Your lungs are so important. What goes into them and comes out of them determines how you live. Striving for quality of life is inherent in us all. Lung disease is not. We must endeavour to give our lungs the best shot at life, free from carcinogens, irritants, chemicals and fumes.

Rubber manufacturing usually consists of the processes of raw materials handling, milling, extruding, component assembling and building, curing, inspecting, finishing and storage and dispatch. Hazardous substances can include fumes and fine dusts. COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulation 2002) requires employers to assess the risk to health caused by dusts and fumes. Exposure must be prevented or adequately controlled by doing a risk assessment. For controlling dust fumes, employers can use dust suppressed materials, for example, pellets and oil coated powders. Enclosed and automated bag and powder handling is also a safe way of handling dusts. Workers should refrain from handling powders directly; automated system machinery should be in use. An effective local exhaust system should be used and maintained regularly during the work processes.

PPE should be worn, for example, gloves, aprons and safety glasses. Adequate personal washing facilities should be available and separate from the eating and rest areas. Good housekeeping should be the norm and industrial vacuum cleaners used. Respirators would not be needed if adequate fume and chemical controls are in place. However, they may be needed for short term exposures, for example, when filter bag changing or general maintenance. Training of workers in the use of respirators is essential. Because the rubber industry is ever changing, new processes may introduce new risks. Hopefully, they can be learned from without dire consequences happening to highlight the risk. Whilst COSHH doesn’t set out specific requirements for the rubber industry, it does set out the basic system of managing risk to health.


Simple steps to making a COSHH assessment in any industry

  • Simply walking around the work place can highlight obvious and taken for granted risks. Some substances will have workplace exposure limits (WELs); the limits need to be maintained.
  • The employer should have safety data sheets on information about their workplace. Workers can be exposed to dust, fume, vapour and dermal contact with liquids and dusts. Some dusts are very fine and might not be immediately apparent.
  • The hazards should be identified, mitigated against and a control system set up to be in place.
  • It should be ascertained who is likely to be harmed, how and when, and, the health severity to the worker.
  • The accident book may be a good reference when redesigning processes to make them safer and when considering a new factory floor layout. There can be lessons learned.



If all goes well, new mining regulations will come into effect in April of 2015. These will update the current Mines Regulations 2014. Changes include the current Approved Codes of Practice being replaced by new guidance and a modern set of regulations in place to focus on the control of risks. Other changes include the mine operator being the duty holder (not the mine manager), and, coal mines will no longer be required to participate in a rescue scheme. However, rescue provisions must be in place. The new regulations will remove unnecessary burdens on businesses by providing a sound legislative framework.  As well as the Mines Regulations 2014, there are currently many acts and regulations that govern working in mines, from the Escape and Rescue From Mines Regulations 1995 to the Mines and Quarries Act 1954.

In the 1800’s, the shocking truth of working conditions in mines, and especially that involving children, led to The Mines and Collieries Bill being passed by parliament in 1842. This prohibited all underground work for women and girls and for boys under 10 years of age. However, young boys and men were still at risk, in terms of health and fatalities. In 1872, the Coal Mines Regulation Act required pit managers to have certification of their training. Things were still bad over the decades and up until the early 1900’s health and safety law was not a frugal part of the mining environment.

Mines have many hazards and risks associated with them, including that associated with fires, inrushes of gas/materials, dust, floods and explosions. Accidental fires or explosions can be devastating in terms of loss of life, damage to property and business continuity. Risk assessments are crucial when mining, and, include identifying the hazards and the sources of fuel. Sources of fuel include firedamp (a naturally occurring mixture of hydrocarbon gases), coal dust, wood, diesel and some explosives. Sources of ignition include electrical sparking, hot surfaces, and compression of air. The risk of a fire or explosion must be evaluated, it must be ascertained who might be harmed, these findings recorded and an emergency plan in place. An inrush of water or material can occur at mines. An ‘inrush’ is the sudden arrival of a material or gas. To prevent an inrush, the plans of the underground workings must be accurate and up to date. It must be confirmed whether workings are being carried out in a hazardous area, i.e whether material is likely to flow from nearby areas if it got wet. It is imperative that medical aid facilities and emergency evacuation procedures are in place in mines. The first aid at mines section of the Mines Regulations 2014 will not change in the New Year.



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.




