This paper reports a case surrounding operations and enforcement imposed against ‘Acme Hydrocarbons Ltd’ following their violations of COSHH standards about the environmental laws. Upon the receipt of the memo, Mr. Patrick the line manager of the company requested me to appropriately advice his company based on the findings of the inspections. To start with, the most infectious bacteria found in water systems are Legonella. Particularly, the bacteria impinge on the middle and aging people suffering from chest problems. The most common method leading to widespread of Legonella infections is inhalation of contaminated water. In addition, weather conditions considerably contribute to bacterial infection among these vulnerable groups. Due to this alarming rate of infection, scientists have proposed several measures in reducing human exposure to Legonella bacteria. For example, cleaning and water treatment methods present most effective methods of reducing such risk of bacterial infection.
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Reaction to Question One
From the information obtained from the memo, it is apparent that both Flow System Ltd and Hydrocarbons Ltd face constitutional obligations in keeping a healthy and safety environment for the inhabitants. The Hydrocarbons Ltd Company operates a cooling system though it outsources the system to the Flow System Ltd for maintenance purposes. First, it is important for Mr. Patrick smith to understand that despite the outsourcing agreements his company signed with Flow System Ltd, it is a legal responsibility of the company to maintain environmental wellbeing. In other words, delegation of duties to another company does not limit responsibilities imposed on the Hydrocarbons Ltd by the COSHH. In most cases, the constitutional duties to healthy and environmental safety hold both companies in contract liable for their operations. For example, in this case, the task of keeping a safe and healthy environment requires a joint effort between Hydrocarbons Ltd and Flow System ltd (Hughes and Ferrett 2010, p. 40).
As HSE inspector denotes, the two companies violate basic provisions of COSHH regulation of 2002 and more specifically, regulation 6 that provides that a cooling system must have a suitable and sufficient assessment tools in regulating chemical and biological infection agents. In his observations, the inspector notes that the Hydrocarbon Company failed to make any notification to the local authority as stipulated in Notification of cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers Regulations of 1992. What is more, observation also reveals inconsistency in water treatment records, which is another statutory responsibility of the company as provided in regulation nine of the COSHH regulations. The inconsistency of record-keeping thus renders Mr. Patrick’s company liable for its operations. Apart from the COSHH regulations, other legislations such as MHASW and HSW Acts provide relevant points of reference relevant to this case. Here is a synopsis of my observations regarding claims addressed to Mr. Patrick’s company and my sound advice regarding relevant statutory responsibilities on each company.
This case covers three foremost issues. To begin with, it reflects gross violations of the 2002 regulations as set under the COSHH regulations and notifications failures as required under the Notification of Cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers Regulations of 1992. Lack of understanding from Mr. Patrick’s company on the expected responsibilities impedes successful implementation of the COSHH regulations. Maybe with clear understanding of these environmental regulations would reduce continuous breach of environmental laws by these two companies. A clear indulgent of these set of laws will enable the company to meet all the requirements and consideration in avoiding further enforcement by HSE regarding its operation.
Regulation 6 of COSHH regulations of 2002
This set of law provides guidelines concerning issues of risk management relating to the work environments. In particular, the regulation requires full protection of all the employees against harmful exposure while serving in their lines of duties. In order to abide by this law, it is important to set and implement risk assessment tools in managing the workplaces. As observed by the inspector, lack of suitable and sufficient risk assessment tools suggest that the Hydrocarbons’ cooling system lacked the necessary tools in managing the spread of legionnaire’s diseases, consequently, contravening the required standards as per COSHH. In order to comply with this regulation, it is advisable that both the Hydrocarbons and Flow System Ltd formulate joint risk management measures.
Seventh Regulation COSHH of 2002
As observed from the above analysis, it is obvious that the responsibility to protect workers and other people from any hazardous working environment squarely falls on an employer especially in cases where the chemical and biological infection agents are rampant. These biological and chemical infection agents pose severe health problems at the workplace and normally eliminating such infections require joint collaboration and application of practical interventions in achieving wellbeing. From the contract signed between the hydrocarbons Ltd and Flow System Ltd, it is evident that the manager of the contracted company failed to protect the workers from the perilous substances emitted by the water-cooling system. Consequently, the cooling system exposed other people to safety risks, and in so doing, it contravenes the provisions of COSHH of 2002.
Eighth regulation of COSHH 2002
This regulation clearly states that despite the protective and other control measures employed in protecting safety of the workers, it is necessary for the employees to ensure proper application of the necessary tools in meeting standards required by the COSHH regulations. For purposes of proper implementation of this regulation, both the managers and the employees should conduct customary and applicable checkups in their system as required by law. Notably, the managers should keep a close watch on their workers in ensuring that they comply with all policy requirements while conducting their official duties. Particularly, this case presents deterioration of water reservoir that suggests poor management system from both companies resulting to violation of the fundamental guidelines in this regulation.
