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Important information that an asbestos surveyor requires from the duty holder before the survey...

Large amounts of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were used for a wide range of construction purposes in new and refurbished buildings until 1999 when all use of asbestos was banned. This extensive use means that there are still many properties in Great Britain which contain asbestos. 

Workers who disturb the fabric of buildings during maintenance, refurbishment, repair, installation and related activities may be exposed to asbestos every time they unknowingly work on ACMs or carry out work without taking the correct precautions. To prevent this exposure, information is needed on whether asbestos is, or is likely to be, present in the buildings, so that an assessment can be made about the risk it presents and appropriate measures put in place to manage those risks. 

The HSE strongly recommends the use of accredited or certificated surveyors to gain this information by carrying out an asbestos survey for the duty holder.

The duty holder will rely on the surveyor to carry out a comprehensive survey, pretty much the same as when you rely on a competent mechanic to service and MOT your personal car. You want value for money!

One of the main contributing factors for the successful completion of an asbestos survey is within the planning. The degree of planning and preparation will depend on the extent and complexity of the building portfolio. There needs to be a sufficient initial exchange of information between the duty holder or client and the surveyor. Unfortunately, and more often, there is no exchange of information.

So what information can be exchanged with the surveyor in advance?

  • Description and full use of property.
  • Number of buildings: age, type and construction details.
  • Number of rooms.
  • Any unusual features, e.g. underground sections.
  • Details about whether the buildings have been extended, adapted or refurbished, and if they have, when the work was done.
  • Any plant or equipment installed.
  • Whether a listed building, conservation area etc.
  • Extent or scope of survey required (possibly mark details on a site plan or architects’ drawings).
  • Whether the surrounding ground and associated buildings or structures are  to be included in the scope of the survey.
  • Plans or drawings of and subsequent plans if refurbished.
  • Whether the premises are vacant or occupied.
  • Any restrictions on access.
  • Special requirements or instructions.
  • Responsibility and arrangements for access.
  • Site-specific hazards (mechanical, electrical, chemical etc).
  • The location of all services, heating and ventilation ducts, plant rooms, riser shafts and lift shafts.
  • Details of any previous asbestos surveys (Type 1/2/3 Surveys), current asbestos registers and all records of asbestos removal or repairs.
  • Information on possible repairs to ACMs, e.g pipe/thermal insulation.
The list may appear long... but it is essential that the surveyor collects all the necessary relevant information to ensure that the survey is completed efficiently, effectively and safely, and that it meets the client’s requirements.

The HSE has provided guidance for both the surveyor and duty holder regarding asbestos surveys. Please refer to:
HSG 264 The Survey Guide.

Andrew James FIIRSM
Quantum Compliance

Beware of floods' electric dangers.

Flood-hit householders and business owners are being urged to take care during the clean-up to avoid the risk of electrocution.

Hundreds of homes had to be evacuated after heavy rain left areas across southern England under water, but with people now returning to their homes and businesses and assessing the damage, the Electrical Safety Council is reminding them to stay switched on to the potentially deadly danger of mixing water with electricity.

Those faced with minor electrical damage caused by clean water should ensure all cables are properly dried out and any affected sockets, switches and plugs replaced, but those hit by more serious damage caused by contaminated water may have to have the affected parts of their property / business rewired.

Recent news...  On Wednesday 12 February, David Cameron announced a comprehensive package of new measures to help businesses hit by the recent winter floods. All affected businesses are to receive 100% business rate relief for three months and will also get an extra three months to pay the business taxes they owe to HMRC as they recover.

Sheffield man jailed over girl's fall...
A maintenance worker has been jailed over the death of a girl who fell 60ft (18m) from a balcony in Sheffield.

Robert Warner, 45, was convicted of the manslaughter of two-year-old Ryaheen Banimuslem who died after the fall.
Ryaheen fell through a gap in a glass barrier in June 2012 after Warner removed a panel and did not replace it.
Warner, of Shiregreen, Sheffield, was found guilty at the city's Crown Court of manslaughter by gross negligence and jailed for four years.
The court heard Warner had removed the panel some days before the tragedy to replace another panel which had been smashed in a more prominent position on the barrier at the North Bank flats, in Willey Street.
Bryan Cox QC, prosecuting, said: "She passed through the gap in the barrier and fell to her death on to the ground immediately below. The accident was caused by the defendant's negligent conduct. He removed and failed to replace the panel from the walkway barrier.”
She explained to the jury how she lived with her family on the eighth floor of the block of flats and they used the fourth-floor communal garden from time-to-time.
Approved Codes of Practices (ACoPs) overview from the HSE
Within Professor Löfstedt's review of health and safety legislation, it was recommended that the HSE's Approved Codes of Practice (ACOPs) be revised, consolidated or withdrawn.

Updated and simplified ACOPs

To make it easier for dutyholders and other key stakeholders to understand and meet their legal health and safety obligations, the HSE has updated six ACOPs which now use modern language, have removed outdated references and removed unnecessary examples and duplication.  They cover:

  • gas safety
  • workplace health, safety and welfare
  • legionella
  • asbestos.

Summary of the changes for each ACOP.

