Health and Safety Forum

We are pleased to announce that we have added a shiny new health and safety forum to the site

health and safety forum

We would love you to join the community and contribute as you see fit.

All you have to do is register here and then you can ask questions, help others, mingle and generally chat with others about anything you like.

The forum is totally free and we will be here to help.

Access the health and safety forum here

Safe working temperature

Safe working temperature

safe working temperature

safe working temperature

There is a yellow alert all around the UK in the last few days. Most of us couldn’t enjoy a “White Christmas”, but finally the snow is here. Businesses and the public are advised to drive only if extremely necessary, some airports are canceling flights or closing and lots of schools are also announcing temporary closures due to the bad weather.

 

It’s always better to be safe than sorry. However, using a little bit of common sense and complying with the safety regulations should be enough regarding safe working temperature. Here are some basic and simple safety recommendations which employers and employees should bear in mind.

 

One of the basic requirements for a person to do a job safely is “thermal comfort”. The term is used to describe the state of mind that a person is in while completing a task. The temperature in the workplace (either in or outdoors) has to be right so employees and public feel comfortable and without a risk for their health.

 

If the working environment is uncomfortable people tend to act unsafely in order to avoid feeling cold (or too hot) for example: taking inappropriate shortcuts to get in and out (think about possible trips and slips hazards), the general concentration on the task would be highly reduced, rushing to finish a job could result in falls from heights, electrocution etc.

safe working temperature

Almost certainly during severe weather conditions if working outdoors the management needs to re-evaluate the risks of the performed activity. Re-writing and re-thinking your risk assessments, even those of the usual and day-by-day tasks would be important and if the risks are not tolerable should cease work completely until weather changes or until appropriate safety measures are taken.

One of our health and safety consultants in derby advises the following

Think about:

- additional PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) considering not only the temperature of the air, but also the velocity and level of humidity

- outdoor heaters, partial coverings and hording.

- sand and salt treatment of the site in order to prevent falling and slips

- provide mobile facilities for worming up, encourage the drinking of hot and worm drinks

- reduction of working hours - this way avoiding working very early in the dark winter mornings and late nights when temperatures are extreme

-  introduce additional controls and supervision in order to detect possible symptoms of cold stress in workers

- if working indoors, avoid overheating the environment which can reduce the quality and humidity of the air leading to fatigue and headaches

- try to avoid where possible the continuous movement of people in and out of the building

 

And if you are lucky enough to have an unexpected holiday due to the weather conditions and you are able to get into a ski-resort enjoy as much as you can safely. Snuggle in front of the fire at night and sip on glass of something warm.

Enjoy the snow and stay safe.

safe working temperature.

Gas health and safety

Gas health and health and safety

gas health and safety
gas health and safety

A recent episode of the popular and well-loved Coronation Street soap, related a stereotypical gas health and safety accident story. It hardly inspired any Christmas cheer, even if you were watching with few drinks, but unfortunately told an all too familiar story about one of the most common reasons for gas accidents.

Gas health and safety

Producers and writers had been working hand in hand with the professionals of the Gas Safety Register (GSR) to ensure the script was as realistic as possible and to raise awareness about the hazards anybody could encounter when using gas-powered equipment.

The official gas regulator organization for UK, Guernsey and Isle of Man is the Gas Safety Register.

We recommend before any work commences you check up on their on-line register and make sure the technician coming to install, check up or repair your gas appliances is registered with and approved by them.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced, when a gas installation is not fitted properly or is poorly maintained. It causes unconsciousness and kills without any warning, with symptoms like nausea, headaches, dizziness, breathlessness and so on this can be especially dangerous to detect if the victim is asleep.

The “silent killer” is estimated to have affected around 4000 people and produced 50 fatal accidents in the UK last year. The storyline featured in the episode of Coronation Street, is a very good reminder of the fact that if an accident like that happens, you might not be able to fight it on your own or lucky enough for somebody to find and rescue you in time.

Despite the well-known dangers that CO can cause, the statistics are getting even more worrying when stated that 43% of gas appliances are not checked regularly, as required with an alarming 10% which have never been checked.

The legislation on which gas health and safety is based is the Approved Code of Practice and Guidance (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, detailing installation, maintenance and use of gas appliances for private and commercial areas.

Special attention to gas appliances has generally been adopted by landlords, letting agents and employers due to the pressure from insurance companies forcing them to comply with legislation probably from findings of a risk assessment. Unfortunately gas this is one of the hazards, anybody could encounter either at work, home or just as being a visitor in any commercial area.

