Category Archives: Health and Safety

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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Mental Health at Work: In-depth

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

Mental Health Awareness Week (14th-20th May)  https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

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.

Employers’ Duties

  • Employers have a general duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of all employees under the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974.
  • Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employers must assess the risks to the health of their employees for all aspects of work. This includes psychological risks.
  • The Equality Act 2010 requires employers to make to make “reasonable adjustments” to the workplace and to work tasks to accommodate the needs of a disabled employee, ie those who have a long-lasting physical or mental impairment that impacts substantially on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.
  • It is the duty of the employer under the Equality Act 2010 to prevent discrimination, bullying and harassment in the workplace.

Employees’ Duties

  • An employee is not generally obliged to tell an employer if he or she has a mental health condition or disability. However, although he or she may be wary of revealing the extent of any health condition, unless an employer is aware of the issues it may be handicapped in its ability to support the employee.

The Importance of Mental Health in the Workplace

The World Health Organisation defines mental health as “a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”.

Mental health issues are common and affect many employees and managers in workplaces. The Centre for Mental Health estimates that every year in the UK a total of 91 million days are lost to mental health problems and nearly half of all long-term sickness absences are caused by a mental health problem. The total annual cost is more than £30 billion.

Practical Action to Promote Positive Mental Health at Work

Happy, resilient employees mean less sickness absence and higher productivity — which is one of the reasons that increasing numbers of employers are looking at mental health as part of their wellbeing programmes. Obviously, mental ill health cannot be separated into separate boxes for work or personal life, but it is acknowledged that work can have a significant impact on mental health.

There are a number of practical actions that employers can take to promote positive mental health and resilience in their workplace. For example, the Health and Safety Executive’s Management Standards define the culture of an organisation where the risks from work-related stress are being effectively managed. Stress is not mental ill health, but stress can affect mental health.

Acas suggests a three-step approach to dealing with mental health problems at work.

  1. Train managers to spot the signs of employees who may be having psychological or emotional difficulties.
  2. Identify any work-related causes and make “reasonable adjustments” to support people.
  3. Promote awareness of mental health issues and create a culture where employees feel they can talk about their concerns.

Practically, this means:

  • enabling someone to act as the “mental health champion” in the workplace to build an open culture and destigmatise mental health issues
  • offering structured training to managers and other selected staff so people know what to do
  • communicating the ways that people can ask for help
  • giving managers and trained staff the information on how to respond (ie the options of where to refer staff, information on what is available in terms of time off, etc)
  • offering a range of options, so different people can be supported in different ways.

The first step in enabling employees to come forward with problems may well be improving the work culture to eliminate the stigma attached to mental ill health.

Spotting the signs will often mean identifying the common symptoms of mental ill health, including:

  • an increase in unexplained absences or sick leave
  • poor performance
  • poor timekeeping
  • poor decision-making
  • lack of energy
  • uncommunicative or distressed behaviour.

Acas suggests that managers start by having a quiet and confidential word with an employee causing concern. If the employee is returning from sickness absence a return to work discussion could be held. If a more formal follow-up meeting is required it should be scheduled. Where stress or over-work is identified as a cause in exacerbating an existing mental health condition then suitable action should be taken to resolve the situation in compliance with the organisation’s stress management policy.

Where required an employer should provide access to an occupational health service where a member of staff with a mental health issue can obtain confidential help and support.

Promoting awareness will be aimed at encouraging the workforce to be more tolerant of mental health and more understanding of the stresses and strains staff are subjected to and how these can be lessened. A starting point for an awareness campaign may be to undertake a survey of the workforce to find out more about their attitudes to mental health. Mental health champions can be identified and given additional training. Awareness days could be arranged. Applying for accreditation as a mental health aware organisation is another good strategy.

An initiative that has been found to be useful in many workplace settings is to train “mental health first aiders” to help colleagues. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England is a charity that provides the equivalent of physical first-aid training.

Benefits

Benefits of Positive Workplace Mental Health Policies

The benefits for an employer taking a positive approach to mental health at work include the following.

