Being a time for reflection, I have researched our web site to find out how many newsletters we have produced. The total is a staggering 75 since the first one in June 1999. The feedback we are getting is good too; so many of you tell us that you find them useful and informative that we are encouraged to keep the presses rolling as it were. But not before saying 'thank you' for your continued interest.
Not only is it a New Year, it is also our 11th birthday. There are not, as a matter of fact, many software houses around today who can boast that statistic and we are proud of the reputation and good business we have established with customers who have remained loyal to us over many years. Outstandingly, some of the bigger ones, Edinburgh City District Council for instance, have been with us from the very beginning. EDF Energy (Seeboard) and Transport for London are not far behind.
All our customers will want to know that business is good as far as we are concerned. We have met our profitability targets for 2005 and the forecast business for this year is better than ever. Reassuringly, the mix of business is good. In addition to CDM upgrades, we are now seeing an increase in sales of Asbestos Management software with training to match. Major, multinational businesses are reviewing our products and services. Our Enterprise solution with our web enablement tools is getting more focus and some significant (large) sales. Our Asbestos Partners are gaining ground too with excellent proposals in some key enterprises throughout the UK. We have upgrade proposals for all our CDM ToolKit™ 2000 customers to get them up to our ToolKit CS™ Compliance Software; CS customers will be updated with product revisions as required by changing legislation.
Building on 11 years of continuous, profitable trading, the prospects for 2006 are excellent. We are looking forward to continuing the development of our two flagship ToolKit CS™ products to meet the changing needs of all our customers. This is particularly pertinent as revised CDM and Asbestos legislation wends its way to the statute books.
Many of you know of Stephen Wright, HSE Head of Construction Policy - Legislation; some of you have attended our seminars at Bletchley Park and in London to hear his presentations on the changing fortunes of the CDM legislation. Stephen has been without exception, supportive of our cause in promoting the benefits of good CDM Management.
As you will note below, he is handing over the baton to his colleague Richard as he heads off in the general direction of Lord Coe and the Olympics. As Stephen stated in a recent note to me, 'I shall be taking the lead for HSE on construction for the Olympics and approving/managing construction prosecutions in London'. We wish him well.
For more information, please see the CDM Regulations Update on our Awareness Campaign pages.
Our Partners, Callsafe Services are reporting on some legal issues up for discussion with the HSC. The Health & Safety Commission are seeking views from the public on suggested alternative penalties for health and safety offences. The suggestions could change the way in which health and safety penalties are imposed, possibly fines without a court appearance. This type of enforcement is used in other EU states including Germany, Spain, Portugal and Austria.
The discussion includes the use of administrative fines, restorative justice, conditional cautioning, enforceable undertakings, on the spot fines, remedial orders and more. Please see the following link for more information.
The European Agency for H&S at Work has launched a new site explaining how good H&S culture can lead to higher productivity and lower absence rates resulting in less compensation claims. It also covers the value of corporate responsibility initiatives. The site will also provides links for businesses to help find information on specific legislation, see the following website: http://osha.eu.int/business
The cost of calls has been reduced to local rate. The new contact details are:
Our next MARM meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 24 January 2006 at the London Borough of Hounslow. The meeting will include a presentation by one of our newest (prospective) users.
EDF Energy, Transport for London and Bradford MDC will be represented and several other parties have been invited. If you would like to attend this meeting which will table both strategic and development issues for ToolKit CS™ Enterprise software by our major users, please contact us without delay.
We have a small but important group of users who have not taken advantage of our upgrade offer to ToolKit CS™.
The benefit of CS is that the software will be kept up to date with the latest changes to the CDM legislation. The cost for customers with less than 5 concurrent user licenses can be minimal if you take advantage of the current upgrade offer that runs out at the end of March 2006.
Please contact us for details so that we can keep your organisation compliant with the legislation.
Source: TUC Bulletin
Dozens of MPs have joined legal and safety campaigners to raise concerns about proposed changes to asbestos safety regulations which 'could put workers, home owners and families at risk'. As of 14 December, 70 MPs had signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) critical of Health and Safety Commission proposals and calling for more research. Particularly contentious is a proposed move which would allow untrained, unqualified, unlicensed contractors to remove textured coatings such as old Artex paint which contain asbestos. The EDM says 'this House expresses concern that the new Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2006 will drop textured coatings from the list of materials that only licensed contractors are approved to remove; is further concerned that the Health and Safety Executive has arrived at this proposal without a proper evaluation of the risk associated with the material; believes that allowing unlicensed contractors to remove these materials will put workers, home owners and families at risk; and calls for the proposal and research methodology to be reviewed.' Groups including the Construction Safety Campaign, the Hazards Campaign and the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association (ARCA) have all voiced serious concerns. ARCA members protested outside the HSE event launching the consultation. New regulations are due to take effect in April next year.
