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Stuart O'Brien

Call for employers to offer menopause support to staff

Employers are being urged to develop more inclusive and supportive workplace cultures and managerial styles to help menopausal women feel comfortable discussing their symptoms and requesting support.

The call is among a series of recommendations from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) in response to a UK Government inquiry into menopause and the workplace which it is making public ahead of World Menopause Day, which took place on October 18th.

The inquiry was launched after a survey found that three in five menopausal women were negatively affected at work by their symptoms, with nearly 900,000 women in the UK leaving their jobs over an undefined amount of time because of it.

While there are examples of good practice in some workplaces, IOSH believes a concerted effort is required to support women to ensure they not only remain in their jobs but are able to flourish.

The institution, which represents more than 47,000 health and safety professionals around the world, recommends a number of measures, which include:

  • Considering whether existing policies and procedures cater for the psychosocial needs of menopause-related issues, for example whether they can introduce flexible working patterns
  • Ensuring risk assessments consider specific risks to menopausal women and identify reasonable adjustments for individuals
  • Developing awareness, training and education strategies that raise understanding of the menopause and associated symptoms, their impact on work and potential solutions
  • Following the advice of health and safety professionals based on the outcomes of age – and gender – sensitive health risk assessments, including potential changes in functional capacities
  • Developing more inclusive and supportive workplace cultures and managerial styles that make women feel comfortable disclosing symptoms or requesting adjustments to support them with symptoms.

Dr Karen Michell, an occupational health specialist at IOSH, said: “Menopause can and often does have physical, mental and emotional effects on women and their ability to cope with work. Yet very few workplaces and managers are knowledgeable on how to address work-related menopause issues and the preventive role that occupational health and safety can play.

“This is concerning. As with other health issues, women, and in particular women of ethnic minorities, should feel comfortable being able to discuss their symptoms with line managers and other colleagues and be able to request additional support which helps them in their roles.

“We encourage employers to approach menopause in the workplace with a more holistic view that puts the spotlight on providing effective management practices, practical support and the adoption of a workplace culture of an open nature for those experiencing symptoms rather than solely focusing on superficial initiatives, such as the development of a specific policy on menopause.”

Mental health support often not available to workers who need it most

There are a lot of support services that offer mental health support, however many do not cater for more complex and enduring mental health issues, such as severe depression, trauma and psychiatric disorders.

That’s according to RedArc, which says many support services are only limited to mild to moderate mental health issues, such as low mood and anxiety, for instance via apps and employee assistance programmes.

Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc says: ‘There is a world of difference in the support that people need for low mood and mild anxiety, to that needed for severe depression and other mental illnesses, and very few services address the latter. It’s great that companies are making support more accessible for mental wellbeing, but it’s vital that support is also put in place for more serious mental health conditions.’

Serious mental health conditions are not uncommon, such as PTSD, self-harm, severe depression and psychosis; and it’s vital that people who experience these are catered for by support services.

As supporting mental health and wellbeing is at the top of corporate agendas, companies are keen to make help accessible, but it’s important that they’re aware of the differences between help for mild to moderate conditions, and severe or enduring mental health issues.

Most services offer valuable ‘In the moment’ support, but if additional support is needed, it often falls short. Indeed, some services have a list of exclusions covering the more complex mental health conditions, with others it is down to the practitioner’s judgement whether they expect the issues to be resolved by the short course of counselling or CBT available.

Husbands continues: ‘Sadly, we hear of many people who have been turned away from mental health support services because their mental health condition was excluded, or that the available therapies were not judged to be appropriate. This can be incredibly detrimental and put recovery time back significantly – ironically, these are the people that need the most help. Support encompassing the full spectrum, from mild through to severe mental health conditions, must be available for all people to be fully supported.’

Support for serious mental health conditions needs to include access to long-term help from a mental health specialist as well as a course of the most appropriate therapy if needed. It needs to include:

  • Risk assessment
  • Screening using clinical tools, such as PHQ9/GAD7
  • Help with coping strategies
  • Short- and long-term goals and planning
  • Guidance on appropriate tools and resources
  • Help to access services from the NHS, or available employee benefits
  • Long-term resilience tools
  • Return-to-work support

Husbands concludes: ‘The term mental health covers a wide range of conditions and severities and is therefore very complicated, so it needs a comprehensive approach. We understand that when companies see that mental health support can be provided that they think they’ve ticked that box, but they may not appreciate that the support is quite limited in practice. We see the fall-out from that approach. Comprehensive support for more severe conditions, in addition to mild to moderate, also needs to be put in place if companies really want to give people access to the most appropriate support for them. We see some very positive results from people that have access to fuller support.’

Do you specialise in Occupational Health & Wellbeing Services? We want to hear from you!

Each month on Health & Safety Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the security market – and in November we’ll be focussing on Occupational Health & Wellbeing Services.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help health & safety buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a supplier of Occupational Health & Wellbeing Services and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Charlotte Povey on c.povey@forumevents.co.uk.

Our Features List in full:-

NovOccupational Health & Wellbeing Services
DecHealth & Safety Software
JanFirst Aid Supplies
FebBehavioural Safety
MarTraining Courses
AprIncident Reporting
MayContractor Management
JunSite Safety
JulLone Worker Safety & Equipment
AugFire Safety Management
SepRisk Management/Assessments
OctStress Management
NovOccupational Health & Wellbeing Services
DecHealth & Safety Software

Join Colleagues from these top companies at the Occupational Safety & Health Forum

The Occupational Safety & Health Forum is where specialist professionals from the UK’s leading organisations source their next suppliers – join them today!

Date & Venue: Tuesday 1st February 2022 – Radisson Blu Hotel, London Stansted

Benefits include:

– An itinerary of one-to-one meetings with solution providers
– A seat at our industry seminar sessions (included within your itinerary)
– Lunch and refreshments are complimentary throughout
– Networking breaks to make new connections in your field

Already confirmed attending buyers include;

Astley Signs 
Avison Young
Fidelity International
Inside Out Developments LTD
Molsoncoors Beverage Company
PVC Manufacturers
Soilfix Limited
William Grant & Sons
Willmott Dixon Holdings
HSQE Manager 
H&S Manager 
Health & Safety Specialist  
Group HS&E Manager 
Global Health Safety and Sustainability Director 
HSE Advisor 
Head of Health and Safety
Business Support Manager
SHEQ Manager
Health & Safety Manager
H&S Manager
Head of Plant Safety
SHEQ Manaher
Health & Safety Leader 
Chief HSE Officer

Click here to secure your place via our short booking form!

For more information, contact Alex King on a.king@forumevents.co.uk.

Are offices ready for workers to return?

With the UK expected to move away from home working and return to the office in greater numbers during the Autumn months, National Accident Helpline is warning employers to ensure offices are safe and ready or run the risk of accidents happening in the workplace.

Recent data from National Accident Helpline highlights the importance of caution as people return to work as personal injury helpline saw a 15% increase in enquiries relating to injuries sustained in the workplace during June and July.  Without action there’s a risk that injuries at work may reach pre-COVID levels, which were 115% higher than current trends.

Figures from Transport for London also reveal the first Monday of September saw a 22% increase in tube journeys and a 71% jump in bus passengers in London between 8am and 9am compared to the previous Tuesday. This sharp increase in commuters in the capital precedes expectations that autumn will see workers across the country return to the office in numbers not seen since the start of the pandemic in March last year.

National Accident Helpline also found that 48% of employer liability injury claims made this year were for slips and trips. This is backed up by data from RIDDOR* who found slips and trips are the second most common type of workplace accident in Great Britain, accounting for an estimated 19% of all work injuries.

To ensure that staff can return to the office safely and enjoy the benefits, National Accident Helpline are advising on the key areas that employers should think about. Such as conducting a full risk assessment of office spaces and ensuring any potential hazards are rectified before staff return full time. Other important steps to take are confirming staff know the health and safety rules, re-issuing office protocols and making everyone using the office aware of procedures before they return to desks.

Jonathan White, Legal and Compliance Director at National Accident Helpline, said: “The shift to home working could have made some employers reluctant to invest in office spaces and make necessary upgrades or refurbishments. This in turn may now put employees at risk as they return to the office. From loose or torn carpets to rotting floors there are a number of trip hazards that may have materialised during lockdown. All of these issues should be assessed before staff are welcomed back to the office.

“By following HSE protocols and ensuring that staff are aware of potential hazards when returning to the office employers can ensure that workplaces are safe and suitable for life returning to normal post lockdown.”

