Week Commencing 17/01/2022 – In The News

Thirty employees diagnosed with HAVS

hand holding a reciprocating saw

A glass and glazing company which installs and repairs glass windscreens and side windows to buses, coaches, motor homes and trains, has been fined for failing to adequately control the risk to its employees from using vibrating tools.

Reading Magistrates’ Court heard how employees of PSV Glass and Glazing Limited were required to use oscillating and reciprocating saws, known as Fein cutters, to remove the thick adhesive that had been used to secure the windows in place – sometimes for their entire shift. HSE received reports of 30 employees at the company being diagnosed with hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that on and before 20 August 2018, the company failed to adequately assess the risk to employees from exposure to vibration. They did not monitor the use of the Fein cutters and had not implemented measures to control exposure. There was no tool maintenance programme to ensure tools were working effectively to ensure vibration levels were kept to a minimum.

Read more on the HSM website.

Mental Health First Aid England urges caution over mandating return to work

Two photos, top photo shows man working from home, bottom shows several people working in an officeMHFA Chief Executive, Simon Blake, says there is ‘no space for a one size fits all approach’ and calls for employers to take a ‘fluid approach to workplace wellbeing’.

On Wednesday 19 January, Boris Johnson announced that Plan B COVID-19 restrictions will end on Thursday 27 January, urging businesses to start to prepare to welcome people back into workplaces.

In response to the news, MHFA Chief Executive, Simon Blake released the following statement: “There is a lot to be said about the positive benefits of returning to a physical workplace but let’s make sure all managers are having open and non-judgemental conversations about what works best for individuals. There is no space for a one size fits all approach in the post pandemic workplace and if we have learnt anything from the last two years, it’s that things can change overnight. The next couple of weeks, could well be a transitory moment for the workplace and what works now, might not necessarily work in three months’ time, or even a year. So, let’s not enforce rigid boundaries and instead of thinking forever, take a whole organisation, fluid approach to workplace wellbeing.”

Visit the SHP website for more on Simon Blake’s advice.

Why communicating over Slack has got us all using language we’d never use in real life

Laptop displaying SlackEver find yourself typing things to work colleagues that you would never say in real life?

‘Fab. Sounds perf! Thanks sooo much! *smiley emoji*’

You are very much not alone.

As we settle into almost two years of widespread remote working, many people still haven’t met their workmates in person, and the way that we communicate is changing.

While there are many benefits of working from home, months of spending the days at a makeshift desk, in an empty room – with the main form of colleague communication being via Slack, or other forms of instant messaging – have started to take their toll. Yes, we might have the odd Zoom call, but primarily communicating through the written word has become commonplace. And this has consequences on how we talk to one another.

Before, in our pre-pandemic lives, a colleague could ask a question such as ‘have you emailed so-and-so?’, over a desk, as part of an ongoing dialogue. You could then have either answered, ‘yeah’, or ‘not yet, but I will,’ without too much interpretation of how you were answering. Or of how the question was being asked in the first place.

However, when you switch that interaction to messenger, there is no sense of tone and, all of a sudden, the question can be perceived as accusatory, or the answer curt. That extra layer of communication is making many of us pursue increasingly out-of-character turns of phrase to convince people that we’re not actually annoyed/rude/sad.

Learn more on the Metro website.

HSE inspection campaign sheds light on health and safety issues in South Yorkshire

Person in a high vis holding a large rolled up sheet of paper“With its South Yorkshire inspection campaign drawing to its conclusion, the Health and Safety Executive has found that 65 per cent of businesses visited were in breach of the law.”

Last week 22 inspectors from HSE’s Yorkshire and North East Field Operations teams inspected 71 businesses in the Sheffield and Rotherham area. Of those visited 46 companies needed to make improvements to better protect the health, safety and wellbeing of workers in metal fabrication, engineering, general manufacturing and waste and recycling sectors

During the course of the week inspectors served three prohibition notices and 31 improvement notices. Examples of some of the breaches found included poor controls of welding fumes and metal working fluids.

Read the full report on the HSE website.

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