Even if they aren't part of a trade, one of the first things people probably think about when they look at a building site is how safe it looks. Health and safety is always the top concern when it comes to building site work, and new statistics from the Health & Safe Executive show just how different things are in comparison with 40 years ago.

Their new document, titled 'Statistics on fatal injuries in the workplace in Great Britain 2014' suggests that the number of fatalities in Britain has dropped by 85% over the past 40 years, from more than 650 a year in 1974 to a record low of 133 today. The provisional data also states that there were a total of 42 fatal injuries to construction workers in the UK between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014, which is 9% lower than the average figure of 46.

Minister for State Health and Safety Mark Harper praised the findings, calling Britain "officially one of the safest places in Europe - and the world - to work". He also added: "While we all rightly curse false health and safety excuses, it's worth thinking how fortunate we are that we can go out to do a hard days' work, knowing our safety is being taken seriously."

HSE Chair Judith Hackitt also commented on the news, praising the Health and Safety at Work Act. "The Health and Safety at Work Act may be 40 years old but it – and our regulatory system – are world class."

Site safety may be better than ever, but construction workers looking to work onsite still now require a Green Labourers' Card to prove they are qualified to work and are familiar with the health and safety requirements. To earn this, applicants are first required to pass the Level 1 Health and Safety in a Construction Environment award. Here at Access Training we offer the City & Guilds version of this exam, which you can complete alongside your construction training or as an individual qualification. To find out more on the exam and the changes made the the Green Labourers' Card. give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

News via HVP Mag

Summer temperaturesIf the last few weeks have taught us anything, it's just how hot the British summer can get. This might be fantastic for when you're relaxing and sunbathing, but when you're working, things can get rather uncomfortable. On a construction site, it may be awfully tempting to strip down to keep cool, but this is a big risk to building site safety. Workplace equipment supplier Slingsby is urging workers to stay safe by continuing to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as hard hats and high visibility clothing.

These things should be provided by your employer under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations, to cover health and safety risks where they can't be controlled in other ways. Slingsby encourage employers to ensure that their workers aren't wearing uncomfortable or ill-fitting clothes, and to take the various brands and styles into account when purchasing the right PPE.

Building site safety always comes first, even more so with the HSE currently on a blitz of construction sites in the UK. While the final figures are yet to be confirmed, during a 2-week period of inspections the Health & Safety Executive is estimated to have stopped work on 13 occasions due to poor conditions. Obviously these were due to more serious conditions such as exposure to hazardous substances and materials, but not having the right precautions could still lead to fines.

If you're a construction employer, it is your duty to keep your workers safe; if you're a worker its your responsibility to abide by the building site safety rules for the sake of your own life.

If you're considering a career in the construction industry but require the skills and qualifications to make it happen, give Access Training Academies a call on 0800 345 7492. We provide intensive training courses complete with City & Guilds accreditation in bricklaying, plastering, tiling, carpentry, plumbing, gas, electric and more. Even though our courses are far shorter than those you'll find at a college or similar facility, the quality of learning we provide is no different as our courses are staffed by tutors with many years' experience in the industry as professionals. Whatever your needs or goals may be, our team is ready to find the perfect course for you!

While an electrician who's undergone a proper electrical training course and earned their qualifications would never make these kind of mistakes, unfortunately the industry is rife with unqualified individuals looking to make an easy bit of cash without any regard for their customer's safety (or even life). These cowboy builders commonly do poor electrical installation jobs, resulting in customers having to call out proper professionals to fix things.

New research from Trade Skills 4 U has found the most common jobs electricians are called out to do after a cowboy builder or naive DIY enthusiast has done a poor job of it. Many of these shouldn't be taken lightly, as they can easily cause electric shocks that could result in death. Potentially fatal mistakes including drilling through wiring, repairing electrical appliances while they are still switched on and even cutting through power leads.

With the most common jobs involving either light fittings (41%) and lighting circuits (29%), its no surprise that many naively believe they have the skills to complete such tasks without having done an electrical course. In fact, one fifth of the people sampled said that they will confidently attempt to install new lighting in their homes without any electrical training. One tenth said they'd do the same installing new wiring.

