SAFETYLINE 6

HEALTH & SAFETY UPDATE JUNE 2001- The "Election" issue

 

Every year there are around 500 accidents involving electricity in businesses causing 200 non-fatal accidents and around 30 deaths. SAFed a safety assessment trade body has identified that one in three electrical installations have defects, and in many cases a simple routine involving the regular inspection of electrical installations could have prevented the majority of incidents. We have an inspection programme for installations in place, and for portable appliances, although the latter is behind programme. We can all play our part by visually checking our own electrical equipment, and reporting faults.

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Last week a fire at City University London seriously damaged the main administration block. This highlights that we must be vigilant to avoid fire risks and also that fire can destroy vital information. Please check around your department for fire hazards and also think how you can protect the vital information in your department.

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The HSE are inspecting our GM facilities in June in line with recent statements about targeting HE institutions. Their visit to Animal & Plant Sciences in March identified the University is complying fully with legal requirements and guidance in that area.

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Changes have been agreed by the University Health & Safety Committee to the Out of Hours policy to accommodate authorised visitors. This will be on the Web shortly. Guidance for those who work overseas will also be on the Web soon.

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Tensometers are used for stress testing of materials, both in engineering and medical fields. Some older models had a measurement system involving mercury manometers. I understand calibration engineers will not calibrate mercury models, but this equipment can be converted to a digital readout and removing the need for mercury at a cost of around 2000. Mercury models should not be used, as they tend to "spit" out the metal.

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In a recent small fire incident, a fire blanket was used to put out a fire caused by a metal hydride. The fire blanket put the fire out but was badly damaged in the process. Fire blankets are designed to extinguish clothing fires and burning liquid fires, but are not suitable for extinguishing chemical fires due to the high temperatures these can reach. Powder extinguishers or sand are preferred. If you have any doubts about what extinguishers to site in a laboratory speak to Safety Services.

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The University of East Anglia was fined 23,500 for breaching Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (for inadequate risk assessments) and Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (for putting the public and students at risk). A container (rated at 40 psi) for air samples for global warming research, was filled to a pressure in excess of 250 psi, and a pressure relief valve to limit the pressure to 250 psi was missing. The container was carried back to the University in a Landrover and subsequently exploded in a laboratory causing significant damage, although no one was injured. Further details available from Safety Services.

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The new fire detection and alarm system in the Arts Tower is far more sensitive than the previous system because of the additional detectors installed. Unfortunately this increases the risk of false fire alarms caused by cooking and toasting - as happened on 14th May.

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Product recall Boots Pain Therapy Intrasound Unit (code 38-08-920) due to defective casing on the adapter plug. Boots is recalling all units sold in 1999 and 2000 and they will be replaced, repaired or the purchase price refunded.


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