Injured and Disabled Employees: Getting them back to work

Injured and Disabled Employees: Getting them back to work

Injured and Disabled Employees: Getting them back to work

TONY MANGAN

Health and Safety Consultant at EazySAFE

Have you ever thought you could break a leg or arm on a skiing holiday or falling down the stairs? How about becoming more disabled? Perhaps a stroke? You could acquire a debilitating progressive disease like Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson. Or maybe this has happened to one of your employees. And then again, not all disabilities are obvious; mental health issues, hearing loss, back pain, heart condition, sight loss, autism…

Or perhaps the best person to do the job happens to have a disability and you want to hire them. Like all employees, people with disabilities can bring a range of skills to the workplace.

Having to replace an injured/disabled member of staff can be costly. You have recruitment and training costs and perhaps a lengthy period for the new hire to come up to speed. Will there be a “fit” with the company? The disabled person may very well be an expert in their work.

So, it may make sense to retain or return your employee to work.

How do you do this?

Think outside the box. There may be an option to deploy the person to other work, or to work part-time, job share or work from home.

Employers are obliged to provide reasonable accommodations to people returning to work. In many cases there are no costs. In many other cases the costs are recouped easily as the company does not have to hire and train a new employee.

Assistive technology may allow the person perform his or her job without difficulty.

For someone with sight loss, programmes using Microsoft already have a facility to change the size of letters, change the background and so-on. These facilities are to be found in “Accessibility”. Many people with sight loss can see to varying degrees.

 

 

 

 

A variety of supports are available to the employer and employee. These include: 

  • Grants to help employers retrain their staff with a disability.
  • Disability Awareness Training grants
  • Grants for adapting or equipping the workplace for staff with a disability
  • Wage subsidy schemes

The most important thing to do is to ask the injured employee. He/she is in the best position to know what is needed to get back to work.

It is very important to conduct a risk assessment for anyone returning to work after an injury or bad health condition. The Health and Safety Authority have produced a guide to inclusive health and safety practices for employees with disabilities (see further information below). These should be developed and included in the Safety Statement.

Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP)

All staff must be trained on emergency evacuation procedures. People with a disability may need their own Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP). This is a dedicated escape plan for individuals who may not be able to reach the specified emergency evacuation point unaided. A temporary PEEP may be required for:

  • Short-term injuries (e.g. a broken leg).
  • Temporary medical conditions.
  • Those in the latter stages of pregnancy.

Wheelchair users may be assisted down the stairs by two, three or four people. An evacuation chair may also be used. Those with sight or hearing loss may have a “buddy” assigned, who alerts the person when the fire alarm is activated and ensures that person exits the building safely. Also, for those with difficulty hearing, electronic devices are available which activate a vibrating pager when the fire alarm sounds. Visual alarm systems may be another solution. More information may be obtained by contacting national bodies representing people with particular disabilities (see below).

Benefits to Employees

Returning to work for employees has many benefits-it improves their finances, enhances physical health, they regain social interaction and gains confidence.

In general, staff on Invalidity Pension and Illness Benefit will not retain these payments when they return to work. Staff on Partial Capacity Benefit can retain their benefit when they resume working. Those on Disability Allowance may retain some of their payment under particular circumstances.

What the Law Says…

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 states that employers must “ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work for all employees”. Regulation 25 of the General Application Regulations-Employees with Disabilities- states that “An employer shall ensure that places of work, where necessary, are organised to take account of persons at work with disabilities, in particular as regards doors, passageways, staircases, showers, washbasins, lavatories and workstations used or occupied directly by those persons”.

Under the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015, employers are obliged to take appropriate measures-‘reasonable accommodation’- (unless the costs of doing so are disproportionate) to enable people with disabilities to have access to employment, to participate or advance in  employment and to undergo training. Such measures may include training or adaptations to the workplace, equipment or pattern of working time. It also outlaws discrimination on grounds of disability in employment, including training and recruitment. However it also states that an employer is not obliged to recruit or retain a person who is not fully competent or capable of doing the job.

Under the Disability Act 2005, public bodies such as local authorities, the civil service, the HSE etc must reserve 3% of jobs for people with a disability.