  • It can help to retain valuable and experienced staff, reducing turnover, staffing and training costs.
  • It can reduce sickness absence, particularly from stress related mental health conditions.
  • It helps staff achieve their potential and sustain their careers.
  • It enhances safety and increases productivity.
  • It makes for a healthier, more tolerant workplace.
  • It demonstrates that an employer is socially responsible.

In its report, Added Value: Mental Health as a Workplace Asset, the Mental Health Foundation quotes research which suggests that people living with mental health problems contributed an estimated £226 billion gross value to UK GDP, nine times the estimated cost to economic output arising from mental health problems at work. It states that improving and protecting mental health secures that value and should help reduce cost.

Employers can demonstrate their commitment to supporting mental health in the workplace by signing up to schemes such as:

  • the Charter for Employers Who Are Positive About Mental Health established under the MINDFUL EMPLOYER campaign
  • the Time to Change campaign.

Benefits to People with Mental Health Issues from Working

Work is a key factor in supporting people who are living with mental health issues and in keeping them well. Studies show that work is generally good for people’s mental health. It not only provides financial reward. It gives many people self-esteem, companionship and status, as well as a chance to use their skills and to feel fulfilled.

Being employed has a positive effect on mental health symptoms. Being unemployed, conversely, can make symptoms worse.

Key Role of Line Managers

Line managers play a crucial role in the promotion of positive mental health at work. They are well placed to detect mental health issues in an employee. They are also in a position to help a worker who has mental health difficulties to cope with their work by providing additional support and by reducing work pressures and stress. They can also introduce flexible working conditions and help people to return to work following sickness absence if it is required.

Some managers will be concerned that by addressing mental health issues they will be getting involved in areas that they feel ill-equipped to deal with. They need the right level of support and training in order to fulfil their potential in supporting mental health at work needs.

Managers are not counsellors. They should not try to give advice about a mental health problem but should be furnished with the appropriate procedures and information to direct colleagues to experts who can help. They should work within their capabilities and use their management skills to focus on the practical things they can do to help. They should remember that their role is not to “cure” people, but to help them to cope at work and fulfil their potential.

Work-Life Balance and Working Hours

The concept of work-life balance is important when considering working arrangements for people with mental health issues. Flexible working arrangements are generally supportive of people with mental health issues, especially approaches that offer:

  • variable hours or start times
  • part-time working
  • homeworking
  • paid or unpaid leave for appointments related to health

An advisory booklet by Acas, Flexible Working and Work-life Balance, includes examples of flexible working that may be useful when supporting staff with mental health issues, such as term time working, job shares and changes to shift and rota patterns

Mental Health Policies

Every employer should have a mental health in the workplace policy. The policy should be supported by senior management. It should support an approach which promotes positive mental health and challenges stigma and discrimination.

Occupational Health

Occupational health services can be very effective in supporting people at work who have mental health issues. Any referral should be entirely confidential and should be discussed with the worker concerned.

Occupational health services can be particularly helpful if an employee is returning to work after illness and requires a rehabilitation programme. Such programmes may require a temporary period of reduced hours, an adjustment of roles and responsibilities, or additional support.

Some employers have Employee Assistance Programmes, designed to provide employees with counselling and advice for a wide range of personal and work problems.

Confidentiality

Managers should keep all aspects of a member of staff’s condition confidential. Workers who have mental health issues have the same rights to confidentiality as any other employee.

Types of Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues are very common. The Department of Health estimates that one in four will suffer from a mental health problem at some point in their lives.

There are many different forms of mental health conditions which generally vary on a continuum from mild to severe. In addition, they will often fluctuate and people may have good days and bad days, just as everybody does. Most people with a defined diagnosis of mental illness will be able to perform normally at work.

The most common forms are:

  • depression
  • anxiety states
  • psychosis
  • bipolar illness.

Managers should beware the danger of “labelling” people with a mental illness. This can feed expectations and become self-fulfilling, or even encourage harassment. However, a general awareness of symptoms may assist managers in supporting people appropriately.

Depression

While most people sometimes feel low in mood from time to time, clinical depression is a serious health condition. In most cases it causes periods of intense low mood, hopelessness and helplessness. In severe cases, it can lead to a person losing their ability to cope with day-to-day living or even to attempt suicide.

