First Aid Training Safety: COVID-19

Introduction

We’re beyond happy to be back delivering our First Aid Training but we understand that there is still an exposure risk to COVID-19. The safety of our participants is our top priority which is why we’ve taken new measures to minimise cross contamination.

One of our mannequins set up with a face shield provided to further prevent contamination. This is one of many precautions to ensure safety during our First Aid Training courses.
One of our mannequins set up with a face shield provided to further prevent contamination.

Before the Course

  • A polly pocket containing the material required for the course will be made up for each participant. 
  • All mannequins will be disinfected/sanitised before the course along with AEDs.
  • The equipment will be set up prior to the course starting so it can begin as soon as everyone has arrived. 

During the Course

  • Each participant will have their own mannequin for the practical tasks and a face shield will be provided to cover the mannequin’s face as another precaution.
  • Participants will be asked in turns to place their used equipment in a designated area which will be collected by the trainer afterwards to maintain distance.
  • Any used equipment will be placed in a separate bag to prevent contamination with other equipment.
  • Hospital grade Trionic cleaning & disinfection wipes will be available throughout the duration of the course to sanitise equipment which will have a designated bag for disposal.
The Trionic hospital grade cleaning & disinfection wipes used throughout the course.
The Trionic hospital grade cleaning & disinfection wipes used throughout the course.

After the Course

  • Our trainers will bring home the equipment to be fully disinfected.
  • Mannequins will be sanitised with hospital grade Trionic cleaning & disinfection wipes as well as antiseptic disinfectant.
  • All used bandages will be soaked in disinfectant.
  • Any bags that contained used equipment will also be disinfected as well as the polly pockets.
  • The bag containing waste from the course will be disposed of appropriately.

To Conclude

The safety of everyone on our First Aid Training courses is our top priority and we are taking every precaution we see fit to minimise COVID-19 exposure risks and cross contamination. We ask that only those feeling well and showing no symptoms should attend our courses. We look forward to continuing to deliver First Aid training to our clients as safely as possible.

For more information on the training courses we have available currently, please click here to read our full post.

You can also read more about the Trionic wipes here.

Returning to work support: COVID-19

We’re starting to move towards a relaxation of the lockdown rules surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, therefore many businesses are returning to work. At Amalgamate, we’ve been working to develop health, safety and wellbeing strategies for the reoccupation of workplaces across all different industries.

We have been working closely with our clients throughout the current outbreak to support them in managing the health, safety and wellbeing implications of COVID-19. Our team has built a recovery ready toolkit that allows our clients to fulfil their compliance needs and ensure they are protecting their employees.

These include:

  • Enhanced H&S Policy and arrangements;
  • Tailored COVID-19 secure and task specific risk assessments; 
  • Safe operating procedures for the reoccupation of construction sites, small and medium sized offices and large multi-location organisations;
  • Site inductions and toolbox talks for re-opening;
  • Online and blended learning courses for First Aid & Fire Safety
  • Developing audits and re-opening checklists; and 
  • Providing guidance and support

Our teams are also able to provide:

  • Updates to fire risk assessments to account for revised building operating models
  • Updates to First Aid risk assessments and systems
  • Legionella and asbestos surveys
  • Employee health and wellbeing programmes to ensure that you have a happy and healthy workforce

This a challenging and unique situation so if you need support in your business returning to work amidst COVID-19, please contact us on t: +44 (0)141 244 0181 or email us on info@amagamalgamate-safety.com

Our experienced consultants will be more than happy to discuss your needs and provide practical health, safety and well-being advice to ensure that your buildings are safe to re-open and it is safe for your employees to return.

We’re also able to provide environmental cleaning services through our network of specialist suppliers, for more information on this please click here.

For guidance published from the Government on reopening businesses safely, click here.

Working from Home Support

As we continue to move towards a relaxation of the current rules surrounding COVID-19, we start to consider what the ‘new normal’ might look like. We feel that a return to our previous routines may be a long way off, and home working will remain for the foreseeable future.

