Health, Safety and Environment Monthly Messages (2015)

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December

Holly PictureAt this time of year homes are often decorated with lights, decorations and candles. With appropriate care and attention, decorations and lights are safe to use. You can take some simple steps for a safer Christmas:

Please consider the following for any decorations purchased or used to decorate University premises:

  • Real Christmas trees are not permitted. The following link shows the speed with which a real tree fire can spread: https://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=US&hl=uk&v=o2dNN2waoSw.
  • Do not place Christmas trees next to fire exits or exit routes, where it may introduce a fire or trip hazard.
  • Any Christmas trees or other decorations which have an electrical supply must have passed a portable appliance test.
  • All decorations such as tinsel and garlands must be fire retardant.
  • Take care when siting Christmas cards and decorations not to block the ventilation holes in electronic equipment.
  • Your risk assessment must be reviewed to determine if the existing control measures are still sufficient.

Local Fire Services also suggest the following guidance to ensure a safer Christmas at home:

  • Check your Christmas tree lights carry the British Safety Standard sign.
  • Never place candles near your Christmas tree or materials that can catch light easily.
  • Test your smoke alarms monthly and only remove batteries when replacing them.
  • Most fires start in the kitchen. Avoid leaving a cooker unattended and avoid cooking when under the influence of alcohol.
  • Decorations can burn easily – so don’t attach them to lights or heaters.
  • Keep candles, lighters and matches out of children’s reach, and never leave burning candles unattended.
  • Never overload electrical sockets. Always switch Christmas lights off and unplug them before you go to bed.
  • Take care around open fireplaces as clothes may catch fire.
  • Ensure that all food is thoroughly cooked to mitigate the risk of food poisoning. Turkey should be cooked so that the meat is steaming hot all the way through, none of the meat is pink, and the juices run clear.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Health Safety and Environment Team.

November

Have a Safe Bonfire Night! Please consider attending an organised event rather than risking your safety by having your own bonfire.

But if you still want your own bonfire...

Please ensure that you know about the guidelines:-

  • Bonfires should be 18 metres from buildings, trees, fences, overhead cables and car parking areas. Only clean, dry timber should be burned.
  • Do not burn: Aerosols, Batteries, Bottles, Foam-filled furniture, Tins of paint, Tyres.
  • Bonfires should be no more than 3 metres in height. There should be a suitable barrier around the bonfire to keep spectators 5 metres away.
  • Do not using the following to light the bonfire: Petrol, Paraffin, Diesel, White spirit or Methylated Spirit
  • Use Firelighters instead!
  • Always check that no children or animals are hiding in the bonfire before lighting.
  • Keep some buckets of water nearby in case of emergency and to damp down after the event.
  • Bonfires built on council land without permission will be removed.

FIREWORK SAFETY CODE

  • Ideally attend an organised display.
  • Fireworks must not be sold to any person under the age of 18.
  • Buy fireworks marked BS 7114 or CE.
  • Keep fireworks in a closed metal box.
  • Follow the instructions on each firework.
  • Light them at arms length using a taper.
  • Stand well back.
  • Never go back to a lit firework.
  • Never put fireworks in your pocket.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby if you are setting off fireworks in your garden.
  • Never throw fireworks.
  • Keep pets indoors.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix and may lead to injury.

October

Many people look forward to a well-deserved drink at the end of a hard day or as a reward for finishing the working week. However drinking too much or too regularly can have serious implications to your health and wellbeing. You’re probably well aware by now the NHS guidelines of how much you should drink. Men should not exceed 3-4 units a day whilst it’s recommended for women to consume slightly less at 2-3 units. It’s all well and good considering “units” but how many units are in your average drink? To access the Drink Aware Unit Calculator, please click here.

Most people have at some point be guilty of over indulging from time to time. It’s recommended after a heavy drinking session (exceeding 8 units) to give your body time to recover, a period of 48 hours allows your body to do so.

As well as the dreaded hangover associated with a heavy night of drinking there are several other health and social risks you need to be aware off.

  • Whilst primarily alcohol can help you to relax and feel more social drinking too much can leave you feeling out of control and doing some you wish you hadn’t. Adverse side effects can include: Slurred speech, loss of balance and nausea
  • Alcohol effects the brain. Working as a depressant it slows down reaction speeds and impairs judgement; getting you into trouble and even possibly into aggressive situations. The office of National Statistics has reported that a staggering 53% of all violent crimes involving adults were related to alcohol. Of these men were almost twice as likely to be the victim of violence.
  • On a side note alcohol is suggested to be a source of relationship problems, you’re more likely to argue with a loved one after you’ve been drinking. Relationship counsellors recommend never to raise an issue if you’ve been drinking and to save it till you’re both sober.

You don’t need to be a heavy drinker or alcoholic to suffer long term effects of alcohol. Consuming more than the standard guidelines can lead to an array of health issues, some which could have a huge impact on your life. These include: increased risk of cancer, liver and kidney damage, high blood pressure, fatigue, insomnia, depression and also sexual related problems. Whatever ever your sex, age or physical build nobody is immune to the effects of alcohol. You need to be aware of the facts before you drink to ensure your fun night out doesn’t ruin your life. If you think you need or want to know more follow the links below.

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/Alcoholhome.aspx

http://www.knowyourlimits.info/

https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/

September

On 3rd September 2015, Aberystwyth University will be participating in Cycle to Work Day, encouraging everyone to dust off their bike and cycle to work for one day.

A report by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) identified four main health benefits to cycling:

  1. Cycling gives you a healthier heart and immune system - Cycling is associated with improved cardiovascular fitness, as well as a decrease in the risk of heart disease. Studies also show that moderate activity, such as cycling, can strengthen the immune system and contributes to fighting of illness.
  2. Cycling can help you lose weight - Cycling is a great form of aerobic exercise and a brilliant way to burn calories. The faster you cycle, the more you burn – meaning it’s entirely up to you to set your pace. Cycling also has the added benefit of ramping up your metabolism – even after the ride is over.
  3. Cycling tones your muscles - Not only does cycling help you burn calories, but it also helps tone your muscles. In the lower half of your body cycling works your calves, thighs and bottom; while in the upper half it gives your shoulders and arms a work out too. Cycling is also easier on your joints than other high impact activities such as running, but still helps you get into shape.
  4. Cycling reduces stress, mental illness and anxiety - Cycling is believed to give participants a sense of wellbeing and is said to reduce anxiety, depression and other psychological problems. It’s also thought that its repetitive clockwork movements have a soothing effect on the body.

Regular cycling can also have a number of societal and environmental benefits. A recent report commissioned by British Cycling identified the following potential benefits if the UK became a mass cycling nation in the vein of the Netherlands or Denmark:

  • The NHS would save £17 billion within 20 years;
  • Cycling saves a third of road space, compared with driving to help cut congestion;
  • Shifting just 10% of journeys from car to bike would reduce air pollution and save 400 productive life years;
  • Bike parking takes up 8 times less space than cars, helping to free up space.

If you do decide to get involved and hop on your bike, please consider the following safety points:

  • Look behind you before you turn, overtake or stop;
  • Use arm signals before you turn right or left;
  • Obey traffic lights and road signs;
  • Don't ride on the pavement unless there's a sign that says you can;
  • On busy or narrow roads, don't cycle next to another person;
  • When overtaking parked cars, watch out for car doors opening suddenly and allow room to pass safely;
  • Don't use headphones while cycling;
  • Never use a mobile phone while cycling.

Even if you won’t be donning the lycra, you can ensure that you contribute towards the safety of others by viewing the following short video commissioned by the Bicycle Association and British Cycling explaining how motorists can safely overtake cyclists: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9pmw2ckQSU

For more information, please visit: http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/supporting-staff/work/healthanddisability/health-wellbeing/cycle-to-work/.

August

Two recently publicised cases have highlighted the importance of appropriate preparation, planning, and monitoring of activities undertaken by individuals under an organisation’s direct and indirect care to ensure their safety.

A Bangor University lecturer recently became critically ill during a research visit to a partner institution in China. A BBC article on the story is available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-west-wales-33649786.

The case highlights the importance of ensuring that organisations have a system for ensuring that they are aware of the locations and activities being undertaken for work purposes by all employees within the organisation. It would be expected that emergency provisions and arrangements in the event of illness or injury while undertaking work activities, especially when travelling or located away from the University, be included in all risk assessments and shared with relevant individuals.

In July 2015, a recruitment agency that organised student work placements was prosecuted and fined under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 for conducting their activities in such a way that they expose those, not in their employment, to risks to their health and safety, following the death of a student whose apprenticeship placement they had organised.

The University similarly has a duty of care to ensure that it has taken all reasonably practicable steps to ensure students’ safety. Eversheds International proposes a number of potential considerations and steps that could be taken to reduce the risks of organising student work placements:

  • Know Your Provider - Conduct due diligence of the proposed placement provider to identify any concerns, which may encompass a site visit and a review of their health and safety history. Organisations may consider compiling an approved placement provider list.
  • Get Feedback - Feedback covers matters such as health and safety on site; training and inductions; and the provision of suitable personal protective equipment as required. Feedback may help determine immediate changes which can be made to ensure that any placement runs safely, whether a placement should be terminated early or whether a placement provider should not be recommended in future.
  • Maintain Records - Ensure that records for each placement provider are kept up to date and ideally centralised, especially if different departments of an organisation are using the same placement provider(s).
  • The Potential Consequences - The consequences of breaching health and safety legislation can be far reaching, and offences under health and safety legislation can be committed where no injury has been suffered. One of the proposed criteria to determine the level of fine is to consider the turnover of the organisation.  A large organisation is one with turnover of £50 million and over which would include many universities and a few colleges.

The Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) health and safety guidance for the placement of HE students is available at: http://www.ucea.ac.uk/en/publications/index.cfm/HSplace

Information relating to the Risk Assessment Training Course offered by the Health, Safety and Environment department is available at: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/hse/training/risk-training/

The latest training courses and bookings are available at: https://stafftraining.bis.aber.ac.uk/hs/list_courses.php

July

We’re all hoping for great weather this summer, or might be venturing abroad in search of warmer climates. It is however, despite the allure of the sea and sand, important to remain safe. July’s Health, Safety and Environment Monthly Message suggests guidance for remaining safe when in the sun, and when visiting the beach.

Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK, and too much sun can increase your risk. It is also important to note that sun damage doesn't only when you're on holiday in the sun. It can happen when you’re not expecting it, for example during a walk or when sitting in the garden.

The NHS recommends that you follow the SunSMART guidance in order to reduce the possibility of skin damage:

  • Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm.
  • Make sure you never burn.
  • Aim to cover up with a T-shirt, hat and sunglasses.
  • Remember to take extra care with children.
  • Then use an appropriate factor sunscreen.

Individuals should seek professional assistance to determine the appropriate factor sunscreen for you.

The sea can also pose many dangers due to unpredictable currents and changing tides. The RNLI recommend that individuals follow the SAFE guidance in order to stay safe at the beach:

  • Spot the dangers.
  • Always go out with a friend or adult.
  • Find and follow the safety signs and flags.
  • Emergency – Put up your hand and shout or ring 999/112.

Other useful guidance to consider includes:

  • Always swim at a lifeguarded beach;
  • Swim between the red and yellow flags;
  • Never swim alone;
  • Know your beach safety flags;
  • Never use inflatables in strong or offshore winds, or rough seas;
  • If you get into trouble, stick your hand in the air and shout for help;
  • If you see someone else in trouble, tell a lifeguard. If you can’t see a lifeguard call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard;
  • Find out about the beach you’re going to before you visit;
  • Check tide times before you go;
  • Always stay hydrated while at the beach;
  • Never consume alcohol before entering the sea;
  • Read and obey local hazard signs.

We hope that you consider this guidance when planning your holidays and that it helps you to have a wonderful, relaxing and safe summer.

For NHS guidance relating to safety in the sun, please visit the following links:

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/travelhealth/Pages/SunsafetyQA.aspx

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/skin/Pages/Sunsafe.aspx

Information on sun safety and prevention by the Skcin charity can be found at:

http://www.skcin.org/

For RNLI guidance relating to safety at the beach, please visit the following link:

http://rnli.org/safety/respect-the-water/activities/at-the-beach/Pages/at-the-beach.aspx

June

The Aberystwyth University Health, Safety and Environment Survey is now open to all members of staff. Your time and patience would be greatly appreciated in completing the short survey to gauge staff attitudes and views relating to health, safety and environment at Aberystwyth University.

To complete the survey, please visit the following link: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/hse/hsesurvey/

Members of staff will have the opportunity to complete the survey up until the closing date on Wednesday 17 June 2015.

Your responses will be invaluable in assisting with the development of a new Aberystwyth University Health, Safety and Environment strategy. We are also especially interested in any comments or observations that relate to how you believe that health, safety and environment provisions and considerations could be improved at Aberystwyth University. All views and opinions will be considered as part of the survey’s evaluation process.

Please note that all responses are anonymous and will be considered as such.

For any additional information relating to the Health, Safety and Environment Survey, please contact the Health, Safety and Environment team on hasstaff@aber.ac.uk or on extension 2073.

May

Grass Fires

The recent warm and dry weather has prompted an unprecedented level of grass fires, particularly across Wales. Between 1st April and 15th April 2015, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS) attended 473 grass fires, the vast majority of which fires had been started deliberately. On 15th April alone, SWFRS attended over 50 deliberately lit grass fires within that 24 hour period.

Grass and mountain fires are especially dangerous as they are often unpredictable and can spiral out of control within minutes. The often arduous terrain can lead to accessibility issues and impact on the ability of Fire and Rescue Services to tackle such fires. Individuals should not attempt to tackle these fires themselves, and are being encouraged to report any suspicious behaviour that they might witness to authorities.

