Safetyline 34

H & S UPDATE OCTOBER 2003

During our training courses, we are coming across staff and postgraduates that have not yet received their copy of the new version of the University’s Health and Safety Code of Practice. If you haven’t had your copy please ask your Departmental Safety Officer for one. We have sent copies to all departments requesting them, but the booklets have not all yet been given to every person who requires one in the department.

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Using a hand-held mobile phone while driving will be an offence from 1st December 2003. The new offence will be created by a regulation to be added to the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986. Under the new regulation offenders will be subject to a £30 fine, which can be increased to a maximum of £1000 if the matter goes to court, as well as three points on their licence. Hands-free phone calls will not be affected by the new rules but they are still a distraction for drivers and can increase the risk of accidents. Drivers should be aware that they can still risk prosecution for failing to have proper control of their vehicle, or for careless or even reckless driving, if the use of hands-free phones affects their driving ability.

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The IPCS INTOX database (a collaboration between CCOHS and the WHO’s International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS)) and is a source of information for chemical emergencies, and users can identify a substance, its toxicity, its likely clinical effects and appropriate treatment. The on-line version became live in July 2003 and can be found on www.intox.org .

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The Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) (England) Regulations 2001 were introduced in March 2002 and as of 1st September 2003 they cover oil storage in “high risk areas” i.e. within 10m of a watercourse or 50m of a well or borehole. Oil stores have to meet minimum standards to prevent pollution and the Regulations apply where oil is stored in containers of over 200 litres outside and above ground at industrial and commercial sites. All oils – with the exception of waste mineral oil – are covered by the Regulations including petrol, diesel and vegetable oils. Failure to comply with the Regulations can result in prosecution and a fine of up to £20,000.

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The European Industrial Gas Association has started a campaign throughout Europe on the growing dangers of suffocation in industry. There are about 20 fatal accidents annually throughout Europe in which inert gases play a part, the majority occur when workers enter a confined space with insufficient oxygen because of the increased level of inert gases such as nitrogen, argon, helium and carbon dioxide. These gases have no colour or smell and are therefore called “silent killers”.

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Safety Services will not be requesting revised information for the Emergency Contact Register held by Campus Control this October as in previous years, as much of the information was collected over the past 4 months. I do urge you to let us know if there are changes to Heads of Departments, Departmental Managers or Departmental Safety Officers in order that we can revise the information held by Campus Control as necessary.

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A listing of approved Maximum Exposure Limits, as issued annually by the Health & Safety Executive, is now available on the Safety Services web pages in the “Guidance” section.

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The HSE has recently issued guidance for their Field Operations staff on the use of Natural Rubber Latex (NRL) sensitisation in Healthcare. This follows an increase in the incidence of allergic reactions, including occupational asthma, attributed to NRL and the successful civil claim for damages in the Dugmore v Swansea NHS Trust [2002] by an employee who developed an allergy to NRL as a result of wearing NRL gloves. Inspectors are being asked to assess the management of NRL.

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In order to comply with Data Protection legislation requirements, please remove both copies of each accident report, send the blue copy to Safety Services (as before) and give the white but file the white copy in your filing system. This is to prevent anyone seeing what accidents other people have suffered.


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