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Ninth regulation of COSHH 2002
This type of regulation requires implementation of necessary steps in achieving proper maintenance and testing of the control tools used by the management. Section IV of this regulation provides that both the employees and their managers should keep proper examination records of their companies. Furthermore, this regulation requires efficient administration of control measures in achieving maximum employee protection from such harmful substances. This regulation plays a vital role in judging this case considering the findings and observations by the inspector. To begin with, the management failed to notify the local authority as set in the Notification Cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers Regulations of 1992. To another end, the company failed to keep records of water treatment as required under this regulation.
HSW Act (sections 2, 3 and 4)
As stipulated in this Act, it is the responsibility of every party in agreement to protect the safety and health of all workers at their company. The enactment of Health and Safety at Work Act in 1994 provided for section two, which clearly states duties of the employers towards the employees. In other words, section 2 of this Act provides that all the employers should ensure welfare of their employees. In reference to the case between Hydrocarbons and Flow system Ltd, the two companies failed to grant satisfactory welfare amenities to their workers (Hughes and Ferrett 2010, p. 20). The same Act in section 3 requires that all the employers have the responsibility to publish all the possible work hazards at their working environment hence increasing information base among the workers. Basing the arguments from section 3 of this Act, both Hydrocarbons and Flow System ltd failed to notify the public on the serious health issues affecting the water reservoir. The last relevant section of this Act that support this case is section 4 that requires the managers and the employers to keep their servants away from dangerous substances. The observations revealed that the two parties violated the provisions of this Act by not ensuring the safety of their employees.
Answer to Question Two
Bearing in mind of the high affinity of legonella bacteria to water resources, it is the responsibility of the company to implement and apply hygiene precautions on their water system. For example, the common hygiene precaution includes the use of oxidizing biocide in water treatment in reducing the likelihood of macro-organisms causing bacteria. As highlighted in section 168 of the ACOP, the hygiene precautions help in keeping water safe from macro-organisms like Legonella bacteria.
The following basic observations summarise the information from document three provided for the analysis of this case:
- The maximum capacity of the water reservoir is ten million litres with an average circulation rate of 48,000 litres on daily basis. The cooling system of water reservoir operates between four to ten degrees centigrade while its outlet rate records 15 to 18 degrees centigrade. Amount of water and biocide recommended for weekly treatment are ten to four parts per doze respectively.
- Based on the information provided regarding water-flow rate, it is evident that circulation rate is below the average required rate thus increasing stagnation problems, which in turn increase risk of bacterial infection.
- Considering the information provided on the safety and health measures, it is clear that treatment measures in this case contravene the provision of section 98 of ACOP concerning environmental treatment programs.
- Other important notes include poor recording of temperatures, breakdown in the cooling operating system, and inadequate supply of biocide, which could result in reservoir contamination by bacteria such as Algae amounting to serious violation of the regulations under sections of ACOP.
Taking into account of numerous violations of the regulations provided by COSHH, there is high probability of bacterial infection among the workers at the site. The annual closure of the cooling system for only two weeks suggest improper maintenance of the system and this poses serious risks of legionellosis infection.
Answer to Question Three
RE: proposed actions in response to inspection
I am writing this in reply to the findings of the inspection conducted on 28 May 2011 regarding the malfunctioning of the cooling system of Hydrocarbon Company Ltd. It is my humble admission that my company had naively breached fundamental health and safety regulations as provided by the environmental law. In addition, I repentantly admit my failure as a manager in formulating appropriate measures in reducing harmful substances at the workplace. More importantly, the company has acknowledged the issues addressed in the letter and we are targeting to improve on the necessary measures. Proper revision of the COSHH 2002 regulations has enabled me to fully understand my responsibilities as a manager in protecting workers against dangerous substances. In addition, with this clear understanding of my responsibilities, the following are examples of the proposed actions my company intends to use in fixing the addressed issues with immediate effect.
- First, the company under my leadership aims at immediate fixation of the drift eliminator in ensuring effective operation of our cooling system.
- Secondly, the company aims at implementing appropriate and satisfactory risk assessment tools in the cooling system
- Thirdly, company will ensure strict adherence of the basic principles set by both COSHH and HSE in meeting the regulation’s intended goals and objectives of a cleaner environment.
- More importantly, the company aims at improving its record keeping and data management alongside other strategies in reducing treacherous substances at the workplace. Besides, the company plans to draft a system that will increase the employee knowledge base on matters relating to risky substances at workplace.
In summary, I believe that the above-anticipated procedures present the best response to your observations and findings raised in the letter; above all, the company is open to any kind of recommendation and support.
Hughes, P., and Ferrett, E 2010, Introduction to International Health and Safety at Work, The Handbook for the NEBOSH International General Certificate, Routledge, United Kingdom.