2018 Branch Presentations

15 February 2018: Driving on company business

Speaker: Tony Hart BA Dip Arch RIBA NEBOSH, Senior Architect, Sellafield Sites

Tony gave us a thought-provoking presentation on the need for effective management of employees who are routinely expected to drive as part of their work. He explained that for most people driving is their most dangerous work activity and highlighted the impact of driver tiredness on our ability to drive safely.

Tony reminded members that driver tiredness is one of the biggest killers on UK roads. Road accident statistics indicate that about 300 people per year are killed due to falling asleep at the wheel.

He told members that research has shown that categories of drivers who are most at risk of driver tiredness include:

  • Young male drivers - who are most likely to crash due to tiredness in the early morning after little or no sleep.
  • Older male drivers – who are most likely to crash during the mid-afternoon, when it is common to experience a ‘dip’ in your body clock.
  • Commercial vehicle drivers – responsible for 40% of serious road accidents where driver tiredness is identified as a major factor.

Tony went on to explain that although it can be difficult to prove that a road accident was caused by driver tiredness but he said that the police and HSE have now developed ways of accessing whether tiredness is likely to have been a factor such as assessing:

  • Tacographs (commercial vehicles)
  • Type of accident impact
  • Road tyre marks (indicate driver’s response to emergency situation)
  • Eye witness statements
  • Motorway service station videos (confirms time and length of driver’s rest breaks)
  • The driver’s work schedules for the day
  • Hours driving plus hours spent working and/or socialising.

Tony reminded members that drivers who cause serious accidents due to driving tired and survive can face careless driving or dangerous driving charges.

He then discussed factors that cause driver tiredness and affect driving ability:

  • Lack of sleep (irregular sleep patterns, too little sleep, disturbed sleep, insomnia, sleep apnoea)
  • Time of day (Midnight to 6 am and 2 to 4 pm are danger zones for tiredness)
  • Stress (home or work)
  • Dehydration (research has shown that mental capacity, mood and cognitive ability can be adversely affected by mild dehydration)
  • Medication (drugs including some anti-depressants and hay fever tablets can affect driving ability)
  • Physical conditions in car (temperature, distractions, cruise control, radio, telephone, sat nav etc…)
  • Driving more than two hours without a break.

He also explained the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) Questionnaire and recommended that members went through the questionnaire to help them understand their potential susceptibility to driver tiredness.

Tony then summarised some practical ways of combating driver tiredness for work related driving:

  • Allow sufficient time for journeys (including provision for unexpected hold-ups)
  • Take regular breaks from driving (at least 15 minutes, get out of the car, have a drink, walk about)
  • Speak to your employer/line manager if you think work time schedules are unrealistic (employers have responsibilities under road traffic legislation if employees are driving as a work activity and health and safety law)
  • Employers should consider providing defensive driving courses for employees who are regularly expected drive long hours for their work
  • If an employee’s work day involves travelling more than two hours in each direction to a work location then working for a period of four or more hours, consider alternative means of transport or staying in overnight accommodation.

Tony alerted members to the warning signs of driver tiredness such as:

  • Trouble focussing on the road
  • Head nodding, and/or difficulty keeping eyes open
  • Not remembering the last few minutes of the journey
  • Poor judgement, slower reaction time
  • Daydreaming and wandering thoughts
  • Constant yawning or rubbing your eyes
  • Drifting in the lane.

Tony warned members that it was imperative to heed these tiredness symptoms and to find somewhere to rest as soon as possible because they could lead to a ‘micro-sleep’ episode. ‘Micro-sleep’ occurs when someone ‘nods off’ for between two and 30 seconds without remembering it and happens when people are tired but are trying to stay awake. He reminded members that ‘nodding off’ for just a few seconds at the wheel can be fatal for the driver and for other road users in the vicinity.

Tony concluded by discussing ways of managing driver tiredness and the impact of life style choices on driver tiredness.

A copy of Tony’s presentation is available here: Driver Tiredness.

Tony’s presentation generated worthwhile discussions and was much appreciated by members attending the meeting.

