OSHA/NIOSH Infosheet on Spirometry and Surveillance Resources

Came across this latest info sheet from the USA regarding spirometry. Very good points in this. To download the infosheet go here: Spirometry Infosheet

Long Working Hours Killing loads – New Study

(17th May 2021) Started in 2016 the study showed 745,000 people died from stroke and heart disease due to long hours.

The report found that people living in South East Asia and the Western Pacific region were the most affected.

The WHO also said the trend may worsen due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The BBC gives case studies here:

The research found that working 55 hours or more a week was associated with a 35% higher risk of stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared with a working week of 35 to 40 hours.

To read the BBC article click here: Long Working Hours Study

Prevent Covid Transmission at Work from WHO 

WHO has produced a policy briefing paper on preventing and mitigating Covid-19 at non health care premises (19th May 2021).  They started by asking these questions:

  • According to available scientific evidence, what characteristics of the workplace and workforce increase the
    risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the workplace?
  • Is there evidence of successful infection prevention and control (IPC) measures in the workplace?
  • What is the role of workplaces for containing and mitigating COVID-19 in their workforces?
  • What types of policies have been implemented to prevent and mitigate transmission in the workplace?
  • What policies will help prevent transmission and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in the workplace

To download the pdf go and get your copy by clicking on the link. 

Loneliness, the New Wellbeing Issue

The government has issued information for companies to think about issues of loneliness and have a fascinating article – no really! On how to deal with it and some interesting links. Go here to read all about it. Employers and loneliness


Virtual SEQOHS

News on the SEQOHS site – after having suspended accreditation and reviews during the Corona pandemic, they are now conducting ‘virtual’ assessments and Diageo have passed the very first one. To read the article click here. I guess it will catch on… 

Guidelines on returning to Work Published

Guidelines for workers, employers and health practitioners published by the SOM and University of Glasgow click here for pdf

How to Apply for a Visa in the UK (NHS Workers) April 2021

Information for anyone who might want to come to the UK and help us out. To see the full list of job categories and costs/timeframes by clicking here.

Construction not as safe as we thought during pandemic

lists of occupations and respiratory outbreaksMore than 150 suspected outbreaks of acute respiratory infection have been recorded on construction sites since Public Health England (PHE) started collecting data last year, Construction News revealed after a Freedom of Information request.

To read the full article on Construction News website click here

Public Health update on blood clotting and Covid Jab

Comprehensive and evidence based info for healthcare professionals on blood clotting associated with vaccination programme.

Up to and including 31 March, the MHRA received 79 reports of thrombosis events with low platelets of which 44 were CVST, out of a total of 20.2 million doses of AZ vaccine given by that date. Two cases of blood clots (thromboembolism) with thrombocytopenia were reported for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine up to and including 31 March, but a detailed medical review by the MHRA concluded that these were very unlikely to be related to the vaccine. 

To read the full document with seriousness and symptoms etc go to the Gov UK website (Covid 19) 

Long Covid Advice

The FOM has published an easy to read/understand infographic on how to deal with return to work issues for those affected by effects of Covid-19 (Feb 2021).

Download the pdf on long Covid here

Covid-19 now included in Green Book

See the definitive guidance about vaccinating against the disease in Chapter 14a: Covid-19

NMC to Review Post Registration Standards for Nurses

At long last there is movement on this controversial topic. See the article from the Nursing Times which sets out the framework and proposals especially if, like me, you are a community nurse. Your chance to contribute: Read the article here:

Regulatory approval of Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine with instructions for Health Professionals

Downloadable PDF on how, when and why to give the Covid-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2

The Information for healthcare professionals document is a description of a medicinal product’s properties and the conditions attached to its use. It explains how to use and prescribe a medicine. It is used by healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses and pharmacists.The Information for UK recipients document provides information for patients on using the medicine safely. This is based on the Information for healthcare professionals of the product.

Well done anyone who had a hand in this – feeling emotional! 👨‍🔬👩‍🔬🥼😂

Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures

ACAS advice on dealing with workplace problems including grievance, disciplinary and capability procedures – great, clear advice for all (bit.ly/3lLjqXk)

Recommended Exercises for Covid Breathing Problems

For those who have an underlying lung condition, have difficulty breathing, wheeze or the after effects of Covid-19 – I thoroughly recommend this video from YouTube – given by an Irish lung specialist it covers many types of exercises to help with the aftermath. I particularly like the humming recommendation and the exhalation gap exercise. It is rather long but you will find something to help you if you are suffering.

Testing for Covid-19 Rolled Out in Liverpool

Interesting news for everyone following the Covid quick tests 

From November 6th – all people in Liverpool will be offered covid-19 tests, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

The pilot will test whether mass population screening throughout England will be beneficial and which one is best.  The army will provide 2000 personnel to help with distribution and execution of the tests.

Several types of covid tests will be used in the pilot, including existing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab tests (the one commonly used now), new lateral flow swab tests which don’t need sending off to a laboratory (a lot like a pregnancy stick test) and new LAMP technology deployed in Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for NHS staff.

To read the full article from the BMJ which tells you what each test involves click on the link

B&CE abandon Constructing Better Health

You will see my post below about the OH Scheme collapse and this week I was contacted by B&CE to remove any reference to the scheme from my blog as it has been discontinued. I guess I knew that despite all their assurances earlier this year. They partly blame it on Covid-19 but could it not have been put on hold a bit longer until we are over the hump? There is still a desperate need to protect the health of Construction workers.

See an article here in Personnel Today for details.

