HSE Warns Employers End of Year May Cause Safety Problems

The UK's Health and Safety Executive reminds employers that care should be taken on the roll-over to Dec. 31 in case date-discontinuity faults cause\r\nproblems with safety-related equipment.

The millennium may be well and truly here, but the UK''s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reminds employers that care should be taken on the roll-over to Dec. 31 in case date-discontinuity faults cause problems with safety-related equipment.

"We are very glad the Millennium Bug did not cause any accidents or serious disruption to business during 2000," said Ron Bell, head of HSE Technology Division''s Electrical and Control System Unit. "However, it is important that industry should not be lulled into a false sense of security."

Bell noted that findings from a report by En tec UK Ltd., commissioned to evaluate HSE''s work on the year 2000 problem, showed that 1 in 100 smaller firms and 1 in 25 large organizations had experienced minor health and safety problems from the bug.

One organization in the survey reported having a problem with the potential to cause harm to employees and others.

"There is still a danger that the roll-over to 2001 could cause problems for some computer systems, since they may not have been programmed to recognize that 2000 is a leap year and therefore has 366 days," said Bell. "Employers and operators of safety-related, date-dependent equipment should take care on Dec. 31, and also watch out for any erroneous data carried into Jan. 1, 2001.

Bell advised businesses which are not working over the New Year weekend to take care when first starting operations in 2001.

HSE offers the following advice for starting operations and keeping employees safe in 2001:

  • Ensure staff involved in the operation of the equipment are sufficiently familiar with its operation to spot changes from normal operation.
  • Make sure staff know how to put the system into a safe state if abnormal changes are detected.
  • Start up pieces of equipment one at a time -- especially when items are integrated into a production line.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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