Tag Archives: construction

First Aid Advice for Contractors (COVID-19)

Introduction

We have been asked by a number of our clients in the construction industry about providing first aid during the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Our First Aid trainers have pulled together some First Aid advice for Contractors undertaking key or essential works at this time.

Our advice is provided to support you in risk mitigation and provide some guidance for your nominated first aiders.

Background

The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 require all construction sites to have a first aid box on site and an appointed and trained person to take charge of first aid arrangements. This obligation continues notwithstanding these times of social distancing. 

Because of social distancing, contractors need to be aware that a first aider might refuse to provide first aid in the normal way because of the risk of contracting coronavirus. This could result in the injured person remaining unsupported. Equally, liability could attach if a first-aider was to contract COVID-19 whilst giving first aid.

Advice

We would expect that most first aiders may consider that checking somebody’s airway, or carrying out mouth to mouth resuscitation, is too a high risk. On that basis they may refuse to do it. The Resuscitation Council UK (RCUK) is in fact advising against mouth to mouth during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The RCUK offers this advice:

  • Recognise cardiac arrest by looking for the absence of signs of life and the absence of normal breathing;
  • Do not listen or feel for breathing by placing your ear and cheek close to the patient’s mouth. If you are in any doubt about confirming cardiac arrest. The default position is to start chest compressions until help arrives;
  • Make sure an ambulance is on its way. If COVID-19 is suspected, tell emergency service when you call 999;
  • If there is a perceived risk of infection, rescuers should place a cloth/towel over the victims mouth and nose. Then attempt compression only CPR and early defibrillation until the ambulance arrives;
  • Put hands together in the middle of the chest and push hard and fast;
  • Early use of a defibrillator significantly increases the person’s chances of survival and does not increase risk of infection;
  • If the rescuer has access to personal protective equipment (PPE) e.g. FFP3 face mask, disposable gloves, eye protection), these should be worn;
  • After performing compression only CPR. All rescuers should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water with alcohol-based hand gel being a convenient alternative; and
  • They should also seek advice from the NHS 111 coronavirus advice service or medical adviser.

Self-care

Administering first aid is simple. The steps to take in an emergency can be easily described to an injured or ill person so they can help themselves. For example, if they are bleeding heavily, you can ask them to apply pressure to the wound with whatever they have available.

This would be the same for burns – you could ask them to cool the burn under water for 20 minutes without you having to touch them.

Providing Assistance

If you do need to provide assistance to an individual who you are concerned may have coronavirus, wherever possible place the person in a location away from others.

Where there is no separate room, instruct bystanders who are not involved in providing assistance to stay at least 2 metres away from the casualty.

If barrier screens are available, these should be used.

Infection Control

It is important to remember first aid has always had to consider the risk of infection, not from coronavirus (COVID-19) but from other infections such as HIV, hepatitis and other viruses or infections which have the potential to harm.

Always follow the safety guidelines in relation to hygiene and personal protection when administering first aid, wash hands thoroughly before and after, wear disposable gloves and any other protective personal equipment you have access to e.g. aprons and masks.

Calling the Emergency Services

At the present the NHS and ambulance service are under tremendous strain. Consider whether you need to call 999 – this service is for life threatening emergencies such as unresponsive people, those with chest pain, breathing difficulties, severe allergic reactions or catastrophic bleeding. 

If someone has to go to A&E remember the first aider should never be the one to transport them. If you suspect the person has coronavirus and needs to go to A&E contact NHS 111 first. Anyone attending A&E should, wherever possible, attend alone.

Comment

In general terms, construction companies should proceed on a risk based approach and, if the risk of limited first aid exists, control measures should be put in place.

For example, businesses should, amongst other things, give consideration to:

  • Providing NHS style personal protective equipment (full face-fitted masks, eye protection, and medical gloves) to first aiders on site;
  • Reducing the volume and type of work being conducted during this time (perhaps low risk operations only will continue);
  • Checking that first aiders are comfortable to continue to act as first aiders in the current climate, and
  • Making sure first aid equipment such as first aid kits, PPE, defibrillators, etc are available on site.

These and other measures may reduce the risk rating to an acceptable level on some projects and allow work to continue (perhaps at reduced volume). However, there may well be some projects where the risk of a first aider refusing to assist is too great, and a decision may need to be taken to suspend those projects accordingly.

For further information please do not hesitate to contact us on t: +44 (0)141 244 0181 or e: info@amalgamate-safety.com

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Would you be ready for a surprise site inspection?

