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Norfolk NR4 6AN
a. Health and Safety at Work articles click on the links below (in this column)....
|b. Click Here to go down the page for Food Hygiene and Safety articles|
|1. March 2012; HSE Propose Fees For Intervention||April 2012; New Eurpoean Food labelling Regulations announced|
|2. April 2012; Asbestos Regulations Replaced||March 2012; Allergen information "Mythbuster" quiz|
|3. April 2012; changes to Accident Reporting ("RIDDOR")||March 2012; Meat Plant Audits published|
HSE are poised to introduce FFI in April 2012. This means that if you get a visit from a HSE inspector, and they feel the need to take any action after their visit, they will charge you for this further action.
April, you say? That's the plan. HSE have had dry runs with this, and have their internal systems nearly sorted. The Parliamentary Order hasn't been signed yet, but the Minister wants it to happen....fait accompli? Perhaps. It's not a 100% certainty yet, but it is more than likely to happen.
When can HSE charge? When the inspector finds a "material breach" of the law. Our comment; how many times do inspectors find nothing to say....? As ex-inspectors ourselves, we know that it will be rarely, if ever.
What's a "material breach?" Anything that the inspector believes warrants anything from an advisory letter upwards, not just enforcement notices and prosecution investigations. Our comment; if you have a visit, ask the inspector to review their findings before they leave, make some detailed written notes, make sure you understand the requirements to justify the avoidance of any further communication from the HSE.
OK, so how much? £124.00 per hour. This figure has been drawn up according to Treasury rules. An advisory letter is likely to take a couple of hours. If the HSE have to investigate a serious accident, it could be days or weeks of inspector time. The investigation into the tragic accident at Claxtons in Great Yarmouth, in January 2011 (leading to four fatalities) has been a near-full time job for one inspector. They will invoice the business (monthly), and sell the debt to a debt recovery agency. Expect no mercy there, then.
Is there any appeal? Yes. A panel has been set up to handle appeals; this Independent Regulatory Challenge Panel is outside the judiciary and Employment Tribunal systems. Its purpose is to quickly and cheaply identify erroneous and over-the-top advice (not formal enforcement action such as Improvement/Prohibition Notices; this will stay with Tribunals). The panel is now open for business, taking cases retrospectively from June 2011.
Will this affect my business? That depends on who enforces the law on your business. The HSE share enforcement with local councils' Environmental Health Departments. FFI is not being rolled out to the Councils........YET. The majority of businesses (retail, wholesale, leisure, catering, etc) are enforced by Environmental Health. Affected businesses from April will mainly be construction, manufacturing, transport, offshore, agriculture, quarries, docks, fairgrounds, schools, some health care, education, and any "remote work" away from your normal work place.
Is there any good news? Well, the HSE are required to have a good reason to visit you in the first place. It looks like they'll be concentrating on sector specific initiatives, complaints and accident investigations more than routine inspections.
Why is this being introduced now? The HSE have a 35% budget cut imposed on them. This was seen as the least worst option to maintain some kind of enforcement. It's deeply unpopular within the HSE, as it undermines several aspects of their work, such as friendly advice, and the good working relationships many of our clients have with their inspectors.
The Control of Asbestos 2006 Regulations have been replaced in their entirety, as of 6th April 2012. Mostly, this improves references, etc but does introduce a new third category of work with asbestos. Previously we had "Licenseable" and "Non-Licenseable" work, the differnece beig fairly self-explanatory. The third category sits in the middle, being non-licensable, but notifiable. Click HERE for a factsheet to help you understand the differences!
Background. RIDDOR require certain work-related injuries, diseases and "near-misses" to be reported to the Health and Safety Executive. One category of reportable injury to an employee is an "Over three day" injury, which must be reported within 10 days of the third day of incapacity.
What Do I Need To Do?
If you have information in your Safety Policy, on a notice-board or work instruction regarding accident reporting, we advise you to make sure this is updated. It would also be wise to pass this information on to whoever is responsible for keeping your accident book and making reports to the HSE.
This little series of questions is a great tea-break quiz; test the accuracy of your knowledge on allergens. Click here to go to the NHS web page with the quiz. I must admit I got one wrong...
The EU has enacted a new food labelling regulation, which will apply to member states. It will soon replace our existing Food Labelling Regulations 1996. The purpose is to consolidate and harmonise regulation across Europe. It may not mean dramatic changes for many, as our 1996 Regulations were fairly comprehensive. Most of it will come into force by December 2014, giving a transitional period. A new requirement for Nutrition labelling will become mandatory in 2016. Consequently we advise manufacturers to start considering this now, as equipment/supplies may need to be planned. A summary of the EU requirements can be found here but does include some interesting things for the first time such as declarations of water content for meat, if added water exceeds 5% (delegates on our Level 4 Food Safety courses will know how investigative journalist Alex Riley hilariously demonstrates this, with several buckets of water and a pair of waders)
The law not only requires all food businesses to demonstrate where supplies have come from, but also that raw material foodstuffs are not contaminated. So, we normally ensure raw material comes from a reputable source. The FSA has helpfully published their audits of all Meat Plants (slaughterhouses, cutting plants, etc, which are approved as such by the FSA). All of our meat will arise from an approved slaughterhouse or approved wholesaler (if they are a "cutting plant"). So, we advise you to look at the list, available here, to have a look at the audit report for your suppliers. NB it's a locked Excel spreadsheet, so I haven't figured how to sort the rows A-Z to find all the Norfok entries; any Excel boffins can let us know. You can, however, still search for names. Meat plant operators; if you aren't already aware of this information being available, you are now.