Depression is probably the most common form of mental health issue, affecting one in 20 people.

Symptoms include:

  • low mood
  • low self-esteem and preoccupation with negative thoughts
  • feeling tired and lacking energy
  • loss of drive — often neglecting work, hobbies and interests
  • withdrawing from social contact
  • having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm
  • smoking more, or using more alcohol
  • change in appetite — not eating or overeating
  • poor sleep — waking up early, having difficulty getting to sleep
  • poor performance at work or difficulties in home and family life.

The causes of depression vary from person to person. Sometimes it will be a reaction to something that has happened, such as the loss of a loved one. Sometimes there is no discernible cause. Some people will have a history of bouts of depression that can last for weeks or months. Others may have a family history of depression. Depression is often linked to loneliness.

Depression is treatable and most people recover. It is usually diagnosed by a GP.

Mild to moderate depression can be helped by a range of methods including just helping someone to be more active, more socially engaged or to do more exercise. This helps to rebuild someone’s self-esteem and confidence. Those with a mild depression that fails to improve may be offered a form of talking therapy such as cognitive therapy or counselling.

Those with moderate to severe depression will often be prescribed anti-depressant medication, sometimes in addition to talking therapy.

Those with severe depression may be referred to specialist mental health services which could include seeing a psychologist, a psychiatrist, or a specialist mental health nurse.

Anxiety States

Feeling anxiety from time to time is quite normal, particularly when nervous or apprehensive about something. However, someone suffering from an anxiety disorder may suffer excessive anxiety and worry relating to a range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event. Some may go on to develop more severe problems, such as panic attacks, a phobia or obsessive compulsive disorder.

The physical symptoms of generalised anxiety disorders can include dizziness, drowsiness, tiredness, palpitations, muscle aches and tension, dry mouth, shortness of breath and stomach ache.

An experience of panic is quite normal in dangerous or stressful situations where a person may feel threatened. When having a panic attack a person suffers the same fight or flight response but in situations where most people would not perceive any danger. They start to panic for no reason and experience an overwhelming sense of fear, apprehension and dread.

Attacks can be precipitated by any tension or stressful situation, or even by the fear of having an attack itself, especially in public places. They can lead people to avoid any situations where they feel anxious and to become withdrawn and isolated.

In the case of a phobia, a person develops an exaggerated fear about a specific situation or object. If confronted with the thing they fear they may suffer a full-blown panic attack.

Anxiety disorders are usually diagnosed by a GP or a psychiatrist and treated with a combination of medication and psychological therapies.

Psychosis

Some of the more severe forms of mental ill health can involve a general loss of contact with reality and may include hallucinations, delusions and an impaired level of insight. These symptoms are often referred to as psychosis.

A number of different conditions can give rise to psychotic symptoms but the most common diagnosis is probably that of schizophrenia. Symptoms when unwell may include confused or jumbled thoughts, hearing voices and seeing and believing things that other people do not share. Behaviour may become bizarre in nature and usually includes difficulty with social interaction and carrying out daily life activities. Insight may be lacking. Sufferers can become confused and withdrawn and there is a danger of them acting on destructive delusions and harming others or themselves.

People with schizophrenia are usually in contact with mental health services and under the care of a consultant psychiatrist. They may be taking regular medication which helps to control their condition. When well there may well be little sign of the underlying condition.

Bipolar Disorder

People whose moods swing rapidly from one of uncontrollable excitement and impulsiveness to intense despair and apathy could be suffering from what is now known as bipolar disorder, formerly called manic-depressive illness.

Each type of “mood episode” will contain its own defining features. For example, a pattern of little or no sleep might be typical in an “high” phase and sleeping most of the time in a “low” phase.

People can be incredibly productive when in a “high” phase, but may also be irresponsible and impulsive.

Those with bipolar illness will typically be under the care of a psychiatrist. They will usually be taking medication which help to even out their mood.

Alcohol Dependency and Mental Ill Health

Alcohol dependency is a problem for people of all ages, and many people use alcohol to deal with loss and loneliness. Alcohol use can mask underlying depression.