Clinical trials to ensure a safe vaccine are either in the pipeline, have already begun or are planned for the future in various geographical locations around the world. First identified in 1976, the Ebola virus is one of the four ebolaviruses which cause disease in humans. Because of its high mortality rate the Ebola virus is classed as a WHO Risk Group 4 Pathogen (requiring Biosafety).

Some of the countries where clinical trials have begun include Canada, the US, the UK and Mali. Even though the risk of catching Ebola within these regions is practically nil, there is no shortage of volunteers. In the current trials, it is being studied how the recipients react to the vaccine, including monitoring if antibody levels rise over time. However, the volunteers won’t be exposed to the pathogen because of how dangerous it is. One cannot get Ebola from this vaccine but it triggers an immune response to the disease. Clinical trials on animals have been successful so far. Other current possible cures, although not proven, include blood transfusions from surviving patients, antiviral drugs, and man-made antibiotics.

There are many challenges, for example, how much is a safe dose, as this is the first time this kind of trial is being done on humans. The aim here is to get some information on the safety of the vaccine within a clinical trial process.

When the vaccine is determined as safe, it has to be proven whether it works

The real world testing in West Africa will only go ahead if a vaccine is proven safe and can trigger the immune system in producing antibodies against the virus. Since Ebola emerged 10 months ago it has killed thousands (including Aid workers) in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. There has been random cases reported – including the US and one in Spain.

As of late, it has been reported that in some early studies, the Ebola vaccine is safe and could be used in West Africa within a few months, according to a WHO spokesperson. It has been reported that there could be many challenges ahead with administering the vaccine in the Ebola stricken areas where there is already poor health care systems. Challenges include transportation and storage of the vaccine (which has to be kept at a low temperature), who to administer it to and how it’s monitored. There has been debate about conducting a randomised clinical trial, where some will get the advantage of having the vaccine and others will not, which, could be seen as unethical.

Some of the world’s biggest drug companies are working on trying to produce, which will hopefully be the beginning of the end to the world’s ongoing tragedy, the vaccine that will fight the Ebola virus.


Sources   ctv news    washington post   baltimore   cbc   wikipedia

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.



Chemicals are used in many different sectors, for example, in factories, farms, offices and the home. Businesses that transport, store and dispose of hazardous waste have duties under the Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005 (HWR). There may also be responsibilities under REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals). The Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) (WFD) specifies what waste is and how it should be managed. In the UK, hazardous waste assessment is implemented by the Chemical (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations 5 (CHIP).

Chemical waste, like any hazardous waste, needs to be disposed of or recycled correctly. The HWR sets out the rules for assessing if a waste is hazardous or not. As part of the assessment of waste, the HWR refers to the “List of Wastes” given in the LoWR. This list is also known as the European Waste Catalogue (EWC).

It should also be determined whether the waste is hazardous, the process which produced the waste, its ingredients and the type of establishment that produced it. Waste can be classified as absolute hazardous waste, non-absolute hazardous waste and waste that is “mirror hazardous” and “mirror non-hazardous entries”. Hazardous waste includes asbestos, chemicals (e.g brake fluid), batteries, solvents, pesticides, fridges and hazardous waste containers. A hazardous waste consignment note would need to be included for hazardous waste. Non-hazardous waste can include, for example, edible oil. For non-hazardous waste, the business must have waste transfer notes to ensure it is being disposed of properly. The last type would be waste that may or may not be hazardous, for example, ink and paint. The term “mirror” waste means waste that could be hazardous or not, depending on what substances it contains. If it contains a hazardous ingredient it is then classified as hazardous.

Businesses and those involved in being responsible for chemical waste have a duty of care from the moment the waste is produced to the time it is given to a licenced waste business to deal with. As well as the aforementioned regulations regarding the classification of chemical waste, employers have a duty under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) to not allow their employees to be harmed at work due to work with hazardous substances. The Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 (COMAH) as amended aims to prevent major accidents involving dangerous substances. These regulations place duties on operators that hold or work with dangerous substances in their premises.



Protecting the Head

Head protection is necessary from many kinds of hazards. This includes flying or falling objects, where there is a risk of bumping into things, chemical drips, hair getting entangled in machinery etc.

