Monthly Archives: August 2018

Vaping – Not safe at all!

E-cigarettes may be more harmful than we think, researchers have warned in a new study that may cause employers to review their corporate vaping policies.

The findings, which were published in the journal Thorax, have concluded that vaping disables key immune cells in the lung that keep the air spaces clear of potentially harmful particles, and as a result can boost inflammation in the body.

In July 2016, there was an article published on the Gov.uk website – Use of E-cigarettes in Public Places and Workplaces. Advice to Inform Evidence-based Policy Making. The advice said that, in contrast to the known harm from exposure to second hand smoke, there was at that time no evidence of harm from second hand e-cigarette vapour and the risks were likely to be extremely low.

However, the new findings have prompted researchers to suggest that while further research is needed to better understand the long-term health impact of vaping on people, e-cigarettes may be more harmful than we think, as some of the effects were similar to those seen in regular smokers and people with chronic lung disease.

With the fast evolution of technology, some workplace policies may become outdated. As such, employers should regularly review, amend and update their policies. Some employers may find that the smoking policies they  have do not cover e-cigarettes at all.

If, as an employer, you decide that you want to introduce policies to control vaping on the work premises within working hours, then you should decide whether you want to treat vaping in the same way as smoking. It may be recommended that the company support employees who choose to vape by assigning them a separate vaping area to the smoking area, to prevent passive smoking and so that smokers trying to quit will not be tempted. Whether you choose to introduce a policy for vaping or not, you should consider the views and comfort of all your staff: smokers, vapers, and non-users. Allowing vapers free range may affect the comfort of non-users and may not be practicable in certain workplaces, such as an office.

When making a vaping policy you should consider the following.

  • Make a distinction between smoking and vaping and make sure that the policy sets rules on both practices.
  • Consider bystanders, and non-users and their comfort. Ensure smoking/vaping areas are not in close vicinity.
  • Adapt your policy to limit exposure and uptake of vaping by children, young people or young workers, eg if the role involves working with children your policy may ban smoking and vaping in their view.
  • Conduct fact-finding investigations if you receive allegations of smoking in breach of the workplace policy, as some e-cigarettes can be easily mistaken for cigarettes.

if you require advice, please contact Walker Health and Safety Services.

 

 

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Employee PPE Responsibilities

PPE is designed to protect workers from workplace hazards and risk but PPE doesn’t last as long as you’d think. Once you have the equipment, your job isn’t over! It all depends on how often your PPE is used and in which conditions. PPE is provided by employers and needs to be inspected regularly to measure and test safety, but who should be in charge of carrying out those checks and determining when replacement is necessary? Is it the employer? The department manager? Or should there be employee PPE responsibilities? The easiest answer is that there should be a dedicated employee or team of employees who are responsible for each type of equipment.

Assigning an important task to your employees helps them take ownership of their well-being and safety. Of course, ultimately, it’s the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe work space through correct health and safety procedures and measures but having someone responsible for routine checks is a good idea with a more overarching view taken on, say, a quarterly basis.

Consider having a monthly check on all PPE that is given to employees. Inform employees that any damaged items are reported immediately, and all damaged equipment is replaced before the employee returns to work.

A Good PPE Program:

  • Conducts a Workplace Survey
  • Assesses Safety Measures
  • Selects Appropriate Controls
  • Selects the Right Equipment
  • Conducts Fit Tests
  • Trains Employees on Equipment Use
  • Offers Management Support
  • Maintains and Stores Equipment Correctly
  • Audits the Programme RegularlyAlways keep a stock of equipment on your premises. That way if equipment needs replacing, you can replace it quickly and safely. But keep in mind that some types of equipment can break down over time even if they’re unused (like hard hats and dust masks), but that’s only for equipment that has a date stamp on it.
  • It’s important to create a culture of responsible PPE use in the workplace. Having well stocked supplies and employees seeing the regular deliveries of new equipment will generate a sense of responsibility. When employees see a lack of commitment to PPE on the employers part (i.e. not regularly restocked and not up to regulation standards) they are much less likely to have that same motivation to implement a safe environment for themselves or others. Lead by example – you want to set a great example for your employees and demand that safety is taken seriously. If you do not adhere to safety standards it costs both you and your employee money – perhaps in sick days, compensation, or lost time at work.
  • If your employee reports faulty equipment and you do not replace it, then you are responsible. Make sure your employee knows that reporting damaged equipment is key for their safety.

A brief guide can be found here http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg174.pdf

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Do employers have to provide sun cream?

With British temperatures rising each summer, most people are aware of the dangers of skin cancer and sunburn; however, when your employees work outside, how can they protect themselves from summer heat waves? Sun cream is one of the easiest and most logical answers – outside of protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses – but do employers have to provide sun cream for employees?

The simple answer is no, they don’t. There is no legal obligation for employers to provide sun cream. The PPE at Work Regulation of 1992 notes that employees must be provided with suitable PPE for work conditions, and that means work conditions and weather should be taken into account.

It is advisable that employers provide sun protection advice and training as part of any health and safety training.

To protect workers provide appropriate clothing, hats and eyewear. Consider limiting sun exposure by scheduling work when the sun is not at its hottest, if that is possible! Allow workers to take frequent breaks in shady areas, and provide adequate drinking water.

This guidance leaflet provides further information which could be pasted onto employees.

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg337.pdf

Contact us if you require further information.

 

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