Catherine Mee, Author at Chris Mee Group | CMSE
18
Aug

The Dangers of Confined Spaces

By Alan O’Donovan and Jake Bumpus, Safety Engineering Consultants at CMSE Consultancy

Entry into confined spaces continues to be a cause of death and serious injury worldwide today. As an example, according to a recent Irish government press release, there have been nine deaths in confined spaces on Irish farms in the last five years.

A confined space can be described as “Any place, vessel, tank, container, vat, silo, hopper, pit, bund, trench, pipe, sewer, flue, well, chamber, compartment, cellar, or other similar space which, by virtue of its enclosed nature creates conditions which gives rise to a likelihood of accident, harm or injury of such nature as to require emergency action”.

In Ireland, the following legislation refers to the entry into confined spaces:

These regulations are supported by various Codes of Practice published by the Health and Safety Authority:

One of the main risks associated with confined space entry is hazardous atmospheres. The main hazardous atmospheres include:

  • Hydrogen Sulphide H2S (Highly toxic and explosive)
  • Methane CH4 (Explosive)
  • Carbon Monoxide CO (Toxic)
  • Low/High Oxygen levels O2

Before entry into a confined space a detailed written entry permit and work procedure must be completed. This is followed by initial monitoring of the atmosphere of the confined space, which must continue at regular intervals throughout the work. A safety zone must also be set up around the point of entry to ensure there is no restricted access throughout the duration of the work.

A person may not enter a confined space unless there is a suitable and sufficient emergency rescue plan in place. An interesting fact to consider is that three out of every five people killed in confined space accidents are the rescuers. Factors that directly correlate to deaths involved in confined spaces include inadequate training, inexperience, ignored permit conditions, inadequate rescue techniques and that the person didn’t follow procedures. Areas where confined space fatalities have occurred are shown in the pie chart below where tanks, utilities, and sewers make up the vast majority of hazardous areas.

 


CMSE Consultancy specialists provide practical solutions and advice to all our clients in all areas of Confined Spaces. Our team work to legislative requirements and benchmark against industry best practice.

Read more about our Confined space entry services on our website. If you require further information or assistance please contact us via email at [email protected], by phone at 021 497 8100 or start an instant chat with us via the chat box in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.

12
Aug

How and Why would I consider becoming a Contractor?

One question that pops up a lot when talking to candidates about contracting roles is “How and Why would I consider becoming a Contractor?”  

Contracting is a fantastic opportunity for you to take control of your career. We’ve been placing Contractors in roles since 2004. Since then, there are a number of benefits that our Contractors have shared with our team. These include; 

  1. Greater flexibility: Contracting offers you great flexibility. You can move between companies more easily, and thus work on a greater variety of projects. This boosts your experience whilst allowing you better control over your work/life balance. 
  1. Higher pay rates: Contractors are often highly paid workers who will be assigned to a particular project for a fixed period, typically no longer than six months.  
  1. Tax: Contracting can also offer better tax and pension planning opportunities. Did you know that there are many “Allowable Deductions” such as Motoring, Professional Services, work spaces and more. Read more info here: 10 Important tax saving tips for contractors in Ireland (taxreturnplus.ie) 

 

These benefits sound good to you? But unsure of the process? It is actually a very simple process and comes with many benefits.  

The process can differ depending on a number of variable factors, but in general it would follow the following route; 

  • Step 1: Establish a Limited liability company. This will be needed for payment. We recommend using the services of an established contracting company or accountant for this purpose. 
  • Step 2: Choose one of CMSE Recruitment’s contracting roles.  (Check out todays live job openings here). Your limited company enters into a contract with Chris Mee Group to provide specific services to a third party, and then the limited company employs the contractor to perform these services in fulfilment of its contract. 
  • Step 3: At the end of each month, your limited company is paid for hours worked. You get paid through your limited company.  

While you can complete the process alone, for ease, we recommend using a reputable contracting agency. Your chosen agency can assist you with initial set up and paperwork, as well as looking after your monthly invoices.   

 


If you have any questions or queries about this process please feel free to contact me at [email protected] and to see what contracting roles we currently have open that might suit your preferences and career progression plan. 


Melissa joined the Chris Mee Group in June 2022 and will assist the CMSE Recruitment team based in Little Island, Cork. Melissa has over 15 years work experience. She graduated with a master’s degree in marketing practices and has acquired a bachelors degree in business, management and marketing. She’s a highly personable individual with a passion for delivering the very best to clients.

