Safer Sphere is delighted to reveal that we will be supporting Fairhursts Design Group on the Trebor Developments latest industrial build. The project will see the construction of 2 speculative industrial units at the Aero Centre in Yorkshire and Safer Sphere will be supporting the development through RIBA stages 1 – 4 in the role of Principal Designer Advisor. We look forward to seeing the development progress over the coming months.
Safer Sphere is pleased to announce that the business has appointed a new Director to assist Managing Director Mike Forsyth with the day to day running of the business.
Jonathan King formerly Head of Safety Management at WYG and Head of Project Safety at Edmond Shipway has been brought into the business to help with its growth strategy from our North West HQ, operating nationally across our three offices.
Jonathan has a wealth of experience in CDM and Construction Health and Safety having worked on projects ranging from £20m to £750m across the UK.
Jonathan said “I am delighted to be joining Safer Sphere, especially at such an exciting time. The business has seen growth year on year and what Mike and the team have achieved in this time has been exceptional. The company has started to get noticed not only in the industry but as a successful business which has been proven by the multiple award wins and nominations and by the key projects the business is working on. I am looking forward to working with Mike and the team and using my knowledge and experience from previous roles, I hope to help the business grow and further succeed.”
Mike Forsyth, Managing Director, Safer Sphere said “We are delighted to have Jonathan on board with us. He is an excellent fit for our business and brings with him the knowledge, experience as well as the skill set to help us achieve our growth and office expansion plans. Jonathan will not only be assisting me with the day to day running of the business but will also be hands-on to support our clients with discharging their CDM duties. We have seen a period of change and growth for the business from winning prestigious awards to implementing new systems. We are always striving for improvements as a business and for our clients and we want to ensure that we step up to mark as a leader in construction health and safety.”
Safer Sphere is delighted to have made it into the final of the St Helens Chamber Business Awards in the tough category of ‘Employer of the Year’. The St Helens Chamber Business Awards are a celebration of local business and the winners in category go forward to compete in the National Chamber Awards which is a massive opportunity.
Mike Forsyth, Managing Director, Safer Sphere said “We are absolutely thrilled to have made the final of the St Helens Chamber Business Awards in the competitive category of ‘Employer of the Year’. This category, in particular, means a lot to us as a business as it is our people that make our business and we want to keep and attract the best talent to so that we continue to grow. To win the employer of the year would not only be a great accolade for the company but would help us to gain the best talent for our business.”
The St Helens Chamber Business Awards takes place on Thursday 16th May at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
While many buildings that once contained asbestos have now been torn down or had the asbestos removed, this dangerous substance still silently kills approximately 5,000 workers each year. This alarming figure is higher than the number of people that are killed on UK roads each year.
Unfortunately, around 20 people die every week due to past asbestos exposure. However, the problem of asbestos is not confined to the past, it can still be present in any building that was built or any building that was refurbished before 2000.
Why is Asbestos Dangerous?
Asbestos is dangerous because it can cause hidden illness that may not appear for many years after someone has come into contact with it. This is why asbestos is known as “The Silent Killer”.
Exposure to asbestos can cause you to suffer from the following serious and fatal conditions:
Asbestos-related Lung Cancer
Asbestos-related lung cancer looks the same as lung cancer that has been caused by smoking and other behaviours/exposures. For every death that was caused by lung cancer, it is estimated that there is also one death from Mesothelioma.
Pleural thickening is a condition that can be caused by heavy asbestos exposure. The lining of the pleura (Lung) becomes thick and swells. If the condition is particularly bad the lung can be squeezed. This can result in a lot of discomfort and shortness of breath.
This is a type of cancer that affects the lungs’ lining. It also affects the lining surrounding the lower digestive tract. Mesothelioma is usually associated with exposure to asbestos and, unfortunately, by the time someone has received a diagnosis the condition has usually reached a fatal stage.
This condition is a serious one and sufferers often have serious scarring of their lungs. This condition is typically caused by heavy asbestos exposure over a number of years. Causing progressive shortness of breath, the condition can also be fatal.
Information on training
Employers should make sure that anyone who may disturb asbestos during their working day, or anyone who supervises the employees who may disturb asbestos gets the right training. They should have the knowledge and training that enables them to work in a safe and competent way without any risk to themselves or to other people. Safer Sphere can provide asbestos training.
The Types of Necessary Training
All workers and their supervisors should be able to recognise any materials that contain asbestos and know exactly what they should do if they come across them. There are 3 levels of information, instruction and training that workers and their supervisors need to be aware of:
Asbestos awareness – This is made up of information, training and instruction and gives workers and their supervisors the information they need so they can avoid disturbing asbestos.