Further information

AHEAD (Association for Higher Education Access and Disability) http://www.ahead.ie/graduate

Assistive technology: Citizens Information Board- http://www.assistireland.ie/eng/

Deaf or hearing loss: https://www.chime.ie

Employability: https://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/EmployAbility-Service.aspx#

Employees with Disabilities (HSA Publication):

https://www.hsa.ie/eng/Publications_and_Forms/Publications/Safety_and_Health_Management/Employees_with_disabilities1.pdf

Employers Disability Information Service: http://www.employerdisabilityinfo.ie/

Health and Safety Authority: https://www.hsa.ie/

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission: http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/justice/law_and_rights/irish_human_rights_commission.html

National Council for the Blind of Ireland.  https://www.ncbi.ie

For help with planning or organising your safety goals, get in touch here

Challenging our Beliefs for Better Workplace Relationships

Challenging our Beliefs for Better Workplace Relationships

Challenging Our Beliefs

How Our Perspectives Can Damage Workplace Relationships

ALAN WHITE

Wellness Consultant at EazySAFE

To promote a culture of wellbeing in the workplace, relationships must be at its core. Developing strong, positive relationships with colleagues not only creates a positive working environment but will also increase flow and efficiency of work. Employees model the behaviour of leaders in the organisation so it’s important that they develop self-awareness of how they react and interact with the people they work with.

Yoga Session

“We see the world not as it is, but as we are”

STEPHEN COVEY

Our beliefs and perspectives are formed over our lifetime, through all of the learning and experiences we have, both positive and negative. If we are unaware of our beliefs and perspectives and how they shape how we interact with the world around us, we are more likely to bring our biases into our relationships. These biases are formed from positive and negative interactions we experience over time. For example if we have had negative experiences of authority figures in the past, we tend to believe that all experiences with people in authority will be negative.

The reality is that we are all hardwired to see the negative in people and situations before we see the positive. This is known as the negativity bias and is a primal survival mechanism we are all born with. It is the part of our brains that helps us to identify threat and danger quickly so that we can respond accordingly to any threat either real or perceived. These days thankfully most threats that we sense are perceived through our thinking patterns and negativity bias.

This is why becoming self-aware is key to developing positive relationships. If we naturally see the negative in people and situations, this tends to lead to criticism, judging and complaining about the people around us. We have all experienced workplaces where this reaction has taken hold and become toxic. Relationships are poor and stress levels are high. People working in these conditions will find it very difficult to break the cycle of negativity as they are essentially in survival mode. Once there, it’s very difficult to allow subjectivity form part of our perspective.

To counteract this and strive to develop positive relationships, we must challenge ourselves to pause and observe our reactions to people and situations we encounter every day. This pause will allow us to choose to respond more positively and not rush to quick negative conclusions and reactions. The most skilled people at developing relationships, often take a deep breath before responding. These couple of seconds allow the space to think rather than react, which is very important especially when dealing with challenging situations.

To put this into practice requires some dedication and discipline, but when it comes to promoting a culture of wellbeing in your organisation the reward will far outweigh the cost. One of the best ways to begin to do this is to reflect on our interactions and actions on a regular basis. Instead of allowing our impulsive thinking lead us, which is usually made up of criticism and complaining, reflection means looking inward and asking ourselves if we could have handled some of the interactions we had in a better way. Developing this practice over time will help to challenge limiting beliefs and perspectives and develop a more purposeful approach to personal and professional interactions.

Workplace stress is becoming more and more prevalent, so it is not surprising that arming your staff to handle both good and bad stress will help foster a happier and healthy workplace. Look at online courses for training your employees, foster open dialogue with colleagues and promote good work/life balance practices

For more advice on creating cultures where wellness of workers is at the forefront, please get in touch

Download our free Workplace Stress Poster here

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Winter Wellness for Employees

Winter Wellness for Employees

Winter Wellness for Employees

GEMMA COLLINS DOYLE

Health and Safety Consultant at EazySAFE

Well, it’s that time of the year again, where you may hear a chorus of sniffles and coughs as you walk through any workplace (and if you are like me, hold your breath and hope you don’t catch what they have!). I don’t know any person that enjoys being sick.. We all want to be well and healthy. Don’t they say, its not until you are sick that you really value your health? Don’t wait until you are in that situation, take responsibility for your health right now and be ready for whatever this winter season throws at you!

Unhappy stressed man at work
Workplace stress can effect home life and relationships

Did you know that December, January and February are the most common months for people to call in sick? The good news is, you still have time to put a plan together!

Employee suffering workplace stress

As an employer, you want a happy, healthy workforce and I am pretty sure you don’t like getting those 9am phone calls when one or more of your employees is ringing in sick with the dreaded flu or some other winter virus.

