Health, Safety and Environment Monthly Messages (2016)

To view previous Health, Safety and Environment Monthly Messages, please select from the tabs below:

December

Christmas is a time for family and celebration but official data shows that it is also one of the most dangerous times of year. As a result, it’s important that you remain safe while enjoying the festivities.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) has developed the following 12 tips for preventing accidents and injuries during the festive period:

  1. Make sure you buy children's gifts for the correct age group and from reputable sources that comply with standards (e.g. The Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011);
  2. Remember to buy batteries for toys that need them - that way you won't be tempted to remove batteries from smoke alarms;
  3. Look out for small items that could pose a choking hazard to young children, including parts that have fallen off toys or from Christmas trees, button batteries and burst balloons;
  4. Keep decorations and cards away from fires and other heat sources such as light fittings. Don't leave burning candles unattended, make sure you put them out before going to bed and do not put candles on Christmas trees;
  5. If you have old Christmas lights, seriously consider buying new ones, which will meet much higher safety standards, keep the lights switched off until the Christmas tree is decorated, don't let children play with lights (some have swallowed the bulbs), and remember to switch off the lights when going out of the house or going to bed;
  6. Remember, Christmas novelties are not toys, even if they resemble them, and they do not have to comply with toy safety regulations. Give careful thought to where you display them, for example, place them high up on Christmas trees where they are out of the reach of young hands;
  7. Give yourself enough time to prepare and cook Christmas dinner to avoid hot fat, boiling water and sharp knife accidents that come from rushing, and keep anyone not helping with dinner out of the kitchen. Wipe up any spills quickly;
  8. Have scissors handy to open packaging, so you're not tempted to use a knife, and have screwdrivers at the ready to assemble toys;
  9. Beware of trailing cables and wires in the rush to connect new gadgets and appliances, and always read instructions;
  10. Falls are the most common accidents so try to keep clutter to a minimum. Make sure stairs are well-lit and free from obstacles, especially if you have guests;
  11. Plan New Year fireworks parties well in advance and follow the Firework Safety Code;
  12. Do not drink and drive, and plan long journeys so you won't be driving tired.

The Health, Safety and Environment Department would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. We look forward to continued collaboration will colleagues throughout 2017.

November

Following the introduction of the University’s revised Risk Assessment Template, colleagues should be aware of the importance of effectively communicating the control measures identified. The Risk Assessment Template and Accompanying Guidance are available at: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/hse/proc-prac/risk-assessment/

Identifying suitable and effective control measures through the risk assessment is of no use if the control measures are not effectively communicated to those actually undertaking the task. It is those who are directly undertaking a task who are most at risk from the associated hazards, therefore managers must ensure that such workers are fully involved in and aware of the process.  

Below are key actions suggested by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in order to ensure effective communication in organisations:

Leaders

  • Ensure that time is allocated so that communications can take place;

Managers

  • Formulate plans for cascading information. Remember to plan how you will get messages across to contractors, anyone with low levels of literacy, or those whose first language is not English;  
  • Think about what needs to be communicated and to whom. How will your health and safety policy, risk assessment findings and safe systems of work be shared?; 
  • Lay out clear communications procedures for safety-critical tasks;
  • Where needed, plan your communications with emergency services. Who will co-ordinate this and how will it be done?;
  • Ensure that communication is included in change management procedures;
  • Ensure that written instructions are clear and up to date;
  • Make sure that safety-critical messages have been given attention and are understood;

Worker consultation and involvement

  • Involve workers or their representatives in planning communications activities. They will be able to help identify and resolve barriers to communication within your organisation;
  • Are workers able to give feedback and report their concerns?;
  • Have you considered vulnerable groups within your workforce in your communications plans, eg young or inexperienced workers, workers with a disability or migrant workers?;

October

Reporting certain types of incidents is a legal requirement. The report informs the enforcing authorities about deaths, injuries, occupational diseases and dangerous occurrences, so they can identify where and how risks arise, and whether they need to be investigated. This allows the enforcing authorities to target their work and provide advice about how to avoid work-related deaths, injuries, ill health and accidental loss. This requirement is stipulated by the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 2013.

A RIDDOR report is only required when:

  • there has been an accident which caused the injury;
  • the accident is work-related; and
  • it results in an injury of a type which is reportable.

