Week Commencing 20/02/2023 – In The News

Survey shows office noise hampering focus

open plan officeA new study into employee productivity by Oscar Acoustics has found that offices are struggling to deal with the demands created by hybrid working, with excessive noise at the heart of employee grievances.

The survey, which quizzed 500 senior management workers found that booming office noise has become a deterrent for returning workers, hampering productivity and focus.

Despite the fact that over three quarters of employers are now implementing hybrid working measures, the research found that noise levels were often unbearable, becoming so loud that a quarter of UK workers aged between 18 and 50, expressed serious concern about going back to workstations.

This comes off the back of nearly two and half years of working from home, following the first lockdown in March 2020. Since then, office workers across the country have become familiar with home comforts, with little in the way of noise disturbances. However, the sudden return to offices has thrown employees into disarray, with the realisation that many workplaces are simply unfit to deal with rising sound levels, impacting their ability to concentrate and affecting the quality of work they produce.

Read more on the HSM website.

Exeter farmer fined after teenage worker injured on dumper

farm fieldsA farmer has been fined £8k after a teenage worker suffered serious head injuries when a six-tonne dumper he was driving overturned.

The 19-year-old and his friend, who was just 16, had been paid to move material as part of improvement works at Upper Kingswell Farm in the village of Longdown in Exeter.

However, farmer Richard Palfrey had failed to ask either for their age or what experience they had before giving them a short briefing of what he wanted them to do. Soon afterwards, the dumper overturned on a steep incline and although the 19-year-old ended up in intensive care, he managed to make a full recovery.

Yeovil Magistrates’ Court heard about an area of land being excavated and levelled on the farm on 4 August 2019. The teens had been paid to move the excavated material using a dumper owned by Richard Palfrey, who was in charge of the excavation works at his farm. The young workers had only been on the farm for a few hours before the incident happened.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that Richard Palfrey did not ask the two young workers their ages or make any enquiries into their training or experience in operating dumpers. He gave the two young workers a very short briefing on what he wanted them to do but the steep route that he told them to take with the dumpers was inappropriate as it was steeper than the dumper manufactures said the dumpers could work on. The dumper that rolled had a seat belt but the seat was covered with a fertilizer bag meaning that the seatbelt could not be worn.

For more on the incident, visit the SHP website.

Care home prosecuted after vulnerable woman’s death

people holding handsA care home has been fined £100k for health and safety failings which led to the death of an 85-year-old woman.

St David’s Care Forfar Limited, who run St David’s Residential Home in Forfar, pled guilty to a health and safety at work breach committed in January 2017.

The procurator fiscal depute told Dundee Sheriff Court that on 12 January 2017, Georgina Norrie, a resident at St David’s, was allowed to wander out of the home and subsequently died of hypothermia.

Ms. Norrie had learning difficulties and dementia and was known to wander within the home at night.

Her room was fitted with a motion sensor to alert staff when there was movement in her room. The alarm did not activate when she left her room as a piece of tape had been applied to the sensor.

At the time of the incident all entrances and exits to the building were locked or alarmed, except for the fire exit in the dining room.

Visit the HSM website to learn more.

Mental health linked to productivity but managers not confident to support staff, research shows

two people talkingWhile two in five employers (40 per cent) see mental health as a strategic issue closely tied to productivity and profitability, wellbeing is not top of the agenda for most companies, a study has found.

SilverCloud’s new Making Mental Health Top of the Agenda report, conducted with 1,000 employees and 500 directors, showed that only one third (31 per cent) of organisations have boosted their wellbeing spend since the pandemic began.

This was despite half of workers feeling overwhelmed (50 per cent), burnt out (48 per cent) and depressed (35 per cent) over the past six months.

Amid the recent crises, Steve Herbert​​, wellbeing and benefits director at Partners&, said that the impact of three “seismic economic events” (Covid, Brexit, and high inflation) is undoubtedly restricting the amount of money employers have available to add any new mental health support services – “which is unfortunate given that mental health continues to be a high priority for many employers and employees alike”.

In addition, less than a third (28 per cent) of workers said their employer was providing enough support for their mental wellbeing, and 50 per cent actively wanted to see more, while a third (33 per cent) had never once been asked about their mental health at work.

Commenting on the reasons behind this gap in mental health offering, Dannielle Haig, business psychologist at DH Coaching and Consulting, said that the idea of taking care of employees’ mental wellbeing is relatively new: “Successful businesses would actively look after their technical equipment without consideration, however, looking after their human brains which are fundamental “equipment” for many businesses isn’t seen as a good investment.”

For more on the research, visit the People Management website.

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