Health and Safety

Deadlines

23rd May 2014: Deadline for submission of the Antarctic Research Project Hazard Assessment and the BAS Chemical Approvals Register (CAR) request form for projects conducting fieldwork during the 2014/15 field season.

Background:

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:

Step1

The project Principal Investigator (or person delegated by the Principal Investigator) completes an online Antarctic Research Project Hazard Assessment form. (For project support during 2014/15 fieldwork season, the deadline for completion of this form is 23rd May 2014). 

This very simple assessment will identify potential hazards that are associated with the project fieldwork, and to relate those to systems and safety procedures currently implemented by BAS. The completed form will be reviewed by the BAS Health and Safety Adviser and the Field Operations Manager, to consider whether further action is required by the project leader.

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 afibas@bas.ac.uk. 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.

Step 2:

On the basis of the information provided on the projects hazards form (and CAR form if appropriate), 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  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.

Step 3:

A final review of safety management procedures for the project will be made by the Antarctic Funding Coordinator in conjunction with the BAS Health and Safety Adviser. This review may include input from specialist advisers such as the BAS Biological, Chemical Explosives, Dangerous Goods or Ionising Radiation Advisers. (For example, if the project entails laboratory-based procedures at one of the BAS stations or ships, the appropriate Laboratory Manager may wish to discuss health and safety implications that the project may have. This is especially likely if the experiments will involve hazardous chemicals, electrical equipment, biological materials or ionising radiation).

 

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.

Accident reporting

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.

Personal responsibility

All employees, contractors and visitors, including external-funded participants, have a legal duty:

  • to exercise reasonable care for the health and safety of themselves and others who may be affected by their acts or omissions;
  • to co-operate with BAS management with respect to health and safety;
  • not to interfere recklessly with anything provided in the interests of health and safety;
  • to report any unsafe acts or conditions to the appropriate manager