How Can I Improve Waste Management?

We are all being made aware of the importance of Waste Management at the moment. It is all over the news and social media…stop waste…decrease landfill…say no to plastic.

Our waste has changed over the last hundred years which means traditional methods of disposal such as burying and burning are no longer feasible.

Waste management is a bit more than putting the bins out for the binmen to collect and take away. There is so much that you can do before collection which can save time, money and the planet.

The 6 R’s of Waste Management

The 6’s of waste management can help you manage your waste. They are:

  1. Reduce – There are things you can do to reduce your waste. Think…do you really need to print that email? If you do, does the signature of the email add an extra page of printing that you don’t need?
  2. Refuse – Simply say NO. Say no to plastic and other unrecyclable materials. Work with your suppliers and reduce packaging. In the canteen or company kitchen, say no to disposable cups and cutlery. If you have a watercooler, say no to the plastic cups and bring your own reusable cup.
  3. Reuse – Before you throw items away, have a think…can you use it for something else? Can you reuse packaging? Have you printed a page you didn’t need, use it as scrap paper. An old cup or pot, can you store things in it? It could be a new pen pot. Get creative, turn an old ladder on its side, mount on a wall and you have a new shelf or rack for extra storage.
  4. Recycle – There are so many schemes for recycling, have a look in your local newspaper and see what programmes are in your area. These schemes can cover clothing, metal, wood and more. You can also find recycling bins in your local supermarket car park.
  5. Repair – Repairing things when needed is a great way to reduce waste. Ripped workwear can be mended by stitching it back together. Superglue, nails and tape are other items you can use too.
  6. Resell – We have all heard the saying…’ one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’. There are so many selling sites and pages now. Sites like eBay, Shpock, Gumtree and so many selling pages on Facebook and Facebook Marketplace. Of course, you can always stick an advert in your local post office as well. These are great ways of getting rid of unwanted items and you can make a little bit of money at the same time. You never know…you might find some treasure yourself.

Organising your Waste

If items are destined to be disposed of, then organise your waste, so that it can be disposed of or recycled correctly. How you do this, can depend on the industry you work in.

Schools

The biggest source of waste in schools is paper, followed closely by cardboard. Make it easy to sort waste by placing colour-coded bins in classrooms. You can have a blue bin for paper, green for recycling, red for plastics and black for general waste. Using these colours can encourage and make it easy for children to get into the habit of recycling. Why not have bins with transparent bodies so that the children can see their efforts?

Offices

Paper, cardboard, disposable cups and plastic make up the majority of office waste. Having coloured open-top bin for recycling paper and cardboard between a group or for an individual will make it super easy for staff to recycle. Each member of staff can have their own small lidded bin for general waste tucked under their desk.

Warehouses

Warehouses can produce vast amounts of waste, this could be cardboard, shrink wrap and pieces of metal. A standard waste bin would simply not be enough. Installing industrial recycling and waste sacks could be the answer! Have a different sack for shrink wrap, metal, glass, cardboard and general waste for easy disposal into larger wheeled bins ready for collection.

Clinical and Research Facilities

It is vital waste is sorted correctly in clinical and research facilities, especially when disposing of items such as chemicals and sharps. Installing clinical sack holder bins is an ideal way of sorting waste. Differentiate between the types of waste by having a different colour lid for each waste type. When disposing of chemicals and other liquids such as acids or even body fluids, try using granular absorbents. These granules absorb and neutralise liquids enabling them to be simply swept up and disposed of in the general waste. This can save time and a lot of money as specialist waste collections are not required.

When sorting your waste, make sure you come up with a plan and inform your staff so they can follow your procedures. Applying labels to your bins can help ensure procedures are followed, especially if you have visitors or patients who will not be aware of your waste management plan.

I hope reading this has given you ideas on how you can manage your waste.

We will be back in the new year! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

How Do I Keep Safe From Hazards At Work?

Over the last couple of months, we have been discussing different areas of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). We have covered respiratory protection, gloves, head protection, ear and knee protection. This month we are going to cover the topics of fall equipment, high-visibility clothing and eye protection.

Fall Protection

Fall protection is used in more industries than you may realise; It is used in construction, building maintenance, window cleaning as well as the emergency services to name a few.

It is essential that your equipment is tested regularly and meets current safety standards which can be found on the government health and safety website – https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg367.pdf

Fall protection is generally broken down into 4 categories ; Fall prevention, fall elimination, fall arrest and administrative controls.

