Health and Safety at Work

Health and Safety at Work is primarily concerned with the prevention of injury and disease to people at work and those who visit the workplace. Legal responsibilities are placed on employers, self-employed persons and employees. Legal responsibilities are also placed on manufacturers of equipment as well as those who fit and maintain it.

In Northern Ireland, Local Councils employ Environmental Health Officers who are responsible for enforcing the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 and other Subsidiary Regulations in Council enforced premises.

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) and Local Councils share the enforcement responsibility for a range of different premises throughout Northern Ireland. Below is a link for the “Enforcing Authority List” to help you to determine whether your Enforcing Authority is the Council or HSENI.

Enforcing Authority List

Health and Safety (Enforcing Authority) Regulations 1998 A-Z guide allocation

Overview

Health and Safety Eexecutive NI (HSENI)

HSENI is responsible for enforcing health and safety at workplaces including:

  • factories
  • farms
  • building sites
  • mines
  • schools and colleges
  • fairgrounds
  • gas, electricity and water systems
  • hospitals and nursing homes
  • central and local government premises
  • offshore installations

Council

The Local Council is responsible for enforcing health and safety at workplaces including:

  • offices (except government offices)
  • shops
  • hotels
  • restaurants
  • leisure premises
  • nurseries and playgroups
  • pubs and clubs
  • museums (privately owned)
  • places of worship
  • residential care homes

Environmental Health Officers deal with three key areas- advice, training and enforcement. Staff will visit businesses, discuss any area of concern and provide guidance and information to help them comply with the law.  

This guidance booklet explains What to do when an inspector calls?

Enforcement

In terms of enforcement, Environmental Health Officers will routinely visit business premises to check standards and assess the approach to managing health and safety. Complaints and accidents will be investigated and where necessary formal action will be taken i.e. Improvement Notice and Prohibition Notices will be issued or in certain cases offenders will be prosecuted.

Complaints

Complaints relating to dangerous working practices or unsatisfactory conditions at work are also investigated. Enquiries by employers, employees and members of the public regarding workplace health and safety will be investigated by the health and safety team.

Detailed guidance on the various aspects of health and safety can be found below:

Accident and Injuries- How to report an accident

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (NI) 1997

It is a legal requirement for employers, self-employed people and those in control of premises to report certain types of accidents, diseases and dangerous occurrences to their enforcing authority i.e. Ards and North Down Borough Council or the Health and Safety Executive (HSENI). The following must be reported;

  • Death or major injury
  • Over 3-day injury to employees/self-employed people
  • Hospitalisation of a member of the public
  • Dangerous occurrence
  • Disease – notification from a doctor

Please refer to the RIDDOR booklet for further information: https://www.hseni.gov.uk/publications/riddor-ni-97-booklet

Reporting an accident

All reportable incidents should be reported to Ards and North Down Borough Council without delay via telephone and followed up by completing an NI2508 form within 10 days.

All accidents, diseases and dangerous occurrences can be reported to the HSENI, regardless if they are the Enforcing Authority or not. This is particularly useful where an employer is unsure of who their Enforcing Authority is. HSENI will process all forms onto its database and, where applicable, forward on relevant forms to Ards and North Down Borough Council.

Employers are encouraged to use the online reporting forms available from the HSENI website via the following links;

Report an Injury (NI2508): 

https://www.hseni.gov.uk/services/report-injury-ni2508

Report a Dangerous Occurrence (NI2508):

https://www.hseni.gov.uk/services/report-dangerous-occurrence-ni2508

Report a Disease Case (NI2508A):

https://www.hseni.gov.uk/services/report-disease-ni2508a

Alternatively, hard copy forms are also available to download from the HSENI website https://www.hseni.gov.uk/publications/type/forms, and on completion should sent to;

The Accident Clerk, HSENI, 83 Ladas Drive, Belfast, BT6 9FR

For further information please contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333 or email h&senquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Asbestos

The Control of Asbestos Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012

Asbestos is a soft mineral rock consisting of tiny fibres that can be released into the air when cut, damaged or deteriorated.

Breathing in air containing asbestos fibres can lead to serious illness such as cancer of the lungs and chest. There is no cure for asbestos related disease and all forms of asbestos can be dangerous.

Asbestos is harmless when in good condition but can pose a hazard if damaged or disturbed during routine maintenance i.e. an electrician doing re-wiring.

If you own, occupy, manage or have responsibilities for non-domestic premises which may contain asbestos, or if you are responsible for the non-private i.e. common parts of domestic premises like hall and lift areas you will either have:

  • A legal duty to manage the risk from this material under Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulation (NI) 2007.
  • A legal duty to co-operate with whoever manages that risk.

The duty holder is required to have their premises inspected by a competent person (i.e. Approved Asbestos Contractor) to determine if asbestos is present. If asbestos is present an asbestos management plan will be developed that will:

  • Identify the presence/condition of asbestos
  • Determine whether asbestos needs to be removed
  • Label and manage asbestos in situ

The plan will include a review date so that the condition of the asbestos is assessed at regular intervals

What do I need to do?

  • Determine who is the duty holder
  • Determine the age of the building
  • Check if there is any asbestos documentation for the building
  • Carryout an asbestos survey or take the presumptive approach
  • Keep a written record or register
  • Act on your findings
  • Tell people where the asbestos is – label and management plan
  • Keep your records up to date

Please refer to this leaflet linked below for a more detailed explanation of the above points

Duty to Manage Asbestos Leaflet

https://www.hseni.gov.uk/articles/duty-manage-asbestos

For further information please contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333 or email h&senquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Beauty Therapy Treatments and Hairdressing

If you own a beauty salon or hairdressers in Northern Ireland, you must register with the local Council and comply with relevant health and safety legislation.

Please click on the ‘Business Registration Form’ on the main menu for a copy of the registration form. If the business changes ownership, the new owner must also register with the Council.

