4 December, 2014

Drowning – the silent, global pandemic

Ten key actions to prevent drowning (WHO report)

Ten key actions to prevent drowning (WHO report)

Every single hour, of every single day, 40 people around the world die from drowning.

This preventable killer is among the top 10 leading causes of death in every region of the world, and sadly it is children under five who are at the greatest risk of what is, essentially, a global pandemic.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) last month published its Global Report on Drowning, which now recognises the serious extent of the problem.

It’s a long-awaited and welcome report that sets out just how serious the issue is, and lists suggestions as to what can be done so that the global community can start to tackle the problem. Such is the enormity of the issue that it’s astounding that this is the first report and strategy of its kind to be published.

We hear about other terrible blights in the press every day, but drowning is the silent pandemic. An estimated 372,000 people die every year but the true figure is likely to be much higher, possibly as high as 50 per cent more in some countries, due to the methods of data collection used.

Regardless, the estimated death toll still puts drowning at two-thirds of that of malnutrition, and more than 50 per cent of that of malaria. Despite this, we have targeted prevention methods for these two issues, but none for drowning.

And let’s not kid ourselves that this is solely a Third World issue, as despite more than 90 per cent of these deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries, the problem also exists in developed nations where walking next to or being near water leads to a high number of incidents of drowning. The majority of drowning happens in inland water, in everyday situations. Within poorer nations, travel and fetching water are the major factors where drowning occurs.



The WHO report outlines 10 key actions to prevent drowning, simple steps which could help to save thousands of lives every year:

  1. Install barriers controlling access to water
  2. Provide safe places away from water for pre-school children
  3. Teach school age children basic swimming, water safety and rescue skills
  4. Train the public in safe rescue and resuscitation
  5. Strengthen public awareness
  6. Set safe boating, shipping and ferry regulations
  7. Manage flood risks and other hazards
  8. Coordinate drowning prevention with other sectors
  9. Develop a national water safety plan
  10. Address priority research questions with studies.

On top of these key actions, the report also outlines four recommendations that nations can implement to begin to address the pandemic, recommendations which RoSPA supports.

Nation states should A) implement proven prevention strategies tailored to their own circumstances, B) take steps to improve the data available, C) aim to develop a national water safety plan, and D) band together to form a global partnership for drowning prevention.

Together, we can tackle an issue that is so easily preventable that it should not even be a problem. Hundreds of thousands of people are dying needlessly each year, and, as the report states, the time to act is now.

David Walker, RoSPA’s leisure safety manager

21 November, 2014

Avoiding the dangers of asbestos

Guest blogger Clive Searle, sales director at Sussex-based BSW Heating, talks about what asbestos is, its history and dangers, and how to avoid harm if you work with the substance.

Asbestos TapeAsbestos is a material that was regularly used as a method of insulation for domestic and commercial properties as well as industrial buildings during the earlier 20th century. It was incapable of burning, making it the ideal material to stop households from suffering severe fire damage.

However, it was soon discovered that asbestos had potentially damaging effects on people’s lungs that could result in an unpleasant cough and noticeable shortness of breath. If someone was exposed to asbestos that was gradually deteriorating over a significant period of time or being broken up, drilled or chipped, they were at risk of a disease known as asbestosis.

The difficulty was that symptoms of asbestosis were not apparent until many years after exposure in most cases, so there were many tradesman working alongside the material that were completely unaware of the scarring taking place in their lungs.

Asbestos gained substantial media attention after it was linked to a form of cancer known as mesothelioma. Strict regulations were introduced to avoid workers being exposed to asbestos in the 1970s as a result of the findings.

Asbestos is the name given to a long strip of crystalline fibres that are resistant to heat, chemicals and electricity. With properties such as these, it was concluded that asbestos could potentially be used to great effect in various industries such as insulation, railway, shipbuilding, construction, electricity and more.

Three different types of asbestos were introduced into these industries, including crocidolite (blue asbestos), amosite (brown asbestos) and chrysotile (white asbestos). The most common of these was chrysotile, which was used up until 1999 when it was officially banned in the UK.