Eating Disorders

A variety of different eating disorders are recognised as mental health issues, the most common being anorexia and bulimia.

For people with eating disorders the subject of food, and how much they weigh, is likely to be a constant preoccupation. A person with anorexia will commonly deny themselves food, even when they are very hungry. Those with bulimia may binge.

Eating disorders usually develop as a result of deeper issues in a person’s life and will usually respond to professional counselling and psychotherapy.

Suicide and Self-harm

Suicide is the biggest killer of men aged 49 and under and the leading cause of death in people aged 15–24. Most vulnerable are men with mental illness and those who self-harm. Managers and work colleagues should encourage anyone who is expressing suicidal thoughts to seek help immediately.

The Mental Health System

The UK has a well-established mental healthcare system that is structured as local community services and specialist in-patient services.

Most people with mild to moderate mental health issues will be looked after by their GP. The GP may diagnose the problems and prescribe medication to help. They will usually try to encourage a person to self-help, often with the help of the numerous self-help groups and charities that exist in most areas. Some GP practices host or have access to counselling services where people can talk their problems through with a trained counsellor.

Each area is covered by established NHS mental health services. These consist mostly of acute in-patient facilities and community mental health teams.

In combination with GPs, community teams look after most people with moderate to severe mental health issues. They are comprised of staff such as psychiatrists (doctors who specialise in mental health) and specialist mental health nurses supported by psychologists, occupational therapists and mental health social workers.

Community teams will visit people in their own homes or see people in clinics.

There is a general movement in mental health away from treatments solely consisting of medication towards more psychological treatments and therapies.

Psychological treatments are often referred to as “talking therapies” by some. Usually provided by psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatric nurses and counsellors, psychological treatments consist of sessions where a person is given an opportunity to talk about what is troubling them and develop new coping plans.

When acutely unwell, people with severe mental health illnesses may be admitted to a specialist unit for assessment and treatment. Sometimes they may be admitted against their will under the Mental Health Act 1983, a process known as sectioning. In some cases people who are acutely unwell may find their way into hospital through an A&E department, or through the police under a place of safety order. Both should have link mental health workers attached to facilitate liaison.

Time to Change

Time to Change is a mental health campaign movement that was set up in 2007 by the Department of Health with lottery funding and supported by a range of mental health charities.

The campaign aims to:

  • improve public attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental health problems
  • reduce the amount of discrimination that people with mental health problems report in their personal relationships, their social lives and at work
  • make sure even more people with mental health problems can take action to challenge stigma and discrimination in their communities, in workplaces, in schools and online
  • create a sustainable campaign that will continue long into the future.

The workplace campaign includes:

  • organisations being able to sign-up and taking a Time to Change employer pledge
  • establishing mental health workplace champions
  • training for managers and employees
  • tips on activities to get everyone in the workplace involved in supporting positive mental health changes
  • opportunities to share information and collaborate with other organisations.

Resources can be downloaded from the campaign website.

Training

Managers and supervisors should be trained how to provide appropriate support to people with mental health issues and how to create a healthy working environment. Training in mental health issues will help to fight the misconceptions some people have about mental illness.

Training in areas such as managing discipline and grievances at work and managing absence at work should include mental health aspects. Employment law training should cover the need to comply with the mental health requirements of the Equality Act 2010.

Many charities and organisations run training courses, including MIND, the Mental Health Foundation and Time to Change.

Acas provides a free eLearning module on Mental Health Awareness for Employers.

Mental health first-aid courses — the mental health equivalent of physical first-aid training — are becoming increasingly popular in some workplaces, particularly for staff identified as “champions” who are willing to offer counselling assistance to colleagues.

If you require further information, please contact us.

Brought to you by WHSS, HSE, Croner and time-to-change.org and Mental Health Foundation.

 

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Spring Newsletter

spring news

The Health and Safety Event 10th April 2018

eventOn the 10th of April, we at Walker Health and Safety Services attended The Health and Safety Event at the NEC in Birmingham. The event was full of Health and Safety professionals, with lots of interesting discussions to be had. If you have an interest in health and safety, or its part of your role, it is well worth a visit next year, even if just for the day!


