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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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Tattooing Safety and UK Law

It is imperative to protect oneself and others in the Tattooing Industry. This includes the Client (person who is having the Tattoo administered on their skin) and the Operator (the person administrating the Tattoo). This article addresses general tattooing safety in relation to UK Law.

The Tattooing of Minors Act 1969 defines a tattoo as “…the insertion into the skin of any colouring material designed to leave a permanent mark”. Tattoos are a form of body adornment and a form of body modification because they are a permanent skin alteration unless removed. The Age of Consent prohibits tattooing of anyone in Great Britain under the age of 18 years.  The Tattoo specialist should make every effort to prove that the person requesting Tattoos are over the age of 18 years.  It is not sufficient to simply ask them their age.  As a minimum standard one should ask the client to produce proof of age such as a driving licence or passport. Both of these carry a photograph of the holder with an identity number and this may be recorded on the consent form should a photocopy of the ID not be possible.

As from the 1 April 2004 the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 had given Local Authorities powers to regulate businesses providing semi-permanent skin-colouring (e.g. micro pigmentation, semi-permanent make-up and temporary tattooing) and piercing. In London, local authorities use the London Local Authorities Act 1991, which includes powers to regulate micro pigmentation businesses. With regards to the Health and Safety at Work etc Act (HSWA), 1974, Section 2 of the Act places a duty upon every employer to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees, so far as is reasonably practicable. Section 3(1) of the Act is particularly applicable to business premises where the public may be affected by business activity (as is in the case of a Tattoo business), and states that: ‘It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment, who may be affected, are not exposed to risk to their health or safety’. Section 3(2) of the Act places a similar duty on every self-employed person. The HSWA also requires employers to provide information, instruction, training and supervision that is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their employees. This is relevant to persons employed in Tattoo parlours, self-employed operators and the Clients.

Other legislation includes The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations. Employers with five or more employees need to record the significant findings of any risk assessment. Appropriate training considerations are an important component of minimizing risk within any working environment. This covers issues such as ventilation, room temperature, lighting, cleanliness, room dimensions, workstations, flooring, windows, doors, and sanitation and rest facilities. This act also places duties on the maintenance of equipment in workplaces. This will include the Tattoo needles, PPE and all equipment used.

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) focuses on work equipment rather than the workplace and applies not just to employers but also to anyone having control of work equipment or supervising its use. PUWER applies to equipment used for micro pigmentation, which by definition is not only work equipment but carries specific risks both to users and clients.  Duties are to ensure that equipment is fit for purpose, is used under suitable conditions, is maintained and inspected, that use is restricted where it is likely to involve specific health and safety risks, that information and training are provided to users and that protective arrangements are put in place in regard to dangerous parts.

The Supply of Machinery (Safety) (Amended) Regulations place duties upon those who supply machinery including manufacturers, importers and others in the supply chain. If at least on part of the machine moves (e.g vibration, rotating or cutting), and, if the movement results from external energy e.g. electricity/battery, then the machine falls into the remit of these regulations. Micro pigmentation equipment is classed as machinery. The exceptions are manually operated needle pens with no moving parts. The main parts of this legislation is that the responsible person/manufacturer should ensure that machinery and safety components satisfy the relevant essential health and safety requirements. Schedule 3 of the regulations detail the essential health and safety requirements, and, the machinery must be accompanied by instructions for safe use and maintenance. The responsible person must issue a declaration of conformity, which is issued with the finished product. This declaration will contain details such as the manufacturer’s address, the machinery type and serial number. The responsible person should affix the CE marking if they are satisfied it is safe.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) require employers and the self-employed to prevent, or control the exposure to employees and others of the dangers of using hazardous substances.  This includes exposure to chemicals and biological agents. COSHH sets out basic measures that employers must take to assess the risks associated with hazardous substances, e.g. liquids, aerosols, volatile fumes. Also, to implement any measures needed to prevent or control exposure and to establish good working practices. This includes the use and correct storage of the cleaning products and disinfectants required to effectively clean micro pigmentation equipment, and, to control contact with body fluids by wearing PPE. COSHH also requires sufficient information, instruction and training to be provided to employees. This includes the names of substances they work with, the handling of materials which may be contaminated with blood products, the precautions to protect themselves and other employees. This includes the disposal of materials containing blood products. Also information on how to use personal protective equipment and the emergency procedures to be followed, e.g. in the event of first aid administration and spillages.

 

 

 

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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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The Construction Worker – Manual Handling and Noise

The biggest health risks for the construction engineer can result from manual handling, vibration, biological hazards, dust/fumes, being injured/loss of life due to machinery and noise pollution. This article addresses manual handling and noise.

Manual Handling

Even though manual handling is a part of the construction environment, there is no reason for one to injure oneself. All it takes is a little bit of planning and time to set things up properly so that the workers are not at risk. Handling things incorrectly can lead to musculoskeletal disorders. These disorders are mostly non-fatal, however, they cause much discomfort with many days being taken off work. There is no ‘safe’ weight limit for any one person; it is advised to seek guidance for weight lifting procedures from the Manual Handling Operations Regulations (MHOR) as outlined by the HSE. The employer should not leave it up to the employee to decide whether they should lift the weight. There are duties on the employer under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations to ensure that there are controls in place to minimize the risk to workers. Trolleys, cranes, lifting trucks, leverage devices, pulleys and other aids are all available to be used on the work site so that manual handling is not necessary. Manual handling does not only apply to lifting and lowering but also to pushing and pulling. The workers must be trained in how to lift stuff correctly using these manual aids. If suitable and light loads are ok to be lifted manually, the workers must know how to lift correctly by bending the knees and beginning in the squatting position etc.

