EU strengthens protection of workers from dangerous chemicals

The Council of the EU has given the go ahead to amend the carcinogens and mutagens directive, which is an EU law to protect workers from risks related to exposure to carcinogenic and mutagenic substances.

The revision will improve workers’ protection by setting exposure limits for acrylonitrile and nickel compounds and lowering existing limits for benzene, says the Council. The directive will from now on also offer increased protection against reprotoxic substances, chemicals which may interfere with the human reproductive system. These substances were previously dealt with under a different law.

According to European Commission data, more than one million workers are exposed to acrylonitrile and nickel compounds and benzene, and 52% of occupational deaths in the European Union each year are due to cancer.

Reprotoxic substances

The limit values for 12 reprotoxic substances that are currently dealt with under another EU law will be transferred to the stricter carcinogens and mutagens directive. The directive will therefore be renamed the carcinogens, mutagens and reprotoxic substances directive, or CMRD.

Hazardous medicinal products

Healthcare workers who deal with carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic drugs, so called hazardous medicinal products, will receive better training on how to handle them safely. The new law stipulates that the Commission must issue guidelines on training, surveillance and monitoring of these products.

Action plan

According to the revised directive, the Commission has been tasked to present an action plan to achieve new or revised occupational exposure limits values for at least 25 substances, groups of substances or process-generated substances no later than 31 December 2022 and present legislative proposals, where appropriate.

Next steps

Member states have two years following the adoption date (3 March 2022) to comply with the agreed changes.

Background

In September 2020, the European Commission proposed a fourth update of the carcinogens and mutagens directive. The Council agreed its position on this proposed update on 25 November 2020 and reached a provisional agreement with the European Parliament on 15 December 2021, which was endorsed by the Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee on 22 December 2021.

 

This is valid as of 17th March 2022.

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Yorkshire Water pays for environmental damage

Yorkshire Water has agreed to pay £300,000 to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust after a sewage discharge led to environmental damage and pollution in Leeds in 2018.

The company breached its environmental permit due to an unauthorised sewage discharge from its Garforth Storm Tanks, which led to a pollution incident at Kippax Beck.

Yorkshire Water submitted an Enforcement Undertaking to the Environment Agency, which has now been accepted.

An Enforcement Undertaking is a voluntary offer made by companies and individuals to make amends for their offending.

Flows at Garforth Storm Tanks are managed by an automated valve, controlling and isolating the sewage. The tanks will fill during times of heavy rainfall.

If the valve fully closes, it means all sewage and rainfall are diverted to the storm tanks and an alarm alerts Yorkshire Water. Sewage levels in the storm tanks are then monitored using level sensors and alarms.

On 17 November 2018, the Environment Agency alerted Yorkshire Water to discoloured water in Kippax Beck. Enquiries by the company revealed the valve was fully closed. It meant the storm tanks had filled and were discharging into a nearby watercourse.

Neither the valve alarm nor the storm tank sewage level alarms had triggered, meaning the system had appeared to be operating as normal. The valve was manually opened to prevent any further discharge.

The impact was widespread and appeared to have affected the beck and its wildlife for 3.3km.

Area Environment Manager, Ben Hocking, said: “When companies fail to meet their environmental obligations, it’s a serious matter and we will take appropriate action, which may include civil sanctions.

“Enforcement Undertakings are an effective enforcement option to allow companies to put things right and contribute to environmental improvements.

“This payment of £300,000 to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust will bring great benefits to nature reserves in the local area.”

The offer from Yorkshire Water details how it has also taken steps to make improvements, including replacing and repairing machinery and equipment, carrying out a review of alarms, and completing an environmental survey.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust will use the donation to fund a series of projects at nature reserves in the Lower Aire valley.

 

This is valid as of 1st March 2022.

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Building Safety Bill: Government to protect leaseholders with new laws to make industry pay for building safety

New measures have been announced that will force industry to pay to remove cladding and protect leaseholders from exorbitant costs.

For those in industry not doing the right thing, the government will be able to block planning permission and building control sign-off on developments, effectively preventing them from building and selling new homes.