As an employer, we have the same health and safety responsibilities for home workers as for any other workers. Ensuring that our employees are safe, healthy and productive can feel like a significant challenge for many businesses.

Prior to the current pandemic, our teams have been supporting clients with employees working from home or classed as teleworkers for many years and developed a toolkit to support these needs. During the outbreak we’ve been working in collaboration with our clients to enhance that toolkit, providing ergonomic and wellbeing support.

Our services include:

  • Self-Assessment – An online risk assessment to be completed and submitted for review; 
  • Triage – Survey results are triaged by our DSE Assessors or Ergonomist to identify employees at risk or requiring further support;
  • Ergonomist Support – Ergonomists available to support employees. Local Ergo Support teams through Skype, bluejeans or zoom to provide advice and support on workstation set up, ergo risks and healthy work habits;
  • Online Training – Help your teams with ergo set up knowledge and provide advice and support. Delivered over Skype, bluejeans or zoom; and 
  • Ergo Cafe Drop-in Sessions – Online drop-in cafe sessions once or twice a week for 30-60 mins. Designed for people to call in and ask questions/request advice regarding any issues they are experiencing while working from home. Delivered over Skype, bluejeans or zoom.

As a consultancy, we see working from home playing a significant part in our work life for the foreseeable future. As a result we are investing in new technology to manage those risks and we’re also in the process of developing an integrated risk assessment, support and training App for businesses of all sizes.

For more information on our support packages or our Home Working App, please contact us on t: +44 (0)141 244 0181 or email us on info@amagamalgamate-safety.com.

We also have a few articles with some tips for working from home:

Creating an ergonomic workspace – Click here. 

Working from home during COVID-19 – Click here. 

Working from home: Physical and Mental Wellbeing – Click here. 

Supporting dyslexic employees

Background

At Amalgamate we believe that Health & Safety is an integrated part of every business – and people make businesses. That is why we’re focused on the individuals and them being effective at work.

Worksmart’s Managing Director, Steve Neilson, approached Amalgamate asking for support in implementing procedures to help dyslexic workers within their company.

Worksmart Contracts are a leading solutions based Interior Fit-Out & Refurbishment Contractor. They deliver Projects on Time with Value for Money, Quality with Communication and Determination throughout Scotland and the UK. 

This infographic illustrates how to support dyslexic employees including common strengths and challenges and how you can provide a Dyslexia-Friendly Workplace.
This infographic from Dyslexic Advantage illustrates common strengths and challenges that are often involved with dyslexia and how you can provide a Dyslexia-Friendly Workplace.

Managing Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling. It is estimated that between 5-10% of the worldwide population is seriously affected by this.

Dyslexics are present in every industry, including high risk ones such as construction. Realising that risk, Worksmart requested guidance for managing dyslexic workers in order to maximise their potential at work and ensure that safety critical information was communicated effectively. 

Support

Our Consultant Roza Ketner provided Steve and his team with comprehensive guidance on managing dyslexia in construction. She has also adapted existing safety documents being used on Worksmart sites into a dyslexia friendly format.

Our ‘Managing Dyslexia’ guidance provides information about dyslexia, its challenges and practical advice on how to support dyslexic employees in the workplace. It has been written and formatted in a dyslexia friendly format. This works well for everyone in the workforce – not just the ones with additional needs.

In addition, we have also reformatted Worksmart’s site induction presentation to support dyslexic users. The presentation is now being used across the company ensuring that all safety critical arrangements are fully understood by everyone.

To Conclude

We will continue to support Worksmart by developing all of their safety toolkits into a dyslexia friendly format including method statements and risk assessments. 

We believe that it is worth going the extra mile in order to ensure that everyone at work is safe and thriving – because a business can’t thrive without its employees.

For further information on supporting dyslexic employees in the workplace, click here.

We have also been helping to provide support for Polish employees, to read more about this click here.

If you require support with managing dyslexia on site or have any further questions, please do not hesitate to call us on t: +44 (0)141 244 0181 or email: info@amalgamate-safety.com

Statutory inspections: COVID-19

Introduction

We understand that due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, many companies and businesses are facing restrictions or challenges to their normal operation including statutory inspections. This could involve the closing of premises and challenges associated with receiving support from contractors who normally carry out statutory inspections, examinations and tests of plant and equipment even if premises are open. 

