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Understanding common electrical signs, symbols and labels

Understanding common electrical signs, symbols and labels

Understanding common electrical signs, symbols and labels

Electricity is an essential part of our everyday lives and is present in most, if not all, workplaces and homes. Despite its usefulness, it is dangerous, as contact with it can result in death or severe injuries. It can also cause damage to property from electrical-related fires and explosions.

Every year, approximately 1,000 accidents (30 of these fatal) at work involving electric shock or burns are reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Most fatalities are caused by contact with overhead or underground power cables. Even where electric shocks are not fatal, they can still result in permanent life-changing injuries.

Electrical-related fires are not uncommon either. In the Fire and Rescue Services statistics for England (2019/2020), there were:

  • 14,308 fires in non-domestic premises
    – 17 fatalities and 877 non-fatal casualties.
    – 2,219 fires were caused by electrical distribution and 1,629 fires were caused by electrical appliances.
  • 28,494 fires in dwellings (homes)
    – 199 fatalities and 5,152 non-fatal casualties.
    – 3,081 fires were caused by electrical distribution and 3,145 fires were caused by electrical appliances.

Those who work directly with electricity, e.g. engineers, electricians and overhead lines staff, are at a higher risk. However, it is also a risk for other workers and the public who use electrical equipment and appliances at work and at home.

The dangers of electricity are often underestimated, especially in low-risk environments such as offices and when people are at home. The mains electrical supply in these types of environment is 230 volts, which may seem low. However, to put this into perspective, a voltage of just 50 volts is enough to cause the heart to stop and prevent breathing. Therefore, everyone must take electrical safety seriously, whether they are at work or at home.

If there is a risk of electrical injuries at work, employers have a legal duty to prevent, reduce or control the risks. It requires them to put precautions in place, e.g. providing employees with electrical safety training and information and instruction via safety signs and labels.

Avoiding electrical hazards

A hazard is something that has the potential to cause harm. Risk is the likelihood of harm occurring and the severity should it happen. Electricity is a hazard that can cause death, severe injuries and property damage, and it is a risk in almost all workplaces and homes.

The hazards present and the level of risk will depend on:

  • The task, e.g. working on live electrical equipment will be a higher risk than using an electrical appliance in an office.
  • The training and competence of workers, e.g. those in training will be more at risk than those with a higher level of competence.
  • The electrical systems, processes or equipment involved, e.g. working with higher voltages will be more hazardous.
  • The environment, e.g. using electrical equipment outdoors will be a higher risk than using it indoors.

Common electrical hazards

Some examples of common electrical hazards include:

  • Electrocution, electric shock and burns, e.g. contact with live electrical parts.
  • Eye damage and burns, e.g. from electricity arcing.
  • Fire, e.g. from faulty, defective or damaged electrical equipment.
  • Explosion, e.g. using unsuitable equipment that could be a source of ignition in an explosive atmosphere.
  • Other hazards that can result in injury, e.g. an electric shock causing a fall from height
  • Interruption of safety-critical equipment due to a loss of power.

Electrical accidents

Electrical accidents can occur for many different reasons, such as:

  • Not isolating electrical installations and equipment properly before working on them.
  • Working on or near live electrical systems that were assumed to be dead.
  • Inadequate information and instruction provided on the risks.
  • A lack of training and competence to undertake tasks involving electricity. Inadequate training is one of the main causes of electrical accidents.
  • An unsafe safe system of work.
  • Using the incorrect type of equipment, which is not suited to the environment, e.g. using electrical equipment in wet conditions.
  • Using faulty, damaged and defective electrical systems and equipment.
  • Poor design and construction of electrical installations and wiring.
  • Overloading of electrical systems causing them to overheat.
  • Inadequate maintenance, inspection and testing of electrical systems and equipment.

Minimising the risks

There are many precautions that can minimise electrical safety risks and far too many to mention in this article.

Some examples include:

  • Ensuring the electrical installation is installed to a suitable standard and maintained by a competent person.
  • Selecting the most suitable electrical equipment for the task and environment. Looking at safer alternatives where possible, e.g. low-voltage equipment.
  • Using protective devices such as circuit breakers, fuses and residual current devices (RCDs).
  • Ensuring people working with electricity are trained and competent. Those who are at risk from using the equipment should have an awareness of electrical hazards and precautions.
  • Not misusing electrical equipment, using it for its intended purpose and storing it properly after use.
  • Maintaining electrical equipment regularly, e.g. PAT testing.
  • Completing a pre-use check of equipment to ensure that it is safe.
  • Having enough sockets and not overloading them to prevent overheating and fire.
  • Not routing electrical cables where they could be damaged or where someone could trip.
  • Switching off electrical equipment and sockets before plugging in or unplugging, and during maintenance, cleaning, repairing or adjusting.
  • Having procedures in place to deal with emergencies and adequate first aid provision to deal with electrical injuries.
  • Switching off all non-essential electrical equipment at the end of the working day.

