Posts tagged ‘safety’

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.

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.

15 July, 2014

When you suffer a tragedy in your life surely you would want to help others?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m Joy Edwards, and in October 2010 both mine and my family’s lives changed forever.  On this morning my son, who was 8, walked into the twins’ bedroom and discovered his baby sister Leah entangled in a looped blind cord.

I ran into the bedroom, raised my daughter to try and slacken the cord and untangled her.  The ambulance was called and paramedics soon arrived and took over CPR on Leah.

The ambulance and paramedics took our little girl and we followed after in a police car.  When we arrived at the hospital I knew straight away the news was not good as there was a security man outside the room. Watching too many Casualty and Holby City programmes you learn the procedure.

Leah was so cold and the colour had already started to drain from her tiny face.  I willed her to wake up; she was never a very good sleeper and all I wanted her to do now was wake up so I could take her home to her siblings and twin brother.  The hardest thing I have ever had to do is tell her brothers and sister that she wasn’t coming home.

Our last photo of our daughter was in the September when she had her first ice cream. It’s a photograph we will treasure.

After her death I decided that it would not be in vain and was determined to raise awareness about the dangers of looped blind cords.

When ROSPA called and asked whether I would help with their campaign, I agreed without hesitation – well, wouldn’t you? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

ROSPA is a charity which relies on fundraising and charitable donations to raise awareness and prevent accidents.  Without donations they would not have been able to give away thousands of free cleats and safety packs to raise awareness and educate families on the dangers of blind cords.

They also campaign on risks around the home and the dangers of not wearing seat belts in vehicles, to name just a couple of things.

Accidents occur on a daily basis and many can be avoided.  Through raising awareness I hope the number of accidents can be reduced dramatically.

When I received a phone call to say I had been nominated for a RoSPA Guardian Angel Award I was out walking and I felt like I had a huge grin across my face.  All I thought of was “I am just a parent. Yes we had a terrible tragedy, but an award? Surely anyone in the same situation would do the same.”

When I start something I tend to carry on to the end. Even though new blind standards and regulations have been brought into force for manufacturers and fitters to adhere to, there is still more to do. Parents and grandparents who already have blinds in their homes still need to be educated on the dangers.

Joy AwardI was honoured on June 17 to be given the Archangel Award and was amazed at the standing ovation I received.

This is my first award and it has pride of place in our living room. Each time I look at it, opposite there is a photo of Leah smiling. I would like to think that she was proud too and that her death has prevented other families from going through the same heartache.

  • If you know of someone with an inspirational story like Joy, or someone who has worked tirelessly to improve the safety of those around them – whether they are a colleague, neighbour, friend or member of the community – we’d like to hear from you. Why not nominate them and show them just how much they are appreciated.
4 November, 2013

The countdown is on, November 5 here we come!

The big night is nearly upon us and soon the cold night sky will be lit up by spectacular fireworks of all colours, shapes and sizes.

Fireworks show on Independent DayIt’s a family occasion full of whizz-bangs and excitement that keeps everyone entertained, and while many of you will be attending an organised firework display, there will be others who will be holding their own at home. This is why it is a smart move to brush up on the Firework Code – essential reading for adults who are going to be handling fireworks.

Planning a firework display should not be rushed. There’s a lot to consider both before and after the fireworks have been set off! Ask yourself, is your garden big enough for the fireworks you are buying and seriously consider if your garden can cope with having a bonfire? Lighting it too close to a fence or shed could spell disaster. Do you have a safety plan in place in the event of an emergency? Have you set up an appropriate cordon? Young people should watch and enjoy fireworks at a safe distance and follow the safety rules for using sparklers. Remember, sparklers should not be given to children under five-years-old. All fireworks are explosives which have the potential to cause injury and damage if they are misused. This is why adults should help children and young people understand the dangers and share the important message that fireworks are not toys or missiles.

Each year, RoSPA hears about people being injured by fireworks and the traumatic experiences victims have gone through, including lifelong scarring and years of treatment. This is why it’s important that families ensure that fireworks are handled only by adults and treated with respect.