Licensable work with asbestos – This is made up of those who are at a high risk of working with asbestos. Only managers and competent workers are provided with this information, training and instruction that includes using the right PPE.
Non-licensable work with asbestos – Those who need this type of information, training and instruction undertake work that requires them to disturb materials that contain asbestos. For example, drilling holes in asbestos, cleaning or repairing asbestos roofing or cement sheets.
A worker who attends a training course about asbestos will not ensure that they are competent enough. Workers must implement and consolidate the skills that have learned during their training, in their instruction and assessment and their on the job learning.
The level of information and the amount of training and instruction that a worker receives must be appropriate for the work that they do. A Training Needs Analysis (TNA) will help the workers and those training them identify the topics that need to be covered. This is to ensure that every worker is competent and can avoid putting themselves and those who they work with at risk.
How do I Identify Asbestos?
It’s not always easy to identify asbestos, however, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has an image gallery which depicts some common materials that contain asbestos. These images include but are not limited to:
- Asbestos fire blankets
- Suspended AIB ceiling tiles
- Pieces of AIB
- AIB window panelling
What do I do if I Potentially Find Asbestos During my Work?
If you unexpectedly come across asbestos or something that you think may be asbestos you should stop work right away. You will need to confirm what the material is or assume that it is asbestos. You will need to carry out a risk assessment that will help you determine whether you need a licensed contractor to carry out the work.
If you undertake non-licensed work on asbestos you should only do so if you have had the appropriate training, instruction, and information.
If I Have to Work With Asbestos is it the Responsibility of my Employer to give me Personal Protective Clothing (PPE)?
Yes, if it is likely that you will be exposed to asbestos your employers should provide you with all the personal protective clothing (PPE) you need. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has more information on the required PPE.
Do I Need a Certificate That Proves I’ve had Asbestos Training?
No, there is absolutely no legal requirement for you to have a certificate that shows you’ve had training. However, some training providers issue certificates that indicate that you’ve completed an asbestos training course.
You can read part two of this asbestos article here
Safer Sphere is delighted to have been shortlisted for the ‘Consultant’ of the year award at the North West Construction Safety Group Awards. The awards are a celebration of those who work in the construction sector and what they contribute. The awards ceremony takes place on the 15th March and the event is combined with the groups 40th-year celebration.
Multi-award winning Construction (Design and Management) Health & Safety specialists Safer Sphere, continue with their growth plans by opening a new office based in Reading.
The move comes off the back of an increase in project appointments and overall growth within the Southern region of the UK and follows the opening of the Liverpool office in May of last year.
The new office in Reading will be headed by the company’s latest hire Richard Procter, who has joined the business this month as Associate Director (South). The office will serve all Safer Sphere commissions in the southern region including London which is less than 30 minutes away.
Mike Forsyth, Managing Director, Safer Sphere said “We have seen an increase in demand for our services across the south region with many clients coming back to us for additional projects. We strategically expanded our offices to Liverpool last year so that we could be closer to our Liverpool projects and clients so, with the growing demand in London, South East & West, we decided that expanding our operation around the Southern region on a full-time basis makes sense. Richard is an experienced Construction Health and Safety professional with a vast amount of experience having previously worked at Capita and Carillion, providing a perfect fit for our business and to lead growth in the area. Once Richard has settled in the plans are to bring on board more experienced CDM Consultants from the local area and develop a highly competent southern team.”
Safer Sphere has appointed a new Associate Director to head up a brand-new southern regional office in Reading, as part of the business’s expansion plans.
Richard Procter formerly of Capita and Carilion will assist the business with its expansion plans in the Southern region and will be taking over numerous projects already secured in the area.
Richard has a wealth of experience in Construction Health and Safety having worked on projects such as Heathrow Airport and Southmead Hospital PFI with a project value of £430m.
Richard said “I am really excited to be joining Safer Sphere this year and to be heading up the Southern region. Safer Sphere is a leader in Construction Health and Safety and the CDM regulations which was demonstrated at the end of last when the company took home the award for ‘CDM Consultant of the Year 2018’ at the National Association for Project Safety (APS) awards. It is a really exciting time for the business, and I am looking forward to bringing my knowledge and experience to the role and helping achieve growth in the area.”
Mike Forsyth, Managing Director, Safer Sphere said “We are delighted to have Richard on board with us. He is an excellent fit for our business and brings with him the knowledge, experience and the skill set to help us achieve our growth plans, building on our current appointments in the South. Richard will be heading up our new Reading office so that he can be close to our current and future projects as well as be on hand to support our clients with discharging their CDM duties.”
