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David Thomas  
#1 Posted : 09 February 2019 09:31:26(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
David Thomas

A close friend works for a local authority who shall be nameless. She works in a 6m x 6m post/print room with 5 others and 3 big printers. There are workstations as well. There is one internal stable door to an internal fire corridor which can be left open but there is no ventilation. There is no deep cleaning and there’s is a film of dust , i assume residual toner. In summer temperature is up to 40 C. Staff have sore throats and struggle to breath, my friend I believe is now sensitised to the dust being created as she now has to use a brown inhaler. The health and safety manager - nebosh diploma qualified, just talks about risk assessment and doesn’t understand that the workplace regs are absolute , I.e. need for cleaning, wholesome air, ventilation. They used to keep an outside door open but their manager has told them they must keep it locked for security reasons. My friend has continual service and should not have to leave. Are there any experts regarding use of such equipment etc., and ventilation needed . I believe we are looking at breaches of section 2 of the H and S at work act and multiple breaches of workplace regs. It also raises questions about the competency of our profession as when someone with a nebosh diploma isn’t prepared to intervene then I just wonder why bother. Happy to open up a thread.....any friendly no win now fee lawyers here.....
peter gotch  
#2 Posted : 09 February 2019 13:11:49(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
peter gotch

David 

Even if there was a friendly No win, No fee lawyer here I doubt that they would take on the case without a LOT more detail.

Lots of other avenues including a complaint to the HSE (which could be anonymous - either completely or made on the basis that the complainant doesn't want their identify given to the HSE - though with so few people it might be relatively easy for the LA to guess)

If an LA working environment, there is probably trade union representation which might well be a more productive avenue.

But beware of treating the Workplace Regs as setting absolute requirements, Most are subject to considerations of what is reasonably practicable. Same would apply to any health risks under COSHH.

David Thomas  
#3 Posted : 09 February 2019 14:41:35(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
David Thomas

Thanks for that - unfortunately I cannot give much more information. My understanding - unless there is case law otherwise is that the workplace regs are absolute - you cannot fail to provide toilets for example ? I was speaking tongue in cheek. The room is in effect sealed and there is no window to open - I do have contacts in HSE and am hoping the organisations processes can deal with this internally. I am curious as to whether any other people have come across similar issues. This is a classic example of risk transfer, and a local EHO said contact the HSE - my worry is I don’t want my council tax paid in FFI. Thanks again
Elfin Davy 09  
#4 Posted : 11 February 2019 09:16:34(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Elfin Davy 09

Your friend should ask to see a copy of the risk assessment for the work area/activity.  If they then disagree with the findings, raise the matter officially with the Health and Safety Manager.  If that doesn't resolve the issue, raise a grievance with HR (is there no Trade Union ?).  Without seeing the work area I couldn't comment on ventilation/extraction arrangements, but by going through official channels in a formal attempt to resolve they'd be in a much better position to protect themselves (both from a health point of view and to win a case IF they were ever forced to leave). 

David Thomas  
#5 Posted : 11 February 2019 12:18:50(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
David Thomas

Thanks No ventilation arrangements, previous compromise we to leave a fully insulated double door open but the manager has instructed for security reasons that it must remain closed irrespective of consequences. Friend is not in trade union..... but there are staff reps. Interesting that in rest of building which is mainly offices and in meeting rooms there is air handling..
A Kurdziel  
#6 Posted : 11 February 2019 13:59:52(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
A Kurdziel

There is a record of Crown Censure, rather than a criminal prosecution as the Civil Service has Crown Immunity but the principles are the same. The case is Crown Censure 18: HM Revenue & Customs, dated 22/10/2007. Breaches are of Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, regulation 7 (1) and the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, Section 33(1) (c). The particulars are that HMRC were served an Improvement Notice and they failed to comply with it and were then served with the Crown Censure for “Non-compliance with Crown Improvement Notice issued as a result of failure to provide reasonable thermal comfort because ventilation air provided was neither efficiently monitored, nor conditioned, to maintain it between recommended levels of 40% to 70% relative humidity and, that as a consequence of this, and draughts, employees felt cold.”

 If the tax people can get action for being too cold so then your friend can get action for being too hot...

Alfasev  
#7 Posted : 11 February 2019 15:25:08(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Alfasev

I am guessing but they are confident that they can show compliance to Work place regs but I would challenge the risk assessment.

It sounds bit like “Sick building syndrome”.  This is a forgotten term now as building design has moved on but the HSE has still has  hsg132 “How to deal with sick building syndrome (SBS)” guidance. There some good stuff in it to challenge them with.

David Thomas  
#8 Posted : 11 February 2019 16:52:22(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
David Thomas

Many thanks for the helpful advice
nic168  
#9 Posted : 12 February 2019 12:13:49(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
nic168

David, there may be factors you and your friend are not aware of- I work for a nameless LA ( not that one) and my role is to provide Advice and Guidance to managers who actually make the decisions. It could well be that the safety advisor is in a similar posistion or knowing there is a problem and pushing for action, but not having the authority or resources to enact a change.

It is also possible that the Safety officer is not their safety officer- its all to do with Landlords and Lodgers

Prior to the creation of the post I am in they used consultants on a part time basis, there is a huge blind spot on the subject of Occupational Health and an obseesion with "doing Risk assessments" every year ( moost are rubbish) I don't know how much of this is down to lack of consistent safety A&G over the last few years or lack of understanding by managers of their responsibilities. I do know that resources are a huge problem for all LA.

Sorry for such a log post, what I am trying to say is that it may not be as straightforward as it seems to address the problem, it may be politically advisable to get an independant assessment or review of assessments done.

David Thomas  
#10 Posted : 12 February 2019 12:41:42(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
David Thomas

Hi nic, thanks for that. The LA is the landlord and the H and S Manager internal. I fully agree with the management of ill health and work factors - as an academic who is trying to carry out more research in this area I am of the opinion that employers need to raise their game.... our profession should be Degree based - ok I would say that - with ficus not on memorising legislation but understanding how work affects health.
stevie40  
#11 Posted : 12 February 2019 12:45:15(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
stevie40

Workplace exposure limits for general dust. 

Also a very tight WEL for Carbon Black that is found in a lot of laser / photocopier toner systems. 

So COSHH is another avenue to explore. 

David Thomas  
#12 Posted : 12 February 2019 13:05:15(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
David Thomas

Thanks Stevie.. yes leads us to https://oem.bmj.com/content/58/8/496 How many H&S managers have access to peer reviewed journals. I will be presenting on NTTL at Chiltern Branch meeting Thursday week so may well raise it. If the H&S manager is in the room I wonder if they would make comment...?
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