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Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd

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News Archive

July 2003

Don't Fall for It

'Don't Fall For It', is a European Union campaign on falls from height in construction. The European Commission's Senior Labour Inspectors' Committee (SLIC) has agreed to undertake this campaign on falls from height risks in the construction industry in 2003, supported by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. The campaign features two inspection initiatives, the first started in June and then in September 2003. All Member States will be participating in the campaign.

Falls from height remain the single biggest cause of death, disability and injury in construction, accounting for 37 fatalities (which is 47% of all fatalities) and 1425 major injuries (which is 30% of all major injuries) in 2001/2. Across all industries, falls from height accounted for 74 deaths and 5,286 major injuries in 2001/2. In the last five years, from 1997 to 2002, 211 workers have died and 8418 workers have sustained major injuries from falls from height in the construction industry.

Working Safely at Height

Falls from heights are the most common cause of injuries and death in the construction industry. Approximately 40% of accidents in the construction industry involve falls. These falls can occur from:

Falls are primarily the result of the choice of equipment and how it is used. Such choices are often made at the beginning of the construction process, when the building is being designed or later, when the work is being prepared.

Before starting construction work, the dangers of building should be considered by those who:

First it must be established how risks can be eliminated by the correct working methods. Attention must then be devoted to the measures that must still be taken to deal with any remaining risks. Finally, a decision has to be taken on what personal protection equipment is required.

This system is mandatory under European Directives. It involves cataloguing the dangers and evaluating the risks. All Member States of the European Union have made it part of their national legislation. It applies to all dangers, including that of falls from heights.

Once the dangers are known, the necessary measures must be taken to reduce risks to a minimum. General protection measures come before personal protection. Personal protective equipment (PPE) should be the last resort and used only where other methods are not sufficient

For example, a safe barrier or scaffolding should be installed rather than using a ladder or a safety harness. If such general measures are impossible, steps must be taken to ensure that the consequences of any fall are limited as far as possible. This approach to prevention must be kept in mind throughout the building process, whenever a decision is taken.

Choice, maintenance, and use of equipment
When selecting work equipment, it should be noted that equipment to ensure safety when working at height may be used only in accordance with the requirements of the equipment and for the purpose for which it is intended.

Equipment must be maintained in such a way that safety is not jeopardised, and there should be regular checks to ensure that the correct safety measures have been taken and that they remain in place and are being used in the right way.

A regular check of equipment should be carried out to ensure that it is still in good condition. This applies to equipment such as ladders, stairways, work platforms (mobile and stationery), scaffolding, guard-rails, and safety nets, as well as personal protective equipment.

Health and safety matters must be co-ordinated on all building sites. It is important that the principal contractor appreciates from the outset that he has obligations in this field. Health and safety must be taken into consideration in the selection of contractors and subcontractors. All those responsible must be fully aware of obligations regarding the health and safety of workers on the site. There must be cooperation, and systematic attention must be paid to prevention, safe working methods and the use and maintenance of safety equipment of all kinds. Good co-ordination can ensure that this is done properly.

Checklist: Prevention of falls from height

If any answer is 'No', prevention action is needed before starting the work. Measures include:

More information about the SLIC Campaign on Construction can be found on the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work web site:

OSH-ROM: The best way to keep up with the world's Health, Safety, Chemical Information Sources

OSH-ROM is one of the world's oldest collections of health and safety information. Started in 1986, by Sheila Pantry and SilverPlatter Information it brings together six complementary bibliographic databases covering critical international occupational health and safety information.

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Send to: Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd, 85 The Meadows, Todwick, Sheffield S26 1JG, UK | Tel: +44 (0)1909 771024 | Fax: +44 (0)1909 772829 | email:

Personal Injury Awards in EU and EFTA Countries, edited by Marjorie Holmes and David McIntosh

Published by Kluwer Law International 2003 ISBN: 9041120092 List Price: $189.00 Euro Price: 175.00 Hardcover

633 pages - unusual index - Gives details under country and then the subject, but also includes an alphabetical subject listing A-Z

The contributors are from leading legal personal injury lawyers in all of the European Union Member States and other jurisdictions. Following the success of the previous two reports relating to 'Personal Injury Awards in EU and EFTA Countries' the editors have undertaken some further research to produce a third edition. The report provides a guide to an understanding of the personal injury awards system in both the European Union (EU) and European Free Trading Area (EFTA), and looks at the changes that have taken place over the past 12 years. The research compares the levels of compensation awarded to individuals within the member states and sets out recommendations from the experts for future procedures.

