24th May 2013: Deadline for submission of the Antarctic Research Project Risk Assessment and the BAS Chemical Approvals Register (CAR) request form for projects conducting fieldwork during the 2012/2013 field season.
The Health and Safety Work Act 1974 requires BAS, as a responsible employer, to ensure that all reasonable and practical Health and Safety procedures are adopted by its staff, contractors and visitors. Several subsequent regulations place a requirement on BAS to conduct risk assessments on various aspects of its activities. As far as is practical, BAS seeks to apply UK Health and Safety standards to its activities in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic, and requires those whose fieldwork it supports to do likewise.
BAS prides its self on having a pragmatic, positive and open attitude to health and safety. As a result, BAS maintains a ‘can do’ approach to science objectives without allowing compromise on safety standards.
The BAS Health and Safety policy affirms that BAS has a 24 hours a day ‘duty of care’ for all persons working in Antarctica (or the sub-Antarctic) for or with BAS. For this reason, BAS has developed a specific procedure for the health and safety management of persons conducting fieldwork on behalf of NERC-funded projects. The procedure is as follows:
The project Principal Investigator (or person delegated by the Principal Investigator) completes an Antarctic Research Project Risk Assessment. (For project support during 2013/14 fieldwork season, the deadline for submission of this Risk Assessment form is 24th May 2013). This should be submitted to the Antarctic Funding Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This very simple assessment enables BAS to assess what hazards and hazardous activities the project will entail and what current systems and safety procedures at BAS already exist to manage them. If BAS has a system of control already in place (it does for many routine activities), and the project can follow this, then no further Health and Safety documentation may be needed from the Principal Investigator. The assessment will also enable the identification of those hazards or hazardous activities which are new or unusual to BAS and will therefore require further risk assessment and management by BAS and the project staff.
NB. If a project is planning to use chemical reagents or any compressed gases, details of these must be provided via the Chemical Approvals Register (CAR) request form and sent to the Antarctic Funding Office at email@example.com. This information is then forwarded to the appropriate Laboratory Manager at BAS, for review. This process allows the Laboratory Manager to be informed of all chemical reagents and compressed gases requested for use at a particular BAS facility, and to identify associated hazards. Authorisation from the Laboratory Manager is needed before any of these items is transported to BAS Antarctic or sub-Antarctic facilities. The completed CAR form also alerts BAS staff of any need for a dialogue with project staff about specific issues that may arise.
On the basis of the information provided on the projects hazards checklist and CAR form, BAS will provide the project Principal Investigator (or delegated person) with the BAS safety procedures which apply to the project, e.g. BAS field manual, Bonner laboratory manual, explosives code of practice, etc. Additionally, BAS will draw attention to any aspects of the project which are new or unusual to BAS and require further specific risk assessment. Examples may include the use of hazardous chemicals away from a research station, or the use of rock drilling equipment.
Project personnel must understand the safety measures explained in the BAS safety procedures. It will be the responsibility of project staff to identify areas of concern (incomplete coverage of all aspects of safety management for the project for example, or queries about how to follow BAS procedures).
NB. Training provided by BAS in the UK is considered to be a key safety measure. Therefore, if project fieldwork staff are unable to attend the required training courses, this could render the BAS ‘duty of care’ incomplete.
If BAS does request a specific risk assessment relating to the project (relating to ionising radiation, for example, or a COSHH assessment), the BAS Health and Safety Adviser is available to provide guidance, to ensure that the risk assessment is completed satisfactorily.
The purpose of the final review is to ensure that all appropriate safety measures are in place for the project fieldwork and for BAS support thereof.
Any issues of concern unresolved before the summer meeting of the BAS Safety, Health and Environment Management Team (June or early July) will be tabled at that meeting. The Management Team has the authority, on behalf of BAS, to refuse to support fieldwork for projects which BAS considers not to have met all the necessary Safety, Health or Environment requirements by the specified deadlines.
All accidents, incidents, near misses and environmental incidents must be reported to BAS using the AINME system available on the local area networks at BAS research stations and ships. All accidents must be recorded in the Medical Officer’s accident book. In some cases, these may need to be reported to the appropriate authority in the UK. It is BAS policy to use this reporting system to identify any necessary improvements needed to minimise the risk of a recurrence. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that full details are provided in each case. Furthermore, it is important to recognise that the prime purpose of this system is not to apportion blame, but to improve safety for all staff.
All employees, contractors and visitors, including external-funded participants, have a legal duty: