Apr 01

How Health and Safety Affects Your Choice of Office Furniture

Employers have a duty to make sure that the health and safety of their workers is protected while in the work place. This is enshrined in various regulations starting with the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. This includes health and safety in an office environment, and includes the choice of office furniture such as computer desks and metal, plastic or wooden office chairs.

British Standards

A number of British Standards relate to office furniture, and it is important to ensure that all office furniture complies with these standards in order to ensure that the health and safety of employees is properly cared for. There are a range of ergonomic standards to be considered in order to provide proper postural care to employees seated in office chairs. There are also standards for size of office chairs and office desks, layout of workstations, and performance of materials.

There are also a number of quality standards relating to office furniture. These cover a range of aspects of office furniture materials and constructions. Some of the factors covered are loadbearing capacity for office chairs, fire resistance, and upholstery quality.

Complying with these standards is usually as simple as ensuring you buy items that have been specifically manufactured for use as office furniture. In order to comply with regulations and ensure that all items are fit for purpose, these should be manufactured to meet at least the minimum standards required by law. However, it is often best to buy good-quality items from a reputable supplier. These are likely to be a little more expensive, but they will probably exceed the minimum standards and provide better care for the health and safety of employees as well as offering a longer lifespan.

Office Chairs

Office chairs are probably the items of office furniture that need the most consideration from a health and safety point of view. Employees who have to spend some or all of their time sitting down – which is almost universally true in an office environment – are entitled to office chairs that meet certain standards of comfort and practicality.
This is because sitting for long periods can cause a range of problems if adequate precautions are not taken, and most of these precautions relate to seating choice. Among the problems that can result from extended periods of sitting down are aches in the back, neck or shoulders, compression of the spine and straining of muscles and ligaments.

In order to avert these problems, employees are entitled to office chairs that conform to the ergonomic specifications mentioned above as well as offering a number of specific features aimed at providing comfort and a healthy posture. The key features to consider are adjustable height and back rests. However, wheels and swivelling are also frequently important, especially when a lot of mobility or a large workstation is involved.
Of course, these regulations do not necessarily apply to anybody who will sit down at any point in their working day. Rather, they are aimed at those who will spend a prolonged period sitting down during their working day. For legal purposes, this is defined as those who will spend two hours in total during their working day in a seated position, or one hour in a single, continuous stretch.

Office Desks

Office desks and workstations are not so much of a consideration when choosing office furniture as chairs, but there are still some important things to consider. For example, there are regulations concerning the minimum dimensions of office desks. There are also regulations and requirements relating to the layout of office desks and workstations, particularly computer desks where a visual display is involved as this will affect seating positions.

As well as meeting the minimum dimensions required by law, an office desk must also be large enough to be laid out in an appropriate way that will not present a risk either through crowding or inappropriate sitting positions. For example, computer desks may need to be larger if a multi-display setup is required. Computer desks will also have to either be large enough to contain the main body of the computer, or include a facility to house it beneath the main desk without interfering with seating or presenting a tripping hazard.

Many of the regulations surrounding office desks relate to these issues of layout, particularly when visual displays are involved as in the case of computer desks. As such, it is generally a good idea to choose an office desk that has a good-sized surface and offers plenty of storage space. This will reduce the issue to one of common sense, and make it easy to find a suitable layout with plenty of options available for arranging computers, screens and other items.

Jun 22

CHANGES TO NON-LICENSABLE ASBESTOS WORK IMMINENT?

The HSE has been notified by the EU that its interpretation of the European Directive 2209/148/EC fails to adequately protect workers from the risks of exposure to asbestos.

