SAFETYLINE 4

HEALTH & SAFETY UPDATE APRIL 2001- THE "PYRITES" ISSUE

According to an HSE survey, use of portable computers is not associated with severe or novel health problems, and there is no difference in the reported experience of discomfort between users of portable and desktop DSE. The two principal risks are carrying heavy accompanying loads such as bulky papers or printers giving rise to a risk of manual handling injury, and using portables in less than satisfactory locations. Beneficial interventions include frequent breaks or changes in task and training. Please ensure you report discomfiture caused by the use of any DSE equipment to your supervisor or manager.

------------------------------------------------

The internal telephone number for all emergencies on the Northern General Hospital Site will be 2222 with effect from 0600 hrs on 1st April 2001. Old numbers will not work after 0600 hrs.

------------------------------------------------

Safety Services web pages are currently being updated to incorporate the latest version of the University Health and Safety Code of Practice. We will also be including additional guidance on relevant safety aspects as they arise.

------------------------------------------------------------

A group of independent experts has investigated possible health effects posed by mobile phone technology, including base stations. They took evidence from scientists, looked at recent research and listened to views of the public. Their conclusion was: - "The balance of evidence indicates that there is no general risk to the health of people living near base stations, on the basis that exposures are expected to be small fractions of guidelines." A precautionary approach to the use of mobile phones and base stations should be taken until more research findings become available.

------------------------------------------------------------

Imperial College fined 20,000 last month for failing to ensure that a level 3 HIV propagation laboratory could be properly sealed to contain the biological agent in the event of spillage, or the disinfecting fumigant. This was crucial as the fumigant itself was hazardous and biological agents must not be released outside the laboratory. Safety Consultants acting on behalf of the University were also fined 20,000 for failing to ensure that the health and safety of those not in its employment, in this case a maintenance worker three floors up, was safeguarded.

------------------------------------------------------------

The repeat Fire Evacuation Drills at the Chemistry Department, Perak Laboratories and Animal & Plant Sciences, Regents Court and Jonas Court were much improved in all aspects. Many thanks to you all for your co-operation.

------------------------------------------------------------

The HSC is currently consulting on a draft code on health and safety responsibilities for company directors and board members of public sector organisations. It identifies 5 Action Points for improving the health and safety leadership in an organisation, one of which is to appoint a board member for championing health and safety issues.

------------------------------------------------------------

Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council has been fined 400,000 over the death of an electrician working in one of their offices in 1997. He had been called to repair a heating unit in a false ceiling when he came into contact with some exposed electrical wires which council managers had been aware of for some time, but had failed to take appropriate steps to warn the electrician. The HSE commented on "the high price of not properly discharging their responsibilities of ensuring the safety of people working on their property". The message for all managers is if you know something is unsafe, you must warn others who may be exposed to the risk and arrange to get it remedied as soon as possible.


| Safetyline Index |

| Safety Services | | Facilities Management Directorate |


This information has been provided by b.a.coddington@sheffield.ac.uk,
The University of Sheffield