We will detail guidance published by Barbour in relation to statutory inspections during COVID-19, including legal implications, facts to consider and advice on the best course of action in these exceptional circumstances.

Delays in statutory inspections, examinations and tests

Difficulty in getting support from contractors carrying out statutory inspections, examinations and test of plant and equipment or the need to close premises is to be expected in the current climate. However, failure to carry these out would be a breach of legislation which could lead to potential enforcement actions including prosecution.

As far as plant and equipment is concerned, you minimise your risk of prosecution and help to ensure the safety of your staff and others if additional steps are taken to mitigate risks arising from delays in inspection. It should also be considered to inform the HSE of your position and plan of action as you are less likely to be subjected to enforcement action if they have been informed of your situation and raise no issues with your proposal at the time.

However, there are some statutory requirements for thorough examination and inspection or testing of plant or machinery, including lifts, lifting equipment, pressure systems and local exhaust ventilation, which include a set time frame. These fall under the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER), Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 (PSSR), Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER), Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) and the Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAH) (for scaffolding).  Failure to maintain some systems, in particular fire sprinkler and detection systems, may invalidate the insurance for the premises even if the premises are closed.

If taking plant out of use is putting vulnerable persons at risk, a careful decision would need to be made and it may be necessary to seek further advice from the HSE for these specific circumstances. This should only be considered when failure to keep plant and equipment operating poses a genuine risk, rather than an inconvenience, to vulnerable persons’ safety.

What mitigating steps should be considered

  • Assess which plant and equipment require statutory inspections and examinations and when these are due. 
  • Place any plant or equipment which has not had its mandatory inspection and is not essential, out of service until an inspection can be carried out.
  • Where, however, equipment is essential, a risk assessment of the equipment with input from engineers familiar with the equipment and those who operate it should be carried out to consider what might fail, the potential consequences that this poses, and focus on how that risk might be eliminated or managed.
  • Inform your insurance company if any planned inspection and testing is not being completed or if premises or part of the premises are closed. 
  • If closing premises for a period of time, and where it is decided to shut off the power to services such as electrical, gas, water and ventilation systems, plant shutdowns should be undertaken in accordance with manufacturer instructions to ensure that it is done safely. On subsequent restart manufacturer guidance should be followed to ensure that the plant is re-energised safely and to avoid potential damage. 
  • Follow Public Health England recommendations on hygiene and social distancing (maintain two metres between people). 
  • Additional checks with prescribed frequency e.g. daily or at the beginning of each shift.
  • Parts pro-actively replaced rather than reactively.

To conclude

Regardless of delays in statutory inspections during COVID-19 it is essential that all plant and equipment is maintained for the safety of workers. Equipment must only be used outside of its test regime if you can demonstrate that it is critical for essential work and that it can still be operated safely. If there are any identified faults with plant or equipment, which could lead to a risk from its operation, it should be taken out of use immediately and securely isolated to prevent further use until the necessary repairs have been completed. 

For the full article published by Barbour on statutory inspection’s during COVID-19, click here. Finch Consulting also have a great article on this subject, to read click here.

If you require any further information or have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us on t: +44 (0)141 244 0181 or e: info@amalgamate-safety.com

Creating an Ergonomic Workspace

Introduction

We’ve put together some useful tips and tricks on creating an ergonomic workspace to alleviate pain and discomfort whilst maintaining work productivity.

Upper limb disorder/discomfort

Upper limb disorders (ULDs) include aches and pains in the shoulders, arms, wrists, hands and fingers, as well as in the neck. These may be caused or made worse by using a computer. 

ULDs are more common in work that involves:

  • Prolonged, repetitive work particularly using the same hand or arm action.
  • Uncomfortable or awkward working positions.
  • Sustained or excessive force.
  • Carrying out a task for a long time without suitable breaks.
  • Working with hand-held power tools for long periods of time.

