First Aid: first to work

3 Oct

I was a clumsy kid. My parents despaired as cherryade went scooting up newly painted walls; as by trying to help out I ended up breaking the lawn mower; how I came back from every holiday with scars as souvenirs.

Last night it dawned on me that some clumsy people should never live alone.

Just before dinner, I reached into a drawer of bits and bobs. One of the bobs was an attachment for the food processor. With blades. It sliced into my finger.

I wouldn’t make a good nurse. Imagine clumsy ‘ole me trying to bandage someone, or stick needles into an arm: it would cause more harm than good.

Blood started dripping all over the other bits and bobs; then onto the floor, my jeans and the food I had.

I tried to look at the cut. I knew nothing about what I should do, so I ran it under some water and watched the sink turn red. Then I wrapped the biggest plaster I could find around it, taped it up some more when the blood started to show and ate my dinner with one hand. I ignored the throbbing.

Why was I content to do nothing much about it?

I’m not good with blood and bodies cut open. I can’t sit through an episode of ER or Casualty simply because there are too many bones sticking at the wrong angles and insides of people on display.

I also knew I was coming to work today.

The British Safety Council has a team of trained first aiders in its offices. They have been trained by the Red Cross and they do their refresher course every three years to keep up-to-date.

Cleaning and healing

Paris, one of our first aiders, unwrapped the terrible sticky tape I had put round my finger, soaked with blood.

 “Did you clean it?” she asked. I replied I hadn’t.

“Why not?” I told her that I had known I was coming to work today and we have first aiders who would deal with it.

She smiled. She cleaned it properly and covered it to stop the blood while still allowing air to get to it to heal.

It’s made me think. Let’s keep in mind my injury was not work related.

But I did come to work to get it sorted. This firstly made me aware of the basic skills I obviously lack. It also got me thinking about the reality of the work that our gap year students do in far-flung corners of the globe regarding basic health and safety; teaching children to keep themselves safe and healthy so that clumsy hiccups like mine do not reach dangerous levels.

I also thought about the role and responsibility of employers. Legally, employers must have first aid provision and equipment and facilities for their employees should they be injured or are taken ill at work under the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981. Depending on the workplace, this can be simply having a first aid box available, or, as we do, having trained first aiders to deal with. Points to consider include the hazards, the number of employers and visitors, the working arrangements and the accidents and ill-health record.

It doesn’t account for clumsy people like me.

But that’s OK. I was glad that I could come into work today and have that trained attention.

There are many moments in our working lives where things happen ‘at the office’ and all we can do is think about being at home.

Yesterday, I was at home thinking about being at work. It was a change which has meant my wound will heal nicely.

And my bits and bobs drawer has been reorganised to a safer standard.

Are you a trained first aider? Have you had a first aid experience at work? Do you think all workplaces should have trained employees in first aid? Let us know your thoughts and comments.

British Safety Council’s construction sector interest group up and running

29 Sep

Representatives from construction companies who belong to the British Safety Council came together for the first time at the end of September to share their views on major health and safety issues; help shape our representations to government and the regulator; and identify what more we can all do together to drive improvements through the sharing of best practice.

Alex Botha with co-chairs Phil Coutts and Grant Findlay

The setting up of this group under the direction of Alex Botha, our chief executive, and the ones planned for manufacturing, energy and transport members, are proof of the British Safety Council’s determination to better understand the health, safety and environmental management challenges our members are facing and use the knowledge and expertise they have far more effectively in ensuring workplaces are healthier, safer and more sustainable.

The group, co-chaired by Grant Findlay of Aspire Defence Capital Works and Phil Coutts of Mace Technology, and which will meet twice a year, has a diverse range of construction members from house builders as Bovis Homes to major contractors such as McNicholas, Willmott Dixon and Trant Construction. The discussion at the first meeting covered a range of issues including the role, responsibility, competence and suitability of construction supervisors; HSE’s plans for the extension of cost recovery through ‘fee for intervention; and the Löfstedt review of health and safety legislation.  The work of and output from the construction and other interest groups will be shared on our website and through the pages of Safety Management.

