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Skin in the Working Environment

We have received the following information from Chris Packham, Enviroderm Services which we thought may be useful to OH nurses.

"It is our intention that during 2015 we will be producing a series of short monographs on specific aspects of the prevention of damage to health due to workplace skin exposure. These will be e-mailed to those wishing to receive them. If you wish to be on our list please let me know by sending me an e-mail at chris@enviroderm.co.uk

The first two of these monographs are given below. I hope that you find this of interest.

Just a word of caution. These monographs are not intended as a comprehensive guide. The aim is to draw attention to some of the less well known factors that should be included in any occupational skin management system, also to make recipients aware of new information that could be relevant as this becomes available. Our knowledge about the interaction between the skin and the working environment is constantly expanding. Staying up to date is important. We invest considerable time and money in ensuring that we do and these monographs will hopefully play some part in ensuring that others can do the same."

1. Gloves and the Skin

2. Skin Health Surveillance

HSL - Talk to your employees

Love should be in the air, even at work, so how better to show the love to your workforce than to talk to them?

Taking time out to talk to your employees about the human factors that affect how they do their job safely is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to health & safety and show them that you care. The more you talk about safety, the more likely it is you will engage your workforce in safety becoming 'part of the job'.

The hard part is often knowing what to say - HSL's Safe Deal playing cards make starting the conversation easy -  a full deck of 52 cards each containing information and questions relating to four key areas of human factors in health & safety - Leadership, Behaviour Change, Being Human and Safety Culture.

Paste the following link into your browser to buy your packs now!

Change to Law concerning Criminal Record Checks

Joan Lewis has extracted the following from a round robin from a respected law firm called Lewis Silkin.  She felt that it would be useful for our readers. 

It will become a Criminal Offence to require Employees or job applicants to make enforced subject access requests for the employer. Unless the person is to work in a defined and regulated sector enforced criminal record checks will become unlawful soon.  

Employers may want information about the criminal records of job applicants or employees for various reasons. One way of obtaining such information is to require an individual to make an “enforced” subject access request under the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) in order to get a copy of their own criminal record.

The practice of requiring individuals to reveal their criminal records is at odds with the right to privacy and the rehabilitation of offenders, so enforced subject access has long been a contentious issue. It will soon be a criminal offence for employers to require employees or job applicants to make enforced subject access requests and then provide the employer with the results. This is because of a previously dormant section in the DPA that will come into effect on 1 December 2014.

Employers cannot apply themselves for criminal records checks on employees or applicants, except in specific circumstances. These are primarily where a person will be working with children or vulnerable adults or in specific regulated sectors, in which case the employer can and in some cases must get information on the person’s criminal history. Some employers therefore make it a precondition of employment that the individual must obtain information on their own criminal record from the police, by making a subject access request, and then pass on the results.

Up until now, this practice has been discouraged by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) but has not technically been unlawful. Section 56 of the DPA makes it an offence to require a person to make a subject access request and reveal the result, but implementation of this provision was delayed by the Government. It will now be fully in force from 1 December 2014. Anyone convicted of the offence will face a fine of up to £5,000 in the magistrates’ court or an unlimited fine in the Crown Court. The ICO has indicated that it intends to prosecute those who continue to enforce subject access requests, in an effort to stamp out this practice.

Why the new rule?

The core issue is that subject access requests provide far more information than an applicant is legally required to disclose. For example, unless they are working with children or vulnerable adults, or are applying for a job covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Exceptions) Order 1975, applicants do not have to give information about “spent” convictions – i.e. where a certain period of time has elapsed since the conviction without the perpetrator re-offending. A spent conviction is “wiped” from an individual’s criminal record and he or she is entitled to hold themselves out as someone who has never been the subject of that conviction.

Enforced subject access requests ride roughshod over these boundaries. The response to a general subject access request will show spent convictions as well as live ones and will also show police reprimands, warnings and cautions. While it is unlawful to refuse to employ someone because of a spent conviction, there is no specific legal remedy for anyone who is forced to reveal their full criminal history and then refused employment because of information disclosed. Jonathan Bamford, head of strategic liaison at the ICO, has called enforced subject access an “unsavoury practice” that undermines the rehabilitation of offenders.

What does this mean for employers?

The new rules will not affect employers’ duties to carry out their own checks on applicants for jobs which are covered by the 1975 Exceptions Order. For jobs that do not fall within that Order, however, employers should urgently review their recruitment practices – especially if they make offers of employment conditional on the production of a clean criminal record.

Employers will risk a criminal conviction if they seek to force an applicant to provide their criminal record by making a subject access request. An alternative option is simply to ask applicants to disclose their criminal records voluntarily. Employers should explain to individuals that they do not need to disclose spent convictions - and there is no certainty they will provide accurate information.
October 2014

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