Registered businesses will receive routine health and safety inspections to ensure the safety of both employees and members of the public. An Environmental Health Officer will have the power to enter and inspect your business in accordance with the Health and Safety at Work (NI) Order 1978. They will advise you on what action you should take to comply with the law.

Areas of concern in relation to beauty salons and hairdressers include the following;

  • Premises should be sufficiently clean, lit and ventilated.
  • Pre-treatment and aftercare being given to clients.
  • Precautions should be in place to protect against contamination or infection.
  • Employees should be sufficiently trained in how to carry out treatments hygienically and how to use tools and apparatus.
  • Appropriate hand washing facilities in the vicinity of treatment areas.
  • Understanding of COSHH and how to use chemicals safely.

Please note, you do not need a licence to carry out certain treatments like microblading, electrolysis and acupuncture but your business must be registered with the Council.

Useful Links

Please click on the following links if you require further information;

Code of Practice for Nail Services

Code of Practice for Waxing Services

COSHH Essentials for Service & Retail (SR11): Hairdressing 

COSHH Essentials for Service & Retail (SR12): Electrolysis, piercing, tattooing and micropigmentation 

For further information please contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333 or email h&senquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Business Registration Form

If you are a new or existing business within the Ards and North Down area and you are a Council enforced premises (see link below), please complete and return a health and safety registration form. Once this form is received a routine inspection will be carried out in due course. The inspection will provide information to help you to comply with the law.

Health and Safety (Enforcing Authority) Regulations 1998 A-Z guide allocation

Please click here for the Business Registration form

You can email a copy of the completed form to:

h&senquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

You can post a copy to:

Ards and North Down Borough Council, Environmental Health (Health and Safety), 2 Church Street, Newtownards BT23 4AP

Alternatively, you can leave a copy into reception at 2 Church Street Newtownards, BT23 4AP:

Reception opening times

Monday to Thursday 9.00am to 5.00pm
Friday 9.00am to 4.30pm.

For further information please contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333 or email h&senquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Caravan Site Licensing

Licensing of Caravan and Camping Sites

The Health and Safety Team is responsible for the licensing and inspection of caravan, camping sites and motorhomes throughout the Borough. There are currently 26 licensed holiday and residential sites across the Ards and North Down Borough.

Inspection

Park Operators can expect to receive an annual inspection to assess compliance with the conditions of the licence detailed in The Caravans Act (Northern Ireland) 1963. This will include the checking of separation distances, numbers of units, structures adjoining caravans, the provision and maintenance of fire points and measures aimed at reducing the risk of fire and subsequent spread in addition to amenity provision.

Additionally, the health and safety officer will carry out a health and safety inspection to determine the risks exposed to all users of the park and determine the measures required to control such risks, such as the maintenance of electrical and gas installations and any other relevant maintenance records. Failure to comply with site licence conditions or a breach of health and safety legislation may result in formal action being taken against the park operator.

Click here to download Caravan Site Licence Application

Rights of Caravan Users

The Caravans Act (NI) 2011 introduces rights of persons with dealings with the site owner, who either live in a caravan as their main home or those who rent caravan pitches for more than 28 days. This Act sets out the content of the written agreement between the caravan owner and park operator Further advice can be obtained from The Trading Standards Service tss@detini.gov.uk or www.consumerline.org

The Council can deal with issues of harassment or illegal eviction under the legislation.

Keeping us informed

You should notify us immediately in the event of any changes which may affect the validity of the site licence in order that the licence may be changed accordingly. These changes may include new planning consents which alter unit types or numbers or other material alterations to the site layout i.e. new verandas, re-siting of vans, transfer of ownership etc

For further information please contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333.

Churches

Every year a number of accidents occur in churches, church halls, church yards and in connection with church activities.

Accidents can be greatly reduced by ensuring health and safety is an integral part of the everyday running of the church.

Ards and North Down Borough Council Environmental Health Department has launched a guidance booklet specific to churches and places of worship.

The booklet aims to increase awareness of safety in churches including associated social events and provides a practical approach to compliance with health and safety provisions. The content of this booklet provides the information you need to comply with relevant health and safety legislation.

A guide to health and safety in Churches and Places of Worship can be accessed below:

Health and Safety - Churches and Places of Worship

For further information please contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333 or email h&senquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Display Screen Equipment

Display screen equipment (DSE) are devices which have a graphic display and includes computer monitors, laptops, tablets and other similar devices.

Overuse or improper use of DSE can lead to fatigue, backache, eye strain and upper limb problems.

Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992

Every employer shall perform a suitable and sufficient analysis of those workstations which are used in connection with his business, for the purpose of assessing the health and safety risk to which operators are exposed. Once risks have been identified, appropriate steps should be taken to reduce risk.

The above Regulations apply to employees who use DSE everyday (for an hour or more at a time). This includes the following;

  • Employees at a fixed workstation
  • Mobile workers
  • Home workers
  • Employees who are hot desking.

Working safely with DSE

Where a business employs DSE users they must do the following to comply with the law;

  • Complete a DSE workstation assessment.
  • Reduce the risks posed to employees e.g. ensuring DSE users take breaks or reduce screen time by giving employees a different type of work for a period of time.
  • Provide eye tests to those who use DSE regularly.
  • Provide training and information for employees.

DSE workstations and assessment

If employees use DSE every day, as part of their normal work, continuously for one hour or more, employers must complete a workstation assessment.

An employer should consider the following;

  • The whole workstation i.e. furniture, equipment and work condition.
  • The job being done.
  • An special requirement of an employee e.g. a disability.

An employer must complete an assessment in the following circumstances;

  • When a new workstation is set up.
  • When a new employee starts work.
  • When a change is made to an existing workstation.
  • When an employee reports discomfort or pain.

Useful Links

You may find the following links useful;

DSE workstation assessment checklist 

Safe use of display screen equipment 

For further information please contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333 or email h&senquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Electrical Safety

Fixed Installation

An employer is required to maintain all electrical systems in a safe condition.

