Asbestos will not delay new Bolton interchange

Transport for Greater Manchester’s £48 million interchange project in Bolton hit a snag recently, as workers excavating the site discovered a small quantity of material that they immediately recognised as a possible Asbestos Containing Material.

Work in that area stopped briefly in accordance with proper safety procedures, and specially trained workers determined that the material did indeed contain asbestos. Peter Boulton, head of programme management services there, assures us that all of the asbestos contaminated material was disposed of properly, and excavations on the site began again quickly. It is believed that no workers were exposed to the harmful material, and the project has not suffered any substantial delay as a result.

Discoveries of this kind are not at all uncommon, especially when the land was used for commercial or industrial purposes before older buildings were demolished. As a result, most management teams include sufficient time to deal with asbestos finds in their schedule planning.

Situations just such as this are why it is so important to make sure all of your site workers have the latest safety training, and know how to identify and respond appropriately to hazardous materials and situations such as asbestos contamination. There are several UK Asbestos Training Association-approved courses that can help your workers detect and deal appropriately with asbestos-containing materials, for example, the Asbestos Awareness course.

If poorly trained, or even simply less asbestos aware workers had happened upon the material whilst excavating, many could have been exposed. This could have led to cancer or other health problems in many of them, often years or decades after exposure. Because it was spotted immediately, though, the entire matter was dealt with safely, quickly and inexpensively.

The asbestos clean-up follows other unexpected discoveries, including utility lines under the site which did not appear on the official plans. In the end, the project was redesigned but will still be delivered on schedule by the end of 2016, and under budget.

New Course Required to Renew CISRS Supervisor Card


Important news for anyone holding a Gold (Supervisor/Manager) CISRS Card! As of the first of March 2016, anyone wishing to renew their cards will first have to take the new refresher/CPD course for Supervisors.

This course has been introduced to address industry concerns that there was too little emphasis on Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in the older requirements for the CISRS Supervisor/Manager card. HSE had also requested that CPD be emphasises going forward. In response, a pilot programme was developed which was attended by several industry leaders including Dave Mosley, CISRS Scheme Manager. After getting feedback and advice from all of the attendees, the programme was reworked and is now to be a requirement for anyone renewing their card.

But why just the Supervisor/Manager card?

In fact, the CPD requirement for the Supervisor/Manager card is just the beginning. Over time, the CISRS will be adding refresher course elements that incorporate CPD to the renewal process for most, if not all of the CISRS Cards.

So, what will the new training cover?

The refresher course for the Gold Supervisor/Manager CISRS Card will take place over two days, and consist of the following:

Health and Safety

  • An overview of health and safety law in general, its history and application
  • Managing health and safety for your workers and colleagues
  • Health. Safety and environment guidance, ACOPs

Performance Standards

  • The differences and similarities of European and British performance standards
  • Technical and safety guidance from the NASC
  • Understanding and using TG20:13 and SG4:15
  • Awareness of asbestos-related issues

Supervisory Skills

  • Planning, organisation and management
  • Logistics and materials concerns
  • Allocation of duties and ensuring competence
  • Supervising effectively
  • Scaffolding inspections – statutory requirements and good practice
  • An overview of behavioural safety
  • Communications skills

RAMS (Risk Assessment and Method Statement)

  • Prepare practice RAMS for several case studies

In the end, no, your card won’t be any more difficult to renew. The extra class time will be brief, and a lot of very savvy people have made sure that it will do you a lot of good.

Dead Finger Syndrome Cripples Thousands: Can Training Help?

The Construction in Health Leadership Group summit on Thursday, 21 January is set to draw more than 100 chief executive level attendees from trade and professional bodies throughout the construction industry. They are set to discuss how to improve the industry’s record on reducing or eliminating safety risks to its workers.

They will talk about the most obvious risks – cancers from contact with asbestos dust and other chemicals, hearing loss from excessive noise, etc.. However, they will also be addressing a risk factor to construction employees that may not get as much attention as it deserves – injuries from improper manual handling of equipment and materials.

Improper manual handling techniques can result in serious problems, including HAVS or ‘hand arm vibration syndrome’ (variously referred to as ‘dead finger’ or ‘vibration white finger’. It is considered a form of the better understood Raynoud’s syndrome. It affects tens of thousands of workers all over the world. The early stages of HAVS include tingling or numbness of the hands and fingers, often at the end of the day. It can progress to the point where blood flow to the fingers is disrupted, making them white and often numb. It can and often does become permanent. In the most extreme cases, workers have had to have fingers amputated.

Modern material handling safety procedures can go a long way towards reducing or eliminating the risk of contracting this and other illnesses, but they are not always followed diligently. Some workers have never even been given the training they need to perform material handling tasks safely, putting them at the highest risk of hand arm vibration syndrome and a host of related disorders.

Everyone in your organisation has a responsibility to see that health and safety procedures are followed properly, but they can’t do that unless they are given accurate and up to date training. Make sure that your people know how to avoid debilitating disorders like HAVS. Make sure they have the right manual handling training!

Doncaster School Closed over Emergency Fire Risks

Doncaster’s North Bridge Enterprise College has been temporarily closed. Among other concerns, Ofsted cited a failure to meet the ‘welfare, health and safety’ standards of their pupils and staff. Specifically the facility was found to be in violation of a fire safety order from the South Yorkshire Fire Service.

Doncaster’s North Bridge Enterprise College has just reopened. That’s the good news.

The bad news is what got the Northern school shut down in the first place. Among other concerns, Ofsted cited a failure to meet the ‘welfare, health and safety’ standards of their pupils and staff. Specifically the facility was found to be in violation of a fire safety order from the South Yorkshire Fire Service.

Though the school did submit an action plan in response to the Fire Service’s order, it was judged to be insufficient, and what had been a mere Inspection was raised to an Emergency Inspection. The school was temporarily closed to students, visitors and staff that same day.

This can happen to any business if they do not have both sufficient emergency procedures in place, safe and reliable fire safety equipment, and/or sufficient fire safety training for their staff. All things considered, though, a shut-down and resultant loss of business and reputation is much preferable to the alternative – the increased likelihood of a destructive fire and the devastating injuries and/or deaths that all too often occur in building fires.

This is why fully compliant, up to date fire safety and evacuation training is vital for you and your workers. No matter what kind of environment you work in – commercial, industrial, even retail – you need to be sure you have a member of staff present for each shift who is a designated fire marshal. Someone who knows not just the basics of fire safety and risk prevention, but also knows your facility’s evacuation plan by heart, and can provide a touchstone of order in what can all too easily become a panicked environment.

If you’re not absolutely certain your fire safety training is up to date, you owe it to yourself, your co-workers and your family to take a refresher course. You can’t be too careful!

5 Things your Boss Wont Let You Do with a Digger

Whether because it was dangerous, a waste of time or just plain stupid, you boss would never let you get away with this. Still, you know you want to watch.


Whether because it was dangerous, a waste of time or just plain stupid, you boss would never let you get away with this. Still, you know you want to watch.

Getting your digger onto the back of the truck

Showing off your fine control by placing a golf ball on an egg cup

Treating your friends and family to some swimming pool activities

Seeking thrills with your on-site swing ride

Using a mini-digger as a roundabout

Make sure you use a digger responsibly by taking a Plant Operations CPCS course and recommend your colleagues to do the same! Call us today and we can book you in a training centre nearby.

CSCS Card Fraud: Over 6,000 Forced to Retake Test

More than 6000 people were also required to retake their HS&E test, and 2000 people were required to retake their Site Safety Plus test or else lose their cards by the beginning of this year.

Construction jobs are some of the most dangerous in the UK. During the Afghanistan war, more construction workers died at work than deployed soldiers. More than 200 workers in the construction sector have died in the last five years alone. The CSCS scheme was brought about to reduce these tragic deaths, and the many more avoidable injuries which happen at worksites every year.

But many workers are recent immigrants, and do not have the English skills necessary to study for and take the CSCS test themselves. Many others are excellent or even native English speakers who feel that they do not have the time or ability to learn proper safety procedures or attain the needed NVQ levels for their desired qualification. Faced with the option to pay for a fraudulent card or be denied work, they choose to work.

As a result, there are many thousands of construction workers, primarily in London but throughout the UK, who are not properly trained, and put both themselves and their co-workers at risk. The tragic story of Justin Gillman, working in Lincolnshire, is just one example. Justin and another worker gained access to the worksite even though they had not received the required safety training, and Justin was killed by falling bricks as a result.

So, what was actually going on?

Last fall, a joint investigation led by the BBC and London Newsnight uncovered what they said to be widespread cheating on HSE tests at (at least) three CITB approved CSCS training centres across London. They said that the cheating was highly organised, and appeared to be done with the full support and cooperation of the management of these centres, a claim which some of those organisations deny.

In one example, the director of a training centre in Ealing is seen on video reading off answers to the safety test to a class of applicants, one of whom was a BBC plant. They were encouraged to click the answers he was reading as they took the official test, and were further encouraged to make a few ‘mistakes’ along the line, in order for the test answers to look less suspicious. I other cases, applicants were simply buying NVQ L2 and L3 qualifications in order to qualify for higher level cards, without having any of the required skills or experience.

The problem goes deeper than these three training centres, though.  The CITB (the Construction Industry Training Board) does not administer the training or tests themselves, but do keep a close eye on the entire scheme. They say that they monitor instances of fraudulent CSCS cards being used to place untrained workers onto construction sites, and that more instances are uncovered each year.

For example, where there were 96 reports of fraudulent cards in 2012, that number more than doubled in 2013, and there were 311 cases reported in 2014. Numbers can be expected to grow again once the 2015 reports are released. According to a recent survey of those responsible for checking up on CSCS cards, 1% of more than 400 respondents saw a fraudulent card at least daily.

What is the CITB doing to fix the problem?

CITB say they are aware of how much of a problem card fraud has become, and is acting to reduce it. They will spend twice as much each year conducting fraud investigations and spot checks, and will be installing CCTV monitoring systems in all CITB approved testing centres to monitor how classes and tests are conducted. The Fraud Department is also working closely with the Metropolitan Police to prosecute anyone caught using these fraudulent cards to gain access to worksites. This should go a long way towards repairing the situation.

The investigations in the wake of the BBC story have already led to the closure of five test centres. With increased monitoring and investigation, we can expect a few more to come. Still, the CITB believes that fraudulent practices are rare, occurring in only a ‘small minority’ of centres.

More than 6000 people were also required to retake their HS&E test, and 2000 people were required to retake their Site Safety Plus test or else lose their cards by the beginning of this year.

In fact, 5,480 people failed to retake their tests. of those, 4,615 have had their certification completely revoked, and another 553 will also have their certification revoked if they miss a Feb 14th deadline for retesting.

The CITB stresses that more than 400,000 cards were issued last year, so the fraudulent cards accounted for not much more than 1% of the total.