News
for the month of April, 2012

RIDDOR changes came into force

2nd of April 2012

From 6 April, employers no longer have to report to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) injuries which keep workers off normal duties for seven or fewer days. Currently injuries have to be reported if they keep workers off normal duties for more than three days.

Incidents which will no longer have to be reported include:

• A chef who nicked their hand cutting an onion and needed to give the wound four days to heal before resuming kitchen duties.

• A shop assistant who, after getting scratch cards from a safe closed the door on their finger, had to take the next four days off while swelling went down.

• An office worker who trapped their finger in toilet door frame. They were told by the hospital following X-rays that it was bruised and not broken and returned to work after five days.

The change to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995 will see a fall of around 30 per cent in the number of incidents that must be reported by law – an average of around 30,000 fewer reports a year. The move is estimated to save businesses 10,000 hours a year.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said:

“These changes are all about bringing common sense back to health and safety.

“We want less red tape for business, and these measures should save companies thousands of hours a year.

“We are freeing them from the burdens of unnecessary bureaucracy, while making sure serious incidents are properly investigated.”

Employers will also be given a longer period in which to report, increasing from 10 to15 days from the time of the incident.

By increasing the reporting threshold from three to seven days, the change will also align with the ‘fit note’ system which ensures that someone who is off work because they suffered a reportable injury has a professional medical assessment.

Employers and others with responsibilities under RIDDOR must still keep a record of all over three day injuries, for example through an accident book, but will only have to report to the HSE those incidents resulting in more than seven days off work.

The change to RIDDOR was recommended in the Government commissioned Common Sense.

Source: HSE info line

Cook chicken livers ‘thoroughly’

2nd of April 2012

The Food Standards Agency is reminding people to cook chicken livers thoroughly to reduce food poisoning risk.
Research carried out by the University of Aberdeen found that 81% of chicken livers purchased from supermarkets and butchers contained campylobacter, the most common food-poisoning bug.
The study, funded by the FSA in Scotland, found a 35% increase in cases of campylobacter infection since 2005. In 2010, 14 outbreaks
of the bug in the UK were associated with consumers eating chicken or duck liver paté.
To kill any bacteria, chicken livers should be cooked thoroughly until there is no pinkness left in the centre. This is the only way of ensuring they will be safe to eat.
The Agency is working closely with the UK poultry industry and retailers to reduce levels of campylobacter in UK-produced poultry.

More than 200 local authorities have joined the FHRS

3rd of April 2012

Over the past few days a number of local authorities in Warwickshire and other areas in England have rolled out the Agency’s Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. This means there are now more than 200 local authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland publishing more than 180,000 food hygiene ratings at food.gov.uk/ratings.

These are the local authorities that have recently joined the FHRS:

  • Coventry City Council
  • Harrogate Borough Council
  • Nuneaton and Bedworth Council
  • Rugby Borough Council
  • South Holland District Council
  • Torridge District Council
  • Warwick District Council

Other local authorities will be rolling out the scheme over the next few weeks and months.

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme helps you choose where to eat out or shop for food by giving you information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, pubs, cafés, takeaways, hotels and other places you eat, as well as in supermarkets and other food shops.

More

Food inspector shows what not to do

4th of April 2012

As a council food hygiene inspector, Nigel Shire is normally clamping down on bad habits in the kitchen.

But at the weekend, he swapped roles and acted the part of a highly dodgy chef to highlight the food safety risks for people cooking their own meals.

B&NES Council official Nigel joined two professional actors in a lively piece of street theatre organised by the authority to help stop people getting food poisoning.

The Disaster Chef performances in the SouthGate centre were designed to spread the message among shoppers in a fun way.

Nigel played an incompetent cook who did everything wrong, such as wiping his hands on his apron instead of washing them, dropping ingredients on the floor and ignoring the danger of contamination even when he cuts himself.

Nigel, a chef himself for 25 years before retraining as a food hygiene inspector, said: “I felt nervous before the show but it was great fun. When you see these mistakes being made in the kitchen for real though, as I do, it can get quite frightening.”