Other influences may be:

  • A poor working environment.
  • Poor work organisation.
  • Individual differences and vulnerability.

Workers may have symptoms in their upper limbs such as:

  • Aches and pains, tenderness, weakness, tingling, numbness, cramp, burning, redness and swelling.
  • Stiffness, pain or reduced movement in their joints.

Alleviating discomfort 

Creating an ergonomic workspace is highly effective at alleviating discomfort. Below is a variety of quick stretches you can perform to prevent discomfort at your desk:

  • Neck glides – sit or stand up straight, glide head back as far as it will go, keeping head and ears level, then glide head forward. Repeat 3 times.
  • Shoulder shrugs – sit or stand up straight, circle shoulders backwards 3 times with arms relaxed by your side.
  • Upper Back Stretches – cross arms and raise hands to rest on the front of the shoulders, using your arms push shoulders back and keep elbows down. Hold for 15 seconds, repeat 3 times.
  • Forearm Stretches – sit or stand up straight, extend one arm in front, elbow straight and hand flexed. Stretch forearm muscles by placing the palm of the other hand across the front of the first hand and push towards the body.
  • Forward presses – gently interlock your fingers, press your palms away from your body, gently stretching the forearm muscles, fingers and the muscles between your shoulder blades. Hold for five seconds.

Posture

Poor posture can result in chronic pain, musculoskeletal disorders, and injuries all of which impact long-term health and productivity. To reduce those risks and enhance wellbeing, it’s important to implement healthy habits that will improve your posture.

Tips for improving posture:

Practice neutral posture

This is the spine’s natural alignment position. This can be achieved by keeping your computer monitor at eye level, keep your back flat against your chair, rest feet flat on the ground or even use a lumbar support tool.

Regular breaks

Regular movement every 20-25 minutes increases blood and nutrient flow and also loosens up your body so prevents stiffness. A brisk walk around the room can help boost circulation and energy.

Ergonomic aids

There are excellent supports available on the market to encourage neutral posture and promote better ergonomic habits. A good office chair can be one of the best ergonomic aids to relieve discomfort and prevent injury. Other aids include sit-stand desks, office footrests, monitor arms, and keyboard trays. 

This infographic details how to achieve the correct sitting posture when creating an ergonomic workspace.
This infographic from Yorback details how to achieve the correct sitting posture, click here for their full article containing this image.

Seating

Seating is highly important in creating an ergonomic workspace. If you don’t have space for an ergonomic chair, you could make some comfortable adjustments to your current chair. For example sitting wedges to angle your pelvis forward slightly for a better posture, or better yet, a back-friend to make it a little bit more supportive. If you are able purchase a new chair, there are thousands of Ergonomic or task chairs on the market to choose from in a range of prices.

Chairs should be adjustable, comfortable, sturdy, sourced from a reputable supplier, and come with at least a 5 year guarantee. If your chair can be adjusted, make sure you take time to adjust the chair appropriately. The chair arms should be adjusted or removed if they’re preventing the user from getting into the ideal seating position. 

Once the chair height is set to the optimum position, check to see if a footrest is needed. Once set, the chair and the height of the backrest should not be adjusted as these are based on the person’s height, which won’t alter.

Hydration, diet, and breaks

Our diets can drive anxiety and worsen mood which is what makes our food choices so important. Planning meals and being mindful of the types of food we buy can hep to reduce anxiety. When focusing on numerous different tasks, staying hydrated can be easily forgotten. Dehydration can cause headaches and decreased memory, and therefore decreased work productivity. Proper hydration boosts metabolism and reduces daytime fatigue, so its important to make sure that you’re increasing your water intake. 

Working Environment

It’s important to have a working environment that will prevent distractions and discomfort. Finding a suitable and quiet area or separate room to set up your workspace will help to reduce distracting noises. Natural light is preferred to artificial light and can help to reduce dry or strained eyes. Temperature can also have an effect on work so make sure you are comfortable. If it’s too cold wear a jumper or put the heating on and if it’s too warm open a window or use a fan where possible. 

