Who doesn’t love a good snowball fight? It’s one of the more widely accepted positives of the usually maligned snowfalls that hit our shores each winter, especially for children. However, one school has taken steps to put an end to this fun pastime, by banning students from even touching snow for “health and safety reasons”.

Jo Richardson Community School in east London has introduced the new rule, citing health and safety reasons and the decision has hit the headlines nationally.

Headteacher Ges Smith appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain and defended the introduction of the rule.

Mr Smith said: “The problem is it only takes one student, one piece of grit, one stone in a snowball in an eye with an injury and we change our view.”

“The rules are don’t touch the snow. If you don’t touch the snow you’re not going to throw it.”

He went on to claim it also makes the children wet and cold: “If the last thing you do before you go into school and into the classroom is have a snowball in your face, you’re not ready to learn.”

Presenter Piers Morgan, questioned the decision as well as the claims that it is a health and safety issue and asked whether the headteacher thought students at the school would be “prepared for a normal life if they were being wrapped in cotton wool.”

Mr Smith finished by claiming: “We’ve got a duty of care and that duty of care has got to extend.”

Snow has been covering parts of the country since the beginning of the week and the Met Office has upgraded its weather warnings for snow for later this week, putting more parts of the country under a ‘danger to life’ warning.

While Jo Richardson Community School has decided to use health and safety as a reason to ban snow related fun, the first annual HCS Safety snowball fight will commence the second the snowfall reaches 3-4 inches.

A 78-year-old woman has sustained life changing injuries after she was dragged into a tunnel by a London Underground train.

Her bag  became trapped in a Tube door at Notting Hill Gate station in London on January 31st, and despite receiving help from other passengers, she could not get free.

Passengers who saw the woman in distress activated emergency alarms on the Central line train, and the driver applied the brakes; but six of the eight carriages were already in the tunnel by the time the train came to a full stop.

Shabana Khan, who witnessed what happened, tweeted: ‘Horrified right now, woman has fallen under our train carriage at Notting Hill Gate station. ‘Heard the thud as the train moved we’re all in tears thinking she’s died under our feet. ‘But she’s alive and stuck under the train yelling help. We’ve been evacuated out of the train.’

Emergency services and London Underground’s emergency response unit rescued the woman from the space between the underside of the train and the tunnel wall by safely derailing the train to release the woman from underneath the carriage. She is still recovering in hospital.

British Transport Police at the time confirmed the incident was not being treated as suspicious.

The process of checking whether it is safe for a train to depart and the door’s obstacle detection system will also be considered during the inquiry as well as consideration of:

  • the actions of the people involved
  • the process of checking whether it is safe for a train to depart, including the equipment provided to enable the train operator to do this
  • the door control and obstacle detection system
  • the factors affecting the train operator’s task
  • any underlying management factors

In a statement, Nigel Holness, Network Operations Director for London Underground, said: “Our thoughts are with the woman injured in the incident at Notting Hill Gate.

“The safety of our customers and staff is our top priority , and we will co-operate fully with the RAIB and implement any recommendations that come from their investigation or from our own internal investigation.”

A ban stopping an 83-year-old lollipop man from high-fiving schoolchildren over safety concerns has been lifted.

Stockport Council hit the headlines when it ordered Colin Spencer to stop high-fiving the kids as they crossed the road to “concentrate on ensuring highway safety”.

Spencer has worked as the lollipop man at St George’s Primary School in Stockport for 14 years.

However, after making the national news and generating widespread interest, the council has now apologised and admitted it was “clearly wrong” to impose the ban.

Parents had described how they received a text message from the school asking them to tell their children not to high-five Mr Spencer on the road. A text the following morning said children could in fact high-five their Lollipop man, but only on the pavement.

In interviews since the story broke, Mr Spencer said the decision had left some pupils in tears and unable to understand why he could no longer high-five them in the road.

