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Today is World No Tobacco Day 2015

The World Health Organisation marks today, 31st May 2015, as being World No Tobacco Day. What does this mean? The WHO and partners highlight the risks with using tobacco and are an advocate for the awareness of reducing tobacco consumption. This includes putting an end to the illicit trade of tobacco products. It is estimated that one in every ten cigarettes consumed globally is from the illegal tobacco market. The trade of illegal tobacco goods may not honour tobacco control policies, like increased tax and prices and pictorial health warnings. Illicit tobacco products entice young people into tobacco experimentation and it’s use because they are cheaper. Such illicit products also mislead young tobacco users by not displaying health warnings. This bad trade of tobacco products also strengthens corruption.

Tobacco kills nearly 6 million people every year, and 600,000 due to second hand tobacco smoke. There are 4000+ chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer. More than 80% of these are preventable deaths. One person dies every six seconds due to tobacco. In some countries, children are employed in harvesting tobacco leaves; this creates nicotine that can be absorbed into their skin and cause sickness.

What is being done

  • Days like today raise awareness of the illegal trade of tobacco around the world. The WHO is committed to fighting the tobacco epidemic and have founded the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which is committed towards controlling tobacco and is a milestone in the promotion of health.
  • Increases taxes and pictorial warnings can persuade smokers to stop or at least protect the health of those around them
  • Banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship

The costs of tobacco to the public and society can be enormous in terms of disease, suffering and stress. Gradually helping phase out its use through awareness and campaigns such as that of the WHO will gradually make for a greener and sustainable future for our generations.

Sources

http://www.who.int/campaigns/no-tobacco-day/2015/event/en/

Video – WHO: World No Tobacco Day

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Fire Risk Assessment in Residential Care Homes

There have been many instances of fires or fire related accidents in residential care homes. It is imperative to carry out a clear, concise and manageable risk assessment that is regularly reviewed and updated as required. The HSE have produced a step by step fire risk assessment process for residential care homes. These fundamentals can be applied to any residential or working establishment. The main steps of the risk assessment include identifying the fire hazards and identifying the people at risk. Following on from this, it includes evaluating, reducing and removing the risks so far as is practically possible. Also, how people in the care home will be protected. There is then a section on recording, planning, informing, training and reviewing.

  1. Identify the Hazards in the Care Home

In order for a fire to start it needs a source of ignition. This is a source of heat which can include smoking materials and naked flames.Other sources include electrical circuits, cooking equipment, faulty equipment, lighting equipment, hot surfaces, malicious damage and equipment owned or used by residents. All sources of ignition need to be identified. The next thing that needs to be identified are sources of fuel. This includes anything that will burn well including laundry, wood, flammable products, plastics, rubber, waste products, hardboard and chipboard. Nearly everything could be included as a source of fuel. Sources of oxygen include the natural airflow, mechanical air conditioning systems, some chemicals (oxidising materials) and oxygen supplies in cylinders.

  1. Identify the people at risk in the Care Home

Those people that are at risk from fire need to be identified. They include the service users and the working staff. It should also be considered who else may be at risk, for example, visitors, contractors etc. Staff who work in isolated areas, for example contractors overseeing maintenance works should be taken into account. Other people at risk include children and visitors who are elderly with limited abilities. As regards the service users, their conditions must be accurately taken into account, for example, those impaired due to medication, those who will need their mobility equipment and level of sensory and cognitive awareness.

  1. Evaluate, remove and reduce and protect those at risk

The risk of a fire starting should be evaluated. This will include whether accidental, by omission or deliberate. An example of ‘by omission’ could be where electrical equipment is not properly maintained. The premises should also be examined for accidents ‘waiting to happen’. Fire can spread by convection, conduction and radiation. Convection is the movement of fire through air, whilst conduction is the movement of fire through materials. The sources of ignition, fuel and oxygen should be reduced to what is practical or completely removed if possible. Fire protection measures should be put in place such as  warning systems. Escape routes should not be blocked and staff should be fully trained in emergency procedures.

  1. Record, plan, inform, instruct and train

The care home providers should be able to satisfy the enforcing authority. Keeping records, having a detailed risk assessment plan, controlling those risks and training staff will result in the adequate control of the risks in case of fire.

  1. Review

One should review the risk assessment periodically or as appropriate. If there are new changes introduced into the care home, these factors should now be part of the risk assessment.

Sources

https://www.gov.uk/

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Protecting the Environment against Hazardous Substances

Climate change, air and water pollution are all the underlying concern of our ever evolving planet. There are regulations and laws about controlling the contamination or our air, water supply, soil, conservation and wildlife.

In the UK, the Environmental Agency’s (EA) remit covers the whole of England, the rivers and 2 million hectares of coastal waters. It has a sharing arrangement with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). The purpose of EA is to protect, enhance and take the best care of the environment as a whole. Its vision is one of a “rich, healthy and diverse environment.” The EA and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) work together under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. This includes the sharing of information on activities that relate to the environment and promoting better public awareness. The EA has responsibility for issuing permits for certain industrial, farming, waste management, water activities, radioactive substances and mining waste activities. The HSE works together with the EA in the regulation of oil and gas establishments. Under the Nuclear Installations Act, the HSE regulates duty holders of nuclear establishments. The EA also works with the HSE in this area.

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) is the authority for waste management and control of emissions into the environment. Part I of this Act deals with emissions into the environment. Part II sets out the regulation of the acceptable disposal of controlled waste on land. There are other parts of the EPA that deal with other aspects of the environment, from statutory nuisances to litter. Other environmental regulations include the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, Climate Change Act 2008, Environment Act 1995 and the Badgers Act 1991.

One set of regulations that keep industries aware of their responsibilities to people and the environment include the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 (COMAH). Although principally concerned with regulating the storing and handling of large amounts of hazardous industrial chemicals, these regulations help keep the public and the environment safe by modulating the handling of these hazardous chemicals. The aim of the regulations is to prevent the effects on people and the environment of major accidents involving dangerous substances. However, new COMAH Regulations will come into force in Great Britain on 1 June 2015. The main regulations will remain the same but there will be some changes, particularly on how dangerous substances are classified and how information is made available to the public. New or changed duties to COMAH will include a change in definitions, there are also transition arrangements for safety reports and changes in emergency planning. There are also other changes expected in COMAH 2015.

Sources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_environmental_law

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l111.htm

http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/howwework/framework/aa/hse-ea-nov12.pdf

 

 

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World Health Day 2015

Today is World Health Day 2015. What does this mean? The World Health Organisation (WHO) has nominated today as that day and highlights the challenges and opportunities associated with food safety with the slogan “From farm to plate, make food safe.” Foodborne illnesses are a global threat in many regions and there is the need to maintain a safe food supply chain. Examples of unsafe food include undercooked foods of animal origin, fruits and vegetables contaminated with faeces, and shellfish containing marine biotoxins. In 2010 there were an estimated 582 million cases of 22 different foodborne diseases and 351,000 associated deaths. E. Coli, Norovirus and Salmonella are responsible for most deaths. The WHO-FAO International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) is there to ensure effective and rapid communication during food safety emergencies.

Of course, the customer who is going to eat the food must practice good hygiene. Meet should be cooked thoroughly and food used within date. The WHO is working to ensure adequate, safe and nutritious food for everyone.

The WHO has developed the WHO Five Keys to Safer Food

  1. Keep Clean

One should wash their hands before handling food and often during food preparation. One should wash their hands after going to the toilet. One should wash and sanitise all surfaces and equipment used for food preparation. One should protect the kitchen areas from insects, pests and other animals

  1. Separate raw and cooked food

One should separate raw food, poultry and seafood from other foods. One should use separate equipment and utensils such as knives and cutting boards for handling raw foods. One should store food in containers to avoid contact between raw and prepared foods.

  1. Cook thoroughly

One should cook food thoroughly especially meat, poultry, eggs and seafood. One should bring foods like soups and stews to boiling point to make sure they have reached 70 degrees Celsius. For meat and poultry one should make sure that the juices are clear, not pink. Ideally, a thermometer should be used. One should reheat cooked food thoroughly

  1. Keep food at safe temperatures

One should not leave cooked food at room temperature for more than 2 hours. One should promptly refrigerate all cooked and perishable food (preferably below 5 degrees Celsius). One should keep cooked food piping hot (more than 60 degrees Celsius) prior to serving. One should not store food too long, even in the refrigerator. One should not thaw frozen food at room temperature

  1. Use safe water and raw materials

One should use safe water or treat it to make it safe. Only select fresh and wholesome foods. Choose foods processed for safety, such as processed milk. One should wash fruits and vegetables, especially if they are eaten raw. One should not use food beyond its expiry date.

