Tag Archives: occupational health

HSE Statistics

The Health and Safety Executive have published their statistics for this year, and revealed the shocking number of people still being injured or made sick by their work.

Some key figures include:

  • 1.2 million people suffering from a work-related illness
  • 611,000 injuries at work
  • 142 people killed at work

Although workplace health and safety has improved over time, there is still much more to be done to ensure that everyone gets to go home healthy and safe at the end of the day.

Read the ‘At a Glance’ Guide to the Statistics here or the HSE Full Annual Report here.

Win a free AA Emergency Car Kit

Business leaders are responsible for ensuring their employees’ safety, and when winter comes around it’s important to remind them of the need to pay attention to safe driving issues.  So this month we’re giving away an AA Emergency Winter Car Kit to help draw attention to the subject.

Read on for winter driving tips to share with your staff, and to find out how to win…

Emergency-Winter-Kit-2013

The kit fits easily into your car boot, and includes:

  • Foldable snow shovel
  • Emergency foil blanket
  • 9 LED torch with batteries
  • High-visibility vest
  • Snow and ice grips
  • Booster cables
  • Ponchos

Safer Driving in Winter

We all prepare to some extent for the winter, whether it’s with a boiler service or getting a new winter coat. But have you made sure that you’re ready for the changeable driving conditions that winter brings?

Have you:

  • Checked that your lights are clean and the car battery is fully charged?
  • Made sure that your tyres are in good condition?
  • Cleaned your car windows – on the inside as well as the outside? It’ll really make a difference when that low angled sun is shining.
  • Made sure that your brakes are working well and your tyre pressure is correct?
  • Checked that your oil, anti-freeze and windscreen wash are all topped-up?

It’s also a really good idea to keep an emergency kit (like the AA one shown above) in your car during the winter months. If you’re assembling one yourself, consider including a warm coat or blanket, a snow shovel, wellies, a hazard warning triangle (many cars have these included), a torch and a first aid kit. Having a bottle of water and a couple of cereal bars is a good idea too. We’ve all heard stories from when people got snowed into their cars for hours on the motorway a few years back – having access to food and being able to keep warm makes all the difference in an uncomfortable situation like that.

Before setting off on a long journey always make sure that:

  • You have plenty of fuel
  • You’ve checked the weather reports for the area you’ll be travelling through
  • Your mobile phone is fully charged before you set off
  • You’ve let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to arrive.

Driving in Snow
As always, it’s vital to adapt your driving to the weather conditions. Slow down, remember your stopping distances, and avoid harsh braking and acceleration.

Getting stuck in snow can be a real pain. Trying to power out is not the best option; instead try to rock your car back and forth gently using a high gear. If this doesn’t work you might need someone to give you a push or get that snow shovel out and start digging.

Driving in Rain
I’m sure we’re all pretty experienced at driving in the rain, but always remember – it can require twice the normal braking distance to stop when the roads are wet, so be extra aware of how close you are to the car in front.

Driving in Fog
Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Switch on your headlights/fog lights if visibility is reduced;
  • If you can see a car behind you, they can see you and your rear fog lights could be dazzling them. Switch them off when visibility improves;
  • Rear lights of the car in front of you can sometimes provide a false sense of security, be careful not to get too close; and
  • Fog can be patchy so be careful not to speed up as soon as visibility improves slightly, you could find yourself in thick fog again very quickly.

For more information / advice on driving safely visit gov.uk or the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

To win a free AA Emergency Winter Kit worth £28.99 for one of your employees, send a message to Annette@amalgamate-safety.com before the 21st of December, telling us what efforts you’re making to help ensure staff safety this winter.  A winner will be picked at random from all the entries. 

Inactivity – We can’t keep sitting still

We have become an immobile nation. On average, workers in the UK spend 60% of their waking hours sitting down – and if they’re office-based, this can rise to as much as 75%.

Official government data shows that 29% of people in England are classed as physically inactive, meaning that they do less than 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity in total per week, even though that can be split into three 10 minute sets. And sadly the statistics are likely to be similar throughout the whole of the UK. We really are sitting still – and the effects of this inactivity are huge, and include an increased risk of diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease and premature death. It is the fourth largest cause of disease and disability, and directly contributes to one in six deaths in the UK – making it as dangerous as smoking.

