives must be similarly prepared: maintenance of any industrial or commercial site can carry H&S risks – ranging from working with electrical or heavy plant, at height or lone working, to mention but a few.

The system to be used to record all this intelligence is a key consideration, as well as how information will be disseminated. Many businesses still rely on paper systems for employee briefings and acceptance – but paper is often misfiled, or even never filed at all. Inspectors know that paper is too easy to falsify, alter, or post-date after an incident.

The emergence of digital tools is changing the way that such information is captured, recorded, disseminated and verified – and the benefits go far beyond simply storing information in a database rather than site office filing cabinet. Site briefings or FM briefings post-completion can now be conducted using a 3D model. On the building site it can illustrate layouts, material stores, work areas, and the location of dangerous materials and equipment in a powerful and memorable way that is impossible with 2D drawings. Escape routes can be shown more clearly, and 3D walkthroughs help teams familiarise and orient.

Finding relevant paperwork can take hours – but H&S documentation can now be linked directly to that 3D model and quickly found simply by clicking on the work location. SaaS (Software as a Service) can make this easily and quickly accessible on site via a tablet. Users can confirm receipt and understanding of instructions on their own devices. Meanwhile, new risks identified on site can be captured on video or in photos and recorded in the same system – keeping H&S data current.

It is easy to see why digital tools are becoming more popular, since they make the role of health and safety more visible and instantly accessible on site or in the field, allowing a contemporaneous record to be kept along with the vital audit trail. Digital records cannot be altered without this forming part of the audit trail – reducing any fraud or collusion. Such systems also have the added benefit of producing a complete as-built record of a building project for final handover, which can provide a powerful foundation for FM and ongoing health and safety management.

Smart companies ensure they have not only H&S policies but systems to ensure they can be quickly and easily accessed, becoming a more natural and integral part of operations. Doing so can help to foster a safer culture which involves employees to identify and record risk and its mitigation. Whether this is done with paper or digitally, organising and putting information at your fingertips is critical. The value will be immediate and significant, should you ever have to defend a claim or answer H&S investigator questions.



Why do all FM’s need a winter management plan in place?

Vicky Lopez, director of De-ice

When it comes to considering the operation of their sites, FMs look at every element – from the air conditioning to accessibility areas, and the smooth running of the reception or ‘front of house’.

With their air conditioning, they wouldn’t avoid having units serviced in order to save on cost. If the temperature is soaring, it is vital that tenants remain comfortable, as well as content with the service provided – complaints will – eventually – lead to vacated properties. In the same way, FMs wouldn’t turn the heating off when the temperature drops; conversely they’d ensure the boilers are well-serviced and ready to heat the building – in order to ensure the comfort of their tenants.

Attention to detail and high levels of service are paramount to the smooth running of the properties. Tenants need to remain confident in the service being provided, and the people responsible for looking after them.

Climatic conditions will vary considerably, depending on where a property or FM is located. One based in Edinburgh is far more likely to experience harsher and colder weather, by comparison with their London counterparts. Gritting services are certainly more prolific in Scotland than in the south of England. Each has their own micro-climate, but – on a national level – the story is very different.

Already this year, we are hearing reports of the strongest El Nino for 65 years grabbing the headlines. Indeed, we look set to have some very unsettled weather ahead. An (El Nino) event occurs when the waters of the Pacific become exceptionally warm and distorts weather patterns around the world. However, as the rest of the world warms, Europe looks to get increasingly colder. El Nino occurs every two to seven years, and it never behaves in the same way twice and is only one of the elements in play that will influence the winter weather to come.

Without doubt during the last El Nino of 2009/2010, the winter across northern Europe, including the UK was exceptionally cold. Heavy snowfall brought transport chaos to much of the country with airports closed and train services suspended. In December that year, the average UK temperature was just -1C – the coldest since records began.

Clearly only time will tell if we are set for similar weather trends this winter. There are other factors to take into account such as the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) and Sun output. The long-term forecast is unclear but the more credible camps are erring towards a milder and changeable start to the winter with periods of high winds and rain. Any gaps in this pattern could see temperatures plummet and snow on lower ground. Indicators of the NAO changing later in the winter months would bring colder, snowier weather conditions later in 2016.

We work closely with the MeteoGroup, Europe’s largest private weather forecasters to make sure we have the best forecasting available at the earliest possible opportunity both in pre-winter planning and operationally should severe weather occur. This highly accurate forecasting means that we wouldn’t go out and grit a site for no reason. But, it triggers off when we should go out and service – no one wants ultimate responsibility for whether winter gritting should take place at a site on a Sunday afternoon. Our contracts (and forecasting) is designed to take the pressure off this decision making process, and to ensure that everyone remains comfortable with the activity that does take place.

