Date: 19/11/2008 Category: Community Safety
Picture caption: Officers from Medway Council's Environmental Protection Team and counterparts at Swale, Dartford and Gravesham councils, with Dennis Murrow (on ladder), manager of Quick Timber in Gillingham, checking his premises. Medway Council’s Environmental Health Team has been making sure that anyone who works at height is working safely. The officers joined forces with their colleagues at Gravesham, Swale and Dartford councils and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to ensure that businesses whose staff use ladders or work at height are looked after by their employer. They have also been talking to businesses to improve health and safety at work. Officers visited 161 premises in the four authorities during a week-long campaign. They also sent information packs to 122 businesses on the Gillingham Business Park. Inspectors checked that staff felt safe at work, were working safely and that measures were in place to reduce the risk of fatal accidents and major injuries resulting from falls from ladders. Dennis Murrow, manager of Quick Timber in Matilda Close in Gillingham, received a visit from the inspectors last week. He said: “The inspectors have checked our ladders and stairs to make sure they’re not suffering from fatigue and there’s no dents in them and that we have the right signage on display, so both the public and staff know where they should and shouldn’t be. “They have also checked that we are working safely on equipment like the saws and that only trained people are using the equipment. “Visits like this are a good idea as the inspectors can see how we work and what we’re doing. Some companies may not like being visited, but I think it’s a good idea.” The campaign also covered the health and safety aspects of workplace transport, manual handling and the duty to manage asbestos in the workplace. A key aim of the campaign was to provide information and advice to the local business community and emphasise the importance of ensuring that measures are in place to protect the health and safety of employees and others who may be affected. While the officers were able to offer advice on health and safety issues, they also found a number of premises where it was necessary to take formal enforcement action. During the course of the week they served 11 prohibition notices and 17 improvement notices for offences including unguarded machinery and putting their employees at risk of electrocution. The council’s portfolio holder for Community Safety and Enforcement Cllr Rehman Chishti said events like this are vital to create safer workplaces in Medway. He said: “This once again demonstrates Medway Council's commitment to ensure our work places are safer environments.” Principal Health and Safety Executive Inspector Mike Walters added: “These visits are about making sure that people who arrive for work at the start of the day go home safe at the end of the day.” The campaign took place from Monday, 10 to Friday, 14 November. In the past year there have been 24 workplace deaths and 3,470 major injuries in the workplace.* Information and advice for businesses and residents is available from Medway Environmental Health. Please visit www.medway.gov.uk/communitysafety or call 01634 333333. * Figures from the Health and Safety Executive.