Corona Virus Info

For a quick link to the essential resources of info for the UK – whether you are an employee, manager, school, professional or OH or Safety, or think you have it – go to my Coronavirus resource page. I’ve put the list altogether in a handy page.

There is a lot of misinformation and scare tactics around so make sure you get relevant information from the dear old NHS – we might moan but it’s always there when the chips are down. Go to Coronavirus Pages or if you think you have been in contact with someone or have symptoms phone 111 for advice. It might be busy but they will get round to you.

Headache and Migraine Toolkit

Approximately 10 million people live with migraine in the UK, 3 million workdays are lost every year due to migraine-related absenteeism costing almost £4.4 billion
and headache is amongst the most common neurological reasons for A&E attendance.

This pathway provides medical professionals with expert practical advice and guidance on how to address these headache and migraine challenges.

follow the link for the full Headache and Migraine Toolkit

New Construction OH Scheme collapse Feb 2020

Occupational health scheme runs aground and where does that leave the health of the construction workers? But guess I am prejudiced 😓

A statement released by Build UK, the industry trade association that counts B&CE among its members, said:

“Build UK Partner B&CE has been developing People’s Health, a new occupational health system for the construction industry, taking learnings from key stakeholders on what they would find useful in such a system.

“However, fulfilling the occupational health needs of the industry is challenging. As the project has progressed, there has been added complexity as the system’s functionality has been improved which, in turn, has led to delays and has increased delivery costs.

“The build has therefore been paused while B&CE review the information they’ve gathered so far. There is a responsibility to ensure that what is built will be successful, so the priority is to find the best way to address these complexities and make the system more efficient.

“The aim remains the same as it ever was – to build a successful and commercially viable occupational health system that can do exactly what the construction industry needs it to do.”

And yet all government contracts such as HS2 specify contractors should be accredited. Messy divorce ahead. Read more here: Occupational Health Scheme Runs Aground


Evaluation of a trauma therapy programme within emergency service organizations

The findings indicate that there are clinical and personal benefits to using an organizationally based short-term model of trauma therapy in an emergency service setting. Read full report here:  Occ. Medical Journal

The BMA to poll Doctors again re Assisted Dying

80% of the public want the option for themselves and the 18 police chiefs who criticised the current law for causing “distress, confusion, and pain.” Results expected early 2020

Physical Activity Guidelines 2019

Published in September 2019 by the UK public health body here: bit.ly/2FxUW0T

Legal Advice from the Experts

Worried if your company is doing enough? See what the experts say you need to do to keep this side of the law in your business. Download the guidance from their site.

Supporting Wellbeing in the Workplace: Best Practice Guidance

New guidance for Employers on Epilepsy

August 2019: Download this excellent document from the Epilepsy Action website


New Guidance from ACAS – Age Discrimination

New guidance from ACAS regarding age discrimination in the workplace, free downloadable pdf document

New Guidelines on Mental Health Conditions (for GP’s)

New clinical guidelines for the diagnosis and management of work related mental health, from Australia. All the diagnostic tools and research. Totally free but 134 pages. Great job.

Free Online Course from University Site

Found on line, I have not tried it but it might be just what you are looking for. Free online course in Occupational Health (for developing countries) starts March 18.  From the University of Bergen

Guidance On Employee People with Disabilities

November 2018 sees the publishing of long-overdue guidance on employing people with disabilities

Go to the website page here: Recruiting, managing and developing people with a disability or health condition

Guidance from BMA

Now, this is not really what you would call breaking news, more news that passed me by. However, I will not dwell on that.  I have just come across brilliant guidance from the BMA about occupational Health Physicians. Published in 2017 it gives a succinct overview of everything an OH Doctor needs to know including, revalidation, PGD’s and so much more.  To download the free 53-page document – go to the BMA website here.

NHS Opt-Out of Data Sharing Options

The NHS has launched an online tool that lets you prevent it from using personal medical information for research and planning purposes (June 2018).  For more details on how to opt out go to the NHS Choices website – you will need your NHS number but it tells you where to find it too. 

A new NHS Workforce Health and Wellbeing Framework Launched

The Framework will support NHS organisations to improve the health and wellbeing of their staff through an easy to use diagnostic tool and a comprehensive range of guidance against fourteen core organisational enablers and health interventions proven to improve staff health and wellbeing. This will enable NHS organisations to develop comprehensive health and wellbeing plans and evaluate improvement over time. Also, the tools used will provide excellent resources for any such organisation.

Go the NHS employers website to download.

NEW ISO Standard for Occ Health and Safety

ISO 45001, the new international standard for occupational health and safety is launched by the BSI.

It’s been created to improve work-related health and safety of workers globally, and is applicable for all workers irrespective of their occupation and if they are paid or unpaid.

According to the BSI over two million workers die each year from work-related incidents and an even higher number from occupational health issues.

Anne Hayes, Head of the Governance and Resilience sector at BSI, said: “ISO 45001 is about protecting workers at all levels of an organisation. From the Saturday part-timer on a zero-hours contract to the chief executive of an international conglomerate, this global standard was designed for the good of the organisation and everyone who works for it.

“Occupational health and safety management doesn’t have to mean more paperwork and more red tape – on the contrary, ISO 45001 was created to make it easier for organisations to create and maintain a safe and healthy working environment for all. OH&S impacts every organisation, irrespective of how big it is, the sector or where in the world it is located. As such, ISO 45001 is relevant to an organisation with 10 workers or a hundred thousand.”