The Editors have used schedules, tables, graphs and commentary in the report to demonstrate our findings of each country's method of calculation and the compensation levels which could be expected by two types of hypothetical victim. The information provides a comparison of levels of compensation awarded for personal injury in each of these member countries. As yet, no provision has been made for harmonization of levels of awards n the EC and there are no draft directives or intended draft directives aimed at bringing about uniformity. Research shows that compensation awards vary considerably from country to country, which has an obvious bearing on legal advice to clients concerning where claims should be heard.

Levels of award everywhere are influenced by the age and financial status of the injured party, but such factors are weighted differently in each country. In addition, awards for any one type of injury vary between jurisdictions. In order to offer a client the best possible advice on where to sue; a lawyer must be able to compare the levels of awards in the various countries.

Large discrepancies between Italian and French awards are revealed as a consequence of the tragic Mont Blanc tunnel fire: Italian awards in fatal cases, depending on the personal status of the victim, are 3-4 times higher than the equivalent French awards.

The text covers 20 jurisdictions, including a separate section on Scotland. It looks in detail at the methods of calculation in each member state by reference to schedules, tables, graphs and commentary on each country's system and the compensation levels which could be expected by two types of hypothetical victim. Potential awards to a married male doctor with two children are compared with those to an unmarried female legal secretary for 14 types of injury in each of these countries.

For example, an unmarried female legal secretary with an injury that results in blindness will collect 610,469 in Italy, which is the largest award for that injury in the EU, and 100,000 in Austria, which is one of the smallest. If the legal secretary died, she would be worth 140 times more in Italy than in England.

In striving for improvement the Editors have added:

League table for awards

Heading the league table of awards for injuries is Switzerland with payments in excess of GBP1 million for the more serious injuries.

In the EU, Ireland is still at the top of the league for pain and suffering awards (although Italy is catching up). In the midfield are France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Sweden. At the bottom of the league are Austria, Finland, Denmark, Portugal and Spain.

New KAN Study "Accreditation of Testing and Certification Bodies"

The latest edition of KANBRIEF no.2/03 presents the new study "Accreditation of Testing and Certification Bodies" commissioned by the Kommision Arbeitsschutz und Normung (KAN) that looks at the underlying principles of German and other European accreditation, procedures and systems.

It makes specific suggestions, based on its findings, for ways to harmonize the requirements for bodies seeking notification and for designation and notification procedures. The aim of the study was to develop proposals for drawing up a uniform, coherent set of rules.

The study KAN Report 30 is available on the web

KANBRIEF also includes reports on ergonomic guidelines for medical devices, EUROSHNET news, Directive to restrict chromate in cement, and a number of web services and events.

KANBRIEF is published quarterly contact: DR. Ing Joachim Lambert, Alte Heerstr.111. D-53757 Sankt Augustin, Germany | Tel: +49 (0) 2241 231 3463| Fax: +49 (0) 2241 231 3464 | Email: |

Don't miss EUROHSE 2003 Conference ... this is the most important conference being held in London on 4 and 5 November 2003

Eminent speakers from Europe AND AROUND THE WORLD WILL BE LOOKING FORWARD to the future world of work ... can you afford not to attend?

Click onto for all details and book form or for further details contact:
Mary Meadows, Office and Logistics Manager, European Occupational Health and Safety Magazine (EurOhs), Angel Business Communications Ltd, 34 Warwick Road, Kenilworth CV8 1HE, Warwickshire, UK | Tel: +44 (0)1926 512424 | Fax: + 44 (0)1926 512948 | email:

Dangerous Substances...... European Week for Safety and Health at Work October 2003

If you work, the chances are that you are in contact with substances that can pose a danger to your health. Dangerous substances can be found in nearly all workplaces - from farms and factories to hairdressers and hospitals. Global production of chemicals is now running at four hundred million tonnes each year and there are 100000 different substances registered for sale in the European Union (EU).

According to recent European research, 22% of EU workers report being exposed to toxic vapours for a quarter or more of their working time. In addition, 16% of employees have to handle dangerous substances as part of their daily work. Such exposures can harm workers' health in a variety of ways, with effects ranging from mild eye and skin irritations to chronic lung disorders and cancer.

That's why this year's European Week for Safety and Health at Work is focusing on reducing the health risks of using dangerous substances.

