Firms warned not to ‘sleepwalk’ into health and safety nightmare

Following reports that job vacancies in the UK have hit a record high of 1 million, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has warned employers dealing with staff shortages not to “sleepwalk” into a health and safety nightmare.

The leading professional body for occupational safety and health said that “worker shortages do not and should not mean worker neglect.”

The global professional body is concerned that the drive to maintain productivity levels in understaffed companies could lead to the protection of workers being compromised.

Checklist for worker safety

IOSH has produced a checklist for businesses coping with worker shortages to ensure they are managing both workers’ physical safety and their stress and anxiety.

The checklist includes:

  • Resource planning and ensuring tasks can still be completed safely
  • Policies and procedures and whether they remain viable in the wake of staff shortages
  • Risk assessments and considering whether these should be updated to account for the shortage of workers
  • Safe systems of work / safe operating procedures and whether these account for the shortage of workers
  • Cross training workers to carry out different roles and cover worker shortages
  • Ensuring all safety checks are still fulfilled and that there is limited risk to workers
  • Mental health and wellbeing in the workplace and how this is impacted by a shortage of workers
  • Keeping workers informed about staff shortages and included in discussions and plans

Invest in appropriate training

IOSH’s Ryan Exley said:

“Whether organisations are finding it difficult to recruit, or they’re being challenged financially and need to make cuts in expenditure, it’s vital for their business/organisation and their staff that they ensure those who work for them are kept safe.

“The last thing we want is to see any employer dealing with worker shortages ‘sleepwalking’ into some health and safety nightmare scenario, where ‘getting by’ with a reduced workforce then morphs into a ‘new normal’ that puts their people in long-term danger.

“Continuing to operate with fewer workers may maximise profits but could build up pressure to cut corners and compromise on safety, seriously damaging workers’ mental health in the meantime.”

Meanwhile, IOSH Head of Health and Safety, Ruth Wilkinson, said firms needed to continue to invest in health and safety and appropriate training despite any staffing issues.

She explained:

“There should be no compromise on health and safety, with the prevention of harm and protection of workers being paramount.”

She added that firms must maintain good risk management and continue to: “Provide the appropriate training, such as staff inductions, competency requirements and refreshers, making sure staff are aware of the health and safety arrangements and their responsibilities; good communication and awareness is key.

“It’s always important to ensure there’s a planned and risk-controlled approach to prevention, focused on safe people, safe systems, safe workplaces and safe equipment.”

Health and safety training and support

First Response Training (FRT) is one of the UK’s largest and leading national training providers.

They deliver a wide and diverse range of training for businesses and organisations across all industry sectors and throughout the UK. Their course range includes training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, mental health, food hygiene, specialist safety, health and social care and more.

Their health and safety training is mapped to UK standards and legislation and follows HSE guidelines. Based on a common sense, proportionate approach to workplace safety, training helps learners to understand the true benefits of creating a health and safe environment at work.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“We believe in creating safer working environments with people who care, and know that when workers feel safe, valued and protected, they are likely to be happier and more productive at work. Companies with a strong health and safety ethos can not only reduce workplace accidents and downtime, but also see better staff retention rates and increased employee satisfaction in the future.”

For more information on any of the training courses that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or e-mail info@firstresponsetraining.com.

IOSH shares workplace strategies to prevent suicide

As World Suicide Prevention Day was observed earlier this month, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) shared workplace strategies to support people’s mental health and prevent suicide.

The world’s largest occupational health and safety body said that the Covid-19 pandemic had negatively impacted the mental health and wellbeing of people across the world, “exacerbating what was already a less than ideal situation.”

Studies reveal Covid-19-related suicides

IOSH cited international studies that particularly indicate a significant increase in emergency workers attempting to take their own life.

The professional body said that data compiled by the Laura Hyde Foundation charity revealed that more than 220 nurses attempted suicide in 2020 across England and Wales.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), this is more than the total number of nurses who took their own life over the five years between 2013 and 2017.

