Tag Archives: Health

Changing attitudes towards ‘the change of life’

13 Jun

I’m getting old. I know at 26 I’m comparatively young, but there are some days when I feel –  as I’m sure many of you do – old before my time.

They say you’re only as old as you feel. Well if that’s the case I’m about 56 today! It’s a lovely hot day outside and I’m writing an article for the magazine about the menopause at work. As I do my research, I joke with my colleagues about the fact I think I’m going through ‘the change of life’ 30 years early. “I’m sure I’m having a hot flush,” I panic, but they reassure me I just feel hot because it’s a hot day.

However, reading on through my research I realise this is no joking matter. With around 3.5 million women aged 50 and over in work in the UK, the menopause is an increasingly important matter for workplaces to consider as it usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. But it seems there is very little awareness about this subject as an occupational health issue and it is somewhat of a ‘taboo’ topic.

Symptoms that menopausal women can experience include hot flushes, headaches, tiredness, anxiety attacks and increased stress levels. High temperatures, poor ventilation and a lack of access to cold drinking water in the workplace can make all of these symptoms worse. It is therefore important for employers to ensure that the conditions in the workplace do not make the symptoms of the menopause worse.

Women often feel too embarrassed talking to their manager about going through ‘the change’, particularly if their manager is younger than them, or male. According to research from the British Occupational Health Research Foundation (BOHRF), nearly a fifth of women thought the menopause had a negative impact on their manager’s and colleagues’ perceptions of their competence at work, and felt anxious about this supposed drop in performance. And more than half of respondents reported that they were not able to negotiate flexible working hours or working practices as much as they needed to in order to deal with their symptoms.

Employers therefore need to recognise that women of menopausal age may need extra consideration, as changes during the menopause can affect how a woman does her work and her relationship with her boss and colleagues.

There is a lot that can be done to make the menopause a more comfortable experience. Work can be organised to include flexible hours, and issues around ventilation can be improved, such as providing a fan or having windows that open. A lot can be done without actually pinpointing menopausal women. It is just generally good practice to have these systems and processes in place.

I’m not normally one to suffer in silence but putting myself in the shoes of a woman experiencing these symptoms, I think I’d find it difficult to talk to anyone at work about what I was going through. Hopefully, through more awareness, it will become easier for women to talk about the menopause and easier to continue working through this stage of life with minimal disruption. But in order for this to happen, there needs to be a change in attitude. I, for one, will think twice before making another ‘wise crack’ about having a hot flush.

Read my article in full in the July/August issue of Safety Management magazine.

Love the job you do

8 Feb

My boyfriend recently became a first aider at his work, following a three-day first aid course with the British Red Cross.

His interest in wanting to become a first aider stemmed from an accident he suffered while running for the bus on his way to work last year. He cut his knee quite badly but didn’t have the necessary equipment to tend to it there and then.

When he eventually hobbled into work, blood pouring from his knee, the female receptionist, who was a first aider, squealed at the sight. Not wanting to take his trousers off in front of her, it became apparent there wasn’t a qualified male first aider in the office to tend to his wound and he ended up doing it himself.

What shocked me most about his story was that there were qualified first aiders who were scared to deal with injuries because they didn’t like the sight of blood. Surely this has to be a prerequisite to becoming a first aider?

I use this example to make the point that no matter what job you do, you should enjoy it and want to do the very best you can at it. I’ve always loved writing and, although my work is unlikely to save a life, I get immense satisfaction from finishing an article I’ve put my heart and soul into.

My motto in life has always been to love the job you do. You spend half your life working so why dread getting up every day to do a job you hate?   

I’ve revelled in the enthusiasm my boyfriend has shown since gaining his qualification. Granted, it was only last week, but it’s refreshing to see someone so passionate about wanting to help others.

Watching Dancing on Ice, I nod resolutely when someone falls over on the ice and he says: “If only I had been there, I could have given them first aid.” I’m sure the novelty will wear off, but it’s nice to know I’m in the safe hands of someone who would want to, and is able to save my life.

All’s well at Inmarsat

24 Nov

When one of our members invited me to their wellness day, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I thought it would just involve one of those super-fit health experts telling me to eat healthily, drink less wine and do more exercise. But I was pleasantly surprised!

Satellite service provider Inmarsat holds a wellness day every year, with the aim of promoting a healthy lifestyle to its 400-strong workforce. It is clear the company looks after its staff all year round – there is an in-house catering team who make lunches to order, as well as a fully-fitted gym on site and daily activity classes such as yoga and kickboxing – but the wellness day is a chance to bring it all together.

When I walk into the cafeteria area, where the event is being held, the first thing that catches my eye is a table full of colourful fruit and veg. There’s an array of fresh produce – from aubergines to sweet potatoes, bunches of grapes to juicy plums – I feel healthy just looking at it!

This table proves popular with staff who are able to help themselves – it’s like healthy pic‘n’mix! There’s a hive of activity as people jostle to grab the biggest cauliflower or the longest cucumber. I see one lady walk out with a bag full to the brim and a butternut squash tucked under her arm!

External companies have also been brought in to offer special services to Inmarsat staff. AXA PPP health insurance, for example,  are there to provide advice and give away free stress balls, Fitness First have special offers on membership, while Hodd, Barnes and Dickens are offering free eye tests.

As well as the health side, there is also the beauty side. Clarins and the Body Shop have been brought in to provide one-to-one consultations on skincare. There’s also the chance to pick up some free samples.

Meanwhile, on the first floor, there’s a relaxation room where staff are treated to massages. As I walk in, a lady is lying face down on a massage table while being given a shoulder and back massage. Across the room, a man in a shirt and tie is having his feet massaged. These lucky members of staff managed to book an appointment prior to the event, but every 20-minute slot has been filled so unfortunately there’s no time for me to be pampered.

Lloydeth Newell is health and safety manager at Inmarsat and she, with the help of her team of Burdy Murray and Vicky Rose, have organised the day. And it’s fair to say the event is a success. As I put my coat on to leave, all that remains of the fruit and veg table is one red onion and a few carrots. And as I walk out of the building, I pass a number of employees looking remarkably healthy and relaxed as they head back to work. Not a bad day at the office.

Read more about Inmarsat’s wellness programme in the December issue of Safety Management.