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Employee Safety Handbook

Lmhleabhair Sbhilteachta dFhostaithe

Produced by LASAG in co-operation with LANPAG
October 2006

As Chair of the Local Authorites Safety Advisors Groups (LASAG), I am delighted to welcome the publication of this Staff Safety Handbook which will be distributed to all Local Authority employees. LASAG is committed to the health and safety of the Local Authority employees and the members of the public with whom we interact on a daily basis. This Handbook was written by a subgroup of LASAG and involved contributions from Julianne Gavin, Galway County Council, Bruce Phillips, Dublin City Council, Caroline Brehony, Roscommon County Council, Sarah Hearns, Local Government Management Services Board, Michael ONeill, South Tipperary County Council and Liam Quinn, North Tipperary County Council. In addition, there was wide consultation with Human Resources professionals throughout the sector regarding the content. I would like to thank these LASAG members who were involved in the development of this Handbook for their invaluable input and time. Tom Oxberry Chairman LASAG The Handbook represents an excellent example of Partnership at work within the sector and sets down clearly the responsibilities of all staff to ensure health and safety in their workplace. This Handbook has been endorsed by the major unions in the sector. It is timely that this Handbook is published in light of the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005. The Local Authority National Partnership Advisory Group (LANPAG) hopes this Handbook will make a valuable contribution to increasing the awareness and understanding of all staff in relation to health and safety matters. Mr Matt Merrigan Joint Chair LANPAG Ms Chris Gavigan Joint Chair LANPAG


Part 1 - Health & Safety Policies

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Introduction Policy Statement Responsibilities Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment Accidents Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Training First Aid Consultation

3 3 4 5 6 6 7 8 9

Part 2 - Hazards and Risks

1. Slips, Trips and Falls 2. Manual Handling 3. Fire and Evacuation 4. Lone Working 5. Violence and Aggression 6. Hazards in the Office 7. Workstations, & Visual Display Units 8. Sharps and Needlesticks 9. Alcohol, Drugs and Smoking 10. Fleet / Driver safety 11. Confined Space Entry 12. Electrical Safety at Work 13. Overhead / Underground Services 14. Noise 15. Vibration 16. Portable Tools 17. Heights, Ladders, Scaffolding, Roofs 18. Excavations and Trenches 19. Traffic & Pedestrian Control 20. Water Safety 21. Compressed gases, LPG, Hot work 22. Asbestos 23. Stress at Work 24. Dangerous substances and Safety Data Sheets 25. Sunburn 26. Safety Signage 27. Personal Hygiene 28. Summary

10/11 11 12/13 14 14 15 16 17 17 18 19 20 21/22 22 23 24 25/26/27 28 29/30 31 32/33 34 35 35/36 36 37 37 38

PART 1 Health & Safety Policies.

1. Introduction
The purpose of this handbook is to ensure that every employee of the Local Authority is aware of what they need to know in order to work safely. In drawing up this document, it was decided to deliberately avoid quoting legislation or regulations in order to make it more readable and to keep it as simple as possible, without reducing its impact or diminishing its overall message. Put simply, we want all of our employees to enjoy a safe working environment and have put in place the necessary mechanisms to ensure that as far as is reasonably practicable this is the case. However, your personal safety and health at work is also your responsibility and your actions and behaviour will determine your level of protection against accidents or injury. Every Local Authority has prepared written Safety Statements describing these mechanisms and arrangements and the employee/management cooperation necessary to achieve this.

Have you seen the Ancillary Safety Statement for your particular work location? If not why not? How can you work safely if you are not aware of the policies, standards, work practices expected in your Section or work area?

2. Policy Statement
The Health and Safety Policy has been prepared to ensure that insofar as is reasonably practicable, everyone who works for and on behalf of a Local Authority does so in the safest and healthiest conditions possible. The ultimate goal is to improve our health and safety performance so that accidents and ill health are reduced to a minimum.

How does each Local Authority achieve these goals ?

Firstly, the Council has prepared its written Corporate Safety Statement. In addition, Ancillary Safety Statements dealing with the unique work activities of each section have been prepared. Common sense plays a huge part in working and staying safe. Know your limitations. Dont take risks. Always ask if you are in doubt. Be sure you receive proper training!

Its all about safety. Your safety!

3. Responsibilities
As an employer we must ensure as far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of all our employees. The general duties of the employer as set out in the act are: The management and conduct of work activities Preventing improper conduct or behaviour (e.g., violence, bullying or horseplay at work) Provide safe systems of work Provide adequate welfare facilities Provide adequate training, instruction and supervision

The Safety, Health & Welfare at Work Act 2005 broadly reflects in criminal legislation the common law principle of the duty of care. These duties cover: Preparation of risk assessments and safety statements Provision & maintenance of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Provision of adequate emergency procedures Notification of reportable accidents & dangerous occurrences to the Health & Safety Authority Provision of competent personnel in relation to Health & Safety matters

The design, provision and maintenance of: Safe workplaces Safe means of access & egress Safe plant & equipment Ensuring safety & prevention of risk from the use of any substance or articles from noise, vibration or ionizing radiations

The Safety, Health & Welfare at Work Act 2005 also sets out duties of the employee. The employee has a duty to co-operate with other duty holders so far as is reasonably practicable. The duties of an employee are as follows: Comply with health & safety legislation Not to endanger the safety of yourself or others Not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol at work Submit to any reasonable tests if requested to do so by the employer Use PPE where provided Co-operate with the employer Attend all health & safety training provided by the employer Not to misuse equipment or PPE Report defects in equipment or systems

Be sure that you are familiar with what is expected from you.

4. Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment

All Safety Statements are based on the principle of hazard identification and risk assessment. This involves the identification of all hazards in the particular workplace, the subsequent assessment of the risk involved (low, medium or high risk) and the controls necessary to either eliminate the risk or reduce it as far as is reasonably practicable. The simplest definition of risk assessment is a careful examination to find out what could go wrong!

See example below:

Slips, trips and falls (office)

Low Risk

Good housekeeping standards Regular checks and inspections by operatives. Tools to be of good construction, suitable design, adequate strength and well maintained. Tools to be used with 110 voltage only. Appropiate PPE should be worn.

General physical injuries from use of portable hand tools

Medium Risk

Safety, Health and Welfare within the Local Authority is the responsibility of all employees. However, there is a formal structure in place to ensure best practice and this is outlined in the Corporate Safety Statement. Each employee should know their Safety Representative, Health & Safety Officer/Advisor and the extent of their roles and responsibilities.

Would you know who to contact in the event of a health and safety issue arising?
If not, then ask! Its in your own interest to know.

5. Accidents
What are accidents? Accidents are unplanned, unexpected events which may result in personal injury, loss or damage to property or equipment. All accidents (Including near misses) must be reported, even if there is no injury, property loss or damage. Accident reporting procedures are outlined in the Corporate Safety Statement. Remember, accidents are more than statistics for those injured or killed! It is widely established that good housekeeping contributes to a reduction in accidents. Whether you work in an office environment, depot, workshop or outdoors, a clean and tidy work area will greatly contribute to your personal safety and that of your colleagues.

Whats your own work area like? Is it safe? Is it tidy?

6. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE is defined as all equipment (including clothing affording protection against the weather) which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects him/her against one or more risks to his/her health or safety e.g. safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. Every Local Authority will provide suitable PPE where the risks at a place of work cannot be avoided or sufficiently reduced. Where there are risks to the safety, health and welfare of employees, the Local Authority will avoid or limit such risks whenever possible by other methods of prevention or control such as, engineering controls or safe systems of work before resorting to the use of PPE. To allow the right type of PPE to be chosen, each work location will consider the specific hazards. This will enable an assessment to be made of which types of PPE are suitable to protect against the hazard and for the job to be done

Remember, if PPE is required for your job, then you must by law, use it. Failure to do so may not only result in injury and personal prosecution by the Health & Safety Authority and/or disciplinary action by your Local Authority.

7. Training
It is our responsibility as an employer to provide employees with the best available knowledge and skills in order to achieve their full potential and achieve the objectives of each Local Authority. Every employee is legally obliged to attend health and safety training arranged for them by the local authority. Employees and managers must refer to the Site-Specific Risk Assessment and Ancillary Safety Statement on an ongoing basis to identify areas that may require training. Depending on your role you may be required to be responsible and competent in a range of safety measures. Performance Management and Development System Health and safety training needs for individuals must be identified on the Personal Development Plan (PDP) of all employees. Training for groups should be discussed at team meetings and should be included on the Team Development Plans (TDP) for each team. First Aid Training Each local authority site should have access to trained first-aiders, depending on an appropriate risk assessment. Firstaiders must attend refresher training programmes as appropriate. Manual Handling Any employee that is required to carry or shift loads must be appropriately trained. Almost every work scenario involves manual handling of some description.

Employees must ensure that they receive the correct training prior to engaging in significant manual handling activities.
Non-National Roads Training Employees working on non-national roads projects must attend relevant training on Signing, Lighting and Guarding at roadworks.

What safety responsibilities do you have in your workplace? Are you sufficiently trained to be competent?

8. First Aid
Where work locations contain hazards with an element of risk or injury, whether low, medium or high risk, the Council as an employer must provide suitable first aid equipment and trained Occupational First Aiders. The type of equipment provided depends on the nature of the work activity carried out. A low risk office environment would not need the same provisions as a construction site environment. This is also true of the number of trained Occupational First Aiders required to meet the needs of the work location. All work locations including vehicles and canteens must have a suitably stocked and accessible First Aid kit to meet the needs of the workforce. The contents may vary and will depend on the nature of work carried out, e.g. handling dangerous substances will require specialist treatment when compared to low risk environments. The aftermath of an accident involving injury is the wrong time to look for the answer to these questions.

Find out now!

Do you know where your workplace First Aid kit is located? Is it suitably stocked? Is it accessible? Who is your trained First Aider?

9. Consultation
In accordance with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, employers must consult their employees with regard to safety, health and welfare matters and must provide all relevant information. The local authority must provide information on safety, health and welfare at the workplace to employees and/or to their safety representative(s). The local authority is required to consult with employees to promote and develop measures to ensure the safety, health and welfare of employees on measures to improve co-operation; measures substantially affecting safety and health; designating responsibilities under the emergency plan; protective and preventive activities and hazar ds identification and risk assessments. As part of the consultation process, employees have the right to select and appoint a Safety Representative. Role of the Safety Representative The local authority is obliged to recognise that safety representatives have various rights, including the right to: Make representations to management regarding matters related to safety, health and welfare of employees. Inspect the place of work. Investigate accidents and dangerous \ occurrences (as long as this does not interfere with an investigation being carried out by an Inspector). Accompany an inspector carrying out an inspection of the place of work (except where there is an investigation of an accident or dangerous occurance). Receive advice and information from inspectors on matters relating to safety in the workplace Time off without loss of pay (as deemed to be reasonable) to acquire the knowledge and training necessary to discharge the functions of a Safety Representative.

PART 2 Hazards and Risks

Lets now take a closer look at the hazards and risks that affect our daily working lives.

What is a hazard?
A hazard can be defined as anything that has the potential to cause harm, injury or loss.

