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26
Nov

Importance of Safety Leadership in the time of COVID-19

Leadership in COVID-19 time is more important than ever!

While it was unusual to attend the Health and Safety Review Conference online this year, we certainly agreed strongly with the central theme of the event this year – safety leadership is more important than ever.  The event theme focused on the challenges of working during the current pandemic and how it is essential for leaders within an organisation to maintain a positive safety culture. These are indeed strange times for many organisations. Many employees continue to work under infection prevention regimes, while many others work from home, physically isolated from the normal workplace environment and their colleagues. We should not forget people in certain more affected sectors who are concerned about their future as employers face continuing commercial uncertainty.

During the conference Neil Lenehan, HSQE Manager for Irish Water, delivered a presentation on implementing an effective H&S strategy, and provided an insight into the Irish Water journey in safety and the importance of vision, strategy and leadership during the COVID-19 era. Irish Water’s ‘Work Safe Home Safe’ framework is based on 5 key pillars to building a safety culture within an organisation:

  1. Leadership and safety culture
  2. Safe workplaces
  3. Safe ways of working
  4. Safe delivery partners
  5. Health and wellbeing

These pillars facilitated the organisation to navigate through their COVID-19 journey and the obstacles of the new homeworking situation. When Neil was asked by a participant how an organisation can ensure people will continue to be motivated when working from home, he outlined how an employee’s mental health as the leading concern. He recommended engagement with workers through increased social contact, and not just to discuss work but to simply ask your employees “how are you?”.  

This simple message certainly resonated with us in relation to our own team, who like many have effectively been working from home since early March. While large organisations can have teams, plans and programmes to address safety, mental health and well being for employees, it is key for leaders at all levels, and in organisations and teams of all sizes, to do the small, simple things that will make a difference. This can be as simple as a regular call from a team lead to have a chat and see how things are going and listen to the employee’s concerns. Across organisations there will be a wide range of home circumstances in which employees find themselves. Homeworking for a prolonged period can lead to a sense of isolation or loneliness in employees. There is mounting evidence that there is a drop in the mental and physical health of employees as a whole from prolonged home working.

A duty of care of exists on employers to ensure their employees’ ‘place of work’ is safe and suitable. A good approach to monitoring an employees’ health and safety at home is through a homeworking assessment. The assessment considers both the working environment and work equipment. It examines posture and behaviours to mitigate musculoskeletal discomfort and strain. Employees appreciate the assessments, and it is a clear statement that an employer wants to ensure employees are comfortable and well setup for working at home.

Leadership is about setting people up for success. Employees need the physical tools for effective and productive home working, but they also need an environment that is supportive, where leaders display empathy and where there are supports available when required. Engaging with employees, ensuring that the remote working situation is not negatively impacting their health and wellbeing is a proactive and positive step in the duty of care for employees – it will reap due reward.

During these uncertain times, communication, engagement, and visual commitment in safety leadership is more important than ever. We are working with employers to provide support for their employees in this COVID-19 era and you would like to talk about safety leadership, homeworking assessments or ergonomic programmes please contact the CMSE Consultancy team.

Chat to us instantly by clicking the chat box in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. Alternatively, you can click here to email [email protected]


You may also be interested in:

  • TOP 3 COVID-19 FAQs Read More
  • Chemical Agents Risk Assessments Read More
  • The Ergonomic Hazard of Prolonged Postures Read More
  • Machinery Safety Update from Aisling Hegarty, Health & Safety Consultant Read More
25
Nov

Explosion Safety – Summary of Legal Requirements

Gary Horgan (CMSE Consultancy Manager at the Chris Mee Group) and his team are outlining the path for companies to ensure they are compliant with Part 8 “Explosive Atmospheres at Places of Work” of the Health, Safety & Welfare at Work (General Applications) Regulation 2007 in a series of focussed blogs.

This is Blog number 3 in the series.


In the latest of our series of process safety blogs which are taking you through the process of developing an Explosion Protection Document, we will be looking at the key legal requirements relating to explosion safety in Ireland.