About half of these injuries happen at family or private parties and about a quarter in the street or other public place. A much smaller proportion – around 10 per cent – of the injuries happen at large public displays. Strictly speaking, attending an organised firework display is the safest option.

A rogue firework exploded from inside Ben's jacket, setting his shirt on fire in the process. Ben has since undergone seven skin grafts and is continuing to receive steroid injections to help stretch and soften the skin.

A rogue firework exploded from inside Ben’s jacket, setting his shirt on fire in the process. Ben has since undergone seven skin grafts and is continuing to receive steroid injections to help stretch and soften the skin.

Amy McCabe, whose son Ben was injured at a street firework display, has called on the public to choose the safer option of attending an organised display. Ben was four-years-old when he was left with permanent scarring after he was hit by a firework at the display held in a residential cul-de-sac in Cumbernauld, near Glasgow.

The rogue firework exploded from inside his jacket, setting his shirt on fire in the process. The firework, which had fallen over in the wet grass after being lit, flew off into the crowd at such speed, that initially spectators were none the wiser. It was not until Ben started screaming in pain that people realised he had been hit. Despite Ben’s jacket being zipped up to his chin moments earlier, the firework had somehow found its way inside. Surgeons told Ben’s mother Amy, 37, that her son would be scarred for life after suffering third degree burns to his chest, neck, under his right arm and behind his left ear. Ben who is now six-years-old has since undergone seven skin grafts and is continuing to receive steroid injections to help stretch and soften the skin.

Data collected across Britain in previous years shows that, on average, around 1,000 people visit A&E for treatment of a firework-related injury in the four weeks around Bonfire Night, with half of the injuries being suffered by under-18s. The minimum age for buying fireworks is 18 across the UK. Only buy fireworks from a reputable retailer and ensure the packaging carries the ‘CE’ mark or is marked with ‘BS 7114’.

RoSPA’s fireworks website – www.saferfireworks.com – provides details on UK law, tips for setting up a display and the Firework Code:

  • Plan your fireworks display to make it safe and enjoyable
  • Keep fireworks in a closed box and use them one at a time
  • Read and follow the instructions on each firework using a torch if necessary
  • Light the firework at arm’s length with a taper and stand well back
  • Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks
  • Never return to a firework once it has been lit
  • Don’t put fireworks in pockets and never throw them
  • Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators
  • Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire
  • Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.

Have a wonderful time and wrap up warm! I hear it might be a chilly one!

Sheila Merrill, RoSPA’s public health adviser

24 July, 2013

The danger of scrimping on fireplace installation costs

We all want our homes to look fantastic and price cuts to fireplaces and large televisions in recent years are very tempting. Most people love a bargain, but when buying wall-mounted televisions or fireplace surrounds, the focus is often on the price of the product and not the wider costs of having them safely installed in the home.

HomeFor a television this can mean paying up to £100 for an appropriate bracket and an additional £50-£100 to have that bracket properly fixed to the wall by a professional. For fireplace surrounds, safe fitting by a professional can add more than £100 to the overall cost of the product.

The tragic case of four-year-old Matthew Green, who was killed when a fireplace surround fell on him, has prompted the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to raise awareness in this area of safety, which unfortunately often gets overlooked.

The HSE issued a specific warning about modular, stone or artificial stone fireplace surrounds and the importance of their safe installation.  The key issue is about the fireplace surround falling, particularly onto children.  Toddlers can also try to climb up these surrounds, which can bring them crashing down onto the child.sofa_girl2

Individual components of these fireplaces can weigh more than 50kgs and the mantelpiece may also have a significant overhang, projecting forward from the lintel.  Unless fitted in a secure manner, this makes the mantel, in particular, liable to topple off the lintel.

RoSPA has been aware of problems with fireplace surrounds for the past few years and we are concerned that this seems to be developing into a significant issue.  Our advice is to do three things when buying one of these products:

  • Seek professional advice BEFORE buying the product.  Get assurance that the product you intend to buy is suitable and safe for your home
  • Get quotes for the fireplace surround AND fitting in advance.  Ensure that the combined cost is within your price range
  • Get the fireplace surround fitted by a professional.