Further information on electrical hazards and precautions can be found on the HSE’s electricity webpage and in their electrical safety guidance.

There are many different measures to prevent, control or reduce the risks of electrical hazards. Those selected must reduce the electrical risks to the lowest possible level. One of the measures used is electrical safety signs.

Electrical safety signs and symbols

Before providing safety signs, employers must first look at eliminating electrical hazards wherever possible, e.g. using non-electrical equipment. If it is not possible, they should then look at other means of avoiding or controlling the risk. For example, they can substitute higher voltage equipment for lower voltage or battery-powered equipment.

Electrical safety signs are examples of administrative controls. They are lower in the hierarchy as they do not remove the hazard. However, they are still important control measures. Safety signs can reduce the risk by providing information on the hazard and giving instructions on preventing exposure.

A safety sign is defined in the Safety Signs and Signals Approved Code of Practice as “a sign providing information or instruction about safety or health at work by means of a signboard, a colour, an illuminated sign or acoustic signal, a verbal communication or hand signal”.

The purpose of safety signs is to communicate health and safety information to workers and others at risk from the hazard.

There are five main categories of safety sign:

  • Prohibition sign – Prohibits behaviour likely to increase or cause danger. They are circular-shaped and are RED with a white background, red band and crossbar.
  • Warning sign – Gives a warning of a hazard or danger. They are triangular-shaped and are YELLOW with black symbols or text.
  • Mandatory sign – Prescribes specific behaviour and what must be done. They are circular-shaped and are BLUE with white symbols or text.
  • Safe condition sign – Gives information on emergency exits, first aid, or rescue facilities. They are rectangular-shaped and are GREEN with white symbols or text.
  • Fire safety signs – Gives information on fire protection arrangements. They are square or rectangular-shaped and are RED with white symbols or text.

All safety signs should have the appropriate universal symbols or pictograms to account for those who have difficulty reading and limited English skills. Signs displaying just text will not be compliant. Some have supplementary text (usually at the bottom) with further information on the hazard or instructions. If text is used, it must meet the category of the sign.

PAT labels

Faulty, damaged and defective electrical equipment is a common cause of accidents and is often due to a lack of maintenance. Electrical appliances and equipment should be subject to regular maintenance to identify any issues that could create a risk to users or others. Portable appliance testing (PAT), also known as PAT testing, is an example of an effective maintenance method.

According to the HSE, PAT testing is “the term used to describe the examination of electrical appliances and equipment to ensure they are safe to use”. The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) refer to it as the in-service inspection and testing of electrical equipment.

 PAT testing involves a combination of visual inspections and electronic tests. After an electrical item has been PAT tested, labels are often attached to indicate the test date and whether it is safe or not.

They usually contain the following information:

  • The appliance identification number or asset number.
  • The signature or initials of the person who carried out the PAT test.
  • The date of the PAT test.
  • Whether it has passed, failed or being inspected. Failed equipment must be removed from use immediately.
  • Some labels also have a re-test date. The HSE does not recommend this, as the tester is not responsible for determining the frequency of tests; the duty holder is. However, a re-test date can be added to the label if they have been informed of the necessary frequency.

PAT labels do vary, and there are many different types, for example:

  • Passed labels are usually green but can be blue, purple or black to account for different periods before the next test.
  • Failed labels tend to be red but are sometimes amber.
  • Some have barcodes that can be scanned by certain PAT testing equipment, which gives a maintenance history for the appliance.
  • Some are circular or rectangular-shaped.
  • Some can be personalised with the company details.

There is not a specific requirement for PAT labels to be a particular colour, size or shape. However, PAT labels are covered in the IET Code of Practice for In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment. The Code of Practice is widely accepted, and many PAT label suppliers will follow the requirements within.

Regulations and standards

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

The main law relating to electrical safety is the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. These regulations place duties on employers, the self-employed and employees. It aims to prevent and reduce the risk of death and injury from electricity in the workplace.

The main requirements of the regulations are as follows:

  • Electrical systems must be of good construction and maintained to prevent danger.
  • The strength and capability of electrical equipment must not be exceeded.
  • Electrical equipment must be protected if used in adverse or hazardous environments, e.g. in wet conditions.
  • Electrical conductors must be protected and insulated if dangerous.
  • Precautions such as earthing and other protective measures should be provided where required.
  • Electrical systems and equipment should have a means of isolation and supply cut-off in dangerous situations. It also covers working on dead equipment once isolated.
  • Workers shouldn’t work on or adjacent to live conductors unless there is no other way. Further precautions will be required for live working.
  • There should be adequate space, access and lighting around electrical equipment when working on it.
  • People must be competent or supervised to work on electrical systems and with electrical equipment.

The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996

The requirement for electrical safety signs comes under the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996. Where there is a significant electrical risk that cannot be eliminated or controlled by other methods, employers must provide safety signs and maintain them by law. The Safety Signs and Signals Approved Code of Practice provides further guidance on the requirements of the regulations.