WHO video – 7th April 2015

Sources

Video https://youtu.be/8saaEsV0Th4

http://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2015/en/

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The Nursing Home – Elderly Persons and Falls

Falls and fall related injuries to the Elderly are a serious problem and every effort should be made to prevent this from happening, including the layout of the person’s immediate vicinity, the mobility aids used, the care home/place of care, the community they live in and the relations with their Carers/Healthcare professionals. People over 65 years of age have the highest risk of falling. Over a quarter of falls result in hip fractures and the cost of this to the health sector is about £2billion. A risk assessment (with multiple components) that aims to identify a person’s risk factors for falling should be carried out. Persons younger than 65 years may also need this assessment carried out. There may be a risk of falling due to cogitative impairment, health problems, medication, postural instability, visual impairment, syncope syndrome (passing out due to lack of blood flow to the brain) or simply wearing the wrong footwear.

Together with the risk assessment, there are health and safety measures that can be made in the layout of the care home and in the caring for the service user. The interior and exterior structure of the nursing home can be set up so that, although falls might happen naturally, there are not hazards around that can cause them. For example, one should not leave items on the stairs as they could be a trip hazard. Stairs should be fully maintained, ie any worn or damaged carpet should be removed or repaired. In the design of the care facility, one should avoid repetitive carpet patterns as it may produce a false perception for those with poor eyesight. Stairs and hallways should be well lit. Banisters should be sturdy with easy grip handrails. Older persons should be instructed and supported in the correct use of mobility equipment, e.g walking aids, mobile shower seats etc. Shoes and footwear should fit well to help with balance and stability. There should be grab rails at various points in the care home and places to sit down in the bathroom if needed. Spills on the floor should immediately be moped up.

Other hazards include fire related accidents. This is related to poor sense of smell, reduced tolerance of smoke and poor mobility.  Sources can include cookers, candles, coal fires, heaters and electric blankets. Electric blankets should be checked regularly. Smoke alarms should be fitted and one should not leave clothes drying over heaters. Carbon monoxide detectors should be fitted.When using showers care should be taken so that the care user doesn’t burn themselves. Kettles should only be used if one is capable to do so; the care service provider should ensure there is not a scalding risk and check all hot water appliances and any temperature dependent liquid.

 

Sources

https://www.nice.org.uk/

http://www.rospa.com/

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Control of major accident hazards (COMAH) and changes for 2015

The main aim of the COMAH regulations is to prevent and control the effects of major accidents involving dangerous substances like liquid petroleum gas, explosives and arsenic pentoxide, etc. A ‘“major accident” means an occurrence (including in particular, a major emission, fire or explosion) resulting from uncontrolled developments in the course of the operation of any establishment and leading to serious danger to human health or the environment, immediate or delayed, inside or outside the establishment, and involving one or more dangerous substances’. (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/).

Basically, all establishment owners must prevent major accidents and limit their effects on the environment. In England and Wales, COMAH is enforced by the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency in Scotland. These enforcing bodies must prohibit the operation of an establishment if there is evidence that measures taken by the establishment are not in the interests of the safety of people and the environment. The main industries that are under these remits are the chemical industry, nuclear sites and others. The process that identifies the way chemicals can cause harm is called classification. This criteria includes physical hazards (eg explosivity), health hazards (eg an irritant to skin) and environmental hazards (eg harm to aquatic life). As well as these hazards, the supplier/operator must also consider how certain it would be that the chemical would have this effect and how serious the effect might be.

It is the general duty on all operators to prevent major accidents and limit their conequences to the public and environment. Prevention should be based on the principle of reducing risk to a level as low as is reasonably practicable for human risks and using the best available technology not entailing excessive cost for environmental risks.

A new set of COMAH regulations will come into force on 1 June 2015. The Competent Authorities (CA) will make guidance available so that safety reports can be updated by organisations when the new regulations come into force. Important changes to be made include the classification of hazardous substances, more detail about site surroundings and how information is made available to the public. Also, the Competent Authorities are planning to provide an IT system to host public information regarding  establishments. Establishments will need to consider that new information will need to be included in major accident prevention policies and off-site emergency plans. Safety reports may need to be updated in line with the forthcoming regulations. A safety report is a document prepared by the site operator and sent to the CA. The safety report demonstrates all the necessary measures that have been taken by the establishment to prevent major accidents, and, should an accident occur, how it will be mitigated so that the public and the environment as least affected.

Sources

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/

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

 

 

 

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What is Radon?