In recent years, RoSPA has also issued warnings about the dangers of big, unstable flat screen televisions falling or being pulled onto toddlers, causing deaths and serious injuries. We are pleased to note that this issue appears to have been accepted by a number of retailers who are now promoting their professional installation service, encouraging homeowners to spend a few extra pounds on getting their expensive new television professionally installed.

money_notes

Additionally, there are now safety straps that can be bought for less than £10 to secure screens that are on top of cupboards and other areas, to stop them from toppling over.

In summary, both fireplace surrounds and televisions are normally perfectly safe at the point of purchase.  It is when they are fitted that they then become unsafe, especially if proper installation is not given the priority it deserves.

Yes, this can cost more, and yes, this may mean a wait until a professional can fit the product. But these are small prices to pay when you consider the injuries and deaths that unsafe installations have caused over the years.

For more information about safety advice, please visit www.rospa.com.

Philip LeShirley, RoSPA’s product safety adviser.

27 September, 2012

Make the most of your RoSPA Award

RoSPA Awards WreathThe RoSPA Occupational Health & Safety Awards are one of the most prestigious safety awards schemes in the industry and are judged by some of the industry’s most influential experts ranging from IOSH, NEBOSH, various trade unions, Cadbury, The Skills Funding Agency and of course RoSPA itself, to name but a few.  Sponsored by one of the biggest names in safety, NEBOSH, receiving an award from us is no easy task, so it’s important that no opportunity is wasted to gain the all important return on the time and money invested in securing your award. To help, RoSPA’s Head of Marketing, Sue Brookes, has put together the following advice, outlining some of the opportunities winning a RoSPA Award can bring and how to make the most them.

First you must decide what your key objectives for entering the RoSPA Awards are. Organisations enter for many different reasons, including:

  • Benchmarking different areas/sites/divisions of their business
  • Raising awareness of health and safety throughout their organisation
  • Gaining a competitive edge
  • Rewarding staff efforts
  • Highlighting successful projects for future tenders
  • Marketing and PR opportunities
  • Gaining an overall perspective of safety maturity within their organisation and where improvements need to be made

Once you’ve decided, you can start to consider how to maximise your chances of success and how to plan to make the most of the opportunities winning an Award can present.

Get everyone on board!

Often it’s only the senior management and health and safety teams who are aware that an organisation is taking part in the safety awards scheme. It’s very important (especially if your objective is to raise the profile of safety across your organisation) to tell every employee what you are doing and get them involved from the start. Let them know your objectives, what you expect to receive and how they can help.

Competition is a good thing!

If you’re aiming to benchmark different areas of your business or different sites, don’t forget to inform all of the staff in each area that this is your intention. You could build up a little competition between them with incentives, or even hold your own awards day for the whole company to get them to understand the importance of safety, which in turn could instil a real sense of worker involvement.

Be transparent!

Even if you don’t get the level of award you’d expected, don’t see this as a negative. The comprehensive submission and judging process means winning any level of RoSPA Award is a real achievement and a fantastic PR opportunity. Be totally open by telling everyone where your weaknesses lie and put an action plan together on how you will deal with them. Let everyone know what your objectives are for the following year and as long as you ensure they’re met, this will give you further press opportunities year on year!

Shout about itDon’t wait to shout about it

PR opportunities should not be left until you have received the award. Tell all your customers and potential customers that you intend entering the Awards and your reasons for doing so. Write tailored press releases for each of your target markets, tweet about it, post it on Facebook, include it in your regular newsletter – using social media for publicity is a cheap and effective way of sharing your message.