The proposals will see the industry pay to fix historical problems, freeing hundreds of thousands of innocent leaseholders from shouldering an unfair financial burden while also enforcing a common-sense approach to avoid unnecessary work.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities says that it remains in ongoing discussions with industry leaders – who agree that leaseholders should not pay cladding removal costs – with progress being made. However, for those unwilling to make commitments, the Secretary of State has been clear he is ready to act.

Reflecting the scale of the problem, the government will also be able to apply its new building safety levy to more developments, with scope for higher rates for those who do not participate in finding a workable solution.

The government hopes to not have to use these powers; it wants responsible developers and manufacturers to operate freely and with confidence, to help deliver the homes people need. If they do not act responsibly, they must face commercial and financial consequences.

Alongside further leaseholder legal protections, courts will also be given new powers to stop developers using shadowy shell companies, which make them difficult to trace or identify who they are run by, so they can avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

Cost Contribution Orders

If passed by Parliament, these amendments to the Building Safety Bill will be brought into law.

Secretary of State for Levelling Up Michael Gove said: “It is time to bring this scandal to an end, protect leaseholders and see the industry work together to deliver a solution.

“These measures will stop building owners passing all costs on to leaseholders and make sure any repairs are proportionate and necessary for their safety. All industry must play a part, instead of continuing to profit whilst hardworking families struggle.

“We cannot allow those who do not take building safety seriously to build homes in the future, and for those not willing to play their part they must face consequences.

“We will take action to keep homes safe and to protect existing leaseholders from paying the price for bad development.”

Cost Contribution Orders will be able to be placed on manufacturers who have been successfully prosecuted under construction products regulations. These orders will require them to pay their fair share on buildings requiring remediation. It is wrong that, until now, a manufacturer could be found guilty of misconduct but could not be charged to fix the problems they caused in selling defective products.

Building Safety Bill new clauses

Amendments to the Building Safety Bill will also allow building owners and landlords to take legal action against manufacturers who used defective products on a home that has since been found unfit for habitation. The power will stretch back 30 years and allow recovery where costs have already been paid out.

New clauses will also enshrine in law the commitment the Levelling Up Secretary made in the House of Commons in January that no leaseholder living in their own home, or sub-letting in a building over 11m, ever pays a penny for the removal of dangerous cladding.

If passed by Parliament, these clauses will hugely reduce the invoices that have been sent to leaseholders for taking down cladding, in some cases for over £100,000.

The most recent provisions announced will also go further than the package outlined last month by protecting leaseholders on non-cladding costs. Under the plans, developers that still own a building over 11m that they built or refurbished – or landlords linked to an original developer – will be required to pay in full to fix historic building safety issues in their property.

Building owners who are not linked to the developer but can afford to pay in full will also be required to put up the money to do so.

‘Florrie’s Law’

In the small number of cases where building owners do not have the resources to pay, leaseholders will be protected by a cap. The cap will be set at similar levels to ‘Florrie’s Law’ which applies to some repairs to social housing: £10,000 for homes outside London and £15,000 for homes in the capital. This will limit how much leaseholders in this scenario can be asked to pay for non-cladding costs, including waking watch charges.

Any costs paid out by leaseholders over the past 5 years will count towards the cap, meaning some leaseholders will pay nothing more. The government is to carry out further consultation with parliamentarians and stakeholders before finalising this to ensure that that the right result for leaseholders is delivered.

The provisions will protect leaseholders and encourage a more proportionate approach to fixing buildings, says the government. Currently, building owners can simply pass all costs on to leaseholders, with no incentive to hold back on unnecessary remediation work that has brought misery to leaseholders.

The package, alongside the duties in the wider Bill, will create an environment for tough, proportionate action on critical safety issues while preventing cost inflation and excessive work.

The new leaseholder protections will allow those less likely to be able to pay to be fully exempted from costs.

In the small number of cases where building owners do not have the resources to pay and the developer cannot be traced, leaseholders will have a ‘Florrie’s Law’ style backstop protection, which caps how much they can be asked to pay for non-cladding costs, including waking watch charges.

Any costs paid out by leaseholders over the past 5 years will count towards the ‘Florrie’s Law’ style caps, meaning some leaseholders will pay nothing more.