The issue is associated with the current exemption from licensing, medical examination and exposure monitoring requirements as detailed in the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

Currently, Regulation 8 of CAR 2006 states that all work with asbestos will require a licence (with all of the associated medical and exposure monitoring requirements) except for certain work exempted under Regulation 3(2). This regulation exempts work with asbestos where the exposure to asbestos is sporadic and of low-intensity and where the risk assessment has concluded that the Control Limit for asbestos fibres in air (currently 0.1 fibres per cubic centimetre averaged over a 4-hour period) will not be exceeded AND where the work falls into one of the following four categories:

  1. Short, non-continuous maintenance activities (the EU directive states that such activities should be performed only on non-friable materials);
  2. Removal of materials in which the asbestos fibres are firmly linked in a matrix (the EU directive goes further by stating that this removal must be carried out without deterioration of non-degraded materials);
  3. Encapsulation or sealing of asbestos-containing materials which are in good condition;
  4. Air monitoring and control, and the collection of samples to ascertain whether a specific material contains asbestos.

Assuming that the HSE will eventually comply with the EU’s ruling, the implications will be quite far-reaching and will likely result in:

  • No work being allowed on friable materials such as asbestos insulation, sprayed coatings, insulating board or rope (when in a frayed or dried-out condition) without a licence. This will rule out any work with asbestos insulating board where certain activities are currently permissible under the “one-hour rule”.
  • No removal of asbestos materials where the asbestos fibres are “well-bonded in a matrix” where this will involve deterioration of non-degraded materials. This will rule out any work without a licence with cement where breakage of the material will be required or is likely to result. Presumably, this will also rule out any removal of textured coatings as it is impossible to remove these without further “degradation” of the material.

Exposure to asbestos fibres can lead to the development of asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma and there would appear to be no threshold of exposure below which there is zero risk of such diseases occurring. The risk does however vary with dose, even though this dose:response relationship is not so clear when considering the onset of mesothelioma (as opposed to asbestosis and even lung cancer). How then can we continue to assume that sporadic exposure to asbestos is acceptable?

This whole issue highlights the inherent problem of conducting any work on asbestos without invoking all of the health precautions and associated procedures necessary were the work to be considered licensable.

Minor works involving ACMs will continue to be required and it is probably not feasible to contract out all such work to an asbestos licensed contractor. However, these non-licensed tasks must be controlled vigorously and with as must vigil as with licensed works – after all there is more chance of something going wrong when working without an enclosure.

In many people’s opinion, the asbestos removal should NEVER be permitted without a licence. There is even an HSG 210 task sheet which permits the removal of a single, screwed on or nailed-on panel of asbestos insulating board! The removal of a nailed-on AIB panel poses a very high risk of exposure to fibre should any breakage occur! There is another task sheet which permits the removal of a single AIB ceiling tile using a mini-enclosure. How can this enclosure be erected, the task completed and the enclosure dismantled within the one hour permitted under the Regulation 3(2) short, non-continuous maintenance work exemption?

Work with asbestos cement has traditionally always been exempt from licensing requirements and yet the HSE publication HSG 189/2, “Working with Asbestos Cement” lists several likely fibre exposure levels well in excess of the current Control Limit – how then can such works be justified as being non-licensable when the Regulation 3(2) exemption does not apply if there is a chance of the Control Limit being exceeded?

There are too many discrepancies, inconsistencies and grey areas in current UK asbestos legislation, and too many areas which require greater clarification.

How often must a task be repeated before sporadic exposure becomes regular exposure?

Can the dismantling and removal of an asbestos garage roof be regarded as sporadic exposure? What about a workshop roof… or a factory roof? What if the same workers go on to do a similar job the next day?

We await the response of the HSE with interest.

Alexander Nicoll CCP (Asb.), AFOH
Senior Consultant, Asbestos Consultants to the Environment Ltd

May 19

In what material can you find asbestos?

  • Asbestos cement products
  • Textured coatings
  • Floor tiles, textiles and composites
  • Sprayed coatings on ceilings, walls and beams/columns
  • Asbestos insulating board
  • Lagging
  • Loose asbestos in ceiling or floor cavity

For more information about asbestos pelase visit  Health and Safety Executive website.

Mar 31

Why is asbestos dangerous?

Asbestosfibres are present in the environment in UK as a result people are exposed to very low levels of fibres. Nevertheless, a key cause in the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease is the total number of fibres breathed in. Breathing in high levels of asbestos fibres or working on or close to damaged asbestos-containing materials (ACM), which may be many hundreds of times that of environmental levels could boost your chances of getting an asbestos-related disease.