18 January 2018: CDM (2015) in practice at the construction stage

Speaker: James Riddick, Health & Safety Adviser, Eric Wright Group, Preston

James gave us a thought-provoking presentation that focussed on practical ways of complying with the requirements of the CDM Regulations 2015 during the construction stage. He used case studies to illustrate compliance problems and solutions.

He reminded delegates that Schedule 3 of the Regulations covered specific arrangements for managing safety on site that must be considered in the site Risk Assessment and recorded as ‘not applicable’, if appropriate, to demonstrate that all potential problems had been considered before work started on site. Specified topics include:

  • Excavation safety
  • Falls from height
  • Risks from chemical or biological hazards
  • Ionizing radiation
  • High voltage power lines
  • Risk of drowning
  • Diving
  • Work in compressed air
  • Explosives
  • Assembly or disassembly of heavy prefabricated items

James said that it was important that these Risk Assessments were site specific, easy to understand and that all workers on site ‘bought in’ to them. He used examples of Eric Wright Group’s CDM site management system to illustrate the problems posed by CDM (2015) and ways that these could be resolved. He also emphasised the importance of developing site safety induction and management systems that were led by the Site Manager.

Next James looked at the Principal Contractor’s duties to plan, manage, monitor and coordinate the construction phase of a project. They are clearly set out in Regulation 13 and include requirements to:

  • Liaise with the client and principal designer.
  • Prepare the site construction phase plan.
  • Organise cooperation between contractors and to coordinate their work.

James then considered the requirement to provide welfare facilities on site and how HSE were enforcing this. He illustrated this with examples of inadequate welfare provision and examples of good welfare facilities on large, medium and small construction sites.

Next James covered a topic that had caused problems for the Eric Wright Group because it was poorly publicised namely water quality and the BS:8551 2011- A British Standard for Temporary Water supplies requirement that:

“…Storage vessels/ transfer vessels should be clean, disinfected and sampled prior to delivery. Any vessel being used for the storage of wholesome water should comply with the water fittings regulations ie. WRAS approved and made from materials approved in regulation 31 of the drinking water regulations. Any company suppling a tank should always provide their customer with a certificate of disinfection and sample certificate before being installed on site…”

James warned members that an increasing number of HSE Inspectors were enforcing this standard when they inspected construction site welfare facilities.

He then explained that the Principal Contractor also had a duty to make and maintain arrangements that will enable workers to co-operate in developing, promoting and checking the effectiveness of health and safety measures. He said that the only way to do this effectively was to have meaningful discussions with workers and to ensure they had easy access to relevant site safety management information such as site rules and Risk Assessments and that they understood why they were necessary.

James considered Contractors’ duties under Regulation 14 to plan, manage and monitor construction work under their control so that it is carried out without causing risks to site health and safety. He reminded members that Regulation 17 requires construction sites to be safe places to work with:

  • Safe access
  • Enough space – for example, adequate parking provision, adequate and secure storage space, adequate space for deliveries etc…
  • Free from harm to safety, health and welfare – for example, safe management of asbestos, dust, HAVS, COSHH, noise, welfare facilities, security etc…

He said Regulation 18 requires construction sites have secure boundaries to prevent unauthorised access, and, ‘Good Housekeeping’ policies to ensure that equipment is ‘looked after’ and maintained to a high standard. He reminded members that a well-managed, orderly construction site also helps to develop a positive safety culture on site.

Next James considered Regulation 19 that covers the stability of new and existing structures including: new brickwork, BS5975 Temporary Works, scaffolding, formwork and propping.

He reminded members that:

  • Regulation 20 states that demolition and dismantling projects must be planned and that arrangements must be recorded before demolition commences.
  • Regulation 25 includes specific requirements about the safe management of construction site energy distribution
  • Regulation 27 includes specific requirements about the safe management of construction site traffic management.

He also listed other Regulations that he did not have time to consider during his presentation.

James encouraged members to ask questions during his presentation. This led to some lively discussions with interesting additional examples of construction site management problems from our members. It was an enjoyable and worthwhile meeting.

A copy of James’ presentation can be found here.

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