And, at the end of the day, shouldn’t the responsibility rest with the supplier in question? The customer should be content with the outsourcing decision made, and to know that they have the best level of support in place. They should be treating their winter maintenance supplier as a true partner, and not making any compromises – as per their heating and air conditioning.

A payment-per-visit contract means that the customer will only pay for the service(s) received, as opposed to an ongoing contract. For many, they feel this gives them a greater level of control over the service provided.

We often question why some companies leave their winter maintenance planning to the last minute, and other organisations (which are few and far between), opt to run their own service. For the latter, they need to consider whether they have the man power, or if such an approach is right for them.

In the knowledge that snow, or any extreme weather will have a huge impact on any public-facing organisation, particularly one which operates 24/7, it is vital for them to recognise the fact that there is a real need for effective winter planning to avoid accidents, claims and possible reputational damage. Can any industry really afford not to adequately provide for the safety of their staff, customers and visitors? The potential cost of failing to do is vast.

We have seen winter maintenance support and provision really evolve over the last 15-20 years, and it is now a recognised part of the FM service. Certain outlets, for example retail or essential services such as hospitals cannot avoid the potential exposure – given their need to remain open and operational, often 24/7.

Many of our clients view us as their strategic partner. Every year that goes by, there seems to be increasing awareness of the service we provide, and its importance. My only concern is that – due to its seasonality – it doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

Whether we like to admit it or not, frost, ice and snow — even if they don’t last long — are predictable features of the British winter. To protect staff, contractors, drivers and the public, there is a real need to plan ahead before the first ‘unexpected’ snow flurry puts people at risk and causes disruption. Planning ahead of time doesn’t cost anything, but – if needed – it can make the difference between remaining operational, and ensuring exposure to slips and trips is minimised. Why have your backs against the wall? When – as an FM – you can take the responsibility into your own hands to ensure the highest levels of service.


Extreme Weather Protection from Arco this winter

Latest reports from the weather forecasters warn that this winter could be one of coldest in recent history, with Britain expecting months of freezing winds and heavy snow. Businesses that aren’t prepared for winter weather not only  run the risk of expensive business disruption caused by site closures and delays but also potential risks for their staff who may be working in conditions which could lead to serious injuries or ill health.

In 2013/14 slips and trips were the most common cause of major injuries to employees with over 21,500 in total reported. Salt is essential for clearing paths and minimising slips, trips and falls during the more icy months. Arco, the UK’s leading safety supplier, offers a range of carefully selected products to help manage potential slip hazards including its new blue de-icing salt that has been screened to produce the most effective spread pattern, increasing pedestrian safety and preventing waste. It is also clean to use, leaving no dirty residue to be trodden into buildings or vehicles and after the winter season there is no residue to sweep away or drains to be cleared.

Working in conjunction with Peacock Salt, Arco’s new Salt Calculator App, is set to help businesses make cost-effective decisions in preparing for extreme conditions. The Salt Calculator App allows customers to calculate the amount of salt required for any particular site, reducing waste and ensuring a safe working environment. The App will also alert customers when conditions are changing, sending a warning based on pre-programmed parameters.

Arco also offers a full range of products to help tackle the harsh winter conditions, including salt spreading equipment, heaters and torches, entrance matting, flooding prevention, snow plough for fork lift trucks, snow shovels, scoops and car accessories.

Liz Johnsen, Product and Procurement Manager at Arco said, “Arco is committed to keep workplaces operating safely throughout the winter and part of this is ensuring that both businesses and employees are stocked up on essential workplace safety items and salt. Arco’s salt spreading and snow clearing products, with the addition of the new Salt Calculator App will ensure that business sites are protected and prepared this winter.”

Arco has created Expert Advice sheets on Extreme Weather, Effective Salting and Flooding. Which offer expert guidance on preparing for extreme weather, practical guidance on dealing with snow, ice and flooding as well as product selection.

To download the Expert Advice Sheets to dealing with Flooding, Extreme Weather and Effective Salting or to find out more about the Salt Calculator App and the winter product range visit www.arco.co.uk/winter or call your local sales office to discuss your requirements.


Winter Wrapped Up!