The Institute of Electrical Engineers recommend that such premises are inspected every 5 years by a competent person to check for deterioration of the fixed installation. The electrician will carry out an inspection and provide a report called an Electrical Condition Report.

See link below for registered National Inspection Council of Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC).

Find a NICEIC registered contractor:

If you cannot provide evidence that such an inspection has taken place within the last 5 years you should arrange for a competent person to conduct an inspection.

If you rent your premises, make contact with your landlord to determine who has the responsibility for the fixed electrical installation.

Portable Appliances Testing (PAT)

An employer must also maintain all portable electrical equipment. All earthed equipment should have a PAT at a recommend interval on every 1-2 years.

For further information please contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333 or email h&senquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Event Safety

There are many different types of public events which take place in Ards and North Down Council area every year. The nature of these events can range from sporting events to musical concerts.

It is important to remember that when large groups of people gather together a wide range of dangerous situations can occur, so it is imperative that proper planning and organising is implemented to help reduce or if possible, eliminate these dangers.

If you are an event organiser you are responsible for and have a legal duty to ensure the health, safety and well-being of the people attending your event as well as that of the employees, contractors and sub-contractors working there.

If you are planning an event you need to consider whether you require an entertainment licence. Please contact the Licencing and Regulatory Services Department on 0300 013 3333 for further information.

See guidance documents below for further information:

Safety checklist for small community events 

Example - Risk Assessment for small and community events

For further information please contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333 or email h&senquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Fire Safety

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) is responsible for enforcing the majority of fire safety legislation relating to general fire precautions. 

If you are an employer or you own premises, you have a legal responsibility to carry out a fire safety risk assessment and to ensure that your workplace and those that work there are kept safe from fire and its effects.

Managing fire safety in the workplace

The first step in managing fire safety is to complete a fire risk assessment. This will help identify who may be at risk if a fire occurs and what measures would need to be implemented to protect them.

It is important that your workplace contains the necessary fire safety provisions should a fire break out, for example fire extinguishers and/or fire blanket. You should ensure that any fire safety equipment is checked and maintained regularly. You should also provide information, instruction and training to your employees about fire prevention and what to do if a fire starts.

Please visit the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service website for more information on your legal responsibilities. 

Fire risk assessment

Carrying out a fire risk assessment involves looking at your workplace and work activities and deciding whether there is the potential for a fire to occur and cause harm to people in and around the premises. You then must decide whether you have taken enough precautions to prevent harm.

Carrying out a fire risk assessment will help you decide the following;

  • What the chances are of a fire starting in your workplace
  • Whether a fire in your workplace would put people in danger
  • Whether your existing fire safety precautions are suitable
  • Whether more fire safety precautions are needed.

If you employ five or more employees, the fire risk assessment must be written down.

Please refer to Managing fire safety in the workplace’ for a step-by-step guide on carrying out a fire risk assessment.

What will be checked during an inspection?

During a health and safety inspection, an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) will check what fire safety precautions are in place and point out any concerns regarding the safety of employees and members of the public. An EHO will check how often fire fighting equipment is being inspected and maintained. It is also important that there is a means of escape should a fire break out. Therefore, an EHO will check that fire doors and emergency exits are being kept unobstructed.

The EHO will liaise with NIFRS where they become aware of deficiencies in general fire precautions.

Fire risk assessment template

The Health and Safety Executive (HSENI) have produced an example fire risk assessment to help businesses think about the potential hazards within their workplace and the steps they can take to control the risks. The HSENI have also produced a template which can be used to complete a fire risk assessment for your own business. Please click on the following links to access these documents;

Example fire risk assessment 

Fire risk assessment template 

For further information please contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333 or email h&senquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Fireworks

In Northern Ireland it is a legal requirement to obtain a licence from the Department of Justice (DoJ) before purchasing display fireworks.

A licence is not required for indoor fireworks and sparklers.

Garden fireworks

If you wish to hold a category 2 garden display an application form is required: please apply via the NI Direct website

Display type fireworks

If you wish to buy, possess or use fireworks (other than indoor fireworks and sparklers) please apply for a licence via the NI Direct website.

Completed application forms should be sent back to DoJ at least 6 weeks prior to the date of your display. The application should be accompanied by a list of the fireworks you intend to use and a site plan showing the firing area, fallout area, safety distances and spectator area.

Once your application form has been submitted, a health and safety officer from this Council may contact you to arrange a site visit to discuss your safety arrangements. The officer will make recommendations to the DoJ on whether a licence should be issued and may attach specific conditions to the licence.

The firework safety code

If you are thinking of using fireworks as part of a celebration, you should follow these safety steps:

  • only buy fireworks marked with a CE mark – this shows that the firework meets European safety standards which all fireworks must meet - a reputable shop will know this
  • don’t drink alcohol if you’re setting off fireworks
  • store fireworks in a closed, metal box and take out one at a time
  • keep a bucket of water nearby
  • follow the instructions on each firework – read by torchlight, don't use a naked flame
  • light fireworks at arm’s length, using the taper provided
  • make sure everyone stands well back
  • don't go back to a firework that is lit - even if it hasn’t gone off it could still explode
  • don't put fireworks in your pocket
  • don't throw fireworks
  • always supervise children around fireworks, don't give sparklers to a child under five
  • light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves
  • keep pets indoors
  • don’t set off fireworks late at night
  • take care around open flames such as bonfires and barbecues - all clothes, even those labelled ‘low flammability’, can catch fire.