"I am very pleased to announce that the European Week for Safety and Health at Work has developed into the largest safety and health event in our region, including not only the 15 EU-Member States but also all Candidate Countries and all EFTA countries," says Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, Director of the Agency. "Dangerous substances need to handled with care - this is the key message of our 2003 campaign. In many cases safe substitutes for dangerous substances do exist, for instance to replace organic solvents. If this is not possible, exposure can be eliminated or reduced through efficient control measures. We hope to communicate these messages along with a lot of good practice information to workplaces all across Europe where dangerous substances are handled."

To support this drive, the Agency's campaign, which will form the heart of its European Week on Safety and Health at Work in October, will provide a range of information about the risks and solutions through various media. Amongst the publications are the following Factsheets:

There are also information packs in all official EU languages, posters, leaflets and a multilingual website at

The Agency, which acts as a European portal for information on occupational safety and health.

News from JISHA, Japan

The Japan Industrial Safety and Health Association (JISHA) has issued a very informative report Guidelines for industrial safety and health in Japan. It contains guidelines on a wide range of subjects including the following:

The twenty guidelines and outlines in English language are presented in two parts and also appears in the Japan International Center for Occupational Safety and Health's English homepages

Contact: JISHA, ILO-CIS National Centre in Japan, 5-35-1, Shiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108 0014, Japan | Tel/Fax: +81 3 3454 4596 | Email: |

Trying hard to keep up-to-date on European and world OSH events?

Then read European Occupational Health and Safety (EurOhs) magazine..... covers news, events, "hot topics", software products, web sites and news of workplace products. EurOhs is supplemented by a weekly electronic newsletter bring you news as is happening.

For further details and sample copy contact:
Mary Meadows, Office and Logistics Manager, European Occupational Health and Safety Magazine (EurOhs), Angel Business Communications Ltd, 34 Warwick Road, Kenilworth CV8 1HE, Warwickshire, UK | Tel: +44 (0)1926 512424 | Fax: + 44 (0)1926 512948 | email:

Revised HSE Guidance on working with VDUs

Stress, visual discomfort, as well as aches and pains in the hands, wrists, arms or shoulders are just some of the problems that people who use visual display units (VDUs) incorrectly can suffer from. A new edition of the popular guidance book Working with VDUs has been published by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Over five million people in Britain use VDUs for a significant part of their work. If good working practices are not followed, VDU workers can end up with a variety of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) or other health problems. However all these problems can be prevented by good workplace and job design and by using the equipment and workstation in the right way.

In 2001/02 around 1.1 million people in Great Britain suffered from MSDs caused or made worse by work, and an estimated 12.3 million working days were lost due to work-related MSDs. On average each sufferer took 19.4 days off.

Working with VDUs gives revised practical advice on working with a mouse, taking into account the latest research results. The main points are to adopt a good posture, placing the mouse close so it can be used with a relaxed arm and straight wrist; to support the arm, for example on the desk surface; and to take frequent breaks and try to limit the time spent using the mouse. If users still find gripping the mouse awkward, the advice is to try a different sized or shaped mouse, or another device such as a trackball. The revised booklet also recommends using a docking station when working with a portable computer in an office environment.

The booklet was last revised in 1998. The changes bring it up to date, and complete a fully revised package of HSE guidance on VDU work.

Two priced HSE guidance booklets on VDU work were published on International Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) Awareness Day 2003 (28 February). The law on VDUs: an easy guide is aimed at small businesses and contains illustrated, practical advice on avoiding risk from using ordinary office computers, while Work with display screen equipment discusses the issues in full technical and legal detail and is aimed at large firms and health and safety professionals.

Single copies of Working with VDUs (INDG36 rev2) are available free from HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 2WA, UK | tel: +44 (0)1787 881165 | fax: +44 (0) 1787 313995. This booklet is also available in priced packs of 10, ISBN 0-7176-2222-3.

Copies of Work with display screen equipment (L26), ISBN 0-7176-2582-6, price £8.95, and The law on VDUs: an easy guide HSG90, ISBN 0-7176-2602-4, price £8.50, are also available from HSE Books.

Additional copies of the VDU workstation checklist (which is included in both the above publications) can also be ordered from HSE Books, ISBN 0-7162-2617-2, price £5.00 for a pack of five, with price reductions on a sliding scale for larger orders.

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Contact: Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd, 85 The Meadows, Todwick, Sheffield S26 1JG, UK | Tel: +44 (0)1909 771024 | Fax: +44 (0)1909 772829 | email: