What Is Health and Safety?

Archive for the ‘Office Safety’ Category

You may not think at first that practising how to use of a fire extinguisher is actually much use. But come the time when you might actually need to locate and use one, you could be very glad that you were made to practice the act of using and handling an extinguisher in the first place.

The fact of the matter is that there are many different types of fire extinguisher, not only in terms of operation, but also in terms of the chemicals actually inside the extinguisher. This is basically because the different types of extinguisher have been designed for different types of fire, including chemical fires, and electrical fires.

The thing is that you cannot just pick up any old type of extinguisher for use on any old fire, because if you pick up the wrong type, it can actually make the fire much worse, by either spreading it, or by adding to its ferocity. So you need to learn the rules, and the best way to do so is by attending a fire extinguisher course whereby you will be taught how to select the correct extinguisher to tackle a specific fire, how to actually operate that extinguisher, and how to direct the extinguisher to best put out the fire.

Another very important element of our fire extinguishers is where they are positioned within the building. Most local fire brigades have specialist advisers who will visit the premises to give you best advice on where to position your extinguishers. They will also be able to give you professional advice on which types of extinguisher are more appropriate to your building and the nature of your business.

Once installed, you should have your extinguishers inspected regularly, they should also be included on an asset register as they are classified as a company’s assets. Labelling fire extinguishers is not only helpful from a health and safety asset point of view, but it is also essential from a practical point of view in terms of selecting the right tool for the job, and extinguishing the blaze at the earliest opportunity.

Practising using a fire extinguisher may help to alleviate any fears and as the saying goes ‘practice makes perfect’, so like many things the more you practise the adept you will become at using a fire extinguisher, which could help to save lives.

Recent research by the Migraine Trust has revealed that migraines are a vastly misunderstood problem in the UK workplace, with just 5% of sufferers believing that the impact of their migraines is taken seriously.

This comes on top of previous research that showed 1 in 3 sufferers claiming discrimination at work as a result of their condition. Indeed, with eight million people in the UK suffering from migraines, an average of two per month per person, one in five employees in the UK has had to take time off work as a result of a migraine headache.

Migraines themselves can be debilitating, and are more than a simple headache. The origin of a migraine is hard to pinpoint, but widening of the blood vessels in the brain is believed to cause the ‘throbbing’ sensation of a migraine.

The symptoms can have knock-on effects such as nausea and vomiting, and they cannot always be treated by simple painkillers. Many sufferers withdraw to a darkened room in order to escape light and other disturbances.

What does this mean for the workplace? First of all, we need to increase understanding of migraines. There appears to be a stream of thought that believes suffering from a headache – any form of headache – is something that should be ‘shaken off’ and suffered in silence. A migraine is more than just a headache, and indeed migraines can be brought on by office conditions.

Therefore, in addition to understanding, employers need to take into account the workplace as a potential supplementary cause of a migraine – for example, by initiating a workplace assessment for migraine sufferers. Are there any visual disturbances? Are they too close to the screen? Equally, are they taking a sufficient number of screen breaks, or working such long hours that they are causing a strain on their eyes, triggering a migraine? Is workplace stress an issue? If so, do you, as a business, have any proactive measures in place to pinpoint and solve the problem?

The World Health Organisation lists migraines as a disabling illness, so attitudes in the workplace have to change quickly – both those of colleagues and employers. The resulting improvements in health and productivity can result in improved profitability – all it takes is a more holistic approach.

About the author: Gareth Cartman works with leading charity Corporate Health, who carry out workstation assessments as part of their Occupational Health service.

If you live in an occupancy building, have a busy office or you are a site manager, then youwould have probably at some point thought about or come across emergency lighting.

Emergency lighting provides back up lighting, which comes into effect when a building losespower and experiences a power outage. Emergency lights need to give sufficient levels oflight and illumination to enable all occupants and residents to safely evacuate the premise.

Common amongst many residential buildings including flats and apartments, many newbuilds now install emergency lighting as standard during construction.
UK Building Regulations and the British Standard specifies the design, installation andtype of equipment needed for clubs, hospitals, hotels, schools and shopping centres etcincluding the minimum safe standards that must be met. Although standby lighting has beenincreasingly introduced to new buildings the Building Regulations and British Standardscover the use and need for emergency escape lighting.

The loss of mains power electricity may cause sudden darkness and a blackout within abuilding and potentially cause danger to occupants and those residing in a communal orcommercial building.

