PostHeaderIcon Dry Rot: Something You Can’t See Might Be Eating Your Home

Dry rot is one of the leading causes of early degradation of house materials, especially wood. You may not notice the growth of such type of fungus at first, but when left untreated, it can pose a serious danger not only to your house but your health and your family’s as well.


Do Not Let The Name Fool You

Rot can occur in unprotected lumber materials inside your home, as well as in fences and building facades that frequently exposed to high levels of water vapor and moisture. Often, damp conditions inside the house provide an ideal breeding ground for fungal spores to easily develop and multiply. Over time, these silent menace destroy the lumber or even other masonry materials inside your home, which in turn can put you and your family’s life at risk. One of the most dangerous types of fungal attack that can cause serious damage to your house’s structure is that of dry rot.

Do not let the name mislead you. Dry rot is not actually dry. Rather, this type of fungus loves to hang out in moist, dark and hidden places around your house. Since wood materials are highly susceptible to moist, they are the usual target of dry rot. The fungus then digests parts of the lumber that provides the lumber with strength and stiffness, eventually causing it to weaken. Dry rot fungus got its name due to its unusual ability to transport water from wet areas to dry areas, allowing the fungus to thrive even in dry wood.

Dry rot development is a clear indication of poor design, maintenance and infection. If left untreated, it can cause extensive damage to the structure of your home.


How to Identify if the Silent Menace Is Attacking Your Home

Dry rot exhibits different characteristics depending on its development extent. At first, it spreads fine pale-gray strands in different directions, which in turn infect the lumber. In damp condition, the strands are accompanied by cotton wool-like white growths.

As the fungi progress, they appear as wrinkled, bulging pancake that produce rust-colored spores. When released into the air, the spores then covers the surrounding masonry and lumber. The infested wood will turn brownish and brittle and will exhibit cracks, causing the wood to break into cube-like pieces. You will also smell a musty, mushroom-like smell produced by the fungus.


Dealing with Dry Rot

Since the fungus can penetrate both wood and masonry, it can be quite difficult to identify the extent of its development on your own. Hence, unless the outbreak is minor or self contained, the treatment of dry rot should always be left to the hands of professionals.

If you do decide to address small infected areas on your own, the first thing that you have to do is to eliminate the sources of dampness. You also need to make sure that your home is properly ventilated to avoid recurrence. It is also advised that you cut out all the infected lumber to at least 18 inches beyond the last sign of visibility of the rot. For masonry, wire brush the infected areas, collect the debris and burn them.

To kill the remaining spores, apply several coats of or liquid fungicidal preservative on all woodwork, masonry, drywall or plaster at least 5 feet within the infected area. Make sure to wear the right protective clothing when applying the solution and follow the instructions of the manufacturer.

If your home’s walls are penetrated by dry rot strands, drill regularly spaced staggered holes into both sides of the wall. Make sure that the holes are angled downward for the fluid to be collected there. Such an angle will also help the walls to saturate properly. After applying the treatment cover the holes again.


Prevention is Better Than Cure

As with any other issue, prevention is always better than cure, and this also applies in managing dry rot. If you want to make sure that your home will not encounter dry rot damage, it is in your best interest to eliminate or reduce excess moisture. This may be as simple as repairing a leaky pipe in your bathroom or basement, or fixing the holes in your roof.

The post above was written and researched by Robert Swan who runs Aqua Protection a Roofing Company in Scotland, providing roofing services throughout the UK to both residentiall and commercial clients. His company Aqua Protectionalso carries out a wall coating service to customers all over the UK.


PostHeaderIcon Migraines in the workplace a hidden problem

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.

PostHeaderIcon Can PPE Clothing be Fashionable?

Health and safety has become an important part of our daily lives, both in our personal lives and our working lives too. In actual fact, good health and safety can be the difference between life or death, or perhaps some other serious form of injury. The fact that we all take health and safety much more seriously these days means that the incidence of accidents occurring (both in the workplace and at home), is vastly reduced.

One of the big steps forward has been the introduction of the risk assessment in the workplace. It’s really quite amazing before risk assessments were adopted, how ‘gung-ho’many people were when it came to carrying out certain activities in the workplace. Today however, most companies will ensure that a proper risk assessment is carried out; even if the end result is that there is no risk in the activity at all.

One of the key factors in carrying out an effective risk assessment is to check for the necessity for wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). PPE covers a wide range of products from safety boots to hard-hats, and from defenders to high visibility vests. In the early days of PPE, fashion was given very little thought by the manufacturers, so the types of products that were available were quite restricted in terms of style. For example safety shoes were really only available originally as great big clod hoppers, whereas today you have a much more fashionable range of choice, including things like reinforced trainers. However, whilst these reinforced trainers might look much more fashionable, I wouldn’t like to recommend playing a game of tennis in them! But other items of work-wear are now available not only in a range of fashionable designs, but in a wide range of colours too.