Sector interest groups for manufacturing, energy and transport will follow.

Automatic Fire Alarm Attendance by English Fire Brigades – A Postcode Lottery?

23 Sep

So you’re based in Nuneaton and the automatic fire alarm goes off at your business; you all exit the premises and assemble in the appropriate place. Coincidentally your sister operation in Norbury experiences the same set of circumstances at the same time.

So all of you in the two locations are stood outside in the cold and are assuming that the big red engines will respond to the automatically transmitted alarm signal and subsequently arrive and put out the fire?

Well your assumption would be wrong in Nuneaton as Warwickshire Fire and Rescue does not respond to automatic fire alarms, but in Norbury, London you’d be correct as London Fire Brigade does!

So there is now a postcode lottery with regard to fire cover for commercial premises in England and any business manager would be well advised to contact their local fire and rescue service to see how they are affected by this roll of the geographical dice. In essence, the English fire brigades are under the cosh with regard to funding and many, such as Warwickshire, are trying to drastically reduce their attendance levels at false alarms as these cost money.

There is no doubt that false alarms constitute a major problem for the fire and rescue fraternity and businesses should make every effort to reduce their incidence; help is available from the FIA on this matter by clicking here.

Warwickshire are not alone in reducing their attendance to automatic fire alarms from commercial premises; other fire and rescue services including Essex, Royal Berkshire and West Midlands have also made major changes to what has been full cover in the past. Of course, within reason, local fire and rescue services can choose how they react to automatic fire alarm signals, however, one would have thought that there would be a concerted effort to make any changes in response reasonably uniform across the country?  Sadly this has not been the case to date although the FIA continues to lobby both the Chief Fire Officers Association and local fire and rescue services to this end.

So if you’re not sure whether your fire and rescue service will attend your premises when then alarm goes off, dial 999 and request their presence, but only after you’ve exited the premises and are waiting outside in the cold!

About our guest blogger
Graham Ellicott is the CEO of the Fire Industry Association.

The Scottish Perspective

22 Sep

 

Matthew Holder, head of campaigns and engagement at the British Safety Council visited Portcullis House last week to meet shadow secretary of state Ann McKechin (Labour, Glasgow North). Ann had made a valuable contribution to the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee’s  enquiry into health and safety Scotland and the British Safety Council was keen to discuss how we could work together on issues.

Having a background as a solicitor, Ann was very knowledgeable about the Scottish legal system when it came to non-compliance and imposing fines for breaches of health and safety law. In sum, she had a concern that the Scottish courts weren’t really set up to impose sufficient fines and act as enough of a deterrent to those who want to avoid making the investment to follow the law. This was in interesting contrast to the high level of debate around health and safety in Scotland, with few of the ‘silly’ myth stories that feature in the English press. Ann felt this was because there was a general recognition by the public that H&S is serious and worthy of public debate and consideration.

She was very interested in the British Safety Council’s schools programme. She explained that her constituency of Glasgow North did have social problems, with schools that do need help. She offered to help in any way that she could to help the British Safety Council engage schools and  provide free training for school children in the entry level qualification. She was also very interested in our Globe and Sword of Honour Awards that recognise excellence in managing health, safety and environmental pressures. She wanted to stay in touch and be part of our efforts to engage parliamentarians in order to affect the broader changes we want to make.

National Fork Lift Safety Week kicks off today

19 Sep

Today is the first day of this year’s National Fork Lift Safety Week – the safety campaign aimed at reducing the UK’s fork lift truck accident rate.

Introduced in 2008, it couldn’t have come at a more important time. Fork lift truck accidents were causing more workplace transport injuries than cars and lorries combined.

Since the campaign began, fork lift truck accidents have dropped by over a third – and fatalities by 69%… but it still remains the most dangerous form of workplace transport.

On average, at least one person is still hospitalised (or worse) in a fork lift accident every single day in the UK, and around 1,600 per year can count themselves lucky to escape with injuries requiring 3 days or more off work.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. … and it’s not just fork lift drivers at risk.

