Monthly Archives: June 2018

Are you and your staff feeling the heat?

With the recent heat waves, thermal comfort in the workplace is now becoming something of a challenge for many employers. Whilst there is no maximum workplace temperature specified in the UK, the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that workplaces shall be maintained at a ‘reasonable’ temperature. What is ‘reasonable’ will depend upon the nature of the work, but according to the HSE, an acceptable level of thermal comfort lies somewhere between 13°C and 30°C.

Workers likely to be most at risk include catering staff, outdoor workers e.g. horticultural workers, maintenance personnel, process workers and employees who must wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as breathing apparatus or impermeable clothing. Employees working in offices which do not have air conditioning are also likely to be affected by hot weather.

10 Top Tips for Dealing with the Heat

  1. Consult with your employees to establish reasonable levels of thermal comfort for the majority, but accept that you won’t be able to please everybody.
  2. Carry out a risk assessment and identify employees who are most susceptible to heat stress, e.g. pregnant women. Consider altering work patterns to reduce the level of risk by job rotation, working at cooler times of the day. Limit exposure of outdoor workers by providing sunscreen and suitable clothing, e.g. long sleeves and hats.
  3. Modify the working environment by providing mobile air conditioning units, but not oscillating fans, as these simply circulate warm air. Use window blinds or shades to help reduce the effects of heat and solar gain.
  4. Provide more frequent breaks in a cooler environment – the hotter the working environment and more strenuous the work, the more frequent breaks should be.
  5. Ensure a constant supply of drinking water and stress to staff how important it is to maintain hydration at work. Caffeine-based drinks can actually speed up dehydration, as they are diuretic. Coffee also speeds up metabolism, thereby increasing body temperature.
  6. If you have a dress code, consider relaxing it, as it’s better to have productive, casually-dressed employees, than employees who must leave work because they feel unwell.
  7. Ask staff to turn off electrical equipment when leaving the office. Power used to keep items on stand-by is dissipated into the workplace as heat.
  8. Do big print runs and other heat generating jobs in the cooler part of the day.
  9. If office temperatures are unbearable for some, consider allowing them to work from home.
  10. Review PPE provision to see if there is any which is cooler and more comfortable and which can offer the same (or better) level of protection.

Your risk assessment must take into account factors such as temperature to protect your employees, as well as helping you stay on the right side of the law.

If you require advice please contact us.

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Tips to Ensure Ladders are Used Safely

Tips to Ensure Ladders are Used Safely

  1. Do a risk assessment for the specific job involving work at height. Look at the different work elements involved in the task, the duration of the activity and how easy the area is to access. Check that a ladder is the best piece of equipment for the job – if the task is likely to take longer than 30 minutes and is not low risk, then it is best to consider using a mobile elevating work platform or scaffold tower, for example.
  2. Ensure that workers are trained in the use of ladders. Make sure they position them correctly, on flat ground and have them tied or footed as necessary. Check that ladders extend above the work area being accessed, to ensure that workers have something to hold onto as they reach the top.
  3. Look after your ladders to avoid them getting damaged. Don’t keep them outside in the rain, and hang them up to stop them being knocked over. Throw them away if they are broken and cannot be repaired.
  4. Make sure that, where feasible, worker’s hands are freed up to remain in contact with the ladder by using tool belts or similar.
  5. Inspect your ladders regularly, and always before each use. Check that they are not warped or bent, that the rungs and platform are straight, and that the locking mechanism works properly. Report any defects immediately, and take the ladder out of use until it is repaired.

Take the time today to make sure that your work practices involving ladders are safe, and that they are properly planned and supervised.

Contact us if you require advice.

 

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Mobile Workers: Quick Facts

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines a mobile, or peripatetic worker as “someone who works at a variety of locations and travels between them”. There are no specific laws or regulations relating to mobile working. However, the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 and other general health and safety regulations apply.

Mobile workers can include service engineers, forestry workers, postal staff, social workers, sales representatives and staff receiving training off-site or attending conferences.

This topic outlines the risks that mobile workers can be exposed to and the importance of analysing those risks in order to implement controls, the duties of both the employer and employees, the need for effective safety systems of work and methods of communication.

  • A mobile, or peripatetic, worker can be defined as someone who works at a variety of locations and travels between them.
  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to look after all employees, including those who are mobile workers while on or off-site.
  • Risk assessments must be undertaken in order to ensure that hazards to mobile workers are identified.
  • Control measures must be put into place to protect mobile workers. The use of safe place controls is preferable to and more effective than safe person controls.
  • All mobile workers and their supervisors must be given adequate health and safety training.

If you have any questions, please contact Walker Health and Safety Services.

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Mental Health at Work: Quick Facts

This topic provides practical tips on how to put in place workplace policies that support those struggling with their mental health.

Mental health issues are important in the workplace: it is said that one in six people in employment are having mental health problems at any one time. Employers have a key role in managing working conditions that can affect mental health, ensuring that people with mental ill health have the support they need, and taking appropriate steps to combat discrimination and stigma.

  • Taking a positive approach to mental health at work can help to retain valuable and experienced staff, reducing turnover, staffing and training costs. Benefits
  • Line managers should use their management skills to focus on the practical things they can do to help employees who have mental health issues. Key Role of Line Managers
  • Employers must make “reasonable adjustments” to help people with mental health disabilities at work by removing the barriers that stand in their way. Making Reasonable Adjustments
  • Every employer should have a mental health in the workplace policy. Mental Health Policies
  • Employers should provide additional support for an employee who is returning to work after a mental health related illness and requires a rehabilitation programme. Occupational Health

If you require advice, please contact us.

 

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