The HSE has just announced that surprise site inspections will be taking place during the period from 3rd of October to 4th of November. Sites that involve refurbishment or repair works will be targeted, and at each site inspection, inspectors will be checking that safety risks are being properly and effectively managed. Things they’re looking for include:

  • exposure to dust, noise and vibration
  • awareness of asbestos risks
  • maintenance and inspection of plant and equipment
  • general housekeeping of sites – trip hazards, clear entry and exit routes etc.

Where serious breaches of legislation are found, immediate enforcement action will be taken. So it’s a good time to ask yourself – if an inspector did a surprise site inspection at your site today, what would they see? Would they be satisfied that you were doing everything necessary to maintain a safe working environment? If the answer is no, or you’re not sure, it’s time to contact us. Our experienced safety professionals can visit your site and give you clear guidance on what steps you need to take to ensure compliance with all relevant legislation.

Don’t wait for the HSE to arrive, get prepared now – call 0141 2440181 or email info@amalgamate-safety.com

Dealing with Lead Paint – The Risks of Lead Exposure

In the last 20 years, a lot has been done in the UK to remove the risks from lead exposure, but there is still a significant amount of lead paint in older buildings. Up until the mid-1960s, lead was used to make some kinds of paint – for windows, doors and other woodwork, as well as for some metal items, like radiators. A few minor uses continued until the 1980s.

Lead exposure can have serious health consequences, ranging from anaemia, to kidney damage, brain damage, and even death. The groups most vulnerable to lead exposure are children and pregnant women, but severe or ongoing exposure can be damaging to anyone. Therefore it is important to know how to deal with lead paint correctly.

When are you most at risk?

When the work you are doing produces lead dust, fume or vapour you are most at risk. This may include:

  • blast removal and burning of old lead paint;
  • stripping of old lead paint from doors, windows etc;
  • hot cutting in demolition and dismantling operations;
  • scrap-processing activities, including recovering lead from scrap and waste;
  • some painting of buildings; some spray-painting of vehicles;
  • working with metallic lead and alloys containing lead, eg soldering;
  • lead smelting, refining, alloying and casting.

How do you make sure it’s safe?

The easiest way of dealing with lead paintwork thats in good condition is to seal it with a coat of modern paint. But if the paintwork is in bad condition and needs to be removed before you can repaint, use methods that don’t create dust or fumes, like a solvent or caustic-based liquid stripper.

Don’t forget to follow the safety instructions, and remember that solvent-free, water-based paint removers are now available. If you have to use a hot-air gun, use it just enough to soften the paint – don’t burn it, as this will produce fumes. A good guide is to ensure the gun is set below 450C. Keep surfaces moist when removing paint.

Wear protective clothes, gloves and a good quality face mask with a filter conforming to EN143 P2, and shut off the work area. If possible, remove furniture and carpets; otherwise cover them completely.

When you break from the work, store the clothes you’ve been wearing safely (e.g. in a sealed plastic bag) and wash your hands and any other bare skin before you do anything else.

When you’ve taken most of the paint off, moisten the surface and smooth it with a waterproof abrasive paper – don’t use sandpaper.

When you’ve finished, put the paint you’ve removed and any collected on coverings in a safe container, a sealed plastic bag will do, and dispose of it. Clean the room you’ve been working in and any coverings with water and detergent. If you need to get rid of any dust after decorating, you may have to use an industrial standard vacuum cleaner (complying with British Standard 5415), and wash the clothes you’ve been working in separately from any others.

 

CDM 2015 – Are you prepared for the proposed changes?

As many of you will be aware, there are changes being proposed to the Construction (Design and Design) Management Regulations in 2015. These significant changes to CDM will have implications to those involved in the design process and will affect how you are currently managing projects.

The proposed changes include the removal of the CDM Coordinator role and the introduction of ‘Principal Designers’, which will see a shift in duty and responsibility for the following areas:

  • assisting the client in identifying, obtaining and collating pre-construction information;
  • providing pre-construction information to designers, principal contractor and contractors;
  • ensuring that designers comply with their duties and co-operate with each other;
  • liaising with the principal contractor for the duration of the appointment, and
  • preparing the health and safety file.

As the industry starts to prepare, draft industry guidance has been issued by both the CITB and the HSE on the proposed ‘Principal Designers’ role. This is obviously subject to change but should provide you with an insight on those new requirements.