The UK construction sector has a health and safety record that makes it one of the country’s most dangerous industries for workers, with injury and fatality rates that are above average as well as higher than normal rates of illness from work-related causes. Therefore, it is an area of increasing concern for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Competence has been a major part of the strategy used to improve the construction sector’s health and safety record. The term is directly referenced in the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM), whose success is largely dependant on ensuring that everyone involved at every stage of a construction project is competent.
However, the HSE’s proposals for a CDM revision has removed the mandatory requirement for individual competence in CDM 2015 and the CDM 2007 requirement for corporate competence. The CD261 consultation on replacement of the CDM regs from 2007 to 2015 has indicated that one of the main reasons for the proposed changes is to lower the difficulty of meeting the CDM 2007 competence requirements. For example, it cites the growth of commercial-based competency programmes and the excessive use of paperwork and other questionnaires.
A history of competence and legal definition
The definition of competence is a complicated matter and the law has been trying to accurately define it for some time. The present meaning included a combination of attributes, qualities, and characteristics.
Indicators of the legal meaning of competence can be found in some early health and safety cases. In one 1912 case, coal miners were poisoned when carbon monoxide escaped into the mine. The contemporary mining legislation required the manager and fireman to remove the workers until the incident had been investigated.
Although both men were well qualified, the House of Lords held that they did not have the necessary experience to navigate the situation and the owners of the mine were found liable.
It appears that being competent goes beyond possession of certain qualifications. It also addresses experience.
In another case, this one taking place in 1957, one employee who was well-known for playing jokes at work injured another employee. The employer was found liable on the premise that this person was not a competent employee, which under common law must be someone who behaves responsibly at work and has a positive attitude toward workplace health and safety.
Other cases make additional specifications, so it appears that there is no single universal definition of competence. It appears to depend on the processes, the circumstances, the amount of risk, and what parties are involved. It is also a standard that has to apply to companies as well as to people. Given all these variables, it is not surprising that the term ‘competence’ has created so much confusion in the construction industry.
CDM and Competence
- Under CDM 2007, “competent” individuals must be appointed to fulfil the various required roles. This also applies to companies. CDM requires all appointees to be competent, including:
- Primary contractors
- CDM co-ordinators
CDM 2007 is accompanied by the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP), which provides assistance and advice on the assessment of competence.
Under the ACOP, an individual or organisation is competent only when they have:
- Sufficient knowledge of the work to be done and the risks that the work entails
- Sufficient ability and experience with the duties involved with the project; can recognise their limitations, and take the right measures to prevent injury to construction workers and/or those impacted by the construction work
- Knowledge about the work they will be expected to carry out and the risks that this work may involve. Such knowledge may be acquired by formal or on-site training
- The right experience: workers are more apt to use safe practices if they understand why the practices are necessary and past experience is a good indicator of ability.
Under CDM 2015, the corporate competence requirement was removed and the direct requirement for individual competence included in CDM 2007 has been replaced with a new regulation 8, which states that anyone responsible for engaging a contractor for a construction project must take reasonable steps to ensure that the contractor has:
Received the required training, instruction, and information AND the appropriate supervision to meet applicable legal provisions and maintain the welfare, health, and safety of those impacted by the work. This requirement is comparatively simple and appears to be a far cry from the CDM 2007 requirements for competence. The new regulation 5 requires all projects to have management arrangements in place, and the HSE expects that the present explicit requirements for competence will be effectively replaced.
PAS 91 standardised pre-qualification questionnaires can be used to make proving competency easier for both suppliers and clients by reducing the need for suppliers to complete a variety of pre-qualification questionnaires for different clients. The result is a huge saving in time and money for both parties.
The standardised PQQ format PAS 91 helps to:
- Let suppliers know what information is required at pre-qualification
- Make it easier for buyers to identify contractors with suitable qualifications
- Improve the consistency between many pre-qualification databases and questionnaires
What are the implications?
The CDM 2015 approach to competency in construction is a much simpler approach. Its definition of competency as described in regulation 8 is based on the skills, knowledge and experience of contractors and the organisational ability of an organisation.
Regardless of these changes, everyone in the construction industry will have to demonstrate that everyone on site is competent. Not only is this a common law requirement, but it is also implied in legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work, Act, so the new principal designer will have to be proven to be competent.
Clients and other parties will have to ensure that they demonstrate competency to do the role they are engaged to do, that will pass the scrutiny of the courts. SKET cannot be randomly delivered: it must be assessed and will involve some cost and bureaucracy. For example, a training needs analysis may have to be performed. The HSE stance on competency training is that it may be accomplished using standards that are nationally agreed upon and criteria created by professional bodies.