Source: TUC Bulletin
An inquest has found that a 32-year-old father of three was killed as a result of childhood exposure to asbestos in the home. An inquest found the death of Barry Welch was due to asbestos-related mesothelioma and recorded a verdict of accidental death. He is believed to be the youngest ever victim of the asbestos related cancer. Mr Welch died on 27 April 2005, after an 11-month battle against the illness, leaving behind a wife, Claire, and three daughters, Natasha, 12, Samantha, 10, and seven-year-old Letitia. Leicester coroner James Symington heard Barry contracted mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos dust and fibres brought home on work overalls by his stepfather (Risks 205). In recording his verdict, the coroner said that he was not going to record a verdict of industrial disease purely on the grounds of Barry not having been exposed to the asbestos in the workplace, but instead recognised that he had been exposed to the deadly fibres in his home environment. Solicitor for the family Adrian Budgen, a partner with law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: 'The family welcomes the clarity provided by today's decision from HM Coroner, although understandably they were greatly upset by the findings of the post-mortem which revealed in detail the true extent of Barry's illness and the obvious pain and suffering he had endured as a result of this extremely aggressive form of cancer.' He added: 'From a legal point of view we now have the findings of the post mortem and today's verdict will enable us to move forward with the civil case for compensation and it is our intention to issue proceedings very shortly.'
Source: TUC Bulletin
A high profile campaign in north-east of England has won asbestos cancer victims the right to a life-extending treatment on the NHS. The decision by the Northern Cancer Network came only days after the Newcastle Chronicle launched its 'Give us a chance' campaign to make Alimta, a drug for mesothelioma sufferers, available in the region where it was developed. The paper says readers piled the pressure on to health chiefs with a massive show of support for the campaign. The paper collected more than 1,700 signatures in just four days. The campaign also won the support of 13 north east MPs. Sufferers from the region had faced paying £24,000 to a private hospital to get the treatment, or travelling down to Liverpool or London, where the drug is already available. It is also available free across Scotland. Chris Knighton of the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Fund said: 'It's a wonderful day. What an achievement! It's brilliant news that people are being given the chance of the best possible treatment available.' John Kelly, of the North East Asbestos Support Group (NASAG) said: 'It was quite emotional when I was told because it's been a long, long campaign. This is what people deserve. It'll give them a better way of life and help the pain.'
Source: Callsafe Newsletter December 2005
The following article by the HSE caught our eye because of the connection with office systems and IT.
Sarah Jean Earney was fined £2,500 with costs of £1,432.45 at Southampton Magistrates Court on Wednesday 24 August, following a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). She admitted producing a false "certificate of packaging performance" for plastic bags used to carry asbestos waste, contrary to Section 33 (1) (m) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act).
Asbestos waste is "dangerous for carriage" and has to be packed for transport in packaging that is tested to internationally agreed standards and certified and marked accordingly.
Mrs Earney, a self-employed sales agent paid on commission only, was selling plastic bags on behalf of Regal Polythene Ltd, which also faces charges relating to the matter. After noticing that Mrs Earney was selling the bags at unusually low prices, a trade competitor obtained samples and realised they were not properly tested and marked. When he asked for sight of the supporting certificate, Mrs Earney made a false one in the name of Regal Polythene Ltd by using a photocopy of a real certificate that she had obtained from her former employer as a template. By scanning this into her computer she was able to alter the name and other details to make it appear like a genuine certificate. The deception came to light as the certificate bore the number of a third company which had no connection with the bags being offered for sale.
HSE Inspector Clive Dennis, who investigated the incident, said: "HSE and the Department for Transport emphasise that the regime for testing and certifying packaging is crucial to the safe transport of dangerous goods and that there must be confidence in the integrity of the UK's certification procedures. HSE will always prosecute if we find that false packaging certificates are being produced."
Section 33 (1)(m) of the HSW Act states:
The maximum penalty a Magistrates' Court may impose for a breach of the HSW Act is £20,000.
Source: Callsafe Newsletter December 2005
Carlisle City Council has issued a warning about an asbestos scam, after businesses reported being told by bogus contractors that they need a certificate to comply with asbestos regulations.
The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002, which came into effect 21 May 2004, require that 'duty holders' examine premises for asbestos or possible asbestos materials, record the location of these materials and assess the risk. These assessments are to be recorded and provided to anyone who may disturb the asbestos.
We are delighted to continue our support of an outstanding Christmas Puzzle organised locally to raise money for charities around the country. This year's Puzzle (the fifteenth) is available for download from the Christmas Puzzle website.
Since it began in 1991, the puzzle has raised over £18,000 for various good causes, including £3,000 last year. The puzzle should appeal to people who enjoy solving (former) broadsheet crossword puzzles. You still have a few days to work on it and get your answers in; however, unlike many puzzles that come out around this time of year, this one is designed to help you finish!
We regularly receive updates from our customers and contacts about changes to legislation, the latest rumours and so on. We try to be selective with what we pass on and acknowledge our sources as appropriate. If you have information of general interest in the Health & Safety and particularly CDM and Asbestos Management arena, then please let us know by e-mail if possible.