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The current report will focus on the environmental, health, and safety legislation that should govern a furniture restoration business operating in the United Kingdom. The business involves the use of potential pollutants and activities harmful to the environment, such as upholstery, varnishing, lacquering, and spray painting. The activities are carried out within the business premises. The business has two vans used for the delivery of materials and furniture. In addition, the business has an industrial unit, which is run by five employees.
There are five key branches of legislation that this business is expected to comply with within the course of carrying out its operations. The legislations include four pieces of environmental protection laws governing hazardous waste. The other legislations the company is required to adhere to include those touching on general environment protection, fire safety, noise and nuisance, and, lastly, those touching on health and personal safety. The environmental legislation is discussed under the sub-headings below. The sub-headings enumerate the five pieces of legislation that will inform the operations of the company:
Hazardous Waste Regulations (England and Wales) Act 2005
Environmental Protection Act 1990
Noise And Statutory Nuisance Act 1993
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
The Provision And Use Of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
The furniture industry, in the course of production, poses danger to the environment as a result of the emission of fumes and gases into the atmosphere. The industry also produces hazardous waste that is harmful to the environment. In addition, there the furniture restoration business is associated with loud noises that create are a nuisance to the neighboring communities. The high levels of noise are consistently transmitted to the surrounding environment. The business is also associated with accidents, which include fires. The machines specific to this industry can cause harm to the employees when handling and operating them (Benz & English 1999). The danger is pronounced when the machines are operated incorrectly or employees operate them without the proper protective gear. As a result of this, the furniture industry, like many other industries, is covered by the acts and laws mentioned above.
Hazardous Waste Regulations (England and Wales) 2005
Under this act, hazardous waste is defined as that which can harm humans, the environment, plants, and other living organisms in an ecosystem. It calls for the disposal of waste in a way that does not pose danger to the health of people by using methods that are harmless to the environment. Disposal methods adopted should ensure that water, air, soil, plants, and animals are not put at risk. The disposal methods adopted should reduce disturbances brought about by noise or odors. The management should ensure that the disposal or recovery process does not affect the environment or places that are of special interest, such as the countryside. The disposal of waste requires the disposer to acquire consignments that allow for lawful and proper disposal in the areas recommended by the environmental agencies.
Environmental Protection Act 1990
The act was formulated to control pollution that came about as a result of industrial processes. It also addresses pollution brought about by modifications in the collection and disposal of waste by mandated authorities. The act defines nuisances and processes of dealing with them. In addition, the act provides for laws that ensure public places are free of litter, and the environment is devoid of hazards and pollutants.
The environment consists of air, water, and land. Pollution of the environment entails the release of substances that are potentially harmful to humans or other organisms that live in the effected environment. The law, under sub-section 2, provides a limit for the elements that can be released into the air, water, or disposed of on land. The elements released are gauged in terms of their concentration and duration within which they are released (National Archives 2013).
Materials used in the furniture industry are usually made of chemicals. The substances enhance the resistance of these products to erosion and other corrosive processes. The wood used is also preserved with agents made from organic solvents. The preservatives protect the wood from fungus and insects. They ensure that the wood does not wear off due to withering. Due to this, furniture manufacturing organizations need to obtain environmental permits as the materials used have the potential to pollute the environment.
The Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directorate is the one charged with the responsibility of issuing this permit. The authorization is granted as per the requirements of Best Available Techniques (BAT). IPPC and BAT ensure that the industry uses minimal raw materials, which results in the reduction of air emissions. They encourage the treatment of wastewaters and efficient management of waste. The Volatile Organic Compounds Solvents Emissions Directive is another legislation that caps emissions into the atmosphere. There are various forms of emissions addressed by this directive. They include those associated with such activities as the application of adhesives and metallic coating on furniture. In addition, the directive addresses emissions brought about by cleaning surfaces and the chemical treatment of wood. All these activities take place in the furniture industry.
The furniture industry produces waste, just like any other industry. The waste arises from the various processes carried out in the process of manufacturing furniture. The waste is also generated from the use of paints and varnishes. Businesses dealing with furniture production are, as such, regulated by this legislation. The legislation highlights the various measures that need to be put in place to safeguard the environment. It is noted that mismanagement of waste products poses a risk to the lives of organisms (including plants) in the environment. Generally, the directive improves the overall utilization of resources (Enterprise and Industry 2013, p.14). Processes carried out in the furniture business emit substances like xylene, toluene, glycol ether, and methyl alcohol. The substances are emitted through lacquer coatings, contact adhesives, and wood stains. The elements are known environmental pollutants (St. Edmundsbury Borough Council 1990).
Section 4 covers the authorities responsible for the minimization and prevention of environmental pollution. The Environmental Agency is the local authority responsible for this in England and Wales. On its part, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) is the authority responsible for the enforcement of this act in Scotland.
Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993
Statutory nuisance, as provided for in section 2 of this act, includes noise by vehicles or equipment, as well as smoke or dust. Subsections 1(A) to 6(A) expand the list of statutory nuisance. The list includes fumes or gases emitted by mechanical processes, steam, or smells arising from the industry, as well as insects and artificial lights from the premises of the industry. If an industry is reported to be a nuisance, the responsible person is served with an abatement notice. The failure to adhere to the legal regulations has legal implications for the party involved. The implications involve litigations and fines.