The council’s latest statement said: “Following the recent reports surrounding Stockport Council’s lollipop man, Colin Spencer, we want to apologise for the unnecessary concern caused by the issuing of an instruction that was clearly wrong.”

Sheila Bailey, the council’s executive member for communities and housing, added: “Colin has been an outstanding public servant and a popular member of his community for many years.

“It’s fantastic that he works with a smile on his face and brightens up the day for so many children.”

Ms Bailey added: “We try to make the service as safe as possible as well as maintaining the unique personalities that each member of the team brings to their school. We are sorry, that on this occasion, the council got it wrong.”

Dawn St Clare, whose children go to the school, told the BBC last week she thought the ruling was “ridiculous” and had annoyed parents and upset pupils.

We all know that if we have a bad night’s sleep, the next day we will not be firing on all cylinders.


We are often more irritable, find it hard to concentrate or don’t perform as well as usual – and the longer our sleep is disrupted the worse these impacts get.


These individual symptoms can directly impact on productivity, poor customer service both internally and externally and increased risk of accidents in the workplace.


Because of this, more and more businesses (in England and globally) are taking an interest in the specific impact of sleep deprivation or disruption on the health and wellbeing of their employees and the implications for productivity and competitiveness.


This is supported by reports such as that by Rand Europe using data from 62,000 people in five major economies which concluded that the economic cost of tired employees (being less productive or absent from work altogether) amounted to almost two per cent of GDP.


Sleep is a natural requirement- we need it to recharge, repair and restock.  Although we can cope with sleep loss for a couple of days, eventually our bodies will be unable to cope with carrying on without the essential recovery time.


When we think of sleep deprivation and work, night and shift workers spring to mind, but this is not the case. For example, stress at work or worries at home can keep us awake at night, and becoming a parent is a very common reason for sleep disruption, so it makes sense for all employers to think about the broad range of causes as well as potential action to help improve sleep quality and duration.


What can Employers do?


As part of the Government’s commitment to promoting healthier workplaces they have partnered with Business in the Community to create a range of toolkits for employers, co-produced with businesses.


Public Health England has therefore provided a sleep toolkit to assist businesses in ensuring they support their staff’s health as well as their safety.  The base of the toolkit is the key role of line managers and job planning to identify potential risks and support staff when required.  The Toolkit discusses actions that employers can take to create a healthier and more productive workforce, helping employees to be their best and ultimately strengthening the business at its core.

Almost 300 workers have downed tools and walked off a construction project in Hull due to health and safety fears, it has been reported.

Local papers the Hull Daily Mail and the Yorkshire Post reported that the incident is the latest in a series of walk outs by builders due to safety and standards concerns.

The 280 workers at the £200m energy-from-waste facility stopped working due to issues such as faulty fire alarms, the papers reported, as well as the state of facilities for contractors, including car parks and toilet facilities.

One worker told the papers: “The men working in these areas only knew there was an issue when members of their own workforce had to go back for them.

“The next day all of the contractors cabined up due to fears of safety on site.”

The worker claimed managers knew there had not been enough fire alarms across the site and blamed the cold weather for draining the batteries of the alarms that were installed. The worker said other concerns over leaking waste pipes in toilets on the site and the poor condition of a parking area set aside for sub-contractors had also not been addressed.

An independent health and safety audit was undertaken at the site, which Energy Works Ltd said had confirmed it was ‘being operated in a safe manner’.

In a statement, Energy Works (Hull) Ltd., said: “A representative from Energy Works (Hull) Ltd is in attendance at the energy-from-waste facility which is under construction on Cleveland Street, Hull, and can confirm the site remains operational and works are continuing.

“Furthermore, an independent health and safety audit was undertaken on Wednesday that confirmed the site is being operated and controlled in a safe manner.

“There has been an unofficial action which involved approximately 280 of the 480-strong workforce withdrawing their labour from the site.

“The Principal Contractor, M+W Group, anticipates a swift resolution to this matter, which will see the full resumption of works on site.”