Blue and brown asbestos are far more dangerous than white asbestos and were banned in the 1980s. Neither blue nor brown asbestos could be imported into the UK after the asbestos regulations were introduced in 1970. People who have or may suffer in the future from asbestosis are entitled to compensation for working amongst the materials in the past.

The threat of asbestos has been widely reported across the UK since the regulations were first introduced. Around 4,000 workers a year die from past exposure to asbestos and asbestos-related diseases are by some distance the main cause of work-related deaths. Campaigns have been set up to support workers who have suffered from diseases associated with handling asbestos.Asbestos

Asbestosis and other serious asbestos-related conditions such as mesothelioma are not yet curable, meaning that almost all workers diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases will have to live with it for the rest of their lives. Asbestos is often referred to as “the hidden killer” due to the fact that so many workers are oblivious to the threat it poses to their health.

The most worrying fact of all is that many old buildings that require construction work still contain asbestos, meaning that there are still workers today being exposed to the dangerous material despite its ban. Thankfully, tradesmen are now given specialist training to identify asbestos and deal with it appropriately.

It is essential for anyone who believes they may be at risk from the presence of asbestos in their home or working environment to get in touch with a specialist asbestos removal team. You can also get in touch with campaign groups to receive detailed information and assistance regarding the steps you should take. By reading up on asbestos, what it looks like and where it may be present, you can make an informed, accurate assumption and realise when professional assistance may be necessary.

Workers who are at risk of being exposed to asbestos or believe they may have worked with it in the past will benefit from the following set of guidelines:

Avoid it

You should never be forced to work somewhere where asbestos may be present. You are fully entitled not to start working on a project you believe may be contaminated with asbestos-related materials.

Whoever assigned you the job, whether it’s the customer or your boss, should always make you aware of asbestos before you start a project. Ultimately, it is advised that you avoid asbestos wherever possible.

Be aware of its forms

There are different types of asbestos as mentioned above. Some of these types of asbestos were best suited to certain parts of a property, such as the plumbing and insulation areas.

You should not work on any asbestos materials at any time without the correct training but it is essential that you do not approach asbestos products that come in the form of spray coating, lagging or

Clive Searle, sales director at BSW Heating

Clive Searle, sales director at BSW Heating

boards. Some types of asbestos are more dangerous than others and require the attention of licensed contractors.

Asbestos training required

If you have asbestos training you can continue to work but it is vital that you do this only if you have the correct training. Simple advice or information is not enough as specialist training is required to identify certain materials and approach them in the correct way.

Always wear the correct clothing

You MUST wear the correct clothing and equipment when dealing with asbestos, which includes a specific asbestos protection mask and NOT a standard dust mask.

Hand tools instead of power tools

When working on asbestos, be sure to stick with hand tools rather than power tools to reduce the amount of asbestos dust produced. Use a specialist vacuum to clean as you go as well as asbestos waste bags that are properly labelled when disposing of the material.

19 November, 2014

Preventing burn injuries to children

safetygonesane is delighted to feature a guest blog marking the Department of Health’s Week of Action, running from November 17-21, which is focusing on health professionals working with the families of children and young people aged 0-19. Here, Dr Toity Deave, associate professor for family and child health from the Centre for Child and Adolescent Health at the University of the West of England, Bristol, gives an insight into ongoing efforts to reduce burn injuries to young children.

hot_drink“I never realised that it would be as bad as that. If only I had known.”

How many times have parents said that to emergency department staff, to burns specialists or to their health visitors?

In the UK, we drink so much tea and coffee but are generally unaware that a hot drink can scald a child even up to 15 minutes after it has been made. Therefore, if a child pulls it down over itself, the liquid will spread over the trunk, shoulders and arms. Because their skin is 14 times thinner than ours as adults, they will be scalded much more quickly than us and will have an extensive injury. As someone with a health visiting background, I can’t help but want to do something to raise awareness.

How many more children need to be injured before there is a national hot drinks awareness week with, for example, coffee shops doing their bit to educate their customers and ensure that they support the “hot drinks pledge”?baby_hands

Prevention is key, but adequate and appropriate first aid prevents further tissue damage and subsequent morbidity. It is amazing to learn that running under cool water for 20 minutes (yes, 20 minutes; believe me, that feels like a long time!), even up to 1-3 hours post-injury, will help the healing and reduce scarring.

