Category Archives: Uncategorized


Toolbox Talk: Vibration

Why have this talk? Exposure to vibration can result in serious injury and disability.

Also, vibration and sound waves can travel through the ground and cause disturbances to the environment and local community, as well as causing structure damage over time.

What will this talk cover? The sources, effects, and methods of overcoming excessive vibration and reducing nuisance to others from vibration.

Who is most at risk? Those who regularly use high-vibration tools, equipment and machines.

Toolbox Talk: Vibration

Toolbox Talk: Vibration

Harm caused by vibration

  • Depending on the situation, vibration can be whole-body or, more commonly, hand–arm vibration.
  • Symptoms can appear after only a few months in some people but can take several years in others.
  • The first sign of a hand–arm problem may be just a tingling in the affected fingers.
  • In the longer term, damage may occur to blood vessels, nerves, muscles, tendons, and body organs.
  • Excessive hand–arm vibration can lead to “vibration white finger” resulting in damaged blood vessels, circulatory problems, pain and possibly gangrene. Workers can find it hard to hold items.
  • Whole-body vibration can lead to a range of seemingly unrelated medical problems, such as headaches, blurred vision, back ache, irritation, fatigue and digestive issues.
  • The harm caused can affect a person’s attention to safety in the workplace and therefore increase the likelihood of an accident occurring.

Sources of vibration

Many items of equipment and plant can cause vibration.

Hand–arm vibration damage is mostly caused by hand-held power tools, for example

  • rotating hand tools used for cutting and grinding
  • percussive hand tools used for riveting, chipping, hammering, drilling, etc.

Whole-body vibration can be caused by, for example:

  • long-term driving over uneven ground
  • sitting or standing on platform or equipment that vibrates or has repetitive impacts.

How to prevent and control vibration

  • If available, select tools with vibration-absorbing features.
  • When using a tool which causes vibration, break the task up with other work activities.
  • Know the maximum amount of time the tool can be used to keep within safe exposure limits.
  • If you think you are suffering ill effects from vibration, cease the activity, speak to your line manager or supervisor and seek medical advice if necessary.
  • Where possible, keep plant that can cause vibrations away from public areas.
  • Do not leave doors, hoods, etc open on plant or leave plant or equipment running unnecessarily.
  • Do not use poorly maintained plant or tools.
  • Any work that may create significant vibrations should be planned to minimise potential nuisances to the local community.
  • Do not ignore complaints from the local community. Respond politely and pass the complaint onto the appropriate line manager.
  • Do not undertake activities that could cause damage to nearby structures through vibration unless approved by a line manager.

Questions for employees

  • What tools do you use that cause hand-arm vibration?
  • What would you do if you noticed your fingers were tingling after you had a finished a long job using a percussive hand tool?
  • How can you avoid excessive vibration?
  • What work do you undertake that may cause vibrational disturbances to surrounding areas?

Do you have any questions for me?

Contact us should you require further information.

 

Toolbox Talk: Alcohol and Drugs at Work

Why have this talk? Statistics show that alcohol and drug misuse are increasing in the workplace. This talk is to make all employees aware of their responsibilities and understand that alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace can lead to accidents.

What will this talk cover? The effects of alcohol and drugs on your safety and that of others.

Toolbox Talk: Alcohol and Drugs at Work

Toolbox Talk: Alcohol and Drugs at Work

Alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant drug which reduces brain function. This means it does not mix well with work. In high risk industries, alcohol increases the risk of fatal accidents.

If you drink, don’t drive. Many drivers who are killed in road accidents are over the legal alcohol in blood limit.

Drugs

All drugs can affect your ability to work safely because they can slow down your reaction times, affect your co-ordination making you clumsy, affect your decision making and distort your vision. As a result, the chance of having an accident at work is increased when you are under the influence of drugs.

If you become aware that somebody is on drugs in the workplace, inform your line manager. You may feel it has nothing to do with you but you need to prevent others getting hurt because of their actions.

If you get offered drugs, say no, it is far better to work safely. Drugs and work don’t mix. Don’t let it become a problem for you and if is, get some help.

What to look for?

Some signs of colleagues being under the influence of drugs include watery eyes, dilated pupils, running nose, constant sniffing, tight lips, sores, ulcers, trembling, fatigue and irritability. If you see it, report it.

Questions for employees

  • What effect can alcohol have on you?
  • How long can it take for a pint of beer to clear your system?
  • What effect could drugs have on you and your work colleagues?
  • What would you do if you saw a person taking drugs or you suspect someone is drunk at work?

Do you have any questions for me?

Contact us if you have any questions.

 

Toolbox Talk: Health and Safety Policy

Why have this talk?

Part of our legal duties as an employer is to communicate our health and safety policy, while the legal duties for employees is to abide by the policy to ensure the health and safety of everyone.

What will this talk cover? 

The organisation’s policy on health and safety, why it is important and how employees can have an input into the ongoing development of the policy.

Toolbox Talk: Health and Safety Policy

Toolbox Talk: Health and Safety Policy

What is a health and safety policy?
  • An organisation’s health and safety policy sets out how it wants to manage health and safety in the workplace. By law, every organisation must have one.
  • The statement of intent sets objectives to work towards and is usually signed by the head of the organisation.
  • The policy also includes details of who will be responsible for what within the organisation and how the objectives will be achieved: who, what and how.
What does the health and safety policy mean for me?
  • Employees should understand the contents of the policy and follow the guidance and procedures set out by the organisation.
  • By understanding and following the health and safety policy, you help to reduce accidents and incidents at work.
  • As an employee, if you have a doubt or concern about your health and safety in the workplace, you have a legal duty to ask for an explanation from your employer.
  • You should have seen or been told where to find the written health and safety policy on your first day.
Employee consultation
  • Consultation is a two-way process and not just managers/supervisors providing information to you.
  • As an employer we need to listen to and take into account what you say.
  • Inductions, daily briefings and meetings give us a chance to explain what is happening, but we need feedback to ensure action can be taken to continually improve our performance.
Questions for employees
  • From what we have spoken about, what are you likely to see daily that is part of the organisation’s arrangements for managing health and safety?
  • If you wanted to know more about our health and safety policy, where would you find it/who would you ask?
  • How can an understanding of the health and safety policy help you as an employee?
  • When should you ask questions about our health and safety policy?
  • Can you think of any other ways the policy can be communicated to everyone?
  • Why is feedback on our health and safety policy so important?
Do you have any questions for me?

Contact us for further information.

 

Tip-overs: #1 killer of forklift truck operators

Tip-overs: #1 killer of forklift truck operators

Tip-overs: #1 killer of forklift truck operators

Forklift tip-over was the focus of the UK’s inaugural Forklift Safety Day. And with good reason.

According to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (OSHA), tipping accidents are biggest single cause of fatalities (42%) among forklift operators.

Taking these in order… prevention starts with a risk assessment specific to your site, loads, equipment, etc. and creating safe systems of work to eliminate hazards or minimise the risk associated with them.

Common causes of forklift truck tip overs

  • Sudden turns, especially when unladen
  • Sharp changes in speed or direction
  • Driving too fast
  • Driving off the edge of a loading bay, ramp, dock, etc.
  • Driving with the load raised
  • Hitting a kerb, pothole or debris (such as a broken pallet)
  • Driving with an excessive, uneven or swinging load
  • Turning on or traversing across a ramp or slope
  • Driving downwards with the load in front
  • Turning with the load raised
  • Driving on an uneven surface

Many of these can be addressed by removing, re-modelling or reversing routes that require trucks to travel down slopes (especially while laden), eliminating uneven surfaces and keeping ground conditions in good order (so no potholes or debris). It’s also worth talking to your forklift provider to discuss ways to make trucks inherently safer with speed limiters, load sensors, etc.

While we’re on the subject of training, it doesn’t end with operators. The HSE demands that if you supervise materials handling operations you must have the necessary training and knowledge to recognise what good (and bad) practice looks like. The good news is that Managing Forklift Operations courses are now available online to minimise time off site. Contact us if you require further information.

Intelligent Cornering System 

Driving with the mast raised is the single biggest cause of truck-tip events. State-of-the-art software that prevents tipping by seamlessly adjusting the truck’s speed as it enters a turn, taking into account the steer angle and load. The result is reduced risk of tip-overs, less load shedding and improved productivity as the manoeuvre is completed at optimum speed.

Automatic speed reduction

Wearing a seatbelt at all times is the simplest and most effective way of avoiding serious injury in a tipping incident. And it’s the law. The HSE makes clear it will “Prosecute site operators who do not take adequate measures to enforce the wearing of seat belts”. The challenge lies in getting operators to comply.

Even where management is vigilant and issues constant reminders, it’s not uncommon for operators to avoid wearing a seat belt (even where there is an interlock), tricking the machine by fastening the seat belt permanently behind them.  So what’s to be done?

The “no cheat” seat belt

Some trucks have introduced a “no cheat” seat belt on electric counterbalance trucks. This switchable function allows the employer – at his or her discretion – to select an option that ensures wearing of a seat belt is mandatory.

To enable the truck to drive the forklift, four steps must be followed:

  1. Sit on the seat (to activate the seat switch)
  2. Turn on the ignition
  3. Fasten the seat belt to (activate the seat belt switch)
  4. Select direction of travel

The truck can then be driven normally. If, however, if the sequence has not been completed or if the operator has tried to circumnavigate it, the machine will not function.

Sometimes, the simple stuff can have the greatest impact.

Contact us if you require further information.

 

Published · Updated

Keeping home-based vulnerable workers safe

Keeping home-based vulnerable workers safe

Keeping home-based vulnerable workers safe

Due to Covid-19 and the various lockdowns, many more workers than previously are either entirely or partly home-based.