IOSH also cited a separate study which used retrospective media reports to identify a total of 26 worldwide Covid-19-related suicides among healthcare professionals.

A third study in Cyprus also suggested that healthcare workers were experiencing post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression as a result of the pandemic.

OSH professionals to identify and help those at risk

IOSH believes that supporting and promoting positive mental health and wellbeing in the workplace should form part of the occupational safety and health (OSH) role. Almost 3 in 4 respondents to the 2021 IOSH member survey agreed with them.

Karen Michell, the Research Programme Lead for Occupational Health at the professional body said it is time for businesses to “raise awareness and upskill where needed,” so that OSH professionals are equipped to “identify those at risk, advocate for them in the workplace and refer them on for supportive help as required.”

She also outlined key preventative strategies that OSH professionals could help implement in the workplace. These include:

  • Changing the culture at work to breakdown the stigma attached to mental health issues and encourage mental health conversations in the workplace
  • Asking colleagues if they are okay
  • Introducing interventions such as increased awareness of suicide and suicidal ideation among workers, training line managers and employees on how to identify the signs and offering access to support services that can help individuals.
  • Identifying a workplace mental health champion, who can confidently be approached for support.
  • Ensuring understanding of high-risk groups, including construction workers, nurses, doctors, police and firefighters.
  • Integrating suicide prevention strategies into existing mental health strategies in the workplace.
  • Ensuring post-ideation intervention and follow up
  • Managing issues at work that could lead to suicide and ideation, such as stress and poor control over psychological stressors.
  • Training mental health first aiders at work

IOSH offers a number of relevant resources for managing mental health and wellbeing at work, including their guide Working well – guidance on promoting health and wellbeing at work.

The National Institute of Mental Health identifies the following warning signs that someone may be at risk of suicide:

  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
  • Talking about feeling empty or hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Taking great risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast
  • Exhibiting extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy
  • Making a plan or investigating ways to kill themselves, such as researching online
  • Talking about feeling great guilt or shame
  • Acting anxious or agitated

The charity Heads Up also has advice on what to do if you notice any of these warning signs:

  • Start a conversation with the person, asking them how they’re feeling or telling them you’re worried about them
  • Ask the person if they are thinking of suicide, to help you understand how they’re feeling
  • Ask if you can contact someone who may be able to help them, such as a trained colleague or a crisis line

Non-stigmatised conversations about mental health

IOSH says that it’s also important for companies and trained mental health champions to have a list of trusted services to which they can refer workers at risk. These could include:

IOSH recently urged employers to consider mental health and wellbeing as employees return to the workplace following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

After a survey suggested that 40% of workers feel less resilient now than they did before the pandemic, and that over half feel under pressure to mask mental health challenges as they return to the workplace, IOSH’s Head of Advice and Practice, Duncan Spencer advised:

“We advocate that open and non-stigmatised conversations are proactively arranged by line managers as part of a strong overall mental health and wellbeing strategy.”

Further mental health training and support for the workplace

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider delivering a wide and diverse range of training courses.

They can provide training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, safeguarding, mental health, health and social care and other specialist subjects.

Their specialist mental health training range includes Understanding Mental HealthMental Health Awareness in the WorkplaceManaging Stress in the WorkplaceAnxiety AwarenessSelf-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

They can also provide externally accredited trainers to deliver Mental Health First Aid England training courses, including Adult, Youth, Champion and Lite versions.

A trainer from FRT says:

“It is important that employers look at what they can do to promote and support positive mental health and wellbeing among their employees.

“People can be extremely scared to mention the word ‘suicide’ but often it is the culture of silence that poses the greatest risk to people’s safety and mental health. It’s important that we are proactive and training can really help people to feel more confident to offer support to those at risk when they need it the most.”

For more information about the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

IOSH urges caution as people return to workplaces

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has urged caution over the gradual return of staff to workplaces.

