Author Archives: Emma Walker

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

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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.

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Display Screen Equipment: Quick Facts

Many jobs now require the prolonged use of display screen equipment (DSE) to complete work tasks, more time is spent seated in one posture and reports of ill health relating to work with DSE have risen. DSE now incorporates much more than just computer screens in an office.

This topic offers advice on the safe use of DSE in the workplace and examines various related health issues. It also looks at how to arrange a workstation and how to conduct DSE risk assessments to identify potential risks and hazards.

  • Display screen equipment (DSE) is covered by the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, which promote the safe and effective use of DSE.
  • All aspects of the equipment and workstation are considered part of work with DSE.
  • The way in which DSE is used may lead to upper limb disorders, fatigue, stress or eye discomfort.
  • Excessive force, repetitive activities and poor postures are the three components perceived to be the biggest contributors to ill health associated with DSE work.
  • The appropriate set up of all features of the workstation can prevent discomfort from work with DSE.
  • Peripheral items for use with DSE can greatly improve the user’s comfort and effectiveness. Items must be selected for the person or the task to ensure suitability.
  • Rest breaks and changes of activity are essential in ensuring safe and effective work with DSE.
  • Checklists can be used to assess DSE work and ensure the workstation is suitable for the user to complete the required tasks.

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Safety and Car Parks

Car park owners, and any contractors operating car parks on their behalf, have a responsibility to ensure that car parks are safe to use.

Many organisations operate car parks. This can be as part of the organisation’s overall commercial activity or as a utility for employees.

Car parks can present many hazards. People in the vicinity of the car park can be hit by moving vehicles or crushed against other objects by vehicles. Crime can also occur in parking areas, both against vehicles and against individuals who use the car park as well as those who may work in such establishments.

Under the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 and subsidiary legislation, car park owners and any contractors operating car parks on their behalf, have a responsibility to ensure that car parks are safe to use.

Car park hazards

Car parks owned or used by an organisation can range from simple ground-floor level parking areas to multi-storey or underground complexes.

There are several hazards associated with car parks including:

  • over-parking and site congestion resulting in dangerous manoeuvres, blocking of pedestrian routes, etc
  • lack of properly segregated and/or poorly marked parking areas without clearly defined pedestrian routes
  • carelessly parked cars that obstruct pedestrian routes and reduce the visibility of other drivers and pedestrians
  • lack of safe, segregated routes from the parking area to the workplace (including poor surfaces, lighting, etc)
  • security concerns of crime against individuals using or working in car parks as well as vehicle-related crime
  • poor maintenance of car park equipment and facilities resulting in equipment failure and accidents

In extreme cases, failure to manage car park facilities can result in serious incidents and even fatalities.

Personal safety

A number of hazards may have to be considered including:

  • weather extremes and the potential for ill health
  • being struck by vehicles if moving around the car park

Criminal activity is common in some car parking areas with crimes involving theft from vehicles or, more seriously, theft and/or assaults on persons.

Inspection and monitoring

In general terms, when inspecting car parks, those with responsibility should ensure that:

  • all markings and signage are clear and in good condition
  • height/width restrictions are in good condition
  • horizontal or vertical barriers (if fitted) are working correctly
  • car park users are parking vehicles correctly and following rules
  • pedestrians are using routes appropriately
  • there are no issues of over-parking.

General good housekeeping is also important because if obstructions are left blocking traffic routes, or if driving or walking surfaces become littered, slippery or too dirty, they may cause significant risks to health and safety.

All ancillary equipment should be subject to appropriate inspection and maintenance procedures. This may include, for example, automated gates or barriers, lighting, CCTV, payment machines.