 

Contact Melissa

Tel: +353 21 497 8100

Email[email protected]

LinkedIn

Chris Mee Group
Euro Business Park, Little Island, Cork
021 497 8100
[email protected]

29
Jul

Recent Machinery Safety Prosecutions

By Alan O’Donovan and Jake Bumpus, Safety Engineering Consultants at CMSE Consultancy.

In Ireland and the UK, employers have a legal duty to ensure that any equipment or machinery provided for use in the workplace is safe to use. In Ireland, the relevant regulations are Chapter 2 Part 2 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007; the UK equivalent regulations being the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER).

The first priority of these regulations is to ensure that those having to use machinery at work can do so safely and without harm. When machinery incidents do occur, not only can people suffer serious and life-changing injuries, but there can also be serious reputational and financial impacts for the companies involved.  

Examples of cases where these employer duties were not adhered to and therefore led to catastrophic events are discussed below.

 

“Worker’s finger severed in sawmill accident”

On 20th March 2018, an employee of Truro Sawmills severed his index finger on his left hand when it got caught in moving parts to the rear of the machine he was operating. The employee wished to gain access to the rear of this machine to see if he could find an explanation as to why the saw had been cutting inaccurately. As he carried out this check the machine remained operational and his glove got caught in moving parts leading to the severing of his finger.

An investigation completed by the UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that the operator had not received adequate training to operate the machine safely and that access to the saw’s dangerous moving parts was not prevented by the use of a guard. The company was found guilty and fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of £15,594.

 

“Worker left paralyzed after hoist platform falls”

While working at a premise on School Lane, Seaforth, Liverpool, on the 9th January 2017, a worker suffered irreversible injuries when he plummeted from the third floor to ground floor after the hoist platform he was working in became undone from its attachments. It was found following an investigation from the HSE that the hoist had not been adequately inspected and maintained prior to the commencement of the job. A similar accident occurred at the buildings premise a year earlier on 25 January 2016 when a hoist carrying a worker plummeted to the ground floor once again, this time resulting in a broken heel bone for the worker.

The building owner pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court and was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment. The building owner had failed to provide proper maintenance for their work material, and they had issued equipment that was not fit for purpose as this particular hoist was not suitable for use with a platform to serve different levels without significant modification.

 

“Employee’s arm crushed in conveyor belt incident”

An employee of Bateman Ltd had their arm crushed in a conveyor belt while attempting to repair a conveyor belt at their site. The employee was attempting to realign the belt when his arm was drawn into the mechanism. The employee had received inadequate training for dealing with breakdowns and maintenance, and there were insufficient safeguards surrounding the conveyor belt.

Bateman Skips Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 in the UK and was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,205.

 

An important conclusion from the above case studies is the severe repercussions which can arise, both for the affected employee in terms of serious and life-changing injuries, but also for the employer if they do not ensure their work equipment is safe to use by all. Penalties such as jail time and fines can greatly damage an employer’s business and reputation.

The risk of machinery safety incidents occurring can be drastically reduced if all machinery is subject to a robust machinery safety risk assessment by a competent person, and any risk reduction measures identified are promptly implemented. 

 


CMSE Consultancy is a leading provider of Machinery Safety Support to many clients nationally and internationally. Our specialists provide practical advice, training, and machinery solutions to support your particular needs. Our team work to legislative requirements and benchmark against industry best practice.

Read more about our Machinery Safety services on our website. CMSE Training, part of Chris Mee Group also deliver IOSH accredited Machinery Safety training.

 

 


Sources:

https://press.hse.gov.uk/2021/12/13/sawmill-fined-after-workers-finger-is-severed-in-machinery/

https://press.hse.gov.uk/2022/07/15/building-owner-jailed-after-worker-left-paralysed/

https://press.hse.gov.uk/2022/04/26/skip-hire-company-fined-after-employees-arm-was-crushed-in-a-conveyor-belt/

21
Jul

How Leaders can promote worker well-being through Psychological Safety

This week our CMSE Safety Consultant Aisling Hegarty outlines the benefits of promoting Psychological Safety in the workplace.

American Professor, Social Scientist and Author Brené Brown explains that in order for leaders to be successful in their role they should have the vulnerability and courage to be there for people, even in times of fear and uncertainty. In her book Daring Greatly she says. “Daring leaders work to make sure people can be themselves and feel a sense of belonging.”