Speaking after the government confirmed that England would move to the final stage of its gradual easing of Covid-19 lockdown measures, IOSH’s Head of Advice and Practice, Duncan Spencer, warned: “Covid-19 still poses a significant threat, so we urge businesses to ensure they continue to do all they can to protect staff from contracting it.”

Ensure a healthy and safe return to work

As the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, spoke out to encourage workers to head back into the office and other workplaces, IOSH advised that businesses be guided by health and safety professionals.

Mr Smith said that risk assessments formed the “starting point” for a safe return to workplaces, “as they can help to identify proportionate controls to protect workers, clients, consumers and communities.”

Advocating continued caution, he added:

“With Covid risks, this might include a reasonable request for people to continue wearing face masks and observe social distancing measures.

“Employers might wish to emulate other socially conscious organisations by asking workers to test themselves regularly, including supplying them with lateral flow test kits.

“It is crucial that any preventative measures are communicated clearly, thereby empowering people to work safely while this disease remains a significant threat.”

Maintain control measures

The (HSE) has issued advice about workplace controls that businesses should maintain despite the removal of lockdown restrictions and social distancing guidance.

Britain’s health and safety watchdog says that organisations must still control the risks of Covid-19 transmission and should continue to review and update their risk assessment.

The following workplace control measures also remain unchanged:

Employers are also advised that communicating with workers and representatives about health and safety matters helps to reduce risks.

The HSE continues to conduct Covid-19 spot checks and inspections to ensure that businesses across the country are managing the risks.

Consider mental health and wellbeing

As a recent survey suggested that 40% of workers feel less resilient now than they did before the pandemic, and that over half feel under pressure to mask mental health challenges as they return to the workplace, transmission of Covid-19 is not the only risk that employers need to manage.

Indeed, Duncan Smith at IOSH agreed that “employers also need to consider the impact of returning to work on people’s mental health and wellbeing, with the possibility that staff may be deeply concerned about returning.”

He added:

“We advocate that open and non-stigmatised conversations are proactively arranged by line managers as part of a strong overall mental health and wellbeing strategy.

“Organisations need to be safe from Covid and safe from the mental health consequences of this pandemic and the impact it has on people’s lives.”

Further training and support for the workplace

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards in Infection Control, Lone Working, Risk Assessment, Managing and Supervising SafetyManaging Stress in the Workplace and Understanding Mental Health, among many others.

They also offer a portfolio of e-learning training courses, including COVID-19 Infection prevention, identification and control.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“Businesses must ensure they conduct a thorough Covid-19 risk assessment and have effective measures in place for cleaning, hygiene and handwashing, ventilation and protecting vulnerable workers. Continuing measures such as social distancing, working from home and wearing face coverings should also be considered where appropriate.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Charity calls for greater awareness of ‘awful toll’ of asbestos exposure

Charities, campaign groups and other organisations are calling for greater awareness of the dangers of exposure to deadly asbestos fibres.

Tomorrow (Friday 2nd July) is Action Mesothelioma Day, with the annual event being held virtually due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Ahead of the awareness day, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has joined other support groups in urging people to consider what they can do to prevent lives being ruined by asbestos exposure.

The real dangers of asbestos

Currently, more than 2,500 people in Britain die as a result of mesothelioma – a type of cancer caused by past exposure to asbestos – each year.

The use of asbestos was banned in 1999 but it is still present in around half a million buildings in Britain that were constructed before this time, and poses significant risks to anyone who is exposed to it.

The President of IOSH, Jimmy Quinn, explains that Action Mesothelioma Day (Action Meso Day) is an important part of raising awareness and ensuring that people are informed of the risks of asbestos exposure and the steps they can take to protect themselves.

He said:

“Action Meso Day is a very important day in the calendar, providing an opportunity to spread the message about how dangerous asbestos really is and that it still poses a risk today.

“Asbestos may be banned from new buildings and people who are currently suffering with cancers like mesothelioma may have been exposed over 20 years ago, but it is still around us.