There is no magic cure that I can sell you to keep every single one of your employees healthy this winter season! However, having a plan that can help reduce absenteeism in your workplace over the winter season, can help keep productivity up and absenteeism down.

Did you know that December, January and February are the most common months for people to call in sick? The good news is, you still have time to put a plan together!

Some ideas for your Winter Wellness programme for your workplace

Wash your hands! – Such a simple thing right? Wash them and wash them right! A quick rinse under the cold tap is just not going to cover it, especially during the winter season, when there are so many things going around! A reminder to all employees about the importance of this would do no harm. Maybe some posters in the washrooms?

Hand Sanitisers – We see them in most public buildings now. How about installing a few of these in some of your main areas? Wall mounted dispensers in areas like the canteen, by the toilet or exit doors are perfect locations for stopping those germs. Another idea may be to install UVC hand dryers in the toilets. The blue light emitted along with the warm air is ultraviolet rays, which eliminate microbial organisms that can grow on wet surfaces.

Get moving! – We all know how hard it can be to motivate ourselves and exercise, especially this time of the year. In the winter, adults are more likely to sit for long periods of time than they are in the summer. Encourage employees to get outside during lunch for a quick walk. Maybe you could run a competition where employees can submit their number of steps.

Be Safe be Seen! – Make sure to promote be safe, be seen for those people who are taking part in outdoor exercise. Educate employees about how important it is be seen on these dark mornings and evenings. Encourage them to wear bright clothing and hi visibility vests, sticking to well lit footpaths and roads and where possible exercising with friends.

Healthy Eating – Well, this should be all year round, but, just like the exercise, when the nights are long and cold, its much easier to grab something unhealthy and comforting rather than something nutritious and healthy! Eating fruit and veg is a great way to build up your immune system, in particular, did you know that citrus fruits are rich in Vitamin C, which boosts your natural defences. Make it easy for your empoyees during work time, by providing them with healthy options in the employee canteen (if you have one) How about offering a healthy fruit salad for lunch or a smoothie option for breakfast? Talk to your service provider, I am sure they will have lots of great ideas.

Winter Blues – Winter blues are real. Many people suffer this time of the year with the lack of daylight. SAD stands for Seasonally Adjusted Disorder and it is most common with these months of the year. Dark mornings and dark evenings can really take its toll on employees. Your body clock can get a bit out of balance and this in turn can affect your sleeping patterns and then your energy levels, which can then affect your earing habits. The experts claim that we should have a least 20 minutes of sunlight every day as it will help the mood balancing hormones and stimulate the brain (that’s why the lunchtime walk is a good idea) As its not always possible to get out (think rain!), then you could consider investing in a SAD lamp for your workplace. For employees who may already be struggling with their mental health, this time of the year can be especially difficult. Make sure these employees get the support they need and ensure all employees have access to your EAP scheme if you have one.

It’s not all doom and gloom though! Once your health and wellness are looked after there are plenty of things to look forward to and enjoy around this time of the year. Like cosy socks after a rainy walk, a chocolatey hot chocolate on a icy day, blue skies and winter sun! Stay safe, stay well and make the most out of these winter months.

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Risks to the Long-Term Health of Irish Workers

Risks to the Long-Term Health of Irish Workers

Risks to the Long-Term Health of Irish Workers

TONY MANGAN

Health and Safety Consultant at EazySAFE

Health can be defined as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. An occupational disease, meanwhile, is a disease where work may be a contributory factor. 

In 2013, an estimated 55,000 workers in Ireland suffered from a work‐related illness.

Musculoskeletal and stress related ill health are the biggest risks to workers health and safety. About half of all illnesses are as a result of musculoskeletal injury, while 18% are stress related. Workers suffering from these illnesses are absent for longer than for other illnesses.

It has also been found that:

  • Musculoskeletal injury is more prevalent in construction, farming and healthcare.
  • Shift workers face a greater risk of both musculoskeletal injury and stress-related illness.
  • Women have a higher risk of work‐related stress illnesses.
  • The risk of work‐related stress illness is highest among workers aged 35–54 years. Younger employees cope better with stress.
  • The risk of stress related illness is the highest for workers in the education sector followed by those in health, public administration, transport and other services.