When and where to use safety signs should be based on the findings of the risk assessment. They should only be used where they can further reduce the risk. They should be clear and legible, and employers should avoid using too many signs, as it can confuse people.

To comply with the regulations, employers must also provide employees with suitable and sufficient instruction and training in the meaning of safety signs, including the measures to take in connection with them.

BS EN ISO 7010

BS EN ISO 7010 is an international standard. According to the British Standards Institution (BSI), BS EN ISO 7010 standardises the look of safety signs and their meaning for international use and for the purposes of accident prevention, fire protection, health hazard information and emergency evacuation. The shape and colour of each safety sign and the design of the graphical symbols is according to ISO 3864 series.

ISO 7010 was introduced so that safety signs were consistent across Europe. In 2013, it became a European Normative (EN), which meant it was adopted by European Law. As a result, all member states had to adopt the standard, which included the UK. The UK has now left the EU, but BS EN ISO 7010 is the British version of the standard and still applies.

It is important to note that British Standards are not law. However, BS EN ISO 7010 is referred to in the Safety Signs and Signals Approved Code of Practice (ACOP), which provides guidelines on complying with the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996. An ACOP is a legal series publication, and the HSE can use it as evidence of non-compliance with the regulations. Therefore, it is wise for employers to follow the standard with regards to their safety signs.

PAT testing and labels

There is no legal requirement to carry out PAT testing, but it is an effective way of showing that electrical equipment has been effectively maintained. Maintenance is a legal requirement under the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998. The frequency of PAT testing should always be based on the findings of a risk assessment.

There is also no legal requirement to use PAT labels, but it is recommended as it shows that the equipment has been tested, the result and the date of the test. It also provides evidence that an effective maintenance regime is in place.

There are guidelines for PAT testing, including labels, in the IET’s Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment, 5th Edition.

Summary

Electricity can kill people. It can also cause severe injuries and damage to property. Therefore, electrical safety must be taken seriously by all those who may be directly or indirectly exposed to electricity.

Electrical signs and symbols provide workers and others with information on electrical hazards and instructions on preventing harm. Labels, such as those used in PAT testing, inform people that electrical equipment and appliances are safe to use or not. Signs, symbols and labels are a useful way of communicating health and safety information to employees and others, which can reduce the risks.

Employers have many legal duties regarding electrical safety in the workplace. They should use the top options in the hierarchy of control to prevent and reduce the risks in the first instance. If this isn’t possible, safety signs can be used where the remaining risks are significant. If safety signs are used as a control measure, employers must ensure they comply with the relevant laws and standards. It is also vital to ensure that those at risk from electricity understand the message to keep themselves and others safe.

Contact us for further information.

 

Published · Updated

Fire Safety Doors

Emergency fire exit sign direction to doorway in the building green colour and narrow.

What are fire safety doors?

A fire safety door is a crucial safety feature of any building in which people live, work or visit. A fire safety door is a sealed door between compartments or areas. They act as a barrier to the spread of fire, heat and smoke, limiting its effect whilst allowing enough time for occupants to evacuate to a place of safety.

At a glance, fire safety doors don’t look too different from the other internal doors in a building. However, they need to be sturdy enough to stop the fire but otherwise easy to use under everyday circumstances. These dual roles are reflected in the doors’ design. A well-designed timber fire safety door will delay the spread of fire and smoke for perhaps up to 30 minutes, without causing too much hindrance to the everyday movement of people and goods. In other words, fire safety doors save lives.

How to identify a fire safety door

When you’re trying to identify a fire safety door, follow this simple check:

  • Certification. The most reliable way to identify a fire safety door is to look for its certification label.
  • Signage – Fire safety door regulations require signage clearly indicating that a fire safety door is indeed a fire safety door; this is not always upheld.
  • Gaps – The gaps around the tops and sides of the door should be less than 4mm thick. You can use a pound coin to check this; these are roughly 3mm thick.
  • Intumescent Seals – An intumescent seal is a heat-sensitive material which prevents the spread of flame and smoke by swelling in the event of a fire, and thus sealing the gap between door and frame. Check the frame and door profile for a thin strip running down the middle.
  • Hinges – A fire safety door should always have a minimum of three hinges.
  • Closing Mechanism – A fire safety door should close itself firmly from a halfway-open position and should not stick.

The differences between a fire safety door and a fire exit door

The issue of fire safety doors and fire exits can be confusing. A fire safety door is an internal door.

Examples of locations of fire safety doors include but are not limited to:

  • Stairwells, where they protect the stairs from corridors opening on to them.
  • Kitchens / catering facilities.
  • Storage areas that house combustible materials such as paper and card.
  • Boiler rooms.

Fire safety doors have to be kept closed at all times unless certified fire safety door retainers are installed (not just a door wedge), which hold the fire safety door open until a fire alarm is set off.

A fire exit door on the other hand, is an external door. It can be left open and does not have to be fire resistant. The purpose of the fire exit door is to allow a quick and unhindered escape through a well-lit door into a place of safety while stopping unauthorised access from outside the building.