“So, the question we are asking today is what can you do to prevent lives being ruined by exposure to asbestos?”

Exposure is still happening

Broadcaster, academic and peritoneal mesothelioma patient, Kate Williams, will be introducing the virtual event on Friday and will host a panel discussion about trials and treatments for the disease.

People taking part in the event are being asked to print out a ‘My Action Board’ and write on it a message about the steps they are taking to prevent diseases like mesothelioma and then sharing this on screen.

Attendees will hear from individuals who suffer with mesothelioma, including Mavis Nye, who was exposed to asbestos fibres through washing her husband Ray’s work clothes.

Mavis said:

“We want people to consider how they can take action to prevent asbestos exposure and the terrible diseases it causes.

“Just because you can’t see asbestos fibres and it doesn’t impact on your life immediately doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously. People are still being exposed and we need to do more to prevent this to reduce the awful toll it takes on people’s lives.”

Awareness and training

IOSH has been working to highlight the dangers of asbestos as part of its long-running No Time to Lose occupational cancer campaign.

The world’s largest occupational health and safety body provides free resources on its campaign website about preventing exposure.

People can share posts about the Action Meso event on social media using the hashtag #ActionMeso.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards in Asbestos Awareness, Handling Hazardous Substances (COSHH) and Managing and Supervising Risk.

A trainer from FRT explains: “Exposure to asbestos fibres can be extremely hazardous, with long lasting and devastating consequences. It’s vitally important that companies understand the laws around the safe management of asbestos and that they take sufficient steps to minimise the risks of exposure and protect people from harm.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Fully inclusive workplaces ‘crucial’ to business success, says IOSH

As Pride Month comes to an end, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has spoken about how fully inclusive workplaces are “crucial to the success of organisations.”

The world’s largest occupational health and safety body have said they believe that making sure that all employees feel safe at work is key to creating fully inclusive workplaces.

In order to ensure that all employees within their own organisation feel psychologically, physically and emotionally safe, IOSH have recently created the new role of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager.

They say this new position will help them to better understand how good occupational safety and health (OSH) can contribute to making the world a more inclusive place where everyone feels safe and able to be themselves at work.

IOSH employ nearly 200 people and have outlined further measures they have in place to ensure inclusivity within their organisation, such as:

  • Ensuring that factors such as age, gender, race, medical conditions, disabilities, sexual orientation and other areas are included within their health, safety and wellbeing strategy, their business rules and their risk assessments;
  • Supporting inclusivity and diversity within health and safety, including addressing both the age and gender bias in the profession by proactively promoting professional development opportunities to everyone who identifies as a woman and young people;
  • Developing specific information and support for staff experiencing the menopause;
  • Having strong, management-led support mechanisms which go further than having mental health first aiders in place and an employee assistance programme. IOSH provide staff with mental health training, wellbeing sessions and promotion of women in leadership;
  • Ensuring they have the flexibility to conduct individual risk assessments and personal evacuation plans for colleagues with disabilities or mental and physical wellbeing issues.

IOSH are also planning to install a gender-neutral toilet in preparation for the return of staff and visitors at their head office following the eventual lifting of lockdown restrictions.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards in Equality and Diversity, Understanding Mental Health and Adult Mental Health First Aid.

A trainer from FRT explains: “All employees deserve to feel safe at work. This extends beyond their physical health and safety to their mental and emotional wellbeing and being able to feel comfortable, secure and valued.

“All businesses should provide Equality and Diversity training for staff members, particularly those in senior positions and those with responsibility for hiring new employees.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Global standard for mental health at work

The first global standard to help employers manage psychosocial hazards at work is due to arrive this summer.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) spoke out earlier this month to welcome the impending arrival of ISO 45003 “as a proactive attempt to make good mental wellbeing part of a company’s culture.”

The world’s leading body in workplace safety and health said the new standard was “eagerly awaited.”

