It looks like the Gas Safe Register aren't the only ones calling for safety awareness this month.

Following (but unrelated to) yesterday's news of the Health & Safety Executive cracking down on a Bolton building firm's unsafe scaffolding, HSE inspectors have announced that they are launching a month-long safety campaign on smaller reburbishment jobs across Britain.

Unannounced inspections will take place on sites where refurbishment or repair works are underway, focusing on working at height and work which could expose builders to harmful dusts. However their inspections will also take a look at whether adequate welfare facilities such as toilets and handwashing facilities have been provided.

Heather Bryant, HSE Chief Inspector of Construction, said: “Too many people die or are seriously injured every year on Britain’s construction sites as a result of entirely avoidable incidents.

“Just as importantly, workers are unnecessarily being exposed to serious health risks, such as asbestos or silica dust, which can have fatal or debilitating consequences.

“Often we find it is smaller companies working on refurbishment and repair work who are failing to protect their workers through a lack of awareness and poor control of risks.

“This initiative provides a chance to engage with these firms to help them understand what they need to do, so they can put in place the practical measures needed to keep people safe. “However, let me be clear – if we find evidence that workers are being unnecessarily and irresponsibly put at risk we will not hesitate to take robust action. Companies who deliberately cut corners can expect to feel the full weight of the law.”

Via Construction Enquirer

 

Are you looking to switch careers and join the construction industry as a carpenter, bricklayer, plasterer, tiler or decorator? Not sure where you can get the qualifications to join this exciting, challenging and rewarding sector? An Access Training course could change your life. With the help of our expert teaching staff, you'll work through an intensive construction course that gets you the required qualifications to become a professional tradesman. To find out more, have a look at the courses pages on this website or contact us 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.

With Gas Safety week coming up soon Access Training will be highlighting the importance of gas safety in our blog in the lead up to 16-22 September. However this isn't always going to be in a fun and educational way - yesterday the Heating, Ventilating & Plumbing magazine reported two separate instances of dishonest traders either fined or leaving people at risk because the tradesmen were not Gas Safe Registered.

The first article reports that a self-employed heating installer from King's Lynn was fined for illegally carrying out sub-standard gas work at two homes in Norfolk. Ryan Neale, trading as R. Neale Plumbing and Heating, installed gas appliances and pipework despite not being Gas Safe registered. He was fined a total of £2,000 and ordered to pay a further £1,000 in costs after pleading guilty to two separate breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 for his work at each property – four charges in total.

Secondly, a London heating installer was also fined for illegal and unsafe gas work. Abhishev Yadav, 28, of Greenwich, installed a boiler at a property on Penywern Road, Earls Court, that was later classed as ‘at risk’ because the flue was not properly sealed or secured. He carried out the work in March 2011 on behalf of his firm Ability Heating, while falsely claiming to be Gas Safe registered. He was was fined a total of £7,500, and ordered to pay £2,500 in costs plus a £120 victim surcharge for breaching the same regulations.

In response to these stories,  Gas Safe Register chief executive Russell Kramer has issued this statement: "Every Gas Safe registered engineer has an ID card which shows who they are and the type of work they are qualified to carry out. Customers should ask to see this and check the engineer is qualified to do the job in hand. You can also check your engineer by calling us on 0800 408 5500 or by visiting www.gassaferegister.co.uk.

Joining the Gas Safe Register is a legal requirement of any tradesman installing, maintaining and decommissioning gas appliances and can only be achieved when they have been awarded all of the relevant gas qualifications. The register can also be used by homeowners to search for a suitable tradesman in their area, or to ensure that the one they've hired is a legitimate gas engineer. 

If you're interested in earning the qualifications to become a qualified gas engineer, Access Training offer comprehensive gas courses that will have you well on your way to success. Completing our courses successfully will give you the skills and knowledge to join the Gas Safe Register and start a new and rewarding career. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

Gas Safe has proved time and time again to be an effective method in separating genuine gas engineers from cowboy traders, so that the general public know that when they hire a tradesman he or she is legitimate. But despite this, this sort of system is currently only available for gas engineers - so Joe Bloggs may not have the same level of certainty when hiring a plumber for wet work.

Until now that is. Or more precisely, October 8th 2013.