For more information please visit: https://www.national-accident-helpline.co.uk/news/post/ensuring-safety-workplace

Businesses urged to act now and tackle indoor air quality

Rentokil Initial is calling on employers to re-assess the effectiveness of their building’s air quality systems, as society emerges from the Coronavirus pandemic and workers return to their offices and returning to frequenting surrounding businesses again.

Recent Rentokil Initial research has shown that workers are concerned about returning to the office without assurances on indoor air quality.

A majority (68%) of Brits believe that businesses and employers need to do more to ensure clean air circulates in their premises, while 62% went so far to say that air purification systems should be mandatory in public buildings and education facilities. 

The World Health Organisation says that poor indoor air quality is responsible for 3.8 million premature deaths globally, with cross contamination of airborne viruses and diseases 19 times more likely indoors than out. The organisation also advises that Coronavirus, like many other viruses, can be transmitted via aerosols in the air.

Jamie Woodhall, UK Technical Manager & Innovation Manager at Rentokil Specialist Hygiene and Initial Washroom Hygiene said: “The global pandemic has made the delivery of clean, healthy indoor air even more critical for the wellbeing of people indoors.  Businesses should look at the air flow and ventilation within their premises, and consider appropriate air purification options to help ensure they are circulating clean indoor air for their employees and customers to breathe.”

According to the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, businesses are required to maintain working conditions that are safe and without risk to employees, stating that air quality should be at least equal to, but ideally better than, the air outside the building. This has until recently, relied upon adequate ventilation of indoor areas via windows or systems such as ducts and fans or traditional, outdated air purification solutions that may not adequately clean the air.

5 Minutes With… Compassa’s MD Will Taylor

In the latest instalment of our health & safety industry executive interview series we spoke to Compassa Managing Director Will Taylor about his company, the power of interactive video for training, how you can create greater engagement with your teams and the future of eLearning…

Tell us about your company, products, and services

We are Compassa, a health and safety training provider specialising in IOSH, NEBOSH, and bespoke management training. We started out as a face-to-face training provider focusing on IOSH Managing Safely and Incident Investigation courses. In 2019, we had an idea to see if we could set a higher standard for health and safety eLearning using interactive video technology.

In 2020, we launched our first two courses: the world’s first interactive video course for IOSH Managing Safely and our own leadership course: Managing People Effectively.

Earlier this year we released the world’s only video course for the NEBOSH HSE Introduction to Incident Investigation Award. It’s the 1st NEBOSH course to include a 3D virtual workplace and investigation simulator, with interactive witness interviews where you get to choose how to handle the witness and what questions to ask.

What do you mean by “interactive video course”?

An interactive video is a video the learner has to interact with in order to progress. You can’t just sit there and watch it. You’d get distracted, zone out, or get bored. Instead, our video courses have interactive elements within the videos. What this means is the presenter (me!) asks the learner questions and gives them exercises, and the video pauses whilst the learner does the exercise.

What made you decide to launch eLearning courses?

We knew traditional health and safety eLearning is perceived as boring, tedious, dry, and focused on compliance rather than behavioural change. But it has huge advantages in terms of flexibility. We wanted to see if we could make IOSH and NEBOSH eLearning courses that were as impactful as face-to-face training, as well as FUN. So in 2019, we set out to see if we could do that.

And do you think you have achieved that?

Well I never believed that any eLearning course, not even ours, would have a greater impact than a well-delivered classroom course. And yet, some of our customers have said they can see a greater level of commitment to health and safety, a greater proactiveness, in those people who did our video eLearning for IOSH Managing Safely versus those who completed a classroom version.

As an added bonus, nearly everyone who has done our video courses talks about how much fun they are. They’re engaging, entertaining, and highly effective. Not often someone calls a health and safety eLearning course fun and engaging!

What makes your eLearning fun and engaging?

I told the development team to have fun making the courses. If we enjoy making the course, then people might have fun studying it. So they’re full of stunts, jokes, and references to our favourite movies and TV shows. We also included a lot of bloopers which makes the whole thing feel a lot more human. Health and safety is a dry subject and there is no need to make it more serious than it already is.

Why do think your eLearning resulted in greater levels of commitment than a classroom course?

