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Health and Safety Series: Protect your back

29 Jan

The next blog in our Health and Safety series looks at how to work safely avoiding injury to your back. Back injuries and back pain occur in many construction trades including bricklayers, scaffolders, ground-workers, general labourers and of course the fenestration industry.

The most common cause of an injury to the back is through lifting and carrying heavy weights. In our industry there is the potential for sustaining an injury with the amount of manoeuvring and moving of window frames and glass that takes place. These injuries not only affect the back but sometimes the shoulders and neck, and legs as well.

An injury to your back can result in considerable pain and the inability to work, a situation you will want to avoid at all costs.

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So how can you try to avoid becoming incapacitated by a back injury?

  • Try to keep any lifting and carrying to the minimum. Have stock delivered as close as possible to where it will be used.
  • Avoid lifting objects by hand that you know are heavy. If there is no alternative try to get assistance with the lift.
  • If appropriate use mechanical lifting equipment.
  • Make sure you and other workers know how to use the equipment
  • Always assess the weight of the object before lifting and consider the size, strength and training needed to be able to lift it safely.
  • If working in an awkward position, such as in a restricted space or roof void, be extra careful when bending or crouching. It is very easy to strain a muscle when moving in an abnormal fashion.
  • Do not let the demands and pressures of the job make you take unnecessary risks.
  • Do not work too long without a break as tiredness can affect your concentration.
  • Know your own physical capability. Do not push your body past its limits.
  • Consider your work environment and its impact on what you are doing. Adverse weather such as strong winds can make the moving of heavy, flat objects difficult to control.

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If you would like to find out more about working safely, there is valuable information on the Health and Safety Executive website.

Do you have a safety tip of your own to share? Please feel free to jot it down in the comments below.

Top Trade Tips

1 Oct

 

We have talked before on social media about top trade tips, so here are some of them – let us know what you think.

 

  • Maintain a positive, professional manner at all times when your customer is present and even when they are not.
  • Our industry can be a dangerous place so never undertake work in such a way that could put yourself or others in harm’s way.
  • Do not arrive late as this can adversely affect your relationship with your customer. If you really have to let them down, let them know the sooner the better and reschedule.
  • Keep your training up to date like Building Regulations and First Aid lapse. You never know when you will need to call on the knowledge.
  • Don’t let certificates like Public Liability, Insurance Backed Guarantee Insurance, and Business Insurance lapse.
  • Think about your own and your customer’s safety. Wear the correct PPE for the job you are doing. Ultimately you will be the one who suffers if something goes wrong.
  • Explain all the safety procedures you have put in place with the homeowner so they can help you implement them. This is especially important if they have children running around.
  • Keep up with the maintenance on your vehicle and plan the MOT well in advance.  Your commitments could suffer if you are suddenly unable to get about because your vehicle is sitting in the garage.
  • If you have work experience student or apprentice, make sure they are never left unsupervised.

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So, is your tip here? If you have another tip please feel free to add it in the comments.

Health and Safety Series: Keeping Safe

30 Aug

How do you keep yourself and others safe in the work place? When you are installing windows you are responsible for the safety of your customers and the members of their family. You have to think about members of the public as well. Even the postman could walk up the path and trip over your drill! We know that is a lot to consider and to help we have compiled a list of our Top Safety Tips. No doubt you will have taken most of these on board but there may be one or two that will prove to be very useful for you.

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  • Always wear the correct PPE for the job you are doing. Don’t be tempted to take shortcuts because the weather is warm or you are in a hurry. Not wearing your safety goggles could result in an injury keeping you off work for weeks. It is far better to be safe than sorry.
  • Make sure your glazing materials are stacked safely and securely. This is particularly pertinent for the safety of your customers.
  • As we mentioned earlier keep all pathways and areas where members of the public walk, free of tools and debris. Children are ever inquisitive and may well be running around while you are working. If at all possible keep doors to where you are working closed.
  • The last thing you want to happen when you are fitting your new windows is to injure yourself. There could be all sorts of repercussions. Your customer may not be happy with the delay and your whole schedule could end up being compromised. Avoid injuries like pulling your back by working within your limits. Take a course on how to lift correctly and do not attempt to lift something on your own if it is a two man job!
  • If you do injure yourself such as a deep cut, deal with the situation at once. Often an ensuing infection can be far worse than the injury itself. Make sure your Tetanus vaccinations are up to date. A well-stocked First Aid kit can be very useful. It can be in your best interests to attend a first aid course to ensure you are update with techniques and treatments.
  • Use the correct tool for the job. This may sound obvious but we are probably all guilty of taking a quick shortcut if the correct tool is not to hand. This is a recipe for disaster and can cause injury.
  • As waste and debris starts to accumulate, deal with it! Sweep it up and clear your work area. Don’t leave pieces of old timber laying around with nails in and broken glass. It is good practice to get in the habit of working in a tidy fashion as we discussed in our previous blog ‘Are you a tidy person?’