Fire exits doors should open easily and, wherever possible, in the direction of traffic flow. If it is a security door that is usually kept locked but will be used by members of the public in an emergency situation, it will have to be fitted with a panic or push bar. By enabling the swift passage of people to a place of safety, the final exit door will have performed its function; it does not have to be a fire safety door to accomplish this.

Fire exit doors can also be opened from the outside if, for example, a panic bar with a key lock override is fitted. Fire exits must never be obstructed and have to be clearly marked and well lit. Best practice dictates that fire exit signs are fitted above fire exits.

Types of fire safety doors

The effectiveness of a fire safety door, as well as the type required, is determined by its location in the building and the types of fire dangers it faces. There are various types of fire safety doors, ranging from different materials to different fire ratings and levels of protection.

Types of fires safety doors include:

Wooden Fire Safety Doors – Particleboard, flax board, timber or mag board are some of the different materials used to make the solid core found in most wooden fire safety doors. A lipping around the core with a veneer finish, MDF or plywood glued to the core or a timber frame with a laminated outer finish are some of the different ways in which the core is finished. Provided that the necessary fire rating is met, any of these finishing methods can be used. It is worth noting that you should always remember to use fire-retardant paint if you plan on painting a fire safety door made of wood.

Steel Fire Safety Doors – Whilst glass or wooden fire safety doors are known to provide around 30 to 60 minutes of fire protection on average, steel fire safety doors can extend this time to up to four hours. Thanks to their durable and strong nature, these fire safety doors may be preferred over other available options when enhanced security is required. In applications where higher levels of hygiene are necessary, such as hospitals and kitchens, among others, steel fire safety doors are also preferred as they are easy to clean.

Glass Fire Safety Doors – For internal doors that comply with all the necessary fire safety regulations, pyropanel glass fire safety doors are increasingly seen as a better looking alternative to the traditionally popular wooden and steel fire safety doors. Fire-rated glass must be used on all pyropanel fire safety doors. To prevent the spread of smoke and flames, fire-rated glass has been tested and approved as an effective barrier. It is also possible to prevent the spread of heat with some types of fire-rated glass. While ordinary glass cannot withstand temperatures over 120°Celsius, fire-rated glass can survive temperatures exceeding 900°Celsius. It is important for your glass fire safety door(s) to comply with the applicable fire safety guidelines, especially given that building fires normally burn hotter than 600°Celsius.

Double Fire Safety Doors – Double doors are an excellent fit for buildings with a higher number of occupants or wider door openings.

Pre-hung Fire Safety Doors – In a new build or large construction, pre-hung fire safety doors can be used to save money and time. A single package made up of various components, including the architraves, frame and leaf, is supplied ready for installation when using pre-hung fire safety doors. These doors are installed once all of the construction work is complete to decrease any risk of damage to the door, which would render it non-compliant with the applicable fire safety regulations.

Fire safety door ratings

The FD rating assigned to fire safety doors is dependent on the amount of time it can stand up to fire. A thorough fire risk assessment must be carried out when selecting a FD rating. Fire safety doors providing 30 minutes and 60 minutes of protection have an FD30 and FD60 rating, respectively. FD ratings are assigned after stress testing according to the guidelines laid out in BS 476 part 22:1987.

Some of the commonly seen ratings include:

  • FD30: 30 minutes of protection.
  • FD60: 60 minutes of protection.
  • FD90: 90 minutes of protection.
  • FD120: 120 minutes of protection.

Fire safety door regulations

Fire safety doors are a legal requirement in all non-domestic properties, such as businesses, commercial premises and public buildings. They are also required in residential flats and houses of multiple occupancy. In the event of a fire, internal fire safety doors are meant to divide the building into separate compartments. This way, for the amount of time indicated by the FD rating of the doors, occupants have a protected way out of the building or space.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 brought together several different pieces of legislation into one. It applied to all non-domestic premises, including communal areas of residential buildings with multiple homes. The Order also designated a “Responsible Person” for fire safety whose duty is to undertake assessments and manage risks, with the Order enforced by Fire and Rescue Authorities. The Order also covered any house in multiple occupation (HIMO) with shared facilities of any height.

The Fire Safety Act 2021 establishes new rules for any building, including flats, from two-unit conversions to multiple flats in purpose-built blocks. The Act prepares the ground for secondary legislation to implement the recommendations made in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase one report.

All fire safety doors must satisfy the disability regulations under the Equality Act 2010.

Fire safety door requirements for domestic buildings

In domestic buildings above two levels, every door leading to the stairwell at all levels must be a fire safety door, where the door leads to a habitable room.

Fire safety doors are also required:

  • In loft conversions.
  • Between a house and any integral garage.
  • Between the business and residential elements in a mixed-use building.