These might be simple jobs for an electrician to carry out, but for someone without the proper training they can be very dangerous. At the very minimum anyone attempting these sort of jobs should have the 17th Edition Wiring Regulations and Part P qualifications, both of which we offer courses for here at Access Training Academies. Shoddy electrical work could cost someone their life and it might not be yours - it could be your friends' or family members'. Ask yourself, is it really worth it?

To find out more about the electrician courses we offer at Access Training, give our advice team a call on 0800 345 7492.

Via DIY Week

There's more to being an electrician than simply completing your electrician training course. earning your qualifications and starting work. Another duty is to promote the safe use of electrical appliances and installations, much like the work of charity the Electrical Safety Council. Their latest campaign is calling for retailers and manufacturers to promote awareness after research found hair straighteners are being sold without additional safety devices or information on preventing burns.

Their investigation found that hair straightener burns among children have doubled in recent years, accounting for nearly one in ten burns. It also found that two thirds of parents are not taking the measures to store the appliances away safely. Hair straighteners can reach temperatures of up to 235°C, staying hot for around 15 minutes even after they have been switched off. Many incidents have been caused when toddlers touch, grab or even tread on the hot straightener plates. However it isn't just children who are at risk, as nearly half of all adults surveyed said they have received a burn from a hair appliance before.

However blame does not solely lie with the parents, as the ESC's mystery shoppers investigation also found that none of the high street and online retailers sampled encouraged customers to buy heat proof pouches alongside them. More alarmingly, while most manufactures provided basic safety information with their straighteners, only a third provided any sort of heat proof mat or pouch. Those that were tested varied greatly in quality - with some even smelting once heat was applied.

The ESC are now starting their own hard-hitting campaign to promote awareness and reduce burns among children and adults alike. The campaign, dubbed "Beauty Burns" has already created a powerful video to illustrate the effects of leaving these potentially dangerous appliances unattended around children. The charity will also be giving away free heat proof pouches in an attempt to encourage people to store their hair straighteners properly. To find out more about the campaign, visit its official page at www.esc.org.uk/beautyburns.

ESC spokesperson Emma Apter commented that it was "worrying" these products are being sold without retailers or manufacturers taking reasonable steps to promote safety. She added: "Hair straighteners can cause burns so serious that surgery is required, and children are at even more risk since their skin can be 15 times thinner than that of adults. Retailers and manufacturers must do more to protect their customers."

Fire service data indicates that over 20% of domestic fires are caused by electrical faults, with this figure increasing during the festive season.

As the festive season fast approaches, some of you will be planning your part in the annual “Battle of the Illuminations” with your neighbours. This year you will want more lights, bigger, brighter, and more colourful for a more dynamic display that will make people stare in amazement.

All of your socket outlets will be put to use, many with multi-way extension leads attached. Will you be checking to see if your installation can safely cope with the extra load? No! Don’t be daft its Christmas, it will be ok!

Will you check the lights to make sure that they are safe to use?

  • Are they the correct type of lights for use outdoors?
  • Are the flex, plug and leads un-damaged?
  • Are the plugs fitted correctly and do they contain the right fuse (usually 3Amp)?
  • Are all the lamps the correct rating (voltage, wattage)?

Or shall we just trust to luck?

Then on one December evening your home becomes the focus of everyone in the neighbourhood. People from all over, standing wrapped in coats and scarves watching the awesome display that is before their eyes. A myriad of multicolour flashing lights illuminating jets and sprays of water as the local fire service battle to save your home!

One small spark is all it takes to start a devastating fire, do yourself (and your family) a favour this Christmas – check your lights (or get a qualified electrician to check then) before you put them up and use RCD’s to protect each ‘string’. A small price to pay to have a Merry Christmas with your family– in your own home!

Season’s Greetings,

- Mark Jenkins.

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager here at Access Training. If you would like to take the steps to become a professional electrician, our electrical training courses are the fastest and most effective way to build up the skills you need and gain the necessary qualifications for a prosperous career in the industry. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

December may not seem like the most suitable time to be studying on a trades training course to become a professional tradesman, but the truth is these winter months are actually when plumbers, electricians, gas engineers, bricklayers and roofers are needed more than ever. With the end of the year just around the corner and the cold weather homing in on Britain, government-endorsed standards group Trustmark is warning owners to ensure that their homes are fully prepared before the harsh season hits.

