As mankind continues to evolve into the 21st Century, we continue to be able to take advantage of technological developments that are designed to make our lives easier, but also don’t forget, to make money for the individual and corporations who introduce them into society.
The rate of innovation is startling. In 1987, when arriving in Felixstowe I was issued with my company slide-rule to calculate rate increases, from which I had to manually type out rate schedules for 126 postcodes. Microsoft launched Excel, for what was then called the Macintosh, in September 1985 – perhaps the development of the A12 delayed the software’s arrival into Suffolk and all of sudden our bosses expected us to work that much faster. Salaries stayed the same and the stresses of life in general did not alter.
With the first hand-held mobile phone having been launched by Motorola in 1973, the early 1990s saw phones being fitted into cars; but it was not until 27 February 2007 that the first penalties for driving whilst using a hand-held mobile phone were introduced – £60 and three points added to one’s licence.
A standard spec in a 2.0 litre car will generally have a media pack enabling the driver to select a wide range of DAB radio stations, use Sat-Nav to guide you to a destination and enable your blue-tooth phone to become part of the car. The ability to communicate with anyone at any time is now possible whilst you are driving a 1.5 tonne piece of metal at somewhere around the national speed-limit – you as the driver, your passengers and other road users are in a vulnerable position.
The Automobile Association of America (AAA) states that ‘the average driver makes about 20 major decisions during each mile driven – and often has less than one-half second to react to avoid a potential collision.’
If you are chatting away on your mobile phone whilst driving, your eyes may be on the road but your mind will not be.
Inappropriate mobile phone usage behind the wheel has recently been highlighted by the tragic case involving jailed lorry driver Paul Kroker. He drove his 44 tonne unit and trailer for three quarters of a kilometre along the A34 whilst looking for music on his phone, resulting in him driving into a car at 56 miles an hour, killing a mother and three young children instantly. The judge, when sentencing him to 10 years in prison said, his attention had been so poor that he “might as well have had his eyes closed”.
WARNING – THE FOLLOWING VIDEO FOOTAGE IS EXTREMELY DISTURBING ³
Vartan Consultancy will be encouraging all our clients to critically look at their mobile phone policies, how their office staff communicate with people working out on the office. With careful planning it will be possible to reduce calls being made to the absolute minimum.
Take advantage of technology, but do not put your life at risk or others that are around you.
Start from the principle that you want all members of staff, employees and contractors to go home in the same state that they came into work
Interest in obtaining Health & Safety advice is continually gaining momentum, as companies increasingly understand and accept their responsibilities in terms of adhering to the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. The net result is that workers are being looked after as they go to work; able to go home at the end of their working day, physically and mentally fit.
An effective Health & Safety Policy should complement a successful company strategy, not become a burden, enhancing the perception of positivity to a level where employees rate the business as a good company for which to work. Any factor enhancing motivation, leading to improved performance should surely be encouraged.
The Chair of the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) Judith Hackett, when countering criticism suggesting that legislation did not support common sense, said, “What we are concerned with, simply, is stopping people in the workplace being put at risk of death, serious injury or ill-health.” ¹
The HSE will not get in your way in terms of you building your business. They will however pursue you if they feel that you are not adhering to the law – this could result in fines, or prosecution of your company and or individuals ‘where an offence…is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to have been attributable to any neglect on the part of any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate…’ ²
Once you are happy that your company has identified the risks that your employees face when working, and you have procedures and equipment in place to manage these risks down to zero or consistently safe levels, and you understand that anyone coming ‘into contact’ with what you do or provide will be safe then, please make sure that you implement these measures.
An effective Health & Safety Policy should complement a successful company strategy
There seem to be four common factors for this not being the case:
You pay for H&S material to be provided and leave it on the shelf, often unread
You do not make time to consider the importance of implementing what you know is right
There are not suitably motivated or qualified staff within the organisation to implement the Company’s H&S policy on a consistent basis – “I can’t do everything”
“We are SO busy”
To get your mind around the subject, start from the principle that you want all members of staff, employees and contractors to go home in the same state that they came into work…
The next step on your journey to improving the safety environment at work is to enforce what you say you should do– unless you do this, ‘learnt’ behaviour will quickly become the norm and if it is an unsafe practice, then this is going to perpetuate until you put it right.