According to the new Fire Safety Act 2021 apartment owners or leaseholders need to make sure that fire safety doors are compliant by ensuring that:

  • The fire safety door(s) is fire rated. You will be able to tell if you have a fire safety door on your flat/apartment if it has a label attached to the head confirming its certification number and manufacturer. Alternatively, it may have a coloured plug inserted by the manufacturer which confirms that the door is at least a 30-minute resistant fire safety door.
  • The fire safety door(s) should be at least 44mm thick.
  • The fire safety door should be affixed to the door frame by three certified or BS approved hinges made of steel. These hinges should not be leaking oil, and should include intumescent material pads at the back of each hinge plate.
  • If the fire safety door is fitted with a letter plate, that is the plate that covers the letter box, then the door must have a certificate to prove that it is fire-resistant and smoke-stopping.
  • The fire safety door handle and lock must be fire rated and certified. They must be comparable with the door installed.
  • The gap between the door and frame must be between 3mm and 4mm and up to 10mm at the bottom of the door.
  • The fire safety door should have a self-closing device fitted either at the top or centre of the door.
  • The fire safety door should fully close onto its rebates; that is, the door stops.
  • The fire safety door must not be twisted in its frame and should sit flush into its rebates.
  • The fire safety door frame or the edge of the door must have combined heat and cold smoke seals installed. Older doors may have a 10mm seal, whilst later doors will have 15mm seals.
  • The fire safety door frame must be in a good state of repair with no major failings. It should be secured to its opening correctly with fire stopping being provided where the frame and wall meet along the top and either side.
  • The fire safety door must open fully and close unhindered at a reasonable speed.
  • If the fire safety door has glazing, then it must be rattle free and should be correctly installed with appropriate glazing proprietary systems in place. Any glazing panel in the door should have a Kitemark or be stamped to show that it will provide at least 30 minutes of fire resistance.
  • Unfortunately, cat flaps are not permissible in fire safety door installations. So, if your apartment/flat door has a cat flap it is not compliant with the Fire Safety Act 2021.

Fire safety door requirements for non-domestic buildings

The guidelines are categorised into two separate sections, based on vertical and horizontal escape routes, when it comes to commercial and non-domestic properties. The process of evacuating all occupants of a building with multiple levels using a flight of stairs is referred to as vertical evacuation. On the other hand, occupants move horizontally, into a fireproof compartment or space on the same level/floor, to get away from the fire, in horizontal evacuation.

While the decision between horizontal and vertical evacuation is made independently, per building, the safety and speed of each option when it comes to the evacuation of a building’s occupants is the main determining factor, with vertical evacuation being the best fit in most cases.

According to the Fire Safety Order 2005, this route must be lined with fire safety doors at the very least. The door’s surroundings, location and building type are all considered in an independent evaluation used to determine the most suitable FD rating of the fire safety doors to be installed.

In accordance with Article 3 of the 2005 Fire Safety Order, the installation of fire safety doors in a commercial building is the duty of a “responsible person”.

Fire safety door frame regulations

Door frames, to go with certificated fire safety doors, should conform to the requirements stated on the door leaf’s data sheet. Frames certificated to meet the requirements of specified door leaves can be purchased from the door leaf manufacturer, a company licensed to manufacture the door frames, or a distributor.

Fire safety door frames or linings can be made from various timbers and timber-based materials. They must match the species, type and density, profile and frame dimensions given in the door leaf’s data sheets and confirmed in the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

Fire safety door frames should be of the material types, density and dimensions, including the size of the stop, stated on the fire safety door leaf’s data sheet.

Fitting new fire safety doors into existing frames is risky because the existing frame may not be fit for purpose or compatible with the certification of the new fire safety door leaf. If you are fitting new fire safety doors and components into existing frames there are a number of checks that should be made on the frame before taking the decision to only upgrade the door leaf. If it is not compatible, then certification becomes invalid.

Fire safety door frames should be fitted into partition walls that have at least the same proven fire resistance as the resulting fire safety door assembly.

The limitations on the size of gap that is permitted between the door leaf and the frame is extremely important and is documented on the door leaf manufacturer’s data sheet. In general, the gap should be between 2mm and 4mm along the two long edges and across the top of the door leaf.

Fire safety door maintenance regulations

Article 17 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO/FSO) makes it a legal requirement to ensure that fire-resisting doors and escape doors are correctly installed and adequately maintained in order for them to be fit for purpose. The RRO/FSO applies to all buildings other than domestic housing, and replaces 118 pieces of previous fire legislation, including the old fire certificate.

The law now shifts responsibility from the fire authorities for fire safety to whoever has day-to-day control of premises. The authorities have the power to enforce the RRO/FSO and do prosecute or even close buildings down where breaches are discovered.

Just like any other passive fire protection system, it is essential for a fire safety door to perform as intended in the event of a fire. Any slight alteration to the door or its surroundings can affect the performance. As such, a fire safety door should be regularly checked to ensure it functions correctly and will perform to its designed standard in the event of a fire.

Periodic checks should be carried out at least once every six months although newly occupied buildings may require more frequent checks in the first year of use. Where the fire safety door is in high use, it should be checked more frequently than other doors in the building, for example once per week or month.

Regulations for installing fire safety doors

Depending on what type of fire safety door you buy, for example set versus assembly, you will need to have them installed in different ways. If you are installing a fire safety door set, the installation needs to meet EN 1634. If you are installing a fire safety door assembly, then the installation will need to meet BS 8214 2016. Any ironmongery used as part of a fire safety door assembly will need to meet BS EN 1906:2010 and BS EN 1935.

British standard for fire safety doors

Fire safety doors must conform to a British safety standard known as BS 476 Pt 22.

BS 8214: 2016 is the code of practice for fire safety door assemblies.

BSI, the British Standards Institution, has revised BS 8214 code of practice for fire safety door assemblies. The updated standard gives recommendations for the specification, installation and maintenance of timber-based fire safety doors. BS 8214 now includes updated guidance associated with the sealing between the door assembly and the surrounding structure.

The recommendations are applicable to timber-based hinged or pivoted pedestrian door assemblies or door leaves, fitted into frames of any material.

Other changes to the revised standard from its predecessor, BS 8214:2008, include new fire precautions in the design, construction and use of building to ensure the standard is harmonised with recently revised BS 9999 code of practice for fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings.

BS 8214 was revised with suppliers of door assembly components in mind, many of whom are looking for ways to align their offering with the reliability of assembly offered by door sets. The revised standard reflects changes in the industry to meet its usability, particularly in relation to the installation and maintenance of fire safety doors, and is particularly relevant to those who work in the fire performance and smoke control sectors.

Contact us for further information.

 

Published · Updated

PPE regulations to change from April 2022

PPE regulations to change from April 2022

PPE regulations to change from April 2022

The HSE has released new regulations around the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) at work.

The new guidance is set to amend the 1992 regulations and will include specific Covid-19 guidance for workplaces.

The new PPE regulations PPER 2022 will remain unchanged in some areas from the 1992 regulations, but will now extend to Limb (b) workers (contractors, agency workers etc) who did not previously come under the 1992 regulations.

What does this mean for you?

Covid has changed the way we work forever. Previous blog regarding PPE and COVID, click here. This guidance from the HSE to include Limb (b) workers, is an example of the types of strategies needed in order to safeguard anyone on your site.

If you are an employer, you will need to familiarise yourself with the new regulations before 6th April 2022.

The PPE 2022 regulations places a duty on employers to provide necessary and essential PPE for both permanent and casual workers/contractors. Essentially anyone working on your site needs to be provided with the correct PPE for the job.

Risk assessments

PPE risk assessments for all casual workers may place a small burden on employers. But the benefits of ensuring all site workers are properly equipped far outweigh the negatives. See it as a belts and braces approach to safety, which then covers all of your workforce and not just some.

We all have to play a part in ensuring that we minimise the spread of viruses that are potentially fatal. That means that prior to any new workers starting, each person must have a risk assessment and provided with the right PPE to safeguard their health and minimise accidents at work.

What PPE do I need? 

PPE has changed a lot since the beginning of the pandemic. Workers are now demanding they are provided with the right equipment, which is now backed up by the new HSE regulations.

Depending on the nature of the work being performed, there are various types of ‘suitable’ PPE for workers. In some cases face masks are essential, but the level of protection afforded by each mask can be quite different. The best thing to do before buying any new PPE is to risk assess so that you buy the right face masks for the job. Last year we produced a blog post which discussed the various types of masks available and which one might be best for the job which might be beneficial when you are doing your research.

But of course PPE is never just face masks. To shop our collection of PPE including safety hats, goggles and more, click here to be taken straight to the PPE section of our shop.

Contact us for further information.

Guest Post William Dooley.

 

Who is responsible for workplace health and safety?

health-and-safety-services-offices

Who is responsible for workplace health and safety?

Who is legally responsible for health and safety at work?

Health and safety in the workplace is a collective responsibility. Whilst the burden for workplace health and safety falls on the employer, the responsibility for health and safety within the workplace needs to be shared by everyone.

The specifics of how health and safety is implemented within your workplace might depend on:

  • The industry you work in.
  • The size and scope of operations.
  • The structure of the business.

For some businesses, health and safety will be fairly straightforward. Keeping staff and end-users of the service safe will generally require common sense and a working knowledge of any legislation that affects the industry the business operates in.

For businesses that have managed to foster a culture where health and safety is upheld and respected, it will largely become second nature to employees. Simple acts such as keeping fire exits clear, displaying a wet floor sign when the floor is wet and could be slippery, maintaining good housekeeping and attending regular fire training all become part of the day-to-day procedures of the workplace.

For some industries, especially those who deal with complex operations or hazardous situations such as mines, nuclear plants or asbestos removal, the management of health and safety operations has to be far more in depth, stringent and with significantly more checks in place.

Employer health and safety responsibilities

The law requires managers to assess and manage risk as far as is practical. The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 outlines the duty of care that all employers have to their workers.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 sets out more specifically the employer’s responsibilities, i.e. the steps they take to ensure health and safety need to correspond with each activity happening within the workplace, rather than more general rules.

