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Announcement – I got married!

Hello

We wanted to share with you some happy news. After 17 years together and many months of planning, Eric and I got married on 7th October 2019.

We got married at Rowton Castle on a lovely mild day surrounded by close family and friends. Everything was perfect.

My new name will be Emma Woodhouse. The business will remain Walker Health and Safety Services Limited.

Thank you. 🙂

At Rowton Castle. Photo Spinning Your Dreams. Dress Champagne and Roses. Flowers Floral Design by Nigel Whyles.

Can employers charge for PPE

hard hat and gloves PPEPersonal Protective Equipment (PPE) is provided by employers so employees can carry out their job. There are responsibilities that employees must take responsibility for when dealing with PPE. See previous blog Link. 

The PPE Regulations stipulate that companies are unable to charge for PPE (under section 9 of the Health & Safety at work Act 1974 – see ACOP link below).

28 Under section 9 of the HSAW Act, no charge can be made to the worker for the provision of PPE which is used only at work. Section 9 of the HSAW Act states:

‘No employer shall levy or permit to be levied on any employee of his any charge in respect of anything done or provided in pursuance of any specific requirement of the relevant statutory provisions’. Section 9 applies to these Regulations because they impose a ‘specific requirement’, for example to provide PPE. It also relates to all charges including returnable deposits. An employer cannot ask for money to be paid to them by an employee for the provision of PPE whether returnable or otherwise.’

29 If employment has been terminated and the employee keeps the PPE without the employer’s permission, then provided it has been stipulated in the contract of employment, the employer may be able to deduct the cost of replacement from any wages owed.

From guidance, levy’s or deposits are not be appropriate, so therefore we would deter this course of action.

If PPE is constantly being asked for as it is defective, consider discussing defective wear with the supplier or the manufacturer. Request a credit or replacement FOC as they are not fit for purpose under Trading Standards.

If employees are asking for frequent replacement of PPE, consider looking to discreetly mark the item with UV marker pen with a serial number much the same as asset tags on company property to check that the item presented for replacement are those that were recently issued.

If there are repeat offenders this would need to go down the HR disciplinary route.

ACOP – L25 PPE ACoP 2005

Contact us should you wish to discuss this topic.

 

Employee Fact Sheet: Drugs

There are serious health effects associated with the misuse of drugs including heart disease, HIV and Hepatitis C, psychological illnesses and a greater risk of accidents, to mention just a few. Understanding of the effects of drugs is an important element in the process of accepting that “social” drug users pose a health and safety risk to any organisation.

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 lists the drugs that are subject to control and classifies them in three categories according to their relative harmfulness when abused, as follows.

Class A including cocaine, heroin, LSD, mescalin, methadone, morphine, opium and injectable forms of Class B drugs.
Class B including oral preparations of amphetamines, barbiturates, codeine and methaqualone (mandrex), cannabis and cannabis resin.
Class C including most benzodiazepines (sleeping pills, tranquillisers, eg valium) and the harmful amphetamines.

Commonly-used Drugs — Short-term and Long-term Effects

Cannabis

Cannabis comes in two forms: herbal and resin. It is usually mixed with tobacco and smoked in the form of a hand rolled cigarette. Cannabis in both forms is a Class B drug.

Sought Effect Short-term Effects Potential Long-term Harm
Relaxed, happy, heightened sense of awareness Dizziness, sickness, dry mouth, lips, tongue, feeling hungry, loss of co-ordination, panic and paranoia Lung disease and lung cancer, bronchitis, asthma, high blood pressure, infertility, depression and some evidence points to schizophrenia

Amphetamines

Amphetamines are a group of synthetic drugs that are stimulants. They are often known as speed, billy or wizz. Often in powder form, it can be snorted through the nose, some are available in tablet form but it can also be injected. A strong, highly addictive form of amphetamine known as crystal meth can be smoked.

Most amphetamines are Class B drugs but crystal meth and amphetamines prepared in injection form are Class A drugs.

Sought Effect Short-term Effects Potential Long-term Harm
Sudden energy boost, talkative and excited — the high may last 4–8 hours Once the high has worn off, a crash occurs, leaving the person feeling very tired (but unable to sleep) anxious and irritable.

They may suffer from short-term dizziness and hallucinations

Burst blood vessels can lead to paralysis and may be fatal, insomnia, depression.

As the body becomes tolerant of the drug, larger amounts are needed, leading to addiction

Cocaine and crack

Cocaine is a stimulant, often known as charlie, snow, toot or coke. Often available in a powder form which can be snorted through the nose or rubbed on the gums. The form of cocaine called crack can be smoked. Both cocaine and crack are Class A drugs.