 Buying Fireworks

  • When buying fireworks, only buy from a licensed retailer.
  • Only buy fireworks that comply with British Standard 7114:1988 or its European equivalent. Instructions should be in English
  • Only buy fireworks in full packs – do not buy loose fireworks or packs that have had fireworks taken out of them
  • Fireworks bought from unlicensed retailers could severely injure or kill. They are usually badly made and do not conform to the British Standard 7114:1988 or its European equivalent
  • Complete display kits are available from most retailers. We would recommend these rather than single fireworks, as everything you’ll need, including instructions, will be in one pack and the selection will give a good visual display.
  • Some fireworks can only be bought and used by firework professionals. These include: air bombs; aerial shells, aerial maroons, shells-in-mortar and maroons-in-mortar; all bangers; mini rockets; fireworks with erratic flight; some Category 2 and 3 fireworks which exceed certain size limits; and all Category 4 fireworks. 

Further information on firework safety can be found on the following websites:

www.rospa.co.uk

www.saferfireworks.com

www.nidirect.gov.uk/firework-retailers

www.nidirect.gov.uk/fireworks  

You can also contact the Council’s Environmental Health, Protection and Development Service on 0300 013 3333.

First aid

Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1982

An employer is required to make an assessment in relation to first aid provision for suitable persons, equipment and facilities to provide first aid to their employees if they become injured or ill at work.

What’s the first step?

Conduct an assessment to determine what provisions are required in relation to your premises i.e. risk assessment, first aid provision, first aid training and having an appointed first aider.

If your assessment determines that an appointed first aider is not required, you are still required to do the following:

  • Provide a first aid kit (see list below)
  • Appoint a nominated person who is responsible for first aid

First aid provision

There is no mandatory list of items to be put in a first aid kit. You need to assess what your organisation requires in relation to level of risk, hazards and size of the workplace.

As a guide a minimum stock of first aid would be:

  • A leaflet giving general guidance on first aid- see link below
  • Individually wrapped sterile plasters (assorted sizes) and appropriate to the type of work. Hypoallergenic plasters should be provided.
  • Sterile eye pads
  • Individually wrapped triangular bandages – sterile
  • Safety pins
  • Large, individually wrapped, sterile unmedicated wound dressing.
  • Medium sized, individually wrapped, sterile unmedicated wound dressings
  • Disposable gloves

This is only a guide. The contents of any first aid kit should reflect the outcome of your first aid assessment.

Medication such as tablets should not be kept in the first aid box.

See links below for further information

Basic advice on first aid at work
First aid at work

For further information please contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333 or email h&senquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Gas Safety

Gas Safety

Appliances and pipework

In order to ensure the gas appliances/pipework at your premises are maintained in a safe condition you are required to make contact with a Gas Safe registered contractor to carry out a safety check of the installation.

If your business/appliances are commercial you should ensure that the gas safe engineer is suitably qualified and can provide appropriate documentation for a commercial premises.  

Find a gas safe engineer in your area:

Gas appliances – get them checked 

Check the Gas Safe register – find an engineer

Gas Safe Register FAQs 

Such a safety check must be carried out every 12months.

Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG)

An employer must provide suitable and safe storage of LPG.

Safe Storage

An employer has a duty to use, handle, or store articles and substances such as LPG safely due to the risk of fire or explosion with a flammable liquid stored pressurised (The Health and Safety at Work (NI) Order 1978, Article 6).

The following information is from the LP Gas Association Codes of Practice in relation to the storage of gas cartridges / cylinders and bulk storage by means of a vessel.

Cylinders

  • They must be stored upright and not stacked more than 2 cylinders high.
  • They must be stored within a secure cage provided with the following signage: 

                     - LPG is stored in the area
                     - The contents are highly flammable
                     - That smoking and other sources of ignition are prohibited
                     - What to do in case of a fire

  • They must not be stored within 3 metres from a drain or inspection chamber.
  • There must be a minimum separation distance of 1.5 metres from the boundary provided.
  • The means of escape from the premises is not compromised by the LPG.
  • Ensure the area is well ventilated.

Bulk Storage by means of a vessel

  • The vessel must be located in a well-ventilated area close to firefighting equipment
  • Should ideally rest on a stone chipping surface free from grass
  • Be protected by an industrial style fence, at least 1.8m high
  • Be provided with the following signage: -

                    - Highly flammable contents – butane or propane
                    - Prohibition of smoking or naked flames
                    - Firmly fixed to the fence or the vessel

Useful Links

Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) – information sheet 

Checking LPG pipework 

LPG Gas Safety Information

Safe use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) at small commercial and industrial bulk installations

Do you use LPG in your business? 

For further information please contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333 or email h&senquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Hazardous Substances

Using chemicals or other hazardous substances in the workplace can pose a health risk for employees, resulting in diseases such as asthma, cancer and dermatitis.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations (NI) 2003

The COSHH Regulations aim to control exposure to hazardous substances within the workplace.

To protect your employees from exposure to hazardous chemicals, employers are required to assess the risk of substances hazardous to health in relation to their premises. For example, do you use products which are;

  • Very toxic
  • Toxic
  • Corrosive
  • Harmful
  • Irritant.

If you have five or more employees, you are required to provide a written risk assessment for COSHH.

COSHH covers the following substances; chemicals, fumes, dusts, vapours, mists and gases; and biological agents. If the packaging has any of the hazard symbols, then it is classed as a hazardous substance.

As a first step, an employer should obtain safety data sheets from their supplier. This information may also appear on the packaging.

You must follow the recommendations of the safety data sheets concerning the use, handling, storage and transport of the chemicals, and the necessity of wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). You should also have procedures in place for dealing with accidental contact, ingestion or spillages. Staff must be made aware of the data sheets, the harmful effects of the chemicals and precautions to be taken. All staff should be suitably trained to use hazardous chemicals.

Useful Links

Please refer to the following guidance to help you comply with COSHH;

COSHH (NI): A brief guide to the Regulations 2003 

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (NI) 2003 

EH40/2005 Workplace Exposure Limits 

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pUbns/priced/eh40.pdf

For further information please contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333 or email h&senquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Initiatives

The enforcement of health and safety at work in Northern Ireland is carried out jointly by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) and District Councils. In 2011 HSENI and the District Councils launched a joint strategy for the better regulation of health and safety at work in Northern Ireland.

