The importance of fire safety in the workplace

The importance of fire safety in the workplace

Fire Safety is of the utmost importance in any building. As a business owner, you’re responsible for ensuring that your workplace meets all required health and safety standards.

It’s crucial that your working environment complies with all building regulations, to ensure the safety of your employees and the protection of your building. Fire safety should always be a main concern, no matter what type of business you run or how many people are employed.

A fire risk assessment must always be carried out, with a written record of it kept if the business employs five or more people. In order to carry out a fire risk assessment, the following steps must be taken:

  1. Identify the potential fire hazards – make a note of anything that could start a fire or easily burn, if found during the assessment
  2. Identify the people at risk – work out if the risk could be greater for some people (i.e., the disabled and elderly are especially vulnerable)
  3. Act on the findings – Evaluate, reduce or remove the potential risks
  4. Record – Keep a record of the findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide fire safety training
  5. Review – A fire risk assessment must be carried out regularly, with all findings updated and recorded.

Who is responsible for carrying out the fire risk assessment?

The assigned person in your business in charge of fire risk assessments is referred to as a Responsible Person. The Responsible Person must complete if competent or designate this task to a competent person in the business (or hire a third party) who must carry out and regularly review a fire safety risk assessment of the premises. In writing a fire risk assessment, they will identify what you need to do to prevent a fire and keep people safe. A Responsible Person could be:

  • The employer if the premises is a workplace
  • The managing agent or owner for shared parts of premises or shared fire safety equipment such as fire-warning systems or sprinklers
  • The occupier, such as self-employed people or voluntary organisations if they have any control
  • Any other person who has some control over a part of the premises While it is possible to carry out your own FRA, you may not want to do so if you don’t have the expertise or time or confidence – in such cases it’s critical to appoint a third party ‘competent person’ to help.

SOA’s expert fire risk assessors have all the relevant industry accreditations and latest industry knowledge. We will provide professional advice and highlight any areas for improvement, and can then assist in writing a comprehensive fire risk assessment report which you can keep for your records (as required by law).

During a fire risk assessment, there’s a number of things that have to be taken into account to ensure that it’s properly and thoroughly completed. These include planning out emergency routes and exits, fire detection and warning systems, and the appropriate firefighting equipment. It’s also important to provide suitable information to employees and anyone else in the workplace, as well as providing the appropriate staff training.

Fire safety should always be taken seriously, and there’s plenty of ways to easily prevent the event of a fire as much as possible.

What is risk assessment?

What is risk assessment?

What is risk assessment? 

“A risk assessment is a systematic review of what might cause undesirable incidents and what consequences these may have for the working environment. A risk assessment must also identify measures that form a basis for reducing risk.” As defined by the HSE. 

Employers are required by law to protect employees and others from harm. 

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires employers to: 

  • Identify what could cause injury or illness in your business (hazards) 
  • Decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously (the risk) 
  • Take action to eliminate the hazard, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk 

 

Assessing risk is just one part of the overall process used to control risks in your workplace.  Here are 5 steps to carrying out a risk assessment: 

  1. Identify hazards 

Look around your workplace and think about what may cause harm (these are called hazards). Think about: 

  • How people work and how plant and equipment are used 
  • What chemicals and substances are used 
  • What safe or unsafe work practices/procedures exist 
  • The general state of the premises 

 

Think about hazards to health, such as manual handling, use of chemicals and causes of work-related stress. 

For each hazard, think about how employees, contractors, visitors or members of the public might be harmed. 

  1. Decide who might be harmed and how 

Once you have identified the hazards, decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how serious it could be. This is assessing the level of risk.   

Decide: 

  • Who might be harmed and how 
  • What you’re already doing to control the risks 
  • What further action you need to take to control the risks 
  • Who needs to carry out the action 
  • When the action is needed by 

 

Vulnerable workers – Some workers have particular requirements, for example young workers, migrant workers, new or expectant mothers and people with disabilities. 

 

  1. Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions 

Look at what you’re already doing, and the controls you already have in place: 

  • Can you eliminate the hazard altogether? 
  • If not, how can I control the risks so that harm is unlikely?

 

If you need further controls, consider: 

  • Redesigning the job 
  • Replacing the materials, machinery or process 
  • Organising your work to reduce exposure to the materials, machinery or process 
  • Identifying and implementing practical measures needed to work safely 
  • Providing personal protective equipment and making sure workers wear it 

 

Employers are not expected to eliminate all risks but they need to do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm. This means balancing the level of risk against the measures needed to control the real risk in terms of money, time or trouble. 

  1. Record your findings and implement them 

If employers employ 5 or more people, they must record significant findings, including. 

  • the hazards (things that may cause harm) 
  • who might be harmed and how 
  • what you are doing to control the risks 

 

  1. Reviewing risk assessments 

You must review the controls you have put in place to make sure they are working. You should also review them if: 

they may no longer be effective 

there are changes in the workplace that could lead to new risks such as changes to: 

  • staff 
  • a process 
  • the substances or equipment used 
  • Changes in legislation  

Also consider a review if your workers have spotted any problems or there have been any accidents or near misses. 

Update your risk assessment record with any changes you make and circulate to employees. 

 

Covid-19 Announcement 4th November

Covid-19 Announcement 4th November

In light of the recent Government announcement regarding the latest lockdown restrictions we are pleased to be able to inform you that as an essential training establishment SOA Safety will continue to operate during this time.

As has been the case since the onset of COVID we continue to enforce a strict COVID secure environment with control measures including reduced training group numbers, one way systems, face coverings, temperature checks, pre course COVID questionnaires and weekly COVID testing for our trainers and consultants.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your upcoming bookings/appointments or to make a new booking please call the office on 01229 808320 or visit our website at www.soasafety.co.uk

Covid19 Announcement

Covid19 Announcement

Hi All

Hope you are well. Just wanted to give you an update on todays announcement that we are about to move into tier 2 COVID restrictions.

Although these restrictions mean that indoor meeting in homes is not allowed with people that do not live in your household, fortunately businesses that are operating in a COVID secure manner are still able to allow people onto their premises although the following still applies:

Restrictions on businesses and venues in High alert level areas include:

1.    Certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am. Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises, can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through. Orders must be made via phone, online or by post. Hospitality venues in ports, on transport services and in motorway service areas do not need to close at 10pm, but must not serve alcohol after that time.

2.    The wearing of face coverings for customers and staff in certain indoor settings.

3.    Businesses and venues must ensure people do not meet in their premises with people from outside of their household or support bubble. (This is referring to people mixing, people from separate households can come to your premises but must adhere to COVID control measures inc. distancing, face masks etc.)

4.    Certain businesses and venues are required to collect customer, visitor, and staff data to support NHS Test and Trace

5.    Businesses must ensure workers do not work if they’re self-isolating and if they fail to comply with the above restrictions, they could face fines of up to £1,000, prosecution, or in some cases closure.

SOA Safely will therefore be operating as normal, courses will continue to run as will all consultancy arrangements. We will of course continue to operate our strict COVID secure control measures.

If you have any questions about your own workplace please do not hesitate to contact us 01229 808320.

Best Regards

The SOA Team

Coronavirus Fit to Work Assessment

Coronavirus Fit to Work Assessment

This article has been prepared to help you complete a Coronavirus Fit To Work assessment of an employee who wants to return to work after displaying symptoms of COVID-19, or is in the vulnerable category of workers. We have been very busy over recent weeks supporting our clients in managing their health, safety and welfare queries during the pandemic. And whilst the UK now seems to have passed the peak of infection we are already being asked about health and safety risks of staff recovering from COVID-19 related symptoms, have been self-isolating or have been on the “vulnerable” list as defined by NHS but want to be deemed Fit For Work.

This is very positive to hear, and the following key questions and answers seek to help you in achieving an effective fit to work strategy so your employees who have suffered symptoms from this disease can return safely and without causing concern to colleagues about the risk of becoming infected. We have also produced on a separate blog a complete COVID-19 Toolkit including a free risk assessment template.

What is a Coronavirus Fit to Work Assessment?

The main purpose of a Coronavirus Fit to Work Assessment prior to someone returning to work after a period of absence, including Coronavirus, is to ensure they can complete their tasks effectively and without risk to their own or other people’s health and safety. The objective is not to exclude the person from returning to work, or to penalise them in any way, but to ensure that any reasonable adjustments needed to facilitate a smooth and effective rehabilitation programme can be put in place.

Is a Fit To Work Assessment a Legal requirement?

There is no legal requirement for an employer to complete a fit for work assessment. However, completion of a health assessment prior to anyone returning from significant sickness, including Coronavirus, is good practice and often aids a more effective rehabilitation back to normal work. This is good business for you as you retain skilled and experienced personnel, and is often valued by the employee who feels supported (when this is done well) in returning back to work after a period of inactivity.

When Should a Fit to Work Assessment be Completed?

This should be completed when the employee advises you that they are recovered and able to start their work duties. Depending on the seriousness of their condition (in this case an infectious virus) it is advisable to request a Fit for Work certificate from the individual’s GP to confirm they are no longer infectious. This applies whether they will work from home or back in the workplace.

If they have been self-isolating and not been to the doctor a Fit To Work assessment should still be completed to ensure they are not likely to expose other workers to infection. You should also refer to the Government guidelines for isolation of individuals who have either shown symptoms or are living with a household member who has had symptoms.

Who Can Complete a Fit to Work Assessment?

The competences required to complete a Coronavirus Fit to Work will vary according to the type of condition that the absent employee has reported. Regarding symptoms of Coronavirus, this can be completed by an experienced occupational safety and health professional or occupational health specialist. A medical practitioner will be able to confirm the person’s health status, but not how this relates to their occupation, their proximity to others, the tasks and activities they complete and whether they need to be working with vulnerable persons or food. It can also be completed by an experienced manager with knowledge of the symptoms of Covid-19 provided they have access to specialist guidance and support to validate their assessment.

What are the Outputs / Results of a Fit to Work Assessment?

The objective is to consider the extent to which the Coronavirus symptoms have affected the general health, fitness and welfare of the individual and how this may impact upon the work to which they intend to complete. For example, someone who no longer has the symptoms may still feel weak as any flu-like virus can be debilitating and take several weeks to return to full strength. For someone working in manufacturing/warehouse type environment this will need to be considered so that reasonable adjustments to their hours of work, or work activities, can be agreed.

Someone may have completed their period of isolation but may still be experiencing symptoms such as the persistent cough or sore throat, which are key symptoms of Covid-19. Depending on their proximity to work with others, or proximity to food preparation/manufacture, this is another factor to take into account.

How to Assess a Worker returning to work from Coronavirus

Use of an occupational health Fit to Work Assessment questionnaire is one method to use as the baseline. This guides you through the key questions you should be considering. You then take this information and compare it to the type of tasks and environment in which the employee is due to return to work.

It is important to discuss how the individual is feeling and how they have been affected (physically, mentally and emotionally) and to identify if any reasonable adjustments need to be made to their work or work environment. You also need to confirm they are no longer displaying symptoms that could increase spread. Liaison with others (especially if returning to the workplace) is essential to provide sufficient social distancing without making the individual feel isolated.

Results of Assessment – return to work or not?

The results of the assessment need to be shared with the individual and the individual’s direct line manager so any adjustments that are needed can be actioned and monitored. If you are uncertain then you should not allow that person to return to work, unless they are in a work area where they can continue to operate in an isolated way (eg working at home) and are physically strong/well enough to do so.

Coronavirus – what should employers do now?

Coronavirus – what should employers do now?

The coronavirus outbreak throws up numerous employment law issues, including questions about travel, health and safety concerns and discrimination claim risks. From staff who refuse to attend work despite being well, to those who refuse to stay home when sick, what do employers need to know?

About the coronavirus

A virus causing severe lung disease that started in China has spread to other countries, including the UK. The coronavirus had infected 70,620 people in China as of 16 February, with 1,770 of them dying.

What are the symptoms?

It seems to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough.

After a week, it leads to shortness of breath and some patients require hospital treatment. Notably, the infection rarely seems to cause a runny nose or sneezing.

The incubation period – between infection and showing any symptoms – lasts up to 14 days, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

But some researchers say it may be as long as 24 days.

And Chinese scientists say some people may be infectious even before their symptoms appear.

How deadly is the coronavirus?

Based on data from 44,000 patients with this coronavirus, the WHO says:

  • 81% develop mild symptoms
  • 14% develop severe symptoms
  • 5% become critically ill

The proportion dying from the disease, appears low (between 1% and 2%) – but the figures are unreliable.

Thousands are still being treated but may go on to die – so the death rate could be higher.

But it is also unclear how many mild cases remain unreported – so the death rate could also be lower.