Half Marathon for the cardiology Department at the Queen Elizabeth in Birmingham

image001I started to take running more seriously in August 2017! Needless to say, Eric does not join me…

When I started running I couldn’t breathe or do distance, but slowly with perseverance and support from my running group, Hartshill, I began to improve.

I entered races to inspire me to progress and have several planned events over the next few months which I shall post about. What is important is the ‘bling’!

I decided before Christmas to enter a half marathon for fun, one of those bucket list ideas which sounded good at the time! But, after a recent visit to the QE, lying in bed one night, I thought, I could run my half marathon and raise much needed funds for the Cardiology Department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham that look after Eric and will continue to look after him for the rest of his life!

I appreciate all the hard work that the Cardiology Department do, not just for Eric, but for many others too, including the support they give to family and friends!

My half marathon is on Sunday 20th May 2018! It is the Rock and Roll Event in Liverpool, where I will be racing through the City where rock laid its roots! Following the steps of the Beatles! Partying and running – what’s not to like!!

I have other fundraising ideas in the pipeline. If you want to join me for a run, come along :) 

Here is a link to my Just Giving page. If you can make a donation I would appreciate it, thank you! https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/emma-cardiology-department-qe

Latest News

New Standards from ISO!

Over 7 600 people die each day from work-related accidents or diseases – that’s over 2.78 million every year*.

The burden of occupational injuries and diseases is significant, both for employers and the wider economy, resulting in losses from early retirements, staff absence and rising insurance premiums.

To combat the problem, ISO is developing a new standard, ISO 45001, Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements, that will help organizations reduce this burden by providing a framework to improve employee safety, reduce workplace risks and create better, safer working conditions, all over the world.

The standard is currently being developed by a committee of occupational health and safety experts, and will follow other generic management system approaches such as ISO 9001, 14001 and 18001.

Upcoming Changes with GDPR

GDPR is no secret. Most people will be aware of the upcoming changes to the UK’s data protection regulations, but what they may not be aware of, is what the new General Data Protection Regulation (2018) will mean for businesses. You only have until May 25th 2018 to make sure you’re compliant, so it’s important to understand how it effects you. If you haven’t already done so, it is essential that you start preparing for these upcoming changes, as failure to do so could lead to serious repercussions.

Knowing where to begin with GDPR can be daunting, so we’ve put together 5 useful tips to help you know where to begin. You can check these out here.

Tackling Health & Safety in 2018 (6)

In each newsletter we will be exploring the top 8 pieces of workplace health and safety legislation that you should be aware of. In our Winter Newsletter, we explored the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Working Time Regulations 1998. If you haven’t done so already, you can read our Winter Newsletter here.

In this edition of our newsletter, we have chosen to talk about the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992.

Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

Under these regulations, you must provide:

  • Adequate heating, lighting, ventilation and workspace.
  • Staff facilities, including washing facilities, toilets and refreshment.
  • Safe passageways so hazards such as slipping and tripping are prevented.

Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992

Regular users of display screen equipment (DSE) require protection, and these regulations are to ensure they are covered. You need to:

  • Carry out a risk assessment.
  • Make sure DSE users have adequate breaks – these are not stipulated legally, but a 5-10-minute break for every hour of screen time is thought to be a safe way of operating.
  • Provide regular eye tests and health and safety information.
  • Ensure that adjustable furniture, such as chairs and desks, are provided.
  • Show that adequate procedures are in place to reduce risks such as repetitive strain injury (RSI) to regular DSE users.

The benefits of fitting a dash cam

Fitting a camera that records your journey is like taking a witness with you everywhere you drive. So, if you’re unlucky enough to be involved in an accident, you’ll be able to present an impartial record of events to help assign blame and quickly settle any claim. And with an estimated 30,000 crash-for-cash incidents occurring every year – where fraudsters deliberately cause accidents in order to claim on innocent drivers’ insurance – video evidence can be vital in resolving a dispute over liability.