CDM 2015 does not have an ACOP, but instead HSE produced the regulations accompanied by targeted guidance in the form of document L153, so it remains to be seen what this means for regulation 8.
SKET principles, PAS 91 pre qualified questionnaires and the guidance in document L153 are all now being used to help construction project participants achieve and demonstrate competence in construction in line with the CDM 2015 regulations.
Safer Sphere are able to advise on any aspect of CDM 2015.
The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations (CDM 2015) are the primary set of rules governing construction projects. It applies to all construction and building work and includes every type of project from new build and conversions to refurbishment and demolition.
Part of the law requires those in charge of construction projects to carry out operations without posing a danger to the public. This includes other workers who can potentially be affected by the construction work.
According to HSE inspector David Kirkpatrick, construction companies must make it a priority to secure their construction sites to prevent access by unauthorised parties. These sites can be full of hazards that vulnerable people such as children may not be able to fully understand.
Under CDM 2015, the project client should provide all necessary information about the following particulars:
- Site boundaries
- Usage of land bordering the construction site
- Site access
- Steps to prevent unauthorised parties from accessing the site
This information will guide the measures taken by contractors. Key issues that need to be addressed are:
- Managing access to the site
- Any hazards that could present a danger to the public
- Vulnerable groups that may be affected
All construction sites must have:
- Defined measures to manage access across designated boundaries and,
- Steps to prevent unauthorised people from gaining access to the work site
While there has been a decline in the numbers of children being injured or killed on construction sites, complacency must be avoided. Two or three children die every year after accessing building sites, and many more are seriously injured.
It’s not just children who are at risk but also other members of the public, such as passers-by, can be injured by:
- Tools or materials that fall outside the boundaries of the job site
- Tripping and falling into trenches
- Being hit by moving construction vehicles
For maximum efficacy, the pre-construction information from the client should include:
- All project boundaries
- Information about adjacent land use
- Access information
- Measures to keep unauthorised people out
To manage site access, the following are required.
To manage public risk, boundaries must be defined by suitable fencing. The fence type should be consistent with the type of site and the surroundings. Contractors need to determine what the perimetre will consist of, supply the fencing, and maintain it once erected.
Questions that contractors must ask themselves include:
- What is the type and nature of the construction work being performed
- How heavily populated is the area?
- Who will need to visit the site while work is being carried out?
- Will children be attracted to the site?
- What are the characteristics of the site? For example, location, proximity to other buildings, current site boundaries.
In populated areas, this will typically mean a mesh fence around two metres high or hoarding around the construction site.
The primary contractor must take adequate measures to prevent unauthorised parties from accessing the site.
- People may be restricted to certain areas or authorised to access the entire site.
- The contractor must explain applicable site rules to authorised parties and perform any required induction.
- They may have to accompany or supervise some authorised parties while on site or accessing certain areas.
Hazards that Present a Risk to the Public
Many construction site hazards present a risk to visitors and the general public. Contractors must consider if they exist on a certain project and, if so, how they will manage them.
- Falling objects: Objects must not be able to fall outside the site boundaries. Contractors may have to use brick guards, netting, toe-boards, fans, and covered walkways.
- Site vehicles. Contractors must ensure that pedestrians cannot be hit by vehicles entering or leaving the site.
- Access equipment. Measures must be taken to prevent people outside the site boundary from being hit while scaffolding and other access equipment is being erected, used, and dismantled.
- Stacking and storing materials. Reduce the risks associated with storing materials by storing them within the perimetre of the site, ideally in a secure location or away from the fencing.
- Excavations and openings. People can be hurt if they fall into excavati9ns, stairwells, and other open areas.
- Other hazards include road works, slips, trips, and falls in pedestrian areas, hazardous substances, plant equipment and machinery, dust, noise, and vibration, and energy sources such as electricity.
Children, the elderly, and people with certain disabilities may need special consideration, especially if work is being done in locations like hospitals and schools.
Children can be attracted to construction sites as potential play areas. Constractors must take all reasonable steps to keep them from accessing the site and endangering themselves.
The steps below are especially important for child safety:
- When work is finished for the day, secure the site thoroughly
- Cover or erect barriers around pits and excavations
- Immobilise vehicles and lock them away if possible
- Store building materials such as cement bags, manhole rings, and pipes so that they cannot tip or roll over
- Remove access ladders from scaffolds and excavations
- Make sure that all hazardous substances are locked away
Safer Sphere are able to advise on any aspect of CDM 2015.