To Conclude

It’s clear just how important creating an ergonomic workspace is in maintaining your physical wellbeing whilst you are working. You can also click here to read our article on working from home during COVID-19 for more tips on creating an efficient workspace.

If you require any further information or support, please don’t hesitate to contact us on either t: +44 (0)141 244 0181 or e: info@amalgamate-safety.com

Working from home during COVID-19

Amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic, lots more of us are finding ourselves working from home – some for the very first time. This is a new experience for all of us, in a state of lockdown, being confined to the house, potentially with partners and children adding to the stress of working from home. 

In light of this, our team has compiled some useful advice to help with focus, motivation and morale whilst working from home. 

Make a schedule

It might not be feasible to work your normal hours when working from home, so don’t force it. Prioritise your workload and arrange your day in a way that is manageable time wise, allowing you to remain focused. Explain to your manager why you feel it would be best to adjust your hours before hand to make sure that it’s ok to do so. Let your colleagues know what your working hours are so that you aren’t dealing with calls/emails when trying to get through the other things. If possible, use a shared calendar so that everyone’s hours are available to make this experience easier on everyone. 

When you have finished your day’s work close the laptop, step away from your workstation and relax. It can be difficult to find a balance between work-life and home-life in our current situation. Being caught up in work all the time is a sure-fire way to make yourself miserable. 

Have an efficient workspace

A good, well set-up workspace is a must when trying to work from home. Ideally you want to have a space with minimal distractions – a separate room in the house from everyone else is recommended. Setting up a workstation on a dining table, if possible, is also a great way to get yourself in the right frame of mind for work – it can mimic the feeling of being at your desk in the office. If you have to be in a space shared by other people, let them know that you are working and would appreciate the least amount of interruptions as possible. Set time aside throughout the day for them so that they don’t feel ignored – especially if you have young children at home that don’t understand what working means. 

You should avoid working from your bed or your sofa if possible. While these places portray comfort and coziness, they won’t allow you to have the right mindset to get work done. You want to set up a desk space to avoid harming your back or neck as well as maintaining some normality. 

A great way to set up a temporary desk is depicted in the picture below provided by Ergonomic Trends. Split your workspace into three sections, where everything will have its own place and purpose, preventing clutter and making your work-day less stressful.

This infographic illustrates how to organise your workspace into zones, helping you to be more efficient when working from home during COVID-19.
This infographic from ErgonomicTrends illustrates how to organise your workspace into zones, helping you to work more efficiently. Click here for their full article.

Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks can improve your workday exponentially. It reduces eye strain from staring at your screen for too long, prevents body aches and pains, and actually helps with understanding and retaining information. There are lots of ways to ensure that you are taking breaks without lacking in work progress. One well known technique is the Pomodoro Technique. It’s based on setting a timer for 25 minutes of work followed by a short break (up to 5 minutes). Each 25 minutes of work is called a session and 4 of these results in a longer break (15-30 minutes). There are lots of apps available to download onto your computer or laptop that will keep count of your sessions. 

During these breaks, step away from your workstation, move around, interact with your family, check social media, stretch. These are all allowed, you’ve earned them. 

Communicate

Self-isolation doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be in contact with each other virtually – just not physically. Set up a group chat with the people you work with to keep up to date on what they’ve been working on and for direction. Set up check-ins but keep in mind that they can also be distractions from what you are trying to achieve. Our team has a weekly video chat scheduled so we don’t forget what each other looks like!

But it’s not all about work even if it that’s how it may seem. Contact family during your breaks, find out how they are. Have a joke with your friends, group call the people you can’t see right now. Socialising is good for you and can boost your mood, which in turn will increase productivity and morale. 

Keep Active

Sitting for prolonged periods of time isn’t good for anyone and it’s something that we can become guilty of doing when working from home. Precautions should be taken on exposing ourselves to the outside world right now, but we still need fresh air. 

Try to go outside for exercise even if it’s just for 20 minutes a day. If you have a family, go out in the garden with them or go for a walk nearby. If you do see anyone, follow government advice and stay at least 2 metres apart. 

