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Advice

Don’t leave your team gasping for air…

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has just released new guidance on providing good ventilation in the workplace.

The Science

Studies have shown that sufficient fresh air is associated with:

  • improved health
  • better concentration
  • higher levels of satisfaction with an environment
  • lower rates of absence from work
  • better quality of sleep
  • reduced exposure to a wide range of air pollutants

The Law

That’s the science but it’s also the law.

Under regulation 6 of the Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations, employers must “ensure that every enclosed workplace is ventilated by a sufficient quantity of fresh or purified air”.

Ventilation is the process of bringing in fresh air from outside and removing indoor air, which may:

  • be stale
  • be hot and humid because of work machinery and processes
  • contain pollutants and other impurities

Improving the air

Now you know that making an improvement is good for everyone the first thing to do is

ASSESS

As part of your legal duty to provide sufficient fresh air, your workplace risk assessment should identify poorly ventilated work areas:

  • look for areas where there is no natural ventilation (open windows, doors, or vents) or mechanical ventilation (fans or ducts bringing air in from outside)
  • identify areas that feel stuffy or smell bad
  • consider using a CO2 monitor to identify poor ventilation

It may help to list areas in your workplace or use floor plans to record how areas are ventilated.

Remember to include changing rooms and areas used for breaks, such as canteens.

Talk with your team

Talking will help you assess the risk and put in effective measures to improve ventilation.

Questions to ask

  • How do we bring fresh air (ventilation) into our workplace?
    • Think about natural ventilation through windows, doors and vents you can open fully or partially
    • If we use mechanical ventilation, is it set correctly and do we maintain it?
  • How can we improve ventilation?
    • Think about areas that feel stuffy or smell bad – open windows, air vents and doors (not fire doors)
    • If we have recirculating systems, do we bring in some fresh air?
    • Are temperatures in the workplace comfortable?

Discussing the outcome of your risk assessment and the measures identified will also help them understand how they can play their part in improving ventilation at work.

It’s Chilly in here!

Don’t forget team members should not be exposed to uncomfortable draughts. For mechanical ventilation systems, it may be necessary to control the direction or speed of airflow.

Workstations should be moved or screened if necessary.

If your space is naturally ventilated, there are simple steps you can take to make sure your workplace has enough fresh air without opening windows wide and making it too cold:

  • partially opening windows and doors can still provide adequate ventilation
  • opening higher-level windows will create fewer draughts
  • using trickle vents rather than opening windows

Regularly air rooms that rely on natural ventilation, by opening windows and doors in between use.

For more information on using CO2 monitors and calculating ventilation levels go to https://www.hse.gov.uk/ventilation/assessing-the-risk-of-poor-ventilation.htm

Categories
Advice coronavirus

Covid-19 hasn’t gone away!

Many people now go about their day-to-day business as if Coronavirus is no longer a problem.

Many of us may be fully vaccinated (and some of us boosted as well) however, as the case rates fall and then rise parts of Europe are needing to re-introduce lockdowns. It is clear though that the continued high case rate in the UK means there is still a significant risk here. You can see this clearly on the chart below.

So please make sure your business doesn’t sucumb to CC (Covid Complacency) by remaining aware of the hazard of infection and transmission. Recognising the risk means we can continue to take sensible and pragmatic precautions as individuals such as good personal hygiene, face covering wear, ventilation and occasional testing.

The current legal requirements for business to comply with are quite limited and available from government. We are happy to advise on appropriate control measures for your particular business to help keep your employees and contractors safe and covid secure in the current climate where the risk remains significant and government takes a very light touch approach.

If you need advice on how to do so, please get in touch with us.

Categories
Advice Compliance

Accidents on the rise and they cost

… in pain and misery for those who are injured and to businesses and the economy. 

There was a decrease in the number of workers killed at work – down to 111 for 2019/2020 – but worryingly this figure has climbed again to 142 for the 12 months ending in March of this year. It is quite possible that due to the focus on Covid-19 arrangements and some time away on furlough that day-to-day safety practices may have lapsed.

On a brighter note, the UK still has the lowest rates of fatal work -related injuries in Europe. 

In monetary terms the annual cost of all this work-related injury and ill heath was £16,200,000,000 about the cost of five new aircraft carriers. 

Given these figures it must make sense for every business to make a modest financial investment into the health and safety of their employees.

Funding sensible and proportionate measures to keep workers and others affected by your work safe will produce dividends in the form of reduced incident rates, healthier workers and compliance with the law. 

Don’t be complacent when it comes to your workplace health and safety.  Contact us if you would like straight-talking pragmatic safety advice.

Take a look at the summary of the 2020 statistics from the HSE.  See their PDF here. We will update with 2021 figures when they are available.

Categories
Advice coronavirus Events

Phase I Trials – Events

We were reading the Events Research Programme’s Phase I findings that were published last week – 25 June 2021.  We found it interesting to note – especially if you watched it on television – that face coverings were apparently mandatory for the crowd at the FA Cup events – both at the semi and the final. 

The report stated that there was 92% compliance (at the observed locations) while seated outdoors. We find this hard to believe having seen some of the TV coverage and it is unlikely that the program’s producer particularly wanted to focus on fans who removed coverings as they are more photogenic.

In defence of the organisers we can imagine how incredibly hard it must be to ask for compliance from large crowds when people will have strong opinions about the risk (fresh air everywhere), they are excited about the occasion, are with friends and have possibly consumed some alcohol.

