Beginner’s Guide to Controlling Legionella

What is Legionella?

Legionella is a type of bacteria frequently found in natural water systems like rivers and ponds, but usually in low enough numbers that they rarely cause problems to humans. But in purpose-built water systems, conditions can mean that the bacteria multiply, becoming a cause of illness. This can include the obvious industrial type of facility like cooling towers, but anywhere that water is stored can be a problem.

What are the risks?

Legionella bacteria cause what is called Legionellosis, a collective name given to several pneumonia-like illnesses. The most serious of these, Legionnaires Disease, is fatal in approximately 10% of cases. But even the lesser related infections, like Pontiac Fever and Lochgoilhead Fever are unpleasant diseases that cause flu-like symptoms and are best avoided.

Legionnaires’ disease is normally contracted by inhaling small droplets of water, suspended in the air, containing the bacteria. Everyone is susceptible but people over 45 years old, people who are heavy smokers or drinkers, people who are suffering from chronic respiratory disease of kidney disease, and people with an impaired immune system are more high risk.

Who needs to think about controlling Legionella?

If you are an employer, or someone who is the owner or lease holder of a building, then you need to think about controlling Legionella. Properties that have swimming pools, hot tubs, evaporative condensers, refrigerated cabinets, or even just standard hot and cold water systems can see outbreaks of legionella-related illnesses.

Controlling Legionella

The guidelines for legionella control are included in the ACoP L8 – The Control of Legionella Bacteria in Water Systems. According to the guidelines:

  • A risk assessment must be carried out by a competent person to identify all potential sources of Legionella
  • A Legionella prevention and treatment scheme must be written
  • A member of staff must be appointed to be responsible for implementing and managing this scheme
  • All relevant records must be kept
  • The risk assessment must be reviewed regularly, especially if there is any reason to believe that the original risk assessment might no longer be relevant. Management and communication procedures should also be reviewed regularly.

The Legionella Risk Assessment should examine the system as a whole and the environment of the system. It needs to consider things like:

  • The source of the water in the system
  • Possible sources of contamination of the supply water in the premises before it reaches the swimming pool, hot tub, or water system that may present a risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria
  • Any means of disinfection in use
  • Current control measures including monitoring regimes.

What are the results of failing to control Legionella?

If businesses are found to have failed to comply with guidelines resulting in someone contracting Legionnaries’ disease or a Legionella-related infection, they can be found negligent and prosecuted for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

In 2016 G4S was given a £1.8m fine after an employee at one of the firm’s sites contracted Legionnaires’ disease in 2013. While environmental health officers could not establish whether the worker’s disease was caused by legionella bacteria at the site, they found that serious risks with the building’s hot and cold water system had been uncovered in a risk assessment but not addressed.

After an outbreak of Legionnaires’ diseases in 2002 caused by Legionella in the air-conditioning system, which killed 7 people and affected 180 others, Barrow Borough Council and their design services manager, Gillian Beckingham, were charged with manslaughter. They were acquitted in 2006 but the council was fined £125,000 and Ms Beckingham was fined £15,000.

Getting Help

To reduce the risk of Legionella-related illness occurring on your premises, Amalgamate can act as your competent person and provide a Legionella Risk Assessment and Control Scheme. This will not only inform you about the risks at your business, but also give you clear, easy-to-follow guidance on what steps to take to minimise them.

To find out more about Legionella, or get advice on risk assessments and surveys, call us on 0141 244 0181 or email info@amalgamate-safety.com.

Beginner’s Guide to DSE Assessments

Why are DSE Assessments so important?

These days, most of us spend a huge amount of time working on a computer, on our tablets or our phones. In fact there are many workers who use computers and display screen equipment (DSE) for the entirety of their working day. So it’s important to ensure that we’re working in a way that isn’t doing harm to our health and wellbeing.

Poor chair adjustment and seated posture can cause pressure on intervertebral discs, as well as strain on back, shoulder, neck, and upper and lower leg muscles. It can also have a detrimental effect on the digestive and respiratory organs, and on circulation.

If you’re an employer, you should be aware that musculo-skeletal problems are the leading cause of sickness absence, and neck or back pain due to poor desk set-up is a huge contributing factor. It is now estimated that over 80% of the adult population will experience back pain at some point in their working lives.

Employers have a legal and ethical duty to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees. A DSE Assessment can help to prevent injuries and strain from occurring, saving your business both sickness absence days and money, and protecting your staff at the same time. It’s worth remembering that the most valuable asset of a business is your employees!

What does a DSE Assessment Involve?