To help them maintain health and safety within their businesses, there are many aspects employers need to consider:

  • Risk assessments – If the business has more than five employees it is necessary to keep a written record of risk assessments that are conducted, including health and safety risk assessments and fire safety risk assessments.
  • Health and safety policy – The law requires all businesses to have a health and safety policy. For businesses with more than five employees it must be written down and distributed (although this is useful to do in businesses of all sizes). It must include a Statement of Intent (your general H&S policy and your commitment to it), Responsibilities for Health and Safety (list of names and roles) and Arrangements for Health and Safety (signs, equipment, training etc.)
  • Display health and safety law poster (or give out leaflets) – The Health and Safety Information for Employees Regulations 1989 requires employers to display the HSE-approved poster, which can be downloaded, or provide the equivalent leaflet to employees.
  • First aid at work – Appoint first-aiders, allow them to attend training, have appropriate first aid kits in stock and in accessible locations.
  • Emergency procedures – Provide information and training on what staff need to do in the event of an emergency, who to contact, where fire exits and break glass points are located etc.
  • Appoint competent colleagues to help with the procedures – This includes first aid, risk assessments and training.
  • Provide information and training to colleagues that is clear and understandable – Things to consider here are language or literacy barriers. Is your H&S policy inclusive, is training regular and is attendance checked?
  • Work together with others in the workplace – Communication, as always, is key.
  • Report certain accidents to HSE – A list of reportable incidents is available.
  • Have the appropriate facilities for workers – This includes toilets, washbasins etc.
  • Insurance – Check what liability insurance (and in some cases Public Liability insurance) you are required to have in order to operate as a business.

Employee health and safety responsibilities

Because health and safety in the workplace is a shared responsibility it is important that employees acknowledge that they also have a part to play. Employees are responsible for putting into practice the training that they are given as well as communicating with their peers and managers regarding concerns, ideas or improvements that could be made.

All employees should:

  • Attend health and safety training and implement what they learn in their day-to-day activities.
  • Report any accidents as well as ‘near misses’, hazards and safety failures that they witness.
  • Not engage in practices, or use equipment, that seem unsafe.
  • Never interfere with any health and safety equipment (such as fire extinguishers, masks etc.)
  • Use the correct PPE in the correct way.
  • Take responsibility – Work with their superiors and colleagues to create a safer environment for all, be aware of their surroundings and work safely.
  • If in doubt, always ask for guidance on health and safety matters at work, do not guess or ignore anything that seems out of place.

Health and Safety Executive roles and responsibilities

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is an independent, governing body that is responsible for the regulation of health and safety and staff welfare within UK workplaces. They offer advice, guidance, information, templates and tools to employers and employees. They also conduct inspections and have enforcement capabilities.

Some businesses might appoint a dedicated Health and Safety Manager or Health and Safety Executive within the company. This is especially useful in businesses that operate in high-risk areas (such as construction) or that have a large number of employees.

Businesses that decide to employ a specific health and safety manager will benefit from having a qualified, experienced, single point of contact for staff on all levels to approach regarding any health and safety matters.

The roles and responsibilities of a dedicated health and safety professional will include:

  • Carrying out risk assessments.
  • Training new starters as well as refresher training for existing staff.
  • Staying up to date with current legislation and monitoring any relevant changes.
  • Ensuring all paperwork is up to date.
  • Ensuing compliance within the business.
  • Recording incidents, accidents or near misses.
  • Improving the health and safety culture within the business, leading by example, and addressing all unsafe behaviour or unmanaged risks they encounter.

What legislation is in place to enforce health and safety?

The main piece of legislation that relates to health and safety in the workplace is:

  • Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA).

In addition to this there is:

  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

This piece of legislation gives clearer guidance on exactly how risks should be assessed and managed and the steps that should be taken to control them.

There is also a significant amount of industry-specific legislation that might apply, depending on which field a business is operating in such as:

  • Manual Handling Operations 1992 (amended 2002).
  • RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) 2013.
  • COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) 2002.
  • Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) 1992.

Employees are also covered under:

  • The Working Time Regulations 1998.

This legislation regulates the maximum number of hours employees are allowed to work as well as when they are entitled to breaks. However, in some industries, in particular hospitality, workers are asked to opt out of certain parts in writing (such as the 48-hour maximum working week).

In addition, it is a legal requirement to provide fire safety training in the workplace. Specific legislation that addresses this includes:

  • The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

If a worker dies, is injured or becomes ill as a result of their work and the employer has been negligent and failed to protect them adequately, they could be subject to:

  • Criminal Law – The HSE or local authority may prosecute the employer.
  • Civil Law – The worker (or their family) may sue the employer for compensation.

Either of these possibilities can result in a financial loss for the employer as well as damage to the reputation of their business. Where significant breaches have occurred, employers could be subject to incarceration and a criminal record.

What to do to guarantee workplace safety

Managing risks is an important part of ensuring health and safety within the workplace is at the level it needs to be. One way to do this is by conducting risk assessments. These can be carried out by the employer or another competent person.