Sought Effect Short-term Effects Potential Long-term Harm
Intense feelings of energy, well-being and self-confidence

The high may last only up to 30 minutes. A crack high is more intense but may last only 10 minutes

Similar crash effect to amphetamine, raised blood pressure, tiredness and depression Heart failure, depression, insomnia, extreme paranoia, extreme weight loss and malnutrition, impotence (in men) and damage to the nasal passages

If taken when pregnant may cause harm to the baby — low birth weight, birth defects and the baby may be born addicted to cocaine

Ecstasy

Ecstasy is a synthetic stimulant, often known as E or pills. Its chemical name is Methyledioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). Ecstasy is usually available in tablet form but a powdered form of MDMA is sometimes used. In England and Wales there have been an average of 27 deaths per year from people taking ecstasy. Ecstasy is a Class A drug.

Sought Effect Short-term Effects Potential Long-term Harm
Rush of energy, alertness, excited, happy, increased sense of affection towards people around them (ie exposing themselves to personal risk), often popular with clubbers as sound (especially music) and colours seem more intense Dehydration is a major risk — if fluid levels drop dramatically dehydration can cause unconsciousness, coma or even death

Similar crash effect to cocaine and amphetamines

Dry mouth, nausea, raised blood pressure, heart pounding, depression, body can stiffen causing clenched jaws and grinding teeth

The use of ecstasy became widespread in the late 1980s

Long-term effects have yet to be determined by the medical profession. The short-term effects can be fatal

Heroin

Heroin is a powerful sedative and painkiller. Heroin and codeine are derived from the opium poppy and are known as opiates. Heroin is a Class A drug and highly addictive, both physically and psychologically.

Sought Effect Short-term Effects Potential Long-term Harm
Intense feeling of relaxation and wellbeing The purity of heroin differs dramatically in each batch. Often the products with which it is bulked up are also harmful and can cause allergic or toxic reactions

Overdose is common when a stronger dose than the body can cope with is used and this can result in heart failure, unconsciousness and coma

Overdose effects can result in death through heart failure. Coma or unconsciousness can occur and there is a risk of choking on vomit when unconscious

Respiratory failure (loss of normal lung function) can be fatal

Injecting heroin has additional risks: sharing needles has the risk of Hepatitis C or HIV and damage to veins can lead to serious infections and abscesses

Hallucinogens

The two most commonly used hallucinogens are Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and magic mushrooms.

Magic mushrooms are often called shrooms or mushies and be can eaten or boiled in liquid and then drunk.

LSD is synthetic liquid that is is usually dropped onto small squares of blotting paper which is then swallowed, often known as acid.

Sought Effect Short-term Effects Potential Long-term Harm
Hallucinogens are taken to experience a long-lasting series of hallucinations, known as a trip

Time can appear to speed up or slow down. A mushroom trip can last 4–10 hours. An LSD trip lasts around 12 hours

Bad trips with frightening or disturbing hallucinations can occur leaving people feeling very disturbed

Users may place themselves in physical danger and act irrationally or impulsively

Could make an existing mental health condition more severe

Tranquilisers

Tranquilisers are a prescription medication designed to treat anxiety, depression and insomnia. Many tranquilisers are addictive if used regularly. They are available as tablets, as gel capsules, in injection form or as suppositories and are often known as mazzies, benzos or jellies.

Sought Effect Short-term Effects Potential Long-term Harm
Calming, sedating effect.

They are misused to lessen the effects of a crash, after taking stimulants or to lessen the effects of drug withdrawal symptoms

Physically addictive — withdrawal symptoms may include: severe headache, nausea, anxiety and confusion Physical addiction may lead to attempts to heighten the effect of the drug by crushing and injecting the powder form which contains chalk and may cause the veins to collapse. This can lead to serious infections or gangrene

Gel caps that are melted down to inject can then re-solidify inside blood vessels, which can cause death

Solvents

Solvents are available both at home and in the workplace. There are over 200 solvents liberally available and they include paints, cleaning fluids and glue. Every year in the UK there is an average of 50 deaths from solvent misuse.

Sought Effect Short-term Effects Potential Long-term Harm
Similar to alcohol: happy, laughing and uninhibited Heart attack, vomiting and black outs Heart failure, Liver, kidney and brain damage

Please contact us if you require any assistance with this topic.

 

Stress – Are big events stressful?

Stress is an unfortunate but often unavoidable side effect of our busy lives. Having on-hand methods for managing stress is a good way to combat its physical, mental, and emotional impact. How stressful are big life events at work such as starting a new job, being fired, commuting delays, taking a break from work or being promoted?

This question has been answered by means of survey on stress in modern Britain by the Physiological Society, said to be Europe’s largest network of physiologists.

In partnership with the polling firm You Gov, it surveyed 2000 British adults and asked them to rate how stressful they find (or imagine they would find) various different life events.

Ranked Events

The following is a rundown of the top 18 ranked stressful events, (the number that follows is the average score out of 10 points assigned to each work or life event as an indication of how stressful the situation is).

  1. Death of spouse/relative/friend (9.43)
  2. Imprisonment (9.15)
  3. Flood/fire damaging your home (8.89)
  4. Being seriously ill (8.52)
  5. Being fired (8.47)
  6. Separation/divorce (8.47)
  7. Identity theft (8.16)
  8. Unexpected money problems (7.39)
  9. Starting a new job (6.54)
  10. Planning a wedding (6.51)
  11. Arrival of first child (6.06)
  12. Commute delays (5.94)
  13. Terrorist threats (5.84)
  14. Losing smartphone (5.79)
  15. Moving to bigger house (5.77)
  16. Brexit (4.23)
  17. Going on holiday (3.99)
  18. Promotion/success at work (3.78)

Interestingly, for every event, the reported stress experienced by men was lower than that by women. The average difference was 0.56 points.

The biggest difference was in the stress caused by the threat of terrorism, which was 1.25 points higher for women. The smallest difference was for the arrival of a first child — a life-changing event for either sex.

As I am planning my own wedding it is interesting to see that this category falls at number 10. As the day gets nearer (a week to go) I personally feel that the last couple of months has been the most stressful of my life and I have experienced a few from the 18 stressful events!

If you require guidance with stress in the workplace, please contact us.

Helpful apps – Head space

Blog – Strength to strength blog

Five steps to implementing a dog-friendly office policy

1. Check formalities

There will be some situations where dogs are not appropriate. For example, in a kitchen, or a manufacturing site where there is a risk of contamination. However, in many cases there will be no legal reason why a dog cannot be in the workplace. That said, check whether or not there are any restrictions outlined in the organisation’s insurance policies and rental agreements. For example, having an animal in the car might invalidate some car insurance policies, and some rented work spaces might specifically state that dogs (with the exception of assistance dogs) are not permitted.

2. Include in the risk assessment 

Any dogs on the premises will need to be considered as part of the employer’s duties under health and safety legislation. A risk assessment will need to be carried out and it is important that any hazards are identified, as well as any options for harm and risk mitigation. Dogs will also need to be incorporated into the fire safety risk assessment, for example to ensure that they are not blocking emergency exits, and to detail what to do in the event of a fire. Contact us if you wish this option to be added to a risk assessment.

3. Pet-proof the workplace

There will be some logistical considerations if dogs are to be allowed in the office. For example, will the office need cleaning more regularly? Is the office ventilated sufficiently? There might be some no-go areas for dogs (office kitchens, for example) or alternatively, specific areas that are reserved for dogs and pet-loving employees. Other considerations might be ensuring that bins have lids, and that desks are equipped with a means to secure a dog lead.

4. Create a code of conduct

A clear policy will help alleviate concerns over dogs in the office. Issues to consider include the following.

  • Making it clear that the dog’s owner is legally and financially responsible for any damage (to people or property), for example by ensuring that they have appropriate third-party insurance.
  • Having a probationary period for any pets to ensure that the dog is happy in the work environment, and that their presence and behaviour is not unduly distracting.
  • Setting ground rules about what constitutes acceptable behaviour, it is unlikely to be acceptable for a dog to rush around, bark, or be over-protective of their owner. Bear in mind, it might be necessary to have ground rules for other employees, too.
  • Setting out any requirements for welfare responsibilities, such as feeding, how frequently bedding is changed, and where food is kept.
  • Requiring up-to-date vaccinations, regular treatment for ticks and mites, and not allowing dogs into the office if they are ill.
  • Outlining that the owner is responsible for the dog at all times, and what should happen if the dog needs to be left for any period of time.
  • Only having dogs in the office when appropriate, for example, not if their owner is in an all-day meeting and cannot provide the necessary attention.
  • Considering whether there should be a rota, or other means of limiting the number of dogs in the workplace.
  • Setting rules on whereabouts the dog can be, including, for example, whether they are allowed in when staff with allergies or phobias are also present.
  • Making it clear what happens if any rules are broken.

5. Make sure you have staff support

Finally, before allowing dogs to work, check that it is supported by other members of staff. As well as gauging general support levels for any change in policy, it is important to understand if any staff have a reason for not wanting a dog nearby. It is also imperative to have a clear policy for dealing with staff concerns and complaints.

Conclusion

Having dogs in the office does not need to be a cause for concern if proper steps are followed and there is a clear policy in place. Although it might take time to set up, in the long-term it is likely to lead to happier pet-owners and an overall improvement to the workplace and staff morale.

All we need to do now is get a dog!

Contact us should you require a risk assessment or to discuss the blog in more detail.