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15 Feb

The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974

 By Admin    

The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 The main piece of legislation affecting the management of h

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The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974

The main piece of legislation affecting the management of health and safety in workplaces across all sectors is the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA).

This Act provides a framework for ensuring the health and safety of all employees in any work activity. It also provides for the health and safety of anyone who may be affected by work activities in e.g. employees, contractors and visitors to sites. Employers and employees (as well as manufacturers, suppliers and the self-employed) must comply with the duties set out in the Act. The additional regulations are accompanied by industry (typically the HSE) supporting guidance in how to achieve compliance with the associated regulations. Examples are:

  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
  • The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2012
  • The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992
  • The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
  • The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013
  • The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002
  • The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
  • The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015
  • The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981
  • The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
  • The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

Duties of the Employer

All workers have a right to work in places where risks to their health and safety are properly controlled. Health and safety is about stopping employees getting hurt at work or ill through work. The employer is responsible for health and safety, but the employees must help.

What employers must do

  • Decide what could harm employees in their job and the precautions to stop it. This is part of a risk assessment
  • In a way in which employees can understand, explain how risks will be controlled and tell them who is responsible for this.
  • Consult and work with employees and health and safety representatives in protecting everyone from harm in the workplace.
  • Free of charge, give employees the health and safety training they need to do their job.
  • Free of charge, provide employees with any equipment and protective clothing they need, and ensure it is properly looked after.
  • Provide toilets, washing facilities and drinking water.
  • Provide adequate first-aid facilities.
  • Report major injuries and fatalities at work. Report other injuries, diseases and dangerous incidents online at www.hse.gov.uk
  • Have insurance that covers employees in case they get hurt at work or ill through work. Display a hard copy or electronic copy of the current insurance certificate where this can be easily read.
  • Work with any other employers or contractors sharing the workplace or providing employees (such as agency workers), so that everyone’s health and safety is protected.

Duties of Employees

  • Follow the training an employee has received when using any work items the employer has given them.
  • Take reasonable care of own and other people’s health and safety
  • Co-operate with the employer on health and safety.
  • Tell someone (the employer, supervisor, or health and safety representative) if the employee thinks the work or inadequate precautions are putting anyone’s health and safety at serious risk.
 
31 Jan

5 YEAR OLD KILLED BY DAMAGED WHEELCHAIR LIFT

 By Admin    

5 YEAR OLD KILLED BY DAMAGED WHEELCHAIR LIFT The housing association that owned the Weymouth home wh

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5 YEAR OLD KILLED BY DAMAGED WHEELCHAIR LIFT

The housing association that owned the Weymouth home where five-year-old Alexys Brown was killed while using the damaged wheelchair lift needed by her disabled brother has been fined £1m after an HSE prosecution.

Synergy Housing, part of the Aster Group, was sentenced earlier this week after a hearing at Bournemouth Crown Court. Orona, the company that manufactured and installed the lift and had a contract to maintain it, was also in the dock and given a fine of £1,533,000.

The court heard that the lift had not been inspected in the 18 months before the accident: it was serviced only four times between 2009 and 2015, with the last thorough examination in 2012. According to HSE guidance, lifts carrying people should be inspected every six months. HSE inspector Leo Diez said: “From December 2013 until 12 May 2015, the lift was not inspected at all – even though safety critical problems had previously been identified they were not rectified. “In 2015, when the call-out report contained a warning, there was still a failure to act. Those breaches went unchecked over a long period of time during which the lift became more dangerous for the Brown family to use.”

The Browns were not provided with safety critical information concerning the operation of the lift; and no risk assessment was carried out following the change of lift user when the family moved in. On 13 August 2015, Alexys used the lift to get her brother’s phone from upstairs. However, she was able to put her head through a broken Perspex vision panel at the side of the lift. As it rose to the first floor, she became trapped underneath the ground floor ceiling and died as a result of her injuries. To ensure the lifts were maintained and repaired, Aster Property, another company within Aster Group, managed a contract on behalf of Synergy with Orona.

Aster Property arranged for Orona’s maintenance and repair visits to take place and to control the work, while Orona’s staff carried out the work. The Perspex vision panel lift became damaged in early 2013, but this was not fixed or replaced.