Employers must be particularly careful and take extra steps for anyone in their workforce who is vulnerable to coronavirus (Covid-19).

When infection rates are particularly high and the country is in a national lockdown, vulnerable workers are advised to work from home if at all possible and not to go to work even if they cannot work from home, i.e. to “shield”. So, if you can support your vulnerable workers in homeworking, what are some of the particular issues to consider?

What is a vulnerable worker?

To summarise, these are the broad categories.

Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals are those people with specific underlying health conditions that increase the risk of severe illness if they contract Covid-19. A full list of groups falling into this category can be found on GOV.UK.

Clinically vulnerable individuals include those over the age of 70 years and those with certain defined underlying health problems, eg diabetes. Pregnant women are considered to be clinically vulnerable under this definition.

In addition to vulnerable workers, the GOV.UK website also refers to higher-risk groups of employees and these include:

•those with a high body mass index (BMI), ie who are obese

•those who from some Black, Asian or minority ethnicity (BAME) backgrounds

•those with certain health conditions not included under the vulnerable categories

•older males.

While there are currently no official expectations of additional controls for these higher risk workers, it is worth factoring them into the organisation’s risk assessments, especially if the organisation’s own HR policies have a wider definition of what is a vulnerable worker.

Homeworking for vulnerable workers

There are four key areas to consider when looking at homeworking for vulnerable workers.

1.Risk assessment.

2.Understand the worker.

3.Understand the home working environment.

4.Understand internal communication and supervision.

Risk assessment

Do not assume your organisation’s current homeworking risk assessments for vulnerable workers are undertaken and are up to date.

This will be especially true in comparatively low-risk environments such as offices where additional adjustments such as display screen equipment may have been put in place for individual vulnerable workers. In other words, controls may have been applied piecemeal but not necessarily with a risk assessment to define them.

Conversely, has your risk assessment for home-based working actually considered vulnerable workers? If not, then adequate controls may not necessarily have been defined and, so, put into place.

Ensure that your homeworking risk assessment covers the specific requirements of vulnerable workers.

Understand the worker

In making adjustments for vulnerable workers at home, your organisation is not simply meeting legal requirements, it is encouraging better productivity, less staff sickness absence and positive staff relationships.

Understanding the vulnerable worker and seeking their input is key to effective management. For example, an employee who is 70 years of age or older (one of the definitions of a vulnerable worker) might not necessarily have the IT skills to work confidently on their own at home, whereas in the workplace environment where everything has been set up for them and there is on-call IT support they have no particular issue. Another example might be if they are diabetic; some (but not all) individuals suffer periods of depression or anxiety as a side effect of their condition. As such, working on their own from home may not necessarily be a positive environment without regular managerial support and supervision.

Just because an employee is not a vulnerable worker in terms of the definitions currently given by the four nations in the UK, this does not mean that there are not medical or other issues that need to be taken into account with their home-based working needs.

Understand the homeworking environment

Risk assessments often look at what a typical home environment might entail. However, the individual circumstances of a vulnerable worker need to be understood.

For example, the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) may be higher for some vulnerable workers, depending on their condition. This would require specific provision from the employer, eg adapting workstations to be used at home, specific chairs, footstools or, perhaps, enhanced technologies such as lighter laptops and better peripherals appropriate to their particular needs.

For some vulnerable workers, fire safety may be a greater consideration, eg if their vulnerable status is due to a heart condition or serious respiratory illness, then home evacuation might not be as straightforward as for other workers. Discussing the issue with the worker so that they can take steps to improve their own fire safety — moving their office to ground floor level, for example — might be sufficient. If electrical safety is a concern, an employer could provide the optimum items to minimise fire risks within the home’s existing electrical infrastructure. Risks might arise due, for example, to “daisy-chaining“ in the home (multiple extension leads) and/or using incorrect or counterfeit or chargers for electrical devices,

Other controls to consider might include providing an appropriate fire extinguisher and verifying the worker has an appropriate smoke detector in their home.

Understand internal communication and supervision

Discussions between the worker and their manager around their specific concerns is particularly important. Isolation, lack of team involvement and even lack of support from supervisors is a risk for all workers and especially so for some vulnerable workers.

It should be remembered that some managers and supervisors might be vulnerable workers themselves, so the communication processes should be designed to minimise stress, maximise productivity and encourage two-way communication. This is easy to say but an issue that needs to be given visible support by senior management. The risk assessment process should have identified all vulnerable workers and the support available to them should be made clear to their line management.

Review

It is strongly recommend that the risks and controls are regularly reviewed, for all workers. One approach is to consider the following questions.

  • Stop: what is not working?
  • Start: what could be improved and could be implemented?
  • Continue: What is working well and can continue?
  • Change: What is working to a degree, but could be modified slightly to work better?

Often problems with work-life balance or issues with connectivity can be resolved through reasonable adjustments by the employer and supervisors should be empowered to resolve matters quickly.

Contact us for further information.