As mentioned briefly in our previous blog, the legal requirements for dealing with explosive atmospheres primarily derives from two European directives:

  • ATEX Directive 2014/34/EU, or “ATEX Equipment Directive”, is concerned with products that may be supplied for use in potentially explosive atmospheres. The directive is transposed into Irish legislation by SI No 230 of 2017 European Union (Equipment and Protective Systems for use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres) Regulations 2017.
  • ATEX Directive 1999/92/EC, or “ATEX Workplace Directive” deals with the precautions to be taken in workplaces where explosive atmospheres might be present due to flammable dusts vapours or gases (or mixtures of these). This directive is transposed into Irish legislation by Part 8 of the Safety, Health & Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007.

The term “ATEX” is derived from the French “ATmosphères EXplosives”. Another acronym often encountered in explosion safety is DSEAR; this is an acronym used for the “Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations” which is the UK legislation which transposes the European ATEX Workplace Directive.

In this blog we will focus on the essential requirements arising from Part 8 of the Safety, Health & Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007.

Where and when do these Regulations apply?

In general, the Regulations apply at most workplaces where flammable substances are stored or used, for example, factories where flammable liquids are present or where flammable dusts are produced in the process. Examples include pharmaceutical manufacturing, chemical processing, LPG storage and filling, milk drying, and flour production.

Some specific types of workplace and equipment are excluded (such as appliances which burn gaseous fuels, and transport of dangerous goods) as these areas are covered by separate Directives and Regulations.

Key Requirements of the Regulations

What then are the key requirements of Part 8 of the Safety, Health & Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007? Overall, the Regulations set out the general requirements to manage fire and explosion risks, and impose some specific requirements, which are described below. Employers and the self-employed must:

  • Carry out a risk assessment of any work activities involving flammable substances.
  • Record the findings of the risk assessment in a document called the Explosion Protection Document.
  • Provide technical or organisational measures so as to reduce the risk of explosions (as set out in Schedule 2 of the Regulations)
  • Classify places (according to Schedule 1 of the Regulations) where explosive atmosphere may occur into zones and mark the zones where necessary.
  • Select and provide suitable equipment for use in the zones.
  • Equipment must be CE marked and in compliance with SI No 230 of 2017 European Union (Equipment and Protective Systems for use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres) Regulations 2017.
  • Provide training to workers who work in places where explosive atmospheres may occur.

In later blogs, we will examine each of these requirements in greater detail.

While the regulations set out the minimum legal requirements, CMSE Consultants continue to assist our clients to meet or exceed these requirements in a practical and pragmatic way. We draw on our experience working in a wide range of sectors and businesses, including Pharmaceuticals, Energy, Medical Devices and Food & Drink Manufacturing.


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.

16
Nov

Process Safety Blog – Preparing for an Explosion Protection Document

Gary Horgan (CMSE Consultancy Manager at the Chris Mee Group) and his team are outlining the path for companies to ensure they are compliant with Part 8 “Explosive Atmospheres at Places of Work” of the Health, Safety & Welfare at Work (General Applications) Regulation 2007 in a series of focussed blogs.

This is Blog number 2 in the series.


In our second process safety blog in this series, I want to talk about the type of information you need prior to preparing for the generation of an Explosion Protection Document (EPD), as required in Ireland under Part 8 “Explosive Atmospheres at Places of Work” of the Safety, Health & Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007. It is also fair to say that some clients are not aware of this regulation and the requirement for an EPD, and request us to complete an ATEX Report.

The word ATEX comes from the ATEX 137 Directive 99/92/EC, or ATEX Workplace Directive, which deals with the precautions to be taken in workplaces where explosive atmospheres might be present due to flammable dusts vapours or gases (or mixtures of these). This directive is transposed into Irish legislation as stated above or below in the UK.