When setting up a workspace there are a number of elements that have to be taken into account, including the person involved, the desk, chair, and the computer equipment itself, whether that is a desktop or laptop model.

We consider the:

  • Work equipment: display screen, keyboard, seating
  • Work environment: space, lighting, noise
  • Interface between user and equipment – software selection and adaptation to user

At Amalgamate, DSE assessments can be done in two ways. Either we can visit your work premises, and help staff to optimise their work environment, talking them through instructions for adjustable chairs and desks, and checking their sitting position etc; or we can do them over the phone, or by video call with staff at their desk. Either way, you get the reassurance that by being pro-active in addressing DSE, you’re reducing the likelihood of injury or strain occurring.

Getting help with DSE Assessments

To find out how we can help your company with your DSE assessments call us on 0141 244 0181 or email info@amalgamate-safety.com.

Some useful links:

Fit for Work – offers free, confidential and impartial work-related health advice to employers and employees with the aim of helping employed people who are off sick for four weeks or more return to work.

Healthy Working Lives – this free advice line in Scotland helps you to quickly and effectively address the issue of employee health, minimise the impact of staff illness, and provide essential support to staff with physical or mental health issues.

Amalgamate is a finalist for a GO Award!

We’re delighted to have been selected as a finalist for the GO Best Service Award: Micro and Small Businesses and Third Sector Organisations. The GO Awards recognise excellence in public procurement:

“The effective delivery of public services is dependent on a robust, vibrant and innovative supply chain. The GO Best Service Award for Micro and Small Businesses and Third Sector Organisations recognises the critical part that they play in ensuring end-user expectations are met, or, even better, exceeded – while paying heed to issues such as efficiency and sustainability.”

GO award finalist 2018We’re pleased that the service we provide to North, East and South Ayrshire Councils in regard to providing their First Aid training is being recognised in this way, and we’re looking forward to raising a glass of something bubbly at the upcoming finalists presentation being held at Procurex Scotland on 23rd October. Wish us luck!

 

Beginner’s Guide to Manual Handling

What is Manual Handling and why is it important?

Manual Handling is the term used to refer to a variety of physical movements, including lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling and carrying. If any of these tasks are not carried out properly there can be a risk of injury. Many work-related musculoskeletal injuries are caused by poor manual handling. They often involve heavy or awkward loads, twisting or turning movements, or over-stretching.

Musculo-skeletal injuries, which are commonly caused by manual handling, account for more than a third of all work-related illnesses, and cause over 8 million days absence per year. The average length of absence is 16 days – which can have a big impact on a business.

One of the key things that businesses can do to reduce the risk of injury to their employees, and the associated absence and expense, is ensure that they are trained on good manual handling movement techniques.

Manual Handling Training

Our specialised 1 day Manual Handling Course combines theory and practical skills. As well as watching demonstrations, delegates will get the chance to do guided practice sessions on good lifting, pushing and pulling techniques.

The course covers a variety of topics, including:

  • Anatomy of the spine
  • Top heavy bending
  • How injuries occur
  • The TILE principle
  • Load Risk Assessment
  • Base movement techniques
  • Mechanical handling
  • PPE

Throughout the course, our highly skilled trainers will assess learning progress, ensuring that any problem areas are addressed, ensuring that delegates gain all the knowledge and skills that they need to ensure that they can move well, protect their body, and reduce the likelihood of injury.

If you want to know more about our range of training courses, or make a booking, call us on 0141 244 0181 or email us at info@amalgamate-safety.com

Career Opportunity – CDM Advisor/Principal Designer

Ref: PD1809
Job Type: Flexible
Salary Range: £30 – 40k

There’s currently an opportunity for a Principal Designer/CDM Advisor to join our team in Glasgow, helping  to deliver our services across Scotland. We’re an established specialist health and safety consultancy, with clients in a wide variety of industries, for both public and private sectors.

The role will involve acting as Principal Designer/CDM Advisor on a range of construction projects, and we need a candidate with a strong working knowledge of the CDM 2015 regulations, with proven experience. There is flexibility regarding the role, including the option for it to be part time, or delivered on a sub-contractor basis. 

Candidates must:

  • Be a member of IOSH and APS;
  • Hold NEBOSH Construction Certificate as a minimum;
  • Have recent experience as a Principal Designer/CDM Advisor, with sound knowledge of the CDM 2015 Regulations.