ISO 45001 has a strong emphasis on leadership and requires senior management to actively demonstrate a commitment to OH&S. There is also a focus on the participation and consultation of workers in making sure that the OH&S management system covers what needs to be covered and is communicated effectively to everyone involved.

A nurse thinking of starting a blog?

The RCN has published a guide to blogging for nurses publication code 006 693

Employment Law Decisions in 2017

From whistleblowing to compensation – from discrimination to disability.  How will these cases affect your workplace?

The 10 most important employment law cases in 2017.

Thriving at Work – Review of Workplace Health

An independent review of mental health and employers by Lord Dennis Stevenson and Paul Farmer published in October 2017 makes many recommendations to the Government – yet to be implemented – the main focus is on mental health although there are plenty of other recommendations too.

Download the full report here: Thriving at Work Review

The Data Protection Act is being replaced by the General Data Protection Regulations in May 2018. Are you ready for this in your workplace? Read the article from the Telegraph and guidance from both BT and the Information Commissioners Office.

Just published (Sept 2017) by Public Health England and Healthy Working Lives is the Workplace Health Needs assessment guidance with step by step guidance on how to assess your workers’ needs.

Whilst this is a much-needed document – there is too much emphasis on wellbeing aspects and not enough focus on protecting workers health from the effects of the job. Yes, let’s deal with the public health issues – after all the NHS is struggling to cope with ill health. But I and my colleagues, always explain to business owners that wellbeing initiatives comes way down the list of priorities and to give such emphasis on say, stopping smoking and culture is just muddying the water again.

The law is clear – businesses MUST protect workers.  It is a not a nice to have.

The document mentions health legislation and a passing reference to the HSE but sadly, it is underdone and consequently misses the whole point of a thorough health needs assessment in the workplace.

Such a wasted opportunity for Government cross-department working.

To download go to Gov UK website download page

Publication of What OH Can Do For Businesses

The Society of Occupational Medicine reveals the value of occupational health to UK businesses and workers. bit.ly/2h6NSf9

NMC Introduces New Disciplinary Process

Instead of being directly referred to a hearing under the Fitness to Practice Rules, the NMC now has some options to choose rather than putting everyone in the same queue.  From the preliminary hearing the NMC can now:

  • Stop proceedings – no case to answer
  • Secretly write to a practitioner (no records kept)
  • Issue a warning and keep on the register for 12 months
  • Agree on corrective action over a set period of time
  • Refer to a hearing

This should cut the backlog. It seems a sensible step to me.

For more information see the NMC press release: bit.ly/2uJV86x

New Guidance on Confidentiality by GMC

New from the GMC and to come into effect in April 2017. Eighty pages and covers new topics like dealing with other agencies and carers.

Confidentiality: Good practice when handling patient information. 

New Guidance on Silica Published

Included are 14 task sheets. In putting together the guide, the working group considered the practices of hundreds of inspectors from the 28 member states of the European Union. The digital version is available here; the first release is in English and it will be translated to all official languages in the EU.

GP’s Need to Be Certified

But only in Spirometry! News from Public Health England. See article in Pulse

Domestic Abuse Advice

The UK government has updated its advice on domestic abuse and how concerned citizens can help stop this crime.

March 2016

E-Cigarettes Endorsed

New report from public health England

Nurses (and Doctors) Revalidation Toolkit from Fourteen Fish

New website and toolkit – looks good

Guidance on Physical Exercise

Who publishes its guidance in this booklet available to download here. Physical Activity for Health

See also NICE national guidance for exercise.

International Guidance on Ageing

Throughout Europe, the proportion of older people in the population is growing, people have to work longer, and the average age of workers is increasing. This e-guide provides practical information, tips and examples related to the ageing of the workforce and the opportunities it brings along.

The content of the e-guide is tailored to four different audiences: employers, workers, HR managers and OSH professionals (including, for the purpose of this e-guide, workers’ representatives, health and safety representatives and labour inspectors). To download the guide go the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work website

HSE Publishes GB Strategy Document

Published today (29th Feb 16), for more information click here.

New Sentencing Guidelines Published

From the 1st February 2016, courts can now impose “fair and proportionate sentences” to health and safety offenders with more guidance for complex or unusual cases. To see the new guidelines for sentencing: click here.

New Alcohol Limits Published

After 20 years the UK has changed its mind about who, what and when to drink alcohol.  For more details go to the UK government website press release and full information: click here

Make Your Own Living Will Online

Recommended by the BMJ.  Great idea. See the idea behind it and how it can help you and your relatives/friends: The Living Will

HSE Starts its own Facebook Page

Go see the new pages: click here

New Guidance on Preventing Disability and Dementia from NICE

For the full document: click here

Free On Line Asbestos Training (Construction)

Free if you sign in to site plus option to have a certificate if you take the test at the end for £10 – valid for 1 year.  click here:

New Professional Group for Occupational Health

The Faculty of Occupational Health Nursing development group have prepared a paper on Occupational Health Education, Registration and Funding over the past few months. It can now be accessed on www.fohn.org.uk, the new website which launched this week – 18th Nov 2015.

Managing Dementia in the Workplace

A new guide for employers from the Alzheimers society.

Download the pdf here: dementia in the workplace 

How Fit for Work Services Work

HML has now rolled out the fit for work service across England.  To help employers and employees understand the service they have issued a video on how it works.  Great graphics and simply put.  Well thought out.

Ageing Workforce

New Guidance available from the Healthy Working Lives people in Scotland.  Interesting layout – not sure it will catch on….