Where hard hats are used they should be in good condition, otherwise they will not provide good protection. They should comfortably fit the person wearing them and they shouldn’t restrict the wearer wearing ear protectors if they require. They must be obtained from a reputable supplier. Other forms of head protection could include hairnets (but hardhats are required on construction sites).

Protecting the Eyes

Hazards to the eyes can include that from dust, projectiles, chemical or metal splashes and that from radiation. The wearing of goggles would be required here. Other forms of eye protection include face shields and visors. The correct type of eye protection must be sought, for example, in very dusty places, face visors may not totally protect the eyes from dust but may provide adequate protection from welding sparks. Each need would need to be assessed individually.

Protecting the Ears

The hazard here is noise. Even short high level sounds can be harm full to the ears. Options here include earplugs, earmuffs and canal caps.

Protecting the Hands

Hazards to the hands include cuts and punctures, electric shock, chemical burns, vibration, biological agents and temperature extremes etc. One should wear gloves, especially those with a cuff. Where necessary, gauntlets should be worn which cover the cuffs and even the whole arm. However, the tasks must be risk-assessed, for example, gloves can get caught when operating bench drills and operating machinery. Remember one’s hands are one’s wage-earners!

Protecting the Feet

Hazards here include wet and cold conditions, slipping, cuts and punctures, heavy loads, vehicles, chemical splashes etc. Protective toecaps and penetration-resistant safety shoes should be used. Footwear can have different types of soles, for example, oil or chemical resistant soles.

Protecting the Lungs

Sometimes on construction sites, it may be necessary to wear respiratory protective equipment (RPE), for example, in confined spaces and oxygen deficient spaces. If there are hazards to the lungs due to oxygen-deficient atmospheres, very dusty atmospheres, gases and vapours present, RPE may be required. Respirators can be simple fitting face pieces or power-assisted respirators. If necessary, respirators which give an independent supply of breathable air via a fresh air hose can be used. However, RPE are usually a last resort, as they can be cumbersome to use and it must be assessed whether they could pose more of a risk to the job than is already there.

Protecting the whole body

Hazards here could include chemical splashes, excessive exposure to heat, impact or penetration, entanglement of own clothing etc. Sometimes on construction sites, boiler suits and chemical suits are used. Materials could include high visibility, flame retardant, anti-static and those which are chemically impermeable.

Employers have a duty under the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 and the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (as amended) to ensure that their employees are not harmed in the course of their work. There are also other specialist regulations when working with  asbestos, lead, radiation, and noise. Basically, the regulations require that the PPE is properly assessed before use so that it’s fit for purpose. Also, that it’s maintained and stored properly. Employees should also be properly trained in its use.



Not washing one’s hands is the easiest way to spread germs and disease.  We carry millions of germs on our hands, most are harmless, but some can cause disease. Diseases that one may spread if not washing their hands could include Salmonella, Norovirus and Adenovirus. When one uses the toilet, changes a diaper, handles animals or handles raw meats (that may have traces of animal faeces on them), they are exposing themselves and others if they don’t wash (scrub in some instances) their hands thoroughly. If the hands are not washed thoroughly, germs can spread within the person themselves (for example, if they touch their eyes, mouth etc), and from object to object to others or directly to others, for example, when shaking hands. Germs from unwashed hands can get into food and drink which are then consumed by people. Washing hands whenever there is a risk of infection spread will help stop gastrointestinal, respiratory, skin and eye conditions.

When should one wash their hands?

  • When they are visibly soiled
  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • After using the lavatory
  • Before and after caring for a sick person
  • After touching an animal or animal waste products
  • After sneezing, coughing
  • After smoking
  • After shaking another person’s hand (if you can wash or at least sanitize with hand cleanser)
  • After emptying the garbage
  • Before and after attending to an injury or wound
  • It is vital that all children are made aware of washing their hands and are taught to do so

How to wash one’s hands properly

  • Wet hands with warm water
  • Wash well with liquid soap for 15 – 20 seconds
  • Don’t forget the thumbs, wrists, fingertips and an ingrained areas
  • Don’t forget to use a mild scrubbing brush for under the finger nails
  • If no soap is available a hand sanitizer can be used, however soap and water is the best way
  • Always dry with a very clean (single use towel) or disposable towel
  • Remove any rings as you wash hands as they can contain germs
  • At home each member should have their own hand towel, which should be washed very frequently
  • Use towel to turn off tap