Emergency lighting therefore is usually battery operated and self-contained locally. Self-contained emergency lights are cost-effective and can be installed quickly and easily, whilstincreasing the integrity of the emergency lighting system as each installation is independentof another. More commercial buildings and sites that house vital services such as hospitals will havetheir emergency lights as well as other critical services backed-up by a generator.

Emergency lighting needs to be sustained for a duration of at least three hours, although if thepremises will be evacuated immediately on power failure and then not reoccupied a minimumduration of one hour may be acceptable.

The legends, lights and signs should then be placed and sited in clearly visible locationsleading to the exit points of the building, whilst access to call points, fire alarms and firefighting equipment such as fire extinguishers should be illuminated as well as being readily accessible.

Whatever the type, source and location of emergency lighting, be sure that your back-uplighting systems is routinely checked and maintained all year round.

Martha is an expert in home and business security and pays particular attention to fire safety and prevention. For more information on fire safety including emergency lighting equipment for your business, please visit Discount Fire Supplies.

An office might not seem like a dangerous environment, but it’s important to keep all communal areas safe. Faulty appliances, hot water and slippery surfaces can lead to injury so keep track of your property with asset tags and make sure all areas are well-maintained.

Here are five ways to safeguard your office kitchen:

Carry out a risk assessment

Employers are required by law to provide a carefully-managed working environment. It’s therefore essential to carry out a risk assessment of the kitchen area (and the rest of your premises) and note down any hazards. Once you’ve examined all equipment and checked all carpets, floors, walls and such, you must take steps to improve conditions. Don’t delay getting things fixed as you might end up with a lawsuit on your hands!

Provide the relevant signs

The Health & Safety (Signs and Signals) regulations 1996 states that signage must be used to protect against danger. So if there’s a large step leading into the eating area, or the water’s particularly hot – you must make people aware. Buy the relevant signage online or from any reputable DIY store and label your office appropriately. Position the signs were people can see them and ensure they carefully highlight the hazard.

Keep a first aid kit nearby

A spilt cup of tea can cause painful burns, so it’s best to be prepared. Keep a first aid kit nearby and make sure you’ve got adequate and appropriate supplies. Fill your box with plasters, eyewash, triangular bandages, dressings and disposable gloves and keep all safety equipment in a convenient place. If the elected first aiders feel an injury is too serious to treat onsite, call an ambulance as soon as possible. Ensure the injured/ill person is kept warm and comfortable and wait for a medical team to arrive.

Tidy up

A messy kitchen can increase the chance of an accident, so always tidy up. Ask all staff members to put their plates in the dishwasher and employ a cleaner to wipe down surfaces and take care of the tougher jobs. Ensure all chairs are stored away neatly and don’t leave anything on the floor – as bags, coats, paperwork and boxes can become tripping hazards.

Protect your equipment

As well as looking after employees, it’s also wise to safeguard your property. If your office kitchen’s full of high-tech cooking equipment place an asset tag on each electrical item. These will help keep track of your equipment and should deter thieves from stealing your belongings. Small businesses are regularly broken into, so it’s wise to do all you can to prevent your property from being stolen.
Providing a safe, well-managed kitchen should keep everyone safe and will help staff enjoy their lunch breaks.

Accidents will happen, there’s no getting away from it. But while you’re busy protecting your home or office with safety and emergency signs, spare a thought for those unfortunate souls who fell afoul of some of the most bizarre accidents while trying only to go about their daily routines.

Always ask for an extra hand

There comes a time when all of us will have to stay a little late at work to catch up on something, but if there was ever proof needed you should let people know what you’re up to, it comes thanks to Ben Montgomery of Dubbo, Australia. On the site of his company’s latest housing project, old Ben decided to stick around and earn some brownie points with his bosses. Unfortunately, after nail-gunning his hand to a post, Len was stuck with no-one to help him till the foreman turned up the next day and called an ambulance. Nice one Ben!

It’s for you!

Sure, it’s hilarious when we play pranks on our co-workers, but maybe Noel Martin of Anglesey will think twice next time he wants to wind up his friend Rick Barr. Troy thought it would be a big laugh to put superglue around the earpiece of Rick’s phone after hearing him complain all week about the number of calls he was getting. It wasn’t quite so funny when the pranker had to use his own phone to call paramedics to help out his grumpy victim. Shame on you Noel!

