The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Health and Safety for Work Experience Students

Graham Marshall - Monday, June 24, 2013

The UK Government has made a commitment to slashing burdensome rules on business owners and operators.

And Minister for Employment Mark Hoban has outlined his plans to make it as easy as possible for employers to take on work experience students.

In the past, employers in low risk environments have been hampered by needless risk assessments for young people.

In some cases they have even had to repeat risk assessments for every young person they give a chance of work experience.

This is a needless expense and waste of time when then work experience circumstances are exactly the same.

The Government seems committed to putting an end to this kind of health and safety bureaucracy.

The UK Health and Safety Executive (UK HSE) has also recently issued revised guidance to employers  taking on work experience youngsters.

The Association of British Insurers has also reassured employers that they don’t have to take out special insurance policies to cover students on work experience.

Minister for Employment Mark Hoban said:

“We know that work experience gives young people vital insights into the world of work, encourages them to aspire to great things, and helps them to prepare for their future.

“Too often in the past, the crazy cornucopia of confusing rules discouraged employers from taking young people on. That’s why we have been working across Government to make sure the rules are clear and easy to understand.”

As a result of cross-government action:

•  The insurance industry has committed to treat work experience students as employees for the purposes of insurance against bodily injury, and confirmed that simply giving work experience opportunities to students will not in itself impact on insurance premiums.

•  The UK HSE has issued guidance providing clarity on employers’ obligations with regard to risk assessments - making it clear that if workplace risk has already been assessed with young people in mind, a business does not need to repeat this for each new student.

•  Department of Education and Ofsted have published a guide to clarify the health and safety responsibilities for educational establishments organizing work experience opportunities.


Tips for a Succesful Exercise Program

Graham Marshall - Monday, March 18, 2013

Exercise is a major element in the quest to remain fit and healthy throughout the lifespan.

It is important, however, for folks who are re-starting an exercise program after a long lay-off to exercise safely.

So if you want to reap the benefits of regular exercise, apply the following safety tips:

+   Get a medical clearance from your Doctor before starting your new program;

+   Begin slowly and then increase your program intensity and duration;

+   Follow all the safety guidelines for using any work-out equipment;

+   Ensure you use proper footwear and other necessary protective equipment for your chosen activity;

+   Inspect your equipment before each use;

+   Warm-up and stretch before starting your exercise program.  The cool down and stretch again at the end of the session;

+   Try to incorporate several physical activities into your exercise routine;

+   If you experience sharp or severe pain during your work out - stop!

+   If pain persists, see your doctor.

Should Offices Ban Kettles?

Graham Marshall - Friday, March 15, 2013

Should people in an office be denied the use of a kettle due to health and safety reasons?

And do people walking around office buildings with open topped cups containing hot-liquids represent a "health and safety" issue with regard to the chances of people spilling hot liquids?

Any employer who does not want to provide facilities for making and consuming tea and coffee in the office can use "health and safety" as an excuse.

But in reality, there is absolutely no Legislative reason to ban kettles or to stop people walking around with hot drinks.

Of course, Employers and Property Owners have the right not to provide kettles and over facilities for employees; but in such cases, the employer should come clean and own up to their real reasons for doing so.

They should stop hiding behind the myth of "health and safety reasons".

As an aside to this issue, I recently had a phone call from an employer in a telephone call centre asking if there was a legal requirement to provide staff with toilet paper in the loos, or whether he could get people to bring their own loo paper to work?

Temperature Regulations in the UK

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, February 26, 2013

In the UK, the Workplace Regulations (Health, Safety and Welfare, 1992) outline particular requirements for most aspects of the working environment, including for temperature.

Regulation 7 deals specifically with the temperature in indoor workplaces and states that:

"During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable."

The application Regulation 7, however, depends on the type of workplace, such as a bakery, a cold store, an office, or a warehouse.

The associated Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) goes on to explain:

"The temperature in workrooms should provide reasonable comfort without the need for special clothing. Where such a temperature is impractical because of hot or cold processes, all reasonable steps should be taken to achieve a temperature which is as close as possible to comfortable.

