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   cdc.gov     better health.vic    live strong.com

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 www.hse.gov.uk. 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

Sources    hse.gov.uk

ISO 14001 belongs to the environmental management family of standards known as ISO 14000. This series has been developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO); with the 14001 standard described as being one of the most important. The ISO is located in Geneva, Switzerland. The ISO 14000 series is voluntary is not enforced by environmental laws. However, there are many benefits to being 14001 certified. ISO 14001 is used by 200,000+ organizations in 159 countries worldwide. The ISO 14001 is similar to ISO 9000, and, if a company already has the latter certification, then implementation of the ISO 14001 would not require very much more in terms of its implementation.

The ISO 14001 represents the core set of values used by organisations. Europe’s Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) enables companies to assess, manage and make improvements to their impact on the environment. ISO 14001 is an integral part of EMAS. ISO 14001 includes an environmental management system (EMS) which sets up requirements for how an organisation can reduce its waste, reduce its carbon footprint, improve its impact on the environment and be more economical. This management system pertains to how the product is produced, rather than the product itself. Basically, the standard assists companies with meeting their environmental and economic goals. It assures a company is committed to the environment by reducing harmful effects and continued evidence of doing so. The benefits of this certification to an organisation go beyond economics and being environmental responsible; it may influence tendering for new business.

Core benefits of implementing ISO 14001 Environmental Management System

  • Savings in waste, recycling and consumption
  • Will have a positive influence when tendering for business
  • Management of environmental risks
  • Shows commitment and responsibility to the environment
  • Can reduce insurance costs
  • Demonstrates compliance with environmental regulations
  • Supply of services is increasingly conditional on proof of certification

ISO 14001 cycle

ISO-14001-cycle

 

 

Sources    wikipedia    tech target   acsregistrars   dft.gov

Much effort has been done worldwide over the past decades to decrease our carbon footprint.  If not managed, the effect of waste on the environment can be detrimental. The consequence of waste materials on the natural ability of animals to thrive can be toxic as it can distort their food chain and kill off species. There can also be effects on soil, water and the contribution to global warming. The effect on the economy can include the accumulation of debris build up which can prevent a sustainable future for generations to come.

Disposing of solid municipal waste via landfills and incineration can have many effects. Ingested materials may give rise to asthma and respiratory diseases. Environmental effects include soil acidification and the potential contamination of water. Incineration can cause possible vegetation damage. Composting may include the potential for exposure to harmful bacteria and fungi. Recycling has no significant effects on man or the environment.

Types of waste that can have some toxicity on the environment include municipal solid waste which is usually waste from offices which can include construction debris. Industrial solid waste includes solvents, paints, sludge’s, rubber, glass, straw, abrasives etc. Types of waste that can cause a substantial threat to the environment includes agricultural waste, hazardous waste and nuclear waste. These kinds of waste can produce major or substantial threats to public health and the environment if they are not discarded of carefully.

With regard to the law, the Environmental Protection Act 1990 includes legislation on enforcement, controlled waste and duty of care. This act places a duty of care on any one who manages controlled waste; to take responsibility on how they control that waste so that they minimise harm to the environment or man. A recycling contractor must be authorised by the environment agency and any third party managing waste must have a Waste carriers licence. Businesses can transport their own waste to a licensed commercial waste site without the need for a licence. Electrical items must be dealt with according to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (Amendment) Regulations 2010. Other environmental legislation include the Environment Act 1995. This legislation established the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency as the regulating bodies for contaminated land, control of air pollution and conservation. Other regulations include the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 and the Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989.

One can contribute towards a greener future by recycling in the office and at home. In the office, paper, plastic, food, ink cartridges, mobile phones, CD’s and books can all be recycled. A waste contractor could be sourced and employees informed of a new waste management system. Waste prevention can include the efficient use of raw materials and packaging. In the office one could use recycled paper and promote a paperless communication environment with emails being used instead. Using the waste hierarchy of the ‘three R’s’ i.e Reduce, Reuse and Recycle will contribute to decreasing our carbon footprint on the planet.

Sources   hse.gov.uk

always-everywhere

The ACOP gives advice on how to comply with the law. There are many regulations within health and safety law which apply to the working of rider operated lift trucks. The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act), the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER), the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (LOLER), the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM).