Click here to download 


Following a review of how the scheme is going the separate domain for NHS establishments have been incorporated into the main domains which is a good idea as they never really worked well.  There are also recommendations for ways of engaging with a purchaser and how SEQOHS are going to link with physiotherapists which seems a bit random to me.

Female Genital Mutilation

New guidance issued by the Royal College of Nurses setting out what to do and how to cope if you find this with your patients.

Available to download here: RCN guidance_FGM_WEB-1

Electric Cigarettes at Work?

ASH has recently updated its guidance and background to vaping at work.

For Article and Advice

Permitting or prohibiting electronic cigarettes in the workplace 

New Nursing Midwifery Code of Conduct

Hot off the press is the publishing of the NMC code of conduct to be implemented from March 2015.  To download the document click on the link below

NMC Code in full 

IOSH – No Time to Lose


IOSH launches its new campaign against carcinogens in the workplace with presentations in the Houses of Parliament. I have been assisting IOSH with writing the syllabus for the training programme available for health and safety professionals.

For more information contact IOSH or click here to be taken to their website:

  • Diesel engine exhaust emissions (DEEE) – affects many areas, not just transport, but construction trades, energy extraction, warehousing, agriculture, mechanics. Related deaths to DEEE in Britain are estimated at 650 a year to lung or bladder cancer.
  • Solar radiation – a number of trades affected, from construction through to roadworkers to farmworkers. This is more treatable than some cancers, but the registrations are still high, at over 1,500 a year.
  • Asbestos – affecting many areas, mostly construction and trades like plumbing or maintenance, but also in sectors like retail, education and public services, where older buildings will contain asbestos. The HSE estimates that 1.8 million people are still at risk of exposure to the carcinogen.
  • Shift work– largely an issue for women, unlike other male-dominated areas. More research is needed, but it’s estimated that shift work causes 2,000 cases of breast cancer a year.
  • Silica – roof workers, stonecutters, construction workers, road workers. Dr Rushton’s modelling has shown that if compliance with current controls of RCS (respirable crystalline silica) could be improved from 33 percent to 90 percent, over 600 cancer registrations would be avoided.

Extract taken from the Health and Safety Magazine on line.

New guidance from HSE on MEWP’s

Guidance published by the HSE in conjunction with the Strategic Forum for Plant Safety on mobile elevating working platforms – good advice download the document from the HSE website here

New Regs for November 2014

Two new sets of regulations for November:

The Explosives Regulations 2014: for HSE guidance click here

The Acetylene Safety Regulations 2014: for guidance click here

Both contain significant changes to use of these.

New Guidance for Health Professionals Clearance

The Medical Schools Council, the Dental Schools Council, Public Health England, Health Protection Scotland, the Association of UK University Hospitals, and Higher Education Occupational Practitioners have published revised guidance relating to health clearance for:

Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV and Tuberculosis.

This guidance is intended for use by medical and dental schools, medical and dental students, occupational health services and health provider organisations.

Click here for guidance document

 £500 Tax Relief for Employers Announced

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has published its proposals for tax relief to be applied to employer-funded return to work interventions.

The relief will be capped at £500 per employee per year and applies to National Insurance Contributions (NICs).

Employees will need to be absent (or expected to be absent) for at least 28 days to qualify for the tax relief and the treatment must be recommended by the new Health and Work Service (HWS) or a healthcare professional.

These qualifying professionals are listed as registered medical practitioners, a registered nurse, or an occupational therapist, physiotherapist or psychologist registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.

The government added that it recognised sometimes treatment would be undertaken if the employee had just returned to work or was able to return during the process.

It said that in such circumstances the tax relief may still apply. HMRC will provide further guidance on the exemption and qualifying criteria before the regulations came into effect.  The consultation on the rules will close on 15 October.

Updated Genetically Modified Regs and Guidance due Oct 14

From 1 October 2014 there will be a new version of the regulations. The Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) Regulations 2014 revoke the 2000 regulations.

Some changes have been made to the 2014 Regulations which reflect the experience of applying them since 2000 and make the regulations more risk-based and proportionate, helping businesses comply with the law. The guidance on the regulations (L29) is also amended, reflecting these changes.

For more information and to download free copies click here.

Health & Work Service Announced

After 5 months tendering process it was announced that Health Management has bagged the contract for dealing with absent employees.  To read the full press release click here

The service will be known as the Health and Work Service.

For more information on the successful occupational health provider click here

The new Health and Work Service is predicted to cut sick pay costs to business by £80 million to £165 million a year, as well as increase economic output by up to £900 million a year.

Tax Exemptions of up to £500 per year

As part of the press release, there is mention of a tax exemption of up to £500 a year per employee on payments for medical treatments recommended by the Health and Work Service or employer-arranged occupational health service will be introduced.

Without such tax exemption, the payment would be treated as a taxable benefit in kind, liable to income tax and employer National Insurance contributions.


A case manager will support each employee through the service’s assessment process to ensure their level of need is correctly identified along with appropriate steps to take to get them back to work.

In Scotland, the Health and Work Service will be delivered by the Scottish government on behalf of the UK government. This will enable delivery of a service that builds on existing occupational health capacity and expertise in the public sector in Scotland, while also delivering value for money. The service in Scotland will be the same service as delivered in England and Wales.

The service is due to start in late 20142014.

Let’s hope it fares better than ATOS in its delivery of the work capability assessments.

New Govt Strategy on Fuller Working Lives

Launched 16 June 14 – the new Government strategy on action focus’ on preventing individuals’ withdrawal from the labour market, and where this can’t be avoided, support older workers to re-enter the world of employment.