When mounting a dash cam, it’s important to remember that the lens needs to “see” through an area of the windscreen that is swept by the wipers, but it mustn’t obstruct the driver’s view. Fixing the camera to the windscreen behind the rear-view mirror is often the best option, although you’ll need to ensure the cable is neatly routed to the power source – usually the 12V dashboard socket. Wherever you fix your dash cam, take care not to intrude into the “swept” area by more than 40mm – that’s the law. If the camera includes an integrated viewing screen, this must be switched off while driving.

risk assessments

Risk assessments are an absolute requirement under health and safety legislation and failure to conduct them is an offence. They are designed to ensure employers have adequately considered the things that can go wrong in the workplace and should take into account:

  • People
  • Premises
  • Plant
  • Procedures

It’s important to understand the difference between risk and a hazard:

  • Risk is the chance, high or low, of somebody being harmed by the hazard, and how serious the harm could be.
  • A hazard is anything that may cause harm, e.g. chemicals, electricity, working from ladders, noise etc.

The HSE suggests that risk assessments should follow five simple steps:

Step 1: Identify the hazards
Step 2: Decide who might be harmed and how
Step 3: Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions
Step 4: Record your findings and implement them
Step 5: Review your assessment and update if necessary

Prevention is the preferable course of action and the MHSWR suggest the following:

  • Avoid the risk completely – change the design or the process
  • Substitute – use less hazardous materials, e.g. different chemicals
  • Minimise – limit exposure to individuals, perhaps by job rotation
  • General control measures – guarding, barriers or warning systems
  • PPE – the last resort because it protects only the individual.

Conducting Risk Assessments

When conducting risk assessments, the assessor should take into account the information that is available for the type(s) of risks involved, including:

  • Regulations, e.g. Work at Height Regulations 2005
  • Any associated Approved Code of Practice (ACoP), which provides practical interpretation of the legislation for employers
  • Good practice guidance notes from the HSE, special interest groups and trade associations
  • Company’s own health and safety policy and arrangements document (sometimes more exacting than the law itself)
  • The people doing the job who know how things are done, rather than just how they should be done
  • External consultants, e.g. asbestos specialists

Record and Review
Employers with five or more employees have a legal duty to record risk assessments in writing. These should be communicated via memos, training, team briefs etc.

They should then set a date for review to check whether the risk assessment is still adequate, following:

  • Changes in working practices
  • New plant
  • Changes in legislation, and/or
  • As a result of an accident

Finally, it is important to get out into the workplace and ensure that risk control measures are in place and working effectively.

Tackling Health & Safety in 2018 (8)

  • Volunteers intending to use shredded paper in their school fête’s lucky dip stall were told by the school that shredded paper was not an option “for health and safety reasons”.
  • Guests in a hotel complained that the cot bed had not been made up — and were told this was because of “health and safety”. The panel said they were unaware of any cot bed regulations.

If you have any questions relating to this newsletter, please contact Walker Health and Safety Services Limited. Info@walkersafety.co.uk or telephone 08458340400.

 

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Dealing with Data Protection

gdpr

GDPR is no secret. Most people will be aware of the upcoming changes to the UK’s data protection regulations, but what they may not be aware of, is what the new General Data Protection Regulation (2018) will mean for businesses. You only have until May 25th to make sure you’re compliant, so it’s important to understand how it effects you. If you haven’t already done so, it is essential that you start preparing for these upcoming changes, as failure to do so could lead to serious repercussions. However, knowing where to begin can be daunting, so here are a few tips to help you know where to begin:

1) Be Organised – Organisation is key, knowing what information you hold and how you store it can make the whole transition to be complaint with GDPR easier. The General Data Protection Act will see major changes brought about regarding how you manage and store an individuals information, and the rights the individual has over their own data. So, in order to be compliant you need to be able to tell individuals exactly what information of theirs you have, where it is being and stored and if they request it, you must delete or destroy any data that they do not want you to have. Knowing what information you hold will also help determine any extra permissions you might need. For the first time, GDPR will bring in special measure to protect the personal data of children, so you may need parents or guardians consent to process their information.

