Archive for September, 2011

PostHeaderIcon What should be in your workplace 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.

PostHeaderIcon The Great Calamity of Debt: How to Protect your Mental Health

Worries over debt and financial problems can certainly keep you awake at night; however, studies have now found that it can also lead to issues with mental health. Debt can frequently give rise to worries, fears and even anxiety. When you are experiencing this type of stress, your mind naturally becomes concerned about the future. This can also lead to clouded thinking and decision-making, worsening the situation. Worrying over money can have an effect over your entire life, including those around you. It is imperative that you are able to make well-informed decisions with a clear mind rather than when feeling overwhelmed by fears and anxieties. Not only can worry over debt lead to mental health issues, such as depression, but it can also affect other areas of your health as well and lead to a variety of physical illnesses, including heart disease.

Counselling: Rather than waiting for your finances and your anxiety to consume you, it is important to make sure you are coping with the situation head-on. Counselling is an excellent way to address the stress and anxiety you may be experiencing. While you may feel as though you are struggling with your debt situation to such a point that you may not be able to afford anti-anxiety medication or counselling, there are solutions available that can assist you. Even if you do not have health insurance, there are resources available where you can turn. There are actually many low-income counselling services throughout the country. Many such facilities charge for services based on a sliding-income scale, allowing you to pay based on what you can afford.

Physical health: It is also important to make sure you are looking after your physical health during this critical time. Try to avoid or at least decrease your consumption of stimulants. Stimulants, including caffeinated beverage, can actually help to induce stress. It is also important to avoid substances like tobacco, narcotics and alcohol. While it may feel as though such substances are calming, in reality they worsen your health and can lead to impaired decision-making. The reality is that relying on such substances will not reduce your stress.

Eat well: Focus on eating a healthy and well-balanced diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables. Fast food and junk food may at first seem to be less expensive; however, over the long-term the consequences they have on your health and overall well-being are far more expensive. If you are experiencing difficulty in affording healthy food, look into resources available in your community. In light of the economy, most communities now provide a variety of different resources struggling families and individuals. When your body is supplied with the right nutrients you will feel better both physically as well as mentally.

Take time to relax: Try to take breaks whenever possible to keep your stress levels in check. It is not uncommon for many people today to work multiple jobs to try to make ends meet. While this may be necessary, remember that burning your candle at both ends can have serious consequences. Ensure you are getting at least eight hours of sleep each night. Contrary to popular opinion, you cannot catch up on lost sleep and a lack of sleep can have serious consequences on your mental and physical health.

Communicate: Finally, do not be afraid to discuss your problems with others. While financial difficulties at one time were a taboo subject, debt problems are now far more prevalent than ever. You might be surprised to discover how many of your friends and acquaintances are experiencing the same type of problems. Discussing your problems with others can help to ensure you do not repress your stress and anxiety and may even open the path for resources that can assist you during this difficult time.

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PostHeaderIcon How to make an asset tag stand out

There are many things you can do to make your asset tags stand out and be easily identified. The first is to have the barcode printed in black lettering on a white background.
Using bright colours on the rest of the asset tag makes them easy to locate and warns potential thieves that the item has been tagged. This makes them harder to sell. Then there’s the actual size of the asset tag. The standard size is recommended because this makes the barcode scanner’s job so much easier – easier to locate and easier to scan.
Using polyester asset tags means they will survive in almost every type of environment and choosing the tamper-proof models gives you peace of mind as any tampering causes the tag to chip or flake.
Your choice of printing method will also give your asset tags a greater visibility. By using sub-surface printing which is printing on the underside of clear material, you give the barcode a greater visibility and less chance of wear and tear.
Finally it is simple today to have your own art work or logo on an asset tag. You can make your asset tags distinctive and unique by printing your company’s details in your own design and colours.

PostHeaderIcon How to predict how many asset tags I need in the workplace

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.

PostHeaderIcon What is an Asset Tag?

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.

PostHeaderIcon Have you provided your staff with a travel first aid kit?

Most businesses are aware of the importance of providing a first aid kit on their premises. It not only ensures that staff – and indeed visitors – have access to basic emergency equipment in the event of accident or illness, but also helps to keep businesses on the right side of the law in terms of their health and safety obligations. No office should ever be without a fully-stocked first aid kit – in fact, they should have more than one if they have more than 100 staff.

However, one area of health and safety that businesses could overlook is that of their offsite staff. Although some businesses are based almost entirely on the road, such as tradesmen, others with a headquarters are likely to have staff who spent the majority of their time away from the office. For example, sales representatives or new businesses executives who are either usually found at the offices of prospective clients or on the road to their next destination.

Out of sight should not mean out mind, though, especially when it comes to health and safety. Offsite staff need to be provided with their own first aid kits, albeit ones that have been adapted for travel (in a nylon case with zip closure). One kit per one offsite staff member is recommended.

What should be in the kit?
Just like office first aid kits, travel versions need to come equipped with everything you’d need to deal with a minor medical problem. So plasters, a range of bandages and dressing should be in there, along with safety pins and sterile wipes for dealing with cuts that could become septic. Additionally, tape, gloves, a foil blanket, burn dressing, eyewash and clothes cutters should be in the kit.

Keeping up with changes
Even if you’ve already issued your offsite staff with travel first aid kits, it’s worth keeping up with latest recommendations on best practice. The British Healthcare Trade Association recently worked with the British Standards Institute to come up with a new British standard for first aid kits in the workplace. Based on the minimum requirements set out by the Health and Safety Executive’s approved code of practice, the kits are designed to deal with a wide range of common workplace injuries and illnesses, meaning they’re more comprehensive than previous kits.

A little preparation could go a long way – ensuring your staff stay safe and keeping you on the right side of the regulations.