COVID-19 New HSE Guidance (UK)

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has new COVID-19 guidance – here.

Covering –

(1) face masks

(2) hand sanitisers

(3) diver’s medical certificate

(4) driver welfare and hours (I blog posted before about this)

(5) health/medical surveillance

(6) protecting home workers

Plus links to key gov.uk issued guidance – note the employees, employers and businesses one was updated yesterday.

NOTE Subscribers will see a new COVID-19 compiled list of law and guidance loaded into their Occupational Health and Safety Registers from Tuesday. Find this near the Brexit lists.

STAY SAFE

Brexit and COVID-19 measures (UK)

The UK left the EU at end of January 2020, and will leave the transition period at end of December 2020.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on 11th March 2020.

These two events are prompting substantive changes in many occupational, health and safety, and environment related measures in the UK (substantive measures are also being taken in other countries, and at EU level).

The UK’s Brexit measures are found here.

[the vast majority of the UK’s Brexit measures are unchanged since any update made in February 2020]

The UK’s COVID-19 measures are found here.

[the vast majority of the UK’s COVID-19 measures date March 2020]

The UK’s Brexit and the COVID-19 measures are rooted in law. Cardinal Environment Limited advises on occupational health and safety law and environmental law via Email Alert to subscribers to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists. The next Email Alert on UK Registers & Checklists will be at end March (the monthly UK Email Alert as usual).

Subscribers are reminded that they can request Annual Review (a teleconference) on renewal of annual subscriptions.

Of particular note are –

(1) changes around borders

(2) changes around goods transport

(3) changes around people mobility, including across borders

(4) changes around workplace organisation, particularly additional requirements to keep the workplace safe and provide for home working

(5) temporary bans on the opening of some business premises on health grounds

(6) changes around worker employment (this Blog does not address detailed matters of Employment Law)

Coronavirus/COVID-19 measures (UK)

UPDATE : the general guidance for employers, employees and business includes these additional stipulations –

• businesses and workplaces should encourage their employees to work at home, wherever possible

• if someone becomes unwell in the workplace with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they should be sent home and advised to follow the advice to stay at home

• employees should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues

• frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products

• employees will need your support to adhere to the recommendation to stay at home to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) to others

Last week saw a raft of measures and the first legislation compelling action. These are compiled online – here.

Of particular note to this Blog are –

(1) the mandated closure of some workplaces and all workplace canteens where food is sold – here plus law on the matter here (England) and here (Wales)

[note the workplace canteen exceptions in the law]

(2) the definition of key worker – found in the guidance for schools closure – here

(3) the definitions of “self-isolating”, “social distancing” and “shielding” and the cohorts these apply to

“Self-isolating” – here

“Social distancing” – here

“Shielding” – here

(4) the relaxation of drivers’ hours (I blog posted about this last week) – here

(5) changes to Planning Inspectorate site visits, appeals, inquiries and events – here

(6) changes to Courts and tribunals planning and preparation – here

[note there are also changes to HSE and Environment Agency, and other regulator, site visits etc which are published in their own online web resources]

(7) general guidance for employers, employees and businesses – here

(8) guidance on the cleaning of workplace surfaces – here

(9) shipping and sea ports guidance – here

(10) restriction of non-essential rail travel – here

[note the London Mayor has announced reductions in TFL transport and transport in London, including by driving, should be for essential travel only]

[transport by driving outside of London should also be essential travel only]

The advice for anyone in any setting is to follow these main guidelines.

1 The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of a new continuous cough and/or high temperature. If you have these symptoms, however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for 7 days from when your symptoms started. You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.

2 Wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, or after being in public areas where other people are doing so. Use hand sanitiser if that’s all you have access to.

3 To reduce the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue, and throw the tissue in a bin immediately. Then wash your hands or use a hand sanitising gel.

4 Clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.

Indicative Occupational Exposure Limits (EU)

Directive 2017/164/EU – indicative occupational exposure limit values of 31 January 2017 establishing a fourth list of indicative occupational exposure limit values pursuant to Council Directive 98/24/EC, and amending Commission Directives 91/322/EEC, 2000/39/EC and 2009/161/EU (Text with EEA relevance) – is in force.

The Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Law Checklists have the third list of indicative occupational exposure limit values. The fourth list is being added shortly.

The fourth list is based on Council Directive 98/24/EC concerning the protection of the health and safety of workers from the risks related to chemical agents in the workplace. This was the case for previous indicative lists.

Indicative occupational exposure limit values (IOELV) are health-based, non-binding values, derived from the most recent scientific data available and taking into account the availability of reliable measurement techniques.

For any chemical agent for which an IOELV has been set at European Union level, Member States are required to establish a national occupational exposure limit value. They also are required to take into account the European Union limit value, determining the nature of the national limit value in accordance with national legislation and practice.

Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive by 21 August 2018 at the latest.

Regarding the limit values for nitrogen monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide, Member States will be able to benefit from a transitional period ending at the latest on 21 August 2023.

The 2017 Directive establishes limit values for the following chemical agents:

Manganese and inorganic manganese compounds (as manganese)

Glycerol trinitrate

Carbon tetrachloride; Tetrachloromethane

Amitrole

Acetic acid

Hydrogen cyanide (as cyanide)

Methylene chloride; Dichloromethane

Vinylidene chloride; 1,1-Dichloroethylene

Tetraethyl orthosilicate

Acrylic acid; Prop-2-enoic acid

Nitroethane

Bisphenol A; 4,4′-Isopropylidenediphenol

Diphenyl ether

2-ethylhexan-1-ol

1,4-Dichlorobenzene; p-Dichlorobenzene

Acrolein; Acrylaldehyde; Prop-2-enal

Methyl formate

But-2-yne-1,4-diol

Tetrachloroethylene

Ethyl acetate

Sodium cyanide (as cyanide)

Potassium cyanide (as cyanide)

Diacetyl; Butanedione

Carbon monoxide

Calcium dihydroxide

Calcium oxide

Sulphur dioxide

Lithium hydride

Nitrogen monoxide

Nitrogen dioxide

Terphenyl, hydrogenated

Skin absorption feature of ten substances is noted.

Of the 33 substances above, 4 were already listed in the Annex to Commission Directive 91/322/EEC, one was listed in the Annex to Commission Directive 2000/39/EC and one in the Annex to Commission Directive 2009/161/EU. The establishment of new indicative limit values was recommended by SCOEL for the above six substances listed in the Annex to this Directive. They will be deleted from the Annexes to the previous directives on 21 August 2018.

The further lists on indicative occupational exposure limit values (in Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Law Checklists):

• Commission Directive 91/322/EEC establishing indicative limit values

• Commission Directive 2000/39/EC establishing a first list of indicative occupational exposure limit values

• Commission Directive 2006/15/EC establishing a second list of indicative occupational exposure limit values

• Commission Directive 2009/161/EU establishing a third list of indicative occupational exposure limit values

UK – the EH40 list is reissuedhere (and will be added shortly to Registers and Law Checklists)

Ditto the Ireland list is updated, and Continental European Registers and Law Checklists will have their current lists updated.

EU (Withdrawal) Bill 2017-2019 (Days 1 & 2)

UPDATE : UK Government fact sheets are here.

The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill (EUW Bill – UK law) will repeal the instrument that puts EU law into UK domestic law (the UK European Communities Act 1972) and create a new class of UK domestic law termed ‘retained EU law‘.

Subscribers to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Law Checklists will see this new category appear in their Registers. First, the Brexit Law will be corralled into a single area accessed on the top right (Environment, and Occupational Health & Safety).

The EUW Bill is at the House of Commons Committee stage, an important stage when amendments are considered.

Day 1 of the considerations was yesterday. This considered amendments to Clause 1 and Clause 6 of the Bill.

Day 2 is today. This will consider Clauses 2, 3 and 4 (the EU retained law itself).

Clause 1 repeals the 1972 European Communities Act. No changes were agreed.

Clause 6 addresses the role of the Court of Justice of the European Union (often referred to as the European Court of Justice) after exit day. No changes were agreed.