In the UK, our clients request the equivalent DSEAR Report, coming for the Dangerous Substances Explosive Atmosphere Regulations 2002. The prepared Explosion Protection Document, ATEX Report or DSEAR Report often very similar in construction i.e. at a simple level it outlines how you manage your explosion hazards (gases, vapours or powders) at your facility.

It is important to note also that the requirement of an EPD is addition to any other Process Safety Reports and Legislation that may be applicable to your facility; Seveso III or COMAH i.e. dealing with potential Major Accident Hazards.

As a starting point, when CMSE Consultancy are appointed to prepare an Explosion Protection Document for a client, and prior to a site visit, we prepare a list of information we require to start the project. This information (non-exhaustive list) includes the following (Please note we will also cover these in greater detail in later blogs):

  • Overview of the company & activities (it is important to note that we are not just talking about manufacturing facilities, it could be warehousing, R & D, utilities, processing, fuel storage, petrol stations, energy generation, waste generation, process waste water treatment)
  • Are there any previous EPD, ATEX explosion safety reports available?
  • List of the potential flammable substances; gases, vapours & powders
  • Copy of relevant Safety Data Sheets (SDS) or Dust explosion testing reports
  • History of any explosion related incidents?
  • Process description in each potential area where flammable use is foreseen
  • Activities involving flammables (raw material, intermediate products, finished products) to consider including the receipt, storing, transporting, handling, processing from raw material in to finished product or hazardous waste.
  • Have you considered how you may end up with the formation of an explosive atmosphere i.e. normal operation, abnormal operation, maintenance, and emergencies?
  • Have you classified work areas into the likelihood of a potential explosion atmosphere existing?
  • Have you completed specific ignition risk assessments in potential flammable areas?
  • If a company already has a level of explosion safety compliance, what do you have in place in each potential classified area?
    • Basis of explosion safety controls – engineering
    • Basis of explosion safety controls – organisational
  • Do you have a schedule of Ex-rated equipment in your flammable areas?
  • What emergency procedures/ resources are in place to deal with potential flammable atmospheres?
  • What Preventative Maintenance Programs are in place?
  • What relevant standard operating procedures are in place?
  • What Permit to Work systems are in place?
  • What control of contractors procedures are in place?
  • What Explosion Safety Training was completed?
  • What type of Personal Protective Equipment is used?
  • Are potential flammable areas clearly indicated?

CMSE Consultancy  provide a professional Health, Process, Explosion & Fire Safety Services.

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.


Some useful references that may assist in gathering information on the explosion properties of dust/ powders include;

11
Nov

What’s your Carbon FOODPRINT?

Fact: Approximately 50% of all man-made emissions Worldwide come from livestock agriculture.

 

Right, so we’ve all heard about our carbon footprint, but did you know that the most impactful thing that most of us can do to reduce our emissions is to change our diet?

Let us explain!

Greenhouse gas emissions occur at all seven stages of the general food supply chain.

  1. Land Use Change
  2. Farm
  3. Animal Feed
  4. Processing
  5. Transport
  6. Retail
  7. Packaging
Fact: Food transportation only accounts for approximately 11% of the overall greenhouse emissions involved in food production. This drops to 0.5% of total emissions for beef!

 

The figures show per one kilo of each food how many miles you need to drive to produce the equivalent greenhouse gases.

We can see that meat, cheese and eggs have the highest carbon footprint while fruit, vegetables, beans and nuts have much lower carbon footprints.

With this in mind it makes sense that a move towards a mainly vegetarian diet, can have a large impact on your personal carbon footprint.

Fact: A third of the food that British and American households buy goes to waste.