What then is a risk?

A risk is the probability of harm, injury or damage.

Once a hazard has been identified and the level of risk assessed, we can then take the necessary steps to control, eliminate or minimise the risk to safety. This entire process is called Risk Assessment and is the basis of every Safety Statement. Listed below are some of the most common hazards that occur within Local Authorities. The list is by no means exhaustive but includes the most common hazards.

1. Slips, Trips and Falls

One of the most common contributors to accidents and injury in the workforce are slips, trips and falls. A few simple precautions and you can help to significantly reduce this hazard, as follows. (a) All floors, offices sites & depots should be kept free of spillages, slippery conditions, trailing cables, leads, hoses, clutter, litter, and should have effective drainage. (b) Floor covering should be securely fixed and free from curling and wear. (c) Floor surfaces should be properly maintained. Look out for broken or uneven surfaces, slopes, level changes, holes and cracks. (d) Use proper signage in the case of slippery surfaces. (e) Report hazards to the appropriate person or rectify the problem yourself if possible. Why wait for someone else to move that obstacle if you can do it safely yourself? (f) Be especially careful when carrying/lifting items on stairs, and always keep your view clear! (g) Use proper steps or stools for gaining access to high shelves etc. (h) Filing cabinets and desk drawers should be kept closed when not in use.


1. Slips, trips and falls cont

(i) Always wear appropriate footwear for the task in hand. See section on personal protective equipment for further details. Always report defective lighting immediately. (m) Correct storage systems- Remember a place for everything and everything in its place This includes tools and portable equipment. (n) In your work location always walk, dont run! (o) Remove all spoil on construction sites to a safe area. These simple rules can and will help to reduce the level of accidents.


(k) Never obscure vision panels on doors. They are there for a specific purpose, i.e. to see through! (l) Take heed of warning and safety signage. They are there for your personal safety.

2. Manual Handling
Manual handling is one of the largest contributing factors to accidents and injuries in the workplace. Manual handling includes lifting, lowering, pulling, pushing and carrying. While Local Authorities have mechanised many areas involving such activities, there is and always will be a need for manual handling. If you find it necessary to handle heavy items in the course of your duties, just remember the following key points: 1. 2. 3. Assess the area and the load to be handled. Bend the knees. Keep your back straight. Keep a broad, stable base, with your feet hip width apart. 5. Get a firm grip. 6. Keep arms in line with trunk. 7. Hold weight close to centre of gravity. 8. Turn your feet in direction of movement. 9. Ensure the area is clear of obstacles (Good housekeeping/tidy work area) 10. Never attempt to move something beyond your capacity. 11. Seek help if necessary. 12. Should you be wearing gloves for personal protection against spillage, sharp edges, rust, splinters, oil or grease? 4.

Have you had manual handling training? If not why not?


3. Fire and Evacuation

All our work locations must have a Fire and Emergency Evacuation Plan. This plan can be found in the Ancillary Safety Statement for your work area and should also be prominently displayed on site. At least two fire drills should be carried out yearly to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan. 1. 2. 3. 4. Sound the alarm Call the fire brigade. Evacuate the workplace. Do not use lifts or escalators as these may cease to function as a result of fire. Do not re-enter the workplace. Go to the designated assembly point. Do not attempt to fight the fire unless you are competently trained to do so and you are not in danger.

Are you familiar with your local plan? When was the last time you took time to read it? When was the last time you participated in a fire drill?
If a fire breaks out, you wont have time to think about these questions. Do it now, it s your life!

5. 6. 7.

What causes fire?

Most fires are caused by carelessness e.g. smoking, hot surfaces, electrical equipment, heaters, chemicals, welding, cutting, flammables etc. By working safely and by common sense, the risk posed by fire can be greatly reduced. If however, you do experience fire, then remember the following steps:

These 7 points must be regarded in conjunction with any existing local Fire and Emergency Evacuation Plan.


Know your Fire Extinguishers

Fire Wardens
Fire Warden(s) have specific responsibilities in relation to fire safety and evacuation. Always obey the instructions of a Fire Warden. In the event of evacuation, always assemble at the nominated location.

Do you know where your assembly point is?


4. Lone Working
Lone working can be described as work that is specifically intended to be carried out by unaccompanied persons, without direct supervision or immediate access to another person for assistance. Where work activities are likely to be undertaken by a lone worker, or outside normal working hours, then they must be subject to a Risk Assessment. The significant findings of the Risk Assesment must be recorded and relayed to the individuals concerned. Consideration should be given to the remoteness or isolation of the workplace, the duration of the task, equipment, machinery and the presence of any hazardous substances, the potential for violence, the nature of any possible injuries, access and egress and emergency procedures. Measures must be designed and implemented to eliminate and/or minimise any significant risks identified, so far as is reasonably practicable. Such control measures may include advising a colleague of your whereabouts regularly. Any lone working procedures and safe systems of work implemented must be subject to regular monitoring and review to ensure effectiveness.

5. Violence and Aggression

It is widely accepted that in our modern society, the levels of violence and aggression are on the increase. Unfortunately, the workplace has not escaped this regrettable development and consequently Local Authorities have recognised the threat of violence and aggression as a serious risk to the health, safety and welfare of staff. Whether this abuse, threat or assault is from external or internal sources, the results are the same. The health, safety or welfare of the victim is compromised, and this is not acceptable. Bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment are also considered as violence or aggression and all Local Authorities have specific policies in force dealing with these matters. For further details contact the Human Resources Department or your Equality Section.