If you require CDM 2015 systems development, training or delivery support please do not hesitate to give us a call on +44 (0)141 244 0181.

The Dangers of Diesel

IOSH has been trying to raise awareness of the dangers of diesel fumes. The fumes are carcinogenic, and it is estimated that every year 650 people die in the UK (and 4,500 in Europe) from lung or bladder cancers that they cause.

Some facts

Diesel fumes contain 10 times more soot particles than petrol fumes, and regular exposure to them means that you have a 40% higher chance of developing lung cancer.

800 people are diagnosed with cancer caused by diesel fumes in the UK every year.

Around half a million workers in the UK could be exposed to dangerous levels of diesel fumes.

Some of the main risk employment areas for exposure to diesel engine fumes include: construction, shipping, transport/logistics, vehicle repair, and warehousing.

What does this mean for your business?

This is a sizeable problem and, as with all health and wellbeing issues, employers must ensure that they are making sufficient effort to protect their workers.

Things to consider include: the type of diesel being used, the level of fumes, whether they are building up in enclosed areas, and if they are making sooty deposits or a smoky haze which workers are exposed to.

Where diesel fumes are present, a risk assessment should be undertaken. When doing this, you need to think about the following points:

  • What diesel engines or equipment are used in the workplace?
  • Do engines or machines emit blue or black smoke?
  • Are diesel exhaust fumes released into enclosed working areas such as garages?
  • Are diesel exhaust fumes drawn into the workplace through ventilation inlets?
  • Are diesel exhaust fumes concentrated in confined spaces or areas in buildings where there is limited air movement?
  • Are there visible soot deposits on surfaces in the workspace?
  • Is there a visible haze?
  • do those in the work environment suffer from irritated eyes or lungs?

If you answer ‘yes’ to some or all of these basic questions, there is a risk of people being harmed by diesel exhaust fumes. It’s vital that you arrange a formal assessment of the hazard, which could include measuring elemental carbon concentrations. Depending on the results of the assessment, you may need to either prevent or control the potential exposure. Typical actions to control exposure include:

  • switching to other forms of fuel where possible, e.g. gas or electric
  •  replacing old engines with newer versions with lower emissions
  • making sure that engines are maintained properly – especially fuel delivery systems
  • making sure diesel engine exhausts have filters using ‘local exhaust ventilation’ and good general ventilation in fixed or enclosed workplaces
  • using forced ventilation to draw fresh air into the workplace
  • using connecting extraction pipes for vehicle exhausts in workshops
  • filtering air in vehicle cabs
  • making sure that engines are turned off when they’re not needed
  • if engines have to be left running, making sure the vehicle or equipment is moved outside (checking that no one else is then exposed)
  • making sure cold engines are warmed up in spaces with good ventilation
  • keeping building doors and windows open if it’s practicable
  • rotating jobs between different employees to minimise exposure.

Health surveillance

Ensuring that Occupational Health (OH) checks are undertaken is also key to maintaining workers’ health. Regular checks can alert you to potential problems that may require further action.

Some useful resources

http://www.hse.gov.uk/cancer/

http://www.notimetolose.org.uk

How can you get help?

Hopefully this information will help you to make a start on establishing if there are steps to be taken to protect your employees. However, if you need any assistance with managing Occupational Health please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your requirements. Phone 0141 244 0181 or email info@amalgamate-safety.com.

Constructing Better Health

We’re very proud to say that we have recently been accredited with CBH, who are doing great work to improve standards in Health and Safety within the Construction industry.

It is well known that the construction industry has a worryingly high rate of workplace injuries, but what is less recognised is the high incidence of work-related illnesses. Respiratory diseases, musculo-skeletal issues, and skin problems are all far too common within the industry.

CBH is working with employers and Occupational Health service providers like ourselves to raise the standards in ongoing health surveillance, health testing, and treatment of employees, to ensure better health, reduced absence, and higher productivity.

The CBH accreditation confirms that we have met their rigorous industry standards for management of workplace health and providing Occupational Health services to the specific requirements of the construction industry.

By being involved, we will be part of a process that centralises the collection of work-related health data to ensure the future improvement of workforce health based on reliable data and the provision of a benchmark for the industry.

Construction employers can be assured that we provide a ‘best practice’ service that is consistent and of high quality, and which takes into account the varied needs of different roles within the construction industry.

We look forward to being a part of this valuable new initiative.

www.cbhscheme.com

CBH OHSP logo