The first thing the ACOP concerns is training. Employers should not let anyone operate fork lift trucks if they have not had the proper basic training. Operators must also be fully trained before they are allowed to teach. Lift trucks used for training must be in good mechanical condition. Records should be kept of each employee who has completed the basic training and testing in accordance with the ACOP. Lift truck operators should be physically and mentally fit and to be safely able to control the vehicle. People with disabilities need not necessary be excluded from working with lift trucks. Reasonable adjustments may be ok to do providing operation of the lift truck is safe; the Equality Act 2010 will apply. Even though there is no legal requirement to issue certificates for basic level training, they do provide evidence that operators have received the relevant training. There is no such thing as a lift truck ‘licence’.

When lift trucks are in operation, their safe use is utmost. Pedestrians should be prohibited from being in these areas. Audible warning notices and flashing beacons should be used where necessary. All surfaces used by lift trucks should be firm and level. Some lift trucks are designed to operate on uneven surfaces. The work areas must be adequately lit.

There are various approaches to controlling the use of lift trucks. There should be a device fitted to prevent unauthorised use, such as a programmable fob. On LPG trucks, the gas supply should be turned off if the truck is left for some time. There should be enough parking areas so that lift trucks are comfortably parked. They should not be used in areas where there are flammable vapours or gases. Direct ignition could cause an explosion. LPG fuel cylinders should be changed outside buildings and away from sources of ignition.

People should never be lifted on the forks or on the pellet. To allow people to work at height, lift trucks can be used with integrated working platforms. This isolates the truck controls so that only the person on the platform can control the truck movements. A non-integrated platform is one where the platform is controlled solely by the truck operator. If driving a lift truck on the public road, the driver must comply with the appropriate legislation. The law requires that all vehicles should work correctly and non-lifting parts (e.g tyres, brakes, lights) should be regularly be inspected. Before the beginning of each shift, the lift truck operator should check the tyres, pressure, fuel levels, lights and look for any cracks or damage.

Sources    hse.gov.uk

The health hazards concerning waste management and recycling include skin contact, injection, ingestion and inhalation. Occupational diseases which can be attributed to working in the waste industry include dermatitis, skin cancer, microorganisms invading the body and blood borne viruses. Employers and managers of waste management/recycling firms have a duty to protect their employees from exposure to harmful substances. The Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) contain the relevant legal requirements. Risk assessments must be carried out to ensure harmful exposure to waste is not encountered by employees. Employers must consider the work tasks of their employees and also how this can affect others working around them. There is a simple step by step process for how employers can find out more about their worker’s exposure to hazardous substances.

  1. Finding out what the health hazards are from the microorganisms and harmful substances
  2. Singling out who might be harmed
  3. Finding out how harm can be prevented?
  4. Putting in place appropriate control measures?
  5. Making sure those control measures are used
  6. Monitoring and reviewing the risk assessment regularly

New recruits, trainees and young people are particularly susceptible to working in this kind of environment and extra measures must be in place to protect them from the start. All workers need to be retrained and informed as appropriate.

Personal protective equipment is critical when working with waste/recycling. Clothing should include safety boots, cut resistant trousers, gloves, safety goggles, plastic aprons/bodysuits, and ventilation masks. A respiratory apparatus may be needed in some situations. On mobile trucks there should be hand wash basins and or hand wipes/gels. There should be emergency decontamination and emergency arrangements in place. Contamination could occur from split bags, contact with animal and human waste or contact with chemicals. There should be a readily available supply of clean water and the identification of local welfare facilities. Facilities and equipment should be kept sufficiently stocked and in good working order. Strong cleaners should be avoided as these could cause dermatitis. There should be first aid facilities on collection vehicles. As a minimum there should be a suitably appointed first aid box and an appointed person to take care of first aid arrangements. A health surveillance may be a legal requirement if a person is exposed to biological agents, solvents, dusts and fumes. Specific occupational diseases must be reported to RIDDOR.