Between performances, passers-by were invited to take part in a food safety quiz and test their hand-washing methods.

The council’s food safety team also set up a fridge, cooker, sink and work surface in the street to reinforce the essential rules of food hygiene.

Principal environmental health officer Kelvin Pearce said: “Most people who suffer food poisoning immediately think it’s down to the last takeaway or meal out they had, but in truth a very high proportion of cases can be due to mistakes at home.

“Our goal for this event was to give people the information they need to store, prepare and cook food safely, thereby cutting cases of food poisoning in the home.”

The event was part of Safe at Home

This is Bath

Tanker driver reveals extent of safety problems of ‘chaotic’ fuel industry

5th of April 2012

A tanker driver has painted a picture of an industry in danger of descending into chaos, with corners being cut on vital training and safety measures.

Writing for leading blog, Left Foot Forward, Tony, a driver with 18 years’ experience, reveals how the downward pressure to cut costs is having a dangerous impact on a strategically vital industry. Tony has changed his name to avoid targetting by bosses.

He tells of:

• Cut throat operators driving down pay – and cutting corners on training

• Agency workers being brought in with only two days’ training

• One contract for a major retailer requiring only one day’s training before a tanker can be taken out on the road

• Mistakes being made by under-trained drivers resulting in contaminated fuel in forecourts

• Vehicles repaired so often drivers liken them to `Meccano’ sets

• Unmanned forecourts where drivers are told to unload dangerous fuel alone

• Drivers being told to risk their own safety by approaching the public if they present a danger to the fuel, with reports of assaults on drivers as a result

• Greater numbers of low-cost operators entering the market, pushing standards down still further and the industry further towards ‘chaos’

• Drivers on six month short-term contracts even though the fuel contract may be for three to five years.

The issues raised by Tony echo what his union, Unite, has been saying, which is that the sector needs minimum standards to protect good practice and avert a downwards drift to instability.

Tony writes: “My working day starts at two in the morning. For the next twelve hours, I am in charge of 38,000 litres of fuel.

“I’ve been doing this job for 18 years, and in that time I can only say things have never been worse. Direct employment has ended, and standards have been stretched all the way down the supply chain.

“The market rules. There are no minimum standards governing what the industry should do. It is ripe for attack by cowboy operators who hire and fire drivers, paying them £8-£9 per hour for a job they know ought to be paid £15 per hour.

“Some colleagues are now on six month contracts. You try getting a mortgage or a rental agreement on that. It puts terrible strain on family life – you can’t plan anything when you don’t know if you can count on a pay cheque.”

Tony also tells of compromises on training, which he believes could impact on the public: “A good contractor will provide 10-12 days training each year. But industry fragmentation has pushed this down and down. Now we’ve got guys loading trucks not knowing what product is what. ‘Which one is unleaded?’ I’ve been asked by someone about to take £50,000 worth of flammable liquid onto a public highway.

“One low cost driver had only just been trained the day before. Another company brought in agency staff, with only two days training. Two loads were contaminated, one on a supermarket forecourt. The retailer was not happy – and neither were customers who were putting the wrong fuel in their tanks. How can it be that you can enter the market without a fully trained workforce? It is unsafe and irresponsible – but it is what happens when there is nothing to stop training being cut to the bone.

“Tanker drivers are told to `watch the general public’, to challenge people if they’re smoking, or using a mobile phone, whatever the personal risk. One driver asked a guy to stop smoking near the petrol pumps and was assaulted for his troubles – he had to have two weeks off as a result.”

Unite has warned the government of these developments, and can point to correspondence stretching back two years detailing its concerns. The union is calling for training to be standardised – and for the oil industry and retailers to accept their responsibility to ensure that contractors can uphold the minimum standards.

Diana Holland, Unite assistant general secretary, said: “The message throughout the industry has to be that every link in the chain has a duty to uphold minimum standards.