To put this it into context, about one billion people catch influenza every year, with between 290,000 and 650,000 deaths. The severity of flu changes every year.

Can coronavirus be treated or cured?

Right now, treatment relies on the basics – keeping the patient’s body going, including breathing support, until their immune system can fight off the virus.

However, the work to develop a vaccine is under way and it is hoped there will be human trials before the end of the year.

Hospitals are also testing anti-viral drugs to see if they have an impact.

Health and safety

Employers have a duty to take steps that are reasonably necessary to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all their employees, including those who are particularly at risk for any reason. Employees also have a duty to take reasonable care of their own health and safety and that of people they work with. They must cooperate with their employer to enable it to comply with its duties under health and safety legislation. Employees who refuse to cooperate, or who recklessly risk their own health or that of colleagues or customers, could be disciplined.

Employers should take simple precautions to protect their staff’s health and safety: · Limit work trips to China. The UK government advises against all travel to Hubei Province during the coronavirus outbreak. It advises against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macao). Use telephone or videoconferencing where possible instead.

  • Educate staff without causing panic. For example, send emails or display posters outlining the current situation and any government advice.
  • Provide tissues and hand-sanitiser and encourage their regular use. In particular, encourage staff to wash their hands or use hand-sanitiser on arriving in the building after using public transport and after coughing or sneezing.
  • Consider displaying posters on “cough etiquette”, hand and respiratory hygiene and safe food practices.
  • Regularly clean frequently-touched communal areas, including door handles, kitchens, toilets, showers, and hot desk keyboards, phones and desks.
  • Ensure that anyone with coronavirus symptoms (cough, sore throat, fever, breathing difficulties, chest pain) does not come into work. If they have recently travelled back from China or have had contact with someone who has (or with someone infected with the virus), they should see a doctor and get a diagnosis. They should not return to work until all symptoms have gone.
  • Keep the situation and government guidance review. If the situation worsens, employers may have to take additional measures such as minimising all work-related travel.
  • Consider allowing high-risk individuals to work from home, particularly if there coronavirus cases are confirmed near the workplace.

High-risk individuals

Although there remains some uncertainty, those at most risk of becoming seriously ill if they catch the coronavirus appear to include older people, pregnant women and those with pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and respiratory or immune problems.

There is currently a low risk of infection for individuals in the UK, but employers should keep the situation under review. If the outbreak worsens and more cases occur in the UK, you should carry out a risk assessment to gauge whether the working environment of high-risk individuals presents a risk of infection (e.g. because they will be exposed to individuals who are infected with the virus).

There is currently no vaccine for the coronavirus (unlike flu), so those at high risk cannot protect themselves. Where necessary, precautions should be taken such as moving particular employees to a different location or asking them to work from home. Consult with the individual before taking any action.

Employers have specific statutory obligations to take steps to avoid risks to which pregnant employees are exposed as a result of their work. Where it is not possible to avoid such risks by other means, pregnant employees must be offered suitable alternative employment on a temporary basis or suspended from work on medical grounds (on full pay) for as long as necessary. If the period of suspension continues into the fourth week before the expected week of childbirth, or the employee is ill after the start of the fourth week, this will trigger the commencement of maternity leave.

What about sick pay?

Any entitlement to company sick pay will be governed by the contract of employment. Contractual sick pay normally includes any entitlement to statutory sick pay. Employees without any contractual sick pay may be entitled to statutory sick pay if they meet the conditions. If employees are not entitled to full sick pay, you may want to consider paying it on a discretionary basis if staff would otherwise try to return to work while still sick.

Employees who are not sick but are being requested to remain away from work because they have just returned from China may be able to work from home and, if so, should be paid as normal. Even if they cannot work from home, they should be paid their normal salary if they are well enough to work but are being requested not to attend.

Employees refusing to attend work

What is the position if the employer thinks it is safe to attend work but an employee is reluctant to do so because of fears of infection?

Employers should assess the risk regularly, consulting government websites for updates. They should also consider their staffing requirements and how many people they need in the workplace. It may be possible to allow employees who wish to do so to work from home or to take holiday.

Employers should, however, be mindful that they might need to require individuals to attend if other people fall sick and there is insufficient cover. If you do permit remote working or holiday, you should reserve the right to require workplace attendance on short notice, making it clear that disciplinary action could be taken if a refusal to attend work is unreasonable.

Before any disciplinary action is commenced, the situation should be discussed with the individual, because it may be possible to allay their concerns in some way. For example, if their real fear is the risk of infection on public transport, it might be possible to adjust their hours to enable them to travel outside rush hour.

If the individual refusing to come into work is pregnant or otherwise at high risk, you should tread carefully and may have to be more flexible. If someone has genuine fears about attending work, the stress of being required to do so or alternatively face disciplinary action may itself adversely affect their health.

Refusing to allow employees to stay at home, or disciplining them for not attending work, could potentially lead to legal claims. For example, an employee might try to claim constructive unfair dismissal if there is a genuine health and safety risk from being required to attend work. However, provided employers do not act unreasonably and employees are not placed at undue risk, such claims would be unlikely to succeed.

Final thoughts

Uncertainty remains about the exact characteristics of 2019-nCoV and its transmission. Official recommendations may change as experts learn more about the virus and the nature of the outbreak. Other employment issues may arise if the outbreak spreads widely in the UK, such as staff needing to take time off to care for dependents. Employers should keep the situation under review and stay alert for further government guidance.

Back in Business

Back in Business

First and foremost, we hope you, your family and your business are all OK and are coming through what must be a very challenging time. This has been, and still is, an incredibly difficult and uncertain time for businesses, and we sincerely hope that yours has survived and will come out of all this in as good a shape as can be expected.

We have obviously had to cancel our services over this period, so we would also like to thank you for your understanding and patience with regards to this.

As Lockdown is being eased, we wanted to update you on what we are doing across our business.

We are pleased to announce that we will be back up and running, and delivering our Training and Consultancy services as from July 1st.

We will be delivering training, both at our facility in Dalton, and also on Client sites, ensuring Social Distancing and Covid-19 protocols are in place on these sites. We will also be delivering our on site Consultancy services again too.

Our priority as always is the health and well-being of our staff, their families, our clients and visitors to our premises. We will be fully compliant with guidelines from the Government and National Health organisations, and we have a full Covid-19 Risk Assessment in place.

We have taken all appropriate actions and precautionary measures within our business to ensure the health and safety of everyone there. This includes the provision of hand sanitisers, and ensuring social distancing throughout the building and in the training rooms, with clearly marked one way systems.

