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Display Screen Equipment

Display Screen Equipment (DSE) i.e computer workstations, laptops and other VDU’s can sometimes be associated with neck, shoulder, wrist and arm pain. VDU’s can also cause eyestrain and fatigue. In offices and places of work the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 as amended by the Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2002 give advice and recommendations on how to use workstations in a way that helps controls the risk to the body and health. Display screen occupations include word processing workers, data imputers, typists, journalists,  financial dealers,  librarians and  web analysts. There are other occupations that involve working with visual display equipment that is a bit different from the normal visual display unit, these include air traffic controllers and security room operatives. Although there may be different kinds of screens used, there is still the risk of strain to the body. Emplyers should ensure that the regulations are adhered to and that the employees understand them.

For the display screen itself the characters should be well-defined and clearly formed. The image on the screen should be stable with no flickering or other forms of instability. The brightness and contrast should be easily controlled by the operator and the screen should swivel and tilt easily. If possible, the screen should be free of reflective glare that could cause discomfort. The keyboard should be tiltable so to avoid fatigue to the arms and hands. The work surface that the computer or laptop is on should be sufficiently large with a low reflective surface. One should be able to arrange their documents and related equipment comfortably around the VDU. The work chair should be stable and allow the user to adjust it with ease. The back of the seat should be adjustable both in tilt and height.

Suitable lighting is necessary for the working environment; there should be appropriate lighting between the background and the screen environment. Workstations should be designed so that sources of light from windows and other openings don’t cause glare on the screen. There should not be continuous disturbing noise from the workstation, for example from a printer nearby. There should not be excessive heat or radiation coming from parts of the workstation. An adequate level of humidity should be established.

One of the main concerns with any workstation is the eyes. The regulations require employers to provide users with eye tests if they so require. Special corrective appliances (ie glasses) should be provided by the employer where it meets the requirements of the DSE regulations in the use of the DSE equipment.

Sources

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

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5 Star Certification Success

Success for TEAMFORCE Labour

Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme (RISQS)

Following preparation with our team and an audit by Achilles in June this year, we are pleased to announce that TEAMFORCE Labour (www.teamforcelabour.co.uk) has had its certification against the Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme (RISQS) renewed for another 12 months.

TEAMFORCE supplies and recruits labour and specialists in the following industries, civil, construction and railways. This accreditation enables them to continue to provide  its customers with talented and dedicated people. The TEAMFORCE strong ethos and investment into Health & Safety, advanced systems and processes will ensure that personnel carry out their work safely and effectively.

The audit was particularly successful and resulted in Team Force being awarded a 5 star rating from Achilles, the highest available.

The 5 star rating is designated when the highest standards have been consistently maintained over 2 consecutive years.

Gerry McCarthy (Managing Director) stated, “The five-star rating means that TEAMFORCE Labour continues to be formally recognised as a capable provider of services to the Rail industry. We achieved the highest rating by successfully proving we have robust processes, procedures and documentation in place. This achievement is as a result of the continuous team work in the company.  Achieving this 5-star rating increases our visibility to Network Rail, LUL/Transport for London, passenger, light rail and freight train operators, rolling stock organisations, main infrastructure contractors and other rail products and services providers in the management of supply chain risk”.

What is RISQS?

RISQS, formerly known as Achilles Link-up, has been developed to provide a service for the qualification of suppliers for all products and services that are procured by the industry. RISQS supports Network Rail, LUL/Transport for London, passenger, light rail and freight train operators, rolling stock organisations, main infrastructure contractors and other rail products and services providers in the management of supply chain risk.

For more information about RISQS please contact our team to discuss.

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Swimming Pool Health and Safety

There are many risks associated with public and private swimming pools. Pool owners (including local authority clients), architects, engineers, designers and pool hirers need to have a vigilant awareness of safety in leisure pool activities. The HSE is the enforcing authority for pools occupied by local authorities, the defence force and educational establishments. All other pool establishments are regulated by local authorities (i.e in accordance with the Health and Safety (Enforcing Authorities) Regulations 1998). Also, the HSWA places duties on all (employers, employees and the self-employed) to ensure that all and the public are not affected adversely. There is much more legislation applicable, from the Diving at Work Regulations 1997 to Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 to RIDDOR, among others. The main parts of all UK law regarding public and employee health and safety can in some way be applied to the operation and management of swimming pools.