“It is irresponsible for the clients – be they oil industry or the retailers – to set the sort of contracts that cause cost-cutting and create instability.

“This is a strategically vital industry and all players have a duty to work with us on urgently needed stability measures to support the decent employers who uphold standards. If not, vicious cost-cutting will bring chaos to this industry.”

Full Story

GUIDANCE ON SETTING UP A FOOD STALL DURING THE OLYMPICS

5th of April 2012

The Food Standards Agency is reminding anyone who is considering setting up a stall selling refreshments during the Olympics to plan ahead. To help, the Agency has produced guidance answering the most frequently asked questions.
http://www.food.gov.uk/news/newsarchive/2012/mar/olympicsstalls

Chancellor signals major reforms to health & safety regulation

8th of April 2012

In this year’s Budget the Chancellor announced plans to either scrap or improve 84% of health & safety regulation.

The announcement goes significantly further than the Government’s response to the Lofstedt review last year in which it promised to reduce health & safety regulation by half.

The proposed changes will take into account recommendations made in last year’s Red Tape Challenge which appealed for suggestions as to how health & safety regulation could be improved.

Analysing whether the changes will be good for business and practitioners, Chris Green, Partner in the Regulatory team at national law firm Weightmans LLP coments:

“As ever the success of the announced plans will depend on the (as yet missing) detail. It is presently unknown what regulations will be affected. At first glance, following on from the Government’s response to the Lofstedt Report, it is likely that many of the regulations the government proposes to remove completely are, in reality, archaic and rarely used – the key laws and newer regulations directly affecting employers look set to remain intact for the most part.

“The overall intention of the government is to reduce the burden on business and employers, both in a civil and criminal context. The aim is to tackle the public perception of overzealous safety regulation or disproportionate enforcement of unduly onerous restrictions. But it is unlikely that these proposals will have any fundamental impact beyond some legislative housekeeping or the adjudication of civil claims– good on paper, but I doubt in practice we will notice any difference in the long term as regards the operation of health & safety within businesses.

“What’s important to remember is that this is not a relaxation of health and safety, and nor should it be. Where employee safety is concerned, it should certainly be business as usual.”

More

Pennington criticises review delay

9th of April 2012

Consumer Focus Wales (CFW) has called on the Welsh Government to publish a long-awaited review of food law enforcement commissioned in the wake of the 2005 E. coli outbreak.

In its third report on progress made following the Pennington inquiry, CFW said Wales was ‘still ahead of the game’ compared to other UK countries but warned that a review by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) had been delayed by a year.

CFW head of policy Liz Withers said there had been ‘great strides’ taken by the Welsh Government to improve food safety.

She added: ‘But we are disappointed that a year on from our last report, the FSA food law enforcement review, commissioned by the Welsh Government, has yet to be published.

‘It is 12 months overdue – this simply isn’t good enough for consumers in Wales.’

Professor Pennington told EHN: ‘Like Consumer Focus Wales, I am disappointed. However, better that things are done properly, than not at all. My biggest worry after the publication of my report was that it would be warmly received, but then join all the other inquiry reports on the library shelves.

‘I know that local authorities in Wales have done a lot, but CFW has been a very good advocate for the consumer. I hope that it survives the “bonfire of the quangos”.’

Full Story

Inspections ‘burden firms’

10th of April 2012

Small businesses ‘weighed down with inspections’ will be able to register their views in an online consultation, the government has announced.

Vince Cable, business secretary, said ‘inconsistent, inappropriate or overlapping enforcement’ was costing businesses time and money.

‘Focus on Enforcement gives all businesses, but especially smaller and medium sized firms that often feel the disproportionate weight of inspection and compliance, the chance to make a real difference to the way regulators visit, inspect and advise business and enforce the law,’ he said.

Focus on Enforcement follows on from the Red Tape Challenge.