So, there are some good tips and advice to think about. We would enjoy reading about your safety tips. If you would like to share them just jot them down in the comments below.

Health and Safety series: Are you a tidy person?

15 Jul

 

Are you a tidy person? Well if you are, you will find it helps you stay safe while working. Many injuries and accidents while working are related to poor housekeeping. By this we mean not keeping the workplace in good order and clean and tidy.

 

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Each year around 1000 trips or slips on construction sites involve someone fracturing bones or dislocating joints. These incidents can cause permanent disablement and have a huge impact on both work and personal life. Many of these are caused simply because there is something in the person’s way, such as building materials or waste.

 

Take a look at this list of possible hazards and see if you are guilty of any of them!

 

  • Leaving trailing leads and cables across the floor where you and others are working
  • Not sweeping up and putting rubbish in the skip as you go
  • Leaving tools and equipment on routes to and from the work area where they can stop escape in the event of an emergency
  • Cluttering up the work area with tools and equipment so there is hardly any room to move
  • Tool boxes left around to be tripped over
  • Piling up deliveries around the work area
  • Leaving wood off cuts and packaging materials over the floor

 

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Well that’s just a few examples of poor housekeeping, so let’s look at how we can improve our standards and safety.

  • Leave enough time to complete each task. When we are rushed and working at speed is can be difficult to stay tidy.
  • Make a plan on how to deal with waste. How often to take it to the skip or waste bin and who is going to do it! It can be useful to have a bin with wheels kept nearby to take the waste away at a later date.
  • Although this can be difficult to coordinate, try to have deliveries of materials as and when you need to use them. This avoids the problem of piles of materials around which can topple or obstruct access routes.
  • A good alternative to those training power leads over the floor  is to use 110 volt or battery-operated portable tools

 

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This very useful guide from the HSE ‘High 5’ for small construction sites and businesses contains helpful tips and advice on good housekeeping.

 

What are your top tips to ensure your workplace is clean and tidy?  Please let us know in the comments below.

 

Also don’t forget if you employ five or more people you must have a written health and safety policy.

 

The GGF has recently published a new updated version of the  “Working at Height Code of Practice – Safety in the Domestic Replacement Window Industry”  brochure.

Health and Safety Series: Personal Protective Equipment for FENSA Fitters

25 Apr

You may be surprised to hear that the subject of this blog, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), is considered by some to be rather controversial. However here at FENSA we believe anything that strives to improve the safety and wellbeing of our FENSA Fitters must be a good thing.

There is no doubt that PPE protects workers from injury. It is very important for those in the Fenestration industry as often individuals are working on their own and there may be a delay in help arriving in the event of an accident or mishap.

Let’s see what the Health and Safety Executive says about PPE:

‘all equipment (including clothing affording protection against the weather) which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects him or her against one or more risks to his or her health or safety’, e.g., safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses.’

Obviously some, if not all, of these safety features can apply to Fitters in the process of installing windows.

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Safety Boots – These are essential and should include safety features such as steel toe caps, heat resistance, and be water repellent. Just dropping a heavy tool on your foot can cause a major injury and prevent you carrying on working.

Safety Hemet – Although an unpopular piece of safety equipment, the safety helmet could be considered the most important to protect you if something heavy falls and and strikes you on the head.

Gloves – Protecting your hands is important, although gloves can also be unpopular because they can make working in some situations clumsy and difficult.

High Vis – Being highly visible on a building site can help prevent you being crushed by heavy moving vehicles and High Vis jackets also provide welcome weather proofing and warmth.

Eye Protection – This may seem at first to be rather excessive until you consider the damage that could be done by a shard of glass piercing your eye, while you are knocking out old windows.

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No matter how careful you are, the unexpected sometimes happens or somebody else could make a mistake. PPE is designed to be a barrier between you and the hazards you come across every day in the course of your working day.