The strategy “Health and safety at work: protecting lives not stopping them”, commits HSENI and district councils to work together to tackle the major causes of accidents and ill health in workplaces in Northern Ireland. Details of current and previous joint initiatives are detailed below:

Slips, trips and falls from height

Ards and North Down Borough Council partnered with the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) in 2017 to deliver a health and safety initiative focusing on slips, trips and falls from height.

Slips, trips and falls from height continue to cause accidents, injuries and fatalities in many different workplaces in Northern Ireland. The total number of deaths during this period as a result of work-related falls represents one third of the total workplace fatalities.

There are many simple ways to control the risks of slips, trips and falls from height:

For slips and trips

  • stop floors becoming contaminated
  • use the right cleaning methods
  • get the right footwear
  • think about people and organisational factors – for example, consider how work is organised and managed, e.g. to avoid rushing, overcrowding, trailing cables

For work at height

  • avoid working from height in the first place by carrying out the job at ground level
  • prevent a fall from occurring with edge protection and safe use of ladders
  • minimise the consequences of a fall with safety nets and other safety equipment

See links below for further information:

Slips and trips leaflet

Falls from Height

 

Safe Skin Initiative

Ards and North Down Borough Council partnered with HSENI in 2016 to deliver a Health and Safety awareness raising initiative focusing on safe skin.

The organisations involved visited businesses to ensure that where appropriate, workers were given information, training and equipment to protect skin from workplace hazards.

The initiative focused on the common workplace skin issues of sun exposure for outdoor workers and work related dermatitis.

Work-related dermatitis (sometimes known as eczema) accounts for a significant proportion of work-related ill health whereas sun exposure can blister skin and make it peel or in the long term may increase the chance of developing skin cancer.

The majority of work-related skin disease cases are preventable by adopting simple steps to manage risks in the workplace; effective skin care is an important part of any regime, along with applying simple exposure reduction methods.

When inspectors visit relevant workplaces initiative they expect safe skin to be considered in the business risk assessment.  If safe skin is a potential issue, they will expect to see effective organisation and arrangements, which may include: 

  • Risk assessment considering Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) and sun exposure. 
  • Information, instruction and supervision, with evidence of management commitment
  • Controls adequate to establish a Safe Working Distance between skin and contaminants
  • Personal Protective Equipment (including gloves) used
  • Skin inspection in place, with records
  • Work-related skin issues reported under RIDDOR

Where can I get more Information?

Information leaflets have been developed for the initiative which gives advice for employers and employees who may be affected by work related skin issues.

They can be downloaded here:

Safe Skin in the sun

Safe Skin working with chemicals

 

New to the Job Initiative

In 2015 Councils in Northern Ireland worked in partnership with HSENI to deliver a Health and Safety initiative focusing on employees who are inexperienced or new to the job. 

Young and inexperienced recruits who are new to a workplace are three times more likely to be killed or injured than their experienced workmates who have been there for a year or more.  The extra risk arises due to:

  • lack of experience of working in a new industry or workplace
  • lack of familiarity with the job and the work environment
  • reluctance to raise concerns (or not knowing how to)
  • eagerness to impress workmates and managers.

For further information on how to ensure the safety of employees who are new to the job please visit the HSENI website 


Buried LPG pipework initiative

In 2014 Councils in Northern Ireland worked in partnership with the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) on an initiative to increase duty-holders awareness of the risks associated with underground metallic LPG pipework.  

For further information on buried LPG pipework please visit the HSENI website 


Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) initiative

MSDs include back injuries, neck and upper limb disorders (ULDs) and lower limb disorders (LLDs). They account for significant numbers of injuries/absenteeism in workplaces in Northern Ireland. Workers in all types of jobs and employment sectors are affected by MSDs although some types of disorders are associated with particular tasks or occupations. Lifting, poor posture, exposure to vibrations and repetitive movements are among the risk factors, as well as work organisational (psychosocial) factors.

In 2014 Councils in Northern Ireland worked in partnership with the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) on an initiative aimed at improving management of the risks typically associated with these types of injuries.

For further information on MSDs please visit the HSENI website

 

Workplace Transport Initiative

In 2013 Councils in Northern Ireland partnered with HSENI to deliver a Workplace Transport inspection and enforcement initiative with a focus on Safe Site; Safe Vehicle; Safe Driver.

Vehicles are particularly dangerous in the workplace.  From 2004 to 2012 in Northern Ireland forty people were killed as a result of workplace transport accidents.  A range of sectors are at risk and for a number of reasons.  Contributory factors include:

No or inadequate risk assessments
Poor workplace design and layout (particularly vehicle pedestrian segregation)
Poor systems for detecting and correcting poor behaviour
Poor driver training
Inadequate vehicle/maintenance

For further information on workplace transport please visit the HSENI website 


Safe Maintenance

Councils in partnership with the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland carried out a Safe Maintenance Campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of poorly planned maintenance.

Maintenance can take many forms and can involve working at heights, exposure to asbestos, repairing machinery or using hazardous chemicals. It should never be approached lightly but instead should be carefully planned.

For further information on safe maintenance in the workplace please visit the safe maintenance website 

For further information on any of these initiatives please contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333 or email h&senquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk.

Legionella

Legionnaire’s disease is a condition which may cause flu like symptoms and sometimes pneumonia if spores are inhaled.  It is prevalent where an aerosol or spray is produced, such as shower head and cooling towers, where water is stored or re-circulated and thrives in the temperature range of 20-45 degrees.

People contract Legionnaires’ disease by inhaling small droplets of water (aerosols), suspended in the air, containing the bacteria. Certain conditions increase the risk from legionella if:

  • the water temperature in all or some parts of the system is between 20-45 °C, which is the optimal temperature for growth
  • it is possible for breathable water droplets to be created and dispersed e.g. aerosol created by a cooling tower, or water outlets
  • water is stored and/or re-circulated
  • there are deposits that can support bacterial growth providing a source of nutrients for the organism e.g. rust, sludge, scale, organic matter and biofilms

If you are an employer, or someone in control of premises, including landlords, you must understand the health risks associated with legionella.

