Harmful Radiation Risk From Light Bulbs

New research from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) shows that some energy-saving, compact fluorescent lightbulbs can emit ultra-violet radiation at levels, which, under certain conditions of use, can result in exposures higher than guideline levels.

The Agency and government departments are calling on the European Union, relevant product standards bodies, and the lighting industry to consider how product standards for lights can be tightened up.

On the back of its research, the HPA is recommending some precautionary measures for the use of certain types of bulbs. It warns that open (single-envelope) bulbs should not be used where people are in close proximity  closer than 30cm  to the bare lightbulb for more than one hour a day. In such situations, says the Agency, open bulbs should be replaced by encapsulated (double-envelope) bulbs. Alternatively, the lamp should be moved so that it is at least 30cm away.

Encapsulated bulbs do not emit significant amounts of UV radiation. The larger, long-tube, ‘strip lighting’ fluorescent lights, commonly used in offices, workplaces, and homes can also be used on ceilings without any special precautionary measures.

HPA chief executive, Justin McCracken, stressed: “We are advising people to avoid using the open lightbulbs for prolonged close work until the problem is sorted out, and to use encapsulated bulbs instead. In other situations, where people are not likely to be very close to the bulbs for any length of time, all types of compact fluorescent lightbulbs are safe to use.”

The Government is pressing the EU to take account of the research findings in future European legislation.


New White Board Safety Advice

Schools across England are being urged to buy a new type of whiteboard equipment to eliminate a potential threat to children’s eyesight.

Directors of children’s services are being told to buy a new generation of “ultra-short-throw” projectors when purchasing or replacing the boards. These eliminate any eye exposure to the potentially damaging projector beam.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued new advice after a long campaign to address concerns about safety. The advice says that “recent technological developments in projector and interactive whiteboard design have allowed inherently safer ‘ultra-short throw’ devices to be brought to market.

“These employ sophisticated optics to enable the projector to be mounted above the display screen and so close to it that it becomes impossible for a user to directly expose their eyes to the beam.”

The HSE adds that – because users sometimes disregard safe work procedures – it considers that employers and organisations should actively consider the new devices as an option.

This new advice is to supplement existing HSE guidelines which say that staring directly into the projector beam is avoided at all times. Employers should also try to ensure that projectors are located so that they are not in a presenter’s line-of-sight when they stand in front of the screen to address an audience.

Managers Arrested At Work Under Corporate Manslaughter Act

Police are arresting managers at their workplaces as part of corporate manslaughter investigations, according to a defence lawyer involved in two of the first deaths being investigated under the new Act.

To date, police have arrested supervisors, site-level managers and directors and interviewed them under caution within weeks of the incident. Police officers present have commented on being surprised by the rigour of the investigations compared with those into fatalities in the past.

Investigators are counting site staff as senior management for the purposes of the Corporate Manslaughter Act. The Act, which came into force in April, requires the authorities to prove that the way an organisation’s activities are organised or managed by its senior managers is what caused a person’s death.

The police and the HSE are taking a very wide interpretation of who is a senior manager. Some lawyers had expected the police to be inadequately trained to pursue corporate manslaughter enquiries, but in many cases handled so far, officers have day-to-day advice from HSE inspectors, who are priming them with questions to ask managers about risk assessments and safety management generally, but also higher-level support.

Investigators are also spending a lot of time at the organisations’ premises. They stay around, and that has a psychological effect on workers and managers and the board. The time they’ve spent interviewing people has been much longer than it ever has been before.