‘The government knows that ill thought-out regulations cost businesses time and money – which is why it devised the Red Tape Challenge. But sometimes the regulations are fine, it is inconsistent, inappropriate or overlapping enforcement that is the problem,’ explained Mr Cable.

However most of the contributions on the food manufacturing section of Focus on Enforcement website appear to favour tougher enforcement.

One contributor, Ian Moore, said the recent BBC Food Inspectors series highlights the disregard many food businesses display ‘for the rules’.

Another referred to as ‘HACCP Checker’ argues for more regular inspections: ‘Businesses expect to get an annual food hygiene inspection, and when this is moved to 18 months or 24 months, standards often fall, especially documentation of HACCP which tends to stop once Safer Food Better Business pages run out or the food business operator goes on holiday.’

Lesley said the government should ask enforcers rather businesses, as they know ‘what is found during inspections and why comprehensive inspections are needed’.

Full Story

Olympic EHO squad announced

11th of April 2012

The Food Standards Agency has set up a voluntary team of EHOs to help co-ordinate an increase in inspections and food sampling during the 2012 Olympic Games.

Ten EHOs from around the UK were chosen to act as ‘ambassadors for food safety’ and represent the work of environmental health staff as part of the FSA’s Play It Safe campaign to raise food safety awareness this summer.

The team will liaise with the media over food safety during the games.

Initiatives carried out under the campaign’s banner include a food safety coaching programme for small businesses in need of improvement, funding and training initiatives for local authorities and providing extra equipment for sampling and checks on cleaning.

Sarah Appleby, head of enforcement and local authority delivery at the FSA, said: ‘It will be an exceptionally busy time for many food businesses, and we’re providing extra support and advice to make sure they’re well prepared to meet the challenge.’

Food Safety Squad member Ben Milligan, an EHO at Tower Hamlets, said: ‘From my regular conversations with food businesses around East London I know the Games are seen as a real opportunity in terms of business and profits.

‘At the same time, having to serve more people than normal can create situations that don’t arise under normal circumstances, such as the need to produce and store lots of food in advance.’

The Food Safety Squad:

Ben Milligan – EHO, Tower Hamlets
Sara Quinn – EHO, Westminster
Andrew Bradley – team manager, Merton
Suzanne Whittaker – senior EHO, Trafford Metropolitan Council
Rhian Carter – senior EHO & port health officer, Cardiff Council
Nicola Wallis – food safety officer, Coventry City Council
Xenia Jacques – EHO, Coventry City Council
Paula Davis – team manager – food safety, Newcastle City Council
Kaye Rowe – EHO, Newcastle City Council
Aimee Cartwright – principal public protection officer/chartered EHO, Portsmouth City Council

Full Story

Selby food firms to be rated on hygiene

12th of April 2012

A NEW scheme to improve food safety and hygiene in Selby will be launched this month.

The National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (NFHRS), rates food retailers and logs them online. It also issues certificates rated from zero stars (urgent improvement necessary), to five stars (very good), which should be displayed in the restaurant, cafe, shop or pub’s door or window.

The scheme is already used by more than 160 local authorities around the country, and has been put in place by Access Selby, the arm’s-length organisation which works on behalf of Selby District Council. The move has been supported by the Food Standards Agency.

More...

Cleaning firm fined over porter's death at Bolton hospital

12th of April 2012

A national cleaning company has been fined £175,000 after a hospital porter was killed by an industrial waste compactor in Bolton.

The industrial waste compactor which caused Peter Bonomy’s death.

Peter Bonomy’s neck was broken when the lid on the large metal container slammed down on him at the Royal Bolton Hospital in Farnworth in 2006.

His employer, ISS Mediclean Ltd, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the company had allowed porters to load the waste compactor in an unsafe manner.

Manchester Crown Court heard the 58-year-old from Little Lever in Bolton had been collecting waste cardboard from around the hospital on Sunday 8 October 2006. He was found by a colleague with his head and arms under the lid of one of the compactors.

The HSE investigation concluded that the most likely explanation for Mr Bonomy’s death was that he leaned against a lever while leaning over the waste compactor, causing the lid to snap down.