Diseases one can catch when not washing ones hands or not washing them properly

  • Shigellosis – a bacterial infection that causes diarrhea and fever. This is caused by injesting food contaminated by infected people who have not adequately washed their hands after using the bathroom
  • Giardiasis – a parasitic illness of the intestine. It is spread from hand-to-faecal contact or untreated water sources.
  • Hepatitis A – a highly contagious liver infection. Easily spread when someone contaminated with the virus does not use proper hand washing techniques after using the bathroom.
  • Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease – caused by a virus. It spreads by ingesting food or drink contaminated with faecal content.
  • The common cold – easily caught!
  • Other illnesses – it is not possible to make an exhaustive list of what one can definitely catch, there are a lot of things one can catch simply by not washing one’s hands


Sources     better health.vic    live

As reported by the HSE, 20 tradespeople die on average every week from asbestos related diseases. Asbestos can be in any building or house if built before 2000. Asbestos is still present in millions of homes and buildings. The following is an advised approach to non-licensed working with and encountering asbestos and suspect asbestos materials. Information on when to source a licensed asbestos contractor is available from Guidance is given on the HSE website when it is acceptable to work with asbestos yourself and when you should seek professional help. A licensed contractor’s guide is also available.

There are legal duties on employers working with licensable and non-licensable work with asbestos. These duties are regulated by the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP). The regulations set the minimum standards whereby employees are protected from the risks due to asbestos exposure. This includes premises where there are members of the public and others present. As these regulations only deal with protecting people, they do not deal with protecting the environment. The Environment Agency (EA) in England and the governing bodies for Scotland and Wales should be consulted.

One cannot see or smell asbestos fibres in the air. The effects on one’s health can take many years to show up. If asbestos remains undisturbed, it should remain safe within its surroundings. It is only dangerous when the fibres become airborne. The main health risks include Mesothelioma (a fatal cancer), Asbestosis (scarring of the lungs, not always fatal but a debilitating disease) and diffuse pleural thickening of the lungs which causes breathlessness.

General guidelines for non-licenced work on asbestos/suspect materials

Reduce dust levels

  • Wetting asbestos materials causes fewer fibres to become airborne. The asbestos materials should be wetted (contact wetting agent suppliers for wetting material) before starting work but not too wet as it will then be a slurry hard to dispose of.
  • Some asbestos materials cannot be wetted all the way through, for example, boards, in these cases dust needs to be disposed of via a vacuum cleaner.
  • Spraying is the preferred wetting material, but if a brush is used, it must be disposed of with the other asbestos containing materials.
  • The material should be sprayed evenly and slowly so there are no dry patches.

Clean up as you go

  • To clean up minor asbestos contamination from smooth non absorbent surfaces, have a bucket of water, cotton rags, adhesive tape and asbestos waste container
  • When cleaning up with a rag (which should not disperse fluff), one should not re-soak the rag in water as this will re-contaminate the water
  • Clean surfaces of the rags should only be used then thrown away
  • Tape can be useful for picking up small fibres and asbestos dust, then should be disposed of with the other asbestos contained material

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Disposable overalls. Cotton overalls trap dust and need specialist cleaning.
  • If the cuffs are loose seal them with tape
  • Don’t tuck overalls into footwear, as this may trap dust in the footwear
  • Use single use gloves
  • Wear the hood over the respiratory protective equipment straps
  • Never use laced boots are these are difficult to clean properly
  • Use suitable RPE with an Assigned Protection Factor of 20 or more.
  • This equipment would be ok for most short duration non-licenced work, longer working times requires powered equipment
  • Workers should be trained in case of emergency
  • Equipment should not be left near the worksite as it may collect asbestos fibres, it should only be removed from the user when totally out of harm’s way

Uncovering asbestos containing materials during the course of other work

  • You may be doing other work (e.g redecorating an old building, diy, electrical installation) and come upon an asbestos containing object. The immediate course of action is to keep everyone out of the area, report it to the person in charge, put up a warning sign.
  • If the material definitely contains asbestos, the client will need to source a licenced specialist
  • If there is some dust/fibres in air and on clothes, the individual needs to undress, shower, dispose of all clothes as asbestos containing waste (if there is a lot of dust/material on them) or special laundering if not
  • Care should be taken not to contaminate other areas


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    wikipedia