In May 2015, an Orona engineer visited the property to inspect the lift and noted the vision panel was damaged. In his report, he wrote “Routine service visit – glass in door smashed!” but the panel was not fixed or replaced. As well as the problem with the vision panel, there were issues with emergency lowering and the lack of an emergency hand winding wheel during the Brown family’s tenancy, although documentation shows that these issues had existed since January 2011. On the day of the accident, it was reported that the children’s grandmother had to call the fire brigade to release Alexys, as it was impossible to lower the lift without an emergency hand winding wheel. The lift had also been modified from its factory settings so that it could be operated by anyone at any time without the need for a key. Health staff working with Alexys’s brother had raised concerns over the lift’s safety, but these had not been taken seriously enough. The HSE investigation found a catalogue of failures by the three companies. As the Brown family’s landlord, Synergy Housing had primary responsibility for the safety of the lift at the property; Aster Property had the responsibility for arranging lift maintenance; and Orona was responsible for carrying out the lift maintenance and repair work.

Synergy Housing accepted that its duties were not to be delegated and that the failings of Aster Property also formed part of its breach. The charge against Aster Property, of Sarsen Court, Horton Avenue, Devizes, was ordered to be left to lie on the court file and was not separately sentenced. Orona, of Europa View, Sheffield Business Park, Sheffield, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £533,000 and ordered to pay costs of £40,000. Speaking after the hearing, Lorraine Brown, Alexys’s mother, said: “The last three years have been unimaginable; the loss of Alexys has impacted our lives and our children’s lives immensely. “To have this investigation brought to an end has now offered us some closure. Despite this part of our story coming to an end, the outcome will never be what we all wish for, nothing will ever bring Alexys back to us. “Lexi was a loving, carefree, angelic little girl who was full of energy, love and laughter. I hope that what has happened to our family sheds light on others in order to avoid anything like this ever happening again. “We are now looking forward and raising our children with memories, photos, videos and stories of their sister.” HSE inspector Leo Diez said: “These companies failed in their duties to put systems in place to ensure the lift in the Brown’s family home was kept safe – more could have been done by Synergy, Aster and Orona. “As a result of their negligence, a wholly avoidable tragedy, under horrific circumstances, has occurred where a five-year-old child has lost her life and a family have been left utterly devastated at the loss of their little girl. “Companies should know HSE will not hesitate to take the appropriate enforcement action against those who flout health and safety law.” Aster Property was also involved in another recent health and safety prosecution, when it was acting as the client for a general builder when a labourer suffered a fall through a fragile roof.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Please look at for next months edition. For help and support with your companies Health and safety please get in touch.

 
31 Jan

Q&A - CLEARING SNOW AND ICE

 By Admin    

Q&A - CLEARING SNOW AND ICE Question I have heard that in the event of adverse weather, it&rsquo

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Q&A - CLEARING SNOW AND ICE

Question

I have heard that in the event of adverse weather, it’s better not to try to clear ice or snow from our shopping centre as we may be held liable for any accident. Is this correct, or would it be better to just close the site?

Answer

As you are inviting people onto your premises, it is particularly important to make them as safe as possible. However, once you start clearing snow or ice, ensure that you do not create more of a hazard, such as creating black ice which a customer may not see.

From a legal perspective, the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 set down requirements for the condition of floors and traffic routes. These state that, so far as is reasonably practicable, all traffic routes should be free from anything that may cause a person to slip, trip or fall. The accompanying Approved Code of Practice says:

“Arrangements should be made to minimise risks from snow and ice. This may involve gritting, snow clearing and closure of some routes, particularly outside stairs, ladders and walkways on roofs.”

It is important to remember that the expectation is to do what is reasonable in the circumstances. Your priority may be to clear away any ice and snow from outside entrance doors and then to progress onto other areas. Gritting early in the morning and evening is likely to be a practicable option, although individual circumstances will vary. Customers and members of staff should also remember to take extra care.

Furthermore, when coming inside, it is likely that people will bring slush in on their shoes. Therefore, ensure that cleaning regimes and suitable doormats are in place to minimise the presence of water.

When considering an employer’s liability, civil cases such as Bloxham v Swan Hunter Shipbuilders have established that a system for controlling snow and ice discharges liability where it conforms to best practice; such systems are not expected to extend to unreasonable lengths. The cases also show that it is deemed reasonable to focus resources on those areas which are most used. However, if conditions are so bad that despite your best efforts, safe access/egress is not possible, it may indeed be appropriate to close the premises for a period. Such a decision should be made as quickly as possible, and it should be clear who has the authority to decide.