Along with these updated arrangements and usual cleaning protocols, additional deep cleaning is taking place at regular intervals throughout the day which includes all common areas.

We look forward to speaking to you and seeing you all again soon.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01229 808320 if you have any uncertainties about your own business, our training centre, or if you would like to discuss any of our Training courses and Consultancy services.

Fire, Health and Safety

From £144 a month

  • Audit of current Health & Safety provisions
  • Audit of current Fire Safety provisions
  • Report and Alignment Plan
  • New policies and procedures
  • Provision of H&S Management File
  • Fire Risk Assessment & Annual Review
  • Provision of Fire Safety management file
  • Floorplans
  • Evacuation procedures
  • Fire Log Book
  • Training Needs Analysis
  • Annual H&S Audits
  • Monthly site visits
  • Quarterly Visits
  • Inspection of extinguishers
  • Inspection of emergency lighting
  • Inspection of fire doors
  • Fire alarm audit
  • Act as Competent Person
  • Telephone / Email support
  • Quarterly newsletter

Fire Safety

From £60 a month

  •  Audit of current Fire Safety provisions
  • Report and Alignment Plan
  • New policies and procedures
  • Fire Risk Assessment & Annual Review
  • Provision of Fire Safety management file
  • Floor Pans
  • Evacuation procedures
  • Fire Log Book
  • Training Needs Analysis
  • Monthly site visits
  • Inspection of extinguishers
  • Inspection of emergency lighting
  • Inspection of fire doors
  • Fire alarm audit
  • Act as Competent Person
  • Telephone / Email Support
  • Quarterly newsletter

Health and Safety

£100 a month

  • Audit of current Health & Safety provisions
  • Report and Alignment Plan
  • New policies and procedures
  • Provision of a Health and Safety management file
  • Training Needs Analysis
  • Annual H&S Audits
  • Quarterly site visits
  • Act as Competent Person
  • Telephone / Email support
  • Quarterly newsletter
Asbestos

Asbestos

This will give you information on where you will find asbestos, how it can affect you and hazardous work.

Where you will find asbestos

Insulation and sprayed coatings used for:
• boilers, plant and pipework hidden in under floor ducting
• fire protection to steelwork, hidden behind false ceilings
• thermal and acoustic insulation of buildings
• some textured coatings and paints.
• Friction materials as brake linings and clutch plates
• Gaskets and packing in engines, heating and ventilation systems.

Insulating board used in the following places:
• fire protection to doors, protected exits and steelwork
• cladding on walls and ceilings
• internal walls, partitions and suspended ceiling tiles.

Asbestos cement, which is found as:
• corrugated roofing and cladding sheets of buildings
• flat sheets for partitions, cladding and door facings.
• rainwater gutters and down pipes.

How asbestos can affect you

1 Asbestos breaks into tiny, long, sharp fibres. They can get lodged and scar the lungs, causing asbestosis or fibrosis.
2 Asbestos fibres may also cause lung cancer.
3 It can also cause mesothelioma, a cancer of the inner lining of the chest wall. This cancer is incurable.
4 Smokers are at much greater risk to asbestosis diseases

For management it is your duty to inform your workforce of the company policy regarding working with asbestos.

If you suspect asbestos, stop work immediately and inform your supervisor.

Types of Survey

Asbestos-containing materials (ACM) are either known to contain asbestos or presumed to contain asbestos.
The purpose of surveying is to make a ‘materials assessment’, i.e.
1. To find ACM and record what it is, where it is and how much there is
2. To record how accessible it is, its condition, and any surface treatment
3. To record the asbestos type, by sampling or by presuming

The duty-holder, building owner, employer and surveyor need to be clear on the type of survey needed, where the survey is needed, and what records should result.

Management Survey

The Management Survey purpose is required to manage ACM during the normal occupation and use of premises. The duty-holder can make a Management Survey where the premises are simple and straightforward. Otherwise, a surveyor is needed.
A Management Survey aims to ensure that:
1. nobody is harmed by the continuing presence of ACM in the premises or equipment
2. that the ACM remain in good condition
3. that nobody disturbs it accidentally
The Survey must locate ACM that could be damaged or disturbed by normal activities, by foreseeable maintenance, or by installing new equipment. It involves minor intrusion and minor asbestos disturbance to make a Materials Assessment. This shows the ability of ACM, if disturbed, to release fibres into the air. It guides the client, e.g. in prioritising any remedial work.

The Refurbishment / demolition Survey is required where the premises, or part of it, need upgrading, refurbishment or demolition. The Survey does not need a record of the ACM condition. Normally, a surveyor is needed for Refurbishment / demolition Surveys.
A Refurbishment / demolition Survey aims to ensure that:
1. nobody will be harmed by work on ACM in the premises or equipment
2. such work will be done by the right contractor in the right way
The Survey must locate and identify all ACM before any structural work begins at a stated location or on stated equipment at the premises. It involves destructive inspection and asbestos disturbance. The area surveyed must be vacated, and certified ‘fit for reoccupation’ after the survey

What are the Health and Safety Implications of Pregnancy in an Office?

What are the Health and Safety Implications of Pregnancy in an Office?

While we have long since entered the 21st Century, some companies have yet to make the leap in fully accepting the place of pregnant women within the workforce. Despite legislation defending pregnancy and maternity rights (including their health and safety), discrimination against pregnant women not only remains but is becoming worse.

Currently the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) guidance states:

“While it is a legal obligation for employers to regularly review general workplace risks, there is actually no legal requirement to conduct a specific, separate risk assessment for new and expectant mothers” – HSE

This simplistic statement has led to criticism in terms of downplaying the need to support pregnant women in the workplace.  In the Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination Report 2016-17, it highlights that thousands of women are being forced out of work due to fears that their employers are not addressing the health and safety risks that they face adequately.  Within the report, it is noted that while the type of industry worked in plays a large role in reported number of discrimination complaints, it unfortunately demonstrates that the problem is spread across sectors at varying degrees.

According to the HSE, if a risk cannot be removed for whatever reason the employer must take the following actions:

Action 1 – Temporarily adjust her working conditions and/or hours of work; or if that is not possible
Action 2 – Offer her suitable alternative work (at the same rate of pay) if available, or if that is not feasible;
Action 3 – Suspend her from work on paid leave for as long as necessary, to protect her health and safety, and that of her child.