The regulations include a definition of specified or reportable injuries, which include:

  • The death of any person;
  • Specified Injuries to workers;
  • Injuries to workers which result in their incapacitation for more than 7 days;
  • Injuries to non-workers which result in them being taken directly to hospital for treatment, or specified injuries to non-workers which occur on hospital premises.

The University’s policy is that all RIDDOR reports will be made by the Health, Safety and Environment Department, who will make the determination of whether an incident is reported under these regulations.  

In order to ensure that appropriate action is taken for each incident, please complete an incident report form for all incidents and near misses. Further information relating to incident reporting, including copies of the incident report form and the University’s incident reporting procedure, are available at: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/hse/proc-prac/incident-reporting/.

Further information relating to RIDDOR is available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/.

September

Lone Working

Employers have a legal responsibility for the health and safety of all employees, which includes lone workers. Lone workers can be considered any employees who work by themselves without close or direct supervision, which includes someone working on their own in a laboratory or workshop, home workers, someone working in remote locations, or mobile workers away from the workplace, and should be put at no greater risk that other in the workplace.

All employees should be aware of the requirements of the recently introduced Lone Working Policy, which contains information relating to ensuring their own and others’ safety and wellbeing while engaging in lone working. The Lone Working Policy is available here, and the supporting guidance notes are available here.

Risk assessments are at the heart of the Policy, as employers have a legal duty to assess all risks to health and safety (including risks associated with lone working). All Institutes and Professional Service Departments, through Line Managers, are required to ensure that suitable and sufficient risk assessments are undertaken for all instances of lone working involving staff under their remit. Employees also have a duty of care to their employer in ensuring that they follow the outcomes of the lone working risk assessment, and that they have due regard for their own safety, in addition to the safety of others who may be affected by their activities.

Issues to consider to ensure that lone workers are not put at risk include:

  • assessing areas of risk including violence, manual handling, the medical suitability of the individual to work alone and whether the workplace itself presents a risk to them;
  • requirements for training, levels of experience and how best to monitor and supervise them;
  • making sure you know what is happening, including having systems in place to keep in touch with them.

Further guidance relating to Lone Working is available at: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/hse/proc-prac/loneworking/.

Information relating to risk assessment training, including details of forthcoming courses, is available at: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/hse/training/risk-training/.

August

Display Screen Equipment (DSE) is a device or equipment that has an alphanumeric or graphic display screen, regardless of the display process involved. It includes both conventional display screens and those used in emerging technologies such as laptops, touch-screens and other similar devices.

Computer workstations or equipment can be associated with neck, shoulder, back or arm pain, as well as with fatigue and eyestrain, particularly for regular users, who are required to use DSE equipment in an intensive fashion as part of their normal work.

As a result, it’s essential that users of Display Screen Equipment, particularly those whose work involves DSE as a significant part of their normal work, ensure the undertaking of an assessment of the risks associated with using DSE equipment and any special needs of individual staff.  

It is advisable to break up long spells of DSE work. Most jobs provide opportunities to pause from DSE work to do other tasks, such as filing or copying. It is best if breaks or changes of activity allow the user to get up from their workstation and move around, or at least stretch and change posture. Frequent short breaks are also considered better than infrequent longer ones i.e. 5–10 minute breaks every hour are better than 20 minutes every 2 hours.

All workstation assessments should be annually revised, and when a new workstation is set up, when a new user starts work, or when a substantial change is made to an existing workstation (or the way it is used). All assessments should be repeated if there is any reason to suspect they may no longer be valid.

The ‘Working Safely with Computers’ E-Learning module can assist users with interactive prompts on setting up their own workstations. For access and further information relating to this module, please contact the Health, Safety and Environment department at hasstaff@aber.ac.uk or on extension 2073.

The University’s DSE Standard Practice Instruction is available at: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/media/departmental/healthsafetyenvironment/DSE_Standard_Practice_Instruction_Revised.pdf.

Copies of the VDU Workstation Checklist are available at: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/media/departmental/healthsafetyenvironment/vduchecklist.pdf.  

Further information relating to Display Screen Equipment is available at: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/hse/proc-prac/dse/.

July

As the summer months arrive and temperatures soar, it’s important that you take appropriate precautions when working in the sun. Too much sunlight is harmful to the skin. It can cause skin damage including sunburn, blistering and skin ageing (in fact a tan is also a sign that the skin has been damaged), and in the long term can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the UK with over 50,000 new cases every year.