“Cool, call and cover” is the message. Cool under running water for 20 minutes, call for help (111, 999), cover the cooled burn with cling film or clean, non-fluffy cloth.

We want to advise parents, childcare staff and others about the dangers of hot drinks but there have been national media campaigns, small scale, local endeavours but with short-term, if any, impact.

Why is this the case?

It is probably a mixture of factors including the fact that we often have hot drinks in a social setting so we don’t pay so much attention to our children, supervise them less and give less consideration to where we place our mugs. There is our lack of awareness about how even a cuppa at a temperature that we are happy to drink can still scald a young child. Those mugs with lids are expensive to those on a limited budget and, in reality, can you imagine serving up tea at home in one of those to all your friends?

Those of us in the Children’s Burns Research Centre are looking at ways to raise awareness and reduce scald and burn injuries.

We have just completed the Keeping Children Safe at Home (KCS) programme of work and submitted a 900+page report to the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)! This was a huge programme of 16 separate studies that we undertook over a five-year period in four study centres based in Nottingham, Bristol, Norwich and Newcastle (universities and trusts), led by Denise Kendrick of the University of Nottingham. The University of Leicester and the Child Accident Prevention Trust were also involved.

For one of the later studies within this programme, we used a structured process of combining evidence with practical service delivery and we developed an Injury Prevention Briefing (IPB) to reduce fire-related injuries – a guidance document for children’s centre staff to use with families.

Why fire-related injuries? They have the steepest of all child injuries in the UK and there is evidence about effective interventions, such as working smoke detectors. We tested it out in children’s centres and, as part of this study, we asked children’s centre staff about parent responsiveness to the advice and discussions, barriers and facilitators to implementation and for suggestions for improvements to the IPB.

Consequent to that, we have developed a second IPB that’s used research results from other studies within the KCS programme (case-control studies, decision modelling, cost effectiveness and literature reviews) and advice from four workshops with practitioners in Nottingham, Newcastle, Norwich and Bristol. It includes key messages and research findings together with information snippets, links with child development checklists, quizzes, handouts and sources of further information and resources for falls, burns/scalds and poisoning injuries. It is aimed at a range of practitioners who can use it in their work supporting families with young children in a variety of different contexts. It is freely available as an interactive pdf.

• Also in support of the Week of Action, a blog by Sheila Merrill, RoSPA’s public health adviser, is available to read on the blog site of Viv Bennett, the Department of Health’s director of nursing.

10 November, 2014

Claudia Winkleman’s daughter – A tragic wake-up call to us all

Candles burning in the darkLast week, the nation was shocked by the appalling Halloween accident involving television presenter Claudia Winkleman’s eight-year-old daughter Matilda. While the specifics of the incident are still not clear, the incident nevertheless serves as a shocking reminder of both the dangers of naked flames, as well as the devastating effect accidents can have in general – particularly when young children are involved.

Every year, more than one million children under the age of 15 experience accidents in and around the home, resulting in a visit to our already overburdened accident and emergency units. Accidents are the most common cause of death in children over the age of one and every year they leave many thousands permanently disabled or disfigured. While falls account for the majority of non-fatal accidents, the highest number of deaths are due to fire.

Last year alone, 138 people in England were admitted to hospital after their clothing either ignited or melted, and as the case of Matilda Winkleman shows, an unattended flame has the ability of turning a happy family event into every parent’s worst nightmare in a matter of seconds.

Perhaps most tragic of all, is the fact that most of these accidents are preventable through increased awareness, improvements in the home environment and greater product safety. As RoSPA’s recent work with Intertek shows, there are simple steps that parents can take to prevent a similar accident, such as ensuring all children’s Halloween costumes, masks and wigs must carry a CE mark (which means they comply with the European Toy Safety Directive and should they catch alight, the rate of burning is slow), as well as removing naked flames by not having candles within reach of smiling pumpkinchildren and making sure all outfits worn by children are well-fitted and not too long or flowing. RoSPA’s website is full of advice and guidance on keeping your loved ones safe from harm.

