Motion 2. Hidden killers.

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2013 Water, Environment & Transport Service Group
15 February 2013

Having had a tanker driver repeatedly exposed to high levels of hydrogen sulphide whilst tankering sludge off at sewage treatment works, this has served to remind us of the risks posed to our members from dangerous gases. This member had his HGV and all other driving licences taken away by the DVLA as a result of the effects of the medication prescribed to control the headaches he suffered following the exposures. To date he still has not got any of his licences back. However it could have been much worse.

Because gases cannot be seen there may be an over reliance on gas monitors to keep our members safe. High levels on works may be treated as ‘one-offs’. These ‘one-offs’ may not have been reported nor the information shared with those who need to know.

Reps should ensure all workers who may be at risk from any gas exposure not only be supplied with calibrated gas monitors and taught how to use them but that robust procedures are in place to prevent/minimise exposure and clear health instructions given if exposed. If the monitor is out of date no one should be entering any area where there is a potential risk.

Reps who deal with members working with gases should be encouraged to research and find out more as this is an area that until recently has been under researched. Often the reps know much more than the company H&S departments. Members should be encouraged to keep a diary of times when they may have been close to limits as well as above the limits and note any health effects. These must be reported to management and reps so a fuller picture can be built up and high risk areas identified. This will also provide evidence if future legal claims are to be lodged.

We would like the WET Executive and WISC to publicise the risks of gases to our members and that this be considered as an agenda item at the WET Training Weekend 2013 or 2014 WET H&S event with an expert in this field invited to attend.

Remember – just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it can’t kill you.