Around two thirds of accident victims are pedestrians so when new figures released today show some 1.2 million Britons regularly work near fork lift trucks without the minimum recommended training for their jobs, it’s obviously a recipe for disaster.

Somewhere along the line, a lack of training lies at the heart of most accidents. Whether it’s the operator themselves, their supervisor who doesn’t recognise unsafe practice or simply a colleague passing by, without knowing the unique dangers a fork lift truck can bring to a site.

The message is simple: anybody who will come into contact with fork lift trucks – or is responsible for their operation – needs to be trained in minimising the risks involved.

For that reason, the Fork lift Truck Association (FLTA) has created free Safety Week resources to promote workplace training – a poster, a good practice checklist and a supervisor presentation. Before the end of September there is also one free employee safety handbook per UK company available.

Ultimately, everybody onsite is responsible for workplace safety in one way or another. Make the most of these resources, support the campaign, and keep yourself and your co-workers safe and healthy.

About our guest blogger
David Ellison is the chief executive of the Fork Lift Truck Association, which aims to ensure high standards of professionalism, safety and customer service  among fork lift truck dealers, manufacturers, suppliers and training companies.

Paul Gordon reports from the World Congress in Safety and Health in Istanbul, Turkey

13 Sep

Good afternoon everybody. I am reporting from the XIX World Congress in Safety and Health here in Istanbul, Turkey.

It is one of the world’s largest, if not the largest, health and safety conferences. There are reported to be delegates here from more than 120 countries. And it’s hot, far too hot to be wearing a suit and tie.

Istanbul is one of the great cities of the world. Anyone visiting from Western Europe will notice the distinct change in feel and unique character of the place. Spread on either sides of the Bosphorus Strait it is the only city in the world to be situated on two continents, both Europe and Asia. Whilst more closely associated with Europe in political and sporting terms, the city nevertheless feels much more Asian than European.

It’s a lovely old city, dripping in history and culture. In fact, culture is one of the buzzwords at the conference – building a global safety culture.

I’m here to represent the British Safety Council in our public benefit work, and to give presentations in two of the conference symposia. We try to engage with as many stakeholders as possible in order to disseminate our key messages that no one should be killed, injured or made ill by their work, and highlighting the plight of young workers in particular. So far, it’s one down, one to go on the presentation stakes. A very positive reaction to my first delivery yesterday (I would say that I know, but its true), talking about the challenges of engaging with small businesses, with lots of interest in the role played by the British Safety Council. Tomorrow’s presentation will be looking at the British Safety Council campaign for young worker safety.

Some interesting topics throughout the congress. I have been talking with delegates from as far a field as Singapore and Azerbaijan. The UK is represented here by, amongst others, Judith Hackett, Chair of the Health and Safety Executive who spoke about the Global Challenge of a changing world of work and the global economy.

But for now from me its Güle güle (cheerio) from Turkey.

About our blogger

Paul Gordon is the British Safety Council’s policy and research manager.

Health and Safety Scotland – keynote speakers address major health and safety issues at Edinburgh event

8 Sep

Nearly 300 heard Dr Paul Stollard, HSE’s Director for Scotland set out progress the major reforms of health and safety currently taking place and the challenges facing HSE in Scotland. He made clear that the focus remained on preventing workplace injuries and ill health occurrences. The number of workplace fatalities under investigation in Scotland exceeded the number of operational HSE Inspectors.

Donna Hutchison of QuEnSH and Shaun Knott of Casella Measurement contributed excellent presentations on the work of health consultants and noise vibration respectively.

The seminars were rounded by Marion Lamb from Glasgow Housing Association (GHA), the largest social housing provider in Scotland, assisted by Partners from Strathclyde Police and Fire and Rescue Service. The risks faced by GHA employees are immense – indeed hard to comprehend ranging from preventing exposure to hazardous substances to fire and physical assaults.

Marion and her partners brought home powerfully the consequences of not dealing with risks posed to employees by anti social behaviour and the consequences which could lead to serious injury and death.

The British Safety Council will be feeding back important issues coming out of the Edinburgh event at its forthcoming meeting with Ann McKechin Labour MP for Glasgow North and Shadow Secretary for Scotland.