While the intention behind the current HSE regulation is clearly well intended, it is apparent why some employers may be led to believe that pregnant workers and the following maternity considerations are just not worth the hassle. In the modern workforce, where skills gaps are being predicted in many sectors, can we as a nation continue to accept the loss of educated and skilled workers purely because they choose to start a family? Health and Safety need not be an edict, if common sense and awareness of situations are taken into consideration.
If you are looking for advice and training in relation to the health and safety requirements for your business, why not get in touch with our expert team at SOA Safety?

What Do You Need to Know About Legionella?

What Do You Need to Know About Legionella?

In short, Legionella is pathogenic bacteria that causes a range of illnesses; such as Pontiac fever, Lochgoilhead and most seriously Legionnaires’ disease. Legionnaires’ disease affects around 250 people each year in the UK. The Legionella bacteria is contracted by inhaling small droplets of infected water from the air. So far, so scary, right?

How can I protect yourself?

Well, good news is that there is a tonne of legislation in place that means that business owners (including Landlords) must take steps to prevent and control the spread of the bacteria. Simple steps that you can practice at home such as making sure that no water is left to stagnate such as in ponds or water features, ensuring that hot water fed showers and taps are kept at over 60°C and use screen wash in your cars washers rather than just water.

Types of Businesses affected

As it falls under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, all employers need to be aware of their obligations in relation to Legionella, however, there are some business environments where the need to assessment need to be more regular include:

Swimming Pools, Gyms and Leisure Centres

Care Homes & Schools (due to the increased sensitivity of the aged and young to the pathogen)

Hotels

Entertainment Venues such as Theatres and Cinemas

Water supply companies

What Are the Obligations for The Company?

Legionnaire’s Disease has been deemed as “preventable” by the HSE and as such the standard methodology for managing the risk falls into ensuring that risk assessments and suitable control measures are undertaken with due diligence.
The easiest way to learn all that you need to know about your company’s obligations and how to meet them is to attend a Legionella Awareness course. SOA Safety offer this course at their Cumbrian facilities. If you are looking to get the training you need but offered in an entertaining manner, then our team could be the perfect fit. While we ensure that all our students leave with the necessary skills and knowledge, we really believe that these sessions don’t need to be dull. Why not get in-touch with a member of our team, to see how we can help you with your training needs?

3 Things You Need to Know About PAT Testing and Your Business

3 Things You Need to Know About PAT Testing and Your Business

1. What is PAT Testing?

PAT stands for Portable Appliance Testing and is the process of checking electrical equipment is safe to be used. While a large part of the examination is visually checking the equipment for defects, additional tests are needed to rule out internal defects. These additional tests are conducted with PAT Testing machines, that test elements such as earth continuity and insulation resistance.

2. Does my Company Need to Conduct PAT Testing?

As the HSE states “The law simply requires an employer to ensure that their electrical equipment is maintained in order to prevent danger.” PAT testing is the leading method of meeting this obligation. The obligation to provide a safe working environment is covered in several pieces of legislation (such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974) and as such should be taken seriously by all employers.

The frequency of testing, is dependent on the usage of and nature of your electrical appliances. For example, portable appliances such as construction tools will warrant more frequent testing than computers because they are constantly moved and used by many people; which increases the risk of damage to the equipment.

3. Do The Tests Need to be Done by an Electrician?

Not at all, the maintenance should be done by someone who is competent at the testing. So, if you undertake a PAT training course, you will be able to conduct the tests on behalf of your company. There are many benefits to bringing PAT testing in-house such as:

Full control over the frequency of testing.

No additional supervision required for the tester (this can be an issue in sensitive environments such as schools)

The tests will be conducted by someone who understands each piece of equipment, which would be beneficial if you have specialist equipment.

After the training and purchase of a PAT machine (c. £350), the cost of the testing is then absorbed into your usual monthly outgoings.

If you’re looking for friendly and cost effective PAT Test training, then SOA offer courses at our Dalton premises.

Manual Handling Course

Manual Handling Course

Manual handling is one of the leading causes of injury in the workplace and can lead to the development of long term Musculoskeletal Disorders. By providing your staff with manual handling training, you are not only meeting your obligations in relation to health and safety legislation but providing the skills for them to work more efficiently.

Part of the course is to understand the anatomy surrounding the action of manual handling, which gives the learners a greater insight into their own capabilities. Along with information about hazard identification and alternative lifting methods, they will be fully informed on how to safely manage manual handing within their everyday work environment. We offer a half day course at the SOA Safety training centre in Dalton and we can also provided onsite training if required. Our trainers are fully qualified and offer courses that are not just informative but also engaging.

Safe use of Ladders and Stepladders Course

Safe use of Ladders and Stepladders Course

If you use ladders as part of your job, then this is a great course to help you make the right choices and to ensure that your company is adhering to the current legislation (Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Working at Height Regulations 2005). Under the regulations every person in the management chain and not just the user, has a duty of care both to themselves and others to know and understand the practical implications of working at height. The demonstration of competence is a key requirement when adhering to the legislation.

SOA Safety’s Safe use of Ladders and Stepladders course is a great way to demonstrate that you and your staff have the required skills and competency. Our half day course covers topics such as which ladders to use and when and the examination of the situation including the condition of the equipment. This course is available at our Dalton based training centre or we can provide onsite training. Get in touch with a member of friendly team to see how we can meet your training needs.

What’s a NEBOSH & Why Would I Want One?

What’s a NEBOSH & Why Would I Want One?

Taken by over thirty thousand people across the globe, NEBOSH courses are seen by many as a benchmark of the health & safety field.

But what is it?

NEBOSH stands for National Examination Board in Occupational Health & Safety. In short it is an awarding body that offers industry leading qualifications, that can be taken to demonstrate that the participant has strong understanding of health and safety requirements. There are several different levels within the programme, allowing the individual to continue developing their skills and understanding of the subject. The NEBOSH syllabus is offered only by accredited training providers, such as SOA Safety. We offer a range of NEBOSH courses, to enable you to not just develop your health and safety knowledge, but also to add a notable accreditation to your CV.

Why would I want to be NEBOSH Qualified?

If you are looking to develop your CV then membership of the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), would be beneficial. The NEBOSH qualifications are recognised by the IOSH and as such can be used as evidence of skills, when applying to the different levels of membership (as they are separate organisations NEBOSH qualifications don’t automatically IOSH membership status. However, when combined with experience, the qualifications demonstrate a commitment to the field). The table below demonstrates how the levels of the NEBOSH qualifications align with the different levels of IOSH membership.

