SAFETYLINE 31

H & S UPDATE JULY 2003

Plymouth University report that a series of malicious alarm activations in a Hall of Residence was eventually tracked to a resident following a co-ordinated response by the Police, Fire Service and the University. The student was eventually caught on camera setting off an alarm and charged with causing a false alarm under the Fire Services Act and of arson damage to a detector head. He was evicted from the Hall, prosecuted and ordered to pay a fine with costs amounting to £377.

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We are now surveying of all our buildings to determine the extent of asbestos containing materials in the structures and decoration as required by of the Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002. The survey will take around 15 months to complete. Any asbestos found will be assessed to determine its condition and whether it should be removed, or sealed and made safe in situ. All asbestos found in a poor condition, or which could become damaged as a result of future works will be removed. Estates Services will hold a full record of asbestos containing materials found and made safe.

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If the hot weather comes back, take care not to over-expose yourself to the sun. Use plenty of high factor sun creams on exposed skin, especially the back of the neck (and the top of the head for those of us who are follicly-challenged) which gets exposed and is difficult to cover.

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The HSE are issuing “Chemical Hazard Alert Notices” (CHANs) for substances for which the Occupational Exposure Standard has been withdrawn based on evidence that they may not be adequate to protect health. They give advice on health effects associated with exposure and good practice. A full set of CHANs can be found on http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/chindex.htm.

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HSE recently reported on four deaths relating to work in confined spaces within a four week period, two deaths occurred when workers entered a previously sealed steel tank, the low oxygen level being attributed to the process of rust formation within the vessel; one death was attributable to the use of a highly flammable liquid within a confined space and the fourth death was associated with the use of inert gas during a welding process. These highlight the need to ensure adequate ventilation and/or oxygen deficiency sensing systems to alert workers to low oxygen levels.

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The web based fire training is an externally designed package and although we have integrated it into the University’s web site we pay for its use. We do not have the means to redesign it for UNIX or Linux users. Apple Mackintosh users should be able to use it although we are having some technical problems at the moment with users using the Netscape browser. Standard PCs using the Internet Explorer browser appear to work satisfactorily. The results of the assessments do not appear on the web record on our web pages, as we have not been able to arrange for the transfer of the information from this package into our system yet. All Heads of Department have been sent a letter to let them know how to access the results for their department.

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Home computer owners - HSE warns that advice in computer magazines on installing electrostatic sensitive components is potentially dangerous. Magazines claim that to prevent damage to components from static electricity, owners should plug the computer into the mains, switch off power at the mains and earth themselves to the computer chassis with a conductive wrist strap. HSE state users could suffer a fatal electric shock if there is a fault in the computer power supply or if the plug is wired incorrectly, as the chassis could become live. HSE advice is to disconnect the computer and peripheral equipment from the mains, touch a metal radiator, water pipe or similar earthed object to discharge static electricity before working on the computer, and remove computer covers as necessary. Owners should also follow instructions on discharging static provided by the component manufacturer before unpacking the component and after installing new components, and replace computer covers before reconnection to mains power. Only authorised staff are to carry out such work on University equipment.

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Attendance at Fire Safety Lectures will be recorded by scanning U-Card barcodes from today. Please ensure you bring your U-Cards with you as failure to do so may result in your details not being added to the fire training attendance database.


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