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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, Everyone!

2020 will be a year seared in all our memories. It was a year that fundamentally challenged long established certainties about what we think is safe and what we believe is healthy in all areas of our lives. We hope that 2021 brings a brighter future for us all.

We appreciate your business and look forward to working with you in 2021.

If you would like us to write a blog on a particular topic, please get in touch.

Best wishes

Walker Health and Safety Services Limited

Six tips to ensure health and safety procedures are at the forefront of your business

Tips to ensure health and safety procedures are at the forefront of your business

Tips to ensure health and safety procedures are at the forefront of your business

Maintaining health and safety in the workplace is vital. According to the HSE, workplace injuries cost the UK economy £16.2 billion between 2018/2019. Many companies cannot afford the cost of a big accident so it’s vital that employers strive to maintain a high standard of health and safety. Here are six tips to ensure that.

  1. Inspect the Workplace

The first step to improving health and safety standards for your employees is to inspect the workplace and conduct a risk assessment. This will help you identify any potential hazards and pitfalls you might not notice otherwise.

This inspection will also help you see if your company’s getting risk control right and if so, how this is the case. For example, if it’s due to one person’s dedication or a particular procedure, the inspection will highlight that. You’ll also see any underlying problems and how they can be changed.

  1. Create and Implement a Health and Safety Plan

Once you know what hazards you need to protect against, you need to devise a health and safety plan to control and eliminate (if possible) them from your workplace.

The structure of this plan will depend on the individual workplace because different jobs involve different hazards. For example, warehouse staff are exposed to hazards from heavy lifting, machinery and slips, trips and falls. Office workers, on the other hand, are exposed to slip hazards and eye strain from looking at computers all day.

That’s why when you’re coming up with this health and safety plan, ensure you cater it for the specific job role.

  1. Train Your Employees

It’s vital that you provide your employees with the necessary training they need to carry out their jobs safely. For example, clear, written instructions, supervision and safe work procedures will help guide your employees.

If you don’t provide sufficient training, you’re putting both your employees and your reputation at risk if there’s an accident.

  1. Regularly Consult with Your Employees

Hold regular meetings with your team to discuss health and safety issues. It’s a good idea to encourage them to share their thoughts and ideas freely as your workers can offer unique insights.

In addition, regular meetings keep your team in the loop with any important health and safety updates.

  1. Regularly Inspecting Equipment and Processes, Investigating Incidents and Keeping Records

Ensure that equipment is regularly inspected and kept in good working condition. Make sure that your team stops using any faulty equipment immediately and that you arrange for it to be repaired or replaced. In addition, arrange inspections of the workplace so you can see whether your employees are following your health and safety procedures.

If there are any incidents, make sure you conduct an investigation to determine why it happened, even if it doesn’t result in a serious injury. This ensures that it won’t happen again.

Then, make sure you keep records of all of these investigations, inspections and equipment manuals to help you stay on top of health and safety trends.

  1. Ensuring PPE is Used

Personal protective equipment (PPE) should be used to protect your employees from hazards. PPE requirements vary from job role to job role, so ensure that you provide equipment that protects your employees from the specific hazards they’re exposed to.

Health and safety should be an integral part of your business, not an afterthought. It ensures your employees, who are your greatest resource, are protected and this will help your business flourish. Happy employees mean harder workers, better productivity, a glowing brand image and greater revenue in the long run.

Contact us if you require further information.

 

 

RIDDOR and COVID-19

RIDDOR and COVID-19

RIDDOR and COVID-19

Most deaths at work are reportable under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013, whether they involve an employee or another worker, such as a contractor.

Coronavirus has added a new dimension to this, with the HSE making it clear that it would expect death to be reported under RIDDOR where it was probable that exposure occurred at work. Some have reacted to this, saying that it poses as many questions as it answers. But, if we leave to one side the reporting issue, it is nevertheless clear that this is most likely to affect front-line care workers both in the NHS and in care homes. We can now also say with some certainty how inspectors are likely to approach such investigations.

The investigation of a death at work is a sombre matter and inspectors approach it with gravity. That said, the process of investigation is fundamentally the same as for less serious incidents.

When an inspector calls
  • They will visit the location, probably without first making an appointment.
  • Use their information-gathering powers to assemble a picture of what happened.
  • Gather evidence such as training records, risk assessments, and witness-statements from those with first-hand knowledge of events.
  • Draw conclusions about whether those with health and safety duties met their responsibilities
  • Take a preliminary decision about further action to be taken

Where the death was believed to have been caused by Covid-19, you can expect investigators to focus on the precautions you took, and the extent to which they were effective.

What a HSE inspector may ask
  • Whether your procedures followed the official recommendations
  • The results of any relevant risk assessments.
  • The implementation of control measures, including but not limited to, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • What information, instruction and training you provided to minimise the risk.
  • The monitoring you did to ensure that, as far as possible, your safeguards worked effectively in practice.
  • Inspectors have a statutory right under the HSW Act 1974 to interview witnesses. This means asking them questions, noting their replies and asking them to sign a statement that captures this information.
  • No information gathered in this way can be used against witnesses themselves (or their partners). It can, though, be used against the employer and other duty holders.

One key difference between the investigation of a major accident and that of a fatality is that in the latter case, there is likely to be an inquest.

Separate enquiries would be made by the police, usually in the form of a ‘coroner’s officer’, so that witnesses can be identified and statements taken. In the case of a death at work, it is also foreseeable that the police will investigate to see if there is any case to answer under manslaughter legislation, which operates in parallel to health and safety requirements.

At the time of writing, no cases have been taken in relation to Covid-19, so recognise that, like the rest of us, investigators will be feeling their way in dealing with unprecedented circumstances and may make mistakes. Co-operating with them while protecting your own interests is the balance to strike.

If you have any queries, please contact us.

 

Beating the winter blues – When workers are SAD

Beating the winter blues - When workers are SAD

Beating the winter blues – When workers are SAD

As staff enter the latest COVID-19 lockdown and this coincides with shorter, darker days, managers may find it useful to share information on how best to beat symptoms of the winter blues — or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — wherever employees are working.

Symptoms

According to the NHS, symptoms of SAD can include:

•a persistent low mood

•a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities

•irritability

•feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness

•feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day

•sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning

•craving carbohydrates and gaining weight.

For some people, these symptoms can be severe and have a significant impact on their day-to-day activities. Workers should consider seeing their GP if they are struggling to cope and the doctor will most likely assess their mental health, asking questions about their mood, lifestyle, eating habits and sleeping patterns, plus any seasonal changes in their thoughts and behaviour.

It is thought that lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly, which may affect the production of melatonin and serotonin (the neurotransmitters responsible for sleep and mood) as well as the body’s internal body clock.

Treatments

A range of treatments are available for SAD but the most common treatments include:

•lifestyle measures ― getting as much natural sunlight as possible, exercising regularly and managing stress levels

•light therapy, where a special lamp called a light box is used to simulate exposure to sunlight

•talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or counselling

•antidepressant medication such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Eating well can help too: people should drink lots of water and eat foods containing omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon and mackerel) and amino acids (such as eggs, nuts, fish, whole grains and spinach). These foods are readily converted into serotonin, which may help to boost mood.

Search out previous blogs for advice. How to help someone with SAD.

Contact us for further information.