Like people in their 50s who wants to work, but can’t because of caring responsibilities, or the worker who can no longer do their strenuous manual job because of a bad back.

It’s time to change the conversation about extending working life from one about working “until you drop”, to one about a fuller working life, that means working as long as is necessary to create the future wanted. The business case is compelling, and this document sets it out clearly for individuals, employers and the State. It also provides a framework within which all the key players can bring about the changes needed for adequate income in retirement, better wellbeing in later life, a more productive labour market, and increased economic activity. (adapted from the introduction.)

To download the document in full Fuller Working Lives – A framework for action June 14

Autism in the Workplace

The TUC has published new guidance for business on dealing with autism in the workplace.  Go to  http://bit.ly/1garb6S to download your free copy

Consultation on Merging OH Professional Bodies

The potential for a single organisation representing a multidisciplinary occupational health is moving along and could be a reality if FOM and SOM members vote yes. In preparation, a name for the new organisation is currently being discussed.  To read all about the proposals go to the Personnel Today article here 

Mediation Guidance

In view of the new law saying that all who want to go to an employment tribunal must first go to Mediation – Mediation GUIDE 2013 published last year.

Health at Work Service Update

Changes planned for health at work services:

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has cut the number of employees its new Health and Work Service (HWS) will be able to support back to work by more than a third.

As part of its approach to limit the number of workers accessing the service, the DWP has admitted it may restrict employer referrals or extend the early intervention period to beyond four weeks. Go to the official government website for information on the new service to be launched free of charge for employers who can refer workers to OH service if their absence is likely to exceed 4 weeks. Co-coordinating the Health at Work services Or a FAQ sheet from the BBC

New D & A Guidance from BMA

Alcohol Drugs & the workplace – role of medical professionals. (2014) BMA

New Guidance issued for health professionals in the workplace click above for document download.

HSE Publishes new Guidance on Two Pack Paints (Isocyanates)

Vehicle sprayers have high levels of occupational asthma from inhaling the fume as the two pack combine. Here is the new guidance from the HSE – click here to download the free guidance

 As 566,000 come off benefits since 2010, ministers move to tackle sickness absence with new service.

As many as 960,000 employees were on sick leave for a month or more each year on average between October 2010 and September 2013, the government has revealed today (10 February 2014), as it prepares to launch a new Health and Work Service to combat the problem.

The government has already taken big steps in getting people on long-term sick benefits back into work as part of the government’s long-term economic plan, with almost a quarter of a million coming off incapacity benefits since 2010 – and almost a million who put in a claim actually have been found fit for work. It now wants to do more to support business to prevent sickness absence turning into long-term welfare dependency in the first place by setting up a new support service.

For full report click here  

New Guidance on Pneumonia Vaccinations for Welders

Includes flowcharts and when/how to implement.  Includes advice on other issues such as smokers and those with existing chest conditions. But don’t forget the control methods first.  To be taken to the free download from the HSE click here 

Guidance for a fair dismissal when an employee on long-term sick

When is it reasonable for an employer to dismiss – guidance given from Employment Tribunal appeals – the full article is here

New Research Report from the UK Government

Telephonic support to facilitate return to work: what works, how, and when?

Telephonic advice from Dept for Work and Pensions

Mental Health Resource for Line Managers

A practical guide to managing and supporting people with mental health problems in the workplace.  Newly updated for 2013. RIDDOR 2013 Guidance

The HSE has produced new Guidance for RIDDOR 2013: Click here to be taken to the free downloadable document

New Section 69 of Health and Safety at Work Act (HASAWA) comes into force on Oct 1st 2013

Changes from the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act mean that a new section was added to the HASAWA which start from October 1st.  This change was brought about by the Lofsted review which wanted less regulatory burden on the employer so that they could get on with business.

Summary Changes/Implications

  • Changes to the mechanism of claiming compensation in civil courts
  • Removes the right of the injured party to claim breach of statutory duty as a foundation for compensation claims
  • Only applies to HASAWA duties
  • After Oct 1st all investigations of accidents should focus on what steps the employer has made to prevent ill health and injury
  • The employee must prove that the ill health or injury was the employers fault

To see the full section 69 as set out click here 22nd Sept 2013

HSE launched its new HSG 65 guidance for larger employers on health and safety management

With the much more readable Plan, do, check type of approach.

It is much simpler to understand.

There are also practical issues such as leadership and a summary of the Corporate Manslaughter Act etc.

The new guidance moves away from using the POPMAR (Policy, Organising, Planning, Measuring performance, Auditing and Review) model that I knew so well!

And moves to managing health and safety to a ‘Plan, Do, Check, Act’ approach.   The move towards ‘Plan, Do, Check, Act’ achieves a better balance between the systems and behavioural aspects of management. It also treats health and safety management as an integral part of good management generally, rather than as a stand-alone system.

Click here to see the new HSG 65 website and changed approach.

The guidance aims to help business leaders, owners, directors, trustees and line-managers and is split into four key sections:

  • Core elements of managing for health and safety
  • Are you doing what you need to?
  • Delivering effective arrangements
  • Resources

The improved information will also be of value to workers and their representatives and the third section will be of great help to those responsible for putting in place or overseeing their organisation’s arrangements for health and safety including health and safety practitioners and training providers.

Consultation On Infected HIV Workers and EPP

The Department of Health has published its long-awaited report and recommendations for those who do exposure prone procedures (EPP) and new guidance on how this should be managed.  Click here to see Management of HIV Infected worker.