The Health and Safety Authority have defined this hazard as :

Violence at work occurs where persons are verbally abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances related to their work


6. Hazards in the Office

Office environments are by their nature considered to be safe work environments. This is largely true, but numerous accidents have actually occurred in Local Authority offices over the last few years, ranging from serious back injuries, torn ligaments, cuts and burns to name but a few. The main hazards in an office consist of : 1. 6. cabinet. Use drawer handles when opening and closing the cabinet. Always close file drawers after use. Only open one drawer at a time.

Tea/Coffee Making facilities. The risk here is obvious, scalds from boiling water, tea, coffee or electrocution, The floor areas must be kept clean and free from obstruction.
Hot containers or equipment should not be placed on the floor. Electrical equipment must never be used with wet hands. Broken glass or crockery should be cleared immediately and disposed of in a puncture proof container. Care must be taken when dispensing or carrying boiling water, or hot tea/coffee.

Manual handling injuries from lifting PCs, TVs, video equipment, printers, fire extinguishers, paper and other equipment. Slips, trips and falls due to electric cabling, obstacles, damaged floor covering, spillages, incorrect storage of equipment/files etc at heights. Electrocution due to faulty equipment, cabling, unauthorised electrical equipment such as photocopier, printer, shredder, etc. Poor Workstation layout including Visual Display Unit (VDU) equipment Office filing and storage systems. New filing cabinets purchased should be such that only one drawer can be opened at a time. Older filing cabinets which are not designed in this way should be secured having them fixed to the floor or the wall. Employees using filing cabinets should observe the following safe practices:
Store heavier items in bottom drawer. Start with bottom drawer when setting up files or after moving




Chemicals from printers and photocopiers.

General bad housekeeping habits!




Remember, let the experts do their jobs. Report all electrical and other faults/defects to the appropriate person. Do not attempt to carry out repairs unless you are qualified to do so. Remember, the key points on manual handling. Where possible, use a barrow or trolley to minimise the risk posed by manual handling. If in doubt, dont lift it!

7. Workstations & Visual Display Units (VDU)

Workstation and VDU equipment incorrectly set up can be a serious hazard to the user. The definition of a workstation is all encompassing and includes the VDU, chair, desk and surrounding environment. One of the most critical factors effecting the health of employees working at VDUs is the design and layout of the workstation. A badly arranged work station can lead to the adoption of a bad working posture with consequent pains in muscles and joints and also visual problems. The definition visual display units covers computer screens, microfiche readers and applies to both conventional cathode ray tube (CRT) display screens and other displays such as liquid crystal displays.

If in doubt see advice from you Health & Safety Officer/Adviser


8. Sharps and Needlesticks

Sharps are any item which when handled, may puncture the skin. Typical examples of sharps are: (e) (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) Broken, cracked or chipped glass. Metal needles, syringes, knives or razors. Wood splinters. Broken or chipped plastic. Sharp edged paper (paper cuts). Thorny or spiked vegetation. (c) (d) Safe disposal of sharps in suitable containers. Discarded syringes should be disposed of safely. When lifting plastic refuse sacks, use the reinforced rim of the bag to get a grip. Never place a hand on the main body of the bag which may contain sharps. Vaccinations are available against infectious diseases such as Hepatitis A, B and Tetanus.


Injury from sharps can be prevented by taking simple precautions such as: (a) Proper use of personal protective equipment, e.g. suitable gloves for the job. Safe systems of work when dealing with sharps.

Have you availed of these vaccinations? Does your job expose you to the risks from sharps & needlesticks. It may be too late once you have contracted these infectious diseases!


9. Alcohol, Drugs & Smoking

It is not permitted for any employee to attend work while under the influence of any intoxicants. All suspected incidents of alcohol or illegal drug use while on duty must be reported to management to ensure the safety of the staff member concerned and all his/her work colleagues and the general public. In addition, some legally prescribed drugs can render a person unfit to carry out their duties in a safe manner. If you are on prescribed medication it is vital that you consult your GP regarding any effects the medication might have. Your supervisor should also be made aware of the situation. Employees are reminded that smoking is illegal in any place of work and this includes offices, depots and council vehicles.


10. Fleet / Driver Safety

Local Authorities operate a large fleet of vehicles, ranging from cars to construction plant. All persons driving in the course of their duties are subject to the Road Traffic Acts and all Regulations made thereunder. It is the duty of all drivers to familiarise themselves and update their knowledge of any changes, amendments, directives etc which may become law, e.g. wearing of seat belts, imposition of penalty points, driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants. Under no circumstances should handheld mobile phones be used while driving. All drivers are responsible for any offences and subsequent prosecutions that may arise as a result of their behaviour. They have a duty of care to any passengers, fellow employees on site, members of the public and indeed any person who may be affected by their driving habits.

Remember, in the wrong hands, or operated incorrectly, any vehicle has the potential to become a lethal weapon. Serious injury or death arising from careless or dangerous driving is a lifelong burden to carry.


11. Confined Space Entry

The Health and Safety Authority defines confined spaces as any work area where there is a possibility of an atmosphere which has a deficiency or excess of oxygen. Confined spaces include open-topped tanks, chemical reactors, unventilated rooms, ovens or furnaces, slurry tanks, grain and flour silos, water wells and underground or water pipelines. Many employees find themselves working daily in confined spaces. However, as can be seen from the above definition, confined space working extends far beyond these areas. The risks involved in confined space working consist mainly of dangerous gases or vapours and flooding. All such work areas must be the subject of a risk assessment and must be included in the Safety Statement. Depending on the level of risk, some or all of the following guidelines must be followed: 1. Ensure adequate size of manhole for access and exit of confined space. Ensure adequate ventilation where possible, create through ventilation by opening two manhole covers in series. Ensure proper use of safety harness, lifeline and any other personal protective equipment such as goggles, gloves, etc. Ensure use of suitable PPE, including carrying escape breathing apparatus. 5. Ensure proper maintenance of all such equipment in accordance with recommended schedule. Ensure use of suitable gas, vapour and other contaminant detectors or alarms. Ensure there are sufficient trained personnel on site to effect rescue. Ensure employees are appropriately trained in resuscitation.