Trustmark have already noted a rise in tradesperson viewings on their online database during October, which saw an a 36% increase in comparison to 2012. Across the trades roofers (32%), plumbers/heating engineers (35%) and electricians (20%) were the ones to see the biggest rise, and with heavy snow forecast until May 2014, these professionals are going to be needed more than ever.

Below is a list of quick spot checks Trustmark recommend doing to help reduce the risk of the winter weather causing damage to your home:

  • Most importantly, you should get your boiler and central heating checked/serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer. By making sure your boiler is in peak condition, it will burn far more efficiently - meaning it'll use less fuel AND be warmer. Checking your boiler/central heating also means that if there is any serious problems, you'll be avoiding any tragedy that could happen.
  • Make sure your insulation is in good quality. Not just your loft, but also look into lag pipes, water tanks and draught excluders.
  • Clean out gutters and outlets of any leaves and debris, followed by checking for any leaks or damage.
  • Look out for any damaged or loose tiles on your roof (from ground level to ensure your safety). Leep an eye out for any leaks or condensation appearing on the ceiling.
  • Make sure no exterior walls have any cracked, loose or missing pointing. If they do, be sure to get it fixed before water can get into it.

They also highly recommend keeping a useful list of phonenumbers of tradepeople in your area just incase of an emergency - plumbers, electricians, gas engineers, roofers, carpenters...whoever you might need if a problem should arise.

So if you're a tradesperson yourself, be prepared for your work to be more crucial to homeowners than ever - you never know when you're going to be needed. Alternatively, if you're looking to start a new career as a fully-qualified tradesperson now could be the perfect time to start. An intensive course from Access Training Academies can have you up and qualified in a matter of weeks - just in time to help those in need. To find out more about our range of courses, including plumbing, gas, electric and various construction trades, please give our advisers a call on 0800 345 7492.

New figures from the Gas Safe Register have warned that around 900,000 homes could be at risk from a gas explosion, fire or leak resulting in carbon monoxide poisoning.

The UK's official gas safety authority has been inspecting nearly 43,000 homes nationally since January last year, and found that more than one in five (22%) privately rented homes were at risk. The 900,000 figure is an estimate of when all 4.1 million privately let homes are taken into account. This figure was noticeably higher than homes privately owned or rented through a local authority/housing association, which were at 16% and 12% respectively.

As per the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, landlords are legally required to ensure that all gas appliances and flues at safe in the properties they let. This involves arranging annual safety checks from a registered gas engineer. The legal requirement doesn't stretch to homeowners, but is also highly recommended by experts. A registered gas engineer is one who will have completed all the relevant gas training and gained the necessary qualifications, and then joined the Gas Safe Register - something which is also a legal requirement for gas engineers.

To combat this alarming figure, the Gas Safe Register is urging tenants and landlords alike to sign up to a free annual gas safety service reminder at StayGasSafe.co.uk, where users will receive an email telling them when their appliances are due for a check. In addition to these checks, landlords are also responsible for any repair work required to appliances or pipework. Should they not fulfil these obligations then they face prosecution, resulting in fines or even imprisonment in extreme cases.

Sarah Hill, Stakeholder Relations manager for Gas Safe Register, said: "Signing up for an annual gas safety reminder can help landlords stay on the right side of the law and most importantly, keep their tenants safe."

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Are you an existing gas engineer in need of renewing your qualifications? Or alternatively a beginner looking to start a new career in the gas trade? Joining the Gas Safe Register is a legal requirement of all engineers, and this can only be done after earning the proper qualifications. Access Training Academies' instensive gas course will provide you with all the training you require, including a guaranteed work placement where you will be able to gather evidence of your work for the required gas portfolio. To find out more about the course and book your place, please call us on 0800 345 7492

Carbon Monoxide Awareness week will be happening between the 18th and 24th of November and industry regulation OFTEC has joined in to urge homeowners to get their boilers checked by a registed technician before the cold winter months arrive in full.

While most associate carbon monoxide poisoning with faulty gas appliances (which received their own focus at the end of September as part of Gas Safety Week), the truth is all fossil fuels can give off the gas. According to statistics from the Department of Health, carbon monoxide poisoning is responible for more than 50 death and 4,000 people being admitted to A7E in the UK every year.