To help you prepare for the colder months we’ve got winter wrapped up with our comprehensive range of winter safety products. Turbocast 800™ towable grit spreader can be used as a broadcast or drop spreader.   Turbocast 800 will hold approximately 10 x 25kg bags of rock salt and gives controlled, accurate coverage up to 8 metres width at speeds from 5-20mph. Turbocast 300™ manual grit spreader spreads to a width of between 3 and 7 metres with minimum effort and can be easily pushed along, even when fully laden.   Nestor 400 grit bin has a double skinned lid for supreme strength and durability. The weight of the lid is sufficient to minimise the risk of it opening in strong winds and therefore protects the contents from adverse weather conditions.

Glasdon UK Limited

Telephone: 01253 600410

E-mail: sales@glasdon-uk.co.uk

Website: www.gritbins.co.uk




Asbestos in buildings – the need to make competent decisions

Stuart Goodman of risk management specialist Lucion*, looks at the responsibilities associated with ensuring compliance with asbestos regulations.

A recent HSE safety campaign highlighted the very serious risks posed by asbestos exposure from building materials used in past decades.

Even though asbestos has been banned in building materials since late 1999, and a huge amount removed from buildings over the years, there are still many situations where the decision has been made to leave it in situ and manage its presence.

The decision to ‘manage’ is not necessarily a bad one as asbestos in good condition can be safe as long as its presence is known about and the material is maintained. However, for those responsible for maintaining buildings and estates, where asbestos is found, the question is how it can be dealt with safely.

 The versatility, strength, heat and chemical resistance of asbestos led to it becoming known as the wonder mineral of the 1950s and 60s, with widespread use in building materials and products,

Although it has been illegal to use asbestos in the construction or refurbishment of any building since late 1999, crocidolite (blue), amosite (brown) and chrysotile (white) asbestos were used extensively in building materials of all types.

As a result, asbestos was commonly used to improve the performance of everything from sprayed coatings, laggings and insulation board, used in ceiling tiles and wall panels, to decorative textured coatings and vinyl floor tiles.

Roles and responsibilities

To address this situation, the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2012 (CAWR) seeks to minimise the risk of harmful effects of exposure to asbestos. Regulation 4 of the CAWR (2012) includes an explicit duty for those in control of premises to identify and manage any asbestos present.

Under the regulations anyone who has an obligation in relation to the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises – usually the occupier or the owner – has a duty to manage the risk of asbestos and prevent further unknowing exposure to asbestos by building and maintenance workers.

Within an organisation this is the specific responsibility of the duty holder – a nominated person responsible for a non-domestic building or building portfolio and who has a specific role to fulfil in order to either identify and manage the asbestos or remove it and make safe.

In all cases it is to be assumed that asbestos is present within a building unless proved otherwise. The duty holder therefore has to establish its non-existence, rather than simply assume it is not in the premises.

Having identified any presence, the risk from any asbestos containing materials (ACMs) must be quantified and a written plan developed on how any risk will be managed.

In this way the duty holder is responsible for ensuring that any ACMs are not disturbed during normal occupation and maintenance or renovation activities.

A question of competency

Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 sets out the criteria that a duty holder needs to fulfil their role. Essentially this requires that the duty holder should have all the relevant information, instruction and training required to enable them to meet their responsibilities.

A duty manager therefore needs to be competent to take on the responsibilities they are tasked with. Competency can be demonstrated by acquiring the appropriate qualifications and the need is to provide proof that this has been achieved; if/when something does go wrong, the first questions are invariably about the capability and experience of the people responsible.

In short, a competent person is someone that has the relevant information instruction and training specific to their role. This competence can be shown in different ways but must be tailored and relevant to the responsibilities of that particular person and role.

At the basic level, it may be that those responsible for a building aren’t sure if there is any asbestos present, if they need a formal survey and if they do, what happens in a survey or what type of survey is required.

Clearly it would be difficult for anyone to correctly prioritise the materials found in an asbestos survey and then write an asbestos management plan if they weren’t sure of which asbestos materials were of a higher risk and what their options were.

Anyone in such a role – and also those working in a building – should therefore have some basic knowledge of asbestos. They should be aware of what asbestos is and what materials it could have been used in. They should also know the potential health effects of ACMs, be aware of the precautions to be taken, and how to keep people safe in the event of an unexpected release of fibre.

To achieve this, gaining the relevant knowledge and training are fundamental requirements to keep people safe.

These include basic asbestos awareness courses for anyone that may come into contact with ACMs in their day to day working activities, to more formal industry qualifications such as P405 and P407 courses designed to enable duty holders successfully manage buildings.

To minimise the risks, it is vital that all those with a responsibility for the management of asbestos should have adequate knowledge and training to deal with it safely.

Further details at www.lucion.co.uk/training/