WaterSafe has been put together to provide a search facility of all Approved plimbers working in the UK, thanks to a partnership between UK water suppliers and the seven Approved Contractors' Schemes working across the UK. It will promote compliance with the Water Supply Regulations 1999 and Scottish Water Byelaws in order to protect the public and make it even more difficult for unqualified dishonest plumbers to get work. Unlike the Gas Safe register this isn't a legal requirement, but will publically show plumbers are both fully qualified and competent in their trade. So arguably its something that's probably in your best interest to do.

WaterSafe's website isn't open just yet, however it can be found at www.watersafe.org.uk where you can find all the relevant contact details to find out more about the scheme. Keep checking back to this blog, as we're sure to be covering more of this brilliant new scheme closer to its official launch.

In the meantime - if you have any outstanding plumbing qualifications or are looking to become a professional plumber yourself, have you considered a comprehensive plumbing course from Access Training? Our courses are suitable for both newcomers and experienced plumbers alike, so give us a call on 0800 345 7492 or check out the courses section of the site to find out more.

The Construction Industry Training Board has warned that the industry needs to put more focus on the recruitment and training of young people, after recent statistics revealed some alarming facts about the average age of Britain's construction workforce.

According to the Office of National Statistics, 19% of UK construction workers are aged 55 and over. A further 24% (518,000 people) are aged between 45 and 54. They estimate that these statistics mean at least 406,000 people will need to be replaced over the next 10 years if the labour force is stay the same size.

CITB’s interim chief executive William Burton said: “Almost one in five workers is set to retire from the construction industry over the next 5-10 years, so not taking action now to encourage young people to join the industry – and investing in the training to up-skill our existing workforce – is no longer an option. The construction sector is essential for local and national economic growth and to avoid the similar skills crisis that affected the industry in the early 1990s, we urge employers to act now.”

While more young people undoubtedly need to be adopted into the industry, these age groups show that its also never too late to join the world of construction. You could be 18, 25, 35 or older and the choice to change careers into construction could still prove a refreshing and liberating experience. If you would like to find out more about how you can join thus rewarding line of work that's constantly on the lookout for new people, give Access Training a call. We provide a wide range of construction training courses for people of all ages and backgrounds, giving you the qualifications needed to enter at a professional level. Give us a call on 0800 345 7492 and we'll be happy to tell you more.

Source: The Construction Index

Original article: British Gas plans to offer free power on Saturdays

So British Gas is offering some of its customer’s free electricity – on Saturdays! Sounds like a good offer, but if something seems too good to be true – it usually is.

Is this just a PR plot too increase profits? Or a way of pushing consumers into requesting the so called ‘Smartmeters’ so British gas can exceed their installation targets? Is it designed to tempt more people to by their electricity from British Gas?

What benefit will those of us that don’t have Smartmeters get? Free on Saturday – sorry I have better things to on a Saturday than spend time at home using free electric. Vacuuming the house, the car, doing multiple loads of washing, tumble drying the clothes so I can do the ironing with free electric, allowing the kids to use the games consoles all day!!

Sounds like a con to me, everyone has better things to do on a Saturday, it will amount to British Gas giving away nothing.

- 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.

 

Easy Safety Cert are offering registered Gas Safe engineers a free trial of their gas safety inspection software, available as an app for iOS devices such as an iPad or iPhone, with an Android version due to launch within the next six weeks.

Engineers will be able to complete, send and store gas safety inspections while on the go. They will also be access their own secure online database, which stores completed certificates along with client and job details and automatically sets 12-month inspection reminders.

The trial allows three free inspections; beyond that, engineers can purchase inspections on a pay-as-you-go basis. There are no subscription fees or extra charges for multiple users, devices, support or updates.

Bianca Dainty, director of Easy Safety Cert, said: "We’ve always had a key focus on usability and quality. The new features found in the iPad and updated iPhone apps are examples of our commitment to bringing the best technology to our customers."

The app can be found by searching "ESC GasCert" in the App store.

Flush only once. If it's not flushing the first time, don't flush again. This will cause more water to be pumped into the toilet bowl. If the toilet becomes clogged the first flush will not cause the bowl to overflow, but the second flush might!

