Manchester housing developers fined for fire safety breaches

Two housing developers have been fined more than £14,000 over fire safety breaches in student properties in Manchester.

The developers, which are both part of the MCR Group, were prosecuted over standards at the 55-flat building on Grafton Street in Ardwick. Council inspectors visiting the property found a number of breaches of fire safety regulations, including:

• Windows vital for smoke ventilation were obscured by scaffolding
• Insufficient access for the fire service in an emergency
• Lack of external wall fire barriers and self-closing fire doors
• Rear fire escape routes passed through a building site

Both UK Real Estate and Cost Design were fined over the breaches at a Manchester Magistrates Court last week. UK Real Estate was fined £4,750 plus £2,609 in costs, whilst Cost Design was ordered to pay £4,500 in fines and £2,590 in legal costs. Both developers were also subject to £15 victims of crime surcharges.

Councillor Paul Andrews, who is the executive member for neighbourhood services in Manchester, commented on the case, saying:

“The lives of the students were put at substantial risk by those involved with this development. The court has rightly hit them in the pocket. This should serve as a warning to all developers that they need to work with the council to ensure properties are fully compliant with regulations before tenants move in.”

Chatburn care home honoured with Gold Standard award

A care home based in the East Lancashire village of Chatburn has received a Gold Standard award for its exceptional quality end of life care service.

The Manor House Nursing Home was honoured with the national award as part of the Gold Standards Framework (GSF) in the Care Homes Quality Hallmark Awards. Management and staff at the home accepted the prestigious award at the International End of Life Care Conference in London.

The Gold Standards Framework aims to support facilities like the Manor House Nursing Home to increase care provisions for people approaching the end of their lives. The overall aim is to ensure that as many people as possible can die in their preferred place of care – the care home – rather than on an overcrowded hospital ward.

The managers of the Manor House, Karen Walker and Cath Mellin, praised the whole team at the care home, all of whom have undergone extensive end of life care training. They said:

“We must take this opportunity to thank all the staff for attending the training and adapting to the changes to enable us to gain accreditation. We are delighted to have been awarded this prestigious award. We have always prided ourselves on the excellent care we have provided our residents.”

A quick guide to protecting your business premises from fire

As a business owner, it is vitally important that you take all reasonable steps to protect your employees and your work premises from fire. There are many things you can do to make your business safer and reduce the risk of fire, and most of these are legal requirements.

The following are a few basic steps to protecting your business from fire:

• Appoint a ‘responsible person’ for fire safety, or take on the role yourself
• Undergo fire safety training, and ensure that the ‘responsible person’ and all of your staff also take a fire safety awareness training course
• Arrange for a full risk assessment to be carried out on your work premises
• Implement all of the changes and improvements needed, according to the results of the risk assessment
• Involve your staff when implementing fire safety policy, as this will create a culture of fire safety within the business
• Plan escape routes, make sure everyone knows where the assembly point is – then conduct regular fire drills and test the fire alarms
• The ‘responsible person’ should also ensure that fire exits are kept clear, fire-fighting equipment is maintained and emergency exit lights are in good working order.

HSE prosecutes Somerset firm over engineering accident

An engineering firm based in Somerset has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a work accident resulted in an employee losing four fingers.

The incident occurred when apprentice machinist Kyle Bishop, 18, was working at the premises of Ashley’s of Yeovil in West Hendford. He was attempting to change the cutter of a milling machine when he accidentally switched it on, severing four of his fingers.

An investigation by the HSE has found that the accident could have been avoided had the firm taken more steps to ensure the health and safety of employees. As well as failing to carry out a suitable risk assessment of the task Mr Bishop was carrying out, the engineering firm also had a system for changing cutters that was “inherently unsafe”.

In addition, the milling machine was not properly guarded and had no interlocks, nor was the ‘start’ button covered. It is not known whether Mr Bishop had completed the proper health and safety training or not before he attempted his task.

As a result of the accident and Mr Bishop’s accident, the owners of Ashley’s of Yeovil were fined a total of £10,000. The company was also ordered to pay legal costs of more than £7,300.

People put off first aid training for fear of getting it wrong, charity claims

According to a new survey conducted by a leading first aid charity, a considerable number of people are put off learning first aid for fear that they will get it wrong.

The British Red Cross has conducted a poll of over 2,000 adults ahead of World First Aid Day, which takes place on Saturday 10th September. Researchers found that as many as two-thirds of the people they asked shied away from learning vital first aid skills because they thought it carried too much responsibility.

It was also found that just 3 per cent of people would like to learn first aid if they had the time to spare, even though a huge 81 per cent of people thought that everyone should undergo basic first aid training.

Joe Mulligan, who is the head of first aid education at the charity, was concerned at the survey’s findings. He said:

“Basic first aid is very easy to learn, extremely simple to do and could literally save someone’s life,”

“We have to combat this myth that knowing first aid is a great responsibility. Knowing these skills does not bring the pressure of responsibility, but the confidence and peace of mind of knowing that you’d be able to help your friends and family if they needed you.”

Fire safety training and its importance in care environments

Fire safety training is an essential for any business, organisation or premises which admits members of the public. It ensures all necessary precautions are taken against fire and teaches all staff members what to do in an emergency. In short, it can save lives and protect property.

Health and social care environments are generally staffed by people who have undergone extensive care training on how to look after vulnerable, ill and elderly people and how to meet their needs. One element of training which must not be forgotten in these environments, however, is fire safety training.

The people who reside in care homes and medical facilities are likely to be extremely vulnerable, either because of age, illness of disability. Some may have limited mobility, which can make it very difficult for them to escape a building should a fire break out.

This is why fire safety training for care workers needs to be specifically tailored to the needs and limitations of the people in health and social care environments. A fire risk assessment needs to be carried out on the premises, with particular attention paid to the ‘who is at risk?’ section of assessment.