Going downhill fast

An exhausted Alex Mellor thought he was being pretty smart when he volunteered to shift a pile of earth from one side of a golf course to the other as part of a landscape gardening project in Hastings. But as he foolishly climbed in to the wheelbarrow he had perched so carefully on the side of one of the course’s steepest hills to get a bit of rest, he lost his footing. Alex landed in the barrow head first and careered for 100 yards before hitting a sandpit. He broke his collar bone and fractured his nose, but was able to catch up some bed rest in his local hospital for a few days at least.

With proper information signs and a bit of common sense of course, you can avoid many types of accidents. Unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on which way you look at it – there will always be some idiots around to prove mankind isn’t always the smartest of species!

Most successful companies understand that the best way to meet compliance standards in regard to employees wearing their personal protective equipment is to furnish them some really “cool” products.  Products such as gloves, safety glasses, and hardhats that keep them safe while bringing out their personalities at the same time!

We recently received the following note, which sets the example:   “I received the hardhat yesterday and I love it. It’s been the talk of the town here for the past two days in my motor pool in Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. My 1stSgt, Co Gunny, and my CO all think it’s the coolest thing since sliced bread. It has not only provided my cranium protection, it’s given a sizable morale boost too to the Marines I work with. I wish to thank you one last time for ensuring its delivery here. I’d also like to thank your company for making the ordering process so easy and the site easy to navigate. Take care.”  (Goodness knows –  if anyone could use a lift, it’s our service personnel.)

Many workers complain that their P.P.E. just doesn’t fit or look right.  Now, women’s products come in smaller sizes, from safety glasses to gloves and hardhats made just for them, some even in pink!  There are coveralls and other protective outerwear that is not just “one size fits all.”  Because people come in all sizes, companies should have their safety leaders include part of the workforce to make the decisions in the products they select.  It is unsafe for workers to have to perform their jobs in clothing that doesn’t fit.  Loose gloves and clothing can become caught in moving equipment.

If companies allow their employees to wear, for example, say, hardhats that have sports team logos on them, it lets workers show support for their team, which in turn, might cause a little competition, along with a winning spirit.  We hope this encourages others to be aware that all safety glasses are not “Plain Janes.”  There are so many cool styles of glasses that surpass those found in optical stores, because not only do they look good, but furnish UV safety, as well as protect the eyes from foreign objects.  The look of safety equipment depends on the materials it is made from.  Therefore, many types of gloves and goggles or glasses are designed for protection and not style.  Whether they are industrial grade or medical grade gloves or outer clothing, chemists, medical personnel, food handling workers, and others who are engaged in types of work that require these special protective barriers are happy to wear them, knowing they are protected.

The main concern toward keeping employees safe is to ensure they are compliant with safety rules.  PPE is the last line of defense when it comes to protection.  However, it won’t protect them if they don’t wear it!  The employee is responsible to know how to use this PPE for the particular purpose it was designed.  It is the responsibility of the company’s safety leader to ensure that they are trained and understand how to take care of their PPE, knowing when it is damaged and how it can be repaired if possible, or replaced when necessary.  It can be much more fun when workers to get to wear some type of PPE that puts a smile on everyone’s face.

We thank our Marine for the kind words regarding the hardhat he ordered.  It is our hope that he and his buddies remain safe and return home soon!

This article was written by our Texan Health and Safety friend , Pat Brownlee, Blog4Safety.com/Texas America Safety Company (tasco-safety.com)

All workplaces must arrange adequate health and safety provisions, which incorporate first aid kits, somewhere suitable for the equipment to be administered and training so that nominated staff are able to use the kit.

However, if you’re responsible for this area of office safety, there are a number of things you need to keep in mind in terms of the type and quantity of kit you order. It’s not good enough to simply buy the first kit you see on the shelf of a general retailer, especially if you’re working for a medium-sized business or bigger.

The size of the kit is dependent on a combination of factors, including the level of assessed risk in the workplace and the number of employees. As a guide, shops, offices and libraries are considered to be low-hazard, while more industrial-type environments – such as building sites, factories or other places where dangerous machinery is used – are considered to be higher risk.

However, each workplace should be assessed on its individual merits and stocked with first aid equipment accordingly. For example, you could work in a low risk environment but be in a remote area, meaning you need to stock up on extra provisions in the knowledge that help could take a little longer to arrive in the event of a casualty.