Put on a pair of rubber gloves. Toilets are inherently unsanitary places to work, but a good pair of rubber cleaning gloves will protect you from any germs within. If you can see the cause of the clog, remove it from the toilet if possible.

Protect the floor. What's worse than a clogged toilet? An overflowing toilet. Minimize the potential damage by placing newspapers or paper towels on the floor to soak up liquid. Besides, minor splashes and spills are bound to occur when you're unclogging the toilet. The paper will make for easier clean-up later.

Make sure the water supply to the toilet is off. It should be located right behind the toilet, and looks like a regular faucet knob. Do not shut off the supply for the house, since this will prevent others from using water. If the water is off to at least the toilet, this will prevent the bathroom from flooding.

Ensure that the bathroom has good air circulation. Turn on the ventilation or open a window to minimize foul odours, and to protect against potentially toxic fumes from any chemical products you may need to use.

Plunger Method

If you know there's an object (such as a child's toy) causing the clog, skip the plunging and go straight to another method.

Be sure to use the right plunger. It is important to use a large heavy-duty rubber plunger, either the ball-shaped type or one with a fold-out rubber flange on the bottom which forms a seal. Do not use the small cheap suction-cup type of plunger––these will often not work. Remember, the larger the plunger, the more force you can apply down into the clogged drain. The plunger should have a shape which ensures that the water you force out of it when you push down does not shoot back up into the toilet bowl instead of pushing into the drain.

If your plunger is not making a tight seal, try wrapping an old rag around the end of the plunger and press down on any leaks. Run the plunger under hot water before using it. This will soften it up, which will help with creating a seal.

Insert the plunger into the bowl and press down firmly but slowly. Make sure you're covering the hole completely. The plunger should be submerged in water to be effective. It is important to be pushing and pulling with water, not air.

Add water to the bowl if necessary. Sharply pull up on the plunger to create suction in the drain, then push in to create pressure. Remember, the clog got jammed going in, so don't be too aggressive with your pushing because you might just jam it further. It is more the suction than the pressure, constantly disturbing the clog in both directions that will gradually cause it to be loosened.

If the plunging eventually drains the bowl but the clog is still blocking a free flow down the drain, leave the plunger in the bowl and fill the bowl with water again. Fill it to the point it is normally after a regular flush. Then plunge again. Stubborn clogs might require you to do this a number of times.

Should plunging fail to unclog the drain, a wire coat hanger may clear the obstruction. This will generally work if there is an obstruction in the first few inches of the drain.

Unravel the hanger, twisting the top ends apart until they are no longer connected. (To avoid damaging the porcelain tightly wrap one end with a rag). Stick the wrapped end of the wire into the drain. Once the wire is in the drain, twist it, push it, and manoeuvre it in a circular motion to clear the drain

Plumbing Snake Method

Purchase or borrow a plumbing snake. A plumbing snake (also sometimes called a "flexible cleaning tool" or "auger") is a flexible coil of wire that can "snake" through the curves of a drain and get deeper than a wire can. The best snake is a "closet auger" which is designed specifically to clear toilet clogs without damaging or staining the bowl. A plumber would likely use a closet auger.

Insert one end of the snake into the drain. Push down, feeding the snake further into the drain until you feel an obstruction. Twist and push the snake through the obstruction until the water begins to drain

Snake in reverse, as it may become necessary to remove the toilet and run the snake through in the opposite direction. This is especially true with hard obstructions that may have been flushed by a curious child. If a hard obstruction is known, and you are not comfortable removing and replacing the toilet, contact a plumber.

- Mark Lewis

 

Mark Lewis is the Plumbing Course Development manager at Access Training. If this blog has interested you and you would now like to learn more about the plumbing trade, you might want to consider one of our extensive plumbing training courses. These range from DIY courses for enthusiasts to professional courses that will give you the qualifications you need to become a plumber. If you would like to find out more give Access Training a call on 0800 345 7492 and we'd be happy to explain in greater detail.

 

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

Get in touch to learn more about our training courses!

First Name *
Surname *
Telephone Number *
E-mail address *
Ask A Question *
 
Security Character Security Character Security Character Security Character Security Character Security Character
Enter Letters (No Spaces) *