Debate

The proposed government amendments are due to be debated in the House of Lords during the Committee Stage of the Building Safety Bill, which began on 21 February 2022. This involves detailed line by line examination of the separate parts of the Bill.

 

This is valid as of 22nd February 2022.

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Leisure centre trustees fined following pool incident

[Scotland] The trustees of a Kilmarnock leisure centre have been fined after a six-year-old girl nearly drowned in a swimming pool.

The Trustees of the Kilmarnock Leisure Centre Trust admitted failings under Health and Safety at Work legislation and was fined £10,000.

The young girl had been with her family at a fun swim session within the Galleon Leisure Centre on 29 July 2019. The fun swim incorporated a 15-metre fun run in the main pool and a large inflatable slide which exits into the main pool.

The girl went down the slide and was unable to establish her footing and went underwater and subsequently became unconscious.

She was rescued from the pool by an eleven-year-old boy who had been playing in the middle of the 1.5-metre-deep pool and felt something touch his foot. He looked down and saw the girl was curled in a banana type shape with her head facing downwards.

The boy went underwater, picked her up by her torso, shouted over to a lifeguard as he took her to the poolside where lifeguards took over and resuscitated her.

The case was investigated by East Ayrshire Council’s Environmental Health Service who found that the Trust had failed to carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the use of inflatables during fun swimming activity sessions and that they were deployed and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s safety instructions.

They also found that the Trust had failed to carry out lifeguard zone visibility tests to ensure adequate supervision and control of fun swimming activity sessions.

Alistair Duncan, Head of the Health and Safety Investigation Unit of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, said: “This was a traumatic incident for the young girl involved. An incident, which if not for the intervention of an eleven-year-old boy, could potentially have had tragic consequences.

“I commend him for taking such decisive action and in so doing saving the life of the young girl.

“The measures the Trust had in place at the time were insufficient to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the safety of members of the public using its pool during fun swimming activity sessions.

“Hopefully this incident will remind other pool operators that failure to fulfil their obligations in law can have potentially tragic consequences and that they will be held to account for their failings.”

 

This is valid as of 21st February 2022.

[Scotland] The trustees of a Kilmarnock leisure centre have been fined after a six-year-old girl nearly drowned in a swimming pool.
The Trustees of the Kilmarnock Leisure Centre Trust admitted failings under Health and Safety at Work legislation and was fined £10,000. The young girl had been with her family at a fun swim session within the Galleon Leisure Centre on 29 July 2019. The fun swim incorporated a 15-metre fun run in the main pool and a large inflatable slide which exits into the main pool. The girl went down the slide and was unable to establish her footing and went underwater and subsequently became unconscious. She was rescued from the pool by an eleven-year-old boy who had been playing in the middle of the 1.5-metre-deep pool and felt something touch his foot. He looked down and saw the girl was curled in a banana type shape with her head facing downwards. The boy went underwater, picked her up by her torso, shouted over to a lifeguard as he took her to the poolside where lifeguards took over and resuscitated her. The case was investigated by East Ayrshire Council’s Environmental Health Service who found that the Trust had failed to carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the use of inflatables during fun swimming activity sessions and that they were deployed and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s safety instructions. They also found that the Trust had failed to carry out lifeguard zone visibility tests to ensure adequate supervision and control of fun swimming activity sessions. Alistair Duncan, Head of the Health and Safety Investigation Unit of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, said: “This was a traumatic incident for the young girl involved. An incident, which if not for the intervention of an eleven-year-old boy, could potentially have had tragic consequences. “I commend him for taking such decisive action and in so doing saving the life of the young girl. “The measures the Trust had in place at the time were insufficient to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the safety of members of the public using its pool during fun swimming activity sessions. “Hopefully this incident will remind other pool operators that failure to fulfil their obligations in law can have potentially tragic consequences and that they will be held to account for their failings.”   This is valid as of 21st February 2022.

£5m fine after fatal gas explosion

Northern Gas Networks Ltd has been sentenced for safety breaches after a fire and gas explosion at residential premises in Mirfield resulted in the death of the homeowner.