Grass fires can also have significant indirect consequences, as it can mean that Fire and Rescue Service resources are diverted from other potentially life threatening incidents. On 21st April alone, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service received 250 999 calls as a result of grass fires across South West Wales.

The guidance is that everyone:

  • Think about the consequences of deliberate fire setting and the impact on the countryside and wildlife;
  • Think about the impact that deliberate fires have on your communities; 
  • Think about the impact on Firefighters and their safety, while they are attending these deliberate fires they are not able to respond to other incidents including house fires and road traffic collisions;
  • Arson is a crime. You can help by providing accurate information or descriptions to enable the police to arrest those concerned;
  • If you are part of a neighbourhood scheme, your information is invaluable and Fire and Rescue Services ask that you continue to report any suspicious activity to the Fire Crime Unit or Police.

Members of the public have also been asked to take particular care when disposing of cigarettes and other smoking material near grass areas, especially during periods of dry weather.

Further information relating to guidance regarding grass fires can be found via the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website: http://www.mawwfire.gov.uk/Pages/Welcome.aspx

April

From 1st April, Aberystwyth University will be an Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) accredited training provider. IOSH is considered one of the market leaders for health and safety training, with its courses internationally recognised and accepted. 

The Health, Safety and Environment department will be introducing IOSH Working Safely and Managing Safely training courses over the coming months. Working Safely is a one-day course which provides a grounding in health and safety for people at any level, and any sector. It focuses on best practice, and asks individuals to consider the importance of health and safety in the workplace, alongside how individuals can make a difference to health and safety through their behaviours.

Managing Safely is a five day course for managers and supervisors, which focuses on the practical actions needed to manage health and safety in their teams. The course will demonstrate how health and safety considerations are an essential part of a management or supervisory role.

Information relating to registering and attending one of these courses will be communicated to relevant individuals in due course. For any further information, please contact the Health, Safety and Environment department at hasstaff@aber.ac.uk.

Further information relating to the Working Safely Training Course can be found via the following link: http://www.iosh.co.uk/Training/IOSH-training-courses/Working-safely-course.aspx

Further information relating to the Managing Safely Training Course can be found via the following link: http://www.iosh.co.uk/Training/IOSH-training-courses/Managing-safely-course.aspx

March

Stress Management

As lives get busier, many people will suffer from the effects of stress at some point during their lives. It’s important that individuals are aware of the causes and can identify the symptoms of stress (both for themselves and for others), and have an awareness of coping mechanisms which are appropriate for each individual.

Please take a couple of minutes to familiarise yourself with the guidance in the Stress Management presentation below, and the accompanying top ten stress busting tips. The information also provides information relating to differentiating between the different causes and symptoms of stress, and also highlights incorrect ways to deal with stress.

Stress Management Presentation

Top 10 Stress Busting Tips

You may wish to add some of these tips towards your own methods of dealing with stress, and share your own coping mechanisms with colleagues within your departments and institutes. By sharing and discussing our own experiences and practices, we can all help provide support for each other.

February

Seagulls on Campus

Our February campaign began with a set of talks from Hawksdrift Falconry at the end of last month. These talks provided an insight into the seagull population control currently being used on Penglais Campus. Over the forthcoming months, Jasper and Hope, the Harris Hawks will be patrolling it with the aim to move on our nesting population. However, we need your help…

Please assist us in our programme by making a conscious effort not to feed the gulls. As tempting as it may be, it ultimately encourages them to get a “little too close” sometimes. We would also ask that everyone ensure that all food waste is securely discarded in the bins provided to avoid encouraging and attracting the seagulls.

Thank you for your help!

January

The Health, Safety and Environment Department would like to wish you all a happy, safe and prosperous New Year.

To coincide with the New Year and any new years’ resolutions, the Sports Centre’s annual Fit and Well event will run throughout the month of January. The event aims to promote and celebrate ways of improving health and fitness through a range of activities which include a full programme of Fit Together classes, special drop-in gym clinics for specific advice on programme design, and ‘Shape Up’ weight and measure opportunities.

Other activities include providing nutritional advice and gym challenges where staff, students and members of the local community can compete in a variety of challenges.

For further information on Fit and Well 2015, please click on the following link: http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/sportscentre/health/fitandwell/#d.en.77062.

The NHS also provide additional information and guidelines relating to physical activity for adults, which can be viewed via the following link: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/physical-activity-guidelines-for-adults.aspx

Fit and Well is the latest in a series of events which have been taking place across the University to promote Health and Wellbeing http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/supporting-staff/work/healthanddisability/health-wellbeing/.