Greater Manchester Hazards Centre (GMHC)

provides health and safety advice across the North West.

GMHC is a not for profit organisation  which campaigns, lobbies and advises workers on occupational health, safety and welfare issues.  GMHC produces fact sheets and information packs; sets up and supports health and safety campaigns; raises awareness; co-ordinates a network of health and safety representatives in the North West; and has developed a health and safety App to support workers and trade unionists

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Greater Manchester Hazards Centre - across the North West

Greater Manchester Hazards Centre - across the North West

Asbestos continues to plague peoples lives.

Poulton man spent his life covered in asbestos dust at warehouses before death
William Smithson said he saw asbestos dust 'floating all around him' and was never warned of the danger of mesothelioma
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• Comments
Amy FentonSenior reporter
• 05:15, 9 MAY 2022

William Smithson was exposed to asbestos during his working life (Image: Daily Mirror)
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A pensioner from Poulton-le-Fylde died from cancer after spending his working life 'covered in asbestos dust', an inquest heard.
William Smithson worked at a number of steel companies in Salford, Manchester, during his life before he and his wife moved to Poulton-le-Fylde. The 75-year-old, who fulfilled orders at firms supplying the industrial heating trade, started to complain of breathlessness and a cough last October and in December he was diagnosed with mesothelioma.
His wife cared for him at their home in Maldern Avenue, with help from Hospice at Home nurses, and in February a CT scan revealed his condition was worsening with pleural thickening in the right lung. He died at home on February 21 of this year.
READ MORE: Devoted 'nan-nan' died after working for DWP in buildings 'riddled with asbestos'
An inquest at Preston Coroner's Court on Wednesday (May 4) heard a statement from Mr Smithson, written before his death, in which he described his working life. "I left school in 1962 aged 15 and my first employer was William Mantle at a warehouse premises where I was exposed to asbestos," he wrote.
"They supplied the industrial heating trade with materials including those containing asbestos and I regularly lifted and carried asbestos as well as fulfilling orders including sacks of asbestos. The dust escaped constantly as I was carrying them, I could see it floating around, and sometimes the sacks broke and I had to shovel the asbestos into a new sack."
Mr William said that, at the time, he 'thought nothing' of the asbestos dust. He was also exposed to asbestos when he worked at a warehouse in Hope Street, Salford, before starting work for British Steel in 1963 or 1964 based in East Ordsall Lane.
"I was covered in dust... it was a dusty atmosphere and it was only later in life that my wife noticed I was going downhill. I could hear a gurgling sound when lying on my right side."
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer which is caused by asbestos exposure. The median survival period for patients is 18 months.
Asbestos was often used in construction as well as ship-building and lagging heating pipes because of its fire-resistant and insulating properties. A formal link between mesothelioma and asbestos exposure was first acknowledged in 1965 with a government report concluding: "There seems to be little doubt that the risk of mesothelioma may arise from both occupational and domestic exposure to asbestos."
Concluding Mr Smithson's death was caused by industrial disease, after adding that he had been in the process of making a compensation claim at the time of his death, Assistant Coroner Laura Fox said: "He came by his death as a result of exposure to asbestos in the workplace."