On 11 February 2019, West Yorkshire Fire service were called to a fire and explosion in Huddersfield Road, Mirfield, West Yorks. The occupier, Elena Frunza, was discovered during a search of the property, whilst it was still on fire. She was taken to Pinderfields General Hospital where she died the following morning.

The HSE’s investigation found that the source of the gas escape was identified as being from a fractured six-inch cast-iron main running under the carriageway to the front of the property. The investigation found that the main did not appear on Northern Gas Networks drawings and had therefore not been maintained in accordance with the Pipelines Safety Regulations 1996.

Northern Gas Networks Ltd of Thorpe Business Park, Colton, Leeds pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £5 million and ordered to pay costs of £91,487.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Neil Casey said: “This incident, that put the lives of the elderly residents of a care home at risk and cost a homeowner her life, has highlighted a failure by Northern Gas Networks Limited to follow their own safety procedures, in this case requiring the prompt and effective investigation and correction of anomalies in their records. Other gas network operators should take the opportunity to learn from this tragic incident.”

 

This is valid as of 18th February 2022.

Northern Gas Networks Ltd has been sentenced for safety breaches after a fire and gas explosion at residential premises in Mirfield resulted in the death of the homeowner.
On 11 February 2019, West Yorkshire Fire service were called to a fire and explosion in Huddersfield Road, Mirfield, West Yorks. The occupier, Elena Frunza, was discovered during a search of the property, whilst it was still on fire. She was taken to Pinderfields General Hospital where she died the following morning. The HSE’s investigation found that the source of the gas escape was identified as being from a fractured six-inch cast-iron main running under the carriageway to the front of the property. The investigation found that the main did not appear on Northern Gas Networks drawings and had therefore not been maintained in accordance with the Pipelines Safety Regulations 1996. Northern Gas Networks Ltd of Thorpe Business Park, Colton, Leeds pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £5 million and ordered to pay costs of £91,487. Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Neil Casey said: “This incident, that put the lives of the elderly residents of a care home at risk and cost a homeowner her life, has highlighted a failure by Northern Gas Networks Limited to follow their own safety procedures, in this case requiring the prompt and effective investigation and correction of anomalies in their records. Other gas network operators should take the opportunity to learn from this tragic incident.”   This is valid as of 18th February 2022.

Council takes legal action against tenants refusing to have fire smoke detectors repaired

Kirklees Council has taken legal action against three of its tenants and one private leaseholder living in flats in Cleckheaton in order to complete repairs to smoke detectors.

This comes a year after the council issued a warning when housing staff revealed they were trialling whether they could file injunctions to force people to let them into their properties to carry out fire safety improvements.

Risks to life from fire, smoke and carbon monoxide are well known, with building regulations requiring that all properties built after 1 June 1992 must have a hard-wired smoke alarm installed on every floor.

More than 50 residents across the three blocks of flats were contacted to gain access to properties in order to carry out repairs. While the majority were happy to provide access, four individuals failed to engage with council staff, placing them at risk in the event of a fire.

There are currently 1,070 leaseholders in low-rise blocks across the borough, if any households deny access the council has no statutory powers to force them to cooperate.

In November 2021, the council said it was investigating the next step, which could involve applying for an order from a judge under the Environmental Protection Act.

The council is currently in the midst of a £90m fire improvement plan, following an independent review into safety compliance. The review highlighted “significant risk” around asbestos safety and water hygiene, with fire safety flagged as the “primary risk” facing authority.

Cabinet Member for Housing and Democracy, Cathy Scott, says: “Keeping our tenants safe is our number one priority, which is why we have committed £90 million to making these essential improvements.

“I am pleased to see that necessary legal action was taken in this case. It is always a last resort but in this case was necessary to ensure everyone in the building remains safe.”

New legislation

In Scotland, a new fire and smoke alarm standard has been introduced which means that all Scottish homes will now need to have interlinked alarms. This means that, if one alarm goes off, they all go off, so you will always hear an alarm wherever you are in the house.

The most rigorous standards had previously only applied to new-build and privately rented housing. Now, the legislation applies to all property owners, including those who own private homes.

It is the property owners in Scotland who are now required to meet the new standard; this includes:

• one smoke alarm in the living room or the room you use most

• one smoke alarm in every hallway or landing

• one heat alarm in the kitchen.

The Scottish government has said that there would be no penalties for non-compliance, and no-one would be penalised if they needed more time to install the alarms.

It will not be a criminal offence to not have the alarms fitted. Local authorities are officially responsible for enforcing the legislation, but they will not be going into peoples’ homes to inspect them and will not be issuing any fines.

The Scottish government said councils could require homeowners to carry out work, but do not expect them to go beyond advising property owners about fire alarms.

 

This is valid as of 17th February 2022.

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£8.1 billion to support green infrastructure in Wales

[Wales] Welsh Government Finance Minister Rebecca Evans has said tackling the climate and nature emergency is the “overarching ambition” of Wales’ new Infrastructure Investment Strategy.

The strategy is underpinned by investment of more than £8.1 billion over the next three years.

Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, said: “Our budget set the foundations to strengthen public services, tackle the climate and nature emergency, and support a zero-carbon economy. Investment in the right infrastructure, in the right places, will be vital in achieving this.

“Investment will differ from sector to sector and from programme to programme, but we will look to position all future investments so they play their part in helping Wales reach net zero. All areas of spend will consider environmental outcomes, even those which may have a different primary focus.

“The overarching ambition of our investment will be to tackle the climate and nature emergency. It will be to ensure we have the infrastructure in place to support the Wales we want to hand on to future generations – a stronger, fairer, greener Wales.”

According to the Welsh Government’s plans, £770 million will be invested in public transport – with a £585 million investment in rail and a £185 million investment in bus travel – by 2025. This will provide newer and greener rolling stock, continue development of the Core Valley Lines, and support integrated transport through Metro schemes.

The strategy will also support the creation of a National Forest and improve access to landscapes and outdoor recreation through investment in designated landscapes and the development of the Wales Coast Path, National Trails and Public Rights of Way network. In total more than £153 million will be spent to support Wales’ nature and environment.

The effects of climate change are also being guarded against with investment of more than £100 million on flood defences. More than 45,000 homes will benefit from additional flood protection measures in this Senedd term, and more than 17,400 homes around the Welsh coastline will see reduced risk through the Coastal Risk Management Programme.

Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Climate Change, commented: “By investing in infrastructure we’ll open up greener forms of transport to more people, providing more choice in how we’re all able to get around. And infrastructure is about more than our built environments; we’re dedicating significant funding to enhance Wales’ natural spaces, including through the National Forest. We want to encourage people’s connection to nature and through it support their wellbeing.

“This is another step in the right direction, and we know we need to do more in the next ten years than we’ve done in the last thirty if we’re to reach our NetZero target by 2050.”

 

This is valid as of 16th February 2022.

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1 in 3 employers have not talked to staff about their mental health over the past year

Research by Acas has found that over a third (35%) of British employers have not spoken to their staff about their mental health and wellbeing over the past year during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Acas commissioned YouGov to ask businesses in Britain about whether they had personally talked to their staff about their mental health in the last 12 months during the pandemic. The poll found that:

• nearly 3 in 5 (59%) had spoken to staff

• over a third (35%) had not talked to staff

• 3% did not know or could not remember

• 3% preferred not to say.

The publication of the results coincided with Time to Talk Day (which was on 3 February), which aims to support people to have conversations about mental health.

Acas Chief Executive, Susan Clews, said: “The pandemic has been a challenging period for everyone and it is great to see that most employers have chatted to their staff about their mental health and wellbeing.

“However, a third of employers have not spoken to their staff about their mental health over the past year. Taking the time to talk openly about mental health is vitally important as it can avoid problems building up and lead to improved morale at work.

“Acas has good advice and training on how to support and manage mental health and wellbeing at work, which includes tips on how to start those conversations.”

Acas advice for employers on managing mental health during COVID-19 includes:

• be approachable, available and encourage team members to talk to you if they’re having problems

• keep in regular contact with your team to check how they are coping

• address any individual communication preferences such as asking team members if they prefer to talk over the phone, through video meetings or by email

• respect confidentiality and be calm, patient, supportive and reassuring if a staff member wants to have a chat about their mental health

• look after your own mental health and get support if you feel under more pressure than usual – this support could be a colleague at work, a mental health network or a counsellor.

