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Health and Safety News

Occupational health and safety news and guidance

5 Health and Safety Hazards During the Winter – And How to Avoid Them

06-12-2017

Photo shows footprints in the snowPlummeting temperatures and fallen leaves have been foreshadowing what this “year of the snowstorm” might look like, which is said to likely be the coldest since 2010/11. At this time of year, new potential hazards arise in the workplace – both outside and in – that need to be taken care of to prevent accidents.

Here are 5 risks the employer needs to keep in mind when assessing whether suitable health and safety controls are in place and working sufficiently this year.

1 Shivering outside is more than just uncomfortable

Being cold is an unpleasant feeling that can seriously impact a worker’s judgement. The more you rush things, the more likely you are to make mistakes that can pose risks to the whole operation. If working outside for longer periods of time is necessary for a job, the employer needs to assure that workers take breaks regularly, have access to indoor facilities and wear appropriate clothing.

Gloves are required as soon as temperatures drop below 4°C since stiff fingers and limbs can cause manual handling to become very difficult and therefore dangerous. Workers should also be trained on how to dress according to weather conditions; several laye…

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8 Unusual Places You Might Find Asbestos

09-11-2017

Photo shows an ironing board - some old boards may contain asbestos, covers were also lined with asbestosAs a naturally occurring material, the history of asbestos in tools and products stretches back thousands of years. Its seemingly miraculous properties of fire resistance and tensile strength led to its use in all kinds of products, with a particular boom in the early 20th century.

While many of these extraordinary uses have been consigned to history, asbestos remains an active issue. The amount that was mined and used in over a hundred years of industrialisation means asbestos is still all around us, from insulation to brownfield sites. Knowing some of its stranger uses - and its ubiquity - could help you identify these risks and act accordingly.

Toilet seats

One unusual item on the odd asbestos register is the humble toilet seat. Early plastic composite seats made from the material known as Bakelite would sometimes contain asbestos. This was used in small quantities to strengthen the somewhat brittle material.

Although its heat-resistant properties might have made it the enemy of bums everywhere, the asbestos in these seats is generally safe and stable. Asbestos was also used in Bakelite toilet cisterns, and even sound insulation in some instances, to dampen the noise…

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6 Easy Ways to Reduce VOC Exposure in the Workplace

11-10-2017

What are VOCs?

VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are a family of chemicals that readily evaporate and turn into gases and vapour. Put simply, this means they give off odorous fumes and increase the concentration of potentially harmful chemicals in the air.

And in the modern age, they can be found everywhere. From the pungent smell of fresh paint to household air fresheners, perfumes and nail polishes, thousands of these chemicals are encountered on a daily basis. Even new furniture and carpets can release VOCs over time, which is why it’s recommended to leave them to air out before bringing them into your home.

Photo shows chemical spray bottles

VOCs are incredibly prolific, but levels tend to be much higher indoors. When you paint a room for instance, the volume of VOCs in the air can rise to 5000 times the level measured outside. And what’s worse is VOCs can cause unpleasant health problems in those exposed to them. Formaldehyde, one of the most well-known VOCs, is a carcinogen that’s still widely used in construction and the production of household products like glues, adhesives, paints and coatings, and even dishwashing liquids and fabric softeners. This and similar chemicals have been linked t…

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