SAFETYLINE 13

H & S UPDATE JANUARY 2002- New Year issue

The South Yorkshire Fire Service has attended at least 9 incidents of malicious fire in rubbish skips and bins in and around the University areas in Sheffield. Innovation House (in Nov) and the Psychology Annexe (on 21st Dec) were fortunate to suffer only minor damage in attacks on those buildings. Move skips away from buildings over the Christmas period if at all possible, to minimise the risk of damage to buildings.

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Health and Safety training for Senior Managers starts this month as part of the "Headstart" programme developed by the Staff Development Unit. The afternoon course is intended to provide Heads of Departments with the minimum information relating to their legal and moral obligations on health and safety. In addition, the course will look at "contingency planning" issues within the framework developed recently. It is intended that this course will be run four times a year. Contact David Staniforth in SDU for further details.

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A couple of months ago I reported that a research student had been "sprayed" by concentrated acid when the dispensing probe fell from its holder on the Hamilton 530B dispensing unit he was using. I wrote to Fisher Scientific, from whom the unit was purchased, to ask them what they would do to improve the deficiencies in the design. They have replied indicating that they intend to do nothing to modify the dispensing unit, and were pleased to see the department had found an alternative system for dispensing acid – the fact that it does not involve using their £2500 dispensing unit, because of safety concerns, seems to have escaped them!

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The British Woodworking Federation has recently published two new Woodworking Machinery Safety Cards, carrying essential and easily understood information for those either using or responsible for maintaining the many different machines found in the modern joinery shop. More information can be found on www.bwf.org.uk

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A dental department was fortunate not to have had a serious fire just before Christmas. Flammable vapour diffused through the cap of a small bottle of flammable liquid in a domestic fridge and was ignited by the electrics. The small explosion blew open the door allowing the burning liquid bottle to fall out creating a pool of burning liquid in front of the fridge and covering the laboratory in black soot. The fire extinguished itself through lack of combustible materials close-by. Departments are urged to check their fridges, if they are not intrinsically safe, they must be clearly labelled "No flammable materials in this refrigerator".

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Part III of the University’s Health and Safety Code of Practice has now been updated on the Safety Services web pages. The procedures cover higher risk activities.

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On 7th December the Fire Service informed the University that a Section 10 Prohibition Notice was to be served due to deficiencies in the means of escape from the lecture theatre block in the Hicks Building. The situation now is unchanged from that which has existed for 40 years. Until 1999 the Fire Service were responsible for establishing the fire safety standards in the Hicks Building, and the University has complied fully with the requirements of Fire Certificates issued. The University has only been responsible for determining fire safety standards since 1999, and a fire risk assessment done in January 2001, had identified the deficiencies previously missed by the Fire Service, remedial work has been identified and funds made available to carry out this work in early 2002. The threat of a Section 10 Notice was unforeseen and was not as a result of inaction to a request by the Fire Service, but the management measures we implemented have forestalled the issue of the Notice, and I thank you all for your co-operation and understanding in this matter.


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This information has been provided by b.a.coddington@sheffield.ac.uk,
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