Malcolm Farrow, of OFTEC, comments: "The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is significantly lower with oil-fired central heating but consumers should not be complacent. The key message is that in order to save lives, consumers should have their boilers checked annually by an OFTEC registered technician to make sure they are working properly. We also recommend homeowners install a carbon monoxide detector in their home.

"This is an important issue which we stress to our customers all year round. We want to do all we can to support national Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week and view a carbon monoxide detector as just as important to people’s safety as a smoke alarm – they really do save lives."

More information on carbon monoxide poisoning can be found at www.oilsave.co.uk or by phoning OFTEC on 0845 65 85 080.

Via Installer Magazine

A warning to homeowners of the risks involved in do-it-yourself electrical installations.

Napoleon once referred to Britain as 'a nation of shopkeepers'. Probably not true in modern society, but we still certainly a nation of something - do-it-yourselfers.

More and more people are willing to have a go at things they may have once thought impossible, taking regular visits to the local DIY shop to get parts for little jobs here and there or even working toward bigger projects such as renovating a room or building a conservatory. However, when it comes to plumbing, gas and electrical jobs, such concerns are better left to the professionals. Meaning those certified to carry out the work.

Jobs for an electrician

A homeowner can legally undertake basic electrical jobs themselves, such as installing an additional socket/light or connecting a cooker to an existing connection unit, but not much more than that. Anything more complicated like installing a new shower circuit or a new cooker circuit, legally requires a qualified electrician. If you have any DIY plans that require electrical work, it's always best to check what you are legally able to do before starting.

If you have any doubts on the legality or your capability to do the job safely in the first place, do NOT attempt it yourself and instead seek out the help of a qualified professional. Not only will you be ensuring that the job is done safely and properly, but you'll be saving yourself money in the long run. Hiring an electrician to fix a botched job usually ends up costing more than getting one out to do the job in the first place.

Building Regulations

District councils have responsibility for ensuring that any building works meet the national Building Regulations for efficiency, safety, design and disabled access. Building Regulations must be obtained from the local council before any structural alteration is made to a home. Such regulations are easier to obtain if the homeowner can prove they are going to be using a qualified electrician to undertake the work.

Part P qualified

A Part P qualified electrician is one who is able to sign off their own work in domestic properties. If they aren't qualified, then they'll have to approach the local authority building control to approve their work. This is something that all homeowners should bear in mind when they are looking to hire a qualified electrician.

Risks

It doesn't take much for electricity to kill. Forget numbers like 10,000 volts, the 230 volt domestic supply running through your home is more than enough. Our bodies use electrical signals to control our organs and any excess voltage will interfere with these, causing hearts and lungs to stop functioning and eventually death. Poorly installed electrics can very easily also start fires, resulting in home owners losing everything when their houses are burnt to the ground because of some faulty wiring. And if that work goes against building regulations, you may find the property is not insured and the insurance company is not legally obliged to reimburse them. On average, around 30 people die each year due to low voltage electrocutions and electrical burns. In addition, two and a half million people will receive a mains voltage electric shock every year, and 350,000 will receive a serious injury. Another 46 will die each year as an indirect result of faulty electrical wiring or the poor installation of electrical equipment.

Differing standards

The majority of contractors in the UK are reliable and are certified as such. To become a qualified electrician takes between three and five years of study. Some contractors may however pass themselves off as qualified, citing qualifications obtained in other EU countries. However, the standards in wiring differs across both the EU and the rest of the world, so what qualifies as a qualified electrician in one country is unlikely to be anywhere near the standard required in the UK.

Registers

To find an electrical contractor to undertake domestic tasks, the best place to start is often a register such as the Electrical Safety Register at www.electricalsafetyregister.com. Electricians who register with the Electrical Safety Register must meet a very high industry standard, which means that consumers who use an ESR registered contractor are guaranteed an exceptionally high standard of work. In addition, all work carried out by Electrical Safety Register contractors is guaranteed. Any deficiencies in the work carried out are resolved at no extra cost.

Kick out the Cowboys

Electricians with fake qualifications performing sub-standard work is a continuing problem in Britain. Despite their poor (and often dangerous) results, such workmen still expect to be paid for their work and can get heavy handed if refused, especially against the vulnerable. 
In an effort to show up shoddy workmanship, electrical wholesalers Gil-Lec has set up a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #KickOutCowboys. Anyone who provided poor electrical work can be named and shamed via the Twitter campaign. Twitter users are encouraged to post photographs of poor electrical work, coupled with the name of the individual or company who performed the work.