How one should protect themselves when working in waste management depends on the nature and types of materials being collected, the levels of containment (e.g bags, wheelie bins), the routes of exposure and whether it is urban or rural. WISH (The Waste Industry Safety and Health) is a forum made up of organisations and representative involved in broadly representing the waste management industry. It has representatives from HSE. Its aim is to provide information and identify solutions for those working in the waste industry and those affected by its activities. WISH endorsed guidance on available on the HSE website.

Sources    hse.gov.uk

Employers have a duty to protect workers’ health according to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH). Cleaning office surfaces and floors can pose health risks to workers if not correctly done. Many cleaning products are hazardous to health, if they become ingested, inhaled or come into contact with the skin. The worker using the cleaning products must be competent and understand the hazards and the risks. Examples of hazardous substances used in the office include photocopier toner and developer fluids, domestic cleaning materials (bleach, toilet cleaner, floor cleaner), substances found in maintenance departments (paints, solvents).

When using cleaning products…

  • Water proof, slip resistant footwear should be used
  • Skin creams are good for conditioning the skin
  • Chemicals should be stored away from vulnerable people and children. A cool, dry dark place is best and they should be used before the use by date
  • One should always read the label for guidance and put the cap back on the bottle immediately
  • Any splashes should be washed off the skin immediately
  • Continued use from some products can cause occupational dermatitis, others can cause asthma
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn. It may not be necessary to wear gloves and goggles. A face mask may be necessary to protect from splashes
  • Splashes with caustic soda can cause blindness
  • Bleach should not be mixed with any other chemicals, as this can give off a dangerous chlorine gas
  • One should check their skin for dryness and soreness, this should not be ignored, treatment should be sought
  • Dispose of any waste liquid safely
  • The office work areas must be well ventilated when cleaning (open windows and doors)
  • Workers should be aware of the risk of using the product and understand how to dilute it if so required

When using step ladders to aid office cleaning…
Although leaning ladders can be used in the office, they are more likely to be used outside or adjacent to the office for example, when cleaning windows or a task where a great height need to be reached. For all other general office maintenance, step ladders are most often used. Using Ladders or Step Ladders is regulated by the Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR).

  • All four feet of the stepladder should have level contact with the ground
  • One should not overreach
  • Generally, one should always position the step ladder so that it directly faces the work area, however in tight spaces it may be safer to work side on.
  • The ladder must be locked in position correctly
  • One should not stand on the top three steps, unless there is a suitable handhold
  • Only light materials and tools should be carried on them
  • When one cannot maintain a handhold on the step ladder, for example changing a light bulb or putting a box on a shelf, it needs to be risk assessed – taking into account the height of the task, whether a handhold is still available before and after the task and whether it avoids side loading or over-reaching.
  • In the working position the ladder should support 2 feet and one hand. Hands should only be free for brief moments, during which time the full support of the body is by the two feet
  • One should try to avoid work that imposes a side loading, such as side-on drilling through solid materials (eg bricks or concrete)

 

Sources   hse.gov.uk

The Event Organiser is responsible for ensuring that the visiting crowds are safe so far as is practically possible. Both the crowds and venue can present hazards. Risks posed by the crowd include crushing, trampling and aggressive/dangerous behaviour. Risks posed by the venue include slipping due to inadequately lit areas, moving vehicles sharing the same space as pedestrians, collapsing fences or barriers, hot cooking equipment on food stall, failure of equipment (such as turnstiles) and people being pushed against objects due to crowd sway.

Barriers are the most common method of crowd control used at events. Barriers manage the behaviour of the crowds and they are used to line out routes. High perimeter fences can provide physical security at an outdoor event. They can also be used to shield hazards from people. If barriers are used they must be risk assessed and this will all depend on various factors. These include the weather, topography of the soil, the crowd numbers, the underground pipes and cables (these could restrict the use of using poles to erect the barriers), the event layout and the load on the barrier (e.g crowd or wind pressure). The barrier or fence must not pose greater risks than those that it is intended to control. The use of Stewards will help with an all-round control of risk on the ground.

The Event Organiser will have many challenges to comprehend with, especially with larger crowd numbers. An initial assessment of an event and the safety plan should include the duration of the event, the crowd number and type (eg older persons or disability needs), the scale and type of event and the location. It’s sensible to liaise with the venue owner / management and with the emergency services when making a safety plan. Specialist contractors may have to be hired to man events and to ensure health and safety and emergency procedures are in place.