 

This is valid as of 15th February 2022.

Research by Acas has found that over a third (35%) of British employers have not spoken to their staff about their mental health and wellbeing over the past year during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Acas commissioned YouGov to ask businesses in Britain about whether they had personally talked to their staff about their mental health in the last 12 months during the pandemic. The poll found that: • nearly 3 in 5 (59%) had spoken to staff • over a third (35%) had not talked to staff • 3% did not know or could not remember • 3% preferred not to say. The publication of the results coincided with Time to Talk Day (which was on 3 February), which aims to support people to have conversations about mental health. Acas Chief Executive, Susan Clews, said: “The pandemic has been a challenging period for everyone and it is great to see that most employers have chatted to their staff about their mental health and wellbeing. “However, a third of employers have not spoken to their staff about their mental health over the past year. Taking the time to talk openly about mental health is vitally important as it can avoid problems building up and lead to improved morale at work. “Acas has good advice and training on how to support and manage mental health and wellbeing at work, which includes tips on how to start those conversations.” Acas advice for employers on managing mental health during COVID-19 includes: • be approachable, available and encourage team members to talk to you if they're having problems • keep in regular contact with your team to check how they are coping • address any individual communication preferences such as asking team members if they prefer to talk over the phone, through video meetings or by email • respect confidentiality and be calm, patient, supportive and reassuring if a staff member wants to have a chat about their mental health • look after your own mental health and get support if you feel under more pressure than usual – this support could be a colleague at work, a mental health network or a counsellor.   This is valid as of 15th February 2022.

Plant hire company in court over work at height and welfare issues

A plant hire company has been fined for leaving workers at risk of a fall from height and for failing to provide minimum welfare facilities.

A plant hire company has been fined for leaving workers at risk of a fall from height and for failing to provide minimum welfare facilities.

On 17 November 2020, Ruttle Plant (Birmingham) Ltd was in the process of building a new aggregate recycling facility at their site at Common Bank Lane, Chorley. Part of the work included the provision of cladding to the roof, which was carried out using a cherry picker. However, as some areas of the roof were difficult to reach, employees had to step onto the roof where no edge protection had been provided, putting them at risk of a 30ft fall.

In addition, workers had been on site for some considerable time without the minimum required welfare facilities being available. This included facilities for hand washing during the height of the Covid pandemic.

The HSE’s investigation found that the workers had been left unsupervised by site management, there had been no method statement to follow when they climbed onto the roof and there were no preventative measures in place to prevent the risk of a fall from height. Workers were also expected to drive to the company’s head office along an unadopted roadway more than five minutes’ drive away to use the toilet, despite there being ample room on the site for facilities.

Ruttle Plant Hire (Birmingham) Ltd of Lancaster House, Ackhurst Road, Chorley, Lancashire pleaded guilty to breaches of Regulation 13(4)(c) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, and Regulation 4(1) of The Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was fined £66,667 and ordered to pay costs of £1,847.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Christine McGlynn said: “Had a worker fallen off the roof edge, it could have been fatal. Employers should ensure that workers are not left to carry out high risk roof work without supervision.

“Work at height and roof work should only be carried out by trained workers, who are being robustly monitored, following proper planning, risk assessment and using suitable equipment. The minimum standards for welfare must also be met.”

 

This is valid as of 14th February 2022.

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Yorkshire Water handed £233,000 fine for deadly sewage leak

Yorkshire Water has been fined £233,000 and ordered to pay £18,766.06 costs and £170 Victim Surcharge after it admitted to being responsible for a sewage leak that led to the deaths of hundreds of fish in Tong Beck, near Bradford.

The successful prosecution at Leeds Crown Court on Friday 28 January 2022 was brought by the Environment Agency following a pollution incident in November 2017. Caused by the failure of a valve at Yorkshire Water’s Dale Road sewage pumping station in Cockersdale near Bradford, an estimated 20 million litres of raw sewage was discharged into Tong Beck over a four day period between the 4 and 8 November 2017.