Fall elimination means to discover a way to complete a task without the need for working at height and removing the fall risk completely.

If the elimination of a fall cannot be achieved then fall prevention applies. This would apply for any tasks that need to be carried out close to a fall hazard, like working on the edge of a building.

Fall prevention falls in to two sections. The first being to use barriers at the hazard point such as rails or scaffolding around the building. The second section would be to ensure personal protection equipment (PPE), for example a Restraint Positioning Lanyard and Harness is used.

Fall arrest, means to protect a worker who has fallen, from dangerous contact with the ground, in other words to catch before descending. Hitting the ground from any height can result in serious injury, shock or even death, fall arrest equipment will prevent fatalities.

Administrative controls are required when and where changes need to be made to reduce the risk of a fall. This could be as simple as adding warning signs or notifying staff.

Ensure you and your company follow the fall arrest ABCDE for good practice and for the safety of everyone:

A – Anchorage: A fixed structure, this could be part of a building.

B – Bodywear: A full body harness, ensure your harness meets the European standards EN361 & EN358 such as a 4 point restraint harness.

C – Connector: How your bodywear and anchorage are connected together such as a lanyard.

D – Deceleration Device: This is an essential component designed to absorb the energy from a fall to reduce injury. This could be an energy-absorbing twin lanyard.

E – Emergency Plan & Equipment: A clear plan of action should a fall occur and a rescue to take place. This procedure should be made known to all workers.

High Visibility Clothing

High visibility or high-viz clothing, is clothing which is highly fluorescent. The main colour is bright, usually yellow, pink or orange with reflective tape or banding and can be seen easily against any background. High-vis clothing is worn in many industries and environments.

The visibility is categorised into 3 classes, the amount of fluorescent material and reflective tape on a garment determines the category.

Class 1: This is the lowest level. The minimum amount of fluorescent material is 0.14 sqm and reflective tape is 0.10 sqm. These garments are usually worn on the lower half of the body. The most common class 1 garment is trousers. They are usually made from fluorescent material with two reflective bands on each trouser leg.

Class 2: This is the medium level of visibility. The minimum amount of fluorescent material is 0.50 sqm and reflective tape is 0.13 sqm. High-vis waistcoats usually fall in this category with reflective bands over the shoulders and around the torso.

Class 3: You’ve guessed it, this is the highest class. The minimum amount of fluorescent material is 0.80 sqm and reflective tape is 0.20 sqm. These items cover a larger area of the body, such as a high-vis jacket.

Risk assessments should always be conducted to decide which class of visibility should be worn. High visibility garments should conform to the International standard BS EN ISO 20471:2013+A1.

Eye Protection

Eye protection means the use of eyewear such as glasses or goggles to prevent injury to the eyes or loss of sight. It can also be achieved by using a full face covering.

Choosing the correct eyewear primarily depends on the potential hazard.

Protective Glasses: These provide protection against small objects, and can be used to avoid dust impacting the eye. Similar to prescription glasses in style with wider arms for additional protection. If you are working outside, smoke lensed glasses will provide the protection you need and act in a similar way to sunglasses.

Safety Goggles: They provide all-round protection against liquids and small particles. The deep rims ensure the goggles seal the eye area and can protect from liquids and small impacts. The elasticated strap ensures a comfortable fit for the user. Depending on your working environment, you may require vented goggles to prevent fogging.

Ensure that your safety glasses and goggles are CE Marked and are EN166 Compliant.

Full Face Safety Visor: If you are at risk from a greater hazard then you may need full eye and face protection. Safety visors can be used as well as safety glasses if required and can be worn for prolonged periods of time as they are usually fitted around the head for additional comfort.

Depending on the task in hand, the shield can be a clear PETG (Polyethylene terephthalate glycol) or could be a mesh.

This concludes our monthly discussions on PPE, I hope you have found them informative. If you require any further assistance in regards to PPE please feel free to contact us on 01353 665141.

How do I keep safe at work?

Last month we started discussing the importance of PPE, we talked about face coverings, gloves and head protection. In this months blog, we are continuing this discussion by covering ear and knee protection

Lets start with…

Ear Protection

Ear protection should be worn if noise or sound levels exceed 85 decibels. Ear/hearing protection is designed to reduce the level of sound that reaches the eardrum to reduce the risk of hearing loss.