Do you work in confined spaces? Are you aware of the dangers involved? Are you wearing appropriate safety equipment? Have you received suitable training?





12. Electrical Safety at Work

Electricity is used in all of our workplaces. Misuse or carelessness can burn, injure or kill. Simple common sense can help to reduce this hazard in our workplaces as follows: 1. Assume all electrical wires and devices are live and dangerous, until proven otherwise. No voltage is safe. Even low voltage shocks can cause you to slip, trip or fall leading to other injuries. Report all defects or damaged cables and equipment to the appropriate person. Never attempt to carry out makeshift repairs. All repairs must be carried out by a competent electrician. Never overload plug sockets or adapters. All electrical cables must be safely routed to avoid injury to staff or damage to cables. Never touch electrical equipment with wet hands. Always switch off and unplug appliances when not in use and before cleaning, adjusting or moving, e.g. changing blades, drill bits etc. When using portable electrical equipment, ensure it is suitable for the conditions, e.g. outdoor work. (see voltage table below) All portable electrical equipment must be subjected to regular recorded inspection, maintenance and testing. 10. When working at heights or with high plant or machinery, seek advice before approaching overhead powerlines. 11. Only correct fuses and circuit breakers should be used. Leave this for the experts. 12. If you need to use an extension lead, ensure it is suitable for the job and always unwind it fully to prevent the risk of fire from overheating. 13. Never use electrical cables to lift, lower or pull electrical appliances.



When was the last time your portable drill was inspected or maintained?








Voltage Table
25 50 110 - 30 220 - 240 318 - 415 500 - 750

Sheathing Colour
Violet White Yellow Blue Red Black

Remember, treat electricity with respect, it can kill. If in doubt, ask!

13. Overhead / Underground Services

Strict procedures are in place if you find yourself working near overhead or underground services. These services include high voltage powerlines, gas mains, water and sewerage pipelines, drains and telecommunications equipment . To stay safe, follow the rules below whenever there is a risk. Once again remember, if in doubt, always ask!

13.1 Overhead Powerlines

1. Assume all overhead powerlines are live unless told otherwise. These are not normally insulated and can be lethal in the case of contact or near contact. Electricity can arc from these powerlines to metal structures nearby. 2. Safe working near overhead power lines requires a separation zone. Consult your internal procedures for guidelines on safe distances. 3. Always seek supervisors permission before using plant or equipment near overhead lines. This includes the use of lifting equipment, excavators, concrete pumps, scaffolding, ladders etc.


13.2 Underground Services

Because underground services are out of sight, they should never be out of mind. All underground services are potentially dangerous and frequently they are not where the drawings or maps indicate, nor do they lie in a straight line. Many buried cables lie within 0.5m of the surface and can be hit by hand held equipment such as pneumatic drills, jack hammers, pickaxes, crowbars and shovels, as well as mechanised excavating equipment. It is possible to work safely around these services only if the following procedures are adhered to: 1. Get as much information as possible from the utility and service providers to identify the nature and amount of underground services on site. 2. Never make assumptions about the exact location. Use cable locating/detecting equipment and possibly trial holes if necessary. 3. Know the relevant emergency procedures in the event of an accident. 4. Always look out for markers, indicators and other warning signs. 5. Always comply with the safe work practices for the equipment you are using whether this is hand held or mechanized. 6. Always use correctly insulated tools and PPE. 7. Always ensure that adequate and appropriate safety warning signage is in place around excavations.

14. Noise
Loud noise can potentially damage your hearing. Noise levels are measured in decibels, and a simple rule of thumb is that if you have difficulty communicating at a distance of 2 metres, then the noise level may well be at a dangerous level. In such circumstances, you have choices as follows: Move away from the affected area if possible Consider if it is possible to reduce the noise level by mechanical means, such as muffling, silencers, sound proofing and operation rescheduling. Are warning signs in place? Should you be there at all? If in any doubt, ask your supervisor. Wear ear protection.

Its your hearing! Are you doing enough to protect it? Are you wearing appropriate ear protection? Should you be there in the first place?


15. Vibration
Exposure to vibration at work may have health effects. This can occur in two ways, Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) and the less common Whole Body Vibration (WBV). HAVS is a disorder causing vibration white finger (VWF), numbness and increased sensitivity to the cold. The onset of VWF is identified as pins and needles in the finger tips. If this occurs, stop work immediately until blood circulation returns to normal. Employees using hand-held power tools are most often at risk of suffering from exposure to HAV. WBV is associated with vibration transmitted by the seat or through the feet in vehicles and vibrating surfaces, the lumbar spinal area is most at risk from WBV. Vibration limits and exposure levels are detailed in legislation, all machinery must conform to vibration standards. Employers purchasing new equipment must ensure that it meets these standards. Some measures to reduce or eliminate the risk include job rotation, reducing exposure time, maintaining tools machinery and equipment to correct specifications, replacing worn-out or obsolete equipment, obtaining advice from manufacturers, wearing the correct PPE and using anti-vibration mounts. The effects of long term exposure to vibration may not be immediately obvious.

Think now, before its too late. Are you exposed to vibration in your work? Are you taking precautions to eliminate or reduce the risk to yourself?