Duties under the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 extend to risks from legionella bacteria, which may arise from work activities. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations provide a broad framework for controlling health and safety at work.  More specifically, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) provide a framework of actions designed to assess, prevent or control the risk from bacteria like Legionella and take suitable precautions. 

The Approved Code of Practice: Legionnaires’ disease: The control of Legionella bacteria in water systems (L8) – (see link below) contains practical guidance on how to manage and control the risks in your system. 

As an employer, or a person in control of the premises, you are responsible for health and safety and you need to take the right precautions to reduce the risks of exposure to legionella. You must understand how to:

  • identify and assess sources of risk
  • manage any risks
  • prevent or control any risks
  • keep and maintain the correct records
  • carry out any other duties you may have

Useful links below / further information on what you need to do to comply.

Control of Legionella bacteria 

The control of legionella bacteria in water systems L8 

The control of legionella bacteria in hot and cold-water systems 

The control of Legionella bacteria in other risk systems 

Legionnaires disease – a brief guide for duty holders 

For further information please contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333 or email h&senquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

 

Cooling Towers

Ards and North Down Borough Council has a register for Water Cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers within the District.

If you are the duty holder of a cooling tower and you have yet to register, please complete and return the following form or alternatively contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333.  

[Insert link to Cooling Towers Notification Form here.]

Maintenance of Equipment

An employer has a duty to ensure the workplace, equipment and devices are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.

Forklift truck – Certificate

The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (NI) 1999 requires the employer to have lifting equipment thoroughly examined at the following intervals;

  • At least 6 months when used for lifting people
  • At least 12 months for every other case

This also applies to any safety cage which must be compatible for use with the forklift truck.

Ensure a competent person carries out the thorough examination.  Keep all examination certificates for your records and provide a copy to this department. 

Useful links

Forklift trucks – safety information sheet 

Authorised lift truck drivers template 

Operator checklist for forklift trucks 

Is your lift truck being used safely

Forklift truck safety 

Thorough examination of lifting equipment: A simple guide for employers 

Use lift trucks safely 

Thorough Examination Certificate for Lifting Equipment Other than Forklift

The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (NI) 1999 (LOLER) require the employer to have lifting equipment thoroughly examined at the following intervals: -

  • At least 6 months when used for lifting people
  • At least 12 months for every other case

The thorough examination must be carried out by a competent contractor. The contractor cannot be the same company that carryout your routine service. A copy of the LOLER certificate should be kept on the premises for examination by this department during an inspection.

Equipment covered by LOLER

Lifting Equipment                                                                       

  • Cranes                                                                                           
  • Workplace passenger and goods lifts                                      
  • Construction hoists                                                                     
  • Dumb waiters                                                                               
  • Scissors lift                                                                                   
  • Vehicle tail lifts                                                                            
  • Bath Hoists
  • Stairlifts
  • Telehandlers and industrial lift trucks
  • Vehicle lifts

Accessories for lifting

  • Slings
  • Hooks 
  • Shackles
  • Eyebolts 
  • Ropes used for climbing  or work positioning

Useful links

Legislation 

LOLER guidance document 

LOLER a simple guidance for employers 

LOLER – Approved Code of Practice 

For further information please contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333 or email h&senquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Noise at Work

Exposure to high levels of noise can cause various hearing conditions including tinnitus and noise induced hearing loss, both of which are irreversible and can cause both physical and social problems for the individual concerned. Hearing problems can be caused by one off exposure, or by being exposed to high levels of noise over a period of time.

In addition to the risk of hearing damage, noise can also be problematic in the workplace when it interferes with speech, communication of safety instructions or the ability to hear alarms and warning signals. By managing exposure to noise, the hearing of people in the workplace (e.g. employees, or others affected by the work activity) can be protected both in the long and short term.

How do I know if there is a problem in my Workplace?

Although the susceptibility of individuals varies, in general there is only a very small risk to hearing from noise exposure to levels below 80 dB(A) averaged over an eight-hour day. However, the risk increases as the noise level increases.

A good starting point for employers is to do a quick rough check to get an idea of the level of noise in the area, as follows:

  • You have to shout to someone at a distance of 1 metre (3ft) away to make yourself heard and understood: Possible Noise Level 90 dB
  • You have to shout to someone at distance of 2 metres (6ft) away to make yourself heard and understood: Possible Noise Level 85 dB
  • You can talk to someone using your normal voice at normal conversation distance to make yourself heard and understood: Possible Noise Level 80 dB or below

Remember that noise levels can vary greatly depending on the tasks being undertaken, so ensure you consider real life situations (e.g. if you are assessing noise levels in a workshop, ensure you do so with the equipment running).

What are the legal duties?

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 require employers to eliminate or reduce the risks to health and safety from noise at their workplace.

An employer has to:

  • Carry out a risk assessment where exposure to noise is likely to be at or above the Lower Exposure Action Values (see below);
  • Take action to eliminate noise or where this is not possible, reduce the noise exposure;
  • Introduce a program of control measures to reduce exposure;
  • Maintain and ensure the correct use of equipment provided to control noise risks;
  • Make sure that noise exposure is never at or above the Exposure Limit Values (see below);
  • Where required, provide hearing protection and designate hearing protection zones;
  • Carry out health surveillance where a risk assessment indicates that there may be a risk to employee’s health;
  • Provide information, instruction and training to employees.

What are noise exposure limit and action values?

Noise is measured in decibels (dB).

An ‘A-weighting’, which is usually written as ‘dB(A)’, is applied by the measuring device to give the value of noise that is experienced by an individual in the ear.

A ‘C-weighting’ or ‘dB(C)’ is used to measure peak or high noise levels.