Anticipation is key. Ensure you keep supplies of rock salt and clearance equipment. Identify priority areas, including zones where cars and pedestrians mix, well-used paths, and don’t forget fire escape exit routes. Give slopes, steps and changes of level extra attention. It’s unlikely that you’ll be sued or held responsible if someone is injured on a path or pavement if you’ve cleared it carefully. If your planned clearance is beaten back by heavy snowfall, then you may need to divert pedestrians to a few cleared routes with the help of signs or barriers.

Rock salt doesn’t work instantly; it needs time to be ground down, which is when it becomes most efficient. Gritting twice a day early in the morning and in the early evening is likely to be most practicable, but circumstances may vary. The best time to put down rock salt is in the evening before temperatures nose dive and the ice forms. If it has snowed, put salt over the first layer of snow. Compacted snow, which turns to ice, is difficult to treat with grit. Avoid contaminating plants and trees during spreading.

We hope you found this article of interest thank you for reading. If you have a question that you would like answering then please get in touch at.....

 
31 Jan

IOSH VS NEBOSH

 By Admin    

SPOTLIGHT IS ON - IOSH VS NEBOSH People often ask us about the difference between IOSH and NEBOSH, i

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IOSH VS NEBOSH

People often ask us about the difference between IOSH and NEBOSH, is one better than the other? which qualification should they go for? and what are IOSH and NEBOSH? Hopefully, this article can shed some light, help you make a decision on the qualification best for you, and give you some helpful advice.

What does IOSH stand for?

IOSH stands for Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, the Chartered body for health and safety professionals. IOSH is a UK-based organisation offering professional qualifications in order to raise standards of health and safety in the workplace. IOSH is the world's largest health and safety membership body. With 44,000 members in 99 countries,

IOSH Courses

IOSH training courses help people in all sectors stay healthy and safe at work. Two IOSH training courses that are available are : Working Safely and Managing Safely:

  • The Working Safely course is aimed at all employees and covers the essentials of health and safety in the workplace.
  • The Managing Safely course is aimed at managers, team leaders and supervisors, and gives them the knowledge and skills to manage health and safety within their teams.

IOSH training courses combine up-to-date theory and practice to enable around 100,000 people a year to earn qualifications. Earning an IOSH qualification will allow the holder to ensure that the health and safety practices in their workplace are current, effective and well managed.

What is IOSH Managing Safely?

IOSH Managing Safely is a three-day course that gives managers and supervisors the knowledge and skills they need to manage health and safety within their teams. IOSH Managing Safely covers responsibilities for health and safety, hazard identification, assessing and controlling risks, accident investigation and measuring performance. IOSH Managing Safely gives managers the confidence to drive health and safety performance within their teams and to improve the health and safety culture of their organisation as a whole.

What is IOSH Working Safely?

IOSH Working Safely is a one-day course covering the essentials of health and safety in the workplace. It is aimed at all employees in all types of organisation. IOSH Working Safely looks at people’s responsibilities for health and safety, workplace hazards and risks, and how to control them. IOSH Working Safely shows how everyone can make a difference to their own and others' well being through everyday actions.

A quick note on IOSH membership

NEBOSH doesn’t offer membership, so if you’re looking to join a membership organisation where you can network, keep up to date with health and safety, and gain advice and expertise then IOSH is probably your best option. It brings with it plenty of benefits but how much you can benefit really depends on your situation and career goals, It’s also worth mentioning that, while anyone can become an IOSH member, to get higher levels of membership such as Associate or Technical membership you need to have a health and safety qualification. They accept quite a few different qualifications, The NEBOSH National General Certificate is one of them, and with 92% of job roles asking for either the NEBOSH qualification, IOSH membership or both, it could be worth using the NEBOSH for your membership.

What does NEBOSH stand for?

NEBOSH stands for National Exaination Board in Ocupational Health and Safety. NEBOSH is a UK-based independent examination board delivering vocational qualifications in health, safety & environmental practice and management. NEBOSH does not deliver courses. It develops syllabuses for its qualifications and sets methods of assessment, such as examinations and practical coursework. Courses are delivered by NEBOSH Accredited Course Providers like SOA Safety. NEBOSH is a globally recognized qualification in Health Safety and Environment. The course is intended to provide Managers, Supervisors and Employees who require a broader knowledge of risk management and understanding of health and safety principles and practices.

NEBOSH Qualifications

Each year over 30,000 candidates take a course that leads to a NEBOSH qualification, and courses are offered in 33 countries around the world – so if this is something that you are considering you’re not alone! NEBOSH qualifications range from introductory Health and Safety at Work Qualification to the professional safety practitioner level NEBOSH Diploma.

What is the NEBOSH Certificate?

The NEBOSH General Certificate is the UK’s most popular health and safety qualification. Because it’s so well known and highly regarded it’s ideal if you’re looking to launch a career in safety – and although it’s useful to have some prior knowledge there are no formal entry requirements. The course itself is divided into three units, the first two are assessed by exams and the third one by a practical assessment. Once successfully completed candidates meet the academic requirements for Technical Membership of IOSH (Tech IOSH) and associate membership of the IIRSM. For those working overseas, the increasingly popular NEBOSH International Certificate replaced UK based law with international standards and management systems.

What is the NEBOSH Diploma?

The NEBOSH Diploma is a prestigious and highly respected qualification, ultimately enabling Chartered (CMIOSH) status. Divided into four units (three assessed by exams and one by an assignment), it’s a rigorous and demanding course which never the less grows in popularity as safety professionals continue to recognise the benefits of holding such a qualification. There are alternative routes to CMIOSH status but arguably the diploma remains the most highly regarded and transferable across job role and sector and therefore stands candidates in good stead for the future. That said, the cost and time out of the workplace represent investments that inevitably not all workplaces will support, in which case the NVQ Level 5 may be worth considering.

Summary

IOSH and NEBOSH correspond on many levels but are ultimately doing different things. With more than 90% of health and safety jobs requiring licensed training from one of these bodies, however, a certification from either will be invaluable for the health and safety competence of you and/or your organisation.

 
23 Jan

TOOLBOX TALK 01 - LEGIONELLA AWARENESS

 By Admin    Toolbox Talk

Legionnaires’ disease acquired its name in 1976 when an outbreak of pneumonia occurred among people attending a convention of the American Legion in Philadelphia. The disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia which can affect anybody, but which principally affects those who are susceptible because of age, illness, immunosuppression, smoking, etc.

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TOOLBOX TALK 01 - LEGIONELLA AWARENESS

Legionnaires’ disease acquired its name in 1976 when an outbreak of pneumonia occurred among people attending a convention of the American Legion in Philadelphia. The disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia which can affect anybody, but which principally affects those who are susceptible because of age, illness, immunosuppression, smoking, etc. The responsible bacterium and related bacteria are found naturally in environmental water sources such as rivers, lakes and reservoirs and generally pose no problems. However, purpose-built water systems such as whirlpool spas and cooling towers in which temperatures are warm enough to encourage growth of the bacteria, can cause outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease. To prevent the occurrence of Legionnaires’ disease, employers must comply with regulations requiring them to manage, maintain and treat purpose-built water systems properly. The Legionella Procedure is written to help companies comply with legislation.

Health & Safety Management System

What is this? This is a written procedure which defines Legionnaires’ disease and outlines how to minimise the risk of its exposure to employees.

How do people contract Legionella?

The most popular theory is that the organism is aerosolized in water and people inhale the droplets containing Legionella. However, new evidence suggests that another way of contracting Legionella is more common; ‘aspiration’ is viewed as the most common way in which bacteria enter the lungs to cause pneumonia.

What are the symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease?

The incubation period of Legionnaires' disease is between two and ten days. For several days the patient may feel tired and weak. Most patients who are admitted to the hospital develop high fever. A cough can be the first sign of a lung infection. The cough may be sufficiently severe to cause sputum production. Gastrointestinal complaints are common with diarrhoea being the most typical symptom. Many patients experience nausea, vomiting, and stomach discomfort. Other common symptoms include headaches, muscle aches, chest pain, and shortness of breath.. Legionnaires' disease is not contagious.

Temperature is a critical determinant for legionella proliferation

How is Legionnaires’ disease diagnosed?

Specialised laboratory tests are necessary therefore it is vital that people are referred to their GP or hospital immediately it is suspected that they are suffering from, or have been exposed to, the Legionella bacteria. What is the natural habitat of Legionella bacteria? Legionella organisms are readily found in water and some species have been recovered from soil. The organisms can survive in a wide range of conditions including temperatures of 0 to 63°C. Temperature is a critical determinant for Legionella proliferation. Colonization of hot water tanks is more likely if tank temperatures are between 40 and 50°C (104 to 122°F). The Legionella becomes attached to surfaces in the tank. What have been the water sources for Legionnaires’ disease? The major source is water distribution systems of large buildings including hotels and hospitals. Cooling towers have long been thought to be a major source for Legionella, however new data suggests that this is an overemphasized mode of transmission. Other sources include mist machines, humidifiers, whirlpool spas, and hot springs. Air conditioners are not a source for Legionnaires' disease.

Keep records and check that what has been done is effective

What do responsible managers need to do?

Under general health and safety law responsible managers have to consider the risks from Legionella that may affect their staff or members of the public and take suitable precautions. As an employer or person responsible for premises they must: Use specialist competent persons to identify and assess the sources of risk; Prepare a scheme for preventing and controlling the risk; Implement and manage the scheme - appoint someone to be responsible; Keep records and check that what has been done is effective; and ‘Notify local authorities if you have a cooling tower(s) on-site. Examples of systems that present a risk:

  • Cooling towers or Evaporative condensers
  • Hot and cold-water systems,
  • Humidifiers
  • Spa baths

This is not an exhaustive list; any water system where water droplets may be produced can present a risk of Legionella bacteria. Who is at risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease? Everyone is potentially susceptible to infection, but the following people are most at risk:

  • Smokers
  • People over the age of 45 years
  • Heavy drinkers
  • The suffering with chronic respiratory problems or kidney disease
  • Immuno-suppressed people
  • Diabetics or Cancer Patients
 
4 Sep

HSE Warn Schools not to use Heatproof Mats

 By Admin    Blog

Secondary schools across the UK are starting the new school year with a warning not to use their stock of heatproof mats used with Bunsen burners after the HSE discovered that two major suppliers had illegally sold mats containing asbestos.

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HSE Warn Schools not to use Heatproof Mats

Secondary schools across the UK are starting the new school year with a warning not to use their stock of heatproof mats used with Bunsen burners after the HSE discovered that two major suppliers had illegally sold mats containing asbestos.

The HSE and education officials are currently working to identify the customers of two UK laboratory supply companies that sold gauze mats containing asbestos in breach of EU REACH regulations, with a warning that “enforcement action may follow”.

But because it is impossible to tell which mats contain asbestos and which pose no risk, the HSE is advising schools and colleges not to handle, use or move metal gauze mats until their certification can be checked with suppliers, or a laboratory test gives them the all-clear. 

All schools are being advised to not to move mats from drawers or cupboards “then seal them with tape”. 

The customers of the two suppliers are due to be contacted this week, according to HSE and CLEAPSS, the Consortium of Local Education Authorities for the Provision of Science Services. 

The metal gauze mats, placed on tripods above Bunsen burners during science lessons, have a white heat-resistant pad at the centre. The presence of tremolite asbestos, in the range of 20-30% of the heat-resistant material, was discovered after testing. 

Tremolite, which has needle-like fibres, is considered as toxic as chrysotile or white asbestos, the most common form of asbestos in the UK and worldwide. It is generally found as a contaminant when other minerals, such as vermiculite, are mined. 

Typically, suppliers sell mats made of “asbesto-free calcium silicate”. While it is a common alternative to asbestos, many products made of calcium silicate have historically been found to be contaminated. 

“We are working closely with Department for Education, education departments in Scotland and Wales as well as the Consortium of Local Education Authorities for the Provision of Science Services. This will help us ensure that schools, colleges, local regulators, and others who may have supplied or purchased similar products are directed to our advice”

The Health and Safety Executive

The alert was first raised by a school that identified the presence of asbestos in its mats during an asbestos survey. When the school ordered replacements, it had them tested by a laboratory accredited by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS), revealing that the new mats also contained asbestos.

The school contacted the HSE, which responded with an investigation by its Chemical Regulation Division, which is responsible for enforcing the EU regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH).

While the import of all asbestos products has been banned in the UK since 1999, the adoption of the EU-wide REACH regime in 2008 means that the most up-to-date legislation on the import and supply of asbestos are the REACH Enforcement Regulations 2008.