Now you’re a winner

Once you have received your Award, use every avenue possible to inform your employees, customers and suppliers of your fantastic result, including:

  • Creating a webpage dedicated to your organisation’s commitment to safety and:
    • Display the Award Winners’ logo and any other logos you have e.g. RoSPA Member logo, professional institute membership logos etc.
    • Include photographs from the Awards ceremony and presentation day
    • Upload press releases about your Award achievement and link to any external websites which have picked up on your success
    • List your health and safety teams’ achievements e.g. training, qualifications etc
    • Add details of health and safety projects you are undertaking or have implemented in the past. Outline the difference it has made to your organisation’s health and safety management systems
    • Talk about any training programmes you have in place
  • Writing tailored press releases and sending them out to publications relevant to your target market.  Need help? Use the RoSPA PR template supplied to all Award winners to kick-start your PR campaign
  • Using all your social media channels, and remembering that Facebook and Twitter love images, so upload your official and unofficial photographs from the day and evening ceremonies
  • Use the official Twitter #RoSPAWinner every time you post about your success and benefit from being part of a lively Twitter community
  • Creating a blog post from your health and safety manager to outline ‘how success was achieved’
  • Including the Award Winners’ logo on printed and digital materials such as tenders, letterheads, catalogues, marketing emails, websites etc

Celebrate your success

Bring key clients or prospective clients to the prestigious gala dinner, so that they get first-hand experience of your organisation’s dedication to safety commitment and your resulting success. We’re sure they’ll be impressed with the fantastic night of fine dining and entertainment and will enjoy helping you celebrate your success.

Competetive advantage

Give your tenders the winning edge

You can enter your organisation as a whole into the awards scheme and/or a specific project you have been working on. Success in either case could give your tenders a winning edge over your competitors, demonstrating your excellent safety performance. The value that award-winning safety assurances can offer to prospective clients shouldn’t be underestimated.

And finally, personal development

As the co-ordinator of the Award entry submission, your organisation’s success is also a key personal achievement.  Add it to your C.V and your LinkedIn profile – let being an Award winner have a positive effect on your career.

Don’t limit your Award winning celebrations. Make sure the world knows about your safety record, as it’s certainly something to shout about!

Sue Brookes, Head of Marketing, RoSPA 

20 September, 2012

RoSPA Occupational Health & Safety Awards – A business case

Aiming for high standards of health and safety is the right thing to do and is not just about legal compliance. Achieving and proving excellence in the way health and safety risks are managed has massive business benefits.

A strong health & safety culture, demonstrated by being a RoSPA Occupational Health & Safety Award Winner, pays for itself many times over in preventing injuries and lost staff time.  According to HSE Key Annual figures 2010/2011:

  • 1.2 million working people were suffering from a work related illness
  • 175 workers were killed at work
  • 115, 000 injuries were reported under RIDDOR
  • 200, 000 reportable injuries (over 3 day absence) occurred (LFS)
  • 26.4 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury
  • Workplace injuries and ill health (excluding cancer) cost society an estimated £14 billion (in 2009/10)

These figures alone demonstrate how reducing the incidences of accidents at work can benefit organisations in the most crucial way – their finances!

Because health and safety goes to the heart of the way a business is run, an ambitious approach to reducing accidents and safeguarding health speaks volumes about an organisation’s ethos and professionalism. This overt socially responsible attitude will not only act as a motivator internally amongst employees, reassured that their well-being is of paramount interest, but can also serve to win new business and tenders over competitors. At a time when adding value is key to procurement decisions, Award Winner assurances can be the winning indicator to potential clients.

If further persuasion is needed on the business case for entering the RoSPA Occupational Health & Safety Awards, then the enhanced safety culture that will undoubtedly be a consequence of entering the awards and the reduction in costly damage and business interruptions also need to be taken into account. Uninsured losses very often outweigh the cost of insurance premiums massively.
Uninsured costs can include:

  • Lost time
  • Sick pay
  • Damage or loss of product and raw materials
  • Repairs to plant and equipment
  • Extra wages, overtime working and temporary labour
  • Production delays
  • Investigation time
  • Fines
  • Loss of contracts
  • Legal costs.

Accident and ill-health costs are like an iceberg: costs that are recoverable are visible but those that are unrecoverable are hidden below the waterline and are many times greater. In recession, when sales and turnover are flat, saving money by avoiding accidents and ill health related absence makes a massive contribution to defending the bottom line.

High achievement in the RoSPA Awards will not only act as an internal benchmark for year on year performance but will identify your organisation as a beacon of success to competitors and clients alike.

David Rawlins, RoSPA Awards Manager

Make the most of your RoSPA Award success –  find out how!