The health and safety needs of a construction site can change from one year to the next, which is why audits need to be carried out on a regular basis.
This routine diligence helps to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of employees within an organisation by detecting areas where improvement is needed. It also ensures that construction companies remain compliant with their legal duties and responsibilities.
What is a health and safety audit?
A health and safety audit is an independent and methodical assessment of a construction site’s processes. The documented results are measured against mandated criteria to confirm that the site managers are upholding health and safety standards.
In general, a construction site audit will review factors like the following to ensure a safe environment for workers:
- Procedures involving hazardous materials
- Safe and proper use of equipment
- Presence of hazards such as exposed live wires, holes that have not been barricaded off, and debris in the work area
When you’ve been informed that your construction site is scheduled for an audit, here are some steps you can take to make it as conscientious and safe as possible. Although these processes should be in place and remain in place throughout the construction.
Post safety notices
Posting safety notices is required on all construction sites. This includes clearly identifying and marking all dangerous materials and hazards, from toxic chemicals to wet paint, so that there can be no mistake as to what they are. The single most common cause of accidents on construction sites is a failure to communicate.
Create clearly marked walkways that help site visitors and inspectors avoid hazardous work areas, such as places where falling debris might be a risk. By the same token, protect workers from accidentally interfering with and injuring each other by isolating all work areas that could overlap. You can do this by posting temporary barriers and caution tape where appropriate.
Have management tour the site
Arrange for company managers to carry informal safety inspections at a construction site to identify any areas that may need attention. This internal auditing team could include your company’s managing director and a senior level manager from your client’s firm.
New sets of eyes can spot problems that people who work on the site every day may miss. Any potential safety issues that come to light during these inspections must be acted on immediately.
Run PPE checks
All personnel on a construction site should be wearing the correct Personal Protective Equipment or PPE, and know where it is stored.
This equipment, which may include safety hats, protective glasses, steel-toed shoes or boots, and protective gloves, must be kept in a clean and dry place that is also easy to access.
Designated employees should inspect all PPE every week to confirm that it is being properly cleaned and maintained and that there are sufficient quantities of replacement items for any equipment that breaks. Record each check to create an inspection record.
Prepare site checklists
All construction vehicles on a job site should be checked on a regular basis by competent and qualified personnel. Engage a mechanic to carry out a planned maintenance programme that involves a thorough check of each vehicle and essential components like steering and braking systems. Certain equipment falls under LOLER (lifting equipment regulations) so is subject to specific testing at predefined intervals.
Complement this type of professional inspection by requiring each worker to inspect a vehicle before they climb into the driver’s seat or take up the wheel. This combination of professional and in-house inspections can turn up issues before they become major problems and reach the attention of H&S auditors.
Inspect equipment regularly
Plant facilities aren’t the only areas that need inspecting. On a construction site, have each worker check things like electrical equipment, lifting straps, and hand tools for defects or excessive signs of wear before use. For example, if a safety hat is cracked or the handle on a hammer is loose, someone could easily be hurt.
Carry out safety inspections
Arrange for the construction site project and/or safety inspector to carry out a more formal safety audit, accompanied by site workers if possible. These types of inspections could include steps such as safety spot checks, where inspecting one aspect of on-site safety can provide an idea of site-wide safety conditions.
These inspections accomplish a dual purpose: to identify areas of concern and demonstrate the commitment of senior management to the safety of all workers on the construction site. When properly conducted, they can enhance trust between workers and management.
For maximum efficiency, schedule these higher-profile inspections to support the informal management tours and to prepare in advance for independent safety audits.
Follow up in scheduled intervals
When these actions are collected into a workplace system, it ensures the safety and well-being of everyone working on a construction site. Your system should consider the following factors:
- How often an inspection should take place
- Who is responsible for scheduling them
- Who is responsible for carrying them out
- The abilities and qualifications of those carrying out the inspections
- What information is included on the checklists
- Any actions that will arise from these inspections
- Who is responsible for correcting any issues uncovered during the inspection
- The time frame for carrying out inspections
Each time a construction project begins, it’s worth compiling an audit schedule to ensure that all aspects of the work are being reviewed for safety and quality throughout the project duration as opposed to the same few areas that are traditionally targeted.
When you create your own system for a construction site health & safety audit, it ensures that any issues that develop on a job site never evolve into problems with catastrophic consequences. Construction contractors who don’t properly fulfill their obligations for on-site safety may risk significant penalties or loss of contracts. It also stands to reason that sites with poor safety conditions are dangerous to workers by causing them to risk injury or worse.
Safer Sphere are able to advise on any aspect of CDM 2015.