As well as a policy statement and risk assessment, a written Pool Safety Operating Procedure (PSOP) should be created. This should set out how the pool operates on a daily basis. It will include details of the equipment, manner of use and any hazards or activity related risks. It should set out what staff should do in the event of an emergency. It should set out how training is done and a record of regular checks to ensure compliance. All operators of pool facilities must report accidents according to RIDDOR.

Lifeguards should be effectively trained in how to carry out their role (preferably hold a qualification awarded by an appropriate national body). Life guards must also have knowledge of the enactment of legislation, e.g COSHH, HSW Act, RIDDOR, PPE, etc. They should understand cleanliness, hygiene, pool cleaning, pool water clarity, blind spots and first aid equipment. Lifeguards should use a facemask to separate themselves from direct contact with the casualty. The air supplied to casualties can be enriched by the supply of oxygen through suitable face masks.

There should be safety signs at appropriate places in the pool. The signs can include mandatory warning signs, emergency escape or first aid signs. Prohibition signs such as used for ‘no diving’ may also be needed in a pool. If there are sudden changes in the depth of the pool this should be clearly marked. The pool tank edge should be colour contrasted with the pool. The pool surrounds should be designed in such a way that the public do not get congested and there is free flow of bathers. If diving is allowed, springboards should only be installed over a separate purpose-designed pool. If pool hoists are part of the pool equipment, they should allow those with a disability to gain access to the pool, either with or without assistance.

Sources

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

 

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Time Out – Managing Stress in the Workplace

According to the HSE, the total number of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2013/14 was 487 000 out of a total of 1 241 000 cases for all work-related illnesses. The industries that reported that highest rates of work related stress included the human health and social work industries, education, public administration and defence. Nurses, teaching/educational occupations and health/social care professionals reported the highest incidences of work related stress.

The things that people have the most stress about in life are the things that they have no control over or think they have no control over. Whilst a healthy amount of stress can increase productivity, be motivating and improve performance, too much over long periods of time is unhealthy for the mind and body. Mental symptoms can include difficult sleeping, anxiety attacks, difficulty concentrating, sweating, lack of appetite, anger, changes in behaviour, crying, food cravings and generally feeling anxious all the time. Physical symptoms can include diarrhoea, dizziness, cramps, and spasms, biting one’s nails, nervous twitches, feeling restless and being breathless. One should not keep these things internal hoping they will go away. Rather than trying to cope on one’s own one should go to their GP and if possible talk to a supportive friend.

NHS Video – Coping with Stress

Time Out

Things you can do to help you when feeling anxious or overwhelmed with stress at work…

  1. Take time for exercise, this is really time out and will allow the body to expel and express itself physically in a harmless environment. It will also raise the happy hormones. Outlets like playing sports, swimming and joining yoga classes are very good distractions from the work environment. Whilst exercising, especially running, one may be able to think through the problems more clearly and find a solution
  2. Engage in relaxation techniques outside of work, for example, listening to soft music, meditating or going for a quiet drive can do wonders for recharging the body and soul
  3. Drinking plenty of water and generally eating well. Dehydration can make one irritable and make a potential problem worse or even cause stress. Eating less sugary, salty and processed foods will help clear the body of toxins and allow it to be as nature intended. Good food will naturally decrease fatigue and make one feel more alert and able to deal better with stressful situations
  4. Act rather than react in a work situation. One should try to let go of what they cannot control or at least try to escalate the problem to their line manager or HR who may be better able to deal with the situation. Situations that can be controlled by the worker should be managed in a positive manner as far as possible
  5. Interruptions at work can cause stress and cause one to be less productive. One should prioritise tasks such as answering phone calls and emails at a set time, if other work is a priority. However, if answering emails and phone calls cannot wait these should be prioritised over other work. Multitasking and juggling different things all together can overwhelm the individual. This prioritising also needs to be brought over into the home life so there is a life balance.
  6. Be what you think. Research has shown that thoughts can cause a person to be happy or not. Whilst there are often life circumstances out of our control, one can at least try to have some kind of positive thinking that hopefully will make them feel better in the long run by producing a proactive attitude to problematic situations

Sources

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/workplace-stress.aspx

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

Video  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVVWhRCm7z8

 

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Asbestos: How to approach working with it

Working with and managing asbestos containing materials is classified as being either non-licenced work, notifiable non-licenced work or licenced work. To determine whether the work is licensable or non-licensable, a risk assessment needs to be carried out by professionals. The risk assessment should include the details of the type and quantity of the asbestos, the expected level of exposure, how exposure will be reduced (for example, using PPE/RPE, controlled wetting, ventilation), decontamination procedures, how the waste will be managed and emergency procedures.

