Via Construction Enquirer

We mentioned earlier this month that the Health & Safety executive would be taking a tour of building sites across the UK to catch out any that had "less than adequate" facilities. No more than a few weeks later, their inspections have produced some rather shocking results.

So far their tour, which runs from the 2nd September until the 27th, has revealed that nearly half the sites they have visited have some sort of safety failings. Out of a total of 1000 sites, that's a very high number. Many of them had also been issued with enforcement notices.

 UCATT (Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians) General Secretary Steve Murphy said: "These figures demonstrate the dangers faced by construction workers on a daily basis.

"While these initiatives by the HSE are very welcome, inspectors are only visiting a small percentage of all the construction sites in the country.

"These findings demonstrate why the HSE needs more resources to conduct this type of inspection in all parts of the country throughout the year."

Below you can see some pictures of some of the sites they visited:

A prohibition noticed was served on this extension work after exposed scaffolding was found, putting workers at risk from falling through on to the building works.

 

An improvement notice was served here as site management fell below safe standards.

 

Unsafe excavation work here led to a Prohibition notice.

 

Is this the kind of hygiene facilities you should be finding on a construction site?

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This week the British Lung Foundation is launching a new campaign "Take 5 and Stay Alive" to promote awareness of the dangers of asbestos, particularly among tradespeople who may be dealing with it every day.

According to official statistics, on average six electricians, four plumbers and eight joiners in UK die from asbestos exposure every week - making it the single greatest cause of work-related deaths. Though the use of the material was banned in 2000, any building made before then may contain it as it was commonly used as insulation. While undisturbed asbestos is relatively harmless, when disturbed the fibres can become airborne. When inhaled, asbestos fibres can cause a range of illnesses - including the terminal chest cancer mesothelioma. The tiny invisible particles stick to clothes, meaning that as well as risking their own lives, workers can be unknowingly putting their family members, colleagues and friends at risk.

The "Take 5 and Stay Alive" campaign aims to ensure tradespeople have the knowledge to identify asbestos and what type it is, with them then being able to assess correctly whether they have the right training and equipment to deal with it safely.

British Lung Foundation chief executive Dr Penny Woods said:

"Twice as many people die from asbestos-related illnesses than on the roads each year in Britain. It's the biggest work-related killer, and the numbers of deaths associated with it are rising each year.  Sole traders and people working for small companies are often under particular pressure to take jobs and deliver quickly, and this can sometimes put them at particular risk of asbestos exposure.

"But it's not just tradespeople putting their own lives at risk. If asbestos is disturbed the particles can affect others too, and we know several women who have died after years of washing their husbands' contaminated overalls.

"Our Take 5 and Stay Alive campaign aims to give tradespeople the tools to act responsibly. We want to ensure they can identify asbestos wherever and in whatever form it might be present, and know how to deal with it safely. Our message is simple - taking just five minutes to assess the situation could save your life, and keep your family, friends, clients and business safe from exposure to potentially fatal asbestos dust."

More information on Take 5 and Stay Alive can be found on their website, which contains plenty of information about the different types of asbestos, where it can be found and the illnesses it can cause.

In addition to this campaign, former electrician Alan North has uploaded a video to YouTube describing his experiences after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma earlier this year. While this is unaffiliated with the BLF's work, it shares the same message about the dangers of mishandling asbestos. You can view the video HERE.

Though we've come to the end of Gas Safety Week, the importance of gas safety is something we should all keep in mind 365 days a year. But to round off what seems to have been a very successful week, the Gas Safe register are taking to the road for a series of nationwide events. 