16. Portable Tools

Portable tools include all power tools whether powered by electricity, battery, compressed air, cartridge or combustion engine. The rules governing use of electricity on site apply here also. In addition all other forms of portable power tools require careful handling and compliance with some basic rules to avoid injury. All power tools can be dangerous and therefore only trained personnel should use them. To keep safe, remember the following: 1. Always select the right tool for the particular job. Always check the condition of tool before use. Never use defective or damaged tools. Report all such defects immediately. You have a legal obligation to do so. Never get involved in horseplay while using power tools. They can kill! Never make adjustments, change blades or drill bits or carry out maintenance on any power tool unless it has been switched off and disconnected from its power source. Power tools can vibrate. Please refer to section on vibration. Always wear the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as appropriate, e.g. goggles, ear protection, helmet, gloves etc. 8. Never wear loose clothing when operating portable power tools. Always use safety guards as specified by the manufacturer.


10. Keep your tools clean and in good condition. 11. Keep all portable tools in a safe secure place when not in use. 12. Portable tools can be noisy. Protect yourself! 13. Petrol or diesel powered tools will emit exhaust fumes. Always protect yourself from inhalation. 14. Never adapt portable power tools for work other than the intended use. 15. Portable power tools are limited to 110 volts maximum. Never use portable tools with a voltage in excess of this limit.





Are you adequately trained to use that portable power tool? No matter how simple and straight forward it may seem, all portable tools have the potential to cause serious injury or even fatality.




17. Heights, Ladders, Scaffolding, Roofs

Working at heights is no doubt one of the most dangerous working environments to be in. More construction workers are injured by falls from heights than any other causes. However, working at heights need not be so dangerous if proper planning and precautions are in place. Remember, when working at heights above ground level, there is no automatically safe height. Always assess the situation beforehand! The three main areas of attention in working from heights are ladders, scaffolding and roofs. Lets now take a look at the precautions necessary in each area to reduce the risk of accidents and injury.

17.1 Ladders
Ladders have been used for centuries to gain access to areas above ground level. Extensive usage has taught us that there are some very basic rules that apply in order to safely use a ladder. Always make sure the ladder is: 1. Right for the job. Would scaffolding or a cherry picker be more suitable? 2. In good condition, and well maintained. Remember, you are duty bound to report any defects. 3. Secured at the top and bottom. 4. On a firm base and footing, and held by a co-worker. 5. Raised at least 1 metre above the landing base or last rung to be used, unless an alternative hand-hold is available. 6. Clear of overhead powerlines. 7. Adequately fitted with anti-skid devices. 4. Make arrangements for the safe transport of materials and tools up and down, to ensure you have both hands free to grip the ladder. 5. Never remove or move a ladder unless specifically instructed to do so. Somebody could be depending on it being there! 8. Maximum thirty feet high. Any higher will require scaffolding. Always make sure that you: 1. Set the ladder at a slope of 4 to 1, and never at an angle greater than 75 degrees. 2. Never lean sideways from a ladder. Get down and move the ladder instead. 3. Are you the only person on the ladder? Remember, only one person at a time!


17.2 Scaffolding
Scaffolding is by far the most common means of carrying out work at heights. With modern technology and methods, scaffolding has become a very safe system for access to heights. However, like all other risks, complacency, familiarity, carelessness and incompetence can lead to serious injuries or fatalities. Scaffolding can only be erected by qualified persons holding a FS CSCS Card (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) There are no exceptions to this requirement! Scaffolding components must be inspected and recorded by a competent person prior to erection on a CR8 form. Correctly erected scaffolding should: 1. 2. Be of sound construction. Be on base plates and sole plates and must be perpendicular. Be properly braced and tied to the structure. Have fully boarded working platform. Have top and intermediate guardrails and toeboards. Have proper ladder access. Ladder must extend at least 1 metre above landing place. Be inspected by a competent person prior to use, when any modifications have been made and every 7 days. Inspections to be recorded on a CR8 form.) 8. Be subjected to safety inspection immediately following adverse weather conditions. Be inspected after any substantial modification or alteration.


10. Be inspected after any period of disuse. 11. Be kept clear of obstacles and debris. 12. Be netted and adequately lit at night.

Remember, when working on, under or near scaffolding, always wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) e.g. helmet, safety, boots etc.


4. 5.




17.3 Roofs
Any roof is a risky place to be! Any fall from a roof will result in serious injury or death. Many fatalities on sites arise from falls off roofs. Once again, the level of risk can be greatly reduced by following some simple safety rules, as follows: 1. Always inspect a roof before you walk on it. On a sloping roof, use correct roof ladder or crawling boards and ensure they are correctly located. You must wear and be trained in proper use of safety harness and/or arrestor devices. Adequate arrangements must be in place to prevent items falling on persons below. Keep off roofs in adverse weather conditions, such as high winds, rain, ice or severe frost/snow. Fragile roofing materials are often obscured by paint, dirt, insulation or roofing felt. Always check before you walk on them. 7. Stay away from the edge unless edge protection is in place. Secure sheet materials and other items such as tools etc against wind. If engaged in Hot Work on a roof, such as felting, be sure you have a suitable fire extinguisher at hand, and that you are competent to use it. Do so only if it is safe.




