Latest News

"Protect your employees from the effects of air pollution"

Posted 1st August 2019

Using ISO 45001 to Protect your employees from the effects of air pollution

The British Safety Council has recently identified that air pollution is linked to 36,000 early deaths a year in the UK. They are calling on all employers with workers who regularly work outside or drive heavy goods vehicles on busy roads with high levels of pollution, to take measures to safeguard their employees from exposure.

From a small trial carried out, the most affected employees were a construction worker and HGV driver. The site engineer was found to have air pollution exposure levels six times higher than that of the office worker.

Similarities are being made between lung damage and recent compensation claims made by workers suffering from asbestosis and the potential risk of claims that could follow from high levels of pollution in some of our cities.

Currently the government is not demanding that employers address this health hazard. However, an app launched by King's College London for the British Safety Council's "Time to Breathe" campaign is available to outdoor workers across London to monitor the users exposure to pollution and when the amount exceeds the limits for nitrogen dioxide, particles and ozone, the user is notified. This will help employers and workers to act and reduce exposure by reducing strenuous work, putting up barriers or working away from traffic until levels improve.

The British Safety Council is calling on government to recognise exposure to ambient air pollution as an occupational health hazard and adopt the World Health Organisation's (WHO) exposure guidelines for nitrogen dioxide, particles and ozone.

How long will it be before the government is forced to recognise the WHO exposure guidelines?
Will employers face huge claims for compensation in the future by not acting now to protect their workers?

If your employees work outdoors, it may be worth carrying out a risk assessment and taking action to limit their exposure to pollution before new legislation is in place. This could also help reduce the working days lost through work-related illness due to respiratory problems.

Health and safety for your employees

Figures released by the Health and Safety Executive for 2107/18 show:

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence

As an employer you are responsible for the health, safety and welfare of your employees and others who may be affected by your business whilst they are in the workplace.

Organisations that take their health and safety responsibilities seriously and have a management system that will minimise their risk of breaching health and safety regulations, will limit the occurrence of fines and compensation claims that can be handed down by the courts.

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"Is Your Business Disability Confident"

Posted 1st July 2019

The Disability Confident scheme supports employers like you to make the most of the talents disabled people can bring to your workplace

Join over 12,000 organisations that have signed up. Disability Confident organisations play a leading role in changing attitudes for the better. They're changing behaviour and cultures in their own businesses, networks and communities, and reaping the benefits of inclusive recruitment practices.

The scheme helps employers recruit and retain great people, and:

It also helps customers and other businesses identify those employers who are committed to equality in the workplace.
disabilityconfident.dwp.gov.uk

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Transport laws to be reviewed to improve everyday journeys

Posted 1st June 2019

The biggest review into transport in a generation will pave the way for transforming the way people and goods move around our cities, the government has announced in its Future of mobility: urban strategy. The review will explore regulations around new types of vehicles including e-scooters and e-cargo bike trailers, how sharing data can improve services by reducing congestion, and how journey planning and payment can be made more simple. This wide-ranging review will also explore modernising laws from the 1800s that are proving a barrier to innovation. Alongside this, the government is launching a competition for up to four new 'future mobility zones', backed by £90m, to test ideas to improve journeys for people across the country. With 80% of people in the UK now using smartphones, ideas will include smoother payment systems, better, more up-to-date travel information and the use of innovative forms of transport, making travel in towns and cities more convenient, more reliable and cheaper. "Through this strategy the government aims to take advantage of these innovations; connecting more people and bringing big benefits we hope for both the economy and the environment." The strategy, a key part of the government's modern Industrial Strategy, also sets out nine key principles that will guide government decision-making going forward, ensuring that emerging transport technologies are safe, accessible and green. These include being safe, secure and guarded against cyber threats; accessible to older people and those with visible and non-visible disabilities; and in line with the government's ambition for a zero-emission future. In a further boost for sustainable transport, the government has announced the first winners of the Transforming Cities Fund and awarded £60 million to 10 city regions for schemes supporting low-carbon vehicles, cycling and walking projects, and smart traffic controls. The Transforming Cities Fund aims to invest in public and sustainable transport infrastructure in some of England's largest city regions, encouraging an increase in journeys made by low carbon modes. The government has also published its response to the Last Mile call for evidence, outlining a range of measures to support cleaner and more sustainable last mile deliveries. These include increasing the uptake of e-cargo bikes and e-vans. In addition, working with the Energy Saving Trust, the government is also now inviting expressions of interest for £2 million of funding to support the uptake of e-cargo bikes

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Report Identifies Top 10 Plastic Pollutants in Europe's Rivers & Lakes

Posted 1st May 2019

The top 10 types of consumer plastics polluting European freshwater lakes and rivers have been identified in a new report from Earthwatch Europe and Plastic Oceans UK.
Published today, the Plastic Rivers report analyses data from nine studies of freshwater sources across the UK and Europe. It ranked types of macroplastic by prevalence, focusing on consumer items and excluding items relating to fishing, agriculture and industry.