Construction of the huge power plant is scheduled to be completed later this year.

A Manufacturer of ejector seats has admitted breaching health and safety law over the death of a Red Arrows Pilot.

35-year-old Flt Lt Sean Cunningham was fired around 300ft from his cockpit whilst the jet was stationary in November 2011. The incident occurred at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.

The Iraq War Veteran was shot into the air when his seat ejected during pre-flight checks. The parachute did not deploy, and consequently he suffered fatal injuries from his fall.

It emerged during the inquest into his death in 2014 that the ejection seat firing handle had been left in an unsafe position, meaning it could accidentally activate the seat. It is thought that this was caused by one of Flt Lt Cunningham’s seat straps pulling it into this position on a sortie four days earlier. It was also found that Flt Ltd Cunningham’s parachute failed to deploy because a nut and bolt had been fastened too tightly.

Coroner Stuart Fisher described the seats’ safety mechanism as “entirely useless” and criticised the company for failing to warn the RAF about safety issues.

The Crown Prosecution Service considered possible manslaughter charges but said there was insufficient evidence.

However, the HSE announced in September 2016 it intended to prosecute Martin-Baker Aircraft. In January 2017, the firm was charged with breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and in May, Martin-Baker Aircraft Ltd initially pleaded not guilty.

This month, Company Director, John Martin, pleaded guilty to charges on behalf of the company. In a statement issued by the firm after entering the guilty plea, it said: “It should be noted that this was an isolated failure relating to the tightening of a nut during maintenance procedures conducted by RAF Aerobatic Team mechanics.”

It added its ejection seats were in use by 92 air forces and had saved 7,059 lives over the past 73 years.

The firm is due to be sentenced on the 12th February 2018.

Housebuilder Weston Homes are offering a £20,000 reward for information after a mass daylight burglary happened at its site in Southend.

The thieves made off with £250,000 worth of goods, including plant machinery, quartz worktops, wood flooring, granite paving and glass.

Weston Homes have decided to take the case into their own hands after Essex Police’s slow response to the break-in.  The robbery occurred over the weekend of the 8th-9th July, and reported upon its discovery on the 10th July.  However, Police were unable to attend the scene until the 21st July- nearly 2 weeks after the theft.

Michael Alden, commercial director at Weston Homes, said: “This audacious robbery will eventually end up costing our company up to three quarters of a million pounds to a million pounds in losses once building delays, material reordering, time and legal costs are taken into account. We are deeply disappointed in the slow police response and their lack of resourcing to assist, hence we have decided to offer a reward to members of the general public, and also publicise the robbery via a video and social media.”

Details of the robbers are as follows:

  • 1st Man- White, slim build with shaven dark hair, wearing a hi-vis vest marked ‘Security’ over a white short sleeved shirt and dark trousers.  He wore boots on Saturday, and dirty white trainers on the Sunday.
  • 2nd man- White, heavily built with dark cropped hair. He wore different clothes on both days.  He has a large tattoo covering his left shoulder and another tattoo on the inside of his right arm.
  • 3rd man- Only appeared on the Sunday to steal a forklift truck.  White, medium height, wearing black shorts ad t-shirt and black trainers, with a green baseball cap.

The vehicles involved were:

  • MAN 7.5t lorry  MX06 NZJ
  • Blue and red Bolvo 26t lorry, AO02 NMA
  • White Ford Transit, UK04 REP

The £20,000 reward is for “any information or anonymous tip-offs on the identity of the various suspects that leads to the stolen materials being recovered”.

If you have any information, you can email: securityhotline@weston-homes.com or call 01279 874 193.

Drowning hands

SUMMER is here- and where best to cool off from the summer heat than by plunging into the cool ocean?

A great day out for all families, a day on the beach and a muck about in the water is the most popular holiday activity for Brits.