10. Obey all warning signs, they are not there for decorative purposes.






18. Excavations and Trenches

Many employees are involved in excavations as part of their daily work. The primary risk in any excavation, no matter how shallow, is collapse. In addition, there is considerable risk from underground services. No ground can be considered totally stable. The ground may be inherently weak, laminated or may have been disturbed previously. There are many reasons why the ground may collapse, and knowing these in advance will assist in preventing serious injury and possibly death. Collapses can be caused by: 1. 2. Rainwater. Changes in groundwater conditions or seepage from another source. Frost action. Parched soil. Parking of machinery or plant, or storing of rubble/spoil too close to the edge. Incorrect method of digging. 9. 3. 4. 5. Do not store or park plant or machinery close to the edge. Do not store rubble or spoil close to the edge. All plant and machinery used in excavations must only be operated by competently trained staff. In excavations and trenches more than 1.25 meters a suitable shoring method must be used to support the sides of the opening, including trench boxes where required. The sides of the excavation or trench must be battered back (sloped) to a safe angle where possible. All openings must be guarded, signed and well lit at night as required. Excavations and trenches must be inspected daily to ensure stability and CR9 forms completed.




3. 4. 5.

10. Should any danger of collapse become apparent. Stop work immediately.

Remember - a cubic metre (M3) of earth weighs approx. 1 tonne!


Excavations and trenches can be made much safer places to work by following these simple rules: 1. 2. Access and egress must be by suitable means, e.g. ladders Be aware of the dangers of underground services. Follow correct procedures.


19. Traffic & Pedestrian Control

Traffic and pedestrian control is a high priority for all Local Authorities. All traffic management and associated signage must be managed in line with relevant guidelines. The areas which require specific control are: Public traffic (Access & Egress) Site Traffic (Reversing & Driving) Pedestrians & Site Personnel Site Signage Who has responsibility in this area? Responsible person for designing the layout of the project including traffic management plan Site Engineer General Services Supervisor/Foreman Ganger/Overseer Flagman Sub-Contractors

There are a number of principle causes of traffic accidents on sites and these are as follows: Poor advance warning Poor directional guidance Speeding Unsafe road condition Interaction between site and public traffic Uncontrolled pedestrians Poor lighting Poor segregation between vehicles and pedestrians


19. Traffic & Pedestrian Control cont

Controls Required: Public traffic: Advance warning of the site Men at work site signage Information signage Directional signage Physical segregation from the works Controlling site traffic access to public area Defined traffic light system or flag man control Trained staff for stop/go responsibilities Roadway should be cleaned of materials on a daily basis. Site traffic: Only approved drivers allowed on site A second person to support the driver when reversing. All vehicles to have a reversing bleeper and flashing beacon Only controlled access to the public area from the operational site All vehicles covered by Safe pass and CSCS Designated parking on site inside segregated area. Pedestrians & Site Personnel: All public pedestrian access routes to be controlled and directed external to site operations Public access must be controlled when vehicles have to work at or swing over public pedestrian access routes. All site staff must wear reflective jackets and other appropriate PPE. No site staff should work directly behind a vehicle. Remember if you cant see the driver, the driver cant see you. Site Signage: Signs to be checked on a daily basis for theft, position, dirt etc. Adequate lighting to be provided on winter evenings or night time Re-assessment of the signage layout as the project progresses.


20. Water Safety

In recent times more and more Local Authority staff find themselves working in, over or near water. The risk is the same. DROWNING! It can happen in an instant! 3. In addition use a safety harness if you are working from a height and ensure your ladder or platform is secure and supported. Be familiar with rescue procedures, and make sure they are in place. Never work alone on, over or near water. Know, understand and comply with all Safe Work Practices in your Ancillary Safety Statement.

4. Common sense water safety rules apply here. 1. To minimise the risk of contracting water-borne pathogens, eg. Weils disease, staff should avoid contact with water where possible, cover all cuts and abrasions with waterproof dressings, wash all exposed skin before eating and wear protective clothing, gloves and overalls. If working in, over or near water, wear a life jacket (minimum 150 Newton lifejacket).



Remember, a large percentage of drownings occur in relatively quiet waters, such as reservoirs and ponds.


Take the proper precautions when working on, over or near water!


21. Compressed Gases / LPG / Hot Work

All compressed gases should be considered extremely dangerous and treated with caution, and used only by employees who have received specific training in the handling, use and transportation of such gases. These gases include Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), Oxygen, Acetlyene and Propane among others, stored in cylindrical metal cylinders, under high pressure. These gases of themselves are dangerous due to their flammability, but the metal cylinders in which that are stored can become a lethal weapon if damaged in any way. An explosion in one cylinder of compressed gas can trigger a chain reaction in others, leading to a serious fire and possible loss of life. Due to the high risk involved, numerous controls and safe work practices must be in place when dealing with these dangerous substances. Definition of hot work next page.

21.1 Storage of Gas

1. Cylinders of compressed gases must be stored only in the upright position. 2. Stored cylinders must be properly secured in this position. 3. Storage facilities for compressed gas cylinders must always be outdoors. 4. Storage facility must be located away from buildings and work areas. 5. Always separate full and empty cylinders. 6. Always separate flammable gases from oxygen cylinders. 7. Storage facility must include suitable fire fighting equipment, i.e. the correct fire extinguisher for the particular type of fire. 8. Never permit smoking near the storage area. 9. As LPG is heavier than air, leaking gas will seep into drains, basements etc. This must be taken into account when deciding on the location of a suitable storage area.

21.2 Transport of Gas

1. As in storage, cylinders must be transported in the upright position and well secured. The vehicle must be open or well ventilated. The correct fire extinguisher must be available on the vehicle. Drivers must be suitably trained. 5. The transport vehicle must bear the statutory warning signage. Never roll the cylinders along the ground or handle roughly. Use the appropriate type of trolley and always secure the cylinders to the trolley.

6. 2.