Licenced higher risk asbestos work includes that where the asbestos is not sporadic and is of low density, i.e it is difficult to control the spread of it while working with it. Higher risk also includes work where the risk assessment cannot clearly demonstrate that the control limit will not exceed 0.1 asbestos fibres per centimetre of air. Licenced work can include, for example, work with asbestos insulation and where the risk assessment demonstrates that the work is not of short duration.

Notifiable non-licenced work (NNLW) is work where the employer / controller must report the work to the relevant authority, must ensure medical examinations are carried out and maintain registers of work. The more friable the material being worked on, the more of a hazard it will be. Most work that involves friable materials will be NNLW and the least friable work will be non-reportable. Friable means where the asbestos is likely to be a powder or expose itself to the air. Examples of notifiable non-licensed work includes that where asbestos insulating boards are removed, work involving asbestos insulation and removal of asbestos cement products. This kind of work can also include the removal of decorative coatings using steaming or gelling methods.

The third type of asbestos removal or working on it, is that which is non-licenced. If the risk assessment dictates that this can be carried out, this work can include cleaning up small quantities of fine debris and short duration work. This work can also include drilling of textured decorative coatings for insulation of fixtures and the maintenance of asbestos products. It can also include maintenance work, example, painting an asbestos board that is in good condition.

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 outlines how the carefully work with asbestos. These regulation procedures are too exhaustive to mention here but they cover everything from preparing the area worked on to waste disposal. Employers and those in control of managing asbestos have a duty to comply with these regulations. Asbestos awareness training would be mandatory for employees if they are working on a building in such a way that there is a risk of asbestos becoming exposed. Emergency and medical procedures should be in place in case a hazard becomes reality.

Sources

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

Image credit

https://www.morguefile.com/creative/Alvimann

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Chemicals and the Law

REACH is a European set of regulations that is concerned with the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals. Basically the REACH regulations help protect people and the environment from the risks and the hazardous effects of chemicals being produced, distributed and for sale on the market. The manufacturers and the distributers are required to manage the risks of the chemical products they produce. Some substances are not regulated by REACH, these include radioactive materials, human and veterinary medicines, waste, food and substances at customs. These are regulated wholly or in part by a different set of regulations.

It is an obligation under REACH regulation to register with them if an entity is producing and distributing a chemical substance. This also applies to importers. REACH researches the properties and hazardous effects of chemicals. The authorities can decide to restrict or ban the use of products on the market. Each member country of REACH must appoint a competent authority (CA) to manage the enforcement within its country. It must ensure compliance, inspections, monitoring and penalties within its country/region. REACH requires that there is co-operation between member states.

In the UK, it is DEFRA who loads on the policy of REACH. Other REACH co-ordinators in the UK include the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The REACH Enforcement Regulations were established in 2008. These regulations are enforced by the HSE (and HSE Northern Ireland), the Environment Agency, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and Local Government Associations.

There are penalties for non-compliance with REACH regulations. Businesses that manufacture 1 tonne or more of chemicals per year are required to be registered with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), who manage REACH. ECHA help businesses comply with legislation. It is only the chemicals themselves that need to be registered, not the mixtures. Registration includes providing the technical information on the chemical and its hazards. Registration is based on tonnage and can take place over a number of years, however, the chemicals themselves need to be pre-registered from the beginning.

If a chemical substance is imported from outside the EU, the importer will need to register with the ECHA. Companies outside the EU cannot register chemicals themselves, but they can place an EU based representative to act on their behalf. If a manufacturer has not registered a chemical and a business is importing it, in most cases it will be illegal for the manufacturer and the importer to continue with the supply of that chemical. If certain substances are of very high concern, it may be the case that such substances will eventually be phased out from non-essential uses.

Sources

www.echa.europa.eu

www.hse.gov.uk

Image Source

https://www.morguefile.com/creative/rizalina

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Asbestos: Prevalence and Effect on Health

Towards the end of the 19th century, asbestos had widespread uses. It was used in the making of concrete, pipes, bricks, cement, pipe insulation, ceiling insulation, flooring and roofing. Its fire-retardant properties were used in many materials that required fire resistant coatings.

The inhalation and close proximity of working with asbestos can cause serious health problems. The first death related to asbestos occurred in 1906. Over the centuries, 1000’s of people have died as a result of exposure to asbestos. This life threatening illnesses affected those who worked in asbestos mines, were involved in the spinning of raw asbestos into yarn, worked in textile factories and were involved in building and construction. Over the war years many died as a result of working on asbestos containing materials that were prevalent on ships, for examples in the pipes and ship fittings. Even persons who were not directly working with asbestos were affected. This included those living in the vicinity of an asbestos factory or even those living with family members who worked with asbestos.

The chemical structure of asbestos is that of fibrous crystals that are naked to the human eye. Asbestos can be classified according to its color, i.e. blue, brown, white and green. In 1985, blue and brown asbestos materials were banned in the UK. White asbestos was outlawed in 1999. In 2011, it has been reported that over half of all UK households contain asbestos. This is because these buildings were most likely built before the 1980’s, before asbestos was first outlawed.

If asbestos in homes and industrial premises is not disturbed and it is left well concealed, it should not pose a major problem. However, if it becomes disturbed, for example, in renovation or when knocking an older building down, it may become a health hazard as the asbestos particles could be free in the air. In these cases it should either be managed by wearing PPE/RPE and following safety guidelines. If it is termed a major hazard, it should only be managed and removed by licenced professionals. Construction companies must ensure their workers understand the risks associated with asbestos should they come in contact with it.

Common places where asbestos can be found (in both industrial and residential buildings) include the lagging in pipes, asbestos containing boards in the ceiling, in older fire blankets, sprayed coatings in ceilings/walls, in gutters and in bath and cistern panels. It should be noted that by removing asbestos containing materials, its fire-retardant properties may also be removed. So, substitute fire protection will need to replace these.

Mesothelioma and asbestosis have been observed in persons who are occupationally exposed to asbestos. Asbestosis is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes scarring to the tissue of the lungs. This is caused by the inhalation and settling of the asbestos fibres in the lungs. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs and lower digestive tract. Pleural thickening of the lungs can also occur. This can cause shortness of breath and discomfort in the chest. All cases of asbestos poisoning can be fatal.

Sources

www.wikipedia.org/wiki/asbestos

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

Image credit

https://www.morguefile.com/creative/Melodi2

 

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Making Good Scaffolding

Good scaffolding design is necessary from the outset. This is to prevent falls, trips, manual handling disorders from occurring, and projectiles from falling and other dangerous situations from occurring. The Work at Height Regulations 2005 require scaffolding to be designed competently so that it is stable and fit for use. The National Access and Scaffolding Confederation has the standards in place for the practice of erecting scaffolding correctly.

Before scaffolding can be erected, one must consider all the functions of it. The will include the site location, the period of time the scaffold will need to be in place, the height and length of the scaffolding, the number of boarded lifts and the maximum working load at any one time. Also, other factors would have to be taken into account, such as the type of access to the scaffold (for example, staircase, ladder), whether there is a requirement for netting and whether a pedestrian walkway is required. The ground conditions and even the weather conditions have to be factored in. There are some scaffolds that require a customised design. These include those involving mobile towers, temporary ramps, access scaffolds with working lifts, marine scaffolds, rubbish chutes and pedestrian foot bridges.

All employees must be trained and understand how to navigate around scaffolding. PPE will need to be worn such as hard hats, gloves (if required), safety shoes, reflective clothing and any other protective equipment. A harness may also be required. Trainee scaffolders should work under a competent supervisor.

Although there are many hazards posed with working with scaffolding, falls from height are one of the greatest hazards. In order to comply with the Work at Height regulations, the employer/self-employed must ensure that the risks are assessed, the risks of working on/near fragile surfaces is managed and that the equipment used is properly inspected and maintained. A visible tag system for use in scaffolding will notify others that the scaffolding has been inspected. There can also be a risk of falling during the erection of the scaffolding; this must be controlled as well. This can be controlled by use of an advanced guard rail system. If this is not used, workers should wear a harness.

Sources

www.hse.gov.uk

Image Credit

http://www.morguefile.com/creative/infinitetrix

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Happy New Year 2016 from Protectus Consulting

A very happy and fruitful new year to all our readers. 2015 has had many changes to health and safety legislation.

Some changes over the past year…

From June 2015, DSEAR (Dangerous Substances and Explosives Atmospheres Regulations 2002) has placed a formal requirement on employers to assess the risks for substances if these are classified as dangerous/explosive. However, this change will most likely have a minimal effect as these changes to DSEAR are already covered under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Other changes have included the Offshore Installations (Offshore Safety Directive)(Safety Case etc.) regulations 2015, that came into force in July 2015. They replace the Offshore Installations (Safety Case) regulations 2005. These new changes apply to oil and gas operations in external waters, i.e. the territorial area adjacent to Great Britain. Their primary aim is to reduce the risks from hazards to the health and safety of the workforce employed in offshore installations.

The Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations 2015 came into force in June 2015. Some changes include substances covered by the regulations being updated, and, there has also been some definitions changed. There have been changes to emergency planning and there is a stronger requirement for public information. Local authorities must now inform people likely to be affected by a major accident.

The Mines Regulations 2015 came into force in April 2015. The main focus here has been on the control of the risks from major hazards in mines. The Principal duty holder is now the mine operator and not the mine manager. All persons working in mines also need to have relevant qualifications.

Other changes over the past year include the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 that came into force in April 2015. It contained various changes to its legislation involving responsibilities.

The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 is now updated with references to legislation and standards have been amended to mirror the changes made by the classification, Labelling and Packaging of Chemicals Regulations 2015.

Sources

www.hse.gov.uk

Image Credit

http://www.morguefile.com/creative/richard_b

 

 

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General Health and Safety in Care Service Provider Establishments

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regulates the health and safety in all workplaces in the UK, this includes all health and social care settings. There are other regulators in the UK who work in conjunction with the HSE, these include the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the General Medical Council (GMC) and the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC). All accidents and incidents are reportable according to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR).

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) monitors, inspects and regulates hospitals, clinics, care homes, GP’s, dentists, home and community services and mental health services. Once a provider of care has passed the audits/inspections, they can display their CQC rating in a place where it is visible (also, on their website, if they have one). They must provide their latest CQC service report to the public. Care/medical providers that provide the 14 ‘regulated services’ (as regulated by the CQC) must register with the Care Quality Commission.

There are fundamental standards set by the CQC, by which the quality of care must never fall. These include person-centered care, whereby, the person must have care tailored to meet their specific needs. Also, each person under care must be treated as equals, with dignity, be given privacy and the support so they can remain as independent as they can in their community. The service user must not be at risk in their environment. All staff must be qualified and competent to care for the individual. The premises and equipment must be maintained properly. The individual must be able to give feedback on their treatment, if they wish to do so.

Care givers/providers must ensure certain safety steps are taken to ensure the safety for all. The HSE regulates fire risk, and general fire precautions are enforced by the individual Fire and Rescue Services. Other risks include the incidence of Legionnaire’s disease. This bacteria can grow in hot and cold water systems. The risk of this contamination must be eliminated. The principles of LOLER (Lifting Operations Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998) and PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998) must all be understood and administered by both staff and care service providers.

There are many areas of risk that needs to be adequately controlled in home and social care settings. First aid equipment and first aiders must be provided for in care settings. The provision of bed rails are not mandatory in all circumstances; their need must be assessed through a risk assessment. Window restrictors are required whereby people who are vulnerable are not at risk from falling.

In general, both care service providers and their staff have a duty under the Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure a safe and comfortable home and workplace for all.

Sources

www.cqc.org.uk

www.hse.gov.uk

Image Credit

https://www.morguefile.com/creative/MGDboston