To Conclude

It’s a scary time right now but it’s important to support each other and try to make routines to manage our days and stay sane. It’s important that we recognise we should be a little less tough on ourselves during this time. We’re all trying our best to continue to work and take care of ourselves and others despite the situation. 

To read our article on the IES’s working from home wellbeing survey, please click here.

If you require any further information or support, please don’t hesitate to contact us on either t: +44 (0)141 244 0181 or e: info@amalgamate-safety.com

Supporting Polish employees

Background

At Amalgamate we believe in supporting all employees and that’s why we’re providing extra help for supporting Polish employees.

Our client, Steve Neilson of Worksmart Contracts Limited, approached Amalgamate asking for support for Polish workers. Worksmart employs a number of polish operatives and regularly engages with polish sub-contractors and therefore asked if we could translate their safety procedures into Polish.

Polish Workforce

Since 2004 nearly a million Polish citizens have migrated and found a new home for themselves in the UK, assimilating very well to their new lives.

Polish employees are present in every industry, and usually their English is good enough to freely communicate around the workplace. However, some industries, especially high risk ones like construction, may request additional support for their Polish employees. This is to ensure that safety critical arrangements are effectively communicated, understood and implemented correctly. 

At Amalgamate we have always been welcoming towards newcomers in both our own and our client’s businesses. We are dedicated to supporting our clients and their employees.

Toolkit Development

Our Consultant Roza Ketner (also a Polish national) translated Worksmart’s safety management toolkit into Polish on their behalf. This included the company’s H&S Policy, site inductions, risk assessment, method statements and toolbox talks. These are now used across all Worksmart sites, ensuring that safety critical arrangements are fully understood by all of their workforce.

We will continue to support Worksmart with all aspects of Health and Safety. This initiative enhances their ability to manage their construction sites safely and communicate effectively with all of their workforce.

Literacy, Knowledge, and Understanding

It’s important to emphasise that levels of English literacy must be assessed for foreign candidates before employment. This is to ensure the safety of both this individual and all other people in and around the workplace.

Both Amalgamate and Worksmart are determined to continue to build a strong and safe future for ourselves, our workforce and our clients. 

We’ve also been helping to provide support for dyslexic employees in the workplace, to read more click here.

If you would like to discuss how our consultants can support you and Polish employees please contact us on t: +44 (0)141 244 0181 or e: info@amalgamate-safety

Amalgamate’s approach towards COVID-19

Amalgamate’s approach towards COVID-19 is to ensure the health and safety of both our staff and our clients. We’re doing everything we can to continue providing our clients with the best services we can as safely as possible. As such, we have made the decision to transition to home working as per the government guidelines to minimise exposure risk. However, this hasn’t stopped our team from providing the essential services our clients require to the highest standard we can.

Precautions put in place

For our approach towards COVID-19, we have put a pause on all of our in-person meetings and training, including first aid training. First aid commitment terms have been extended by three months by the HSE – which you can read more about here. The UK Resuscitation Council has also made amendments on how to administer CPR. The changes are aimed at keeping the rescuer safe whilst still providing the emergency care needed for the casualty. We’re continuously monitoring updates from all relevant bodies with regards to first aid. This is so we can provide our clients with the best and most informed advice as possible.

This infographic provided by the UK Resuscitation Council details the scenarios and phases of providing CPR for COVID-19 patients.
This infographic provided by the UK Resuscitation Council details the scenarios and phases of providing CPR for COVID-19 patients. They also have a YouTube video with guidance on out of hospital cardiac arrest during COVID-19, click here to watch.

To Conclude

Our consultants are diligently working with our clients to ensure that they’re supported through this time of difficulty and uncertainty. Some of our clients are doing essential work and have to maintain operation as normally as possible and our prerogative is to ensure they can do this safely. We are monitoring releases from the Uk and Scottish government and aiding our clients in adhering to these.

As our core staff are all working from home, our office hours are as normal. As always, please do not hesitate to contact us for further information or any queries via t: +44 (0)141 244 0181 or e: info@amalgamate-safety.com