If the eLearning is persuasive, engaging, and impactful, it’s likely to result in positive changes to attitude. Maybe just as much as an excellent classroom course. The big advantage eLearning has is it is delivered over a much longer time period than a classroom course. So the information has longer to sink in. For example, a typical IOSH Managing Safely course is 3 to 4 days long. Many delegates complete the classroom version in one block. Then they return to work and within a day or two they are back to normal and the course is largely forgotten. It is a “flash in the pan”, no matter how well delivered it is.

eLearning is different. People dip in and out for short periods over several weeks. Every day they learn something new, and they apply it. They think about it. It sinks in. Done repeatedly over two months, this leads to much deeper assimilation of the information and desired behaviours. It results in managers being more committed and more proactive.

Unless the eLearning is boring of course. Then it’s of no use at all!

Surely eLearning is not always the best option for every organisation?

No of course not. We always check for the following:

  • Do all the learners have access to IT? Such as screen, speakers, and decent internet connection?
  • Do they get undisturbed free time for at least 15min a day?
  • Is their line-manager supportive of this initiative and will they hold the person to account for completing it?
  • Where are they culturally? For organisations with negative or resistant cultures, a face-to-face approach is probably best.

If the answers to any of the following are negative, they are probably best opting for a face-to-face approach. Which is fine by me, since I absolutely love delivering training!

Where do you see Compassa by 2025?

We’ll continue our course development and by then I expect we will have a much larger portfolio of IOSH and NEBOSH courses, including the General Certificate. I expect we will be the 1st choice for most people who wish to study a NEBOSH General Certificate or any other course via eLearning. It’s merely a question of raising awareness that our courses exist and what we mean by “interactive video eLearning”. It’s a concept which is so new in our industry, it will take time for people to recognise its potential. By then, I also expect our competitors to start copying us and inject a little more personality into their own courses. 

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

It’s thinking of really creative ways to use our interactive eLearning technology to come up with fun activities and games. It’s spending a chunk of time building those activities and then seeing the end result.

What’s the most challenging thing about your job?

The biggest pushback we get is “classroom training is better than eLearning”. It’s a complete generalisation which is usually true. But our eLearning will give most classroom trainers a run for their money. We need to get past that perception and it will take time and effort.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

An old boss once said of an induction training session I delivered: “That was perfect. Next time, do it differently.” When I asked why, since it was perfect, he said “Otherwise, you will never learn.” From there, I’ve made it a personal mission to push the boundaries. I’ve made a ton of mistakes, but learnt a lot.

Do you specialise in Stress Management? We want to hear from you!

Each month on Health & Safety Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the security market – and in October we’ll be focussing on Stress Management.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help health & safety buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a supplier of Stress Management solutions and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Charlotte Povey on c.povey@forumevents.co.uk.

OctoberStress Management
NovemberOccupational Health & Wellbeing Services
DecemberHealth & Safety Software

Occupational Safety & Health Forum: Your key to success in 2022

As a health and safety professional, we would like to offer you a complimentary invitation to attend the Occupational Safety & Health Forum

Date & Venue: Tuesday 1st February 2022 – Radisson Blu Hotel, London Stansted

Benefits include:

– An itinerary of one-to-one meetings with solution providers
– A seat at our industry seminar sessions (included within your itinerary)
– Lunch and refreshments are complimentary throughout
– Networking breaks to make new connections in your field

Click here to secure your place via our short booking form!

For more information, contact Alex King on a.king@forumevents.co.uk.

WEBINAR: Risk assessment in a digital world

Risk Assessment is unquestionably a critical component of the safety process, but so is ensuring that the control measures defined in the Risk Assessment are in place, operative and being complied with. The latter often creates a challenges, particularly if the safety management system is difficult to access and cumbersome to use or there is no management reporting mechanism. This in itself can lead to lower levels of protection and engagement across the company.

Digitising your safety management system could be a solution. How would your safety organisation look if…

  1. Your H&S team have access to all Risk Assessments in one place, wherever they are.
  2. Your Risk Assessments produce lead performance metrics telling you how you are complying with the control measures and whether they are in place or not.
  3. You can instantly track corrective action arising from reviews, monitoring or safety audits to achieve PDCA.
  4. Your staff can be trained on your Risk Assessments on the shopfloor, sign they have read and understood the training and immediately have their training record updated.
  5. You have real-time performance data by every department and location in your organisation of compliance with your Risk Assessment.

A digital management system can create visibility, accountability and defensibility and significantly reduce time, cost and friction from your safety process.

Join our 30-minute webinar ‘Risk Assessment in a Digital World on Thursday 23 September at 11.30am to discover what a digital management system could do to enhance your safety organisation..

Click Here To Register