21.3 Gas Usage

1. Cylinders should only be used in the upright and stable position. Always examine the hoses, couplings and regulators for wear or damage. All defects must be reported. Never use damaged equipment. Ensure that flashback arrestors are used. Ensure the area is well ventilated. Keep cylinders a safe distance from heat sources. Ensure appropriate fire extinguishers are available and accessible. Never permit smoking near the cylinders. They are particularly dangerous during the connection / disconnection procedures. 8. Never allow grease or oil come into contact with the cylinders. Oxygen under pressure mixed with grease or oil can be explosive! Always follow the manufacturers instructions.




4. 5.


10. Always wear the correct Personal Protective Equipment, e.g. gloves, boots etc. Hot Work may be described as any operation which includes the application of heat, from whatever source, e.g. welding, felting, paint stripping, soldering, name but a few. As heat is one of the main components of fire, this is obviously the principle risk.


Do you work with compressed gases? Have you received the correct training to do your job safely. Does your work location comply fully with the above controls?


22. Asbestos
What is Asbestos? Asbestos is an extremely versatile building material, which was widely used by the construction industry up until the late 1970s. However, the presence of asbestos does not always comprise a high risk. This depends on the type and condition of the asbestos and the likelihood of work now or in the future disturbing it. Some asbestos can be left in place as long as it is not disturbed by the likes of drilling, cutting or grinding. Employees (including contractors) engaged in maintenance and repair work are particularly vulnerable. Where would asbestos be found? Although it is now illegal to use asbestos in the construction or refurbishment of any premises, many thousands of tonnes of it were used in the past (up until the late seventies) and much of it is still in place. The areas where asbestos is likely to be present within our buildings are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Boiler rooms and plant rooms Pipe runs throughout a building Ceiling tiles Around windows and behind radiators Service ducts and shafts Floors in the form of tiles Roofs in the form of asbestos cement sheeting What are the Health Hazards of Asbestos? 1. 2. Lung Cancer Asbestosis - this is a scarring of the lung tissue. The scaring restricts breathing and reduces the capacity of the lungs. Mesothelioma - this is an extremely rare cancer of the pleura (lining of the chest) and the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity).


All the above hazards are aggravated by tobacco smoking!

What do you do when you come across asbestos or suspect its presence in material? 1. 2. Stop working immediately. Report it immediately to your supervisor. Further action may involve either removal, stabilising or leave in situ, depending on the type of asbestos, its condition and the level of risk involved. This work will only be undertaken by qualified, trained persons.



23. Stress at Work

Local Authorities operate a number of Human Resource initiatives to assist staff to reduce personal stress levels. These include flexi-time, term time arrangements etc. Employees who may be suffering from work related stress can be referred or can voluntarily contact The Human Resource Department for advice. Stress must be regarded as a risk and must be included in all workplace risk assessments. Where stress levels are found to be high, appropriate actions must be taken by managers to control and prevent stress in the workplace.

24. Dangerous substances and Safety Data Sheets

All work locations have and use a variety of dangerous substances in the form of chemical compounds, detergents, printer inks, adhesives, gases, fuels, paints, thinners, weedkillers etc. Some of these substances are more toxic than others but all of them, if mishandled, consumed or somehow absorbed into the body will cause harm, serious illness or worse. A Safety Data Sheet (SDS) must be made available by the manufacturer / supplier of a dangerous substance or preparation of any professional user. The SDS contains prescribed and detailed information relating to a chemical product in an internationally recognised and uniform layout.

How do we know the level of risk involved in using these substances? Simple, you read the label! If you can it understand the language used, then take it further and have it explained to you. In addition, all such substances must have a Safety Data Sheet in accordance with EU Law.


It must list the following properties of the particular substance:

Identification of Substance. First Aid Measures. Fire Fighting Measures. Storage and Handling. Physical / Chemical Properties. Toxicological Information. Disposal Considerations. Supply and Labeling. From the above, it can be seen that all information regarding the substances used is readily available. The suppliers must be in a position to produce the SDS for all substances ranging from simple desk top corrective fluid to weed killers. The health risks from some substances are not always immediately obvious and can develop over a long period of time. Some substances require specialist training in their usage. Composition / Ingredients. Spillage Measures. Exposure Controls / PPE Stability and Reactivity. Ecological Information Transport Information. Other Information.

Remember, dont take a risk with your own health. The information is out there and readily available. If in doubt, find out.

25. Sunburn
In recent times the damaging effects of over exposure to the sun without proper skin protection has been well highlighted. This is particularly relevant to all employees working outdoors during high risk periods. Over-exposure to the sun is a serious health hazard and must be considered a high risk for certain employees within the Local Authority and can lead to serious skin disorders, including cancers. Effective use of appropriate clothing can reduce the risk and if necessary use sunscreen. Keep skin, covered!

Dont forget to protect skin from the sun!


26. Safety Signage

Safety signage is widely used throughout our work locations. Signs are designed to inform, advise, instruct and warn of any danger. They are for your safety and protection.

When did you last take the time to notice or even read a safety sign? Make sure you understand them. It could save you from injury or worse in the future. If safety signs are notable by their absence, raise the matter with your supervisor. Dont wait for an accident to happen.

27. Personal Hygiene

1. Always wash hands after using toilets and before eating. Always use correct cleansing materials on your skin. Use of incorrect substances such as thinners, degreasers etc can cause skin disorders. Use gloves when appropriate or other PPE.



Remember, personal hygiene affects all of us. Employees should be careful of personal hygiene so that no offence is caused to others.


28. Summary
The underlying message in this document is to work safely. There is no room for complacency. One accident is one too many! Local Authorities are committed to placing the safety of employees at the top of the agenda through a combination of education, training and active safety measures. You can help to develop a true safety culture in the organisation by working safely. Take the time to read this handbook. The information contained in it, is not difficult to follow. They are there for your safety. The handbook has been developed for your safety.

Dont gamble with your safety or with that of those around you.



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