The top 10 plastic pollutants in rivers and lakes are:

  1. Plastic bottles and lids
  2. Food wrappers (crisp packets and sweet wrappers)
  3. Cigarette butts
  4. Sanitary items (nappies, sanitary towels, tampons and wet wipes)
  5. Plastic or polystyrene takeaway containers
  6. Cotton bud sticks
  7. Plastic or polystyrene cups
  8. Smoking-related packaging

The plastics focus, has been on the shocking impact pollution is having on ocean species, but up to 80% of the plastic in our seas actually comes from rivers. Understanding the situation in freshwater environments is an essential but often overlooked factor in stemming the tide of plastic reaching our oceans.

It's really encouraging that plastic pollution is now at the forefront of many people's minds, but with so much information out there it can be hard to understand the best ways to make a difference. The report provides simple, evidence-based recommendations to show people exactly what changes they can make - and the positive impact those changes will have on our waterways.

PlasticRiversReport.pdf

The Plastic Rivers report shows that the products we buy every day are contributing to the problem of ocean plastic. Our discarded plastic enters rivers from litter generated by our on-the-go lifestyle and items we flush down our toilets. This throw-away approach is having much more serious consequences and the report shows really simple ways to avoid this problem and stop plastic pollution.

The report aims to help consumers make a real difference by providing practical alternative options. By changing peoples lifestyle and behaviours to prevent this insidious pollution. It is accompanied by a free downloadable guide to the top pollutants and the best ways to reduce their prevalence, alongside a sheet for households to pledge the changes they're going to make.

For businesses and policy makers the report provides suggestions for how to make it easier for consumers to make more sustainable choices.

If implemented quickly, our recommendations have the potential to significantly reduce plastic pollution in the UK well in advance of any impact that will be achieved from policy changes, and to inform the policies themselves.

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Government announce new regulations after Grenfell fire

Posted 1st April 2019

The Government has said there will be "no hiding place" for builders who fail to protect high-rise residents, as plans to overhaul regulations are revealed following the Grenfell tragedy which killed 72 people last year.

A "radically-new system" would be the best tribute for the victims of the fire and that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will establish "stronger sanctions to prevent and punish wrongdoing".

This follows recommendations by Dame Judith Hackitt from her report in May, which she found that indifference and ignorance led to a race to the bottom in building safety practices.

Before the fire, a cladding system using highly flammable rainscreen panels had been installed on the block. In September the Government banned the use of combustible cladding on new high-rise homes, which is due to come into force this week, 18 months after the fire.

The Government have committed to reforming four key areas:

They are set to work with firms and tenants to trial more rigorous ways of monitoring developers, contractors and landlords, with an emphasis on public safety. Successful approaches will then contribute to fresh legislation to tighten-up building regulations which will include more punitive sanctions for those who disregard regulations.

Campaign group Grenfell United called it a "long overdue shake up" of the industry but warned against urgent changes being forgotten about and not prioritised.

They stated "we must be vigilant to ensure Government industry, that so badly failed us, do not water down these changes".

"Resident voices must be given weight and Parliament must keep a watchful eye on progress".

The new regulatory framework will apply to multi-occupancy buildings of at least ten storeys, with a consultation in Spring 2019 on whether additional buildings should be included.

The Government will also consult on proposals to create dutyholders, who will ensure resident safety in each stage of building development and strengthen accountability. Their responsibilities will be determined by regulations that would require gateways at key stages, to demonstrate they are actively managing safety risks.

A Standards Committee will be established to advise on construction product and system standards, as well as a Joint Regulators Group that will consist of bodies like the Health and Safety Executive, the Local Government Association (LGA), fire and rescue authorities and local authorities.

The LGA has welcomed the Governments commitment to implement the recommendations and where necessary go beyond them, as they have with the use of combustible materials.

"The tragedy at Grenfell Tower must never be allowed to happen again and we look forward to working with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to make sure the new system of building regulations work".

Brokenshire pushes for a culture change and confirms "by making people responsible and more accountable for safety, we will create a more rigorous system so residents will always have peace of mind that they are safe in their own homes".