When you are looking at ear protection, it helps to understand the ratings so you can select the appropriate piece of kit.

The Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is a measurement that rates the effectiveness of the device to reduce the sound exposure. The higher the NNR number, the better the noise reduction potential.

The Single Number Ratings (SNR) is an international rating system for noise reduction. Tests are carried out in laboratories that are independent of the manufacturer. The results determine the rating given.

NRR and SNR ratings show the number of decibels the item will reduce the noise level by. These ratings are measured differently so you may find the values are different but the general rule is the same, the higher the rating the better the performance of the item.

Ear Defenders or Ear Muffs provide protection by covering the ear with a cup. The outer shell of the cups is usually a hard thermoplastic with an acoustic foam layer. This foam absorbs the sound waves which in turn reduces the magnitude of the waves before they enter the ear. If you find defenders that are rated EN 352-1, this means that have been tested and meet the European requirements for hearing and performance protection. They must be labelled with the standard number, manufacturer and model number for identification.

Silverline compact ear defenders conform to EN352 and have an SNR rating of 27db. Each cup has a soft foam-filled cushion designed to provide comfort over prolonged periods of time. They fold up for easy storage on a work bag or workshop.

If you have little ones that are eager to help or if you are taking them to an event where noise levels may be high like a fireworks event, Junior Ear Defenders are ideal with an NRR of 26db. They offer a low profile and foam cushioned headband and cups for comfort.

Ear Plugs are another form of ear protection. They are able to offer a higher level of protection as they are inserted into the ear canal. They are used when the highest level of protection is required and because they fit into the ear canal they can be used with other types of PPE. They are extremely lightweight, easy to carry and store. Ear Plugs should conform to the EN352-2 European standard, however, this marking may only appear on the packaging. EN352-2 means that the plugs meet the requirements for EN352-1 as well as additional requirements such as design and minimum attenuation (loss of sound waves strength).

When you are considering ear plugs, you need to consider the environment in which you are going to use them. Do you require Corded Ear Plugs? It is very hard to tell if someone is wearing plugs, as they insert into the ear canal can be difficult to see them. Having corded ear plugs allows other people such as colleagues to see this item of PPE is in use.

Should you be working with machinery or in construction, corded ear plugs may be a hazard. Ear plugs without cords are available, try to get ear plugs that are bright in colour so that others may be able to see that ear plugs are in use.

Knee Protection

Knee Pads help to reduce the impact on your knees and provide cushioning when kneeling, to help prevent injuries. They may also protect you from sharp objects such as tools and nails. There are four types of knee protection:

Type 1: Knee protection which is not part of a garment. These are usually fastened to the knee by using straps.

Type 2: These knee pads are placed in pockets or attached to trousers in the area of the knee.

Type 3: This is completely independent and not worn as part of clothing, such as a kneeling mat.

Type 4: The knee protection for this level is incorporated into the design of a stand-alone item, such as a kneeling stool.

Each type of protection is defined by different levels of the European Standard EN14404. This standard measures the size, force distribution, penetration resistance and user testing.

Level 0 – Knee pads at this level are designed for working environments where working on your knees is minimal. They provide comfort when working on flat surfaces. Hard Cap Knee Pads provide this level of protection with a foam inner for extra comfort.

Level 1 – These pads provide protection against items 1cm or smaller which are on a hard and flat surface. They are ideal for those who are working on their knees in regular intervals. Gel Layered Knee Pads provide this level of protection. The gel layer compresses less than foam and gives greater comfort for longer.

Level 2 – Knee protectors rated level 2 can be used on flat surfaces as well as uneven surfaces in tough conditions, such as a building site or quarry. They must provide protection against a penetration force of at least 250+10 N. To get this level of protection, Hard Cap Gel Knee Pads are what you need. The pre-shaped flexible plastic caps and gel layer gives protection without reducing mobility or comfort.

Come back and have a read of our November blog when we will be discussing more PPE categories and keeping you safe at work.

Why is PPE so important?

The importance of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) has been highlighted in the news recently due to COVID-19. With members of the general public as well as professionals now required to wear PPE, the sales of items such as gloves, aprons and face masks have gone through the roof. But, do you really know what you are buying?