Noise

How does ones assess if there is a high noise level? If one has to raise their voice to have a normal conversation when standing about 2 metres apart, for at least part of the day, then noise levels on the site may be at a level which could damage health. Noise can result in many distressing conditions such as tinnitus, difficulty having a conversation or using the phone and general hearing loss. If it is not possible to remove the construction worker from the noisy area or provide them with quieter equipment, then hearing protection and hearing protection zones may be appropriate. However, hearing protection should not be the solution for extended use and over long periods of time. Construction workers should be frequently rotated to other less noisy areas and the work alternated between workers. Workers should be trained in how and when to use the hearing protectors and the aim should be at least below 85 dB of noise at the ear. On a noisy construction site or oneone where it may become a risk to health, a noise risk assessment should be carried out. This may include measuring the noise exposure over the day and observing the working patterns.

Source

http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/faq-noise.htm

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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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Managing change and leadership

In today’s fast paced environment the ability to manage change is increasingly becoming more and more the norm. However, it can be still quite difficult in practice to guarantee successful changes. Change is necessary, at the very least, if businesses want to hold onto their share of the marketplace. Change management skills are a necessary skill of health and safety management. Imagination and human talent can be a more sought after commodity than capital resources. In a rapidly changing environment health and safety personnel are required to work under pressure as there will most always be time, cost and resource constraints.

Leadership skills will range from the practical management of tasks, boundaries and roles to fine social networking and relationship skills. Being able to manage emotionally challenging feelings (for example defensiveness, disagreements, anxiety) from ones counterparts, to produce a happy and progressive workplace will be one of the highest attributes of any leader today. These soft skills are necessary for any business, and health and safety in particular, due to resource and project changes that can occur on a daily basis. Managers and supervisors need to be emotionally intelligent as they will need to manage any negativity or conflict from other personnel and from any outside influences.

Health and safety personnel may need to manage risk in ever changing environments and be able to demonstrate their authority in communicating the requirements of the law and best practice. They may also need to set out strategy, policy and targets and monitor progress. They will need to engage all staff in health and safety matters within the day to day operations; this is vital for the work or project to progress successfully. They must empower employees to develop their skills further and encourage educational standards.

Building and keeping a safety culture can be complex. The leadership within the organisation must be committed to safety, there must be employee involvement and motivation, the employee’s perception and values of safety within the workplace must be positive, supervisor priorities must be positive and policies/procedures must have the necessary health and safety best practice included in them. A strong health and safety culture will have the information, have reporting procedures in place and promote learning and flexibility in line with a demanding work environment. A strong health and safety culture within a business can be led by one who has credibility, vision, accountability, is communicative, and takes responsibility for safety critical activities and gives just and constructive feedback to encourage safe behaviour. The business and culture must be sustainable for the future generations.

Sources     osha.europa.eu     ogp.org.uk

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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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Fire

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 covers general fire safety in England and Wales. In Scotland, requirements are covered in the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006. The local authorities are also responsible for enforcing fire legislation. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has responsibility for enforcing regulations on construction sites, nuclear premises and on ships under repair. General fire precautions ensure the safety of employees and members of the public.

The employer/person responsible must make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to which relevant persons are exposed. The fire risk assessment must be up to date. Sources of ignition and flammable substances should be kept apart. Smoke alarms, fire alarms and firefighting equipment should be easily assessable. Escape routes should not be blocked.

The risks of fire must be controlled in work which involves the storage, use or creation of chemicals, vapours and dusts etc. The Dangerous Substances and Explosives Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) require employers to assess the risk of fires and explosions from the work with dangerous substances. Even if a work area is not regulated under DSEAR, many substances found in the workplace can cause fires or explosions. These include flammable chemicals, petrol, grease, packing materials and dusts generated from wood and floor processes. Even un-emptied bins can be a fire risk as they may be a source of fuel should they ignite.

For a larger premises, the organisation must arrange the necessary contacts with the external emergency services, have first aiders on site and emergency medical care facilities. Competent persons must be available to manage a fire place emergency and first aiders should be close at hand. Emergency routes and exits must be indicated by signs.

Process fire precautions are enforced by HSE. These are special fire precautions that help to prevent or reduce the likelihood of a fire breaking out, and if so, to reduce its spread and intensity. This includes ventilations systems to remove/dilute flammable gas/vapour and extractions systems. These precautions also provide information on selecting equipment that will not be a source of ignition and information on the storage of flammable liquids in workrooms and laboratories. These precautions are enforced under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and DSEAR.

The Fire Protection Association (FPA) is the UK’s national fire safety organisation. It identifies and draws attention to fire dangers by providing information and advice through leaflets.

Sources

www.hse.gov.uk

Image Credit

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

 

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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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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