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The Legal Column - November 12

21 December 2012

The experts at Workplace Law address your legislative and compliance issues.

Car clamping

Q: We use car clamping to help manage our car park and have two licenced clampers who are part of our Premises Team. We don't tend to charge for releasing cars, but use the clamps as a safeguarding measure to discourage unauthorised parking. Is clamping cars in this manner still possible after October 1st 2012 when the Protection of Freedoms Act came into force, or should we remove the signs and find another means to manage these problems?
A: Section 3 of the Protection of Freedoms Act prohibits wheel clamping on private land by making it a criminal offence to immobilise, move or prevent movement of a vehicle without lawful authority. It bans most clamping and towing activities by anyone other than the police, local authorities, bailiffs or other government agencies (e.g. DVLA).
To be guilty of the offence, the person immobilising or moving the vehicle must intend to prevent or inhibit the removal of the vehicle by its driver or owner and if convicted the penalty for the new offence will be an unlimited fine on conviction or indictment, or a fine of up to £5,000 on summary conviction.
Private sector parking providers can recover unpaid parking charges from the registered keeper of a vehicle. Certain conditions would need to be satisfied, in particular the amount of the parking charges owed need to be specified in a parking enforcement notice given to the person in charge of the vehicle or affixed to the vehicle whist it is still located in the car park or land concerned. If, after 28 days the parking charges remain unpaid the parking provider can obtain the name and address of the vehicle keeper from the DVLA - which will only supply keeper details to parking providers who are members of an accredited trade association - currently the British Parking Association.
In practice this means that you will need to remove any signs and instigate a different way of managing problem parkers in the future.

Temperature in the office

Q: What is the ideal and legal office temperature during winter time?
A: Under Regulation 7: Temperature in indoor workplace (Approved Code of Practice) of the Workplace Health and Safety Welfare Regulations 1992:
"The temperature in workrooms should provide reasonable comfort without the need for special clothing."
This should normally be at least 16 degrees Celsius unless much of the work involves severe physical effort in which case the temperature should be at least 13 degrees Celsius. It would be recommended to try and maintain a comfortable room temperature between 20-23 degrees Celsius.

Machine Guarding

Q: We have two bench drills which have no guard over the chuck area. The safety officer says they don't need a guard because the machine was made in 1960. I thought guarding on a machine had to comply fully with PUWER?

A: I would strongly suggest you undertake a PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998) assessment for your machinery as PUWER has no discrimination about age of machinery.

In most cases an adjustable fixed guard would be required, and where it is not possible to retro-fix such a guard then you would need to look at other control measures.

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