Radon is a colourless, odourless, radioactive gas. It is a by-product of the decay of uranium that is naturally present in rocks and soils. Radon, being radioactive, has the potential to be harmful to living tissues. Even though it is found everywhere, in most places it is present in negligible amounts and so not harmful to health. In the air, radon decapitates harmlessly but in some buildings it can accumulate at dangerously high levels. The degree to which the building suffers from radon problems depends on the type of soil underneath the floor, the structural quality of the building and local weather conditions. Small cracks and gaps in the building’s construction can cause radon to seep into the building. Because it is odourless and colourless it is easy to ignore. We are all exposed from radon from natural and man-made sources.

Radon is the second largest cause of lung cancer after smoking. Most people who get lung cancer are smokers or ex-smokers. The combination of nicotine and high radon exposure is a lethal mix that can seriously increase the risk of lung cancer. The average amount of radon in UK homes is 20 Bq m-3. For levels below 100 Bq m-3, there is a negligible risk and no need for concern. Inside the lungs, radon can continue to emit alpha particles which are absorbed by the tissues and can cause localised cell damage. Employers, under the Radiological Protection Act 1991 and the Safety Health and Welfare Act 1989, are required to test the work place radon level and take remedial action where necessary. The Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 are relevant where the radon is present above 400 Bq/m3. Employers are required to take action; this is enforced by local authorities.

radon image

Sources of Radon in the UK

The ground is the main source of radon. There are measures that can be taken to decrease its prevalence. If a building has a solid floor, the inclusion of a radon sump with a fan under the floor may help. For suspended floors, natural ventilation under the floor or mechanical under floor ventilation my help. The costs depend on the complexity of the building. To test for radon levels in the home, there are home test kits available to buy online. If the test comes back with a negligible result there is no cause for concern.

The UK has been extensively surveyed by the Health Protection Agency which has produced resultant maps of the approximate locations of radon throughout the UK. This indicative atlas, which although doesn’t show exact radon levels, is an approximation which should be consulted by employers and those in the building trade. Together with consulting this map, workplaces above ground should include radon measurements. For below ground workplaces, such as mines, caves and utility services, there may be extra levels of radon present, in comparison to the overground areas of the same areas.

 

Sources

http://www.ukradon.org/information

http://www.theradonshop.com/what-is-radon

http://www.hse.gov.uk/radiation/ionising/radon.htm

 

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Occupations that pose a biological hazard

Occupations that involve working closely with humans, animals and biological waste pose risks to the worker’s health. Most of those reported are diarrheal diseases, but needle stick injuries can occur where viruses are transmitted. The control of exposure within the workplace is governed by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH). Additional advisory information is available from the Department of Health and the Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP). Specific advice is available on specific blood borne diseases such as Hepatitis, HIV, TB and vCJD etc. There is also advice available on laboratory settings, clinical waste, post-mortems and funeral undertaking. The HSE do not generally deal with clinical matters as they are dealt with elsewhere.

Micro-organisms are found almost everywhere and most are harmless. Some of them do very important jobs such as their use in the making of medicine, cleaning up oil spills. Half of the oxygen we breathe is attributable to micro-organisms. However, some micro-organisms can cause disease when employees are exposed to them at work. These include bacteria, viruses, fungi and internal parasites. Most of the time one picks up an infection, but they can also cause allergies and be toxic. There are different hazards associated with the different occupations. Some of these are listed below.

Occupations where there is direct physical contact with humans

This includes nurses, care workers, undertakers. Here, workers may provide assistance with feeding, washing, dressing. Sources of infection include direct skin contact, body fluids, human waste. In occupations where there is unpredictable behaviour like spitting, scratching etc., there are risks of infection. An example here would be custodial workers.

Activities where there is contact with human waste

This includes nurses, ancillary health care workers such as porters, cleaners, sewerage workers, drain cleaners, refuse collectors, crime scene investigators, doctors, laundry workers and emergency service workers. Human waste may be on spoiled laundry, clothes etc.

Activities that involve the cutting/piercing of human skin

This includes post mortem technicians, tattooists, acupuncturists, dentists, nurses, doctors, undertakers. Sources of infection could come from blood. Even hairdressers and beauticians may also be at risk, because there is direct skin contact.

Activities where there is direct physical contact with animals

Occupations include farmers, veterinary workers, kennel/cattery workers and animal rescue workers. Sources of infection can come from direct skin contact, infectious aerosols and body fluids. Animals can be unpredictable and may bite or scratch.