Greater Manchester Hazards Centre - across the North West

Greater Manchester Hazards Centre - across the North West

Lancashire County Council fined over Hand Arm Vibration issues
5th May 2022

Lancashire County Council has been fined after several employees carrying out work in the highways department developed a debilitating nerve condition as a result of failure to control exposure to vibration.
Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard that, in February 2019, HSE received a RIDDOR report from Lancashire County Council, relating to the diagnosis of a case of Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVs). An improvement notice was served to the council in July 2019 requiring the council to improve their control of HAVs. However, subsequent to this, a further ten cases of vibration- related ill-health, unrelated to the RIDDOR report, were uncovered and reported late. Four more reports were also filed, but these were on time.
Regular use of vibrating tools causes the painful and disabling disorder which, in this case, has left the employees with nerve damage to the hands and arms, making everyday tasks and leisure activities difficult or impossible.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that there had been insufficient supervision and monitoring by the council to ensure that operatives accurately recorded their levels of exposure to vibration.
Furthermore, health surveillance records had not been acted upon promptly to reduce or stop exposure levels when symptoms were reported. In addition to this, risk assessments were not adequate for controlling the amount of exposure of operatives, and practices had not been implemented to prevent overexposure. Had these measures been in place the total of fifteen reported HAVs incidences of ill-health could have been prevented. It was also found that the council had failed to send reports of the various diagnoses to HSE without delay as required under the RIDDOR regulations.
Lancashire County Council of County Hall, Fishergate, Preston pleaded guilty to breaches of Section 2 (1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 8 of the RIDDOR Regulations 2013. The Council was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,366,78.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Jennifer French, said: “HAVs can be a serious and sometimes disabling condition that is irreversible.
“All employers have a duty to provide effective measures to ensure the health of their staff are not seriously or permanently harmed by the work they are asked to do. HSE is committed to thoroughly investigating companies who do not comply with their duties and will prosecute if necessary.”

Notes to Editors:
1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise.
2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at:
3. More about RIDDOR reporting can be found at:
4.HSE news releases are available at

Greater Manchester Hazards Centre - across the North West

Greater Manchester Hazards Centre - across the North West

Man 'tried to throw guard in front of train' at Moorfields
A man was arrested by the British Transport Police
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Ellen KirwinBreaking News Editor
• 11:32, 3 MAY 2022
• Updated14:03, 3 MAY 2022

Moorfields Merseyrail underground train station (Image: Liverpool ECHO)
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A man was arrested after reportedly trying to throw a guard in front of a train at Moorfields.
A witness claims to have seen the suspect 'trying to throw' a Mersey rail guard 'in front of a train.' They told the ECHO it was "shocking to see."
British Transport Police has confirmed that they were called to reports of an altercation between a man and a member of rail staff, at around 9.09pm on Saturday, April 30. Officers arrested a 53-year-old man in connection to the incident.
READ MORE: Suspect named after man glassed outside pub in 'unprovoked' attack
The suspect was taken into police custody but released and dealt with by community resolution. No injuries were reported in connection to the incident.
A spokesperson for the British Transport Police told the ECHO: "British Transport Police were called to Moorfields station at 9.09pm on Saturday 30 April following reports of an altercation between a man and a member of rail staff.
"A 52-year-old man was arrested in connection to the incident and conveyed to police custody. The incident was dealt with by community resolution."
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Greater Manchester Hazards Centre - across the North West

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Greater Manchester Hazards Centre - across the North West

Greater Manchester Hazards Centre - across the North West

Advice and guidance on preventing work-related lung disease

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HSE eBulletin

HSE eBulletin
Issued: 29 April 2022

Visit our lung disease website for advice and guidance on preventing work-related lung disease.

HSE safety alert issued: ear loop masks/respirators
A safety alert, issued on 26 April 2022, advises that HSE does not recommend using ear loop masks/respirators as tight-fitting RPE at work.

New HSE research has shown that respirators/masks which rely on ear loops to hold the respirator/mask in place, do not protect people adequately when used as tight-fitting respiratory protective equipment (RPE).

This includes any respirators/masks which use clips, ‘snuggers’ or other means of tightening ear loops, even if they have CE or UKCA marks.

View the safety alert for more information.

The safety alert asks Dutyholders to revisit their Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended) risk assessment and consider their RPE provision to ensure it is adequate, suitable for the user and the activity to be undertaken.

If you’re required to wear RPE at work to protect your lung health, then it is essential to discuss this with your employer.

Tight-fitting RPE relies on having a good seal with the wearer’s face and you must have passed a ‘face fit test’ to ensure the RPE you are wearing will provide the protection required.

For more on suitable forms of RPE you can visit our RPE website.

In addition we have more information at the following downloadable publications:
• RPE at work: a practical guide (HSG53)
• Guidance on RPE fit testing (INDG479)
International Society for Respiratory Protection (ISRP) Conference
HSE will presenting at the ISRP Conference 2022, which runs from 9 -12 May 2022.

Topics covered at the conference will include:
• the work of HSE’s PPE Task Force during COVID-19
• work undertaken on ear loop respirator/masks
Register for the conference here

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