After 2 years consultation the report suggests that HIV infected workers can be allowed to work in this previously banned area of work as long as they are controlled and monitored.

What is an exposure-prone procedure?

Exposure Prone Procedures (EPP) are those procedures where the worker’s gloved hands may be in contact with sharp instruments, needles tips or sharp tissues (eg bone or teeth) inside a patient’s open body cavity or wound where the hands or finger tips may not be completely visible at all times.

A sharps injury to a healthcare worker undertaking an EPP may result in the patient being contaminated with the blood of the healthcare worker. Previously the healthcare worker must be free from infection with a blood borne virus and have checks to make sure that was so The Chief Medical Officer and Ministers have agreed to accept the advice of the TWG (Consultation Group), that current restrictions on HIV positive healthcare workers performing EPPs should be lifted, provided that healthcare workers are on effective combination antiretroviral drug therapy, with a very low or undetectable viral load, and are regularly monitored by both their treating and OH physicians.


New Regulations to ensure Health Professionals hold Indemnity Insurance

Breaking news regarding Insurance for Health Professionals

The new requirement to hold an appropriate indemnity arrangement is being introduced for all healthcare professionals by the UK Government via the Health Care and Associated Professions (Indemnity Arrangements) Order 2013. Subject to parliamentary approval, this legislation will amend the current legislation, the Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001, to introduce the new requirement from later in 2013. This means that from its introduction it will be a legal requirement for nurses and midwives to have appropriate indemnity arrangement in place in order to practise and provide care. The NMC states that the main reason for the introduction of this legislation is that it forms part of the implementation

Subject to parliamentary approval, this legislation will amend the current legislation, the Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001, to introduce the new requirement from later in 2013. This means that from its introduction it will be a legal requirement for nurses and midwives to have appropriate indemnity arrangement in place in order to practise and provide care. The NMC states that the main reason for the introduction of this legislation is that it forms part of the implementation into UK law of European Directive 2011/24/EC on the application of patients’ rights in cross border healthcare, which originally came into force in March 2011. As part of its consultation on the draft Indemnity Order, the Department of Health (England) outlined a number of further reasons for the introduction of the legislation. These include:

  •  Concerns that some healthcare professionals currently practise without indemnity cover, or without sufficient cover
  • Inconsistent approaches on this issue across the professional regulatory bodies, with some regulators requiring cover in order to hold registration and others having a requirement to hold indemnity cover in their codes of conduct.
  • The findings of an independent review which concluded that making indemnity cover a statutory condition of registration for healthcare professionals was the most proportionate way of ensuring that members of the public could claim compensation in cases of negligence.

Nurses and midwives will be required to complete a self-declaration that they either have in place an appropriate indemnity arrangement or will have an appropriate indemnity arrangement in place when they practise whereas others such as Doctors have a voluntary code to practise with insurance in place.

Breaking news today from NICE regarding BMI

Public Health Intervention Guidance on BMI and waist circumference – black, Asian and minority ethnic groups (PH46) has been published today, Wednesday 3rd July 2013.

The full guidance and background papers, are available now on the NICE website.

The NICE Pathways is an online tool for health and social care professionals that brings together all related NICE guidance and associated products in a set of interactive topic-based diagrams.

New Guidance Published by the HSE on Nanotechnologies Risk Assessment

This guidance is specifically about the manufacture and manipulation of all manufactured nanomaterial’s, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and other bio-persistent high aspect ratio nanomaterial’s (HARNs).

It has been prepared in response to emerging evidence about the toxicity of these materials.

The control principles described can be applied to all nanomaterial’s used in the workplace. Any differences in the approach between control of CNTs and other bio-persistent HARNs to any other type of nanomaterial’s are highlighted in the text.

To download the free guidance click here See also Working with Nanotechnologies 1st July 2013


I was told years ago by a cardiologist that severely restricting salt in your diet was a bit of waste of time and had very little impact on health or BP.

Today I have read new research from the US that supports that view – albeit those who went with the limits for salt restriction remain unconvinced – read the article here if interested and make up your mind.

Salt on your chips Madam? Yes please

Domestic Abuse – How the Workplace can Help Victims

The CIPD has published new guidance and practical advice for Managers to help and identify workers suffering domestic abuse.

The guidance is designed to enable employers to develop a domestic abuse workplace policy and provide tips for managers on how to manage and support an employee suffering from domestic abuse.

The guidance makes clear that there are simple steps employers can take to respond to this sensitive issue.

To a large degree this is about basic good people management involving managers listening, empathising and showing concern for employees. However, it is important that managers are aware of the warning signs that might suggest a member of staff may be suffering from abuse, as well as the sources of support available to victims.

New advice from UK Government on Domestic Abuse published in 2016

New Legislation to Protect Health Care Workers

The Health and Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations came into effect on 11th May 2013.

Employers and Contractors will have specific duties to:

  • Have effective arrangement for safe use and disposal of sharps
  • Give the necessary information and training to workers
  • Investigate and take action in response to work-related sharps injuries.

The HSE has launched guidance to help employers: Guidance on the ‘Sharps’ Regulations June 2013

Government to Review HSE

As part of the Government’s commitment to review all public bodies – it’s now the turn of the HSE to see if it is, in fact, ‘fit for purpose’.  By apply the Government criteria of:

  1. Does it do a technical function that needs external ability?
  2. Do its activities require political impartiality?
  3. Does it need to act independently to prove facts?

The review will be done in two phases, phase one will look at the key functions of the HSE.  If the functions pass the first test then phase two looks at whether another delivery method is more appropriate.