Without PPE that defence is not there and you are more likely to be injured.

Choose comfortable PPE that is suitable for the job at hand so you are more likely to wear it, and stay safe.

Health and Safety series: Health and Safety for our FENSA Fitters

2 Nov

Health and safety is an expression we hear almost every day, and one which comes in for a lot of criticism. However, in our industry it should be embraced and acted upon, as without doubt, good health and safety procedures save lives.

In this blog we are going to look at two aspects of health and safety that are particularly important in our industry.

It is a shocking fact that the biggest cause of fatal injury in Britain’s workplaces is due to falls. On top of that, over 4,000 injuries, such as broken bones and skull fractures are reported to the HSE every year by the construction industry. Obviously this is a major issue for our FENSA fitters who spend a lot of their busy day working at height!

So, how can you make sure you are doing everything possible to make your working environment safe for your customers and yourself?
Well you have to assess the risks that can occur from working at height and devise a plan so the work is carried out safely. If you are undertaking work on private homes, you have the sole responsibility for site health and safety, not the home owner. However, if you are working on a small business project you share the site safety responsibilities with your client.
One of the main areas of concern is when you are using ladders. Although the use of ladders is not banned, they should only be used for low-risk, short duration work. Working from Ladders is one of the main reasons you can be involved in a fall from height and account for more than a quarter of all falls. You can find more about the use of ladders here http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg402.pdf


Another important issue for our fitters is coming across asbestos in areas where they are working, particularly if you are working on a house built before 2000. There could be undiscovered asbestos in the building and not always where you would expect to find it.
The important question here is; do you know how to recognise asbestos?
It can be difficult to spot the presence of asbestos, so even if you just suspect asbestos is present, do not disturb the area; asbestos only becomes a risk when it is released into the air and breathed in. The diseases caused by inhaling the asbestos fibres can be very serious.
So, what to do if you suspect asbestos? Stop work immediately.
The material will need to be analysed and until the results are obtained, you should not proceed with any work, in case the area gets disturbed and releases asbestos fibres. If it proves to be asbestos, it may need to be removed by a HSE licenced contractor
So we hope that this blog demonstrates to some extent the importance of good health and safety procedures, as your safety and that of your customers is paramount…

Health and Safety series: Just when you thought everything had been said about the 2012 Olympics……..

1 Oct

We thought we should discuss one of the little known legacies. We all know that Health and Safety is an important consideration for the construction industry as a whole. This is particularly pertinent for our valiant FENSA fitters, out in all weathers; working at height, power tools… you know the scenarios! So what is the 2012 legacy left to the construction industry? Well, it can benefit from the health and safety strategies used in the construction of the Olympic Park.

You may be unaware that the Olympic Park was built with zero construction fatalities. Considering the size of the project, 3 million hours worked without a single reportable injury and being the largest construction site in Europe, with more than 12,000 workers, the reportable accident rate on the Olympic Park was around a third of the construction-industry average and below the national average for all workplaces. This is an amazing achievement.

It stands to reason then, that the construction industry should look to safety methods used while building the Olympic Park.

So, how did they do it?
The Olympic Park was the first construction site in the UK to have a dedicated team of health experts on site working on preventing ill health as well as accidents.
A study by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health and the Health and Safety Executive found 5 important strategies that were implemented.
Lead from the top. The Olympic Delivery Authority set standards and also visibly engaged with the workforce to direct, motivate and change behaviour.
Develop competent supervisors. The positive impact of technically knowledgeable supervisors upon health and safety was understood, as well as softer communication skills to influence understanding and behaviour.
Foster an open, positive safety culture. If workers are engaged and feel managers care for their wellbeing, they’re more likely to get involved with the health and safety process.
Reward good behaviour. Incentives and rewards helped to promote and encourage safe behaviour.
Review and learn. Any problems were constantly reviewed and communicated across the organisation.

Ok, a lot of words there, but the really important aspect of these strategies showed that they were often at little cost to contractors, so a good health and safety record could be maintained throughout the build, by whatever company was involved.

There was also very encouraging evidence that workers from the Olympic Park, continued to implement the safety lessons they had learned, even after they moved to other construction projects. So these health and safety policies should filter down to our FENSA Fitters, where ever they may be working – We think this is a legacy worth having!

If you want to learn more, there is a HSE document ‘Safety Culture on the Olympic Park’ http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr942.pdf