The manufacturer’s recommendations for the compactor stated that it should be loaded from the front, away from the controls, but the court was told it was standard practice for porters to load it from the side.

Mr Bonomy, who was a keen fisherman and member of the Little Lever Conservative Club, had been employed by the company since July 2005. He had recently returned to work after taking time off to nurse his wife through terminal cancer before her death.

Tony Slade, one of Peter’s closest friends, said:

“Peter was a friend of mine for over 15 years. After his wife died, he came on holiday with me and typically volunteered to do some repairs in the apartment that my wife and I own in Spain.

“He was a quiet, unassuming man. Members at the local Conservative club still refer to where he used to sit as ‘Peter’s chair’, and he is remembered with cheerful affection.

“His friends will take consolation if his death spurs companies to ensure that such incidents do not happen again.”

ISS Mediclean Ltd, part of the ISS group which employs more than 43,500 people around the world, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 after failing to provide a safe system of work for its employees.

The company, of Albert Drive in Woking, Surrey, was fined £175,000 and ordered to pay £42,000 in prosecution costs on 30 March 2012.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Rose Leese-Weller, said:

“This is a tragic case which led to the death of man who had only returned to work just over a year earlier following his wife’s death from cancer.

“Peter Bonomy’s employer, ISS Mediclean, should have done more to make sure he and his colleagues were using the waste compactors safely. The lids snapped down instantly when the levers were operated so he had no chance of getting out of the way.

“The industrial waste compactors clearly had the potential to put lives in danger so the company should have carried out a proper risk assessment to make sure its employees stayed safe.”

Health expert warns of dog fouling dangers

14th of April 2012

As part of our month-long campaign to encourage pet owners to ‘scoop the poop’, the Evening Mail is publishing a series of articles looking at the impacts of dog fouling.
As well as the aesthetic benefits of having clean pavements, Doctor Nigel Calvert, NHS Cumbria’s associate director of public health, says picking up dog dirt can have a positive impact on our health.
Toxocariasis is a rare infection caused by roundworm parasites, which is spread from animals to humans via their infected faeces. Although rare, if the condition is left untreated, it can lead to blindness.
Dr Calvert said picking up after your dog and practicing good hand hygiene is the best form of prevention.
He said: “The toxocara worms live in the dog’s gut and the eggs pass out in the faeces, so it can pose a risk to humans. It is rare, but potentially quite serious.
“Dog mess carries all sorts of bacteria in general, things like Campylobacter which causes upset tummies.
“You generally need to have direct contact with the faeces to contract anything.
“Kids seem to be more prone because they’re less aware of hygiene practices and wash their hands a bit less than adults do.
“But the root cause of it is the dog poo being there in the first place. The way to tackle it is to get people to clear it up.
“We would also encourage good hand hygiene.”
South Lakes youngster Elisabeth Willoughby knows all too well the dangers of toxocariasis. The eight-year-old has a damaged right eye after contracting the infection as a baby.
Mum Becky Willoughby said she first noticed a problem when Elisabeth, a pupil at Staveley Primary School, failed an eye test at school.
After being referred to hospital for further tests, the optometric consultant recognised the signs straight away.
Mrs Willoughby said: “My daughter has got off lightly, only having a damaged eye, but some children have gone blind. The doctors think either I passed it on to her when I was pregnant or she has picked it up when she was a tiny tot and crawling.
“She’s always had damaged eyesight, so she didn’t know there was a problem. She just automatically adjusted to the fact that one of her eyes was damaged.
“If you cover her left eye, to read an eye chart for example, she turns her head sideways because if she looks at it straight on her vision is blurred in her right eye.
“At the minute there is no way of fixing it. The back of her eyeball is scarred by the passage of the worm as it has wiggled across.”

More...

Nestle fined £180,000 after safety failures led to worker's death

15th of April 2012

A Halifax man was killed at a Nestle factory in the town because the company failed to implement basic safety measures.

