Health and Safety News

Occupational health and safety news and guidance

8 Unusual Places You Might Find Asbestos


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


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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Using Virtual Reality To Simulate Real Risks


Photo shows an example augmented realityThere will always be a place for PowerPoint presentations, especially if business boardrooms have anything to say about it. But as an effective learning tool, there is room for improvement.

Even the most attentive student isn’t going to absorb everything they need from bullet points and anecdotes. Yet in many training scenarios, this is the only realistic option. On-site training can be either too dangerous or simply ineffective, as genuine hazards cannot be replicated in a convincing or safe manner.

Until now, that is. The advent of convincing and accessible virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) platforms allows for training to take place that is more practical, realistic and engaging than existing training solutions. The ability to replicate real locations and introduce convincing, danger-free hazards could herald a revolution in health and safety training, reducing deaths and injuries in high-risk professions.

Constructing worlds

One of the industries where health and safety training is most paramount is construction. 2016 statistics for the UK show that 18% of workplace deaths occurred in this industry, with construction machinery being a particular dang…

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