When the event has been risk assessed and a safety plan in place, the Event Organiser then needs to manage the event or manage contractors. There should be health and safety arrangements in place to control risk. As soon as the event starts, one should move away from the planning and paperwork and concentrate on each phase of the event. If hiring specialist contractors to manage health and safety at an event, the event manager will have to explain site hazards and control measures already in place, safe speed limits, parking and toilet facilities and emergency arrangements to the contractors. The contractors may have to add extra safety measures, like barriers, fencing, safety signs and other ad hoc requirements to make the event safe. A number of people may share the monitoring role during the event itself. There should be excellent communication systems in place for this. Feedback after the event has taken place must be encouraged and lessons learned.

The event organiser must thoroughly plan for incidents and emergencies, for example, a fire or structural failure. All incidents should be planned for, for example, severe weather, the act being cancelled and the unavailability of key staff. For all, but the smallest low risk events, the event emergency plans must be communicated to the police, ambulance services, rescue services and fire services. As emergencies can occur very quickly, emergency routes should not be obstructed and they should be sufficiently lit.

Sources   qub.ac.uk    hse.gov.uk    sussex.ac.uk

 

Event Safety Checklist
(Source  sussex.ac.uk)

Event Safety Checklist Yes/No

 

Have the following key personnel been identified? Event Organiser, safetyManager, chief steward, stewards?
Do you need any special permissions e.g. Temporary Road Closures,Temporary Event Notice, etc?
Is the site suitable for your event?
Have you carried out a risk assessment to make sure you have all thenecessary health and safety measures in place?
Who will be responsible for health and safety at the event?
Have you provided necessary information e.g. maps, site plans, details of gas,electricity, water supply and an outline programme of events?
Do you know how many people you are expecting?
Do you know where the entrances and exits on your site are?
Are the entrances and exits controlled, stewarded, suitable for disabled persons,and appropriately signed?
Do you have trained, briefed and clearly identifiable stewards?
Have you met the needs of disabled people?
Have you set up a reliable system of communication between key people?
Are crowd control barriers necessary?
Are emergency procedures in place and have these been agreed with the emergency services?
Can emergency vehicles get on and off the site easily?
Do you have effective fire control measures in place?
Do you have adequate first aid facilities?
Do you need any other special arrangements e.g. for lost property, drinking water, toilets, noise control, car parking?
Has a person been allocated to make decisions in an emergency?
Do you have an emergency plan?
Are there arrangements for stopping the event during an emergency?
Have you ensured as far as reasonably practicable that any contactors are competent? Have you obtained contractors health and safety policies, training document, public liability insurance and safety method statements?
Have you agreed risk assessments for the contracted work and the preventative and protective steps that will apply when work is in progress?
Have you obtained food safety documentation from any catering contractor?
Have you arranged for adequate waste provision?

The weather can affect an individual’s work output and ultimately their health and safety. A cautionary approach is necessary to ensure good work practices in challenging weather conditions. For work indoors, the law doesn’t state a minimum temperature, however it should be at least 16 degrees Celsius. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 say the temperature “shall be reasonable”. Also, the Workplace Regulations, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 place responsibilities on employers to make a suitable assessment of the risks to the health and safety of their workers. If there is a requirement to operate at a lower temperature, for example, in chilled foods production, then protective gear must be worn. A definitive figure cannot be given for working indoors because of variations in radiant temperature, humidity and air velocity.

Hot weather
Although a sunny day is a welcome surprise for most of us, for those who work outdoors it can get very uncomfortable. To avoid UV radiation and burning one should cover up and wear loose clothing. One should check their skin regularly and wear sunscreens. ‘Heat stress’ is what can occur when the body cannot control its inner temperature. The body then increases the blood flow to the skin’s surface and sweats. Where there is a risk of heat stress, a risk assessment must be carried out. When doing this, one should consider the work rate, the working climate and worker clothing and respiratory protective equipment. When outdoors one should keep in the shade, rehydrate regularly and take frequent breaks.