UPDATE : Clauses 2, 3 and 4. No changes were agreed, Clause 4 was agreed.

Clause 6 (Interpretation of retained EU law) says :

6 Interpretation of retained EU law

A court or tribunal—

(a)  is not bound by any principles laid down, or any decisions made, on or after exit day by the European Court, and

(b) cannot refer any matter to the European Court on or after exit day.

A court or tribunal need not have regard to anything done on or after exit day by the European Court, another EU entity or the EU but may do so if it considers it appropriate to do so.

Any question as to the validity, meaning or effect of any retained EU law is to be decided, so far as that law is unmodified on or after exit day and so far as they are relevant to it –

(a) in accordance with any retained case law and any retained general principles of EU law, and

(b) having regard (among other things) to the limits, immediately before exit day, of EU competences.

But—

(a) Supreme Court is not bound by any retained EU case law,

(b)  the High Court of Justiciary is not bound by any retained EU case law

Etc

CJEU ruling on worker rest periods (EU)

On the 9th November (today), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled on the REQUEST for a preliminary ruling submitted by the Portuguese Tribunal da Relação do Porto (Court of Appeal, Oporto) on whether the minimum uninterrupted weekly rest period of 24 hours to which a worker is entitled (in the European Working Time Directive) must be provided no later than the day following a period of six consecutive working days.

The European Directive on the organisation of working time (Directive 2003/88/EC as amended) provides that every worker is entitled, per each seven-day period, to a minimum uninterrupted rest period of 24 hours plus 11 hours’ daily rest. An earlier Directive 93/104/EC is also relevant, and the request raised the matter of the effect of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which had been dealt with by the earlier June Opinion of the Advocate General. 

By today’s judgment, the Court finds that EU law does not require the minimum uninterrupted weekly rest period to be provided no later than the day following a period of six consecutive working days, but requires it to be provided within each seven-day period. See the list of documents here

The earlier June 2017 Advocate General Opinion had found – Article 5 of Council Directive 93/104/EC of 23 November 1993 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time, Article 5 of Directive 2003/88/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 November 2003 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time and Article 31 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union must be interpreted not as requiring the weekly rest period to be granted at the latest on the seventh day following six consecutive working days, but as requiring such a period to be granted within each seven-day period.

The Opinion is here

CJEU ruling on breastfeeding mothers risk assessment (EU)

On 19th October the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled on a REQUEST for a preliminary ruling under European Union treaty law made by the Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Galicia (High Court of Justice of Galicia, Spain).

This REQUEST asked for clarification on the matter of the employer’s risk assessment of breast feeding mothers in the workplace.

The court found :

(1) The European Equal Opportunites & Equal Treatment Directive 2006/54/EC must be interpreted as applying to a situation (such as that at issue in the main Spanish court proceedings), in which a breastfeeding worker challenges, before a court or other competent authority of the Member State concerned, the risk assessment of her work – in so far as she claims that the assessment was not conducted in accordance with Europan Directive 92/85/EEC of 19 October 1992 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding.

(2) On a proper construction of European Directive 2006/54 (in a situation such as that at issue in the Spanish court proceedings), it is for the worker in question to provide evidence capable of suggesting that the risk assessment of her work had not been conducted in accordance with the requirements of Article 4(1) of Directive 92/85 and from which it can therefore be presumed that there was direct discrimination on grounds of sex within the meaning of Directive 2006/54 (in the case). It would then be for the defendant to prove that that risk assessment had been conducted in accordance with the requirements of that provision (risk assessment of breast feeding mothers) and that there had, therefore, been no breach of the principle of non-discrimination.

The CJEU judgment is here

The UK HSE guidance is as yet unchanged. The UK HSE guidance states a specific risk assessment is not required when an employer is notified a worker is a new or expectant mother. This guidance is here.

NB: ACAS is finalising new guidance on preventing pregnancy and maternity discrimination at work. UPDATE : this guidance is here.

The Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation UK websystems contain Law, ACOPs, HSGs and some other health and safety relevant guidance. They do not contain ACAS documents, please refer to legal specialists in Employment Law for further guidance.