Gas safety (L56)
This ACOP and guidance gives practical advice on the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations. It is for anyone who may have a duty under the Regulations, including those who install, service, maintain or repair gas appliances and other gas fittings.

Landlords also have duties under these Regulations.
Click here to view the ACOP.

Workplace health, safety and welfare (L24)
The revised ACOP will help employers understand the regulatory requirements on key issues such as temperature, cleanliness, workstations and seating, toilets and washing facilities.

Revisions from the previous edition (published in 1992) include simplifying the language; improving guidance and referring to the most up-to-date and relevant standards for advice; and removing out-of-date duties and requirements that have been superseded by newer legislation.
Click here to view the ACOP.

Legionnaires’ disease (L8)
This ACOP is aimed at duty holders, including employers, those in control of premises and those with health and safety responsibilities for others, to help them comply with their legal duties in relation to legionella.

These include identifying and assessing sources of risk, preparing a scheme to prevent or control risk, implementing, managing and monitoring precautions, keeping records of precautions and appointing a manager to be responsible for others.
Click here to view the ACOP.

Control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH) (L5)
The sixth edition of this Approved Code of Practice and guidance provides practical advice to help duty holders comply with the requirements of the COSHH Regulations.

It also takes account of regulatory changes following the introduction of the EU Regulations for REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals) and CLP (European Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures).
Click here to view the ACOP.

Dangerous substances and explosive atmospheres (L138)
This Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) and guidance provide practical advice on how to comply with the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR). These Regulations require the elimination or reduction of risk of fire and explosion from substances connected with work activities.

The ACOP is primarily for an informed and experienced audience such as health and safety professionals. The leaflet Controlling fire and explosion risks in the workplace (INDG370) provides a short guide to DSEAR for small and medium-sized businesses.
Click here to view the ACOP.

Asbestos (L143)
This publication contains the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) and guidance for employers about work which disturbs, or is likely to disturb, asbestos, asbestos sampling and laboratory analysis.

The Regulations set out your legal duties and the ACOP and guidance give practical advice on how to comply with those requirements. The Regulations give minimum standards for protecting employees from risks associated with exposure to asbestos.
Click here to view the ACOP.

ACOPs withdrawn
In addition to the six revised or consolidated ACOPs, during 2013 three were withdrawn.

They were:

  • The design, construction and installation of gas service pipes (L81)
  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations ACOP (L21)
  • Preventing accidents to children in agriculture (L116).
The FIA has recently published a new updated version of Best Practice Guide to Fire Safety, which is aimed at those with responsibility for fire safety in their premises.

Click here to Open an online page-turning version
Mistake 1 – A collection of datasheets
Sometimes organisations think that a collection of datasheets are the COSHH assessments...
What you are required to do is assess the risks from each substance depending upon how you use it in your workplace; then put appropriate measures in place to control the risk. Finally, you have to verify that those control measures work. 
Mistake 2 – A perfect set of COSHH assessments sitting on the shelf
The next mistake is to have a perfect set of COSHH assessments in a pristine folder, while people who use substances don't know anything about them.
A thick manual full of assessments and datasheets on the office shelf is not a workable solution. You need to communicate and summarise the hazards, effects, control measures and the emergency measures to take in the event of an incident to your employees who use the substances.
Mistake 3 – Getting distracted by trivia
Sometimes control measures for a carcinogen can get lost in a collection of data sheets. If you assess every substance on your site, then apart from the effort involved, you will end up with an unworkable system where the critical substances are masked by the trivial ones.
Mistake 4 – Failure to follow the hierarchy of control measures
There is a hierarchy of control measures you need to follow, with elimination/substitution at the top of the list and PPE at the bottom. Often, people put effort into the middle and lower order control measures and never consider substitution. Where a substance is an inherent part of your process, substitution may be unrealistic. But there are plenty of solvents and cleaning substances in use where less hazardous alternatives are available.
Mistake 5 – unrealistic use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
People at work need to "buy into" the practices around hazardous substances. You need to make sure that people wear eye protection when handling a substance that has a serious risk of eye damage.
Datasheets tend to recommend PPE, even when there is no effect.  What you have to do is to assess the outcome based on what you do and take appropriate steps. The two may not be the same and your PPE requirements need to suit the latter.

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Quantum Compliance offers a range of health and safety training courses for you and your organisation, including the following accredited qualifications:
  • NEBOSH General Certificate
  • NEBOSH Fire and Risk Safety Management
  • IOSH Safety for Senior Executives
  • IOSH Managing Safely
  • IOSH Working Safely
  • CIEH Level 2 Award in Health and Safety in the Workplace
As well as bespoke health and safety training we offer training programmes such as:
  • IOSH SHE in the Property Industry
  • IOSH Managing Safely for Property Managers
We pride ourselves on working with you to create and deliver a unique health and safety training package that is designed around your business needs.

For more information contact Quantum Compliance: 
0800 644 4142

Quantum Compliance - providers of the following outsourced compliance  services:

  • Health and Safety
  • Fire Safety
  • Water Safety
  • Asbestos
  • Training
  • Environmental
  • Management Information Systems