Below we present you with a list for the main responsibilities of a landlord, homeowner and/ or employer contemplated in the Regulations. The aim is to make every possible action to ensure safety of the gas installation.

- Installation, check-up and reparation jobs have to be done by a registered and approved by the (GSR) engineer. Don’t just assume that your appliances are in great condition. Get them checked up by a professional.

- Keeping up the records of all visits and reparation (if any) jobs performed by the qualified engineer, for a period of 2 years.

- Any gas appliance provided by the landlord or letting agent is direct responsibility of them. When the tenant brings its own appliance, the landlord is not responsible for it, but is still liable for the pipe work which connects it to the gas supply.

- If installing a gas alarm in the property, ensuring that is complying with British Standard EN50291 and/ or carries a British or European approval mark, such as Kitemark.

- Rooms containing certain type of gas appliances cannot be converted to bedrooms, unless an atmosphere sensing device is installed.

- All Gas Registered Engineers carry an ID card, which details exactly on what type of appliances the carrier is qualified to work on.

- If you start recognizing the symptoms of CO poisoning, try to get fresh air as quick as possible and try to find help.

Until next time

Stay safe, stay well

 

Gas health and safety

 

Manual handling health and safety

Manual handling health and safety

manual handling health and safety

manual handling health and safety

Most of us see manual handling health and safety has a small list of simple common sense rules, which if followed and performed correctly should mean no accidents will happen.

In essence, that should be the case but it still accounts for a third of all reported work injuries in the UK. That in monetary terms translates to over £100 million a year for the British economy, which is just the cost for companies once the accident had happened, for hiring replacement staff, lost productivity, and compensation payouts etc., not taking into account the strain that such accidents put on the NHS.

The specific industries where manual handling health and safety injuries are most common are manufacturing and warehousing. The very essence of those activities is quite dangerous and safety measures are contemplated in order to avoid accidents.

Most low risk businesses as well as construction and agriculture also involve certain risks related to improper manual handling.

Manual handling health and safety is regulated by the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, as amended in 2002.

Training courses are an essential safety tool and not to mention employers obligation, designed to prevent the hazards of bad habits with specific guidance for each industry.

The general opinion of most employees attending such training is, that they are not very serious, they are just a set of common sense well known rules that would make the employee loose time at work. Employees should be made aware that such courses are necessary to protect the employer and employees.

It should be noted that the safety trainer should engage people and raise their awareness of the long term impact that bad habits could have on their health. But as we know this is not always the case…

Manual handling health and safety solutions?

High quality and innovative mechanized technology could reduce the risks of serious accidents and long term musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

Many warehousing companies are investing heavily in such machinery, designed with safety in mind. There is a 66% higher risk of injury if using manual pallet truck instead of a powered one. While the powered machinery is more expensive it represents value for money for the company and improves workers safety, when considering the costs of personal injury claims.

How is possible to prove that a MSD has been a result of a work accident?

Some companies in order to keep costs low and avoid NHS’ waiting times pay for the employee to have a MRI scan, which is a possibility to determine the cause of any back problems, i.e. if it is due to a work accident or is age- related wear and tear and so on. Also private physiotherapy sessions for the injured employee has proven to be cheaper for businesses, again due to NHS’ prolonged waiting times and time is money…

As always when trying to keep people safe and healthy, a good company’ safety culture is essential. Good communication between managers and employees and creating high level of involvement of the workforce in health and safety matters is really important to save money and lives.

Risk assessments should be performed and continued to reduce hazards throughout and will make everybody lives easier and safer.

Preventing bad manual handling is probably one of the most difficult tasks in occupational safety. Something so natural which anybody would do without thinking, like lifting, lowering, pushing or carrying is very hard to change and re-educate people have a habit of moving in a particular way, no matter how wrong it is.

Christmas health and safety

Christmas health and safety updates and news

Chrismas health and safety

Chrismas health and safety

 

Christmas Health and safety seems to be the last issue to think of during the busy run to the holidays. However don’ forget to take some precautions and be safe and aware of the risks which hanging Christmas decorations could involve. It’s quite simple; of course as long as you provide suitable steppers and ladders, there is no major danger to be expected. Although is simple and logic, in the past there were certain reports of employers forbidding festive decorating, due to safety hazards…As always, don’t over exaggerate but be sensible regarding christmas health and safety.

 

Although everybody is busy getting ready for the big meal and parties, a few changes in health and safety procedures and legislation are being introduced during the last month.

 

First aid

Based on last year’ Lofsted report recommendations, the HSE have been running a consultation on First Aid at Work (FAW) regulations. From the 1st of January 2013, not only is the HSE going to be entitled to license first aid training companies, but also Ofqual, the Welsh Government Department for Education and Skills and the Scottish Qualification Authority.

