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It's Health & Safety Week 2015 and, inspired by HealthandSafetyWeek.com, we have put together our top ten tips to help improve the health of staff within your business and assist you in ensuring you are compliant with current legislation:
1. Wellbeing Initiatives
A happy, healthy workforce means less sick leave and better productivity, all of which is better for a company’s finances. There are loads of ways you can encourage healthy living:
- Ensure there’s fresh fruit and water in communal areas
- Encourage employees to take regular breaks from their desk to stretch and relax
- Encourage a proper lunch break – getting away from their desks and preferably outside
- Encourage staff to use the stairs instead of the lift where possible
- Provide pocket guides to give ideas of local walks
- Get involved in the Cycle to Work Scheme: www.cyclescheme.co.uk
2. Monitor Noise Levels
Do you have to raise your voice in order to be heard at work? If you do, then employees could be at risk and noise monitoring should be undertaken. Firstly, aim to reduce the level of noise at source. Provide ear protection and reduce exposure time for employees. Brief the workforce on risks associated with long-term noise exposure. This extends beyond the workplace – listening to loud music in bars, clubs, concerts and MP3 players can also lead to tinnitus. Read the HSE's brief guide to Noise at Work for more information. Browse Shawcity's noise monitoring range of instruments to find the right solution for your business.
3. Check Your Dust Levels
Construction dust can seriously damage your health and some types are lethal. The three main culprits are silica dust, wood dust, and lower toxicity dust. The main dust-related diseases are lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. You need to assess the risk, control the risk and review the controls. Check that staff dust masks have the right levels of protection and that employees been trained properly on how to use them. Check out the HSE's web site dust section. View Shawcity's air quality and dust instruments to browse a wide range of dust monitoring options.
4. Indoor Air Quality
There are many different types of air bourne gases and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) present in the workplace and daily life. Some situations present obvious dangers but some may not be so easily identifiable. Indoor air quality is becoming a growing issue, from simple CO2 levels in offices affecting staff performance through to toxic gases such as Benzene which need professional monitoring to ensure safe levels. Shawcity's Dr Steve Goodman recently wrote an interesting article on Indoor Air Quality. HSE have produced a useful risk assessment template which includes indoor air quality and Shawcity have an extensive range of gas and VOC detectors used by occupational hygienists in the workplace.
5. Hand, Arm and Whole Body Vibration
Did you know, vibration from hand-held tools can cause long-term painful damage to your hands and fingers? And that shocks and jolts from driving certain types of vehicles can cause severe back pain? It has become increasingly evident that exposure to vibration at work has a direct impact on the long term health of employees. Visit the HSE's web section on Vibration at Work for more information. Visit Shawcity's Vibration product pages for an overview of how we can help you protect your staff.
6. Heat Stress
In many jobs heat stress is an issue all year round (eg in bakeries, compressed air tunnels, foundries and smelting operations) while other workers may only be at risk during hot summer months. The HSE have produced a brief guide to Heat Stress in the Workplace This explains the effects of heat stress on the body and gives examples of situations where it may occur. It includes advice on your risk assessment and lists measures which may reduce or remove risks. Shawcity have a range of personal and area heat stress monitors to ensure the safety of staff is effectively monitored.
7. Carry Out a DSE Assessment
With the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and laptops people are spending almost all of their day using an electronic device, which can lead to debilitating musculoskeletal problems. Make sure staff are using their computers and phones correctly by carrying out a DSE assessment or get in a DSE assessor to make sure everyone is set up properly. Find a DSE assessor here: www.hse.gov.uk/ msd/dse/index.htm. Remind employees to take regular breaks and put up posters in communal areas of good exercises to do while they’re making a cup of tea or in the lift.
8. Check for Legionella
Legionnaires’ disease can be caught from any water aerosol – taps, flushing toilets, showers, fountains, water sprinklers – and there’s a reasonable risk of Legionella if water temperature is between 20-45 degrees centigrade. Are your current arrangements are adequate? A simple risk assessment might show that risks are low and being properly managed, but this needs reviewing regularly to check for any changes. Find out more about how to stop Legionella occurring on the HSE website, www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/index.htm.
9. Carry Out a Stress Assessment
The HSE identifies six key primary sources of stress at work:
- Demands: workload, work pattern and the work environment.
- Control: how much say a person has in the way they do their work.
- Support: encouragement, sponsorship, and resources provided by line management and colleagues.
- Relationships: promoting positive working to avoid conflict.
- Role: whether people understand their role within the organisation.
- Change: how organisational change is managed and communicated.
Employers need to assess the current situation using tools such as surveys and promote active discussion to make improvements. The HSE has lots of information on managing stress at work and implementing wellbeing programmes: www.hse.gov.uk/stress/
10. Consult an Occupational Health Consultant
For advice on health and safety management, try the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register: www.oshcr.org. Approved by the major health and safety organisations including BOHS, IOSH and IIRSM, the register only contains health and safety consultants who meet eligibility criteria set by the professional bodies. It’s free to search by industry, topic, name and location so you’ll get the right professional for your needs.
Please don't hesitate to contact us here at Shawcity if you'd like any further information, advice or
guidance on monitoring instruments for:
- VOC and gas detection
- Sound, Noise and Vibration
- Air Quality & Dust
- Heat Stress.