This Saturday they'll be stopping in at the following locations:

  • Birmingham - Currys PC World, Gallagher Retail Park, Wednesbury, WS10 9QY (12pm - 4pm)
  • Bristol - Currys PC World, Cribbs Causeway, BS34 5TX (12pm - 4pm)
  • Glasgow - Currys PC World, Braehead Retail Park, G51 4BT (12pm - 4pm)
  • Liverpool - Currys PC World, Racecourse Retail, Rark, Aintree, L9 5AL (10am - 2pm)
  • N. Ireland - Currys, Sprucefield Retail Park, Lisburn, BT27 5UN (10am - 4pm)
  • Norwich - B&Q, Boundary Road, NR6 5JS (10am - 2pm)
  • Swansea - Currys PC World, Morfa Shopping Park, SA1 7DS (10am - 4pm)
  • York - B&Q, Hull Road, YO10 3JA (10am - 2pm)
At these events, supported by Currys PC World, B&Q and the National Fire Services, you'll be able to find out more about staying gas safe in your home. So be sure to pop along if you're out and about doing shopping in those areas this weekend!

To mark Gas Safety Week, Access Training are offering 20% off our professional gas course from now until the end of September. To take advantage of this offer all you need to do is quote "GASWEEK" when speaking to one of our course advisors. You can contact them on 0800 345 7492.

It wouldn't be right to support Gas Safety Week without taking some time to talk about who set up the campaign - The Gas Safe Register. If you've been reading our posts you'll already know that joining the Gas Safe Register is a legal requirement of all gas engineers if they want to work on gas installations and appliances in the UK, but what else do you know about them?

The Gas Safe Register is the official gas registration body for the United Kingdom, Isle of Man and Guernsey and was appointed by the relevant Health and Safety Authority for each area. It replaced CORGI as the gas registration body in Great Britain and Isle of Man on the 1st April 2009 and Northern Ireland and Guernsey on the same date the following year.

The main focus of the Gas Safe Register is improving and maintaining gas safety to the highest standards, however its utmost priority is keeping you and your family safe. Their team make sure all gas engineers on the Register (totalling over 125,000) are fully qualified to work with gas. It works to protect the public from unsafe gas work through a number of different means, including;

  • A dedicated national investigations team tracking down individuals working illegally
  • Regular inspections of Gas Safe registered engineers
  • Educating consumers and raising awareness of gas safety
  • Investigating reports of unsafe gas work 

The Gas Safe Register highly advise that you always find an engineer that is part of the register. You can check this by asking to see their Gas Safe ID card, which will contain a unique license number. The front of the card will also display these important details:

  • The engineer's photo
  • The start and expiry dates
  • A security hologram
  • That engineer is from the business you employed

Meanwhile, the back of the card will also have printed on it whether that engineer is qualified to do the work you've hired him for and whether these qualifications are up to date. Should that fail, you can also check online or phone the Register on 0800 408 5500. This number is also the one to call if you suspect a fraudulent gas engineer.

How do I apply for a Gas Safe ID card?

First, you need to submit the name, address, phone number and trading title of your business to the Gas Safe Register. Then, you'll need to provide your National Insurance number and the National Insurance numbers of any engineers working for you. Once you've paid for your Gas Safe Id card, and the necessary checks have been done, it will be sent out to you.

What are the Gas Safe ID card categories?

Depending on what level of qualification you have, your Gas Safe Id card will show one of two categories, domestic or commercial work. This indicates the type of work that you're qualified to do. If you've got a gas engineer attending your property, but you're not sure if they're qualified for the domestic or commercial work at hand, you can ask to see their Gas Safe ID card to check this.

Can the gas safe register review gas work?

If you feel that gas work carried out at your home is unsafe, you can raise your concerns with the Gas Safe Register directly. They will record the problem and can even arrange an investigation of the problem. Once the investigation has been done, a report can be sent to you and your gas engineer so that any problems can be dealt with appropriately.

If you're unsure how to find a Gas Safe Registered engineer in your area, you can also contact the Gas Safe Register for their recommendations. They can highlight gas engineers and professionals in your local area that may be able to carry out a service for you.

So there you have it, a little bit more about the Gas Safe Register and what it does. If you need gas work done always be sure to check your engineer is registered, and if you're a register remember that being part of it is a legal requirement!

To mark Gas Safety Week, Access Training are offering 20% off our professional gas course from now until the end of September. To take advantage of this offer all you need to do is quote "GASWEEK" when speaking to one of our course advisors. You can contact them on 0800 345 7492.