2) Update Policies and Procedures – Since GDPR gives individuals more control over their personal data, you might need to put a system in place that helps handle any data protection requests, if you don’t have one already. This includes creating a plan to process with request efficiently, and within a given time scale. Once a lawful basis for your processing activity has been established, make sure it is documented and contained within your privacy notice so that people can easily access this information if they wish to do so.

3) Consent  – If your existing consents do not meet the GDPR standard, you need make sure you refresh them now. This means that consent must be given freely and unambiguously. Individuals need be able to make an informed decision about what they are actually consenting to. They must specifically opt-in, meaning you cannot accept silence as consent, nor can you trick people into giving it in the form of pre-ticked boxes and forms.

4) Protection by Design and DPIAs – GDPR now makes protection by design a legal requirement, in addition to make ‘Data Protection Impact Assessments’ essential in a given situation. You should familiarise yourself with where a DPIA may be required now, to ensure you’re complaint by May 25th. Examples of require circumstances would be the deployment of a new technology, or mass processing of special categories of data.

5) Data Breaches and Protection Officers – Under GDPR, all organisations must report certain types of Data breaches to the ICO, so it is essential that you have a procedure in place to detect, report and investigate any data breaches that could potentially occur. The best practice approach with GDPR is to be well informed, and prepared for the worst. Making a person within your organisation responsible for GDPR can make this process go a lot smoother. It is important that this person is well clued up on GDPR, and understands what their role entails. In some situations, you are required to formally dedicate a Data Protection Officer, so you should find out if your business is required to do this as soon as possible.

Of course, this is just covering a good starting point for GDPR compliance, and there is still much more you may need to look in to. Particularly if your business operates in more than 1 EU member state, there may be extra legal obligations placed upon you, so you should find out about these.

Remember: be organised, open and well informed, and you’re well on your way !

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Accident Reporting: Quick Facts

Incident/accident reporting is an important aspect of monitoring or measuring safety performance and allows an organisation, through investigations, to learn from mistakes and improve health and safety.

It is essential that employers introduce a reporting system in the workplace for all accidents and incidents, dangerous occurrences, diseases and near misses, for all employees, contractors and visitors. An accident report may also prompt an investigation by the enforcing authority depending on the severity of injury that has either occurred or had the potential to occur.

This topic outlines what an accident report should contain, what should be reported on in relation to RIDDOR and who is responsible for making reports.

  • The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) require the “responsible person” to report the following instances to the relevant enforcing authority:
    • deaths
    • certain specified injuries
    • injuries that cause absence for more than seven consecutive days (including days that are not normally worked, such as weekends, but does not include the day of the accident)
    • injuries to members of the public or people not at work where they are taken to hospital for treatment
    • certain diseases and dangerous occurrences. What should be reported?
  • Reports under RIDDOR must be submitted online. Fatal and specified injuries can also be reported to HSE’s Incident Contact Centre by telephone.
  • All employees must give notice to employers of any personal injury caused by an accident at work. This is usually done by entry of the details into an accident book.
  • An accident reporting policy should be in place to ensure that all procedures are followed correctly.
  • Employees and managers should receive training to raise their awareness of the need to report all incidents and the procedures to follow.

If you require advice, please contact us.

 

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Protect Workers that are Working In or Near Excavations

Tips to Protect Workers that are Working In or Near Excavations

  1. Undertake a thorough risk assessment to determine how anyone could be hurt when working with excavations. Consider how and when a collapse could occur, or how someone could fall in, for example. Think about the underground cables (such as electricity) that could be in the area.
  2. Support the sides of the excavation properly, and install barriers and covers when work finishes for the day or halts so that no one can fall in. Ensure good levels of lighting around the excavation, especially at night and in the winter months.
  3. Develop and implement a safe system of work for workers to follow, which includes ensuring the excavation is properly boarded, and that it is dug to the correct depth. Ensure workers know the location of any underground cables before starting work.
  4. Train workers on the dangers of working in or near excavations.
  5. Supervise all work activities and ensure that you have a means of providing an emergency evacuation if someone should become injured in an excavation.

Contact us if you require further information.

 

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