When these fibres are inhaled they can cause serious diseases which are responsible for around four thousand deaths a year.

There are four main diseases caused by asbestos:

  1. Mesothelioma (which is always deadly)
  2. Lung cancer (almost always deadly)
  3. Asbestosis (not always deadly, but it can be very devastating)
  4. Diffuse pleural thickening (not deadly)

Remember, these diseases will not affect you right away but later on in life, therefore there is a need for you to protect yourself and other now to prevent anybody contracting an asbestos-related disease.

Furthermore It is important to remember that those who smoke and are also exposed to asbestos fibres are at a much higher risk of developing lung cancer.

Mar 20

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

I am creating new website in relation to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) , for more information about new website please send me an email.

Dec 15

Stress

Stress at work

The most common causes of long term sickness is stress, one in five people suffers from workplace stress. HSE report (HSE management Standard and stress-related work outcomes) estimate between year 2007 and 2008 13.5 million working days were lost due to stress related absence.

Here is some of the possible cause of stress in the workplace

Bad working environment, too much responsibility, long hours, heavy workload

Poor communication, not being involve with decision making

Skill not matching which are needed for the job

More detail on cause of stress also you can find out if you are stresses by your job by doing short assessment at the NHS site.

In the following video a expert describe  what is stress ,the common cause of stress and is symptoms.

Dec 15

Noise at work

In Great Britain alone more than 1 million employees are in working in condition which can puts their hearing at risk.

This video explain how the excessive noise can damage inside your ear

If you are working in workplace where the noise is intrusive or you need to raise your voice for normal conversation or if you are using noisy power tools or you working in noise industry or if you have muffled hearing after work than you are at risk.

For more information regarding symptoms and how to protect your self please visit HSE web or click here

Dec 14

Stress Warning Signs

Every person deal with stress in different way , below are is a list of symptoms which will help you to understand stress better

© Mikael Damkier - Fotolia.com

The mental symptoms may involve you being:
• Angry
• Depressed
• Anxious
• Always hungry, or having no appetite
• Crying often
• Have trouble sleeping and feel tired
• Have trouble concentrating

The physical symptoms may involve:
• Chest pains
• Constipation, or diarrhoea
• Cramps, or muscle aches
• Feeling dizzy, or fainting
• Engaging in nervous behavior like biting your nails
• Twitches, or experiencing pins and needles
• Feeling restless
• Having sexual problems, from erectile dysfunction to lowered sex drive
• Feeling breathless
• Can’t sleep

To read full article please click here.

Dec 14

Fire and explosion

Every year many people die or get burns caused by fire , the cost of a serious fire can be so high that afterwards many businesses could not reopen.

To start a fire three element are needed:

  • A source of ignition :Hot Surfaces ,Electrical equipment
  • Fuel: Flammable gases , Flammable solids , Flammable liquids
  • Oxygen: Always present in the air

If any of these three is missing the fire can not be started there for if you avoid the three coming together you can reduce change of fire.

Once the fire start it can be grow fast and reduce more hit as a result it cause other fuels to self-ignite.

There are three facts that you need to identify before  tackling the fire

  1. Identifying sources of ignition: Cooking, engines or boiler,…
  2. Identifying source of fuel: wood, paper….
  3. Identifying sources of oxygen: some chemicals, air,…

The Following video is just a demonstration of an fire course which will explain how fire can effect businesses

In the next post I will describable what to do in case of fire

Dec 14

Some Stress Advice

I have found very useful article in NHS web site about how to help your self to get better from stress .The following ten point are Professor Cooper’s top 10 stress buster techniques.

  1. Be actibe
  2. Tack control
  3. Contact with people
  4. Have some some ‘me time’
  5. Challenge yourself
  6. Avoid unhealthy habits
  7. Do volunteer work
  8. Work smarter not harder
  9. Be positive
  10. Accept the thing you cannot change

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