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Health & Safety Executive to Focus on WORKPLACE HEALTH in 2015

The HSE has announced that its pro-active inspection programme for 2015/16 will have workplace health as its primary focus. Recent campaigns concentrating on safety, along with the legionella campaign have been effective. However, as more people die from workplace illnesses - some of which have long latency periods - the HSE is to look more closely at workplace health.
This programme is to focus on manufacturing industries (including foundries) where carcinogens, asthmagens and respirable crystalline silica (RCS) are used, produced or process generated. In foundries this would include for example, thermal degradation during pouring of molten metal into sand moulds and cooling.
As part of this programme, inspectors will be reviewing the management arrangements of companies for the assessment and control of risks arising from exposure to carcinogens, asthmagens and RCS.
Questions that will be asked include:
• Has a suitable and sufficient risk assessment been carried out? 
• Have appropriate control measures been provided? 
• Has adequate and suitable training for relevant employees been provided in the associated health risks and the correct use of control measures to mitigate these risks? 
LEV (local exhaust ventilation) is a key area that will be looked into and areas to be examined include:
• Are LEV systems suitable for the purpose for which they were provided and are they suitably maintained?
• Are LEV systems thoroughly examined and tested by a competent person at a maximum period of 14 months between inspections? Are any certificates current?
• Is sand handling plant within enclosures if reasonably practicable? 
• Is there the provision of LEV at mould and core making if reasonably practicable? 
• Is LEV provided at knock out and shake out tables? 
• Is there a visual indication that the LEV is effective, undamaged and used properly? 
Health surveillance programmes where required, will need to be in place. Should respiratory protective equipment (RPE) be necessary; the questions will be: has it been provided after being appropriately selected? Is it used, maintained and checked at suitable intervals? Where workplace levels of substances falling under the categories being inspected do not fall below the relevant WEL (workplace exposure limit), is the right sort of RPE being provided? It is important to remember that tight fitting face-piece RPE should not be worn for more than an hour. If people are working in environments with substance levels above WEL’s for longer durations, powered RPE should be used.
Housekeeping, including sweeping methods and material handling will also be part of the investigation.
A good starting place to review whether undertakings are in line with current legal requirements at a minimum, is the COSHH regulations starting with regulation 6 and working through the legislation and ACoP from there.
It is expected that, while the focus programme will only last 12 months, further actions or targeted inspections may take place dependent on findings by inspectors. Where there are large gaps in the activities of a business and the level of confidence in the management and systems that suggest that errors, omissions or gaps will not readily be corrected, formal notices can be issued, which will incur fee for intervention charges.
Foundries should already know of the requirements under COSHH and how to comply with them, however members of the SHIFT initiative will be able to attend the remaining forums for this year where the focus will be on providing additional help and information on meeting the obligations necessary to keep people safe. 
More information on the HSE programme can be found on the news desk page of www.shift-initiative.org.uk
More information from the CMF perspective is available from Richard Heath, Tel: +44 (0) 21 601 6392, email: richardheath@cmfed.co.uk