For a long time, workplace safety considered only the physical and chemical hazards as the key risks to employees. For example, manual handling, slip, fall or trip hazards, noise, industrial chemicals. However, the increasing awareness of addressing the psychosocial factors (i.e. bullying, workload and stress) in the workplace focused the spotlight further on the area of Psychological Safety. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many uncertainties and changes, both in peoples’ personal and professional life. It has changed the way people work, so much so, a Work Life Balance Bill has been submitted to the Irish Government which recognises the importance of balancing life’s responsibilities with work responsibilities.

This blog piece outlines what leaders need to do in order to integrate psychological safety in the workplace and discuss the benefits of becoming ‘daring leaders’.

What exactly is psychological safety?

The term ‘Psychological Safety’ was first coined by Professor Amy Edmondson. She describes the term ‘team psychological safety’ as “a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking”. It acknowledges the importance of the work – team with a view that their shared humanity and respect for one another are important contributors. In addition to connection and engagement, vulnerability in the workplace is a driver for building a successful leader. When leaders and employees feel exposed to their failings and mistakes, they tend to place blame on others rather than taking accountability and responsibility for their actions. However, by admitting their faults and speaking honestly and openly they can inevitably build trust and respect among employees.

In her research Professor Edmondson found that interpersonal trust and respect are vital components in psychological safety. Leaders may also be exposed to vulnerability by admitting to their own uncertainties or by simply saying to an employee ‘I do not have the answer’. There is also a stigma around the sharing of emotions and personal issues as this may render them weak or unable to do their work competently. However, in psychological safety vulnerability should be rewarded rather than scorned. It allows for that necessary engagement, transparency and promotes overall performance within the workforce.

In the below diagram, Professor Edmondson describes her own 2×2 matrix for how psychological safety relates to performance standards in the workplace:

Figure 1: How psychological safety relates to performance standards. Source: Amy Edmondson, Twitter https://twitter.com/AmyCEdmondson/status/1508803800756277257?s=20&t=PnbJbo4qOy_M6Usa4b7FmQ

To integrate psychological safety into the workplace, leaders will need to observe their overall safety management framework and make the necessary changes to adapt their ways. There are four key stages recommended for creating psychological safety in the workplace. These include; Inclusion Safety; Learner Safety; Contributor Safety and Challenger Safety:

 


Figure 2: What is Psychological Safety? Source: LeaderFactor

To help them navigate through these different stages leaders will need to practice and cultivate the following attitudes;

  • building of meaningful connections with the work team;
  • be prepared to become vulnerable;
  • be transparent;
  • actively listen to their employees;
  • have the capacity for empathy.

Stages in creating psychological safety in the workplace:

  1. Inclusion Safety. This stage is concerned with connection and a sense of belonging. As previously discussed, a sense of belonging promotes authenticity in the individual and respect in the workplace
  2. Learner Safety. The second stage in generating psychological safety and discusses the importance of continuously growing and learning in the workplace. This may be simply asking questions, giving and receiving feedback, and allowing for mistakes to happen
  3. Contributor Safety. This is an earned privilege, one that ensures the leader is secure and empathetic.
  4. Challenger Safety. This is the final stage of psychological safety, and as described by Timonthy Clarke, founder and CEO of LeaderFactor, it is about allowing Leaders to “challenge the status quo”. The leader must promote innovation and cultivate a more formidable safety culture and management system. Leaders are the people that set an example in the workplace and influence the behaviours of their workforce. They must take a step further to ensure workers feel involved, engaged, worthy and innovative.

What are the beneficial outcomes of psychological safety?

The first benefit is creating that safe space for ‘Personal Learning’. Leaders can influence their workers to speak up, ask the tough questions and be transparent within their team. The next benefit for leaders is ‘Risk Management’. The Risk Management standard ISO 31000:2018 describes the standard as to “..create and protect value in organisations by managing risks, making decisions, setting and achieving objectives and improving performance”. Considering this definition of risk management, it is about dealing with and discussing risks in the workplace thoroughly and skilfully in order to appropriately manage them. ‘Innovation’ is the third benefit and allows workers to brainstorm, talk about new ideas on how certain tasks can be improved upon and overall creating engagement within the work-team. The final benefit is ‘Job Satisfaction’. When leaders create a work environment that promotes psychological safety they will feel more included, appreciated and more confident in their ability to perform their role within the organisation.