SOA Safety offer a selection of NEBOSH training courses such as the General Certificate, Construction Certificate and the Fire Safety & Risk Management Certificate. The industry recognised qualifications are a great way to not just meet the requirements of your current job but also to offer you a head start of developing a professional career in the field, with more opportunities for advancement.

Selfie sticks banned from night clubs’ and 10 more ‘Health and Safety myths

Selfie sticks banned from night clubs’ and 10 more ‘Health and Safety myths

More than 600 people approached the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Myth Busters Challenge Panel in its first 3 years after being told ‘health and safety’ stops them from doing something. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the HSE panel has confirmed that health and safety regulations do not ban the activity and that ‘health and safety’ is being used as a smokescreen, usually to hide poor customer service. Work and Pensions Minister, Lord Freud said: People have had enough of bizarre health and safety excuses. The HSE’s myth busters panel is quashing these ridiculous excuses and making sure people know it isn’t the law standing in their way. As part of our long term economic plan, we have reinstated common sense and brought in a simpler set of legislations. For too long businesses have been consumed by red tape and confusion, often feeling they needed to go beyond the requirements of the law, but it’s never been easier to understand the rules and make the right choice, without diluting protection for workers.

List of ‘Health and Safety myths

‘Selfie sticks banned from nightclubs’ and 10 more ‘Health and Safety myths:

  • pork crackling not on the menu at a restaurant because it might splash the chef
  • prams banned from a children’s centre for health and safety reasons
  • dangerous daffodils removed from a village green
  • custard pie fight at a local event cancelled because of health and safety
  • chippy not allowing customers to put salt and vinegar on their fish and chips
  • ban on playing with conkers and yoyos, using skipping ropes, and climbing trees
  • selfie sticks banned in a nightclub
  • sheep and cow droppings in a field stopping a scout group camping
  • school production cancelled because lighting operator had not attended ladder training course
  • loose flowers and pots not allowed on graves
  • office ban on paperclips

The continuing popularity of the Myth Busters Challenge panel shows that people are not afraid to challenge overzealous behaviour which is still rife in the retail and leisure industries, education and workplace health and safety, despite action to bring in a simpler, modern set of rules. A report published on 24 March 2015 shows that the HSE has reduced the overall stock of health and safety legislation by 50%. From 1 October 2015, if you are self-employed and your work activity poses no potential risk to the health and safety of other workers or members of the public, then health and safety law will not apply to you. http://www.hse.gov.uk/self-employed/

Myth Busters Challenge Panel

The Myth Busters Challenge Panel (formed in April 2012) looks at complaints regarding advice from non-regulators such as insurance companies, health and safety consultants, employers and general advice where the term ‘health and safety’ has been used. To date, over 350 cases have been considered and their responses published on the HSE website.

Read more about the Myth Busters – www.hse.gov.uk/myth
Implications of Stress in The Workplace

Implications of Stress in The Workplace

“According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in 2014/15, 440,000 people in the UK reported work-related stress at a level they believed was making them ill. That’s 40% of all work-related illness.” – NHS
The paragraph above is taken from the NHS page, it paints an unsettling picture of the role of stress in the UK workforce. It’s fair to say that at some point, we have all had a stressful day at work when you really feel the pressure of the role. Usually, we then go home unwind and start again the next day with a new perspective. Workplace stress often forms when these pressures continue day to day and the person involves develops an adverse reaction. These reactions go further than a bad day and can include symptoms such as headaches, anxiety attacks, loss of appetite, changes in behaviour and general aches and pains. All of which can have a dramatic effect on the quality of life for the individual, as well as decreasing productivity in the workplace.

Causes of Stress in the Workplace

There is probably no single cause of workplace stress and thought should be given to external factors, when dealing with individual cases. However, the Health and Safety Executive has identified 6 main causes of stress at work which the Company can affect:

• Demands made on employees;
• The level of control employees haven’t got over their work;
• The support employees receive from managers and colleagues;
• The clarity of an employee’ s role within the organization;
• The nature of relationships at work; and
• The way that changes are managed.

How to Manage Stress at Work

Managing stress at work should be a collaboration between managers and employees, with both playing an active role in its reduction. As an individual, you should be keeping an eye out for possible symptoms and speaking to your manager early, to help manage the stress before it gets out of hand. As a manager, this requires an atmosphere in the workplace that allows for such interaction without the fear of judgement. Simple things such as being able to discuss workloads can really make a difference.

As well as speaking to your manager to find ways to manage stressful events, the individual can take many steps to reduce stress on their own:

Time Planning & Task Prioritisation – take time at the beginning of the day to actively plan your workload. While allowing you to focus (knowing that all important tasks will be reached), this also helps you to have more meaningful conversations with your manager about workload (i.e I’ve taken steps to manage my time but I simply can’t meet the deadline of both projects)

Make time for your colleagues – having a chat with a colleague can be a great way to regain perspective on a current situation. You will also find that, more often than not, people will be willing to help if they can. Be careful not to ask too much of colleagues and steer clear of dwelling on your work problems or there is the potential to alienate yourself

Exercise – Exercise is a great stress reliever, even if it is only a quick stroll around the building. So rather than sitting at your desk and eating lunch, why not head out for a picnic and a “real” break from work.

Avoid unhealthy habits – This ranges from relying on coffee to get you through the morning meeting to feeling the need to drink alcohol in the evening as a release. Both are fine in moderation, but be careful not to rely on them as means of coping.

What Are The Benefits of the NEBOSH Environmental Qualification?

What Are The Benefits of the NEBOSH Environmental Qualification?

The NEBOSH Certificate in Environmental Management is designed to be undertaken by those who are responsible for managing environment issues within their role; typically, managers and supervisors. The certificate can also be used as part of an ongoing career path along with IOSH membership. The NEBOSH website states that:

“[In Their] 2014 survey of successful NEBOSH Environmental Certificate students, over 97% of respondents would recommend the qualification to others.”

The course has been developed to meet the UK standards in terms of practical management of environmental risk, with the syllabus taking a risk management approach. This fits well with the HSE approach of assessing and controlling risks within the workplace.

While the course covers numerous environmental risks, key issues such as control of emissions to air, control of contamination of water resources and control of waste are all featured. Another key element of the course is the section covering the planning for and dealing with environmental emergencies. This gives the trainees a great insight on how to competently handle the situation if an environmental accident should occur in the workplace.