'Workroom' means a room where people normally work for more than short periods.

The temperature in workrooms should normally be at least 16 degrees Celsius unless much of the work involves hard physical effort.  Under such circumstances, the temperature should be at least 13 degrees Celsius.

These temperatures may not, however, ensure reasonable comfort, depending on other factors such as air movement and relative humidity."
If the temperature in a workroom is uncomfortably high because of hot processes, the design of the building, or other environmental factors, then all reasonable steps should be taken to achieve a reasonably comfortable temperature, for example by:

+   Insulating hot plant, process equipment  or pipes;

+   Providing air-cooling plant;

+   Shading windows; 

+   Moving workstations away from places subject to radiant heat; and/or

+   Application of local cooling using air-conditioning.

In extremely hot weather fans and increased ventilation may be used instead of local cooling.

Where, despite the provision of those methods, temperatures are still not reasonable, suitable protective clothing, roster, and rest facilities should be provided.

Typical examples of suitable protective clothing would be ice vests, or air/water fed suits.

The effectiveness of these PPE systems may be limited if used for extended periods of time with inadequate rest breaks.

Where practical there should be systems of work (for example, task rotation) to ensure that the length of time for which individual workers are exposed to uncomfortable temperatures is limited.
HSE previously defined thermal comfort in the workplace, as: 'An acceptable zone of thermal comfort for most people in the UK lies roughly between 13°C (56°F) and 30°C (86°F), with acceptable temperatures for more strenuous work activities concentrated towards the bottom end of the range, and more sedentary activities towards the higher end.'

Newton Aycliffe Safety Workshops

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Businesses in the NE of England town of Newton Aycliffe  are being offered workshops in OHS as part of a new initiative to provide free information, support and guidance.

The Estates Excellence initiative, organized by a range of partners, will offer a series of special events at South West Durham Training premises.

The workshops will offer free expert advice covering a wide range of topics such as:

+  Fire risk assessments;

+  Control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH); and

+  Practical manual handling.

The Estates Excellence team will be approaching businesses in the town over the next few weeks to explain the services they can offer.

If a business wants to take part, further meetings will be set up to assess its operations, identify any risks and then provide relevant workshops on topics such as risk assessment, stress at work, workplace transport, manual handling and fire management.

Estates Excellence has been organized by Durham and North Yorkshire Safety Group and South West Durham Training, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Durham County Council, and is supported by Great Aycliffe Town Council.

Other partners supporting the initiative include North East TUC, Engineering Employers Federation (EEF), NHS County Durham, Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, Federation of Small Businesses, ARCO and local companies.

Preventing Electrical Fires

Graham Marshall - Sunday, November 18, 2012

This is the final post in our week-long special focus on electrical hazards.  We're finishing-up the campaign with a focus on the danger associated with electrical fires; and to prevent them and manage them if they do occur.  So read on for the tips of the day: 

 ●  If any of your  tools give off any mild electric shocks, replace them immedaitely; 
●  Replace light switches that cause flickering; 
●  It's generally OK for switches to feel warm, but if they feel hot they need to be replaced; 
●  Replace all damaged power cables and extension cords; 
●  Never attempt to push a three-prong plug into a two-holed socket; 
●  If you don’t have the expertise and certification for electrical work, don't attempt DIY repairs; 
●  Fight any electrical fire with an appropriate fire extinguisher; 

●  Learn how to use a fire extinguisher effectively;

 ●  If your circuit breaker trips-out after you’ve reset it, it's a warning that there’s a short-circuit in your home or office; 
●  Turn off electrical appliances when they’re not in use; and

●  Keep all flammable and combustible materials away from heaters and any appliances that get hot.

Electrical Safety in the Outdoors

Graham Marshall - Saturday, November 17, 2012

Making sure that you're safe when using or working near electrical power sources is just as important when you're outside your home or office as it is for when you're working or relaxing indoors.