Also, the report notes as outdoor occupancy levels rise compliance falls. Mob rule perhaps, feel free to discuss. In particular compliance with face coverings in hospitality areas was very, very low. 

Indoor events seem to fare much better for compliance where observed possibly being as high as 98%. 

There are clearly some significant challenges for mass gatherings if face coverings are going to continue to be a control measure for organisers to apply later in the year.

You can read the full report here.  

Contact us if you have an event that requires health and safety advice and support.

Categories
Advice Compliance coronavirus

Downgrading restrictions

Good news

“Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the UK Chief Medical Officers and NHS England National Medical Director agree that the UK alert level should move from level 4 to level 3.”

UK Chief Medical Officers and NHS England

This is terrific news and if we wish to continue enjoying the increased freedoms it allows, requires us to keep complying with the guidance and the remaining ‘light touch’ restrictions that are still in place.

Health and safety advice in the workplace is very similar in that there is a requirement on employers to comply with the current legislation. If you do this you can carry on without interference from the authorities and maintain a safe workplace, undertaking activities that do not put staff or others at undue risk. When workers, contractors or management try to cut corners (to beat a clock, or a budget, or a clause, or A DUTY) they put us all at risk of severe consequences.

Step four in the road map is more than a month away so keep up the compliance and do not get complacent – rather like attitudes to health and safety matters in the workplace.

Update 15 June:

The delay to the Roadmap’s Step 4 easing is now postponed to 19 July. So current restrictions are to stay in place for a further four weeks while the Delta variant is further understood and the vaccine roll out is further ramped up.

Categories
Advice coronavirus

Roadmap from ‘Lockdown’

The government has started to ease the restrictions and to allow the country, step by step to start opening up.

Care still needs to be applied to all work activities – whether you are preparing to re-open a place of work or to alter or extend the business services which have been offered in line with the eased restrictions.

The economy will be opening up but the coronavirus is still present and a threat to health.

If you need some practical and pragmatic Health and Safety advice to ensure your Covid-19 Secure Arrangements stay relevant and valid then contact us for an informal chat.

Stay safe.

Categories
Advice Compliance coronavirus

R-value, new restrictions and complete compliance

The number of coronavirus cases in the UK is increasing. 

It is too early to say that the rise of cases is because ‘we’ have become too complacent, more rebellious or just de-sensitised to the pandemic but the fact is the R value has risen and it affects us all.

regional spread of R number

There are arguments raging across the political sectors but one thing that virtually every scientist agrees on is the continued need for social distancing, good hand hygiene and the wearing of masks where social distancing can’t be achieved.

Businesses also recognise that national restrictions and closures just can’t go on. Perhaps therefore the time has come to fully recognise that every business has to play its part and give “complete” compliance a real chance. Not just acting “almost” within the restrictions but  doing everything we can to stop any spread of the infection within our workplaces and communities.

As always we are here to support the business community and promote a swift reduction in the case numbers and an equally swift end to the restrictions.  

Stay safe – if you need guidance on your current Covid-19 Secure arrangements please contact us.

    Categories
    Advice Audit Compliance

    Don’t overlook your usual reviews

    COVID-19 arrangements working well?

    Great – but DON’T overlook your usual Health and Safety Review

    Every organisation must have Health and Safety arrangements and, if you employ more than 5 people, they must be written down.

    Most businesses have arrangements in place, but often slip up when it comes to reviewing those arrangements. Reviews show that you comply with your Health and Safety policy, highlight potential dangers and often give valuable insights which help avoid financial losses.

    COVID-19 forced every business to look at some aspects of working but it is vital that ALL working procedures are reviewed to ensure that risks are mitigated and employees work as safely as possible.

    So Pro Safety offers an effective audit procedure which gives you fast results and practical solutions to address any safety issues that arise. It also gives business leaders a score to measure progress and improvements during the year, encouraging compliance and success.

    If you wish to discuss a review of your arrangements contact us now.

    Categories
    Advice Compliance

    Re-opening a Village Hall

    … your support and advice has been invaluable and I can’t thank you enough. Thanks to you the hall was able to reopen yesterday. I am sure we will be back soon for more help.

    Secretary, Wallington Village Community Association

    The Village Hall in Wallington serves a community of approx 650 households who together with a significant number of commercial groups use the facilities for meetings and social gatherings.

    So Pro Safety was asked to assist the Wallington Village Community Association with the COVID-19 Secure arrangements for the re-opening of the Wallington Village Hall.

    A deluge of advice and guidance was available and we were able to steer the Association’s working group through the paper mountain to produce a concise COVID-19 Risk Assessment, guidance for users and practical advice on space usage.

    The Association also took the opportunity to review its Health and Safety arrangements and we conducted a full Health and Safety Audit, producing an up to date Risk Assessment and Fire Risk Assessment for the attention of the Executive committee.

    It is always a pleasure to work with committed local volunteers to guide them through a challenging time and to provide the professional support to allow their valuable community asset to be preserved and thrive.

    Categories
    Advice Events

    French confusion

    At first glance the recent reports of the relaxing of social distancing measures for large indoor events in France seems at odds with the uptick in their reported number of cases of Covid-19. However, look more closely and you find it does not apply to the “red zones”.

    It seems every country is keen to return to public events but is picking its way carefully.

    As the UK move towards the holding of events indoors we continue to provide advice and assistance with Covid-19 Secure working across many sectors including the events world. Happy to help you…

    Today’s COVID cases and an item from today’s Access All Areas news summary