The SOA Safety course is run over one week with five tutor lead sessions and approximately 33 hours of private study and background reading. As a NEBOSH certified training facility, we ensure all our training is presented in a clear and understandable manner, which is supported by our high pass rate. If you are interested in enrolling your team why not get in touch?

IOSH VS NEBOSH

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 Examination Board in Occupational 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.

The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974

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

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

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.

HSE Warn Schools not to use Heatproof Mats

HSE Warn Schools not to use Heatproof Mats

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.”

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

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

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.

Health & Safety in The Garden

Health & Safety in The Garden

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?

Why Consider a Career in Health & Safety?

Why Consider a Career in Health & Safety?

Health & Safety Officers are responsible for creating a positive health and safety culture within a workplace. They are also responsible for ensuring that your colleagues and employers comply with the current safety policies and legislation.

Along with setting policies for the company, the role also covers creating risk assessments, completing regular inspections, creating detailed reports and engaging your colleagues to keep them up to date on health and safety matters.

Salaries

While salaries can vary significantly depending on sector, the benchmark for a starting position is currently in the region of £24,000 – £32,000. This can increase to £40,000 – £55,000 in some senior positions.

How to get started in a career in health & safety

The NEBOSH General Certificate is an industry recognised qualification and in many instances, is seen as the minimum qualification for anyone looking to move into a health and safety role. Following this, there are the specialist NEBOSH courses and diplomas, these can be used in conjunction with IOSH membership. For more information about the structure of these courses/memberships visit our previous blog.

Career Prospects

While the legislation may vary, a career in health and safety offers a good long term option. You may wish to specialise in a particular industrial sector, once you have gained enough experience, for example, in an area such as terrorism, nuclear safety, or offshore oil and gas.
Visit the SOA Safety website or contact a member of our team on  01229 808 320, for a full range of health and safety courses to kick start your health and safety career, including NEBOSH.

The History of the Heimlich Manoeuvre

The History of the Heimlich Manoeuvre

How one Man and his Dog Helped Save Thousands!

With the Heimlich manoeuvre being a vital lifesaving technique that is taught on most first aid courses, you would probably think that it had been around for centuries. However, did you know that research into this manoeuvre only started in the early 1970s? With us sadly losing the inventor of this lifesaving technique, Dr. Heimlich, last December, we thought you might like to know a bit more about the fascinating story behind the development of the Heimlich manoeuvre and how this technique has helped save countless lives. In June 1972, Dr. Henry Heimlich was reading the New York Times Magazine when he stumbled across an article stating that choking caused nearly 4,000 deaths in the US each year. Startled by this figure, the Cincinnati surgeon decided that there must be a better solution than giving back blows to a casualty, which medical journals at the time suggested (though this has since been disproved) drove the obstruction down and lodged it more tightly in the airway. With this in mind, Heimlich set out to discover a method to try and push the obstruction upwards rather than downwards. He began by experimenting on an anaesthetised beagle, placing a tube down its throat with an inflated balloon on the end to act as an obstruction. Initially, he tried pushing down on the dog’s chest, however, he soon realised that the pressure to the lungs was significantly reduced by the ribcage, leaving the obstruction in place. This got him thinking ‘what about the diaphragm, if I push the diaphragm upward into the chest that would create a ‘bellows’ effect and force the air from the lungs upward’. He instantly turned back to his canine patient, placed his fists on the dog’s belly and pushed the diaphragm upward into the chest, and much to his amazement the tube shot out from the dog’s mouth! Dr Heimlich’s next challenge was to create a simple manoeuvre that could be easily practised by the general public instead of just healthcare professionals. Initial tests included holding a casualty against the wall and pushing against their upper abdomen before laying them on the floor to do the same. However, it was the familiar movement of putting the arms around the casualty from behind to administer the abdominal thrust that was decided as the best option.

Ready to publish his ground-breaking findings to a much wider audience, Heimlich approached the Emergency Medicine magazine and his first ever article ‘Pop Goes the Café Coronary’ was published in 1974 along with a follow up column from a Chicago Daily News medical reporter. The results were immediate, as just one short week later, a Seattle newspaper reported on how a holidaymaker started to choke on her food, but her life was saved by successful administration of the first ever Heimlich Manoeuvre! After several similar lifesaving reports, in October 1975, Dr Heimlich was asked to write an article for the Journal American Medical Association detailing his discovery, and by 1976 the Heimlich manoeuvre began to be included in First Aid booklets and training courses. Jumping forward to May 2016, the man who gave his name to this simple but dramatic procedure, used it himself to save someone’s life for the very first time aged 96. After noticing his neighbour choking on her food, without any hesitation, he spun her around and immediately placed his clenched fist below the ribcage and administered several upwards thrusts until the lodged object flew out of her throat.

So there you have it. In the 43 years since the Heimlich manoeuvre was first invented it has helped save countless lives all over the world, including President Ronald Reagan, Elizabeth Taylor and Carrie Fisher to name a few. Whilst the terminology for this manoeuvre now has a more instructive name, the main aim of helping to save lives still remains the same. So, if you are fortunate enough to save a choking casualty’s life, remember to spare a thought for Dr. Henry Heimlich and his services to the first aid industry.

This post was taken from Qualsafe Awards, SOA Safety is a registered Qualsafe Awards Centre . Visit our site to find out more about our courses.

“Real Life” Confined Space Training by SOA Safety

“Real Life” Confined Space Training by SOA Safety

“Confined spaces can be deadly – A number of people are killed or seriously injured in confined spaces each year in the UK. This happens in a wide range of industries, from those involving complex plant to simple storage vessels. Those killed include people working in the confined space and those who try to rescue them without proper training and equipment.” – HSE

The quote above is from the Health & Safety Executive and really highlights the reasons behind the Confined Spaces Regulations introduced in 1998. Here at SOA Safety, we over a range of course that allow the attendees to return to work with the knowledge to create safer working environments. We aim to do this by not just presenting high quality information and proven methods of delivery but by making the courses as interactive and enjoyable as possible. Learning is best undertaken, when the learner is fully engaged in the subject. Our Confined Space Training courses are a great example of this, as we employ a “real life” working conditions approach. This means that the learners are fully immersed in the scenarios and we have found this leads to better retain of the course content.

Within our confined space facility, our trainers introduce hazards (such as smoke) for the learners to manage. These hazards are fully controlled and all scenarios are monitored and recorded via infra-red cameras. By recording the scenarios, the instructors can latterly lead the group into discussing what had been done well and how the performance could be improved.
We run several confined space training courses including refresher courses. For more information on the dates and placement availability, click here.