Psychological safety has been regarded as a human need and thus leaders are being asked to ensure this human need is being met. Experts in Leadership training believe leaders need to be the ‘architect’ in order to bring about this change in the safety management structure. Leaders can generate a culture of psychological safety and integrate it within their overall safety management system, however they must first cultivate bravery and dare to take the lead.

 


13
Jul

Occupational Noise Risk Assessment

 

Written by CMSE Consultant Aisling Hegarty

Exposure to high levels of noise, either continuously or suddenly, such as loud bang from equipment, can have a number of physiological and psychological effects on workers including stress, tinnitus. Permanent loss of hearing can occur if workers are exposed to high noise levels over long periods of time. It is imperative employers ensure Occupational Noise Assessments are being conducted

What does the legislation cover on noise in the workplace?

Under Chapter 1 Part 5 (Control of Noise at Work) of the General Application Regulations 2007, it sets out the obligations of employers to protect employees from excessive noise levels. The regulation specifies two noise Action Levels and they are as follows:

  • Lower Action Level 80 dB(A) LEX,8h and 135 dB(C) Lpeak
  • Upper Action Level 85 dB(A) LEX,8h and 137 dB(C) Lpeak

The regulations also introduce an “Exposure Limit Value” as follows:

  • Exposure Limit Values 87 dB(A) LEX,8 and 140 dB(C) Lpeak

When employees are likely to be exposed to noise at work above the lower exposure action value, an employer is obliged to carry out a detailed Noise Risk Assessment, completed by a competent person.

What is involved in a noise risk assessment?

A Noise Risk Assessment will identify and assess the risks poised by noise in your workplace and environment in accordance with all current Irish noise legislation and current best practice. Below are typical steps to be carried out for a noise risk assessment within a factory setting:

  1. Ensure to obtain the appropriate competency and knowledge for carrying out the noise risk assessment. Ensure to source competent advice from persons when making a decision on control measures.
  2. Ensure the assessment considers the Action & Limit Values under the General Application Regulations 2007 Chapter 1 — Control of Noise at Work. Under the regulations it states “..when applying the exposure limit values referred to in paragraph (1)(a) in determining an employee’s effective exposure, shall take account of the attenuation provided by individual hearing protectors worn by the employee..”. This shall also be considered in the assessment.
  3. Identify the sources of noise in the factory. The assessment shall be carried out in areas where the noise level is potentially above 80 dBA.
  4. Obtain measurements using a Sound Level Meter (SLM). Ensure the sound meter is a Class 1 (precision meter). A personal noise dosimeters can also be used for assessing noise exposure.
  5. The meter shall be calibrated before and after the measurements are taken. The measurement parameters used during the noise risk assessment shall be:
  • “A-weighted” – equivalent continuous sound level (LAeq)
  • “C-weighted” – peak sound pressure (Lcpeak) level.
  • ‘Dose’ is due to noise intensity & duration and is measured using LEX,8h.
  1. Working patterns and activities of personnel shall be taken into consideration during the assessment.
  2. A record of results shall be tabulated and will include:
    • Location/area of measurement
    • Measured noise level (dB) – LAeq and Lcpeak
    • Maximum Exposure Time to Reach Action Levels – LEX,8h.
  3. Where action levels and limit values are being breached, applying the Hierarchy of Controls (HOC) should be considered to reduce the exposure.
  4. According to the HOC, examples of controls measures include:
    • Elimination – if possible eliminate the noise completely.
    • Engineering controls – use of sound dampening systems or materials to reduce the noise. Set up a “buy quiet” approach (i.e. lower noise equipment) when purchasing new or upgraded plant machinery (OHTA, 2009).
    • Administrative Controls – Use of signage Warning Signage.
    • PPE – Use of hearing protection such as ear defenders and ear plugs.
  5. Ensure to review the assessment on an annual basis.

It also important to note where any changes, for example, changes to employees, shift patterns, hours of work, machinery used or other operational issues, you will need to redo your Noise Risk Assessments. Overall, the employer must establish and implement a programme of technical and organisational measures to reduce exposure.


CMSE Consultancy provides independent professional and practical advice on your duties under these regulations. Our Occupational and Environmental Noise Assessment services include:

  • Comprehensive noise surveys (occupational and environmental monitoring)
  • Comprehensive noise report with key recommendations
  • Noise consultancy to ensure legislative compliance
  • Noise awareness training

For more information on Noise Assessments, please click here or contact the CMSE Consultancy Team via [email protected]