 

Apart from Musculoskeletal and stress related ill health, the biggest contributors are:

Skin

Contact dermatitis is the most common occupational skin disease in the UK and Ireland. It is an inflammation of the skin as a result of contact with detergents, chemicals, food, or extended periods in water. There are two types:

  • Irritant contact dermatitis which is caused by things that dry out the skin, such as detergents and water.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis is when a person develops an allergy to something they are in contact with (a sensitiser). This sensitiser causes the body’s immune system to over-react. Once someone has become sensitised, even a very small amount of the sensitiser will trigger a reaction. Common sensitisers include chemicals in cement, some hair products and some foods.

Respiratory

Work-related respiratory conditions are caused or made worse by breathing in substances that damage the lungs. The main respiratory diseases are occupational asthma, asbestos and asbestos related diseases.

Asbestos is now banned in the European Union so most cases of asbestos related illness are as a result of exposure many years ago. New cases mainly relate to exposure of asbestos in older buildings.

Hearing

Noise induced hearing loss is the damage caused to ears as a result of excessive noise. It can be temporary or permanent, but it is always irreversible. Hearing loss is usually gradual. Exposure to noise may also cause tinnitus, a ringing in the ear. Regulations (2007) set down the minimum requirements for protection of workers from the effects of noise.

The Main Occupational Diseases Affecting Workers in Ireland

Disease entry method

Occupational Disease/Illness Outcomes

Employees at Risk

Skin

Contact dermatitis

Catering

Food processing

Healthcare

Hairdressing

Beauty industry

Construction

 

Respiratory

Occupational asthma

Foam manufacturing (exposure to isocyanates)

Bakery workers

Medical staff (latex)

Hairdressers (hair dyes)

Manufacturing

Welders

Vehicle paint sprayers

Asbestos related diseases

Construction workers

Hearing

Tinnitus

Hearing loss

Construction workers

Heavy equipment operators

Staff working in music and entertainment venues

 

All businesses are different. Larger companies may have more resources to reduce these risks, although small companies have implemented successful measures to improve their staff’s health. As in everything related to Health and Safety, the “Hierarchy of Controls” should be used to find the best solutions.

Hierarchy of Controls (HSA)

Hierarchy of Controls (Health and Safety Authority)

 

High quality risk assessments are a crucial first step to identify problems, and discover root causes.

Always remember, there are many more ways to keep employees engaged and aware of their risks and how to minimise them, including toolbox talks, online training, classroom training, effective communication, bulletin boards, newsletters and so on.

For help with planning or organising your safety goals, get in touch here

Understanding Safety: Workers in Sensitive Risk Groups

Understanding Safety: Workers in Sensitive Risk Groups

Understanding Safety: Workers in Sensitive Risk Groups

ANDY TILLEARD

Health and Safety Consultant at EazySAFE

There are myriad environments that people work in on a day to day basis in which they are able to work without undue problems, what most of us would consider to be a normal working regime. Although there are some more hazardous risk management issues that may need to be assessed and managed, such as working with chemicals, working in a confined space or a job with a manual handling element, in general these can be safely managed for the ordinary person. However, there are groups of people that are in the workplace that need to be considered as being outside of the normal context, people who present with unique, but well recognised risks that need to be specifically considered and managed from a risk perspective; these are what we generally call sensitive risk groups. For our discussions, these groups can be thought of as:

 

  • Children and young persons.
  • Pregnant, breastfeeding and post-natal employees.
  • Night and shift workers.

The Legal Framework

The legal framework that requires an employer to have arrangements in place for the effective management of sensitive risk groups is based upon the general requirements of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005, specifically in Section 8 of Part 2, Chapter 1 – General Duties. There are a number of clauses in this section which are relevant to all workers, including sensitive risk groups but the only explicit reference to sensitive groups in the 2005 Act is in section 10 which relates to instruction, training and the supervision of employees. Sub-clause 10(d)(i) states “… in the case of— (i)   a class or classes of particularly sensitive employees to whom any of the relevant statutory provisions apply…the employees concerned are protected against the dangers that specifically affect them” 1

The General Application regulations address in more detail the specific requirements for the three specified risk groups in Part 6 – Sensitive Risk Groups, with each risk group being given a dedicated chapter detailing their specific arrangement’s.

In addition, the protection of children and young persons also includes reference to Schedule 7 in the General Application regulations as a part of the risk assessment process. This is important because Part A which addresses a list of agents, processes and Part B, which addresses work processes and activities must be considered for this risk group outside of any other general workplace risk assessment that an employer may undertake.