What to Expect from a Risk Assessment Course

What to Expect from a Risk Assessment Course

If you have any role in the health and safety of your company, you will no doubt have heard of a risk assessment. Perhaps, it’s maybe a task that you do annually, using a template of the HSE website without much additional thought. However, by doing this, you are running the risk of falling short of the legislation on the topic but of allowing an accident to happen. By taking part in a Risk Assessment course, such as the ones provided by SOA Safety, you are ensuring that your company is adhering to the legislation and that your health and safety work is really adding value to the business.

On our courses, we ensure that participants leave with an understanding not just about the legal requirements of risk assessments but how to complete them in a meaningful manner. A key objective of the course is attendees being able to identify and assess potential hazards and then selecting the most appropriate method of risk control. This means that the attendees are no longer just completing checklists just to comply, but potentially driving safety and efficiency within the work environment.
SOA Safety have a team of trainers who are dedicated to breaking the mould by providing training courses that aren’t just a dreary necessity to obtain a certificate, but rather engaging sessions that leave attendees with the skills to apply the knowledge to their own work environments. We offer our Risk Assessment course at both of our training centres in Cumbria (Dalton and Workington) but we can also travel nationally to present the course on site. For more information, why not get in touchwith our team?

More about the NEBOSH Fire Safety & Risk Management Certificate

More about the NEBOSH Fire Safety & Risk Management Certificate

If you have read our earlier blog post on how NEBOSH qualifications fit within the larger scheme of obtaining IOSH membership, then you will know that the fire safety & risk management certificate fits into the TechIOSH tier of the IOSH structure. Which, in short means that if you are looking to build your career in safety, this could be a great course for you. The NEBOSH certificates, are attainable in sectors specific to industries such as construction, environmental and fire allowing for a tailored learning path.

Here at SOA Safety, we offer the NEBOSH fire safety & risk management, without the Management of Health & Safety module (NGC1), as most people will have attained that module by completing the NEBOSH Health & Safety at work qualification.
The course itself covers the legal requirements surrounding fire safety but also covers actionable insight on the causes and prevention of fires, fire protection within buildings, the principles of fire and explosions and how to ensure the safety of people in the event of fire. By completing this course attendees should be able to carry our fire risk assessments, have knowledge of the basic fire extinguishing methods, understand the key elements of a fire management system and more. To see the full list of the course objectives, visit our course page.

SOA Safety are proud to provide this NEBOSH course, which is an internationally recognised qualification. While fulfilling all the elements of the outlined curriculum, we also add our usual level of additional interactivity and fun that we build into all our courses. We believe that Health and Safety training needn’t be dull.

More About The NEBOSH Certificate in Construction

More About The NEBOSH Certificate in Construction

For over 25 years the NEBOSH certificate in construction has been the health and safety benchmark for the construction industry. The course is aimed at managers, supervisors and CDM co-ordinators that are likely to be responsible for controlling safety elements in a construction setting. This said, no prior health and safety knowledge is needed to work towards this qualification.

The course is taken over a two-week period and covers all the elements that health and safety regulations require for UK construction work; such as hazard identification and control. Here at SOA Safety, we take pride in making the syllabus not just easy to understand but enjoyable. Meaning, that when you go back to work, the lessons learned will really stick in your mind and you will be able to apply the knowledge practically.

The course is typically made up of three modules, NGC1 & NCC1 with each being assessed by a written examination (ten short answer and 1 “long” answer question), which will be marked by the team. The third module, NCC2, is assessed by a practical examination at the candidate’s place of work (within 14 days of the written exams). Here at SOA Safety, we run the course over two weeks, as we do not include the NGC1 module. This is because, in our experience, many of the attendees to the Construction course have already completed the general course. So it is more cost effective to run the course without the general element. For those who require the NGC1 element, we also offer the NEBOSH General certificate.

For more information about how NEBOSH qualifications fit into the IOSH programme and how attaining these certificates can aid your career growth, visit our previous blog. Or if you are looking to undertake the NEBOSH Construction certificate in Cumbria, head over to our site for details of places available. We also offer in-house training nationwide.

What do You Need to Know About COSHH Awareness?

What do You Need to Know About COSHH Awareness?

Your first question maybe, “what is COSHH and do I need to be aware of it” and to be honest, you wouldn’t be alone. Firstly, COSHH stands for Control of Substances Hazardous to Health. Which goes someway to answering if you need to be aware of it, depending on if you handle controlled substances that would fall under that title.
The Health and Safety Executive states that COSHH covers:

• chemicals
• products containing chemicals
• fumes
• dusts
• vapours
• mists
• nanotechnology
• gases and asphyxiating gases and
• biological agents (germs). If the packaging has any of the hazard symbols then it is classed as a hazardous substance.
• germs that cause diseases such as leptospirosis or legionnaires disease and germs used in laboratories.

Taken from the HSE Site (March 2017)

As COSHH is an element of Health and Safety legislation, it is important that all companies who deal with such substances are fully compliant. By taking the SOA Safety COSHH Awareness course, delegates will have a deeper understanding of the legislation and how to be compliant. This includes developing skills on safe handling of substances, awareness of the risks, taking steps to control the risks and what to do in the event of an incident.

We offer this half day course at our both of our training centres in Dalton and Workington , click here find out dates for the next course. Or alternatively, get in touch with a member of our team to discuss options for inhouse training options nationwide.

More About the IOSH Working Safely Course

More About the IOSH Working Safely Course

This is a short and general course, that has been designed by the Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH) to provide the attendees with a solid grounding on safety for the workplace. The course covers all the key points required for understanding why people need to be actively aware of potential safety issues within the workplace.

This course is accessible to everyone, as its designed to focus on key actionable elements of safety, rather than the theory and legal background of the measures. The training is broken down to be presented in an easy to digest manner; with multiple choice quizzes, discussions of case studies and supported by handouts to be used back in the workplace.
This is a one day course, that SOA Safety can provide at either our training centres or at your work place. Due to the shorter nature of this course, it is the perfect choice for businesses looking to build awareness of safety across your team. Conversely, it would be a good step for anyone looking to personally diversify their CV.

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

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

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?

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Speak to us today about the many services we have to offer or enquire about a bespoke health and safety package we can offer you.
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Registered office address: Standsure House, Dalton-in-Furness, LA13 0SG

Company number: 08080935

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