We take safety seriously when it comes to our families; we ensure that they are smothered in the correct sun cream to ensure we protect the delicate skin of our little ones, and teach them of the danger of strangers… but when we let our children into the sea to swim, could we recognise if they were drowning?

When we think of someone drowning, the vast majority of us will think of what we have seen in the movies.  Arms flailing, gulping, shouting and splashing…  but in reality, drowning is the complete opposite.

There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind. To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents) – of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea what is truly happening.

Drowning does not look like drowning.

Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. Breathing has to occur before speech. If a person cannot breathe, they cannot cry for help. When a frowning person’s mouth is above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.

Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface in an attempt to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.

From beginning to end of what is known as the ‘Instinctive Drowning Response’, people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs- this is even less for a child.

The below video shows a child drowning- and how to those close by, it looks like the child is just having a play in the water. It is worth a watch so that you can recognise what a drowning person looks like.

What are the other signs of drowning?

Other signs to look out for are:

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs – Vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Ladder climb, rarely out of the water.

As a side note- remember inflatable toys do not mean safety.  Children should be supervised at all times whilst they are in the water.  The below video from China went viral recently, as it shows how easily a child can get into trouble with an inflatable, and one many would deem to keep their child safe:

Crane Collapse Crewe

Two men have died after a crane collapsed on a Seddon site in Crewe.

Another man, believed to be the crane driver, was taken by air ambulance to Royal Stoke Hospital with serious, but not life threatening, injuries. A parent and child were also taken to hospital as a precaution as the crane had struck residential buildings surrounding the site.

The three men were working on site when the crane collapsed and became trapped underneath it.  The incident is currently under a joint investigation with Cheshire Police and the HSE to establish the cause of the crane collapse.

A statement from Seddon, the site main contractor, read: “We are aware of an incident at our construction site on Dunwoody Way, Crewe. At this early stage we are working with the emergency services and authorities in order to provide the necessary assistance. We will provide further updates once more information becomes available.”

Chief Superintendent Matt Welsted of Cheshire Police said: “This is a truly tragic incident, and our deepest condolences go out to the families affected at this extremely difficult time.

“This is a multi-agency operation and we are working closely with the Health & Safety Executive, local authority and building control to establish the full circumstances of the incident. However I would like to reassure members of the public that nobody else is at risk.”

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed the bodies of the victims were recovered from the site shortly after midnight.


Today, Some of the biggest names in the infrastructure sector have thrown backed the first ever UK-wide health & safety stand-down in a bid to bring much needed awareness of key subjects across the sector.

Stop. Make a Change. has been developed by some of the industry’s leading contractors and customers working with the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA). It was launched at CECA’s 20th anniversary conference in November last year, with the backing of 18 leading contractors and customers.

Since then a host more than 50 names have signed up to be involved in the initiative, including Gatwick Airport, Transport Scotland and Scottish Water as well as main contractors including Galliford Try/Morrison Construction and Clancy Docwra.  A range of SMEs and industry bodies are also backing the event.

Stop. Make a Change. will see companies involved making commitments relating to four key health, safety and well-being topics that often get overlooked – Mental health, plant safety, fatigue, and respiratory illness. Each business will decide on their own focus of these topics and will use the event to down tools over 2 hours and give ‘Toolbox Talks’ and briefings  to staff and suppliers about them.

Taking into account supply chain partners which will also get involved, organisers estimate a further 3,000 firms will be impacted by today’s stand-down events.

CECA chief executive Alasdair Reisner said: “When we first started planning Stop. Make a Change we hoped that we might get up to 10 companies and a few thousand employers involved in this first year.

“The response from industry has been tremendous, with a real desire to use the event as an opportunity to deliver positive change across the sector. We are looking forward to events today, and the health, safety and wellbeing improvements that they will drive”.

Stop. Make a Change has been supported by CITB’s Structured Fund.  It is intended that good practice developed through Stop. Make a Change will be shared among supporters through a guide published later this year.

You can read more about the initiative here.