See the result of the HSE Review published in 2014

Queen’s Speech Promises Help for Asbestos Victims

A report in this month’s Safety and Health Practitioner magazine leads with an article on the Mesothelioma Bill which will set up a payment scheme for sufferers whose employer or insurer cannot be traced.  The report states that around 3500 victims will benefit and will be eligible to receive around £355m in payments in the first 10 years of the scheme.  All this is to be set up to go in July 2014.

See the Mesothelioma Act 2014 here

New Guidance from NICE on exercise

Health professionals are advised to encourage those who do not do physical exercise to follow the UK guidance for the amount of exercise to take – all available at by clicking this NICE link June 2013

Workplace Health, Safety & Welfare ACOP – L24 Consultation Launched

Following an initial consultation in June 2012, it was agreed by the HSE Board that a number of ACOPs would be revised – in line with the recommendation by Professor Ragnar Löfstedt in his report ‘Reclaiming health and safety for all’. 

A revised version of the above ACOP is now available for consultation. Changes include:

  • Simplifying the language to clarify what dutyholders must do to comply with the Workplace Regulations
  • Updating the publication to include the provisions of the Miscellaneous Amendment Regulations 2002
  • Improving guidance and references to the most up-to-date and relevant standards for advice
  • Removing out-of-date duties and requirements that are superseded by new regulations.

The consultative document and draft version of the revised ACOP is available here from the HSE website The consultation period ran from May to July 2013.

Chemical Safety Signs for the EU

 The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) launched an interactive quiz on the new pictograms for the labelling of hazardous chemicals in the EU introduced by the CLP (Classification, Labelling and Packaging) Regulation. The CLP Regulation came into force January 2009 and have been progressively replacing the classification and labelling of Dangerous Substances and Preparations  Directives which will be repealed on 1 June 2015. Key dates:

  • 1 December 2010, when substances must have been reclassified
  • 1 December 2012 when substances already on the market must be labelled in line with the new CLP Regulation
  • From 1 June 2015 mixtures (formerly called preparations) must be classified according to CLP
  • 1 June 2017 when re-labelling and re-packaging of products already on the market has to be done

Research by ECHA shows that many of these pictograms (see graphic on the right here) are not yet recognised or properly understood.

To support the CLP awareness-raising campaign, EU-OSHA has recently launched a toolkit to help employers and workers handle dangerous substances with care and keep themselves safe at work. For full information click here

Classification, labelling and packaging at a glance April 15, 2013

New Guidance issued by the HSE for Workers and Employers

The Health and Safety Executive has issued three new information resources for managers – the most interesting of which is

1. The updated and reviewed guidance on occupational health surveillance in the workplace

and have published a new website available here.

The site has answers to common misunderstandings about occupational health and safety issues that I encounter from professionals and employers – such as what is the difference between occupational health surveillance and ordinary health checks that you get from your Doctor?

And, something I always struggle to convince people of – the difference between a Health Record and Clinical Records.

All is explained here with simple steps for deciding if your company needs health surveillance from an occupational health service or whether you can train a responsible person from your own workforce.  Far cheaper and convenient.

2. Using Cut Off Saws

Guidance for workers to protect lungs from heavy dust generated by whizzers!

Free guidance available from the HSE website

3.  Control of Exposure to Silica Dust

Silica is a natural substance found in most rocks, sand and clay and in products such as bricks and concrete.

In the workplace these materials create dust when they are cut, sanded, carved etc. Some of this dust may be fine enough to breathe deeply into the lungs and cause harm to health.

The fine dust is called respirable crystalline silica (RCS) and is too fine to see with normal lighting.

The leaflet explains how RCS can damage health and what to do to prevent harm

Free guidance available from the HSE website click here April 14, 2013

Changes to Approved Methods of Roof Tile Cutting to Protect against Silica Dust

News on 1st October 2012, contractors will no longer have the option of using a cut-off saw to dry cut valley tiles.

In a bid to reduce the risks from silica dust, the industry has  supported changes to working methods which mean that, should a cut-off saw be  used for cutting valley tiles, water suppression as well as the correct RPE  will also be expected.

This is in line with the controls currently in use for  cutting tiles in other sections of the roof. Contractors do have  the option of using other methods as long as they can demonstrate these are  equally as effective at controlling the silica risk.

The Guidance is available here  Note: This is not a change to the law. The Health and Safety  at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health  Regulations 2002 (as amended) still apply in the same form.

Changes to the Vision Standards for Group 1 and 2 drivers from DVLA

Changes to the Group 1 and Group 2 driver licensing standards for vision were made on the 1st May 2012.

The changes mean that: Group 1 (cars and motorcycles): applicants and licence holders, will need to have a visual acuity of 6/12 (0.5 decimal) as well as being able to read the number plate from the prescribed distance.

Visual field: the present standard of a total field width of 120 degrees remains but, in addition, there will need to be a field of at least 50 degrees on each side.

Group 2 (buses and lorries): applicants and licence holders must have a visual acuity, using corrective lenses if necessary, of at least 6/7.5 (0.8 decimal) in the better eye and at least 6/12 (0.5 decimal) in the other eye.

If corrective lenses are worn, an uncorrected acuity in each eye of at least 3/60 (0.05 decimal) is needed.

All Group 2 drivers must also meet all the Group 1 visual acuity standards as outlined above. Where glasses are worn to meet the minimum standard for driving, they should have a corrective power of no more than plus eight (+8) dioptres.