If going vegan is too dramatic for you, here are some other ways you can reduce your Carbon Footprint

  1. Reduce animal based consumption. By cutting down on red meats such as beef and lamb you can reduce your Foodprint by a quarter!
  2. Bring back home-cooking. Meal planning and eating leftovers are great ways to reduce food waste.
  3. Cooking smartly. Simmering on a stove-top is the most efficient cooking method. Gas ovens use only 6% of their energy to cook and electric ovens use 12%.
  4. Eat Organic. Organic farming methods for both crops and animals have a much lower impact on the environment than mass production methods.
  5. Save water. Filter your tap water for drinking rather than consuming energy and water-intensive bottled water. Take a shower rather than a bath. Turn off the taps when brushing your teeth.
  6. Shop wisely – And local! A long list of ingredients generally means a product is heavily processed and thus has a high carbon footprint. In general, frozen food has the highest carbon footprint.
  7. Reuse and recycle. Say no to plastic bags and bring your own bags when shopping. Reusable glass jars and plastic containers make great storage options.
Fact: 19 kg of Greenhouse Gas is produced in the production of 1kg of Chocolate!

Carbon Action part of Chris Mee Group is a leading provider of Enivronmental Carbon Emissions Consultancy across Europe.  

Our consultants specialise in Carbon Measurement & Footprinting, Carbon Verification and Auditing, Carbon Trading support, ESOS, EU-ETS Support, GHG Permits and more.

Have a question? Send us an enquiry from the box to the right, Email us at [email protected] or call +44 207 397 8500 for a confidential discussion.


Sources & More info:

https://www.greeneatz.com/1/post/2013/04/earth-day-livestock-and-greenhouse-gas.html

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/visualising-the-greenhouse-gas-impact-of-each-food/

EWG Website: The Environmental Working Group is an American activist group that specializes in research and advocacy in the areas of agricultural subsidies, toxic chemicals, drinking water pollutants, and corporate accountability. EWG is a non profit organization.

10
Nov

Schools Fire Hazard Warning – Storage of Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitiser consumption and demand has increased since the outbreak of COVID-19 earlier this year. Schools throughout Ireland are installing sanitising means for school children and staff which is an incredibly positive step for hygiene and reducing the spread of the virus.

As schools introduce new requirements for the use of hand sanitisers there is a need to recognise the fire risk of storing large quantities of hand sanitisers. Antibacterial hand sanitisers are manufactured using alcohol. Pure alcohol has a flashpoint of 13 degrees C and sanitisers with concentrations of 78% alcohol have a flashpoint of 15 degrees Celsius which creates a serious fire hazard if storing the product in bulk within a school or premises.

The storage and use of hand sanitisers in schools must be controlled as with any flammable liquid. The Health & Safety Authority (HSA) recommends hand sanitizer containing ~70% Alcohol, would be classified as flammable so significant storage at a workplace would increase the fire risk and they should be stored in a cool place away from sources of ignition. Quantities above 10 litres should be stored in a fireproof cabinet, fire rated compartment or an area covered by an automatic sprinkler system.

Hand sanitizers containers (used for refilling purposes at stations) should not left unattended in areas where students have access, in staff room or electrical switch-rooms.

Flammable substances materials must not be stored near access/ egress routes, fire exits, electrical equipment (appliances) or heating equipment (boilers, electrical heaters etc.). They should be stored in a well-ventilated storage area away from any potential sources of ignition.

It is also important to note that hand sanitizer should have an integrated drip tray or a tray underneath to catch spillages and they should never be installed above carpet or flammable surfaces.

Please check of this short video prepared by Dublin Fire Brigade showing the invisible nature of alcohol-based flames/burning.

It is also important that care is taken when filling hand sanitizer dispenser, avoid the use of mobile phones or smoking. Spillages should be cleaned up immediately. If your clothes get contaminated, remove them immediately and wash. Wash your hands with water after contamination when refilling hand sanitizers.  Do not smoke and keep clear of naked flames after using hand sanitizers. 

The importance now of holding regular fire drills cannot be over-stressed and having staff trained in the use of basic fire extinguishers. In the area where bulk volumes of alcohol based hand sanitizers are stored you must ensure the correct type of fire extinguisher is available (AFFF- Foam Based or Dry Powder type).

It is important that your school carries out a Risk Assessment into the safe use, handling and storage of hand sanitizers in the school, college or workplace. CMSE Consultancy provide a professional Health, Safety & Fire Service.


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.

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