22 June, 2012

Be carbon monoxide aware when letting your hair down at summer festivals

Summer is finally here and with many young people preparing to soak up the atmosphere at a variety of music festivals over the next few months, now is the time to start thinking about camping safety.

carbon monoxide poisoning (CO) camping festivals

Campers have become tempted to take a barbecue or gas stove into tents, awnings, caravans and motorhomes in order to keep warm or to shelter from the rain. RoSPA advises people not to do this as the burning of fossil fuels gives off enough poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) to kill.

Tents are often pitched close together at festivals as space is highly sought after. Naturally the focus is on having fun, but does the same amount of effort get invested into thinking about safety as it does in deciding what to wear and which acts to see? Because when it comes to the poisonous gas carbon monoxide (CO), taking time out to plan ahead and understand the risks of burning fossil fuels could help save a life.

CO is called the “silent killer” because it is colourless and has no smell. It is poisonous because it blocks the ability of the blood to absorb oxygen. CO results from the burning of all fossil fuels – not just gas and it is given off most when things smoulder rather than burn fiercely. Smouldering barbecues, in particular, give off CO but are mainly safe to use when outside in a well ventilated space. But problems arise when campers become tempted to take a barbecue or gas stove into tents, awnings, caravans and motorhomes in order to keep warm or to shelter from the rain. RoSPA strongly advises people not to do this:

  • Warm, smouldering barbecues, as well as gas stoves give off enough CO to kill
  • Exposure to CO in small amounts leads to a variety of symptoms including headaches, sickness, dizziness and breathlessness, which means there is a real risk of a person collapsing and becoming unconscious
  • The symptoms, which can often be confused with flu or a hangover, tend to disappear as soon as you get outside into the fresh air when oxygen levels in the blood are restored.

We are aware of at least five deaths from suspected CO poisoning involving campers in the UK in the past year. One victim of suspected CO poisoning was as young as six. The most recent case involved a 14-year-old girl who was found dead inside a tent at a Shropshire campsite in May. She is reported to have died from suspected CO poisoning after inhaling fumes from a disposable barbecue placed inside her family’s tent. These tragic deaths are a cold reminder of the consequences of not being fully aware of the dangers of CO. Each year in England and Wales, there are approximately 50 accidental deaths, 200 non-fatal poisonings that require hospital admission and 4,000 visits to A&E that result from CO poisoning*.

barbecue camping CO poisoning carbon monoxide

CO is called the “silent killer” because it is colourless and has no smell. Warm, smouldering barbecues, in particular, give off CO but are mainly safe to use when outside in a well ventilated space.

Here are some top tips to consider when cooking outside:

  •  Always cook two to three metres away from your tent and remember that cooking outside is a very different experience to cooking in the home, so accidents can easily happen
  • By making sure the stove or barbecue you are intending to use is set up on a solid and level surface; you reduce the risk of it falling over and setting the ground alight
  • Once you have finished with your barbecue it should be put fully out and stored well away from your tent, caravan, awning or motorhome in a well ventilated area. If the barbecue is warm it still has the potential to give off poisonous fumes.

Also, before daylight fades and the party gets into full swing, spare a moment to think about any potential fire hazards which could give you a nasty surprise. It is particularly important not to use a barbecue inside a tent for heat as you run the risk of fire as well as poisoning. There may not always be a water supply nearby to put a fire out and with so many tents in such close proximity to one another, the fire could quickly spread. Even a fire-resistant tent may burn and smaller tents mean there is usually only one exit. Also, however big the temptation may be to use naked flames such as cigarette lighters to see where you are going, opt instead for a torch. Naked flames spell nothing but trouble when coming into contact with tents!

Ultimately, festivals are there to be enjoyed to the max and camping is all part of the fun. For some it might even be the start of a brand new experience, but how angry and upset would you be if you or a friend ended up with serious injuries as a result of CO poisoning? By familiarising yourself and your friends with this safety advice, you are already making great steps to help reduce the risk of having your holiday fun rudely interrupted by a silent killer. Knowledge is power, so why be ignorant to the dangers when you can be one step ahead of the game?