 

One of the ways the Gas Safe Register has decided to mark Gas Safety Week by launching the very first nationwide interactive gas map, which can be viewed at www.staygassafe.co.uk.

This map reveals just how many unsafe gas appliances have been found across the UK, how many gas-related accidents or emergencies have occurred and even how many unregistered gas fitters have been caught preying upon the public. It's the first time this level of information has been recorded and compared across postcodes, and the results aren't looking good for the capital of Wales.

Cardiff ranked second only to Birmingham as the area with the highest number of unsafe homes, at a total of 31.1%. The full top 10 (if you can call it "top" that is) of unsafe places in the UK can be viewed below:

1. Birmingham (34.2%)

2. Cardiff (31.1%)

3. Edinburgh (30.9%)

4. Norwich and Ipswich (27.9%)

5. Coventry (27.8%)

6. Manchester (27.5%)

7. Bedford (27.3%)

8. Glasgow (25.2%)

9. Milton Keynes (24.2%)

10. Bradford (23.3%)

While there may not be a whole lot in it between the places, these numbers are still significantly higher than they should be. So where did the research find is the safest places? Brighton took the prize with just 5% (1 in 20) homes found to be dangerous, followed closely by Liverpool (6%), Southampton (6%), Northampton (7%) and Hull (8%). 

The data inspected just under 100,000 homes in Great Britain in the last three years, and found that one in six homes, the equivalent of 4.28 million households, had an unsafe gas appliance. Appliances in one in 25 homes were immediately dangerous and if left unchecked were at risk of causing a gas fire, explosion, leak or carbon monoxide poisoning.

One in three gas customers in Great Britain (around 7.69 million households) also admitted that they’ve never had their gas appliances checked or maintained, despite eight in 10 people (82%) recognising that it needs to be done to protect them from gas dangers. Gas Safe Register’s inspections further found that gas fires are the most dangerous gas appliances in homes. One in three gas fires checked by the Register were unsafe, compared to one in 11 boilers and one in 13 cookers. Just like boilers, gas fires and gas cookers need to be checked and maintained regularly to remain safe.

The public is also being caught out by cowboy unregistered gas fitters, pretending to be legal engineers. One in 10 people admit they took it on trust that their gas engineer is legally registered and never checked if they were. Nearly 3,000 illegal gas jobs have been investigated by Gas Safe Register since 2010, of which nearly two in three (61%) left victims’ homes unsafe and one in five were so dangerous that the Register had to turn off the gas appliance immediately.

Russell Kramer, chief executive for Gas Safe Register, said: "Gas safety is a life or death matter and something that shouldn’t be ignored. People are aware of the potential risks of unsafe gas work and they know what they should be doing to keep themselves safe, but as our research has found, not everyone is acting on that information. This is why we have launched the gas map. It is the first time that data on unsafe gas appliances and illegal gas work has been compared across postcodes in Great Britain. We want people to realise that gas safety is something that they should take seriously and by bringing it to their doorstep it makes it harder to ignore.

"We hope to see millions of people using the gas map during and beyond Gas Safety Week to get a better understanding of how they can protect themselves. Some areas are more at risk, but even in safer areas there is no room for complacency. You only need to enter your postcode to find out localised information about your area. You can also sign up for a free reminder service to get your appliances checked, so that you don’t forget to do this vital and life saving check every year, and search for registered engineers. Our messages this Gas Safety Week are simple – get your appliances checked every year, sign up for our reminder service and only use a Gas Safe registered engineer. It could save yours and your family’s lives."

If you're a Cardiff gas engineer, its up  to you to help lower this figure and get our city off of the table. Meanwhile, if you're a trainee gas engineer or looking to enter the gas trade, it is essential that you not only get the right qualifications, but get Gas Safe registered so that you are legally permitted to work on gas appliances and installations across the UK. An Access Training gas course will provide you with everything you need - expert tutelage, professional qualifications and the best foundation work possible for you to go on and become Gas Safe. To find out more take a look at our courses page or contact one of our team on 0800 345 7492.

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