According to its website, CLEAPPS expects its helpline to be very busy during the first week of the new school year, and it is urging schools not to call before studying all the guidance available online.

According to the guidance, the risk to health is low, as any fibres or particles from damaged mats are unlikely to become airborne. The HSE does not consider the situation to be reportable under RIDDOR, and, if schools decide to inform parents, the guidance suggests that they should take a “reassuring” stance. 

However, CLEAPSS tells teachers and technicians to stop using all gauzes then to “prevent access to cupboards or drawers where gauzes are stored by sealing them securely with tape”. 

To dispose of mats, “trays of gauzes from open storage could be removed from labs, double-bagged and stored securely.”

The HSE says that disposal of the gauze mats does not have to be carried out by a licensed contractor, but the work should still be carried out in accordance with “Sheet EM7 etc of Asbestos Essentials”.

If the mats are stored in a container, they should be disposed of in that container to prevent further handling. Alternatively, they should be carefully wetted, placed in a heavy-duty polythene waste bag, placed in a second bag and labelled accordingly. 

As disposal work is considered to be low-risk and short duration, the HSE says that using respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is not a legal requirement, but it says that “duty-holders may wish to adopt a precautionary approach regarding the use of RPE and personal protective clothing (PPE)”. 

When sourcing replacement mats, the HSE says that buyers should not to take suppliers’ claims that mats are asbestos-free at face value, and should “seek a copy of a valid UKAS test certificate for the gauze from your supplier”.

“The only certain way of assuring this is for items originating outside the EU to be analysed by a laboratory accredited for asbestos identification by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS),” the HSE says.

The HSE adds UK-based suppliers must comply with their legal duty not to import or supply articles which contain asbestos. “Irrespective of assurances from global non-EU suppliers, UK suppliers should commission accredited laboratory testing on samples of articles from outside the EU which are liable to contain asbestos before placing orders and should arrange repeat testing periodically.”

In its press release, the HSE says that: “We are working closely with Department for Education, education departments in Scotland and Wales as well as the Consortium of Local Education Authorities for the Provision of Science Services (CLEAPSS). This will help us ensure that schools, colleges, local regulators, and others who may have supplied or purchased similar products are directed to our advice.

“We are also investigating how these particular gauze mats came into circulation. Breaches of the restrictions on the supply of asbestos are taken very seriously by HSE.” 

 
11 Jul

Is Your Job Killing You? Not all stress is the same

 By Admin    

Job stress can fray nerves, keep you up at night, and contribute to health problems such as heart disease and depression. Chronic job stress can put both your physical and emotional health at risk.

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Is Your Job Killing You?

Not all stress is the same

Job stress can fray nerves, keep you up at night, and contribute to health problems such as heart disease and depression. Chronic job stress can put both your physical and emotional health at risk.

Finding the source of your stress is the first step to fighting it, but that’s easier said than done. Fortunately, experts have identified specific work situations that are likely to make your blood boil. Which one of these stressed-out workers do you resemble?

Overworked underling

The profile: You're busy from the time you get to work until the time you leave, but you have little freedom while you're there. You don't have much say over how you do your job or the types of projects you work on, and you're always on someone else's schedule.

The solution: These types of jobs known as "high-demand, low-control" tend to cause a great deal of psychological strain. Even if you can't make your job less demanding, finding ways to get more involved in decision-making will help ease the stress, research suggests.

Frustrated go-getter

The profile: You work your tail off, but you feel you don’t receive enough credit or compensation. With lots of sweat (and maybe a few tears), you’ve made your bosses look good. Still, you haven’t received a raise, a promotion, or sufficient recognition.

The solution: These so-called "effort-reward imbalances" are a recipe for stress, especially among very driven people who are eager for approval. Try discussing your career goals with your boss. You may not get the rewards you want right away, but you could gain some insight about how to improve your situation and outlook.

Castaway

The profile: You feel like you’re all alone, and not in a good way. If you require help or guidance, your boss won’t give it to you, and when you need to vent, you don’t have a trusted ally to turn to.

The solution: A good support system at work includes both practical support from your bosses (the resources and help you need to do your job well) and emotional support from colleagues. Too little of either could make you feel stranded on irritation island. Work on communicating your needs, both practical and emotional. If you want your boss’s help, be as specific (and persuasive) as possible, and make connecting with co-workers a priority.

Doormat

The profile: You deal with demanding and verbally abusive customers, but through it all you’re expected ..no, required to swallow your resentment and maintain a facade of professionalism, calm, and courtesy.

The solution: "When there’s a discrepancy between your internal state and the roles you’re expected to play at work, you experience what researchers call ‘emotional labor,’ Ask your boss for advice or additional training on how to handle difficult customers without feeling demoralized. Doing your job without taking abuse personally will leave you feeling better about yourself.

Tech prisoner

The profile: Thanks to the mobile phone, and laptop your company so generously provided, your boss can now reach you 24/7. You're constantly (if virtually) connected to the office, and your work and personal life are indistinguishable.

The solution: “Technostress is an important and growing issue. To protect yourself from mental and physical strain, learn how to unplug (literally). Set aside blocks of time say between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m., when you turn your electronics off and focus on clearing your head and spending time with family or friends. Or even doing a yoga class!

Burnout

The profile: You’re terminally exhausted, both physically and emotionally, to the point where it becomes difficult to function. You feel as if you’re on the verge of a breakdown.

The solution: Although the word "burnout" is used loosely, the technical definition is severe exhaustion stemming from prolonged work-related stress. Burnout occurs most often in very charged, high-stakes work environments. But it can occur in just about any stressful job. If you’re experiencing burnout, discuss it with a supervisor and explore whether you can take time off or even a leave of absence.

Bully target

The profile: Your boss insults you, gives you impossible deadlines, assigns you busywork just because they can, and dresses you down in front of your colleagues. Or you’ve seen her do those things to others and you’re worried that you’re next.

The solution: Bullying isn't restricted to the playground; it appears to be on the rise in offices too. If you feel you're the victim of a bullying boss, you can try to mollify them . And if your co-workers share in your frustration, you can try confronting your tyrannical boss as a group. (There’s safety in numbers.) If that doesn’t work, document the bullying and raise your concerns with a superior or with human resources (HR).

Wronged victim

The profile: Work just isn’t fair. Your boss plays favourites, management decisions are mystifying and arbitrary, and employees are treated like children.

The solution: Workplaces that aren’t fair, transparent, and respectful lack what’s known as “organizational justice,” and they’re likely to have stressed-out employees. Pretty much anytime an individual feels they are being dealt with differently or unfairly, it places potentially harmful stress on them, You only have so much control over the atmosphere at work. However, raising your concerns with a trusted superior or HR rep may leave you feeling less burned out and less stressed.

 
12 Jan

Can your Ears Give You a Heads Up on Heart Disease?

 By Admin    

There are few that will argue, that ears are an important body part, more often not they are not thought of as the most glamourous.

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There are few that will argue, that ears are an important body part, more often not they are not thought of as the most glamourous. While this may not be set to change, there is new evidence that the way your ear lobes are formed may prove to be useful in predicting your health.

In the image above, the lobe features a diagonal crease, this may tell-tale sign that you might be at increased risk of suffering from heart disease.

The first reference to this phenomenon was back in 1973, when a physician named S.T Frank wrote a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, detailing his observation that a number of his patients with ear lobe creases suffered from angina and heart problems. However, this initial observation cannot distinguish between causation and correlation due to the sample size and measurement practices. This initial observation may however, prove true after a number of follow up studies (including data from Post Mortems) provided evidence. With Swedish and UK based studies presenting a finding of those with a crease in the ear lobe being twice as likely to have coronary disease. There are however, studies that show no correlation or hypothesis that earlobe creases tend to develop as people mature (they are very rarely seen in children). It could therefore, be proposed that old age is the real factor associated with the higher rate of coronary disease.

The theories behind why a crease may be a sign of possible heart disease, also tend to support the aging theory. As the body ages the body begins to slow down, with effects such as intercellular aging, general tissue degeneration and damage to micro vessels. This leads to the skin being less elastic and causing wrinkles, including the ears. Another effect is that the blood vessels in the body also become less robust, increasing the potential of heart disease. It has also been noted that the heart and earlobes are both supplied by a single set of arteries, which means that if they fail there is no way to get blood to the area. Which then ties into the theory that earlobes can act as early warning system for coronary problems.
While the evidence for the earlobe creases being a legitimate predictor of coronary disease, it can act as a great way to raise the conversation on heart health. Regardless if you have a diagonal crease in your lobe or not, its never to early to start taking steps to look after your heart. Visit the British Heart Foundation, for more information.

 
12 Jan

The Twit’s Guide To Health and Safety (Or How They Ignore It)

 By Admin    

The 13th of September marks the life and works of the children’s author Roald Dahl, for more about the day click here. To celebrate his work, we thought we’d revisit one our favourite children’s books “The Twits” but with Health and Safety in mind.

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The 13th of September marks the life and works of the children’s author Roald Dahl, for more about the day click here.

To celebrate his work, we thought we’d revisit one our favourite children’s books “The Twits” but with Health and Safety in mind.

First up is the state of Mr Twit’s beard, which may provide him with snacks such as scraps of cornflakes and stilton cheese throughout the day but to the rest of us is just disgusting. The first step would naturally be start by giving it a wash but using a beard cover would help contamination of any food he is preparing.

Mr Twits approach to catching food also leaves room for improvement, not just in terms of taste and ethics but in the potential safety hazards. First up is his use of ladders, has he taken the necessary precautions, such as getting the right type and checking its condition? Then there’s the use of “hug-tight sticky” glue which is strong enough to keep birds from flying away. For those of you that know the story, one of the vital errors he makes in relation to safety of potentially dangerous subcutaneous is that he fails to store it in a safe place, away from little hands (or paws in this instance).

Wormy spaghetti may raise issues in relation to food hygiene regulations but “the shrinks” revenge prank suggests that Mr Twit really would benefit from a risk assessment training. With his prank backfiring and leaving him being squashed by his wife!

To find out how we keep the topic of health and safety fun, while providing real qualifications, visit the SOA Safety website.

 
12 Jan

Health & Safety in The Garden

 By Admin    

As Spring rolls into Summer the number of jobs in the garden always seems to grow. So, before you head out and tackle those hedges and plant beds, why not read our top 5 gardening health & safety tips:

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As Spring rolls into Summer the number of jobs in the garden always seems to grow. So, before you head out and tackle those hedges and plant beds, why not read our top 5 gardening health & safety tips:

1. Tools

Always make sure that you take the proper precautions, such as wearing gloves and appropriate clothing. Shoes should be sturdy, with laces tied and out of the way. If you’re using power tools, then eye protection is a must, to make sure that no flying pieces get into your eyes. You may want to consider ear plugs, if you are going to be using power tools for any extended period. On a final note, make sure that you take care of your tool (making sure that they are unplugged before going near moving parts).

2. Ladders

Some garden jobs may lead you to head up a ladder to get them done, make sure that you set up correctly and ideally have someone else in the vicinity. Always make sure that the ladder is set up on even ground and that the ladder isn’t damaged in any way. Take care not to overstretch yourself, as this can lead to a lack of balance. It’s worth looking at the type of step ladder you have as well, ensuring they are strong enough for the job. Domestic ladders tend to be flimsy where ‘light industrial’ ladders are much safer to use. If you use an extending ladder, then keep to the 1 in 4 rule. 4 feet up, 1 foot out to get the correct angle.

3. Hand Washing

Make sure to wash your hands after coming in from gardening (even if you have been wearing gloves). There are load of different sources of irritant such as pollens, chemicals and plant toxins that are best left outside. Further to this, cat, dog and foxes feces’ carry an extremely harmful micro-organism, Toxocara canis, which can cause blindness.

4. The Weather

While the temptation is to head into the garden at the slightest bit of sun, take care when gardening. If you get busy with a job, it is easy to lose track of time and get a touch too much sun. By wearing a hat and long sleeve clothing, you can reduce the risk of burning this summer. Sun cream (min SPF15) is also a simple way to increase the amount of time that you can safely spend in the sun. Further to this, make sure that you drink plenty of fluids to keep hydrated. This is particularly important if you are working hard.

5. Water Features

The biggest risk associated with ponds and other water features is that children can fall in and potentially drown. Ideally, you shouldn’t have a water feature in your garden until your children are over five years old. However, if you do or your worried about visiting children, there are still steps that you can take. Such as making sure that ponds are visible from the house, has sloping edges (which are easier to get out of) and if you have a deeper end to your pond, make sure that you grow plants around the edge as a barrier. You could also invest in a pond cover, for when little ones are visiting your home.

As usual with health & safety the key is not to stop doing what you want to get done, but taking a common-sense approach to doing it. To find out more about our courses, including first aid, why not visit the SOA Safety website?