For more information on this subject, see:
Building Regulations SI 2010/2214;
Building (Amendment) Regulations SI 2018/1230

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Government announces new Code of Practice to tackle sexual harassment at work

Posted 1st March 2019

The Government will introduce a new Code of Practice so employers better understand their legal responsibilities to protect their staff as part of a package of commitments to tackle sexual harassment at work. Responding to the Women and Equalities Select Committee report, the Government Equalities Office also promised to carry out awareness raising work with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), the Equality and Human Rights Commission and employers on how to prevent and address sexual harassment at work; to work with regulators to ensure they are taking action; and commission survey data on the prevalence of sexual harassment at work. The government will also consult on:

ComRes, in their 2017 research for the BBC, claim that 40% of women and 18% of men have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour at work at some point.

Going beyond the recommendations in the WESC report, the government has also promised to consult on whether additional protections are needed for volunteers and interns, (looking at all the protections in the Equality Act 2010, not just those on sexual harassment), and to explore the evidence for extending the time limits to bring any workplace discrimination and harassment case under the Equality Act 2010 to an employment tribunal.

The government is developing next steps on this package. It will:

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Latest News

Government announce new regulations after Grenfell fire

Posted 1st February 2019

The Government has said there will be "no hiding place" for builders who fail to protect high-rise residents, as plans to overhaul regulations are revealed following the Grenfell tragedy which killed 72 people last year.

A "radically-new system" would be the best tribute for the victims of the fire and that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will establish "stronger sanctions to prevent and punish wrongdoing".

This follows recommendations by Dame Judith Hackitt from her report in May, which she found that indifference and ignorance led to a race to the bottom in building safety practices.

Before the fire, a cladding system using highly flammable rainscreen panels had been installed on the block. In September the Government banned the use of combustible cladding on new high-rise homes, which is due to come into force this week, 18 months after the fire.

The Government have committed to reforming four key areas:

They are set to work with firms and tenants to trial more rigorous ways of monitoring developers, contractors and landlords, with an emphasis on public safety. Successful approaches will then contribute to fresh legislation to tighten-up building regulations which will include more punitive sanctions for those who disregard regulations.

Campaign group Grenfell United called it a "long overdue shake up" of the industry but warned against urgent changes being forgotten about and not prioritised.

They stated "we must be vigilant to ensure Government industry, that so badly failed us, do not water down these changes".

"Resident voices must be given weight and Parliament must keep a watchful eye on progress".

The new regulatory framework will apply to multi-occupancy buildings of at least ten storeys, with a consultation in Spring 2019 on whether additional buildings should be included.

The Government will also consult on proposals to create dutyholders, who will ensure resident safety in each stage of building development and strengthen accountability. Their responsibilities will be determined by regulations that would require gateways at key stages, to demonstrate they are actively managing safety risks.

A Standards Committee will be established to advise on construction product and system standards, as well as a Joint Regulators Group that will consist of bodies like the Health and Safety Executive, the Local Government Association (LGA), fire and rescue authorities and local authorities.

The LGA has welcomed the Governments commitment to implement the recommendations and where necessary go beyond them, as they have with the use of combustible materials. "The tragedy at Grenfell Tower must never be allowed to happen again and we look forward to working with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to make sure the new system of building regulations work".

Brokenshire pushes for a culture change and confirms "by making people responsible and more accountable for safety, we will create a more rigorous system so residents will always have peace of mind that they are safe in their own homes".

For more information on this subject, see:
Building Regulations SI 2010/2214;
Building (Amendment) Regulations SI 2018/1230

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UK's first national crisp packet recycling scheme launched by Walkers

Posted 1st January 2019

The UK's largest crisp brand has this week launched a UK-wide crisp packet recycling scheme, after partnering with TerraCycle to develop a recycling solution for the packaging.


Under the scheme, Walkers will install hundreds of packet collection points at community hubs and retail outlets.

Following months of consumer protests against its hard-to-recycle packaging, which typically consists of a flexible plastic layer and metallised film, PepsiCo subsidiary Walkers has opened the scheme's first collection points today.

The method involves cleaning and shredding the crisp packets, allowing them to be melted into small plastic pellets that can then be incorporated into products such as fence posts and furniture.

Under the scheme, consumers will be encouraged to deposit used crisp packets at one of the hundreds of public collection points that will be developed, or to post them to TerraCycle free of charge. Packaging from any crisp brand will be accepted.

It is an important step for Walkers towards our ambition to make all of our packaging 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025."

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