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 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.
Risk Assessment Requirements to Change
The HSE proposes to amend the Risk Assessment guidance as a means of cutting down paperwork and duplication of effort. The changes, planned for early 2017, allows businesses to accept generic paperwork such as hazard data sheets of evidence of having considered the risk to employees. For more information read the full announcement on the HSE website here.
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.
Nurses (and Doctors) Revalidation Toolkit from Fourteen Fish
New website and toolkit – looks good
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 tallored 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
Free App for GP’s (but anyone can get them!)
From Pulse: Click here to go to the app page in Apple
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
Return of the Enrolled Nurse?
The Government have announced new plans for the return of the nursing associate. Return of the enrolled nurse? Heavily disguised though.
For more information: 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.
Revalidation for Nurses
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.
New Guidance available from the Healthy Working Lives people in Scotland. Interesting layout – not sure it will catch on….
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 is 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
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
New Government Guidance on Fit for Work Service
Guidance for employers participating in the government’s Fit for Work scheme clarifies the tax exemption available on the cost of medical care for employees who are off sick. Published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on 2 January, confirms that the tax exemption for medical interventions is limited to £500 per member of staff for each tax year. However, any payments over the £500 limit will be liable for tax and national insurance contributions (NICs) on the excess.
The exemption, which came into effect on 1 January, can be granted more than once if the treatment straddles the start or end of a tax year.
Under previous rules, the cost of any medical intervention funded or provided by an employer was likely to be liable for tax as either a benefit in kind or a payment of earnings.
The guidance also made the following key points:
- Employees must provide consent at all stages of the assessment process.
- Staff will be contacted within two working days of a referral to the service, and face-to-face assessments (when required) will take place within five working days of the judgment being made. Where employees are required to travel to such an assessment, a travel allowance may be claimed from the service provider.
- The rules for referral from an employer may be more rigorous than a referral from a GP. For an employer to make a referral, the employee must have been absent for four weeks due to illness, whereas the GP can refer an employee who is likely to be absent for four weeks.
- Employees will be discharged from Fit for Work when they have returned to work (including a phased return to work), when the service can no longer offer further assistance or if a return to work has not been possible after three months.
To download the guidance for employers click here
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 shiftwork causes 2,000 cases of breast cancer a year.
- Silica – roofworkers, stonecutters, construction workers, roadworkers. Dr Rushton’s modelling has shown that if compliance with current controls of RCS (respirable crystalline silica) could be improved from 33 per cent to 90 per cent, over 600 cancer registrations would be avoided.
Extract taken from the Health and Safety Magazine on line
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:
Both contain significant changes to use of these.
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.
£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 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) are 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 have 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.
Lets 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 introduction)
To download the document in full Fuller Working Lives – A framework for action June 14
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 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
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
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
Consultation open on Long Term Sickness Guidance
NICE has produced new guidance on managing long term sickness absence but you only have two weeks to comment: Click here to be taken to the document
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
Alcohol Tool launched by EU
Includes information on the need for an alcohol policy and things to consider. Click here to be taken to the site to download the document
New Research Report from the UK Government
Telephonic support to facilitate return to work: what works, how, and when?
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.
- 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
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.
The Department has asked PHE to produce guidance for the NHS to implement the change in policy, and to establish a centralised database to monitor healthcare workers with HIV. 16th August 2013
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.
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:
- Does it do a technical function that needs external ability?
- Do its activities require political impartiality?
- 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
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.
Take the quiz to find out if you do. 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!
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.
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.
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