We’re also looking for the following qualities/skills:

  • Experience of working within a busy, customer-focused environment;
  • Ideally hold a degree in a construction or design-related field;
  • Able to engage with colleagues and clients at all levels;
  • Develop strong working relationships;
  • Pragmatic and customer focused;
  • Hold a full UK Driving License and be willing to travel as required

Our Equal Opportunities Policy affirms our belief that noone should be discriminated against on the basis of their race, sexuality, gender identity, age, parental status, disability, or other characteristic. We’re also committed to Fair Working Practices – we always pay above the Living Wage, and offer a flexible working environment.

If you believe that you have the necessary skills, experience, and attitude for this role, please send a CV and covering letter to careers@amalgamate-safety.com

Beginner’s Guide to Occupational Health Assessments

What is the Purpose of an Occupational Health Assessment?

If you are experiencing a long-term or serious health issue, your employer may request an Occupational Health Assessment for you. The purpose of the assessment is not to add to or replace your appointments with your GP, but to help your employer to understand the problems you’re experiencing, and how they affect your ability to work. Following the assessment, we’ll give your employer expert advice on what help they can give you in order to remove barriers to your successful return to work or, if you are still at work, ensure that you can continue to work safely.

If you’re suffering from back problems, for example, we might advise that your employer conducts an assessment of your work station to consider if there are any adjustments that could be made, or if any kind of specialist equipment is required. If you’re returning from a long-term absence, we’d be able to give your employer recommendations about options such as phasing your reintroduction to work or offering flexible hours so that you can make any necessary doctor’s appointments.

What Does the Occupational Health Assessment Process Involve?

The process varies slightly in the UK and Ireland due to Irish privacy laws. In the UK, the process starts with a company sending us a referral in which they tell us why they’re referring someone for an Occupational Health Assessment. Amalgamate then contacts the employee to obtain consent to go ahead with the assessment, and arrange a time for a consultation with an Occupational Health Practitioner. This consultation can be done face-to-face or over the phone, depending on what is most suitable for the specific situation.

During the consultation, the employee is asked questions in order for the Occupational Health Practitioner to understand the background of their case. The practitioner is aiming to understand what problems the employee might be having at work, or what barriers they might be facing that are preventing them from returning to work.

Based on this consultation, the Occupational Health Practitioner writes a report that outlines the background of the case as they have had it described to them. The report includes their interpretation of the case, and their recommendations for reasonable support or adjustments that the company could make. What is discussed in the consultation is protected by doctor/patient confidentiality, so the Occupational Health Practitioner will only include in their report the personal information that the employee has said they are willing to have included.

This report is then sent to the employee to read through so that they can check that it is an accurate representation of their consultation. If, for example, something the employee said has been misunderstood, or some factual detail is wrong, the employee can request a change. In this case the Occupational Health Practitioner would look over any possible alteration and check whether this has any impact on their recommendations.

The finalised Occupational Health Assessment report is then sent to both the employer and the employee. Sometimes we might also suggest that it would be beneficial to have a follow-up consultation with the employee to check their progress or assess whether their situation has changed at all.

How do I find out more?

If you’d like any further information on our Occupational Health Assessment process, call us on 0141 244 0181 or email health@amalgamate-safety.com. For more information on our range of Occupational Health Services, visit this page.

Sun Safety for the Summer

Most of us are probably pretty delighted with the current heatwave. It makes a lovely change from the usual rainy UK summer! But if there’s one thing British people are famous for, it’s getting over-excited at the sight of the sun. You know the drill – at the first sight of a bright blue sky, the men are getting their shirts off, everyone heads to a park, beer garden, or outdoor cafe, and pretty soon the streets are filled with sweaty sunburned faces. The fact is, when it comes to sun safety, we’re just not as savvy as our European counterparts. The novelty value of seeing real live sunshine at home overcomes our logic, and then our body suffers.

So what are the risks, and what should we be doing differently?

By now we should all be aware of the risks of skin cancer. But still, every year in the UK, more than 100,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed, and over 2,100 people die. So sunscreen is a must if you’re going to be outside in the sun. You should be using at least factor 15, and a lotion that protects against UVA and UVB.

Something that is often disregarded is how important it is to ensure that you’re using enough lotion. To cover your face, neck and arms, you should use around 2 teaspoons worth. For a full body, it should be about 2 tablespoons. And if you’re outside for an extended period of time you need to re-apply it frequently too. Covering up with loose fitting clothing and a hat is a great idea, as is making sure you get in the shade for at least part of the hottest time of day, from 11-3.

In high temperatures, especially if you’re not used to them, it’s easy to get dehydrated. And there’s also the risk of heatstroke – which is deeply unpleasant. If your body starts to overheat it can cause headaches and vomiting, and in severe cases delirium, seizures or loss of consciousness. To reduce the risks of sunstroke/heatstroke, spending time out of the sun will help, as will making sure you’re drinking enough water. So make sure you’re getting those recommended 8 glasses a day when things heat up.