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Why Risks Assessment Are Vital

Suitable and Sufficient Risk Assessments: 5 Top Tips

  1. Start by identifying the hazards – the things that could go wrong – and work out how they could go wrong. Think about how someone could be injured, for example if their hand could be crushed by a moving machine part. Record your findings.
  2. Establish the likelihood and potential severity of an identified hazard occurring. The more likely an injury could occur, and the more serious it could be, the more measures you will need to put in place to mitigate the risk.
  3. Identify and implement suitable control measures, aiming to remove the risk or at least reduce it. For dangerous machinery parts, for example, you would normally need to provide fixed guarding to prevent access, as well as training for staff on how to use the guarding correctly.
  4. Regularly review your risk assessments to verify they are still current, and also in the event of any workplace changes. Only develop method statements and safe systems of work once your risk assessment procedure is complete, and that you are sure you have identified all of the applicable hazards and know how you will control them.
  5. Make sure staff undertaking the risk assessments are knowledgeable about the work process involved, and that employees are consulted on their views. They may be able to tell you of any shortcuts that can be achieved that could ultimately be dangerous, for example the potential for staff to defeat interlocked guards on a machine.

Getting the risk assessment process right is not difficult, and it can make all the difference in preventing an accident from occurring. Check today that each of your assessments meet the grade.

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Safe and healthy outdoor working in the summer

With summer 2018 well under way, and having already brought heatwave weather conditions, now is a good time for employers to consider how to deal with dangers such as sunburn, skin cancer, dehydration and heat stress, in order to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for their outdoor workers.

Outdoor working — pros and cons

For many workers, being free from the confines of an office and working outdoors, particularly in warm weather, is a welcome perk of certain jobs in the construction, leisure, entertainment, agriculture, sports and horticulture industries. However, the warm summer months pose certain risks to outdoor workers, which need to be adequately managed, just like any other health and safety risk.

Exposure to sunlight should not be viewed as unhealthy per se — it is well known that people need some sunshine to make enough vitamin D to build and maintain strong bones. However, sunlight contains ultraviolet radiation and too much sunlight can result in sunburn. Damage from sunburn can also have serious long-term effects, and frequent exposure to ultraviolet radiation for long periods of time increases the risk of developing skin cancer. Statistically, outdoor workers have higher risks of skin cancer than other workers due to longer periods of exposure and they are considered a high risk group in this regard.

Therefore, it is necessary to achieve a balance between sufficient sunlight and overexposure. It is not possible to give a one size fits all recommendation regarding the “safe” level of sunshine exposure as each individual will be different. Furthermore, skin cancer and sunburn are not the only risks to consider — there is also dehydration and heat stress, for example, both of which can be fatal. The key is to have in place a comprehensive outdoor working policy, able to cater for each individual outdoor worker and the range of potential risks.

Dehydration and heat stress

Sunburn and skin cancers are not the only risks associated with outdoor work. Two other issues to consider are dehydration and heat stress. Symptoms of dehydration in outdoor workers might include indicators such as fatigue, poor concentration, fainting or headaches. In the worst-case scenario however, dehydration and heat stress can kill, as reported in the July 2013 case of three soldiers who died following a training exercise in the Brecon Beacons on an extremely hot day. The role of personal protective equipment is a particular factor to consider in relation to heat stress. On a hot day, someone wearing protective clothing and performing heavy work in hot and humid conditions could be at increased risk of heat stress. Ultimately, if the body is gaining more heat than it can lose, the deep body temperature will continue to rise. Eventually it reaches a point when the body’s control mechanism itself starts to fail.

The HSE says that when carrying out a heat stress risk assessment, the major factors to consider are:

  • the work rate, since the harder someone works, the greater the body heat generated
  • the working climate, including air temperature, humidity, air movement and heat sources
  • worker clothing and respiratory protective equipment which may impair the efficiency of sweating and other means of temperature regulation
  • the worker’s age, build and medical factors, which may affect an individual’s tolerance.Weather statistics show growing trends towards warmer winters, changing rainfall patterns and hotter summers in the UK, and balmy summer days will doubtless always be enjoyed by outdoor workers as a pleasant change from the chill and rains of winter. With effective health and safety planning, outdoor workers are sure to enjoy a pleasant, but also, healthy and safe summer outdoor working environment.
  • The HSE warns that dehydration can seriously affect an employee’s ability to function safely when under thermal stress. However, the effects of dehydration can be minimised in heat stress situations by encouraging employees to frequently drink cool water to compensate for losses due to sweating. Water points and rest areas, the safety watchdog says, should be sited in the shade.

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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.

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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.

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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

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