The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

World Day for Safety and Health at Work

Graham Marshall - Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday the 28th April will mark the International Labour Organizations' (ILOs) World Day for Safety and Health at Work which is an integral part of the Global Strategy on Occupational Safety and Health of the ILO.

The ILO campaign promotes the creation of a global preventative safety and health culture.

The day is designed to promote the global prevention of workplace accidents and diseases.

Also on the 28th April, the world's Trade Union movement holds its International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers.

So the 28th April is also is designed  to honour the memory of victims of workplace accidents and diseases.

The World Day for Safety and Health at Work and the International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers serve to raise attention on the impact of work-related injuries, diseases and fatalities worldwide.

At the Risk Management Toolbox, we encourage all businesses - big and small - to contribute to global efforts to reduce occupational injuries and fatalities.

The ILO theme for World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2014 is "safety and health in the use of hazardous substances at work".

Research shows that somewhere between two and eight per cent of all cancers experienced in the population result from workplace exposure to harmful chemicals.

So on the World Day for Safety and Health at Work - 28th April 2014 - why not organize a specific chemical safety event?

Here are some suggestions:

+   Conduct an audit of the use of hazardous substances in your workplace;

+   Review your chemical register;

+   Check that your Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are in current date for all chemicals on site; or

+   Select a hazardous substance and run a tool-box talk on the possible health effects it may have.

Hyponatremia Risk in Australia

Graham Marshall - Monday, September 02, 2013
As we come into early Spring in Australia, and the temperature begins to climb again, now is the time for organizations to be reviewing controls in place for work in hot weather.

One area that is often not considered by organizations is the risk associated with Hyponatremia – a potentially fatal condition caused when levels of sodium in the body become dangerously low.

Symptoms of hyponatremia can appear similar to those of heatstroke.

They include headaches, fatigue, restlessness, irritability and confusion. 

If untreated, seizures or coma leading to brain damage and even death can occur.

You've probably heard about Hyponatremia in relation to death's at nightclubs annd "raves" associated with the use of illegal drugs like ecstasy.

The primary cause of Hyponatremia is overhydration due to consumption off too much water.

This occurs when the body takes in more water than it excretes, diluting the body's normal levels of sodium.

Under normal conditions, a healthy adult would need to consume more than nine litres of water a day to become overhydrated. 

Workers who are not properly acclimatised to their environment are at increased risk, as sodium levels can drop further through perspiration during moderate physical work.

To manage the risk posed by Hyponatremia, there are some basic steps which can be undertaken.

Firstly, it is necessary to ensure that new workers are given sufficient time to adjust to hot working conditions offshore.

This is particularly important for workers who usually live in a different climate. 

Secondly, if the consumption of electrolyte drinks is promoted at work, ensure the correct concentration levels are met based on the environment and workload. 

Thirdly, consideration should also be given to the total dissolved salts in the drinking water at the work location, as levels will vary depending on the water source.

For more information and further guidance in managing work in hot environments, operators may refer to the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists (AIOH) document ‘Heat Stress Standard & Documentation Developed for Use in the Australian Environment.’

Contact the AIOH to obtain a copy.

Healthier Worksplaces WA

Graham Marshall - Sunday, June 02, 2013

A new Western Australian Government support service has been launched in Western Australia, aiming to improve the health and wellbeing of employees and to help cut down on sick days.

The service is called 'Healthier Workplace WA'.

The free Healthier Workplace WA service is being delivered by the Heart Foundation in partnership with Cancer Council WA and the University of Western Australia.

According to a Healthier Workplace spokesperson, studies show that unhealthy workers take nine times more sick days than their healthy colleagues.

The new initiative aims to provide resources and support to companies to encourage healthier practices in the workplace.

The scheme will give companies access to small grants, workshops and workplace visits, which would encourage businesses to become alcohol-free, as well as promote initiatives like bicycle share schemes and flexible work hours to allow staff to exercise during lunch breaks.

What is Health Surveillance

Graham Marshall - Saturday, May 25, 2013
Health surveillance involves a program of early identification of ill health in potentially affected workers and helps identify any corrective action needed. 

There may be a requirement in law for employers to undertake health surveillance  if employees are exposed to hazards such as:

+   Noise or vibration;

+   Chemical solvents;

+   Metallic fumes;

+   Dust or fibrous materials;

+   Bio-hazards; 

+   Other substances hazardous to health; or 

+   Work is undertaken in compressed air. 

The UK Health and Safety Executive (UK HSE) has published new online guidance and guidelines on health surveillance needed where, even after all precautions are taken, there is still a risk that workers may be exposed to chemicals or other hazardous substances.

Check the new guidelines on the UK HSE website.

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