The unpermitted discharge of raw, untreated sewage can cause serious harm to aquatic life. An investigation into the impact of the pollution by the Environment Agency found that it had caused significant damage to the ecology of the beck and led to the death of hundreds of adult and juvenile brown trout downstream of the pumping station.

Yorkshire Water’s Dale Road site used to be a sewage works but was converted into a pumping station. The station is automated and unmanned. The pumping station incorporates an underground well into which sewage flows under gravity. From the well sewage is sent by large pumps via a rising main to a local sewage works.

The Environment Agency had raised concerns following issues with the pumps at the pumping station in 2010/11 and in response Yorkshire Water had upgraded the pumping station and renewed the pumps in 2012. During the re-fit, the company installed what was intended to be a temporary isolation valve on the rising main just outside the boundary of the pumping station. The isolation valve was intended to be a temporary measure and was not installed to the same standard as permanent infrastructure, neither was it mapped by Yorkshire Water on its asset record system or scheduled for inspection.

To deal with the fact that the pumping station is not manned there is a telemetry system at the pumping station which monitors whether the pumps are working. However, there was no telemetry monitoring of the rising main. As such, the telemetry system did not notify Yorkshire Water’s monitoring station of the failure of the valve or the resulting loss of sewage from the rising main.

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: “All businesses, including water companies have a responsibility to ensure their activities do not present a risk of harm to people and the environment. Yorkshire Water’s failure to adequately safeguard its systems has led to significant damage to the ecology of Tong Beck, which may take many years to recover. We welcome the ruling by Magistrates in Leeds […] and hope that this sends a strong message to others that the Environment Agency will hold polluters to account.”

In mitigation, Yorkshire Water expressed remorse. They said they acted quickly once they became aware of the discharge. They commissioned their own sampling and analysis, monitored the watercourse over the following days, undertook a full clean-up of the site and immediate area and undertook repairs to ensure the pumping station was brought quickly back into operation.

 

This is valid as of 11th February 2022.

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Waking Watch Replacement Fund opens for applications

Leaseholders will be further protected from rip-off, misused fire safety measures due to new multi-million-pound government funding to remove so-called Waking Watch patrols, it was announced on 27 January 2022.

The £27 million funding will pay for the installation of fire alarm systems in buildings of all heights, rather than just being limited to those over 18 metres.

It means hundreds more buildings where leaseholders and residents have been forced by their freeholders to pay for costly fire safety patrols will now be able to install fire alarm systems instead at no cost to themselves, saving people on average £163 a month.

The Fund follows the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove’s warnings to industry that either they come forward and pay to fix the building safety crisis or the government will impose a solution in law.

Leaseholders in buildings awaiting the completion of remediation works are currently being forced to pay for Waking Watches, where a building is continually patrolled in case of a fire, by their building owners.

This additional funding will help end the misuse of this practice and encourage the installation of fire alarms, which are proven to be both more effective and cheaper in the long term, in an estimated 300 additional buildings.

A key focus of the government’s overhauled approach to building safety is restoring common sense to the market and ensuring a more proportionate approach to fire safety in buildings under 18 metres.

Responsible person

The Responsible Person (RP) – the person or business responsible for ensuring the safety of residents in their building – can apply for the fund and provide the evidence needed. They are encouraged to speak to their local Fire and Rescue Service about the installation of the fire alarms in their building and to keep leaseholders informed.

Which buildings will be eligible?

The fund will cover the upfront capital costs of installing an alarm system. The common fire alarm system should generally be designed in accordance with the recommendations of BS 5839-1 for a Category L5 system

To be eligible:

• the building must be located in England

• the building must be a residential building

• the building must have a Waking Watch in place where the costs have been passed on to leaseholders.

Social sector buildings where the Registered Provider can evidence that waking watch costs have been passed to leaseholders and the costs of installing an alarm will fall on leaseholders will also be eligible.

The application period will close at 23:59 on 28 March 2022.

 

This is valid as of 10th February 2022.