Certain items of PPE clothing can be fashionable as well as functional; manufacturers strive to keep PPE ‘user friendly’ in order that they are worn as intended, to personally protect the wearer, rather than ridiculed for being out-dated and left stuffed in the back of a locker because nobody wants to be seen ‘dead’in them.

PPE can be quite expensive and as such they need to be carefully monitored, and their distribution recorded. Asset tagging is an effective way of asset tracking; in other words being able to conveniently and easily log where your assets are.

PostHeaderIcon Staying Safe in the Fuel Crisis

We’re all usually quite good at getting ourselves into a bit of a mess; sometimes we get into a hole and we just don’t know when to stop digging. But it rather takes the biscuit when our own Prime Minister digs the hole for us. I just don’t know what possessed David Cameron to go on TV and advise everyone to start stocking up on petrol. It’s a bit like waving a red rag in front of a bull!

Here in the good old UK, once upon a time we used to be described as a nation of shop keepers. Now I rather think it might be more apt to describe ourselves as a nation of panic merchants. It seems like every time there’s even a whisper of a petrol shortage, or the possibility of the supermarkets been shut for the odd bank holiday, it’s a signal for everyone to start queuing up to do their panic buying.

Unfortunately what happens is that people go beyond just topping up their petrol tanks in their cars, and they also revert to storing petrol, (sometimes in inappropriate containers) in their garages, sheds, and outhouses. It has caused the Fire Brigade to coming forward to warn people of the dangers. But that in itself is a further topic of amusement as we hear of the lengths some people have gone to store fuel ‘just in case’. But it’s no laughing matter and whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation, people will be storing petrol and it could pose a serious threat, especially to those who are unaware that flammable material is being stored nearby. What’s needed is a clear warning notice, both on the container itself, and on the entrance to the garage or shed etc., just to remind anyone entering of the danger within.

Labelling is always a good health and safety measure, and durable asset tagging has now been made much simpler by a new product that is available to purchase online. Asset tagging is fast catching on with many businesses that need to keep track of products for their asset registers. The tags themselves are robust and durable, and can be customised to your exact requirements.

PostHeaderIcon Step Up to Foot Safety

If your feet hurt, it seems that you hurt all over! I wonder just how many women have spent years of their working lives in high heels, thinking more about the fashion statement they are making than the toll that their feet are taking? Many times working men and women suffer injuries to their feet, which can result in time lost, and possible surgery to repair whatever damage has been done.

OSHA dictates that as in all personal protective equipment, (PPE), companies should choose the appropriate footwear for the hazards of the particular job the employee does. The standard from OSHA (29 CFR 1910.136) requires protection “where there is danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, or objects piercing the sole and to electrical hazards.” There are also hazards such as impact when heavy materials are being handled, compression protection for work involving manual material handling carts, bulk rolls, and heavy pipe, and puncture protection from sharp objects, such as nails, screws, tacks, and scrap metal.

Here are a few problems where the feet are at risk:

Chemical hazards; boots and shoes made of rubber, PVC or neoprene are needed.
Heavy objects – steel toes are to protect against falling objects, which cause about 60 per cent of all foot injuries. If there are electrical hazards, a fiberglass toe should replace the typical steel toe.
Slips and falls – shoes with good traction are needed.
There are at least two distinct areas of foot protection that are mentioned in the realm of safety shoe covers. In industrial and construction situations, OSHA and ANSI are concerned with safeguarding the “impact and compression” of the foot. Medical, industrial, and laboratory environments are the other areas of foot protection issues. Shoe covers for medical personnel can protect from spatters, liquid, and chemicals that could pose a danger. Also, using shoe or boot covers protects others from receiving contaminants from you. Those that are involved in “clean” manufacturing conditions, such as computer chips, digital medical equipment, precise engineering instruments, etc., must be careful to not transfer contaminants to sensitive objects. Clean rooms must remain as germ and contaminant free as surgical environments; therefore, shoe covers are an important component.

Even those involved in sports, such as cycling, can use shoe covers. While your back, arms, and legs are stressed during high level cycling, nothing takes a worse pounding than your feet. There are products that offer a line of covers and booties to protect shoes from road abuse from rocks, mud, and other hazards.

One last “footnote”: I recently read an article in the AARP Bulletin, written by Candy Sagon, regarding assisting people with dementia or Alzheimer’s who could possibly wander off from caregivers or nursing facilities: a locator shoe with a built-in Global Positioning System device now makes it easier to tract down its wearers. Manufactured by GTX Corporation, the shoes look like a typical walking shoe but have a miniature GPS unit implanted in the heel. The cost of the shoes is around $300. The shoe works by allowing caregivers or family members to set up a perimeter, called a “geo-fence,” allowing wearers to move freely around a specific area. When they stray beyond the perimeter, a Goggle Maps message pops up on a computer or phone to alert caregivers. What a great investment to help with the task of keeping these patients safe.