Activities where there is direct physical contact with animal waste

This includes occupations where there is direct physical contact with animals and includes poultry processors, slurry spreaders, abattoir workers, park cleaners and grooms.

Activities where there is cutting of animal skin

This includes butchers, abattoir workers, veterinary workers and poultry processors.

When working with humans, animals and biological waste, there are many hazards that pose a risk to the worker. The approach would be to assess the risks and have control measures in place to protect against them. When assessing the risk involved with people and animals, one must consider both the living and the dead. Once a risk assessment within the work area has been carried out, there are duties under COSHH to stop workers being exposed to sources of infection.

 

Sources   hse.gov.uk

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Teamforce Labour Achieves Achilles Link-Up Accreditation for Rail Industry

Teamforce Labour Ltd a leading recruitment agency based in London has successfully met the requirements of the Link-Up Achilles audit.

Achilles creates and manages a global network of collaborative industry communities, being part of the Achilles community and achieving this requirement enables Teamforce labour to work in this safety critical environment.

Link-Up Achilles is required by all contractors working within the Rail Industry.

 ‘Achieving an excellent result with Link-Up is important to our recruitment business as it reflects our ethos of business integrity and excellence. This is a specialist part of the industry and providing highly experienced qualified personnel to the rail industry is a major achievement. We intend to continually grow as a business with the support of Protectus Consulting Ltd.’ States Gerry McCarthy Managing Director at Teamforce Labour.

‘Teamforce Labour has taken a pro-active approach to achieving the highest standards in Health, Safety and Environment, further demonstrating its commitment to excellence and safety of its workforce. We are delighted that we have been able to support such a committed company with its desire to achieve Achilles Link-up.’ States Sally Beck Chartered Safety and Risk Consultant at Protectus Consulting.

 

About the companies:

Teamforce Labour provide skilled and reliable personnel to the Rail, Civil, Construction and LUL industry sectors.

www.teamforcelabour.co.uk

Protectus Consulting Ltd provides Health, Safety, Environment and Quality services to Teamforce Labour and has supported Teamforce Labour with ensuring compliance, preparation and auditing.

www.protectus.co.uk

 

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Food Law

General Food Law

The Food Standards Act 1999 establishes the Food Standards Agency (FSA) as the governing body with certain powers and functions in relation to food safety and standards. The Act gives the Agency the functions necessary to act in the consumer’s interest at any stage in the production of food and the supply chain. It also provides the Agency with powers to maintain a scheme for testing of food borne diseases. The Food Safety Act 1990 (as amended) provides a framework for food regulations in the UK. The General Food Regulations 2004 amends the Food Safety Act 1990 to bring it in line with European Law under (EC) 178/2002.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA)

The main aim of the FSA is to protect the public from any risks which may occur from the consumption, production and/or supply of food. The FSA continually aims to make regulations easier to understand which helps all to comply. The Red Tape Challenge was introduced in 2011, which helps reduce the regulatory burden on businesses whilst still complying with the law. Once a year the FSA makes known a list of all the new regulations pertaining to the food industry. This includes European measures being introduced.

European Legislation

Regulation (EC) 178/2002 sets out the general guidelines for food safety within the EU. The provisions under this law extends to imports, exports, traceability, recalls and notifications.

Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998

Workers who are aware of wrong doing within the food business can disclose that wrong doing. As long as they raise their concern in accordance with the Act’s provisions, they are entitled to a level of protection. A qualifying disclosure would include information on criminal acts, breaches of legal obligations and miscarriages of justice. The Freedom of Information Act may also be relevant here.

Food Information Regulation

This varies geographically within the UK, for example, in England food labelling is led by the FSA but in Wales, the Welsh government is also involved as well as the FSA. Some changes ahead include nutrition labelling becoming mandatory in 2016 and as of December 2014, food establishments must declare any of 14 identified allergenic ingredients which are used in non-prepacked or loose foods that are for sale.

Codex Alimentarius

Codex is a collection of internationally recognized standards regarding food, food production and food safety. As of 2012, there were the 186 member countries. The standards are voluntary and adherence by member countries is not compulsory.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

The HSE is a non-departmental public body which was established under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The HSE acts on behalf of the Safety Commission in implementing Commission policies. The HSE enforces Health and Safety Law throughout the UK and offshore businesses (within UK shoreline territory). The HSE and the FSA work together to keep each other informed regarding food matters. Each acts as an advisory consultant to the other. They work together to ensure co-ordination of enforcement demands.

 

Sources   food.gov.uk    wikipedia    hse.gov.uk