Tag Archives: coronavirus

Legionella and COVID-19

 

Introduction

 

Do you know how to keep your company safe from the increased risk of legionella during COVID-19? We’ve detailed some information and guidance on managing this increased risk. The HSE recently released information surrounding legionella risks during the current COVID-19 pandemic (click here to read). They’ve stated that due to water stagnation in closed or reduced occupancy buildings, there is an increased risk of legionella growth which can lead to Legionnaires’ disease.

 

 

This infographic from medicalxpress details the common signs and symptoms of Legionnaires' Disease.
This infographic from medicalxpress details the common signs and symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease.

What is Legionella and Legionnaires’ disease?

 

Legionella is a type of bacteria that can lead to Legionnaires’ disease, a type of severe pneumonia. Legionnaires’ disease is caused by the growth of legionella in water systems which aren’t adequately managed. This can also result in the milder form of Legionnaires’ Disease, a flu like illness called Pontiac Fever. Breathing in mist from water systems containing legionella is what causes the disease. This mist may come from hot tubs, showers, or air conditioning units in larger buildings.

 

 

Why has it’s risk increased from COVID-19?

 

The risk of legionella bacteria, and hence Legionnaires’ disease, has increased amidst COVID-19 due to stagnant water. Closure of buildings, parts of buildings or their restricted use, can increase the risk of legionella growth in water systems and associated equipment including evaporative air conditioning systems, spa pools/tubs etc. 

This risk is relevant to all public, residential and office buildings with similar water systems.

 

 

Preventing Legionella

 

It’s important that during this pandemic you manage and keep all water systems safe whilst closed or during partial shutdowns. This is for the future health and safety of guests, visitors and staff.

Review your risk assessment and update it to reflect your current water system usage and other systems or equipment which have reduced use or are shut down. Document how you will protect staff, visitors and others from legionella growth who remain on your property and when it re-opens.

If required, get help from an experienced and competent water treatment advisor, public health or environmental health authority. Where national guidelines or legislation are in place then you must follow those.

 

 

Key points to remember

 

Legionella will grow in water systems to levels which may cause infection where:

  • The temperature of the water is between 25°C and 50°C – prevent hot water from cooling below 50°C and cold water from warming above 25°C.
  • There’s poor or no flow.
  • The use of materials which provide protective niches and nutrients for growth and biofilm formation may collect in the system pipework and calorifier.
  • There is a means of creating and disseminating inhale droplets such as aerosols generated by; evaporative cooling systems, taps, showering, pools, fountains, flushing a toilet etc.
  • There is potential for contamination from poor quality source water.

 

 

Resources

 

For an in-depth article by the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases on managing water systems to prevent legionella growth, click here.

You can also click here to read the British Lung Foundation’s article on Legionnaires’ disease including who is at risk, prevention, symptoms and treatment.

We also have a Beginner’s Guide to Controlling Legionella post on our website which you can read here.

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

FFP Masks: COVID-19

 

Introduction

 

FFP masks and face coverings have become the new normal for battling the deadly COVID-19 outbreak. An FFP mask is a disposable mask used as a barrier for preventing the spread of respiratory particles. This is called source control. The use of these masks have been advised due to the role respiratory droplets play in the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. We will detail the types of masks available, selecting/fitting one as well as putting on (donning) and removing (doffing) a mask.

 

 

Types of FFP Masks

 

These are some of the different FFP masks available for use during COVID-19, an N95 mask is closest to an FFP2 mask
These are some of the different FFP masks available, an N95 mask is closest to an FFP2 mask

FFP stands for Filtering Face Piece and they are split into 3 categories determined by their protection level. OEL (Occupational Exposure Limit value) refers to the amount of toxic substance that is allowed in air within a workplace. The APF (Assigned Protection Factor) indicates the factor by which the wearer is protected from hazardous substances. For example a mask with an APF of 4 will reduce the hazard of the wearer breathing in toxic substances by 4 times.

 

FFP1

  • The most basic of masks
  • 4 X APF
  • 4 X OEL

 

FFP2

  • Offers more protection than FFP1
  • Recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) during the outbreaks of SARS, coronavirus and avian flu.
  • 10 X APF
  • 12 X OEL

 

FFP3

  • Offers the highest protection from breathing in hazardous substances
  • Can block both liquid and solid aerosols
  • Current NHS guidelines stipulate FFP3 face masks for virus and bacterial infection control when the contagion is spread through coughing and sneezing (such as with the coronavirus)
  • 20 X APF
  • 50 X OEL

 

 

Preparing your mask

 

FFP masks require a tight fit to your face therefore it is essential that you are fit tested as part of the selection process – this ensures that the mask forms a seal to your face. Your face must be clean shaven for an effective seal. If you do have facial hair, make sure that it is groomed and does not protrude under the mask seal or interfere with an exhalation valve.

 

Visual Checks

  • Before you start, make sure your hands are clean and disinfected
  • Read the manufacturers instructions and make sure this is the correct type and size of mask you have been fit tested for
  • Unpack and unfold the mask, check the straps, face seal and the nose clip
  • Check the filtering material for holes/damage by putting it up to light and examining it
  • If the mask is squashed, crumpled or damaged, don’t use it – dispose of it

 

 

Donning your mask

 

  1. Cup the mask in your hand with the straps hanging loose below
  2. Place the mask over your chin then pull over your nose
  3. Pull the bottom strap over your head to the back of your neck
  4. Pull the top strap over your head to sit above your ears and on the crown of your head
  5. Ensure the straps aren’t twisted
  6. If you need to tighten the strap, pull both ends at the same time, bottom strap first then the top
  7. Make sure the mask is tightly fitted but not uncomfortable
  8. Ask a colleague or use the mirror to check the straps are in the correct position

 

 

Nose Clip

Additionally some masks may have a nose clip which should be pressed firmly against the shape of your nose. To adjust it, roll your fingers from the bridge of your nose down to either side to ensure a good seal. Furthermore, if you wear glasses, take them off for the time of mask fitting to make sure a gap is not created between the mask and your face.

 

 

Doffing your mask

 

Method 1

  1. First make sure your hands are clean
  2. Pull the bottom strap of the mask over your head first and let it hang below the mask
  3. Grab the bottom straps and pull the mask off the face and up so the top strap of the mask comes off the crown of your head
  4. Do not touch the outside of the filtering material!
  5. Finally wash or sanitise hands

 

Method 2

  1. First make sure your hands are clean and lean slightly forwards
  2. Grab both straps of the mask behind your ears, pull them up and around your head and slide hands forward until the mask detaches from your face
  3. Do not touch the outside filtering material!
  4. Finally wash or sanitise hands

 

 

Disposal

 

FFP masks have a limited time of use. They shouldn’t be used for more than 3-4 hours, after that time they should be discarded. A mask should be discarded safely after it has been used, is damaged, soiled, damp, uncomfortable, difficult to breath in or if you feel that the seal is compromised. The mask should be discarded straight after use into an appropriate bin (ideally a pedestal closed bin). Sanitise or wash your hands after disposing of the mask.

You can also click here to read a great article that explains everything you need to know about the different types of FFP3 masks available.

Finally, you can click here to read the HSE’s fit testing basics.

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

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. 

Amalgamate Safety