Following the national campaign to get behind our frontline NHS staff battling the Covid-19 spread, there has been a new-found love for key workers generally. For the first time in my working career, our frontline waste collection teams have been praised and commended by the public for continuing to provide another vital, yet fundamental public service across our society and messages of thanks and pictures adorn many bins in my road!
With this in mind, we might forget how dangerous our industry remains during this pandemic, and in how many ways. It is, therefore, very positive to hear that the HSE have not issued any waste-related fatality notices in recent months.Whilst we look at new ways to work to protect ourselves and those around us, we must not forget many other tasks and activities, which we might otherwise take for granted. Legionella, for example and the Covid-19 impact on water - something I certainly hadn’t given a lot of thought to. Those who have a Duty of Care to identify and control risks associated with Legionella range from employers, the self-employed and people in control of premises, such as landlords and business owners etc. If a building was closed or has had reduced occupancy during the Covid-19 pandemic, water system stagnation can occur due to lack of use, increasing the risks of Legionnaires’ disease. Something to bear in mind when returning to your favourite restaurant and ask for a jug of iced water…. or even the local for a pint!
We continue to hear the word ‘unprecedented’, however, it continues to ring true when we look at some legislative changes introduced across the country.
And the following Health and Safety regulations require regular statutory examination and testing:
- The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER)
- The Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (PSSR)
- The Provision and Use of Work Equipment (PUWER)
- The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)
- The Electricity at Work Regulations (EWR)
The legal obligations are still in place but the HSE will adopt a pragmatic and proportionate approach towards enforcement action if the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic prevent duty holders meeting their requirements.
Clearly Health & Safety will remain a key driver to changes throughout society as we all work to implement a ‘New Normal’.