Its arrival will coincide with the continued controlled easing of national lockdown restrictions that have been in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with many businesses once again adapting their practices to enable more face-to-face interaction to resume within the workplace.

A standard to manage psychosocial risks

ISO 45003 will provide employers with practical guidance on how to manage psychosocial hazards for their staff in the workplace.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines psychosocial risk as any risk related to how work is managed and organised, from social aspects to elements of the workplace environment and any hazardous tasks.

It is believed that such psychosocial hazards are present in all kinds of workplaces and every industry sector, and stem from all kinds of employment arrangements.

These psychosocial hazards can result in employees experiencing stress, fatigue or even bullying and harassment. If left unchecked, these can all lead to serious mental health problems.

An extension of workplace health and safety

The new global standard can be seen as an extension of ISO 45001, the established global standard designed to help employers manage the risks of work-related injuries and ill-health and to provide safe and healthy workplaces.

ISO 45003 builds on this purpose to define a psychologically healthy and safe workplace as one that “promotes workers’ psychological wellbeing and actively works to prevent harm to psychological health, including in negligent, reckless or intentional ways.”

Stavroula Leka, Professor of Work Organisation and Wellbeing at the Business School of University College Cork and co-convener of the working group responsible for developing ISO 45003, explained:

“With mounting data that poor work organisation, design and management is associated with poor mental health, absenteeism, presenteeism and human error, it was felt that a specific guidance standard on psychosocial risks was needed.”

She assured businesses that the new standard was “not trying to turn line managers into psychologists,” but rather that it was “about how organisations create a positive psychosocial environment. It’s guidance for designing work in a more preventative way so that psychological ill-health issues don’t arise.”

Meanwhile, IOSH’s Head of Advice and Practice, Duncan Spencer, commented:

“We very much welcome ISO 45003 as a proactive attempt to make good mental wellbeing part of a company’s culture. For too long, organisations have focussed predominantly on treating the symptoms of mental ill health in the workplace; this new standard is an important step towards addressing the causes of it too. Protecting the mental wellbeing of staff is vital in building a resilient and sustainable organisation.”

IOSH’s President, Jimmy Quinn, admitted that there was “still plenty to do to convince employers they need to take a ‘prevention first’ approach to managing mental health and wellbeing but the good news is there’s a growing amount of support out there from bodies such as IOSH, including affordable advice and training, while initiatives like ISO 45003 will undoubtedly help.”

Line managers need support like ISO 45003

In March 2019, a research study carried out by IOSH in partnership with Management Today revealed that two thirds of line managers felt they were not receiving enough support and training to enable them to protect the mental health and wellbeing of their staff.

It also found that 80% of workers feared stigmatisation and being seen as incompetent in their role if they opened up to their line manager about experiencing mental health problems.

The study findings led IOSH to develop a white paper which provided guidance on the role of line managers in promoting positive mental health at work.

Shifting from a reactive approach to mental health at work

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider delivering a wide and diverse range of training courses.

They can provide training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, safeguarding, mental health, health and social care and other specialist subjects.

Their specialist mental health training range includes Understanding Mental Health, Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace, Managing Stress in the Workplace, Anxiety Awareness, Self-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

They can also provide externally accredited trainers to deliver Mental Health First Aid England training courses, including Adult, Youth, Champion and Lite versions.

A trainer from FRT says: “As we hopefully continue to recover from the pandemic and return to some sort of normal, mental health and wellbeing needs to be high on the agenda for everyone.

“The government has promised to improve mental health support as part of their efforts to ‘build back better’ after the pandemic, but employers also need to look at what they can do to promote and support positive mental health and wellbeing among their employees.

“As with most things, prevention is better than cure and it’s important that we really shift from a reactive approach when it comes to protecting our mental health.

“Training can really help with this; our mental health training courses include content on supporting your mental health at all times, and building emotional resilience.”

For more information about the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Occupational safety and health leads Covid recovery

The Director of Professional Services at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has commented on how the occupational safety and health (OSH) profession is leading the way in the recovery from Covid-19.