Via Electrical Contracting News

- Mark Jenkins

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Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager here at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

Today The Construction Enquirer have put up a news story concerning the outcome of a Bolton building firm's court case whose scaffolding was deemed to present a risk to the crew.

The firm, R Hamer Ltd, was prosecuted after a member of the public reported the work to the Health & Safety executive. Two workers had been spotted replacing guttering during high winds on what appeared to be unsafe scaffolding, and when an inspector arrive he found the men using two "badly-erected" towers with an unsecured board being used as walkway between them. 

The court was told there was also no edge protection on the scaffolding, such as handrails or toe boards, and the workers were not using harnesses to prevent them being injured in a fall. One of the men was also seen climbing down the outside of the scaffolding rather than using an access ladder. The firm received a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £562 in prosecution costs, which is a rather leniant sentence for something that could have endangered lives.

This news story reminded me of a tweet I had seen earlier last week from @DIYDoctor, which I've shared below:

Falling from heights is one of the biggest causes of workplace death in the construction industry, and can easily be avoided by using safe and secure scaffolding. If you see a construction firm not taking the right precautions, you should report them to the HSE before an accident can happen. Likewise if you're doing a bit of exterior DIY don't think you can just get away with precariously balancing on the roof and a carefully laid out piece of wood like the man above. Otherwise that little job could end up costing you your life.

 

Summer holidays on the Costas are with us once again. Lots of families are jetting off to spend a week or two in the sunshine. All looking to have fun and this will probably mean consuming large quantities of alcohol.

But we have become so reliant on our electrical and electronic gizmos; we all need an adapter to charge them up whilst we are in foreign lands. Our UK standard plugs will not fit into the sockets that we find in our ‘little paradise’.

Off we go to the local supermarket to purchase an adapter – but they are not cheap, so plan B comes into action. Off we go to the ‘cheap’ shop (you know the ones – everything’s a pound!). But is that cheap product safe? Probably not!

The above item is the subject of a “Product Recall” as it has been identified as being UNSAFE.

“The product poses a risk of electric shock because the user comes into contact with live parts when inserting the plug into the socket. The product does not comply with the relevant national standard BS1363.”

What a wonderful holiday – a couple of days in the sun followed by a couple of days in hospital receiving treatment for electric shock and/or electric burns; if you lucky. If you’re not you might be flying home baggage class in a wooden box!

You can’t put a price on safety; remember it might by your child that gets the shock of their lives!

For more information on this and other recalled products visit the Electrical Safety Council website at:

http://www.esc.org.uk/public/guides-and-advice/product-recalls/

- Mark Jenkins

 

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492

The Electrical Safety Council is calling for manufacturers to face tougher penalties if they undertake inadequate or slow recalls, following growing concerns over the effectiveness of the recall system and the emergence of a number of serious incidents involving recalled products.

Manufacturers who delay or take action in a recall situation currently face fines of only £5,000.

The ESC would like to see tougher penalties based on a percentage of profits from the recalled product, with a minimum level set at £5,000. This should ensure manufacturers react quickly and effectively should a recall situation arise.

The ESC is also inviting Trading Standards to set out clear and unambiguous guidelines on exactly what a manufacturer should do if they have produced a product that is subject to a recall. The ESC’s research shows that typically only 10-20% of recalled electrical products are ever returned, exposing millions of people in the UK to the risk of fire or electrocution. Over the last six years there have been 266 recall notices for electrical items.

In addition to the proposed change to fines, the Electrical Safety Council has today outlined proposals for a new centralised product registration system, coordinated by the charity, which could help manufacturers trace their products to the consumer in a recall situation.

At the moment only 5-10% of people fill in registration cards for new items because they are concerned about their information being used for marketing purposes and because they don’t understand the purpose of the cards. Yet over half of all the people that took part in the Electrical Safety Council’s research said they would be more likely to register products with an independent organisation, if their details were used only in the event of a recall and if they were assured their details wouldn’t be used for marketing purposes.

Do you fill in and send off the produce registration card? Or do you, like many people just throw it away? It’s there for a reason – keeping you and your families safe. Next time you purchase a new product do everyone a favour – FILL IN THE CARD AND SEND IT OFF!

- Mark Jenkins