 

Those changes are expected to introduce more flexibility and ease the access to this so important qualification. Also First Aid training will be nationally recognized, rated and accredited under the Qualification and Credit Framework and also the Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework. This is all done aiming to make it more attractive and popular which ultimately would make it easier to save lives.

 

Introducing new Electrical Safety Register

The new register is now unifying under one organization, domestic and commercial accredited contractors. It is the essential guide to electrical safety, because it gives assurance that every contractor appearing in the register would provide the highest standard of service. It is bringing together the three currently existing certification schemes for electrical safety NICEIC, ELECSA and ECA.

 

Using work equipment safely

A new revised leaflet on the safe use of machinery has been issued.(INDG229rev2). Intended to be useful and helpful for managers, supervisors and employees, this generally covers what employers’ obligations are when employees operate machinery or other work equipment. It is re-assessing the major hazards and situations where machinery is used and giving practical advice on how to avoid serious or even fatal accidents.

 

New guidance on fragile roofs

There is never enough precaution when working at heights. But still it does account for one fifth of all fatal accidents occurring today in UK. So aiming to raise even more awareness on the topic, the HSE has published new guidance that detail the most risky situations, when working on fragile roofs and how to easily avoid accidents.

 

Work- related stress report

The latest results of the Labor Force Survey (LFS) relating to stress have been published recently. In the UK for the period 2011/12. Forty percent of all work-related illnesses have happened to be stress- based, with sectors like public health care (especially nursing staff), educational industry, defense and public administration representing the highest levels. Lack of managerial support, work pressure, bullying and work-related violence were pointed as the major aggravators of the situation. So work and improvement in the working life of employees needs to be made, in order to reduce the negative financial impact on businesses and public administration that stress has-caused equating to 10.4 million lost working days….

 

Anyway, Christmas is here… New year as well which will hopefully bring lots of luck and health to everybody?

 

So, don’t get too stressed with christmas health and safety, hang your decorations and lights at work as well as at home, try to enjoy and appreciate your colleagues and put in your part making your workplace nice, comfortable and safe.

 

Merry Christmas.

Written by a top health and safety consultant in Nottingham

Health and Safety on Business Trips

Health and Safety on Business Trips

Health and safety on business trips

Health and safety on business trips

Business today is a global activity. Communication is fast and there are so many different ways to close a deal without actually being present almost anywhere in the world.

 

Despite this, there are still many occasions, when a personal human touch is essential for business. It must be, why over 3.5 million people a year travel abroad due to work motives.

 

In a busy working environment most people could get to the other side of the globe in less than a day.

 

Occupational travelers are becoming a bigger group every year- either they are business representatives, directors on their way to close a big deal, seasonal workers, offshore staff, workers on a temporary assignment and/or sales staff etc.

 

There is however an employer’s obligation regarding health and safety on business trips and to keep the workforce safe, no matter where they are located.

 

The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) doesn’t specifically contemplate responsibilities for the employer during overseas or other worker’s trips but according to Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999), the employer has to try to make any work related activity as safe as possible for the employee. Also under Civil Law, there is a potential for employees to sue employers if injury, illness or death occurs when on a work related trip.

 

Organizations are becoming more aware of the safety and security hazards that conducting business abroad involves. Certainly, there is a need to carry out a pre-travel risk assessment on a trip- by - trip basis, which would help to plan what is necessary to do in case of a crisis, especially when traveling abroad.

 

1. Determining the particular hazards for the trip

Consider matters like the political situation in the country you are traveling to and if there are any possible security hazards for the employee, act in accordance (hiring private security, informing in advance the Foreign Office or Embassy).

 

Health and safety on business trips risks- a basic and obvious solution would be an international private medical health policy (not really necessary if traveling around EU), making sure your employee has the necessary vaccines and equipment beforehand, assuring that any pre-existing health conditions are known and if prescription for medicines are necessary, make sure your employee has enough of those in order to avoid having to search and buy them in a foreign country (buying the wrong medicine on its own could be a serious hazards leading to an illness or injury).

 

Other Health and safety on business trips matters to be considered would be problems such as jet lag, risk of deep- vain thrombosis (DVT), adverse reactions to climate, cultural awareness of the customs of the country (kissing in public and so-on), specific driving regulations of the visited country, taking own PPE, etc.

 

Infectious diseases, for which vaccination is not available (like diarrhea or a mosquito spread Dengue fever), or may be the employee due to travel didn’t get certain vaccines as a child, the most common one being measles.