RoSPA believes that no parent should ever have to suffer the agony and uncertainty Claudia Winkleman and her family are undoubtedly going through following this horrendous incident. That is why every year we campaign to stop the misery and heartache preventable accidents cause by providing information, advice and practical support to parents across the UK and beyond. If you would like to support RoSPA in our mission to stop accidents like the one Matilda suffered from ever happening again, please visit our fundraising page to see the enormous difference your contribution can make.

Sheila Merrill, RoSPA’s public health adviser

7 November, 2014

Schools must do more to get kids swimming

Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.comHaving swimming and water safety skills is fundamental, and along with being a lifesaver it opens up a world of fitness and leisure activities to create healthier lifestyles.

So it is surprising that new figures from the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) show nearly half of seven to 11 year olds cannot swim 25 metres unaided – that’s 200,000 children every year denied the chance to learn this essential skill.

Swimming is the key tool against drowning. It is important because around one quarter (our estimate) of all drowning happens to people who never intended to get wet, and were just spending time by the water.

Although much is being done in the majority of primary schools to ensure their children can swim, to discover that 45 per cent of Key Stage Two students cannot perform this most basic task in water is a damning indictment.

There has been positive work to address the problem, retaining the obligation within the curriculum is good news, but more has to be done. For example, why should schools rated as “outstanding” by Ofsted retain that rating if they do not provide swimming lessons?

David Walker_2013

David Walker, RoSPA leisure safety manager

A particularly worrying finding is that four in 10 parents do not know their children’s swimming ability.

Not only does swimming help to prevent drowning, it also has a whole range of other benefits. It is one of the best forms of exercise, and gives people the confidence to try new and exciting activities.

We support what ASA is doing as every child has a right to learn swimming and water safety skills.

To find out more about what can be done, see www.swimming.org/schoolcharter

David Walker, RoSPA leisure safety manager

16 October, 2014

Automated gates – advice for homeowners

GSW LOW RES logo v2 web.fwIt’s Gate Safety Week (October 13-19, 2014). Here Michael Corley, RoSPA’s head of campaigns and fundraising, talks about how to play it safe when installing an electric gate.

Automated or electric gates are becoming a popular feature for homeowners. They are great for bolstering home security and help to create a sense of privacy.

For families with young children and pets, automated gates guard against the risk of an impromptu adventure away from the home environment. Older people or those with a disability may also be attracted to the benefits of automated gates, which do away with the need to get in and out of the car to open a potentially heavy gate.

But much as these gates are a welcome addition to many homes, they can be potentially lethal if there is a failure to stick to the recommended safety measures.

In the last four years, there have been seven accidents relating to automated gates, two of which have resulted in the deaths of young children. These occurred because the gates in question did not carry the correct safety features.

There have also been a further seven accidents, including four fatalities, involving heavy manual and automated gates which have fallen on top of the victim as a result of not having been properly installed.

It is estimated that as many as two-thirds of all automated gates do not meet the current recommended safety protocol, so the likelihood of another accident occurring is quite high, sadly.

Even though Gate Safe’s training course has been running for two years, it’s clear that many electric gates are still being fitted and maintained in a way that causes concern, and there are still gates that were installed before the current guidelines were introduced.

The message is simple: no one should install or work on automated gates without knowing the relevant safety standards.

Consumers should always find a suitably trained installer who understands the safety measures that need to be strictly adhered to.

Gate Safe’s advice to homeowners is:

• If you are having an automated gate fitted, always ask for an installer who has been trained to understand the risks associated with automated gates. Go to the Gate Safe website www.gate-safe.org to find your nearest Gate Safe Aware installer

• An automated gate is classed as a machine. It has a legal requirement to be CE marked

• Any automated gate should be supported by a minimum of two types of safety feature from a choice of safety edges / photo cells and force limitation. Gate Safe always recommends the inclusion of photo cells and safety edges on all automated gates regardless of whether a force limitation device has been installed to ensure the highest level of safety

• If you already have an automated gate, stick to the regular maintenance checks (a minimum of every six months) to ensure its continued safety. The price quoted for an automated gate should incorporate a 12-month fully inclusive maintenance agreement. The cost should also include a training visit to explain to the main users of the gate how to operate it safely and how to disable it in the event of an accident

• Alongside the recommended minimum six-monthly maintenance inspections, all automated gates should be regularly reviewed to identify any changes to the site (for example, if a brick wall is built within close proximity to the gate).

