COMAH Regulations 2015

New measures imposing greater obligations on firms facing industrial accidents are now in force – and FMs must know their responsibilities, says Rhian Gilligan. – 16 July 2015 | By Rhian Gilligan The latest incarnation of the the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) regulations was introduced on 1 June. Based on the Seveso III Directive, the new regime will see UK law harmonise with the globally agreed approach to labelling chemicals. The business of regulating such high-hazard industries is detailed and onerous. This article examines the key changes and identifies the steps you need to take now to secure compliance. The origins of COMAH explain the necessity for tight controls. The directives followed a disaster in the Italian town of Seveso in 1976, when around six tonnes of the potent carcinogen TCDD (often wrongly shortened to dioxin) were accidentally released into the atmosphere. There were no human fatalities, but the effects on the locality were enormous. Some 80,000 animals were slaughtered to stop TCDD entering the food chain, 500 people were treated for skin lesions, 200 more presented with chloracne and it was thought that there was increased incidence of diabetes and certain cancers among local people. In the […]

Legionella – Controlling the risks

Two recent criminal prosecutions against NHS trusts highlight the importance of ensuring that proper control measures are put in place to protect people from being exposed to the legionella bacteria, says Matthew Taylor. 16 July 2015 | By Matthew Taylor The case – on 11 June 2015, Brighton and Sussex University Hospital NHS Trust was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £38,705.60 in costs for failing to control legionella at its hospital. Cancer patient Joan Rayment, 78, had contracted an infection while being treated in hospital. An inquest found that the legionella had been appropriately treated, however, it was found that the infection could have hastened her death. The court was told that although the trust was monitoring legionella and water temperatures across its various sites, a total of 114 positive legionella tests and a further 651 records of water temperatures outside the required parameters were not adequately acted on.  An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also revealed that chlorine dioxide units that were fitted at five sites to control legionella routinely failed to emit the required dosage to work effectively. Inspectors also found that water often failed to reach the 60°C temperature needed to kill the […]

Asbestos Must Be Eradicated From Public Buildings

A proposed asbestos bill could make it compulsory for the deadly building material to be removed from public premises, delegates at a conference heard last month. John McClean, national health and safety officer at trade union GMB, told delegates at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s annual conference, that the Trades Union Congress (TUC) had put together an asbestos bill before the general election. McClean said: “The next stage will be to wait for when the ballot for the Private Members Bill comes… The Private Members’ Bill is usually taken by a backbench MP… and sometimes you can persuade an MP to take your bill up… Like asbestos removal this [process] won’t happen in a few weeks, this will be an ongoing [campaign].” But if the bill does make it into law it would mean a long-term plan for the removal of asbestos from public buildings. McClean says it would mean “better control of asbestos, better registry of it and eventually removal of it”. It could essentially affect those who might not be surveying and registering asbestos in the buildings that they manage, according to McClean. If those who manage buildings are not controlling and registering asbestos within their […]