 

Climate and altitude of the visited country is to be considered. The employee has to be trained or briefed on how to deal with heat and humidity, especially if work is to be done outdoors.

 

Education on water and food hygiene could prevent any highly uncomfortable gastrointestinal infections.

 

Psychological and stress problems. These are prone to appear during prolonged periods of the employee residing in the foreign country. Arrangements for family visits, talking to colleagues and managers, or even having a psychologist in the visited country could be helpful. Mental disorders and stress are highly likely to happen to business travelers.

 

 

2. Raising awareness for the employee for any risks and possible solutions.

It is employer’s obligation to make sure the employee is well trained to perform the particular job in the particular circumstances of health and safety on business trips.

 

It is essential to assure yourself of the level of training and understanding of the situation of the employee. Basic knowledge of the country’s medical and legal systems might be useful; arrangements for interpreting services in case of emergency would be helpful as well.

 

Malaria awareness and education on how to recognize symptoms is a must and compliance with the correct medical procedures is essential for saving lives, especially regarding the prolonged taking of malarial chemoprophylaxis.

 

3. Always plan in advance. Preventing and reducing the risks will always be helpful.

 

And remember, you could be liable for any injury that could happen, while your employee is on a business trip.

 

Health and safety on business trips

Construction Health and Safety

Construction Health and Safety

construction health and safety

Despite the economic downturn, the construction industry remains to date one of the major UK industries, employing over two million people or 7% of the working population. Construction still represents one of the most hazardous businesses to work in, and the statistics of reported accidents for 2010/11 period are not great news. Fifty fatal accidents, 2298 major injuries and 1.7 million lost working days due to ill health are certainly a concern for everybody involved in the industry. So construction health and safety is a huge issue.

 

Accidents do happened and it is not possible to prevent each and every danger. But practice demonstrates that when the correct attitude is taken, the possibility to avoid accidents is much higher.

 

So, “that will do” must be forgotten and “what if” has to be remembered at all times. Preparation and prevention are key factors for construction health and safety.

 

This train of thought is more valid now than it ever has been, due to the recent changes in legislation and the re- enforcement of the rules for construction health and safety.

Construction Health and Safety

construction is considered to be a high risk activity and Fees for Intervention will almost certainly be charged when a material breach with the law is detected during the increased routine inspections.

 

If it so happens that your business is due to have a visit from the HSE, bear in mind that matters likely to be most looked at (the most hazardous and potentially catastrophic) would be: working at height, asbestos risks, provision of welfare facilities, good order, all respiratory risks. But they will also be considering organizational issues like the level of effectiveness of leadership, managements and worker involvement in construction health and safety matters, general competence and training of the workforce.

 

Anybody is liable to encounter a site visit. It doesn’t matter how big or small a company.

The main types of business at the top of the hit list for  construction health and safety would be licensed and licensing asbestos work, small sites, refurbishment projects and of course major contractors and clients.

 

So this should not be seen as a time to take health and safety lightly or to cut corners with your construction health and safety budget.

 

There are 300.000 construction firms in UK, including one man self-employed firms up to big companies undertaking national and international projects. But most fatal injuries occur on small building projects where safety is sometimes overlooked and where there is a lack of precaution and training.

 

Over 60% of those deaths involve working at height- falls from ladders, scaffold towers, roofs etc. Small builders are regulated by Construction, Design and Management Regulations 2007 (CDM), under which legislation a small builder is a contractor who has certain minimal safety obligations for his workforce, the client and the public.

 

A small builder is classed here as a contractor undertaking private domestic projects such as refurbishments, extensions etc. where the safety responsibility for the site is only to the contractor. When undertaking smaller business projects, refurbishments and repairs, up to 30 days duration, the construction health and safety responsibility is shared with the client.

 

The main obligations of a contractor are to manage the risks and hazards of the site, conduct the appropriate risk assessments and method statements and aim to always prevent and avoid any risks. This also includes assessing and preventing access of the public to the site, correct management and supervision of work, assuring your workforce has the required equipment and training for that particular job and arrangement of welfare facilities.

 

Another important factor is assuring your-self that each of the employees has the correct information about PPE, general site safety, site rules and emergency procedures.

 

As always involve the workforce to a point where they can really embrace the construction health and safety values that help create a general good level of safety culture among employees.

 

Situational awareness (successfully implemented in major construction companies) is a key factor which can prevent workplace accidents. It is part of good team and good communication while on site.

 

And finally find ways to communicate and educate your employees to ensure they take care of each other by overlooking what the surrounding teams are doing, which would help to spot and prevent possible hazards.

 

We hope you have enjoyed this article on construction health and safety and would like to hear any feedback.

 

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