Prevention of noise in the furniture industry can be achieved through sound insulation. Sound insulation is the prevention of noise transmission by the introduction of mass barriers. It is made possible by the use of high-density materials. Examples of such materials are bricks, thick glass, concrete, and metal. Another way of curbing noise pollution is through sound absorption. Here, a porous material is used. The material absorbs the noise, arresting its emission to the environment. There are various materials commonly used for this purpose. They include foams and fiber glass. The third method of preventing noise pollution is through the adoption of the vibration damping technique. In this case, sound, which is usually in the form of vibrations, is absorbed from the surroundings using a thin sheet. It is then dispersed in form of heat, reducing its release to the environment. In most cases, technicians use deadened steel to reduce this form of pollution.
The last method of preventing noise pollution involves isolating vibrations. It averts the transmission of energy (sound) from one end (the factory) to the other (the environment). It works by the introduction of a flexible device or physical break. Common instruments used here are springs, rubber, and cork.
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The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
Fires are common accidents in many industries, including the furniture industry. In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, part 2 11(2) (b) of the Fire and Rescue Services Act of 2004 addresses this problem. The order provides the Fire and Rescue Authority with the appropriate course of action in case the industrial fire experienced has an effect on the environment or has impacted negatively on the health of animals and plants (Hanlon 2008).
To prevent accidental fires, the act, under Fire Safety Article 2, calls for the labeling of dangerous materials. The materials include substances that may be explosive, oxidative, or inflammable. They also include substances whose physic-chemical properties and reactions with other substances may pose a risk to the environment.
Domestic premises, offshore installations, ships, businesses carried out in open fields where there are no roofs, and such other operations are exempted from this order. The exemption is under article 6 of the safety act. The furniture industry, however, is regulated by this article as it falls under the category of businesses carried out under constructions that consist of an overhead roof.
Article 9 of the Fire Safety Act also encourages management in the various industries to conduct a risk assessment on the possibility of fire occurrences and how best to handle such a situation. General fire precautions should be duly noted. In addition, the precautions should be in agreement with the requirements and prohibitions that fall under this order. In cases where a hazardous substance is involved, the person responsible should regularly review the assessment procedures to ensure that the risk is always under surveillance. The aim is to minimize the probability of accidents. The order prohibits significant changes in the work environment about the processes that may re-expose the premises to risk after its elimination. The responsible person should not employ a young person unless such an employee is fully aware of the risk involved and how to manage it. After the assessment process, the responsible person is supposed to record the findings for future reference.
About fire prevention strategies, the responsible person should, according to Article 19 of the Fire Safety Order, provide the employees with information that is easy to understand and interpret. The information should touch on the risks identified during the risk assessment process and the preventive measures to be taken in case of such a risk. The responsible person should also provide the employees with information on risk substances, their names, safety data sheets, and their legislative provisions.
The Fire and Rescue Services Act of 2004, under the Fire Service Circulars, and in conjunction with the Fire Scotland Act of 2005, came up with the Integrated Risk Management Plans. The plans were meant to improve the efficiency of those using the resources provided under the Fire and Rescue Services legal provisions. The plans ensure that the natural environment is protected. The environment includes plants, animals, and other organisms (Hanlon 2008).
Several steps can be taken to reduce the risk of fire outbreaks. They include controlling the sources of ignition, as well as the detection of smoke, heat, or flames. Water or foam sprinklers, as well as other installations, such as fire extinguishers, are suitable ways of mitigating the effects of a fire outbreak. The formation of fire-fighting teams should be considered. The environmental agencies require such systems to have a permit that is specific to the site they are operating within.
Although plans may be made to avert the chances of fires, accidents may occur anyway. The likelihood of this occurrence is the reason why the Fire Rescue and Services Act came up with the fire containment plan. The plan calls for strategies of containing the spread of the fire or risk of pollution in case of a fire outbreak. Therefore, the environmental agencies need to ensure that fire and water containment systems are installed by the industries that are at risk (Hanlon 2008).
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
The legislation above is also used to regulate business operations. It is targeted at the employer. According to the regulations, employers should ensure that the equipment at their workplace is used in such a way that it serves the purpose it was intended for. In the process of selecting the equipment, the employer should take into consideration its working condition and its potential risk to the health and general safety of the workers. The employer should also take into consideration the additional risks the equipment may have on both the operators and the business premises. The employer should ensure that the machinery bought is used for the intended operations only.
Regulation five requires the employer to ensure that the work equipment is well maintained. The equipment should work efficiently. In case of damages, the employer should oversee the repair of the equipment. The employer should also ensure that the machinery has a maintenance log. The log should always be updated.
Regulation 6 requires the employer to ensure that the machines are inspected before and after installation. In addition, the machines should be inspected after assembly in a new location. If the machine is installed under conditions under which its operations are likely to deteriorate, the employer should organize for inspections at regular intervals. The results of each inspection should be documented for further referencing. About equipment that may pose risk to the operator, regulation seven encourages the employer to limit its operations to skilled personnel. Repairs, modifications, and maintenance of the equipment are also limited to persons with the necessary skills. Such acts limit the likelihood of accidents resulting from the use of such equipment.
Benz, K & English, C 1999, Environmental noise barriers: a guide to their visual and acoustic design, Spon Press, United Kingdom.
Enterprise and Industry 2013, Furniture: environmental aspects of the furniture sector, European Commission.
Hanlon, D 2008, ‘Fire service manual’, Environmental Protection Journal, vol. 2 no. 3, pp. 34-44.
National Archives, 2013, The Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005.
St. Edmundsbury Borough Council 1990, Environmental Protection Act 1990.