As part of our focus on electrical safety this week, today we're providing some tips on protecting yourself from electricity in the great outdoors.  So here are the tips of the day:

●  Always keep a safe distance from overhead power lines;

●  Check for underground buried electrical services before digging ("dial before you dig");
●  Keep garden trees pruned and far away from the power lines which may enter your home as well;

●  Never fly kites, balloons, or model airplanes near overhead power lines;

●  Never situate or climb on a ladder that could fall on or very close to a power line;

●  Be on the lookout for power lines when using a chainsaw or other outdoor equipment;

●  Never swim in your pool (or other water body) during an electrical storm;

●  If a power line is knocked down to street level, do not touch it;

●  If you see fallen power lines, contact your local authorities immediately;

●  Never climb the fence that surrounds any electrical substation;
●  If your pet, ball or other property  finds its way inside a fenced sub-station, call the electric company;

●  Keep electrical appliances and out of the rain, off of wet surfaces, and away from pools, ponds, or water: and
●  Only allow outdoor outlets on a circuit guarded by a Residual Current Device (RCD) or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI).

Light Globe Safety Tips

Graham Marshall - Friday, November 16, 2012

Question: How many psychologists does it take to change a light globe?

Answer: Only one - but the globe really has to want to change!

It's an old joke; but getting a shock or being killed when messing with electricity is not so funny.  So here are some tips as part of our electrical safety campaign which relate to the use of light globes around your home and office:

●  Use bulbs with the correct wattage. Higher wattage bulbs may cause overheating;

●  Always screw bulbs tightly; beware loose bulbs, which could cause shorts-circuits leading to electrical fires;

●  Always unplug or switch off the light or lamp before replacing a light bulb;
●  Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL);

●  CFL globes provide the same level of light at a lower wattage level.  So they're safer and better for the environment.  They'll also save you some money in the longer-term; and
●  If a CFL bulb breaks, open the windows and evacuate the room for 15 minutes before cleaning up the breakage.

Power Socket Safety Tips

Graham Marshall - Thursday, November 15, 2012

Today's focus as part of our electrical safety campaign is on the safe use of  power sockets.  Read below for the key tips on this topic:

●  Block unused outlets with a solid cover plate or childproof caps. Few electrical safety tips are more important when you have young children in the house;

●  Ensure that all wall-mounted power sockets ("outlets") are encased with solid, secure plates so that all the wiring is enclosed;
●  Do not overloading power sockets or outlets with large numbers of extension cables and temporary power box's;;
●  Never place anything into the power socket holes except for the appropriately-sized plug; and
●  Always install a residual current device (RCD) or ground fault circuit interrupter in your home and office.

Extention Cable Safety

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Today's focus is on the safe use of electrical extension cables.  Please see below for some further tips provided by Matthew Pelletier,  Director of Public Relations at Compliance and Safety in the USA. 

●  Replace frayed, splinted, or damaged electrical extension cables;

●  Use electrical appliances and tools only in dry locations and situations;

●  Take your electrically-charged environment into account when outdoors;

●  In case of an electric fire, use an appropriately rated fire extinguisher;

●  Be familiar with your homes fuses board; where it is, how it operates, and label the switches;

●  Regularly check extension cables for cranks, kinks, splints, or frays before each use;
●  Ensure extension cables are firmly plugged;

●  If the plug is too loose (or the holes are too snug), choose another power point outlet with a better fit;

●  Use extension cables for the right purpose. Extension cables aren’t clothes lines, leashes, or skipping ropes;
●  Never staple or nail an extension cable in place;

●  If you need to secure a cable, tape it in place or apply twist-ties as needed;
●  Never modify an extension cable;
●  Use extension cables sparingly around your home;
●  Make sure you’re using the right cable; use the correct length, proper weight, and type (indoor or outdoor);

●  Pull on the plug at the outlet when unplugging—never on the cable itself;

●  Don’t allow cables to meander under carpets where they become a tripping trigger; and

●   Don't run extension cables above other appliances;

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