The full standards are published in the ‘At a Glance Guide’ on the Government website or read my more recent blog post here on vision and work.

Fees to be charged by the HSE from 1st October 2011

News from the HSE regarding the new cost recovery scheme, Fee for Intervention (FFI), will come into force on Monday, 1 October 2012.  Under The Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012, those who break health and safety laws are liable for recovery of HSE’s related costs, including inspection, investigation and taking enforcement action. The Fee for Intervention hourly rate for 2012/13 is £124. The many businesses that comply with their legal obligations will continue to pay nothing. HSE will review how FFI is working after the first twelve months of operation, and within three years of the regime coming into effect. The review reports will be published on this website.

Guidance from NICE on type 2 Diabetes

This guidance from NICE includes a number of actions for occupational health departments in relation to offering risk assessments and subsequent lifestyle advice. It also includes the following commissioning advice relevant to OH; ‘Health and wellbeing boards and public health commissioners, working with clinical commissioning groups, should ensure the commissioning plan encourages employers in public and private sector organisations to include risk assessments in their occupational health service contract.

For more information go to Preventing type 2 diabetes: risk identification and interventions for individuals at high risk

Drug resistant TB on the increase

The number of drug-resistant cases of TB continues to rise with 431 reports in 2011, up from 342 in 2010 – an increase of 26 per cent.

Overall, 8,963 new cases of TB were reported to the Health protection Agency (HPA) in 2011, up from 8,410 cases in 2010.

Patients usually acquire drug resistant disease either as a result of spread of a drug resistant strain from another person or as a result of inappropriate or incomplete treatment.

Treatment outcome data was available for 97 per cent of cases (8,171 patients) in 2010 and revealed that 84 per cent of patients completed their treatment, up from 78 per cent in 2001. TB continues to disproportionately affect those in hard to reach and vulnerable groups, particularly migrants.

The HPA is recommending that local commissioners ensure they coordinate their TB control activities so that completion of treatment can be ensured wherever the patient is located. The message that not completing the full course of treatment can encourage drug resistance is an important one in light of today’s figures.”

1. *Of the 8,963 cases of TB reported to the HPA in 2011, 5,127 samples were laboratory (culture) confirmed and 431 of these had evidence of antibiotic resistance.

2. For a copy of HPA’s annual TB report, as well as further information about TB visit the HPA site

Shift work found to increase risk of myocardial infarction (MI), ischemic stroke, and cardiovascular events

The news report, based on a systematic review and meta-analysis, was published online July 26 2012 in the British Medical Journal. Researchers recommend that employers institute health screening programs in the workplace, if at all possible. They should give their employees breaks where they can relax and de-stress, and should rationalize their shift scheduling systems “so that they are more ergonomically designed and more aligned with the human body clock or circadian rhythm”.

ART Tool for Repetitive Risk Assessment from the HSE

The Assessment of Repetitive Tasks (ART) tool is designed to help you risk assess tasks that require repetitive movement of the upper limbs (arms and hands). It assists you in assessing some of the common risk factors in repetitive work that contribute to the development of Upper Limb Disorders (ULDs). The ART tool is intended for people with responsibility for the design, assessment, management, and inspection of repetitive work. Repetitive tasks are typically found in assembly, production, processing, packaging, packing and sorting work, as well as work involving regular use of hand tools. ART is not intended for Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessments. The ART tool is a method that helps to:

  • Identify repetitive tasks that have significant risks and where to focus risk reduction measures
  • Prioritise repetitive tasks for improvement
  • Consider possible risk reduction measures
  • Meet legal requirements to ensure the health and safety of employees who perform repetitive work

The ART tool uses a numerical score and a traffic light approach to indicate the level of risk for twelve factors. These factors are grouped into four stages:

  • A: Frequency and repetition of movements
  • B: Force
  • C: Awkward postures of the neck, back, arm, wrist and hand
  • D: Additional factors, including breaks and duration

The factors are presented on a flow chart to evaluate and grade the degree of risk. The tool is supported by an assessment guide, providing instruction to help to score the repetitive task being observed. There is also a worksheet to record the assessment. Training is recommended to use the ART tool reliably and appropriately. For more information go to the art tool download from the HSE here

Occupational Health Provision (The business case)

The wellbeing tool published by the department of Work and Pensions provides a means of working out the costs of ill health and absence to your business.  It can also help you build a business case for action to reduce your costs and improve the health and well-being of people in your business by providing Occupational Health services.

To see the tool in full go to the health work and wellbeing website or download the tool here: Workplace_Wellbeing_Tool

June 2012: Occupational Cancers in the UK

The Health and Safety Laboratory, Institute of Environmental Health and the Institute of OM and Imperial College London has just published a research document ‘The burden of occupational cancer in Great Britain’.  The aim of the project was:

  • to produce an updated estimate of the current burden of occupational cancer specifically for Great Britain
  • to produce an estimate of the future occupational cancer burden in Great Britain based on recent and current exposures, together with the method for updating this in future
  • where the data are sufficiently detailed, to break down any headline estimates into exposure-cancer combinations

The report presents an overview of the results of the current burden of cancer due to occupational carcinogens and circumstances in Great Britain (GB) together with a summary of the methodology developed and the data used.

Many carcinogenic exposures in the workplace affect multiple cancer sites.

Asbestos contributes the most to both total attributable deaths and registrations (larynx, lung, mesothelioma, stomach).

Others making a major contribution to attributable deaths and/or registrations include arsenic, diesel engine exhaust, and dioxins.

See the Cancer Research from HSE

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