Sun Safety for Outdoor Workers

Sun safety is particularly important for people who spend a lot of time outdoors. This includes road and construction workers, delivery staff and gardeners, among many others. UV radiation is classed as an occupational hazard for outdoor workers. This means that their employers must include sun protection advice in their health and safety training.

Depending on the type of work environment, there are various steps they could take, like encouraging staff to use adequate sun protection, wear a hat, and take breaks in the shade. They could also consider scheduling work to reduce sun exposure, and provide rest areas and water points that are shaded. As always, consulting employees and safety representatives is a good way of keeping people involved in health and safety, and getting new ideas.

Staying safe in the sun is pretty straightforward, you just need to get into some good habits. We hope you take the time to put these steps into action and protect yourself, and any employees you are responsible for. Now go enjoy the summer!

We offer a range of services that include guidance on all your H&S responsibilities as an employer. For more information, contact info@amalgamate-safety.com or call 0141 244 0181.

 

 

 

 

Fire Safety Advice for Evolution Skatepark

Amalgamate are delighted to be providing fire safety advice to Evolution Skatepark – an extreme sports facility in Ayrshire. The park is run by a community group, and offers children and young people a safe and secure environment in which to participate in a range of sports, including BMX, skateboarding and in-line skating. 

We’re particularly pleased to be involved in helping the park improve its safety, as we can see what an asset it is to the community. It’s a great example of a facility that has been built to meet specific local needs – providing leisure services, tackling youth crime, encouraging a healthier lifestyle, and improving the general opinion of the community in relation to young people within the local area.fire safety advice skatepark

Amalgamate has been taken on to carry out a comprehensive review of the park’s fire safety. Workplace fire safety is a big responsibility – on average about 20,000 fires occur in non-domestic properties every year in the UK. These lead to approximately 1,000 injured people, and around 20 deaths, not to mention the costs related to damage to property and assets. So making sure that risks are methodically assessed and reduced is a key part of any health and safety management plan.

To help Evolution Skatepark manage fire safety better, we’ve carried out fire risk assessments on the various buildings on their site, including the office, shop, toilet block, kitchen, etc.

The key steps in our Fire Risk Assessment process involve helping the team at the park to:

  • Identify people at risk
  • Identify fire hazards
  • Assess and reduce risks
  • Record, plan, inform, instruct and train their staff
  • Review their performance

Our fire safety specialists have investigated elements of fire protection, fire prevention and fire safety/management to ensure we could provide the park with the best possible fire safety advice in the form of a clear and concise report that enables actions to be taken swiftly to protect the park’s staff and assets.

We’re proud to work with Evolution Skatepark, giving them the information and support they need to meet their health and safety goals. If you’re looking for fire safety advice, or just want to know more about our health and safety services, e-mail us at info@amalgamate-safety.com or call our Glasgow office on 0141 244 0181 or our Ayrshire office on 01294 443 806.

HSE’s Training Guidance Changes for First Aid Courses

The Health and Safety Executive have recently amended their First Aid at Work training guidance, bringing in improvements to content, and recommending more modern teaching styles. The main changes are:

The introduction of blended learning as an accepted method of first aid training delivery. This allows a combination of both online digital media and traditional classroom methods being used together.

The addition of AED (defibrillator) use to First Aid at Work/Emergency First Aid at Work course content. As the number of workplaces that have an AED installed is increasing, the addition of this in the training gives First Aiders the knowledge and confidence to use one if they have to.

Here at Amalgamate, we’ve already been including AED training in our First Aid courses as we believe that they can make a big difference to survival rates. So we’re pleased to see the HSE changing their training guidance to ensure that AED training becomes more widespread.

Haemostatic dressings/tourniquets have been added as examples of additional training/equipment that might be identified as appropriate in an employer’s needs assessment. A workplace would need a risk assessment to be carried out first to determine if this would be a necessary requirement, but for industries such as forestry/arboriculture the addition of this to the first aid training would be invaluable.

We can support in the development of risk assessments for this, and we also have trainers qualified in the teaching of catastrophic bleeding, ready to provide this training to your team.

First Aid training is an integral part of workplace safety, and we have a number of different options to suit all kinds of businesses. For more information, visit our Training page, contact us by email at training@amalgamate-safety.com or phone our Glasgow office on (0141) 244 0181 or our Ayrshire office on (01294) 443 806.