Father of three Nazar Hussain died at food giant Nestle’s Albion Mill plant in Bailey Hall Road in December 2008 after a colleague re-started a conveyor-type machine, known as a depalletiser, unaware that Mr Hussain was inside.

During the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution, the court heard that Mr Hussain, 55, of Pear Street, may have gone into the depalletiser to remove a blockage as earlier in the day some large sweet tins had jammed the machine, causing the alarm to sound.

Later that day, the machine’s alarm sounded again and Mr Hussain’s co-worker, who had been covering his break, went to investigate. Being a large machine, he walked around it to check no one was inside. Seeing no one he re-started it but immediately it shuddered, stopped and the alarm re-sounded.

Mr Hussain’s crouched body was discovered inside the machine. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The HSE investigation found that a safety key device to halt the machine was available but Nestle failed to ensure its employees were aware of its purpose and how to use it correctly.

HSE said the company’s safety breaches were compounded by the fact Nestle had received written advice about improving guarding on a palletiser back in 2002 but had not applied that advice to the machine operated by Mr Hussain.

Nestle UK Ltd, of St George’s House, Croydon, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. They were fined £180,000 and ordered to pay £41,826.33 in costs.

Mr Hussain’s daughter, Sameena, spoke of her family’s loss in a victim impact statement to court. She said:

“The death of my father came as a complete shock and my mother has been left in pieces by his death. She grieves to this day and still asks questions as to how and why it happened.

“My father was well thought of in the community and helped his family and friends. Not only did he provide for the immediate family, but also his mother and family in Pakistan.

“Our lives have undergone a complete change, and for that we blame Nestle for not having the proper fail-safes in place to stop something like this occurring.”

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Jackie Ferguson said:

“This was a terrible tragedy that could have been so easily avoided. Nestle failed to ensure robust systems were in place to control safe entry into the depalletiser and prevent the machine being re-started whilst someone was in the danger zone.

“A family has been left without a father and a provider due to Nestle’s inexcusable negligence. If anything positive is to come out of this terrible incident it is that other firms take note.

“Companies should be aware HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall so far below the required standards.”

There were five deaths and more than 550 major injuries in the manufacturing sector in Yorkshire & the Humber according to the latest 2010/11 HSE statistics. A further 1,900 less severe injuries were also recorded.

In the last five years there have been 44 serious accidents, including a previous fatality, and two dangerous occurrences involving palletisers and depalletisers, six of which resulted in prosecution.

Sainsburys fined £6000 for having food chewed by mice on sale

28th of April 2012

The supermarket chain was convicted at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Friday for breaking food safety laws at their Craigleith store in the capital.

A surprise visit was made by environmental health officers in February last year after an anonymous tip off

Officers found packaging of crisps, rice and nuts had been nibbled by rodents at the store which had reopened in October 2010 after a £9m refurbishment.

Contractors spent only £3000 to pest proof the supermarket which Sainsburys’ defence lawyer described as “grossly inadequate”.

On Friday Sainsburys pleaded guilty to two charges of contravening food safety regulations in February 2011 and two other charges were dropped.

One of these charges was that mice droppings and trails of mice urine had allegedly been discovered on shelves inside the store.

Bruce MacRosson depute procurator fiscal told the court about the visit made by council officials on February 10, 2011. He said: “They found that there were two bags of Sainsburys own brand salted cashew nuts had been gnawed on by mice.

“They also found two packets of rice that had been gnawed on by mice. And they also discovered a multi pack of quavers that been tampered with by the mice.”

The court also heard that Sainsburys staff then destroyed all food stuffs that could have came into contact with the mice. They also shut off the aisles where the poisoned food stuffs had been discovered.

Sheriff Paul Arthurson QC imposed a £6,000 financial penalty on Sainsburys. He said: “In light of what has been said by the prosecution and the mitigation offered on behalf of Sainsburys, I will impose a financial penalty.”

Full Story