Meanwhile, if you’re working in an industrial environment, you need to ensure that your first aid kit is durable and stocked with adequate provisions for the type of injuries that typically happen here. So getting a kit that comes in a durable case and is filled with bandages, sterile wipes and dressings is probably your best course of action. On the other hand, serious cuts and bruises tend to be less common injuries in offices, where you’re more likely to find people requesting plasters for paper cuts or blisters.

If you have offsite staff, don’t forget to issue them with their own travel first aid kit, which should also be stocked with the problems that can be encountered during life on the road. For example, if your offsite staff spend a decent amount of time driving between appointments, a foil blanket is a must in case of a breakdown in freezing weather.

Ultimately, it’s important to be prepared for all eventualities, whether your staff work in an office, factory or on the road. With the Health and Safety Executive liable to prosecute businesses which do not make adequate provisions for staff health and safety, you’ll be looking after much more than your workers’ wellbeing by getting the right first aid kit.

No one wants to think about accidents happening in their workplace, but the fact is that people are inflicted with injuries big and small each and every day. From minor things like paper cuts to more serious mishaps with dangerous industrial machinery, all workplaces have at least some level of risk. So you’ll want to be prepared for the worst happening, both in terms of the first aid kit you provide and the people who are trained to use it.

Of course, if you’re responsible for first aid in an established business, chances are you think you know what should be in your first aid kit. A few bandages, a couple of plasters, a handful of pain killers, right? Well, not exactly. This year, The British Healthcare Trade Association and the British Standards Institute launched a new British Standard for First Aid Kids, based on the minimum requirements set out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in its approved code of practice.

Failing to comply with this code can have dire consequences – the HSE can prosecute where it deems that staff safety has been put at significant risk and appropriate equipment and staff training has not been providing.

Stocking your workplace first aid kit
On June 30th 2011, a new standard came into effect for workplace first aid kits. These kits are compliant with HSE guidelines, while offering best-practice in workplace first aid provision. A number of alterations were made to the kits as part of the minimum standard changes, with workplaces given a six month transitional period to comply. Kits must now include:

• Smaller dressings for finger injuries that are too large for plasters • Adhesive tape to secure bandages without the need for safety pins • Gel burn dressings and a conforming bandage secure the dressing • Clothing cutters • Eyewash bottles for travel kits • Resuscitation shields • A foil blanket to keep casualties warm in cases of clinical shock

In addition, the new standard increases the number of disposable nitrile gloves, but decreases the number of triangular bandages, as they are no longer used for immobilising limb injuries.

Of course, having the equipment itself is not enough. Under the HSE’s (First-Aid) Regulations 1981, there also needs to be appropriate facilities – such as a medical room – and staff trained in first-aid. All employees need to be made aware of these provisions and how they can use them in the event of illness and injury.

With staff safety – and your finances – at stake, if you run a business, it’s essential you get clued up on the kits and stock-up as soon as possible.

One of the benefits of using asset tags is that, with a portable bar code scanner, you can conduct an inventory of your plant and equipment in a very short time. With the same principle of using technology, in this case computer software, you can predict the number of asset tags you need in your business. Remember that asset tags are limited only by your choice and so can be applied to such things as office equipment, software programs, computers both desktop and portable as well as tools and furniture. Setting up a simple software program which creates lists of items under the various sub-headings above will enable you to see at a glance how many items you have to be labelled with an asset tag. Then you need to make a prediction for future needs and growth. What percentage of your stock will be upgraded in the next two or even five years? Does your business have plans to expand within the foreseeable future? Will this mean extra staff and extra equipment? If so, you add the future requirements to your inventory.

By adding your projected needs to your current stock you will be able to predict how many asset tags you need in your workplace.

It’s a label, a small individually numbered tag which is used to identify an asset such as a piece of valuable office equipment. Computers, printers, fax machines and the like are the ideal product which can be labelled with an asset tag. Each tag can have its own sequential number and/or sequential bar code making identification easy and quick. Manufacturers can even produce asset tags using the company’s name or logo. Every medium sized business and certainly every large business will have dozens if not hundreds of valuable items. By affixing an asset tag, companies can easily identify items when they are removed or repaired or serviced or when they are stolen, sold or placed in storage. In many cases, insurance companies will not cover items unless they have an asset tag.

Asset tags or retail tags come in a variety of materials. Vinyl and polyester are the two main types and there are asset tags which are tamper proof. That is if the tag is removed or tampered with, it becomes damaged and thus cannot be placed on another item.

Inventories or stock-takes are required every year if not sooner and the ability to check stock via the bar code on an asset tag is a time saving and thus a cost saving exercise for every business.