Cold weather
If left unchecked, working in cold environments can pose unnecessary cold stress on workers. When working outdoors in cold weather, workers may need to use personal protective equipment. The working hours should incorporate frequent rest breaks and warm liquid intake. To reduce slips on ice, frost or snow, a weather risk assessment may need to be carried out in areas that pose a risk. Warning cones and grit should be used. Gritting should be done on walk areas that are likely to be damp or wet with temperatures below freezing. When working in low temperatures, compliance with British/European Standards ensures one is working to the minimum standard expected. All insulating gloves and protective must be to British/European Standards.

Strong wind
When working outdoors and there is a threat of strong winds one should stop work at places where there is a risk of falling objects. Scaffolding and materials should be secured. Workers should be able to evacuate to a safe shelter to avoid exposure to strong winds. One should clear of windows in case of breakage of glass. One should not work at height or perform lifting to higher levels.

Lightening and persistent rain
If there is a risk of lightening, workers should stay away from metal pipes and cables. Metal objects should be removed from the body. Workers should not continue working around water or exposed areas. One should not stay under lampposts, trees or work poles. One should not use plugged in power tools; battery alternatives should be considered or the work delayed to a later date. There is always a risk of electric shock or electrocution if there is leakage of current from wet electrical equipment. If there is persistent rain one should not stay near steep slopes, culverts or shelter in drainage pipes to avoid the danger of flooding. Work should only be resumed work when flooded water has been drained away.

Sources   labour.gov    hse website

Construction workers, including bricklayers and labourers have the highest mortality rate within the construction industry. The main hazards in construction are chemical and physical. Chemical exposure includes breathing in vapours, gas and dust. Working outdoors exposures workers to the elements such as high temperatures, low temperatures, wet and windy conditions. Physical risks include falling debris, operating dangerous machinery/tools, electrocution, slippery surfaces, manual labour, noise, working with asbestos and basically any physical hazard on site. The problem is that the hazards and risks are often unknown and are ever changing in this dynamic work environment.

The five leading categories for ill health for the construction industry include hand-arm vibration syndrome, noise induced hearing loss, skin disorders, respiratory disease and musculoskeletal disorders.

Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)
HAVS is caused by operating hand held power tools and hand guided equipment. Frequent use of these tools can cause vascular and musculoskeletal problems. Regulations under the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations (COVWR, 2005) impose responsibilities on employers to carry out a health surveillance at exposure action value (EAV) over an average eight hour working day. Occupational health professionals carrying out health checks must have a recognised qualification from Occupational Medicine.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss
Requirements under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations (2005) make it a requirement to carry out health surveillance for construction workers frequently exposed to noise. Monitoring means regular hearing tests, records being kept and the maintenance of any hearing protection used.

Skin Disorders
Work place dermatitis forms 80% of skin disorders contracted at work. This can be caused by fine particles of cement. Duties exist under COSHH (2002) and MHSW (1999) regulations to carry out a risk assessment to ensure workers are suitably monitored.

Respiratory Disease
Silica, asbestos and paint exposure can cause asthma and pulmonary disease. Occupational asthma due to prolonged exposure to irritants can lead to a chronic disability. Silica exposure can occur due to concrete removal, demolition work, sanding, cutting, drilling and grinding. Health surveillance should be considered if there is high risk of silicosis. Although chronic pulmonary disease is mainly caused by smoking, exposure to dusts, gases, fumes and vapours at work can cause this condition with a progressive decline in lung function. Requirements laid out in the Control of Asbestos at Work regulations (2006) require a health surveillance when working with asbestos.

Musculo-skeletal Disorders (MSD)
Areas affected are the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and other soft tissues. Although there is no requirement for health surveillance, symptoms should be monitored. MSD’s can occur in any kind of work, from typing to heavy manual labour. However, there are certain tasks that pose a greater risk of developing MSD’s: these include repetitive lifting, bending and lifting in awkward positions, working too long without breaks, repeating an action frequently and exerting too much pressure. In these circumstances, it may be necessary to refer a worker to the Occupational health practitioner.

Although a hazardous industry to work in, if the requirements under the health and safety legislation is adhered to there can only be a reduction in occupational health diseases and there has been so over the past years. However, this is a non-static and ever evolving industry so new measures and regulations will no doubt always be part of its future.

Sources   hse website