¹ Judith Hackett – Chair of the Health & Safety Executive writing in the Sun 5th September 2012
² Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 section 37 – Offences by bodies corporate ³ Obtained from The Guardian 31/10/16
Your business could be scorched if you don’t take adequate precautions to protect your outside workers from the damaging effects of the sun’s rays. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has just launched the latest phase of its No Time to Lose campaign, with the focus on solar radiation as a carcinogen. On average five people in the UK every day will be diagnosed with skin cancer contracted at work. It’s an avoidable disease, yet an occupational risk that’s given little attention in the work place.
The majority of us associate sun protection with a day at the beach or a sunshine holiday, but the reality is that the risks to holiday-makers are nothing compared to the dangers faced by outdoor workers. Despite this, in many sectors there is a failure to acknowledge or properly manage the risks associated with prolonged exposure to the sun.
The No Time to Lose campaign is far-reaching to include anyone working outside in the sun as outdoor work does not have to be full-time to pose a problem. Those most at risk are typically employed in agriculture and construction, the maritime industries and grounds and landscape management.
Sunburn is a reaction to over exposure of UV radiation and sun exposure is the main cause of skin cancer. Although this is widely acknowledged, there is still a desire to achieve a sun-kissed complexion in addition to a ‘macho’ culture in the face of certain risks in the some parts of the construction sector. Fifty nine per cent of construction workers reported having sunburn at least once in the last year. Most failed to protect themselves against sun exposure and just over 40 per cent thought there was no need to wear sunscreen on a cloudy day. No wonder then that cases of skin cancer generally are rising faster in the UK than in the rest of Europe.
However, from an occupational perspective, it is difficult to achieve accurate estimates of workers exposed to solar radiation. In Great Britain an estimated 5.5 million people have been exposed to the sun’s rays through their work. According to Cancer Research UK outdoor workers are at higher risk from non-melanoma skin cancer (43 per cent higher risk of basal cell carcinoma and 77 per cent high risk of squamous cell carcinoma). Most deaths occur amongst men and just under half those diagnosed with malignant melanoma are linked to occupational exposures and are aged under 65.
Remember! Skin cancer is an avoidable disease. 90 per cent of skin cancer deaths could be prevented if exposure to UV is controlled. Tackling solar radiation exposure is not necessarily costly and can be relatively easy to achieve.
Actions to control exposure
• Check the UV index from the weather forecast, communicate information to relevant workers and prompt them to use protective measures to minimise exposure
• Avoid or minimise exposure to direct sunlight in the middle of the day – 60 per cent of daily UV radiation occurs between 10am and 2pm
• Swap job tasks between workers so members of the team can regularly spend time in the shade
• Use heavy-duty cover or shade when working outdoors in the sun
• Ensure rest breaks are taken indoors or in shaded areas. Water points in shaded areas can help encourage breaks to be taken out of the sun
• If employees are regularly driving during high UV months, add UV protective films or tints to plain glass vehicle windows if they are not laminated
• Raise awareness of solar radiation issues with workers. Help may be found at www.notimetolose.org.uk
• If possible ask employees to cover up with long sleeved, loose-fitting tops and trousers when working outdoors during months with high UV levels
• Wear wide-brimmed hats that shade the face, head, ears and neck or if safety helmets are worn, use those fitted with flaps to protect the neck
• Wear sunglasses with 100 per cent UV protection or use UV filtering safety goggles with the same level of protection if the work requires physical eye protection. Look for the ‘UV’ marking
• Use high factor sunscreen where the skin can’t be protected by other measures e.g. on the hands, face and lips.
As an employer it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of your staff, this includes encouraging them to check their skin for changes to moles or other changes. Detecting the early signs of skin cancer and undergoing early treatment can save lives.
Reference: Safety & Health Practitioner May 2015.
Skin cancer kills 60 outside workers a year in GB. Are your outside workers protected from the sun? Info on www.notimetolose.org.uk