If working outdoors for prolonged periods your skin could be exposed to more sun than is healthy for you. You are advised to take particular care if you have:

  • fair or freckled skin that doesn’t tan, or goes red or burns before it tans;
  • red or fair hair and light coloured eyes;
  • a large number of moles.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advise that workers heed the following guidelines to protect themselves from the sun:

  • Keep your top on;
  • Wear a hat with a brim or a flap that covers the ears and the back of the neck;
  • Stay in the shade whenever possible, during your breaks, and especially at lunch time;
  • Use a high factor sunscreen of at least SPF15 on any exposed skin;
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration;
  • Check your skin regularly for any unusual moles or spots. See a doctor promptly if you find anything that is changing in shape, size or colour, itching or bleeding.

Staff with any concerns relating to their exposure to the sun while working should contact their Line Manager or the Health, Safety and Environment Department at hasstaff@aber.ac.uk or on extension 2073.

June

Travel is an unavoidable part of the University’s teaching, research and commercial activities, however we must ensure that due diligence is undertaken to ensure the safety of all staff and students undertaking travel for the purpose of University-related business. Such activities can include attending conferences, undertaking field work and work placements.

Before making any arrangements, the nature and purpose of the travel should be approved by an appropriate individual within the Institute or Professional Service Department. Colleagues should also ensure that a suitable and sufficient risk assessment has been completed and reviewed prior to any University-related travel. Further guidance on risk assessment is available at: http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/hse/proc-prac/risk-assessment/, and places on forthcoming Risk Assessment courses can be booked at: https://stafftraining.bis.aber.ac.uk/hs/list_courses.php.

Due consideration should also be given during the risk assessment process to the foreign travel advice provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which is available at: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice. This guidance should be regularly consulted in the period leading to the intended travel, as it is expected that staff and students comply with the latest travel advice provided.   

All staff and students travelling overseas for any University-related reason must notify the Finance Department in order to arrange appropriate insurance cover. To do so, please email insurance@aber.ac.uk with details of:

  • Date(s) of travel;
  • Destination(s);
  • Purpose of travel.

Colleagues should also ensure that their Institute or Professional Service Department is aware of their whereabouts for the duration of their travel and that contact can be made if required through predetermined channels.

Useful documents to carry when travelling may include:

  • A copy of your travel cover certificate, which will include the medical emergency number;
  • A copy of your travel itinerary;
  • A copy of the appropriate risk assessment(s);
  • Useful contact numbers which include the University’s 24 hour number (01970 622 999) and FCO Switchboard (020 7008 1500).

May

The Mental Health Foundation’s Mental Health Awareness Week, taking place between 16-22 May, aims to educate the public about mental health issues and promote better mental health practices. The event has encouraged public debates about how factors such as anxiety, sleep deprivation and exercise can impact on mental health.  This year’s theme is relationships, as healthy and supportive relationships reduce the risk of mental ill-health, and strong social networks improve our mental wellbeing.

Further information relating to the Mental Health Foundation’s Mental Health Awareness Week is available at: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week.

The NHS estimates that one in four people will experience a mental health issue at some point during their lives, therefore it’s important to be aware of what we can do to enhance our own mental wellbeing.

The NHS suggests a ‘five steps to mental wellbeing’ approach to boost your mental wellbeing:

  1. Connect – connect with the people around you: family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships.
  2. Be active – you don't have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life.
  3. Keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike?
  4. Give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it's a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks.
  5. Be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.

Student Support Services also provide a range of services and support to students in relation to their mental health wellbeing. It’s important that all staff and students are aware of these services, therefore please take some time to familiarise yourself with the support provisions offered, and the relevant contact details. Details of the support offered by Student Support Services with regards to Mental Health are available at: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/student-support/health/mental-health/. Members of staff can also access the Employee Assistance Programme, the details for which are available at: http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/hr/employment-information/eap-carefirst/.

The University also has a pool of Mental Health First Aiders, who are trained in Mental Health First Aid. They are the first point of call for both students and staff who might be experiencing distress or mental health difficulties, able to sign-post individuals to the appropriate services. Details for the University’s Mental Health First Aiders are available at: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/student-support/health/mental-health/first-aid/.

April

The popular Travel the World Challenge returns this month, running for 7 weeks from Monday 11 April to Friday 27 May. The challenge allows participants to record distances travelled walking, running, swimming and cycling whilst also providing a competitive element for those who wish to compete against colleagues across the University.

As a new feature this year, participants will be able to set themselves target distances and track their progress against their targets. In addition, participants will continue to be able to benefit from a number of promotions at the University Sports Centre and Brynamlwg.

In preparation for the challenge, members of staff are also able to book a ‘Mini MOT’ session, which provides an analysis of a number of performance indicators such as BMI, body fat percentage, lean mass, and muscle strength. Colleagues can book their session by clicking here.

Colleagues will be able to register and start recording their distances travelled from Monday 11th April using the Travel the World website via the following link: https://travel.aber.ac.uk/travel/.

NHS guidance on physical activity guidelines for adults is available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/pages/physical-activity-guidelines-for-adults.aspx.

For further information, including benefits to participating members of staff, please click here or contact Heather on hec7@aber.ac.uk or the Health, Safety and Environment Department on hasstaff@aber.ac.uk.

March

Reporting Near Misses

Incidents occur every day in the workplace which could result in serious injury or damage. Prompt and complete reporting of all incidents and near misses is crucial to ensuring that their underlying causes have been identified and addressed, which can prevent similar incidents from happening again. Colleagues may doubt the value of reporting all near misses, however they should not be dismissed and ignored as examples of “no harm done”.

A near miss can be described as an incident that results in no injury or damage, but which has the potential to do so.

A near miss is a 'close-shave' - for example, a bricklayer dropping a tool from a height, which just missed a person standing underneath, would be classed as a “near-miss” incident. Such an incident may not cause an injury to the person but, under slightly different circumstances, the result may have been very different.

All near misses should be reported as, although they may not have resulted in injury or damage in the first instance, it may do so the next time that it happens.

The accident triangle demonstrates the importance of recording and responding to near misses. It is widely acknowledged that for every 600 near misses, an organisation will experience approximately 30 damages to property, 10 minor injuries and 1 major injury. 

By ensuring that all near misses are reported promptly, proactive measures can be put in place to address any emerging trends or patterns and prevent serious injuries, therefore colleagues are reminded to complete an Incident Report Form for every such occurrence and submit to their local Health and Safety Co-ordinator.

The Incident & Occupational Health Report Form is available at: http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/media/departmental/healthsafetyenvironment/procedurespracticesforms/en-incident+occ-health-rep-new3.pdf

Details of the University’s Incident Reporting Procedure are available at: http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/media/departmental/healthsafetyenvironment/procedurespracticesforms/S002.pdf.

Details of training courses offered by the Health, Safety and Environment Department, including Accident and Incident Reporting, are available at: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/hse/training/.

February

Each February, the British Heart Foundation celebrates Heart Month, which aims to raise awareness of heart disease and its treatments. The event focuses on things you can do to help prevent or manage heart disease such as:

  • Healthy Eating
  • Staying Active
  • Managing your Weight
  • Quitting Smoking
  • Reducing Alcohol Consumption
  • Managing Stress

The British Heart Foundation have launched a number of ‘10 Minute Challenges’, which show how making small changes can make a difference to your cardiovascular health. The Foundations ask that you take 10 minutes each day to read each challenge which explains how minor changes to your daily routine can have a positive cumulative effect.

The types of information available includes:

  • Time to Eat Well – what to eat and what not to eat, tips for changing eating habits, success stories, and fruit and veg consumption tracking.
  • Time to Quit – ways to quit smoking, who to contact for advice and guidance, success stories, and smoking-free days recording chart.
  • Take Time Out – how to lower your stress levels, relaxation exercises, success stories, and a stress-busting activities log.

For more information on the British Heart Foundation’s Heart Month, please go to: https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/preventing-heart-disease/heart-month1.

For information on the Health Fair event on 26th February, please go to: http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/student-support/forthcoming-workshops/health-fair/.

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 and associated events.

For further information on Fit and Well 2016 activities at the Sports Centre and across the University, please click on the following link: http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/media/departmental/sportscentre/newsite/classes/20503-Fit--Well-poster-events-WEB.pdf.

Those participating in this year’s Green Impact Scheme will also be able to complete sections of the workbook by keeping active.

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.

Many people also take the opportunity to ‘detox’ the body during January following the Christmas festivities. One way in which individuals can do so would be to register for Cancer Research UK’s Dryathlon event. The event allows individuals to raise money through sponsorship and fundraising for Cancer Research UK by avoiding alcohol throughout the month of January.

Further information relating to Dryathlon, including how to register, fundraising tips, and a calculator of the financial and calorie benefits of an alcohol free January, are available via the following link: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/find-an-event/charity-challenges/dryathlon.