For more information, visit gatesafetyweek.org.uk/.


16 September, 2014

Two wheels good

Last week the UK arm of security giant Securitas took part in a virtual static cycling tour. Twenty two offices took part in the Tour of Securitas, raising funds for RoSPA and awareness of safer cycling.

Emma Isaac and Helen Halls in action.

Emma Isaac and Helen Halls in action.

Our campaigns officer Helen Halls went along to two stages of the Tour. Here she shares her memories of an inspiring week.

With colleagues from Scotland and Northern Ireland reporting back positively from Day One, I knew I would be in for an interesting time when I went along to Securitas’ Birmingham office on Day Three. I also knew I couldn’t let the side down – Colin, Jennifer and Sandy had all hopped on a static bike and added some miles to Belfast and Edinburgh’s total.

I was struck straight away by the amazing atmosphere down at Cuckoo Wharf – and the effort Securitas staff were putting into the Tour. Emma Isaac had been pedalling for an hour and a half when we got there – and didn’t get off until she’d clocked up 35km. Others came and gamely took their turn, tossing money into the big donations bucket. Colleagues popped in to give moral support – and to take the mickey!

I managed a comfortable 7km before handing over to our new road safety manager Nick, a keen cyclist who breezed through his 6km while simultaneously giving an interview!

Phil Thomas and Laura Maddocks.

Phil Thomas and Laura Maddocks.

Day Five saw us at the closing event in Wellingborough, in the same office where Tour plans were first hatched. Despite having been all over the country supporting the event, Tour masterminds Phil and Laura were still full of beans.

Staff here weren’t just cycling – though a steady stream flowed in to take turns on the two bikes. You could also guess the teddy’s name, take a punt on how many wine gums were in a jar and guess the weight of the beautiful Tour cake. And speaking of cake, there were loads of home-baked treats for cyclists to buy to put back the energy they’d burnt off on the bikes.

We left Wellingborough saddle sore but buzzing – and already thinking about what we could do together next year. Thank you Securitas UK – you were amazing!

* There’s still time to support this fantastic fundraiser – click here to donate.

9 September, 2014

A message from your virtual coach

Cycling legend Shane Sutton has sent his support to Securitas UK staff as they do a virtual cycling tour of the UK to raise funds for RoSPA.

Hi Guys,

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone for getting involved and increasing awareness in something that is not only relevant to our strategy at British Cycling and Sky Racing of increasing rider participation from all walks of life, but also something that has impacted me personally, which is the safety of our cyclists on the road.

If we are to achieve these goals then we need to ensure that not just cyclists but all road users become aware of the dangers and hopefully make our roads safer for everyone.

Shane Sutton

Shane Sutton

You may be aware that Bradley and I were involved in serious road collisions recently which landed both of us in hospital, which just goes to show that even professional cyclists are not immune to the dangers of our busy roads.

Thankfully Brad went on to win a yellow jersey and I was quickly back on my bike, but it could have easily been a lot more serious. The point is that motorists are on the whole not use to, or aware of, cyclists and the dangers they face on a daily basis and that is why I am delighted and very grateful to you all for giving your time and energy to this great campaign which really will highlight the need for safer cycling on our roads.

I’m sorry that I am not able to attend your virtual tour, as I will be involved in our own tour of Britan, but I will be thinking of you and the great work you are doing.

Aberdeen to Uxbridge is a long ride so there will be some tough times ahead and no doubt some fine saddle sores to compare but remember pain is temporary, achieving your goal lasts forever. Pedal hard and have some fun as you ride.

Good luck to you all and I will be checking on your results.

Shane Sutton OBE (Your virtual Coach!)