Regardless of the reason that your company has safety footwear to keep you safe, be sure you wear it every time you are on the job. Those responsible for choosing footwear or any other type of PPE should select comfortable, and proper fitting protective clothing, head to toe. There may not be a magic formula for the feet, but there are steps that can be followed to be sure feet are protected.

Source: OSHA, AARP Bulletin

PostHeaderIcon The Need for Emergency Lights

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.

PostHeaderIcon What You Need to Know About Working with Asbestos

In the United Kingdom Asbestos is the greatest cause of work-related deaths. When certain fibresare inhaled they cause potentially-deadly diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosisand diffuse pleural thickening. Asbestos account s for around 4000 deaths per year in the UKaccording to the Health and Safety Executive, so it’s important that at risk employers do their best toprotect their people.

While asbestos fibres can be found in the environment of Great Britain, it’s thought that the totalnumber of fibres inhaled has a big impact on the likelihood of contracting an asbestos-relateddisease. These diseases don’t always affect people immediately, but are more likely to occur later onin life.
There are ways of mitigating risk from asbestos, which is especially important when working
on a structure built before 2000, especially if an asbestos check has not been carried out orcommunicated with the team. Individuals are also more at risk when they have not receivedsufficient training on working safely with asbestos or deliberately disregard warnings, proceduresand precautions. It can be hard to know if you are working safely with asbestos, as the fibres can’tbe seen or smelt.

Asbestos waste should be double-bagged and clearly labelled as asbestos waste, and LocalAuthorities might be able to help you dispose of it safely, albeit with a charge. Alternatively youcould contact the Environment Agency (or SEPA in Scotland) and they should be able to help youdispose of the waste at a licensed tip.
When working with asbestos, protective equipment such as face masks should be worn, andasbestos waste should be cleared up regularly, to stop this hazardous substance building up. If abuilding or material is full of asbestos then try to avoid creating a lot of dust, by using power toolsfor example. Dust and debris should be cleared away using a Type H vacuum cleaner for hazardousmaterials, or even wet rags which can reduce the amount of dust and fibres in the air. Debris shouldnot be swept as this creates more dust.

Find out if asbestos-containing materials are present and plan any work around not disturbing thesematerials if this is possible. Anyone working with asbestos materials should be properly trainedand supervised. They should also be aware of whether the work needs to be carried out by a HSE-licensed contractor. Work should be fully explained, and appropriate equipment should be providedwhich is clean, functional and protects workers against the risks of asbestos.

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 brings together three previous sets of regulations coveringworking with asbestos. It prohibit the importation, supply and use of asbestos, and uphold the bandon blue and brown asbestos introduced in 1985 and white asbestos in 1999. Second-hand use ofasbestos products is also banned, including using panels which have been covered with asbestos-containing substances. This only applies to new uses of asbestos; if existing materials containasbestos and are in good condition they can be left in place, checked and monitored.

You can read the full set of regulations on the Health and Safety Executive site.
Alan Cairns writes on a number of subjects including construction and cherry picker hire.



PostHeaderIcon Aviva study suggests now is the time for asset tagging

New figures have shown that summer could be a prime time for opportunistic thieves to target homes with outdoor equipment – making asset tagging your belongings over the coming months an absolute necessity.

According to research published this month by Aviva, the number of thefts from gardens and outbuildings increases by around 25 per cent when the clocks go forward, with power tools (42 per cent), lawn mowers (19 per cent) and other equipment among the things targeted by criminals. It even suggests things like rakes are often stolen from outside peoples’ homes!

Commenting on the shocking findings, household underwriting manager at Aviva Peter Ketteringham said that while many will welcome the extra hours of sunlight that comes at this time of year, it also makes valuable items that are left lying around in plain sight easier to spot – which is why homeowners need to take a more vigilant approach to security.

“Try not to advertise what you’ve got,” he explained. “Make sure sheds and summerhouses are properly secured and clear up your garden every evening so there’s nothing lying around that could tempt a criminal on to your property – and bear in mind that loose items like ladders and wheelie bins are perfect for burglars to use to get into your home, so shut them away, out of sight if you can.”

Of course, we are also big advocates of extra security measures that can make burglars think twice about poaching your belongings at, including easy-to-use asset tags. Aviva’s offered a wealth of professional advice here. However, I’d also recommend that people order an array of asset tags to protect their property. These adhesive labels might be small, but they can deter thieves and help keep track of lost or stolen items.

So, if you’ve got expensive tools like drills, lawn mowers, chainsaws and strimmers, now is definitely the time to be labelling them up. It won’t cost you that much and it shouldn’t take you that long, but it could be just the kind of deterrent that saves you money and inconvenience in the long run.


PostHeaderIcon Health and Safety Audit? These tips will help you keep above the bar

Health and safety audits in the United Kingdom are notoriously strict when it comes to compliance
with the 1992 workplace health safety and welfare act. Considering that the auditors can fail you on
some of the most ridiculous of reasons, I will provide some tips I’ve learned from being the assigned
health and safety representative for a large business based in Birmingham.

Assign a representative, and incentivise them!

This should be the first thing you do! Management with previous experience with legislation
compliance should be amongst your ideal candidates. Arrange quarterly reports from them to
ensure that they are working efficiently. Now you have some accountability in place, you can take a
look around for any obvious infractions.

Employee Welfare

Toilets, drinking water, changing rooms and eating areas all fall under the welfare section of the
workplace health and safety act. Ensure that drinking water is provided from a clean and regularly
refilled container.

Sanitary conveniences and washing facilities should be able to easily service the capacity of your
workforce. For example, one cubicle is not enough for a business with 100 or so employees. Are
these facilities constantly packed with large queues? This should be taken into consideration in
addition to the effectiveness of your cleaning staff, take a UV light to your washroom facilities to
check if all precautions are being taken to eliminate the residual of biological waste.


Even though the probability of electrical failure is miniscule, keeping all of your mains powered
electronic devices PAT tested is essential with legislation compliance, especially when these devices
are coming in contact with the public. The condition of your property should be monitored to ensure
that it has the appropriate stability and solidity for use.

Floors and “traffic routes” should be kept clear and clean by your staff, most accidents tend to occur
in high traffic areas, so your health and safety representative should take careful note of these spots.
Most of this part is simply common sense, as it doesn’t take a genius to note a dangerous area.
Make sure all potentially hazardous materials are marked, and your employees are aware about
their placement.


The health part of the legislation is mostly common sense. Are your employees working in an
acceptable environment? Is there fresh, clean air being ventilated in your workplace? Is your
ventilation solution providing an acceptable, cool environment for your employees to function
properly? The legislation states that workplaces should be at least 16 °C; if the work involves
physical effort it should be at least 13 °C (Unless other laws require lower temperatures).
Lighting should be sufficient to enable people to work and move around safely. Room dimensions
and space should be sufficient for the number of employees working on the property. A lot of
these can be worked out by simply looking around and talking to employees about any unsafe or
unsavoury conditions.

I hope that this has been a relatively simple way of looking at this legislation, use your common
sense and have your health and safety representative study the appropriate materials, they are not
lengthy, and can prove to be advantageous in the wellbeing of your employees.

Jennifer is a health and safety consultant providing business with clear strategies to combat
workplace accidents and the associated health and safety risks. For more information on washroom
services Nottingham
and other aspects relating to this article such as clinical waste disposal
then please visit City Healthcare.

PostHeaderIcon Exploring the Issue of Patient Safety in Hospitals and Care Homes

Patient care is an issue which frequently arises across the world and it will continue to do so as more regulations arise to help ensure improved levels of patient safety. Hospitals and care homes are filled with potentially vulnerable individuals and nurses and care providers have an extremely important, yet undeniably difficult, role to play in guaranteeing the safety of the patients they are charged with looking after.

The profession of nursing is highly pressurised and these care givers have a lot of responsibility placed firmly on their shoulders to provide a level of care to our loved ones when they are in hospital or a care home facility. As it is such a crucial position to fill and people’s lives will often, literally, depend on the quality of care that they will receive it is important to look at the issue of patient safety and what measures can be put in place to help facilitate it.

A Helping Hand

In order to achieve the levels of patient safety that society demands of its hospitals and care homes, regulated systems and processes need to be established that will facilitate this through the reduction of errors amongst nursing staff and the use of technology that helps prevent emergencies before they arise – such as nurse call systems. Anything which has the capability to enhance patient safety records needs to be seriously considered as a must amongst health care facilities and nurse call systems are certainly a piece of apparatus that falls into this bracket.

The fast paced nature of hospitals and care homes where time is often of the essence and nursing and care providers need to act quickly to situations, technology which gives them as much forewarning as possible is extremely important. It is, of course, apparent that technology is improving all the time as advancements are made and an example of this can be witnessed by the fact that the vast majority of nurse call systems used in healthcare facilities are now wireless and allow for multi-zonal monitoring of patients – a advancement which has helped make the workload of nurses more streamlined.

Nurses need to be vigilant of all the risks that their patients may potentially face and do all they can to eliminate these risks and respond during times of emergency. As mentioned, the vulnerability of patients in hospitals and care homes (illness, old age etc) means that they need to rely on the expertise and skills of nurses and whilst the responsibility of this vast, it is also a highly rewarding profession as you are helping keep people safe and looking after them in a time of need.