Sign-up to the Barbour Monthly Newsletter

Get the latest Health, Safety and Environmental news and information – sign up for monthly updates from Barbour EHS. Computer monitor What you’ll get:
  • Free downloads including Directors’ Briefings, legislation updates, webinars, risk assessments and more
  • VIP invites to events
  • Important industry news and updates
  • Invitations to hot topic webinars hosted by Barbour
  • Industry partner information,
  • plus discounts on products and services

Prime Minister pledges Brexit Freedoms Bill to cut EU red tape

A new ‘Brexit Freedoms’ Bill is to be brought forward by the government under plans unveiled by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to mark the two-year anniversary of Getting Brexit Done.

The Bill aims to make it easier to amend or remove outdated ‘retained EU law’ – legacy EU law kept on the statute book after Brexit as a bridging measure – and will accompany a major cross-government drive to reform, repeal and replace outdated EU law.

These reforms will cut £1 billion of red tape for UK businesses, ease regulatory burdens and contribute to the government’s mission to unite and level up the country.

Many EU laws kept on after Brexit were agreed as a messy compromise between 28 different EU member states and often did not reflect the UK’s own priorities or objectives – nor did many receive sufficient scrutiny in our democratic institutions.

Having left the EU, the focus is on ensuring that regulations are tailor-made to the UK’s own needs. However, under current rules, reforming and repealing this pipeline of outdated EU law would take several years because of the need for primary legislation for many changes, even if minor and technical.

The new legislation will ensure that changes can be made more easily, so that the UK can capitalise on Brexit freedoms more quickly.

The Bill is also expected to end the special status that EU law still has in the UK legal framework. Despite the exit from the bloc, EU laws made before 1 January 2020 continue to have precedence in the domestic framework.

Officials across government are currently reviewing all EU retained laws to determine if they are beneficial to the UK. It is right that people know how much EU-derived law there is and how much progress government is making to reform it, so the government says it will make this catalogue public in due course.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said: “Getting Brexit Done two years ago today was a truly historic moment and the start of an exciting new chapter for our country.

“We have made huge strides since then to capitalise on our newfound freedoms and restore the UK’s status as a sovereign, independent country that can determine its own future.

“The plans we have set out today will further unleash the benefits of Brexit and ensure that businesses can spend more of their money investing, innovating and creating jobs.

“Our new Brexit Freedoms Bill will end the special status of EU law in our legal framework and ensure that we can more easily amend or remove outdated EU law in future.”

 

This is valid as of 9th February 2022.

A new ‘Brexit Freedoms’ Bill is to be brought forward by the government under plans unveiled by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to mark the two-year anniversary of Getting Brexit Done.
The Bill aims to make it easier to amend or remove outdated ‘retained EU law’ - legacy EU law kept on the statute book after Brexit as a bridging measure – and will accompany a major cross-government drive to reform, repeal and replace outdated EU law. These reforms will cut £1 billion of red tape for UK businesses, ease regulatory burdens and contribute to the government’s mission to unite and level up the country. Many EU laws kept on after Brexit were agreed as a messy compromise between 28 different EU member states and often did not reflect the UK’s own priorities or objectives – nor did many receive sufficient scrutiny in our democratic institutions. Having left the EU, the focus is on ensuring that regulations are tailor-made to the UK’s own needs. However, under current rules, reforming and repealing this pipeline of outdated EU law would take several years because of the need for primary legislation for many changes, even if minor and technical. The new legislation will ensure that changes can be made more easily, so that the UK can capitalise on Brexit freedoms more quickly. The Bill is also expected to end the special status that EU law still has in the UK legal framework. Despite the exit from the bloc, EU laws made before 1 January 2020 continue to have precedence in the domestic framework. Officials across government are currently reviewing all EU retained laws to determine if they are beneficial to the UK. It is right that people know how much EU-derived law there is and how much progress government is making to reform it, so the government says it will make this catalogue public in due course. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said: “Getting Brexit Done two years ago today was a truly historic moment and the start of an exciting new chapter for our country. “We have made huge strides since then to capitalise on our newfound freedoms and restore the UK’s status as a sovereign, independent country that can determine its own future. “The plans we have set out today will further unleash the benefits of Brexit and ensure that businesses can spend more of their money investing, innovating and creating jobs. “Our new Brexit Freedoms Bill will end the special status of EU law in our legal framework and ensure that we can more easily amend or remove outdated EU law in future.”   This is valid as of 9th February 2022.