1 September, 2014

Back to school – Lifesaving tips for drivers and parents

Ah, September. The smell of diesel fumes hangs heavy in the air, the pavements overflow with sleep-deprived children, while commuters attempt to contort their bodies to squash sardine-like into creaking buses and trains. It can only mean one thing – school’s back! Whether you’re a parent or driver, it’s important that you take extra care on the roads this car_kidsautumn and encourage your children to do the same. With that in mind, here are a few simple tips to make the morning and evening commute that little bit safer!

For parents:

Using the car

• Check that your child is correctly restrained. If you’re planning to carry any extra children make sure that you have the age-appropriate child seat. Please see the RoSPA’s dedicated website – www.childcarseats.org.uk – for more car seats advice.

• Choose a safe place to drop your child off near to the school. Aim for somewhere where you won’t cause congestion and danger to those walking or cycling to school.

• Talk to your children about road safety on your way to school, stress the importance of wearing a seatbelt.

 Walking to school

• If you are planning to let your child walk to school on their own for    the first time, talk to them about the route they child_handwill use and the  dangers they may encounter. Watch your child so that you can judge whether they have the ability to cross roads safely on their route to school.

• Children learn by watching adults. If walking your child to school, talk to them about how they can keep themselves safe and always try to set a good example when crossing the road.

Cycling to school

Cycling is a fun and healthy way to get to school, especially if a few simple precautions are taken:

• If your child is planning to cycle to school, check that their bike is in good working order. Ensure the brakes work, the tyres are pumped up and the saddle and handlebars are securely tightened.

Family and friends cycling• Plan the route they will take and consider cycling it with them for the first time.

• RoSPA recommends that a helmet be worn at all times.

For drivers:

• Be extra observant and keep a watchful eye for children walking and cycling to school, they might be distracted and excited.

• Reduce your speed where you see lots of children, especially near to schools. If you are driving at 30mph and a child runs out, your stopping distance will be at least 23 metres.

• Rushing causes accidents – give yourself more time for your journey and never be tempted to speed!

For more vital health and safety guides, facts and advice, sign up to SafetyMatters, RoSPA’s free fortnightly newsletter!

Nick Lloyd, RoSPA road safety manager

26 August, 2014

Something that everyone should be a part of

Laura Maddocks, from Securitas’ health and safety team, blogs about what Securitas staff will be doing during September’s ‘Tour of Securitas’ and explains why the security firm is fundraising for RoSPA.

The locations have been mapped out, routes planned and bikes ordered. With the Cycle to Safety Champions fully motivated and networking with colleagues, plans for the forthcoming Health & Safety event, ‘Tour of Securitas’ are well underway.

Tour of Securitas logo finalSecuritas staff can take part in the event directly by signing up to join the cycle team for their local participating office and help them to achieve their target of 90 miles per bike. Those with a competitive streak can have a go at the 500m sprint challenge to be in with a chance of being crowned Sprint King or Queen.

Those who prefer a more sedate approach can still participate in the event by entering the national competitions by completing the ‘Health & Safety Word Search’ or by submitting an entry for the ‘Design a T-shirt’ competition.

Working with our charity partner The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), our aim is to create a focus on health, fitness and safety, and raise awareness for safety, both at work and in the home/ community, combining our shared goal to ensure that all our personnel are not only safe at work but go home at the end of the day to a safe home environment too.

Accidents kill about 14,000 people a year and seriously injure hundreds of thousands more. RoSPA is one of the few national voices speaking out on this issue.

Through its own campaigns and by lobbying the government, RoSPA has been instrumental in changing mindsets and helping to develop new legislation that saves lives.

However, as a charity it relies on the continued support of organisations and who share its mission to protect the country’s most vulnerable.

By taking part in this event Securitas staff’s donations will be help fund RoSPA’s key campaigns and raise awareness of Cycling to Workthe free support they offer on leisure, home, road and occupational safety issues. This could include:

• Free practical support (such as the fitting of life-saving carbon monoxide alarms) to vulnerable families
• Road/Cycle safety campaigns
• Developing a network of voluntary community safety officers.

So I’m urging staff to get onboard, start pedalling and help support their local office to make the ‘Tour of Securitas’ a memorable and rewarding safety week for all.

To find out more about RoSPA, the UK’s family safety charity, visit www.rospa.com

To donate via JustGiving visit www.justgiving.com/Securitas-Securitas2/


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