The health repercussions of this are felt throughout the business world – sickness absence is estimated to cost UK businesses the vast sum of £27 billion per year – and inactivity is a large and combatable contributor to this.

It is vital that business leaders take a more pro-active role in providing opportunities and encouragement for their employees to be more active at work. Employee wellbeing needs to become a fundamental part of business, with a strong focus on increasing activity levels and improving health.

Progressive companies are introducing a wide range of incentives, including lunch-time yoga classes, increased use of standing workstations, balance boards, or exercise balls available to use instead of chairs, personalised activity plans, and even offering vouchers for shoes for people who walk to work. There are plenty of changes, small and large, that can be made – you just need to figure out what will work best for your team. These types of preventative actions lead to increased wellbeing and therefore reduced absence rates, and studies have also shown that they can also improve work productivity, efficiency, and satisfaction.

We can help you to take care of your team by providing:

  • DSE assessments to ensure that workstations allow staff to move dynamically
  • a range of sports and remedial assessments
  • on-site massages
  • advice on developing strategies to increase opportunities for movement

For help with creating or developing your company’s employee wellbeing programs and moving towards a healthier future, , click here to read further details of our Health and Wellbeing services and contact us on 0141 244 0181 or email info@amalgamate-safety.com.

 

New H&S Sentencing Guidelines – Are you ready?

New Sentencing Guidelines come into effect in February 2016. Is your business ready?

The Sentencing Council’s new guidelines aim to ensure a consistent approach to health and safety, corporate manslaughter, and food safety and hygiene cases, and will lead to a more severe response to these cases, and potentially higher fines.

Company directors who are found guilty of “consent, connivance or neglect” in relation to an offence could face unlimited fines, as well as up to 2 years in prison.

Serious health and safety breaches could result in fines exceeding £10million, and corporate manslaughter cases could exceed £20million. 

Different fine ranges will apply depending on the size of the organisation. However it’s entirely possible that the fines could be of sufficient size to put a company out of business, which may be decided to be an acceptable consequence, if the offence is severe enough.

When a fine is being decided, the court will consider the overall seriousness of the offence based on the offender’s culpability and the risk of serious harm, even if no harm was actually caused. They will also take into account various factors including, amongst others, whether the business has:

  • any previous convictions
  • taken action to improve the situation
  • co-operated with the investigation
  • a history of relevant offences
  • committed the offence for the purpose of financial gain.

It is clear that the regulatory authorities expect companies to take positive action, and really prioritise health and safety issues. And although the guidelines will apply only to England and Wales, health and safety law is generally consistent across the UK, so it’s likely that Scotland will follow suit and implement tougher fines.

This news is a timely reminder to ensure that your business is compliant with all the relevant Health and Safety legislation, and that your H&S management systems are truly effective. Taking action now could protect the financial standing of your business.

To find out more about how we can help, call us on 0141 244 0181 or e-mail info@amalgamate-safety.com

It’s not always fun in the sun!

This year, IOSH is backing a campaign to raise awareness of occupational cancers. The No Time To Lose campaign is currently focusing on skin cancer, and they have recently published a study which reveals the number of people in the UK diagnosed with or dying from the deadliest form of skin cancer because of sun exposure at work.

They estimate that in the UK, every week a person dies from malignant melanoma from sun exposure at work, with 240 new cases also being registered per year. Combining these findings with other recent studies into work-related non-melanoma skin cancer reveals that in the UK on average five people per day are being diagnosed with a form of skin cancer contracted at work.

IOSH states that “The research has given businesses the first full picture of the skin cancer burden on those working outdoors in industries as diverse as construction, agriculture and leisure and entertainment”.

The problem of excess sun exposure is widespread. It is estimated that in the UK 5.5 million people have been exposed to solar radiation through their work – particularly in the service industries, construction sector, manufacturing and agriculture.

Sadly, people are often disinclined to take the risks of sun exposure seriously, but if employers understand what a serious issue it is, they can use their influence to make cultural changes within their business.

The campaign urges employers to develop ‘sun safety strategies’ including, for example, consulting the UV index, making plans to minimise sun exposure around the middle of the day, and encouraging employees who work outdoors to wear long-sleeved, loose-fitting tops and trousers. They emphasise that using high-factor sunscreen is helpful, but should not be relied upon as the only strategy.

For assistance with a range of occupational health matters, including risk assessments and employee health programmes, contact us on info@amalgamate-safety.com or call 0141 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