In a commentary featured in the Hays UK Salary and Recruiting Trends Guide 2021, Vanessa Harwood-Whitcher spoke of how OSH professionals had found themselves “front and centre of organisations’ recovery from Covid-19,” saying that leadership figures are turning to the profession for guidance to protect their workers and the future of their businesses.

As we slowly move out of the third national lockdown and the roadmap has been laid out to restarting the economy, many employers want to know how they can restart their operations safely, prevent virus transmission on their site and protect remote workers.

Ms. Harwood-Whitcher cautioned that OSH professionals must also “ensure their employers don’t lose sight of non-Covid risks.”

She added: “To achieve this, OSH professionals must be attuned to how their organisation is run and how OSH can enable it to sustain its future and achieve strategic goals. They must be able to adapt quickly as new risks emerge and provide senior leaders with assurance.”

This rise in demand for OSH expert advice will continue well into 2021 and beyond, she predicts.

As a result, IOSH aims to ensure there is a “significant pool of high-calibre people who can respond.”

They are hoping to achieve this through their Student Membership Scheme, their IOSH Mentoring platform and their Future Leaders community. These initiatives all help people at different stages to build their OSH career.

There is high demand for relevant health and safety skills, and IOSH is looking to help meet this demand by moving their main health and safety training products online.

Ms. Harwood-Whitcher says such measures are “why I am confident our profession can continue to deliver, to protect the futures of organisations and those who work for them.”

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards in Infection Control, Lone Working, Risk Assessment, Managing Health and Safety, Managing Stress in the Workplace and Understanding Mental Health, among many others.

FRT is also approved to deliver world-renowned IOSH-accredited and certificated training courses such as IOSH Working Safely, IOSH Supervising Safely and IOSH Managing Safely.

They also offer a portfolio of e-learning training courses, including COVID-19 Infection prevention, identification and control.

A trainer from FRT explains: “For too long, health and safety has been considered no more than an administrative burden to employers, but this really highlights how sensible health and safety approaches can really benefit businesses and how they will be instrumental in helping firms build back better after the pandemic.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

IOSH partners with WHO to protect lives and livelihoods

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has partnered with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to provide free online learning to help businesses and workers develop their knowledge around Covid-19.

The two organisations have developed a new course which teaches people about preventing transmission of Covid-19 and managing the risks of returning to work and remote working.

They say it has been created with the aim of “protecting lives and livelihoods.”

The free online training can be accessed by anyone across the world on the WHO online learning platform.

The IOSH and WHO first joined forces last year in order to support businesses, workers and safety and health professionals in managing the risks posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

IOSH’s Chief Executive, Bev Messinger, said they were “delighted” to have worked with the WHO to develop the training modules.

She explained: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the way we work, as well as the way we live.

“Many organisations have opted for remote working, although this has been beneficial for employers and workers, it is something which can create significant risks, not least around mental health.

“Organisations are also planning their recovery and have been doing for some time. This includes how they can allow people back into workplaces in a safe way, ensuring that the risks of Covid-19 transmission are managed. Some organisations, of course, have had to continue operating in workplaces and we have supported them too.”

She said the training modules would “support people in organisatons of all sizes, including small and medium enterprises and start-ups who might otherwise find it challenging to access such training. Across these organisations, they will enhance the way workers are protected and, as a result, protect lives and livelihoods.”

IOSH has created modules on Safer Teleworking and Reopening your workplace safely, while peer reviewing the other training modules.

The Safer teleworking module focuses on issues such as isolation and work-life balance.

The full course includes interactive content and is available on the WHO’s online learning platform.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards in Infection Control, Lone Working, Risk Assessment, Managing Health and Safety, Managing Stress in the Workplace and Understanding Mental Health, among many others.

They also offer a portfolio of e-learning training courses, including COVID-19 Infection prevention, identification and control.