For the protection of pregnant, post-natal and breastfeeding employees there is also a reference to Schedule 8 in the regulations, which again lists agents, processes and working conditions which must be taken into consideration during the risk assessment process for this risk group. There is also a stated requirement for this risk group so that “An employer shall ensure that pregnant, postnatal and breastfeeding employees are able to lie down to rest in appropriate conditions.” as stated in Part 2, Section 24 of the General Application regulations. 2

The General Requirements

For all three sensitive risk groups, the risk assessment process is critical and all three of these groups have a specific regulatory requirement to risk assess working arrangements, including night and shift workers.

Protection of Children and Young Persons

What is the definition of a child and young person according to the regulations? A child is younger than 16 years of age whilst a young person is considered to be older that 16 years but younger than 18 years of age. For this risk group, the following general criteria apply:

For this sensitive risk group, employers must risk assess:

  • Issues where a lack of experience, awareness and maturity could introduce risk.
  • Issues relating to harmful exposure to chemical and biological agents and related work processes as stated in Schedule 7 of the regulations.
  • Take into consideration, preventative and protection measures as stated in Section 18 of the 2005 Act.

Employers must also inform young persons and children of the protective and preventative measures, including the parents or guardian of children and any risk assessment must address the issues stated in Schedule 7. In addition, there is a requirement to conduct health surveillance where this has been identified as a requirement.

Protection of Pregnant, Post Natal and Breastfeeding Employees

It is obvious that women in this risk group must be looked after by the employer.  In all instances, the employer must be informed in writing by any pregnant employee as soon as is practicable. If this is not done, the specific requirements of this particular chapter do not apply so this is an important step for female employees to take.

The following issues must be considered by the employer after notification for this sensitive risk group:

  • Risk assess and mitigate any exposure to the individual to any activity agent or process stated in Schedule 8 in parts A, B and C.
  • Avoid any risk to the safety and health of the employee by changing working hours or work activities where protective and preventative measures are not effective.
  • Night work should be avoided when stated by a medical practitioner for pregnant and post-natal employees.
  • Employers to provide information on any risk assessment and relevant arrangements to protect pregnant, post-natal and breast-feeding women.

Night Work and Shift Work

This type of work routine is not a normal schedule for most people and night and shift work has been recognised that this type of work regime can have a detrimental impact on people in terms of mental health, stress and on sleep patterns. In addition, these routines are often in conflict with normal family routines which can cause disruption to normal family life.

The following issues must be considered by the employer for this sensitive risk group:

  • Risk assess whether night work or shift work presents any particular hazards, including mental strain and then to take the required protective and preventative controls to manage identified risks.
  • Undertake initial and ongoing assessments (free to the worker) by a medical practitioner to assess and monitor a person’s health for night and shift work. Provide the results of these assessments to the employee.
Management Commitment to EHS

Sensitive risk groups by their nature present a different set of challenges for both employers and employees, this is why the risk assessment process is so critical when dealing with these issues. It is vital that employers recognise that the current regulations do indeed have quite detailed information that must be taken into consideration, since ignoring or omitting these hazards from an assessment process can negatively impact people within these risk groups. It also illustrates why employees also need to be informed about their own duties and responsibilities when people transition into and out of these risk groups (excepting young people of course). This is especially important when employers have to manage young people and children in the workplace.

If you need advice on what steps you can take to safeguard against risk and protect your workers, please get in touch.

 

Notes

1 – Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005, Part 2, General Duties. Section 10(d)(i)

2 – Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007, as amended

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Hidden Dangers – Office Safety

Hidden Dangers – Office Safety

Hidden Dangers – Office Safety
GEMMA COLLINS DOYLE
Health and Safety Consultant at EazySAFE

The office is not the first place you would think of when you think of safety at work! Office places would not usually fall into the high-risk category, but this does not mean that no hazards exist here. Let’s take a closer look. A job where most work tasks are carried out while sitting in a chair in a climate-controlled office would, of course, seem less hazardous than an employee working on a building site, for example. However, surprisingly enough, several hidden or less known hazards can be present in an office setting. Once you start taking a closer look, you will see that this area does indeed deserve attention!

Emergency situation on aircraft
Hotel Emergency Exits
“Just because you spend your days in an office instead of a warehouse or manufacturing area, it does not mean that you are completely protected from hazards and potential on the job injuries”

Slips, Trips and Falls

This type of office injury is by far the most common type of injury reported. There are several things that can be done to reduce these types of accidents, but of course, employee awareness is always important too.

  • Housekeeping: An obvious suggestion for sure, but such a common issue within many companies, especially in medium to small sized organisations. It is an easy one to overlook and may not even be noticed by management or the employees, but to an outsider, it is usually quite obvious! Keeping walkways clear, working spaces tidy and ensuring cables are tied up and kept out of harm’s way will reduce the number of slips, trips and falls. Some companies have a no flip flop/sandals policy and also insist that employees hold the handrail on the staircases.
  • Floor surface: Frayed carpets, loose floor tiles, wet surfaces can all contribute to an unnecessary slip. Ensure flooring is maintained, repaired and slips are reported and cleaned up.
  • Falls from height: Hands up who else has stood on a chair with wheels to reach something at height? I bet we all have! Not the safest thing to do at all! Never use office chairs to reach something high. Ensure there is a kick stool or something suitable to use.

Ergonomic Injuries

Without a doubt, the most prevalent injuries that office workers are up against is related to ergonomics. Most workers spend most of their working day sitting at their desk and working on a computer. They are prone to strains and other injuries related to posture and repetitive movement. Sometimes these injuries take years to manifest.  It can be difficult to detect these types of injuries and hard to find treat if not managed.

  • A VDU/DSE assessment: will help to recognise any hazards and in turn, rectify them so that the risk can be eliminated. Many companies are now investing in ergonomic desks which can be height adjusted so that employees can also stand while working!
  • Lighting: An important aspect for any employee who is working at a desk, using a computer or carrying out administration duties.
  • Ergonomic design: During a VDU assessment this aspect will be looked at closely. It’s important to look at the whole set up, including the desk, the chair, where items are located, what extra items may be needed as footrests and document holders.

A VDU Assessment of an employee’s workstation will cover all of these (and more) while creating an action list that should be easy to follow. Workstation Safety relies on employee awareness and an understanding of why it is important.

Manual Handling

All office areas will include manual handling duties. Inappropriate manual handling task commonly performed in offices, include moving and lifting paper boxes, carrying heavy file folders, books or documents, moving furniture and equipment, as well as prolonged and intense repetitive tasks, such as keyboard or mouse use. Musculoskeletal disorders: these disorders account for nearly 45% of all work-related injuries.

  • Equipment: Minimising the need for manual handling should be your first port of call. Is there equipment that can be used to reduce or remove lifting/pushing/pulling?
  • Training: All staff should be trained in manual handling in accordance with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work, (General Applications) Regulations 2007, Chapter 4 of Part 2.

Fire Safety

With the number of electrical devices, combustible materials and the fact that a large number of people are likely to work in an office area, fire safety is of utmost importance.

  • Electrical Safety: Ensure that all items with a plug are PAT tested (Portable Appliance Test). The regulations on Portable Appliance Testing in Ireland can be found in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations, SI 299, 2007. The regulation directs employers to ensure that all portable equipment used in their place of work is periodically inspected and tested by a competent person
  • Training: All employees should be trained in Fire Safety, which should include basic knowledge regarding: evacuation, fire extinguishers, escape routes, fire doors etc.
  • Alarms/Fire Extinguishers: All fire safety equipment should be tested and maintained on a regular basis or in accordance with manufactures recommendations.

Work Related Stress

Bet you were wondering when I was going to get to this hot topic! So many people I meet and talk to seem to be under a lot of pressure in their work environment. In fact, it seems to be the norm these days. Whilst a little bit of stress at work is normal, it is not normal, nor acceptable to be in a constant state of stress at work. For example, stress can help people complete their tasks more efficiently and accomplish goals, but it should never be at the cost of their health.

  • Negative side effects: Anxiety, irritability, depression, sleeping issues, eating disorders, fatigue, lack of concentration, loss of interested in work. These are all symptoms of work-related stress.
  • Low productivity: All the above symptoms contribute to low productivity, which of course will lead to poor morale and unhappy working atmosphere for more than just the employee that is affected.
  • Causes: Stress can be caused by poor work organization, being over/under worked, lack of support from the employer/colleagues, lack of respect, bullying and many other factors. Many of these may be unseen, but should not be avoided when concerning occupational health and safety.
  • After hours work: In addition to certain disorders such as fatigue, the risks of certain hazards may be increased when working after hours. This is due to the inability to get immediate assistance, whether from colleagues or supervisors.
As you can see, office areas still need to be assessed when it comes to Health and Safety. Just because you spend your days in an office instead of a warehouse or manufacturing area, it does not mean that you are completely protected from hazards and potential on the job injuries.  Offices are filled with people, and people are prone to mistakes that can lead to minor or severe accidents. Carry out your office risk assessments and take action!

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