Steps to take when conducting a risk assessment:

1. Identify hazards (or potential hazards).
2. Assess risks.
3. Control risks.
4. Record your findings.
5. Review the controls.

It is vital that managers ensure that they always have appropriate PPE in stock, with staff trained to use it.

They must also ensure any equipment, machinery or mechanical aids on site are regularly inspected and fit for purpose and that they are being compliant with any government regulations, such as those for certain electrical equipment to be PAT tested.

A person does not necessarily have to be harmed for an offence to have been committed in relation to HSWA – only a risk of harm needs to be evident. This means that it is important employers and business owners take steps to manage and control the risks within their workplaces.

Audits: Conduct regular audits. Businesses that belong to certain governing bodies or who want to attain certain accreditations (such as ISOs) will have to submit to external audits on a periodical basis. It is also important to conduct regular internal health and safety audits as this helps to identify patterns, recurrences and areas of weakness.

The results of audits should be collated and made available to all departments. Any areas of weakness that are identified should be addressed as early as possible, with additional training and support given to staff who require it.

Sometimes, businesses will want to demonstrate their commitment to health and safety to their clients and the general public by getting industry-respected accreditations such as the ISO 45001 or joining a scheme such as CHAS or the CCS.

How to enforce workplace health and safety

Health and safety laws are enforced by both inspectors from the HSE and the local council/local authority depending on the type of business in question.

The role of an inspector is to check how risks are being managed and how health and safety legislation is being put into practice within the workplace to prevent accidents, injuries and work-related ill health.

They may do this by:

  • Inspecting a premises (including hotels, leisure facilities, factories, farms, warehouses, building sites).
  • Conducting investigations into accidents, injuries and instances of work-related ill health.
  • Offering guidance, information and advice to businesses, employees and the wider public.
  • Investigating any complaints made about poor health and safety practice, lack of compliance or unsafe working conditions.
  • Encouraging people to understand and implement good practice within health and safety and be compliant with legislation/best practice.

When inspectors find, or are alerted to, problems with health and safety within a workplace they have a range of options at their disposal. For the most serious breaches they will look to prosecute those who are legally responsible; they are also able to serve improvement or prohibition notices. Inspectors do have the power to seize items and make reasonable investigations including taking samples, interviewing witnesses or requesting documents.

For minor infractions, an inspector may deal with the issue informally prior to taking a more formal route; however, it is always necessary to make the improvements that they request.

As a manager or business owner it is also important that you use your authority to enforce good health and safety practice and ensure compliance, or that you consult with a competent third party to help you with this.

A commitment to health and safety within the workplace is often led from the top-down, therefore it is crucial that subordinate workers see that their management or supervisors are taking health and safety matters seriously.

For health and safety practice to be upheld on a daily basis within businesses requires commitment, clarity, good communication and a cohesive team effort. Although the weight of the law rests on the employer, minimising risks and avoiding accidents and injuries at work requires everyone to work together for the greater good.

Compliance with health and safety practice does, quite literally, save lives.

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Noise health surveillance below action levels

Risk Assessment Services

Noise health surveillance below action levels

Question
We have employees who have to use various items of powered tools to undertake their work activities. One employee has requested that we undertake health surveillance for them in relation to noise exposure even though our assessment indicates noise levels are below the legal action values. Are we obliged to provide such health surveillance?

Answer
Under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005, employers have a duty to eliminate or control the risks from exposure to noise or reduce exposure to as low as reasonably practicable.

Under Regulation 9 of the above regulations, if the risk assessment indicates that there is a risk to the health of his employees who are or are liable to be exposed to noise, “the employer shall ensure that such employees are placed under suitable health surveillance, which shall include testing of their hearing”.

The aims are primarily to safeguard the health of workers (including identifying and protecting individuals at increased risk), but also to check the long-term effectiveness of measures used to control risks to health.

It is important to note that this requirement is not linked to any of the exposure action values set within the regulations. The key to the requirement is whether the risk assessment indicates a risk to workers’ health — that is from exposure to noise without taking into account the noise reduction provided by hearing protection.

Guidance to the regulations then states that “there is strong evidence to show that frequent exposure above the upper exposure action values can pose a risk to health”. It then recommends that employers provide health surveillance to workers frequently exposed above the upper exposure action values.

Where exposure is between the lower and upper exposure action values, or where employees are only occasionally exposed above upper exposure action values, the guidance recommends that employers should provide health surveillance if the assessment has identified that an individual may be particularly sensitive to noise and noise induced hearing loss.

This can be identified through past medical history, audiometric test results from previous jobs, other independent assessments or a history of exposure to noise levels exceeding the upper exposure action values. Some employees may also indicate a family history of becoming deaf early on in life.

As the exposure action values are not being exceeded, it is highly unlikely that health surveillance is required in this case, but it may be advisable to keep the situation under review and more specific medical evidence sought as to the individual’s sensitivity.

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