PPE is worn in addition to clothing to help to protect you and others from injury or cross-infections. PPE can provide full-body coverage or provide protection for a specific body part, for example; hands, eyes and feet.

Respiratory Protection

In other words, Face Masks.

In the UK, it is now a legal requirement to wear face coverings such as masks in shops and on public transport, and is advised when you cannot keep 2 metres apart.

One of the most familiar masks is 3 Ply Disposable Surgical Face Masks. Worn mostly by people in the medical profession, they are a comfortable fit and can be thrown away after use. These masks should always meet the European Standards EM:14683.

For a mask to meet the standard of EM:14683, it needs to meet the following requirements:

  • Bacteria Filtration Efficiency (BFE): >98% (Size of typical bacteria at 3-5 microns)
  • Particulate Filtration Efficiency (PFE): >99% 0.1 micron particle size
  • Differential Pressure (Delta P): <3.0 mm (Breathability – Pressure Difference, a low value is better)
  • Fluid resistance: 80 mmHg (Measure the ability to resist fluids at a specified pressure; level 1 = 80mmHg, Level 2 = 120 mmHg, level 3 = 160 mmHg)

You may also have seen Valved Face Masks. These masks are intended for prolonged use, as they allow exhaled air to escape from the mask whilst stopping dust, mists and fibres being inhaled.

Valved Face Masks are primarily used in trades such as Carpentry, Construction and Engineering. They are not used in the medical profession as the valve creates jets of exhaled air which can spread bacteria and viruses.

Gloves

Gloves are one of the most frequently used items of PPE; they can reduce the risk of injury and stop the spread of contaminants. With so many materials to choose from, which one is going to be fit for purpose?

Leather Gloves are designed to be hard-wearing and for repeated use. Rigger Gloves are one of the most familiar leather gloves. Designed for construction and general usage, these gloves are reliable with knuckle protection and safety cuff.

Welders Gauntlets; made from Cow Split Leather, protect the user from extreme heat. They conform to the European Safety Stanard of EN388, this means the gloves fabric or layers of fabric have the ability to resist heavy rubbing, cutting by a blade or sharp object, tearing, and puncture by a pointed object. The red colour of these gloves mean they can be used in areas of reduced visibility to provide a high level of safety.

Cotton Gloves offer comfort for prolonged use. The breathable material ideal for handling delicate materials such as brass, without leaving fingerprints. You may find cotton gloves have been dipped in Nitrile or PVC for extra protection against grease and oils.

Nitrile Gloves give protection without losing your sense of touch. They are perfect for clinical and research settings where you may be dealing with small components. Normally blue or green in colour, to allow the user to clearly see dirt to prompt change. Nitrile Gauntlets are designed for prolonged use and the smooth, non-porous material even protects the user from micro-organisms.

Vinyl Gloves are disposable and are used for short tasks where things are a bit messy! Available in different sizes to suit the user and also with or without powder. Powder-free Vinyl Gloves are increasingly popular as there is no risk of allergic reactions which can be caused by powdered gloves. These gloves can be an alternative to disposable Latex Gloves.

Head Protection

Head protection is a crucial part of PPE. It’s aim is to protect the users head from impacts and stop injury. The piece of kit you need fully depends on what job you are carrying out.

Face Shields with Safety Visors provide full head and face coverage and protection. The Mesh Safety Visor is ideal for gardeners and maintenance workers. It provides protection from debris whilst not impacting sight. This visor conforms to the European standard EN1731 which refers to the material specifications, design, performance and test methods for eye and face mesh protectors. The Forestry Hat and Faceshield with Ear Defenders meets the requirements for EN1731 & EN352. EN352 refers to the Ear Defenders making sure there is adequate hearing protection.

Another form of head protection is Safety Hard Hats. Primarily used on Construction sites. They are lightweight for prolonged used and are fitted with adjustable harnesses to ensure the helmet fits the user. These helmets should conform to EN397 which states the hat has been designed to protect the wearer from falling objects and debris.

Did you know that most people do not use their PPE correctly?

Over 50% of PPE is not used or managed correctly. This can lead to the spread of infection and/or injury.

The most common reason for this is knowing when to change your PPE. There is no set time for changing your PPE so you need to monitor it, if it is dirty, wet or damaged you need to change it and dispose of it properly.

PPE covers a very wide spectrum from welders’ aprons to ear defenders, please check back next month for my next instalment on how to keep you safe at work.