A trainer from FRT explains: “Businesses have lots to consider right now; they must ensure they are keeping people as safe as possible and minimising the risk of transmission of Covid-19, following government guidelines and effectively implementing suitable control measures.

“But they must also think about their employee’s mental health and wellbeing. With the stress and anxiety of the pandemic, the potential isolation of working from home and the strain of national lockdowns, many of their workers may be struggling with low mood, stress, depression or anxiety.

“Health and safety duties for employers are not limited to an employee’s physical health and safety – they also include the responsibility to support their mental health.

“That means it’s not just crucial that employers understand Covid-19, its routes of transmission and how to minimise the risk – as well as other physical safety considerations – they should also understand how they can promote and support positive mental health and wellbeing throughout their organisation.

“A range of training is needed to help foster a truly safe and healthy workforce.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

IOSH urges firms to manage carcinogens during Covid-19

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has urged businesses to ensure they are safely managing carcinogens in their workplaces during Covid-19.

The warning came as the world’s largest professional health and safety body marked the sixth anniversary of their No Time to Lose campaign, aimed at highlighting the causes of occupational cancer and helping businesses take action to protect workers.

Global research estimates that as many as 742,000 people die every year because of cancer caused by their work – this equates to one person every 43 seconds.

In fact, more people die from work-related cancer than from accidents at work.

IOSH says that these deaths are all preventable, and their No Time to Lose campaign has focused on providing businesses with free practical resources to help them manage dangerous carcinogens in the workplace.

Supported by 400 leading organisations from across the world, the campaign targets the four serious carcinogens:

  • Asbestos
  • Silica dust
  • Solar radiation
  • Diesel fumes

They are warning firms not to overlook the dangers of these carcinogens as they concentrate on the risks posed by the current Covid-19 pandemic in the UK.

Their webinar, ‘Managing the risks of workplace carcinogens: what your organisation needs to do now’, was held on 29th October and a panel discussion was chaired by IOSH Council member and NTTL Ambassador Keith Hole. It brought together expert researchers, professional bodies, campaigners and those affected by work-related cancer to talk about why effectively managing the risks from carcinogens is so important.

Many people shared personal stories about how they had contracted deadly cancers through exposure in the workplace, and how Covid-19 has impacted their treatment.

The CEO of the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS), Kevin Bampton, spoke of his organisation’s Breathe Freely campaign. He explained: “Breathe Freely has been running for five years. It works in parallel with IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign to reach the construction and manufacturing industries. The most dangerous exposures are those that you breathe and touch. Our campaign targets leaders to highlight how to prevent exposure at work.

“Breathe Freely is widely available with more resources.”

Meanwhile, a Senior Lecturer in Public Health at Imperial College London, Dr Ian Mudway, revealed some of the key findings from the IOSH-funded Driver Diesel Exposure Mitigation Study (DEMiSt), which is the largest research study of its kind. He said:

“People underestimate the environment that they work in. We live in a chemical soup and it’s a really big issue. Diesel emissions are associated with lung cancer, COPD, heart disease and dementia. People at highest risk are drivers.

“We studied 150 drivers across different sectors in London. We gave them a device to measure black carbon emissions and exposures were really high. Taxi drivers were at the top of the list of exposure.”

IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign has previously won the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Mark of Excellence Award for Best International Campaign.

You can access their award-winning resources – which have been downloaded around 130,000 times – at their website.

Watch a recording of the recent webinar on YouTube.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider. They deliver a wide and diverse range of training programmes for all industry sectors throughout the UK.

Their course portfolio includes training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and many more topics.

FRT can deliver training awards in Asbestos Awareness and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) and they are also approved by IOSH to deliver some of their world-renowned, externally certificated training courses, such as IOSH Working Safely and IOSH Managing Safely.

A trainer from FRT says: “Unlike an accident at work, where failings in health and safety become immediately apparent, it can take years for someone to develop cancer due to past exposures to carcinogens at work.