The law requires that employers take specific action at certain Action Values that relate to either the average daily/weekly noise exposure level, or the maximum noise level (peak sound pressure).

The noise exposure action and limit values to be aware of are as follows:

Daily/Weekly exposure value in dB(A)

Lower Exposure Action Level - 80

Upper Exposure Action level - 85

Exposure Limit Value* - 87

Peak Sound Pressure Level in dB(C)

Lower Exposure Action Level - 135

Upper Exposure Action level - 137

Exposure Limit Value* - 140

(*The Exposure Limit Value MUST NOT be exceeded).

The daily personal noise exposure value relates to a standard eight hour working day, so if a person works less or more than this time, the exposure value/limit must be corrected. Although an assessment should usually be made with reference to the daily exposure value/limit, if an employee’s exposure to noise varies significantly from day to day, an assessment can be made using the weekly exposure value/limit.

Useful Links

Please refer to the following links if you require further information;

Controlling Noise at Work 

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 

For further information please contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333 or email h&senquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Petroleum Licensing

Information to follow

Stress

What is stress?

Stress can affect anyone at any level within a business, and recent research shows that work-related stress isn’t confined to particular sectors, jobs or industries.

According to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) the formal definition of work-related stress is as follows; “The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work”.

It is worth noting that stress is not an illness, it is a state. However, if stress becomes prolonged and excessive, physical and mental illness may develop.

Work-related stress

Work-related stress develops when a person is unable to cope with the demands being placed on them. Stress, including work-related stress, can be a significant cause of illness and is known to be linked with high levels of staff turnover and sickness absence. It can also cause issues such as employees making more mistakes and being less productive.

Factors in stress

Stress is very personal and will affect people in different ways. What one person finds stressful can be completely normal for someone else. In each new situation an individual will have to decide what the challenge is and whether they have the resources to cope. If they don’t have the resources they need, they will begin to feel stressed. How they appraise the situation will depend on the following factors;

  • Skills and experience
  • Background and culture
  • Personality
  • Individual characteristics
  • Personal circumstances
  • Health status
  • Gender, ethnicity, age or disability
  • Other demands both inside and outside work.

A manager has a responsibility to ensure that work does not make their employees ill. It is important that a manager understands how to spot the signs of stress and then knows what action to take to reduce it.

HSENI’s Mental Well-being at Work Advisory Service

The Health & Safety Executive (HSENI) have a dedicated team who provide advice and support on how to control the risks associated with work-related stress using the HSE management standards approach.

The management standards are a set of conditions that if managed correctly reflect a high level of mental health, well-being and organisational performance. The standards identify six key aspects of work;

  • Demands
  • Control
  • Support
  • Relationships
  • Role
  • Change.

If the above conditions are not managed properly, it could lead to excessive pressures in the workplace.

The HSENI’s mental well-being advisors can provide businesses with advice and practical help towards eliminating, reducing and controlling stress in the workplace. Their advisors are fully trained in the delivery of stress management programmes, and they can assist businesses with the risk assessment process.

If you would like further information on how the HSENI can assist your business please contact a mental well-being at work advisor as follows;

Via telephone: 028 9024 3249
Via email: stress@hseni.gov.uk

Useful Links

If you would like further information on work-related stress, please click on the following links;

What is work-related stress? 

About HSENI’s Mental Well-being at Work Advisory Service 

Why manage work-related stress and mental well-being? 

Working together to reduce stress at work A guide for employees 

Tackling work-related stress using the Management Standards approach

For further information please contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333 or email h&senquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Sunbeds

Sunbeds Act (Northern Ireland) 2011

Sunbed (Information) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012

Since 1st May 2012 sunbed use in Northern Ireland has been regulated by the Sunbeds Act (Northern Ireland) 2011.

The Council employs Environmental Health Officers (Health and Safety) who are responsible for enforcing this legislation within the District. Officers carryout programmed inspections to educate business operators and to provide the following promotional materials in order to comply with the regulations:

-Yellow coloured Health warning Notice for display (A3)

-Yellow coloured health information leaflet for sunbed user (to be shown to the user on every visit) (A4)

Business operators have a duty to comply with the main areas of the Sunbed (Northern Ireland) Act 2011 as detailed in this guidance booklet.

What Does the Law Do?

I. prohibits an operator of sunbed premises from allowing a person under 18 to use a sunbed on those premises and prohibits a person who is under 18 to be present in a ‘restricted zone’ on those premises;
 
II. prohibits the sale or hire of sunbeds to persons under 18;
 
III. prohibits an operator of sunbed premises from allowing any person to use a sunbed without supervision;
 
IV. places a duty on the operator of sunbed premises, including those who sell and hire sunbeds, to provide customers with information on the risks associated with sunbed use;
 
V. places a duty on the operator of sunbed premises to display a public information notice on the risks associated with sunbed use;
 
VI. prohibits an operator of sunbed premises to provide or display any material that claims health benefits of sunbed use;
 
VII. places a duty on the operator of sunbed premises to ensure that protective eyewear is made available to those who propose to use a sunbed on their premises and as far as reasonably practicable, ensures that person wears the protective eyewear. The Act also places a duty on sunbed hirers and sellers to provide hirers and buyers of sunbeds with protective eyewear;
 
VIII. places a duty on the operator of sunbed premises and those who hire or sell sunbeds to meet such training requirements as may be prescribed by Regulations, and for an operator to also secure that such employees and agents, as may be prescribed, also meet those training requirements;  
 
IX. places a duty on the operator of sunbed premises and those who hire or sell sunbeds to ensure that sunbeds used on those premises meet certain requirements, as may be prescribed by Regulations;
 
X. enables the Department to make Regulations to provide for a registration and/or licensing scheme in respect of premises which are used, or proposed to be used, as sunbed premises and in respect of premises on which the sale or hire of sunbeds takes place, or is proposed to take place.
 

