Health & Safety Update: April to September 2014

10 September 2014

Author: Ashleigh Birkett
Practice Area: Health and Safety



A consultation has been launched by HSENI in relation to the removal of three Approved Codes of Practice (“ACoP”), namely:

1.  The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 ACoP;

2.  Design Construction and Installation of Gas Service Pipes; and

3.  Rider Operated Lift Trucks: Operator Training – ACoP and Guidance (Provision and Use of Work Equipment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999).

It is proposed to remove the first two documents and to replace them with updated, online guidance published by HSE(GB).  Consultation on the third document is for the approval of a revised HSE (GB) ACoP for use in Northern Ireland.

The consultation will close on 15th September 2014.

Following earlier consultations, HSENI has approved the following revised ACoPs for use in Northern Ireland:

1.  Safety in the installation and use of gas systems and appliances (Fourth edition, 2013, L56);

2.  Legionnaires’ disease: The control of legionella bacteria in water systems (Fourth edition, 2013, L8);

3.  Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres: Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002. ACoP and guidance (Second edition, 2013, L138;

4.  Control of substances hazardous to health (Sixth edition, 2013, L5); and

5.  Health and safety at quarries (Second edition, 2013) [except “PART 5 Explosives”; explosives provisions can be found in the HSENI publication “Explosives at Quarries: Quarries (Explosives) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006”].

The updated documents came into effect in Northern Ireland from 1st July 2014 for items 1 to 4 and 1st September 2014 for item 5.


  • HSENI and the district councils launched a campaign targeting Musculoskeletal Disorders (“MSD”) which aims to “keep everybody moving well at work”.  An inspection and enforcement initiative was commenced in April 2014 across a range of sectors where employees are at risk of suffering from MSD in order to improve the management of risks in this area.  HSENI has published guidance for employers in relation to the “Prevention and Management of MSDs in the Workplace”.
  • During the first 2 weeks of September 2014, HSENI inspectors will be conducting unannounced site visits to construction sites.  The visits will focus on: “working at height, the safe management of the risks from asbestos, the control of silica dust and lifting aids for heavy materials”.  HSENI inspectors will examine: “how sites are managed, whether risk assessments are being used properly, if sites are tidy and with good welfare facilities”.  The reference to asbestos and silica confirm a continued focus on “health” issues.  It can be expected that enforcement action may be taken where the legal standard is not met.

Local Health and Safety Case Law

There have been 6 reported HSENI prosecutions to date in 2014.  The following cases have been sentenced since our last update:

  • The Board of Governors of Bloomfield Collegiate School was fined £7,500 plus costs of £1,750 on 14th May at Belfast Crown Court following guilty pleas to three breaches of health and safety legislation.  The breaches reportedly related to the management of asbestos in the preparatory school building which was being used by a nursery; and
  • Eglinton (Timber Products) Limited was fined £8,000, plus costs of £1,500, at Derry Crown Court on 3rd June following a guilty plea to a breach of Article 4 of the Health and Safety at Work Order (NI) 1978.  An incident occurred on 25th July 2013 when a 22 year old man reportedly became trapped, resulting in the amputation of his hand, after coming into contact with a rotating cog mechanism of a timber processing machine.


Ashleigh Birkett, Associate at Carson McDowell, will be speaking at a seminar for senior managers in the construction industry which will focus on “Leading Occupational Health in Construction”.  The event, due to take place on 16th September 2014, has been arranged by Build Health NI, a local joint venture between the construction industry and HSENI.

Carson McDowell’s Health and Safety Team will be hosting further breakfast briefings on topical issues this autumn.  

For further information, or to discuss any health and safety matters in more detail, please contact Ashleigh Birkett.