“This means that many people could be being exposed and working in dangerous environments without really understanding the damage it could be doing to their health.

“It’s so important that anyone who comes into contact with carcinogens in their work is aware of the dangers and is properly equipped to manage and reduce the risks as far as possible. This comes from the top down – businesses operating in industries affected by these risks must do all they can to protect their workers. As IOSH have highlighted, these deaths are preventable – they are certainly not inevitable.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

IOSH calls for government to invest in workplace health and safety

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is calling on the government to invest in occupational safety and health (OSH) as it combats the Covid-19 pandemic.

The world’s largest professional health and safety body has submitted proposals to the UK Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review which frame OSH as key to battling the pandemic and supporting workers, businesses and the economy.

They want important government functions to be better resourced in order to protect lives and livelihoods. These functions include the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Work and Health Unit and the Department of Health and Social Care.

IOSH has also proposed ramping up public health awareness campaigns.

They believe that a renewed focus and significant investment in workplace health and safety is not just key as an immediate response to the pandemic, but for effective work in the future.

They explain that, when OSH is managed well, work can be more productive and positive for employee health and wellbeing.

As evidence, IOSH have cited key statistics from the HSE that reveal that there were 4 million cases of work-related ill-health in 2018-19, resulting in 23.5 million working days being lost.

The annual loss to the economy of work-related ill-health is estimated to top £22 billion.

The statistics also show:

  • 13,000 people lost their lives from past exposures at work
  • 602,000 people suffered from work-related stress, depression and anxiety
  • 498,000 people suffered from work-related musculoskeletal disorders

The concern for IOSH is that the human and socio-economic impact of Covid-19 will only add to these figures.

Mental health at work is a significant and growing concern which will surely only be deepened by the pandemic and resulting economic recession.

It’s currently estimated that around 300,000 people lose their jobs each year in Britain as a result of long-term mental ill health. But, IOSH argues, when employers take action and implement mental health interventions, evidence indicates that they can expect to see an average return of £4.20 for every £1 spent on improvement action.

Despite this, only around 39% of private sector employees – and only 21% in small enterprises – have access to OSH services.

IOSH therefore suggests that small and medium businesses should be incentivised to offer high quality OSH and mental health at work services.

They have also advised that government trade deals, major investments, forex trading,  and infrastructure projects – such as plans for broadband provision, green technologies and housing programmes – should have effective OSH principles embedded at the design and agreement stage, stating that this will help support productivity and reliable delivery.

They believe these measures will help support workers and employers, as well as economic recovery.

IOSH Head of Policy and Regulatory Engagement, Richard Jones, said:

“To help address the current Covid-19 crisis and beyond, we call on the Government and HM Treasury to support the urgent action we have proposed to protect lives and livelihoods and improve workforce health and prosperity.

“We know that good work is good for health and wellbeing and that positive feelings about work have been linked to higher productivity and profitability, as well as customer and worker loyalty, and we’re calling for ongoing health and safety commitment, resourcing and capacity-building.”

First Response Training (FRT) is one of the UK’s largest and leading national training providers.

They deliver a wide and diverse range of training for businesses and organisations across all industry sectors and throughout the UK. Their course range includes training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, mental health, food hygiene, specialist safety, health and social care and more.

Their health and safety training is mapped to UK standards and legislation and follows HSE guidelines. Based on a common sense, proportionate approach to workplace safety, training helps learners to understand the true benefits of creating a health and safe environment at work.

In addition, FRT can also provide accredited training in Mental Health First Aid and also offer a range of other mental health training courses, including Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace, Understanding Mental Health and Anxiety Awareness.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“We believe in creating safer working environments with people who care, and know that when workers feel safe, valued and protected, they are likely to be happier and more productive at work. Companies with a strong health and safety ethos can not only reduce workplace accidents and downtime, but also see better staff retention rates and increased employee satisfaction.”

For more information on any of the training courses that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or e-mail info@firstresponsetraining.com.