Ards and North Down Borough Council will enforce the fixed penalties below for offences under the Act.
 
IT IS AGAINST THE LAW TO ALLOW A PERSON UNDER 18 to USE A SUNBED ON SUNBED PREMISES OR TO HIRE OR SELL A SUNBED TO A PERSON UNDER 18.

 The list of offences and penalties can be read here

Test purchasing

In order to ascertain the level of compliance regarding this law, Ards and North Down Borough Council conduct test purchasing exercises.

A test purchasing exercise may involve sending a person under 18 years old into the premises to ask to purchase a sunbed session.

Alternatively, Officers may visit to check the following:

  • Sunbed users are provided with information on the risks associated with sunbed use every time a person uses the sunbed (A4 leaflet)
  • The public information notice (A3 poster) is displayed
  • No material claiming health benefits associated with sunbed use are provided or displayed
  •  Protective eyewear is provided

Failure to comply with any of the above-mentioned requirements is likely to lead to the serving of a Fixed Penalty Notice, which incurs the fine detailed above.

For further information please contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333 or email h&senquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Tattooing, Cosmetic Piercing & Ear Piercing

Unlike some other Councils in Northern Ireland, Ards and North Down Borough Council does not issue ‘licences’ to businesses who carry out the above activities. However, if you are carrying out these activities your business must be registered with the Council. Environmental Health Officers will visit these premises to assess compliance with the Health and Safety at Work (NI) Order 1978 and other Subsidiary Regulations.

During a health and safety inspection the following matters will be checked;

  • The cleanliness of the premises and its fittings.
  • The provision of a wash hand basin in the treatment room, with a supply of clean hot and cold water, soap and paper towels.
  • The cleaning and sterilisation of instruments, materials and equipment i.e. autoclave or single-use.

Additional information for tattooists

The Tattooing and Body Piercing Guidance Toolkit by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health provides advice in relation to best practice;

  • It is against the law to tattoo anybody under the age of 18 years old. You should carry out and document ID checks. You should get your clients to fill in a consent form, including any medical conditions, prior to getting a tattoo or piercing.
  • The client should be provided with written aftercare including the following information – post tattoo procedure, infections and what to look for, general care instructions i.e. contamination by chemicals, healing times and a reminder to consult a doctor in case of infection, allergic reaction or delay in healing.
  • Contact a clinical waste contractor and arrange for the clinical waste to be collected a regular intervals. Ensure the company is registered and that the waste is delivered to a waste management site.
  • Provide a foot-operated waste bin to reduce cross contamination.
  • It is recommended to use disposable plastic aprons. Plastic aprons should be used as single-use items and changed between clients. They should be discarded and disposed of as offensive waste after use.
  • The tattooist’s vaccinations are up to date in relation to Hepatitis B.

Additional information on piercing

If you are carrying out cosmetic piercing or ear piercing, please read the Cosmetic Piercing Guidelines for further information.

Useful Links

Please refer to the following guidance document for further information;

Tattooing and Body Piercing Guidance Toolkit 

For further information please contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333 or email h&senquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Working at Heights

Working at Heights – Risk Assessment

The Work at Height Regulations (NI) 2005 applies to work in a place at or above ground level or where access or egress from such a place while at work by means such as a working platform, scaffold or ladder but excluding a staircase.

Where work is carried out at a height such as high-level cleaning, erecting advertising, signage, decorations or maintenance activities, the employer is required to conduct a risk assessment which includes all measures required to prevent injuries resulting from falls.  Such work is not to be undertaken unless that person is competent and trained in relation to the organisation, planning and supervision of the work activity.

Preventing accidents and facilities

Between 2011 and 2016, falls were the biggest single cause of workplace fatalities in Northern Ireland.  

The majority of work-related fall accidents are preventable by adopting simple steps to manage risks in the workplace. This should begin with a risk assessment to consider what risks in your workplace may lead to fall injuries. You should then decide what suitable and effective control measures will prevent these types of accidents and put these control measures into practice.  This may include:

  • Avoid working from height in the first place by carrying out the job at ground level
  • Prevent a fall from occurring with edge protection and safe use of ladders
  • Minimise the consequences of a fall with safety nets and other safety equipment

As an employer you must ensure that you have adequately assessed the risks, for your staff in regard to falls from height. Should you employ five or more staff, the significant findings of this assessment must be recorded, identifying the hazards and the control measures in place to reduce the risk of injury to a reasonable level.

This risk assessment should be reviewed regularly and certainly following an accident / incident or on the commissioning of new equipment. You must also ensure that any workplace equipment on-site is suitable for the task required and maintained and operated so as to not pose a risk. 

Useful Links

If you require further information, please refer to the following guidance documents;

Working at height: A brief guide 

Falls from heights 

Falls from height leaflet 

Safe use of ladders and stepladders 

Work at height – FAQs 

For further information please contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333 or email h&senquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Workplace Transport

Workplace transport is any activity involving vehicles used in the workplace. A wide variety of vehicles can be found in the workplace including cars, vans, dumpers, heavy goods vehicles and lift trucks. Vehicles are particularly dangerous in the workplace. The main causes of injury are people falling off vehicles, or being struck or crushed by them.

From 2004 to 2012 in Northern Ireland 40 people were killed as a result of workplace transport accidents. A range of sectors are at risk and for several reasons. Contributory factors include the following;

  • No or inadequate risk assessments
  • Poor workplace design and layout (particularly vehicle pedestrian segregation)
  • Poor systems for detecting and correcting poor behavior
  • Poor driving training
  • Inadequate vehicle /maintenance.

When completing a workplace transport risk assessment there are 3 key areas to consider;

  • Safe site
  • Safe vehicle
  • Safe driver.

Useful Links

Please see the following guidance documents for further information;

Workplace Transport Safety Information Sheet 

Workplace Transport Safety: A brief guide 

For further information please contact Environmental Health on 0300 013 3333 or email h&senquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk