A company has been fined after an employee became seriously ill when he contracted a blood infection while working at a lake contaminated with sewage.

He was working for Adler and Allan Ltd, a supplier of environmental risk services, during a clean-up operation at a lake near Churchbridge, Cannock, Staffordshire, in June 2019.

Dead fish had to be cleaned out of the lake after it was contaminated with sewage when a nearby pipe burst.

The employee worked at the lake for two weeks before contracting Leptospirosis (Weil’s Disease) and became seriously ill.

The infection led to the man having a rash across his whole body meaning he had to limit contact with his family. His kidney and liver also had to be monitored. He was given antibiotics and did not make a full recovery for around four months.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found there was a serious risk of ill health to employees at the site as there were inadequate hygiene provisions in place to suitably guard against bacteriological and pathogen infection.

During around the first two weeks of the job, there were no on-site toilets or welfare units available to the company’s employees. This led to workers using a local supermarket to wash and go to the toilet.

There was also a lack of supervision at the site, with the company also failing to conduct a suitable risk assessment and implement an appropriate system of work.

Adler and Allan Limited of Station Parade, Harrogate, Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety Act 1974 and Regulation 20(1) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. The company were fined £126,100 and ordered to pay costs of £43,494 at Cannock Magistrates’ Court on 29 November 2022

HSE inspector Lyn Mizen said: “This serious ill health matter could have been avoided if the clearly foreseeable risks and dangers had been appropriately controlled and managed, right from the outset.

“Portable welfare units can be easily sourced and are clearly needed for heavily contaminated work situations such as this.

“HSE will not hesitate to hold duty holders to account if they fall short of appropriate welfare standards.”

This is an example of a lack of competent task planning and delivery .. with little attention paid to robust risk assessment .. If you need help we are here to help

A Welsh health board has been fined after three employees were diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).

Powys Teaching Health Board required its employees to routinely operate handheld power tools such as lawn mowers, strimmers and hedge cutters without carrying out an assessment of the risks from exposure to vibration.

There was no monitoring, or any estimate of exposure to vibration, even though employees, particularly during the summer months, operated handheld power tools for several hours a day.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the health board had failed to properly assess the levels of exposure to its employees and that information, instruction and training given to staff was limited.

It also found that the health board had ignored requests from its own occupational health department to conduct a risk assessment.

The lack of monitoring, assessment, training, and health surveillance has allowed employees to operate handheld power tools for a significant period, in some cases several decades, without having the necessary measures in place to reduce the risk.  This led to three employees being diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome.

Powys Teaching Health Board of Glasbury House, Bronllys Hospital, Bronllys, Powys, Wales, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. 

They were fined £160,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,599 at Wrexham Magistrates’ Court on 22 November 2022.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Joe Boast said: “This was a case of the health board completely failing to grasp the importance of managing its staff’s exposure to vibration while using handheld power tools.

“Employers should conduct a full assessment of the vibration magnitude and exposure duration, before reviewing whether employees are at risk. There is a simple online calculator to help employers complete this process.

“If the health board had followed the free guidance, they would not have exposed employees to risk and possibly have prevented the ill health that has been suffered.” 

We urge relevant organisations to considerer their own processes and ensure you have robust arrangements if you think you need help contact us on 0800 193 6222 or email

ohteam@hawkeshealth.com

The aim of this service is to:
 
  • ​Provide same-day advice to clients and their colleagues to enable management of short-term absence
  • Offer client a triage/medical helpline, providing support and advice on their health condition 
  • Minimise absence through proactive interventions by Hawkes Health Nurses
  • Provide absence and return-to-work notification reports to the employer/ HR manager/ Manger
  • Provide anonymous management information on the absences reported to help understand the main issues
  • Act as a deterrent to stop client employees of reporting non-genuine reasons for absence​

Client employees contact the Alpha Absence helpline and report their employment details, reason for absence, work duties and return-to-work date. This is recorded on our system and can then be accessed online by client managers.​

Detail:

HAWKES HEALTH’s Alpha Absence mechanism is a same-day absence referral service and a fully integrated feature of our occupational health management system. The service offers support and advises managers on short-term absence and cause.​

All Alpha referrals are handled by nurses who triage the call and provide advice on the symptoms effect on work and cause of the illness. 

Our nurses provide advice and support to minimise the impact on the employee, providing interventions such as:

  • Fast-track-a referral to physiotherapy or counselling
  • Fast-track referral to our occupational health doctors
  • Over-the-counter medicine advice
  • Health advice on managing a condition

Added Value
Alpha Absence can be provided as a standalone service or incorporated as part of a combined occupational health solution. 
To find out about this service or our additional sickness absence services please Email: ohteam@hawkeshealth.com  or telephone: 0800 193 6222
[ Press option 5] thank you.
 

One of the things HAWKES HEALTH often get asked about is why we encourage working within a service agreement.

Service agreements are an important aspect of implementing an agreed OH support plan because they set out how and when you receive supports from us as your potential service provider.

So, what is a service agreement?

A service agreement is a simple, written document that explains your responsibilities and the responsibilities of a service provider.

Service agreements include the following information:

  • The services and supports that will be provided
  • How much the services and supports will cost
  • When where and how the services to be provided
  • How long our customer may need the support (s) for
  • When your service agreement will be reviewed
  • Our cancellation policy
  • Our responsibilities to our client and your responsibilities under the agreement as the customer

Why are these agreements important?

1. Get the right support. Service agreements help ensure you get the right support.

2. Agree on actual services

They allow you to tell us as the provider what you as the customer need and agree on how services will be delivered. This can include when or how often the service will be provided.

3. Everything is in writing

Service agreements help everyone understand what they should do. By having this information in writing it’s available for future reference.

4. Your responsibilities are clear

They help you remember your responsibilities and what is expected of you. This might include things such as turning up for appointments on time or arrangements for giving notice to cancel an appointment.

5. How to end or change an agreement

Service agreements contain important information about what to do if you need to make changes or want to end the agreement. For example, how much notice is required if you want to cancel the service.

6. If you have a problem

Each service agreement includes the name and contact details of a person to talk to if you have a problem.

7. Payment for services

They explain how much services will cost and how services will be paid for, avoiding any confusion.

Food manufacturer Bernard Matthew’s has been fined £400,000 after an employee sustained a pierced left lung, several broken ribs, four fractured vertebrae and a spinal bleed after being drawn in to a large screw conveyor.

Colin Frewin was left permanently paralysed and spent six months in hospital following an incident at the company’s Suffolk manufacturing plant. He was put in an induced coma for three weeks and is now classed as a T6 paraplegic and has been diagnosed with autonomic dysreflexia (AD).

on 28 January 2020 heard how 54-year-old suffered the injuries. He’d been tasked with cleaning a large screw conveyor used to move poultry turkeys along and chill them. While working on the gantry between the spin chillers he noticed a turkey stuck at the bottom of it.

As he attempted to dislodge the turkey using a squeegee, Colin was drawn into the machine. It was only when a colleague noticed Colin was missing from the gantry and heard his cries for help, the emergency stop was pulled.

Investigators from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found an unsafe system of work meant the chillers remained running as Colin went to dislodge the turkey.

There was another incident at the same plant five months earlier, on 12 August 2019, when a turkey deboning line had to be shut down after developing a fault.

As a result, 34-year-old Adriano Gama, along with the rest of the employees, were moved to a surplus production line to continue the process.

Whilst working on the surplus production line, one of the wings became stuck in the belt under the machine. Adriano attempted to push it out of the way, but as he did do, his gloved hand became caught in the exposed sprocket of the conveyer and was drawn into the machine.

He was eventually freed and taken to hospital having suffered a broken arm and severe damage to the muscles in his forearm.

A subsequent investigation by the HSE found that on the day of the incident pre-start checks were only completed on the production lines that were regularly used.

Therefore, when workers were asked to move to the surplus deboning line there was no system in place to ensure that it was checked prior to it being put into operation.

The investigation uncovered that two safety guards had been removed and a team leader responsible for the production lines had verbally reported this issue to the engineering team, but it was not followed up by either party.

At Chelmsford Crown Court, Bernard Matthews Food Ltd admitted breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. As well as the £400,000 fine, the company was ordered to pay costs of £15,000.

‘Both incidents could have been avoided – the consequences were devastating for Colin in particular,’ said HSE principal inspector Adam Hills after the hearing.

‘If Bernard Matthews had acted to identify and manage the risks involved and put a safe system of work in place they could have easily been prevented.

‘Fundamentally, you should not clean a machine while it is running.

‘Companies need to ensure that risk assessments cover activities including cleaning and blockages, and that where appropriate, robust isolation and lock-off mechanisms are in place for these activities.

‘Prior to use you can put in place some pre-start checks and if faults such as missing guards are identified they need to be formally reported, tracked, rectified and closed out.’

Registered healthcare professionals, in addition to doctors, can now complete Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) medical questionnaires following notification of a medical condition that may affect an individual’s fitness to drive. Previously, only medical doctors could complete the questionnaires.

The move is intended to speed up elements of the medical licensing process while reducing the burden on doctors to complete DVLA medical questionnaires. However, it does not apply to the D4 Medical Examination Report (for bus and lorry drivers), which will still need to be completed by a doctor or consultant registered with the General Medical Council.

The change was brought in by the Legislative Reform (Provision of Information etc Relating to Disabilities) Order 2022, which amends s.94 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 on the provision of information relating to disabilities. 

Hawkes Health confirm that all our medical, drug and alcohol testing certificates will now incorporate a QR code.

This will enhance security and aid the authentication of our certificates. This added protection incorporates the coding already used for our previous COVID test certification required by numerous international immigration authorities

Under the noise at work regulations 2005 employers must provide health surveillance for all your employees who are likely to be regularly exposed above the upper exposure action value or are at risk for any reason. For example, they already suffer from hearing loss or are particularly sensitive to damage.

The purpose of health surveillance is to:

•             Warn you when employees might be suffering from early signs of hearing damage.

•             Give you an opportunity to do something to prevent the damage getting worse.

•             Check that control measures are working.

The hearing tests are carried out to British Society of Audiology standards and to HSE guidelines, using the categorisation method, as per the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.

Any employee whose hearing test is below an acceptable level will be sent to their GP or the Occupational Health Physician for further investigation.

How Hawkes Health help:

We can manage this aspect of your business for you, by managing your entire health surveillance process. We can undertake a risk assessment to establish whether and to what degree health surveillance is necessary for you and provide a report with clear recommendations based on your needs.

We can also help you make cost savings if you already have a health surveillance programme in place, or if you simply want to arrange hearing tests for your staff.

Legislation:

Some key points to be aware of:

 •            The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 lay down the legal requirements for controlling noise risk and preventing hearing loss.

•             If employees are, or are liable to be, exposed to noise, their employer needs to ensure they are placed under suitable health surveillance, which includes testing their hearing.

More information:

Email ohteam@hawkeshealth.com or Telephone 0800 193 6222 press option 3

Health Surveillance may be required by law for employees who are exposed to noise or vibration, ionising radiation, solvents, fumes, dusts, biological agents, and other substances hazardous to health.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

Health surveillance is important for detecting ill health effects at an early stage so employers can introduce better controls to prevent them getting worse, to provide data to employers to evaluate risks, to provide employees with important opportunities to raise concerns about how work affects their health and to provide an opportunity to reinforce training and education.

For further information or support Tele: 0800 193 622 option 3 OR email the ohteam@hawkeshealth.com

FLU SEASON

With the end of Summer and the sudden chill in the morning air, it is inevitable that our thoughts turn to Winter health needs, more specifically the flu!

So, let’s talk more about the flu or influenza, to give it its proper name.

What is the flu?

Influenza or the flu, (as we will call it) is an infectious respiratory disease caused by influenza viruses that contaminate the nose, throat, and occasionally the lungs. Symptoms of flu can be mild to more serious and at times may be fatal.

How do I know I have the flu?

With the advent of Covid 19, and the general increase in cold cases during the chillier months, it can be confusing to know if you have the flu or something else.

Covid 19, the common cold and the flu are all caused by viruses which attack the respiratory system (the nose, mouth, throat, and lungs) and they all have similar symptoms.

With the common cold, symptoms tend to be less severe than with the flu, however, Covid 19 and the flu do have comparable symptoms although, Covid 19 spreads more easily and it is more common for sufferers to have changes to their sense of taste and smell. The symptom table below gives you a simple breakdown of common symptoms associated with all three viral conditions:

Table
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How does the flu spread?

With the increase public health notifications and campaigns, more people are aware that the flu is infection and that it is spread from person to person. Typically, the flu is spread via airborne droplets, meaning that when someone is infected, they can pass on the flu to other’s when they cough, sneeze, or talk, even from as far away as six feet. An infected person can spread the flu up to a day before they feel unwell, and up to a week after they feel ill.

Naturally, the young, the old and people who have lowered immunity (resistance) to disease will be more susceptible to contracting the flu and may be contagious longer.

What to do if you have the flu

We’ve all heard the adage “Feed a cold, starve a fever” but this advice likely came about when people thought that only two types of illness existed, those which caused low temperature and those which cause high temperatures. Eating more food was encouraged to raise the body temperature and dispel the cold symptoms, while by starving, the temperature of the body would drop and the fever break.  Now we have a better understanding of viruses and nutritional needs when we are unwell.  Feeding a fever is now thought to be more important than feeding a cold, as symptoms of sweating, diarrhoea and vomiting increase loss of body fluids leading to dehydration. If tolerated hot soup and herbal drinks are good to keep mucous thin and helping remove unwanted substances from the nose and throat.

The most important thing is to stay hydrated, rest, keep comfortable and remain at home until recovered.

How do we protect ourselves?

We know that the flu is a contagious disease, spread through the population by contact with infected people. Protecting ourselves is key to stopping infection and the best way to do this is by getting vaccinated.

Getting vaccinated is the safest and most efficient form of protection against contracting the flu. Unfortunately, even when vaccinated, some people can still develop the flu, albeit that symptoms are likely to be milder and the duration of infection shorter. Vaccination can help reduce the spread of flu to vulnerable people; those likely to become seriously ill and who may have more complications if they contract the flu.

It is important to get immunised every year, this is due to the flu virus continually changing and a drop in immunity which happens naturally over time.

The vaccination will not give you the flu, but you may develop mild flu symptoms.

Vaccination for the workforce

Every year in the UK the winter season brings with it absence from work due to cold and flu related illness. In comparison to overall sickness absence rates, the flu accounts for a small percentage of workdays lost; however, this absence can be reduced by organising a vaccination programme for the workforce.

HAWKES HEALTH and your flu vaccination needs

We aim to provide best practice whilst considering the requirements of your business. We will help plan and deliver a flu vaccination service to meet your business needs. Cost: from £11.99 per vaccine. We can administer at our clinics or on your premises.

To discuss this or any other Occupational Health business requirements please contact: –

Telephone: 0800 193 6222 click menu item 2

Email: ohteam@hawkeshealth.com

Hawkes Health (UK) Limited. Registered company number: SC445091. Achilles First Point (FPAL) Supplier Number: 10055672.