For further advice and information on camping safety, visit www.rospa.com/leisuresafety/adviceandinformation/leisuresafety/camping-safety.aspx.

For more information on CO poisoning, visit www.carbonmonoxidesafety.org.uk.

*Figures quoted by the Department of Health (www.dh.gov.uk/health/2011/11/co-poisoning/).

Want to find out more about the science behind why CO is poisonous? Visit RoSPA’s FAQs.

Jenny McWhirter, RoSPA’s risk education adviser

12 April, 2012

Safety and risk make a happy partnership for future development

Play time is changing. In a modern age of technology and increasing safety concerns (as often reported by the media), children and young people are shying away from natural play in the great outdoors to immerse themselves in television and computer games.

outdoor play safety riskSome say this is down to the curse of a “cotton wool culture” where children and young people are failing to learn from experience i.e. gaining bumps and scrapes from building a tree house and instead are being “robbed” of this early key development by parents concerned for their children’s well-being. It is a fact however, that there are generations of parents and grandparents who grew up having fun outdoors, so what’s gone wrong?

The LASER Alliance, hosted by RoSPA, is committed to helping children and young people learn about safety by experiencing risk. Experiencing risk is essential in order to develop the skills to cope with all that life throws at them, whether they are learning to cross the road, helping to build a den in the woods or knowing what to do in an emergency. The Alliance was officially launched earlier this year at an event bringing together safety education practitioners from across the country – and the choice of venue could not have been more fitting.

Bristol Lifeskills became the first safety centre to receive accreditation through a new RoSPA and Department of Health scheme in 2007. Based at The CREATE Centre, Hotwells, it uses realistic settings such as a house, building site and zebra crossing to help children and other members of the community learn more about home, road and leisure safety. A variety of settings, resembling snippets of real life, help to stress the importance of assessing risks and dealing with potential hazards or difficult situations. The centre provided an ideal backdrop to the LASER Alliance event that attracted around 50 delegates who were keen to network with other members from across the UK. Workshop leaders and delegates representing annual safety events, schools, colleges, universities, fire and rescue, and police services, local authorities, permanent safety centres, driving academies, private and voluntary sector organisations and utility companies, help to reinforce RoSPA’s guiding principle that life should be “as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible” through varied activities.

The new Alliance includes members of two former practical safety education projects – CSEC (Child Safety Education Coalition) and LASER (Learning About Safety by Experiencing Risk). Members teach children and young people how to avoid injury by managing risk and in so doing help them to fulfil their full potential as adults.

Gas Safety Trust RoSPA

At the first LASER Alliance event, from left, ErrolTaylor, RoSPA's deputy chief executive; Dr Mary Benwell, a trustee and past chair of the Gas Safety Trust and Andy Townsend, general manager of Bristol Lifeskills.

Among the speakers at the event, where the LASER Alliance’s three-year sponsorship deal with the Gas Safety Trust was announced, were Errol Taylor, RoSPA’s deputy chief executive; Andrea Kennedy from Brockenhurst College; Dave Evans from Riskwatch: Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service; Ceri Kingston, from The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS); Sophie Hepworth from Wealden District Council; Dr Elizabeth Towner from the University of the West of England; and Julie Evans from DangerPoint, North Wales. A series of workshop sessions followed covering a range of practical safety education topics, which opened up a forum for debate and discussion. Delegates also had the opportunity to share experiences and pick up tips on how best to work together.

The main messages to come out of the day were:

  • The importance of gathering evidence to better contribute to casualty reduction and to use it to drive accident prevention campaigns
  • A move towards encouraging children to become more “risk aware” as opposed to “risk averse”
  • Working to help parents support their children to take more responsibility for their safety, by letting them learn by experiencing risk
  • Helping directors of public health to realise that practical safety education is crucial in the public health arena, by encouraging directors of public health to look at local accident prevention plans.

The National Trust has recently called on grandparents to get “housebound” youngsters outside, after a report commissioned by the trust found that the “roaming radius” for children has declined by 90 per cent over the past 30 years. Hundreds of professional bodies are calling on Parliament to tackle the culture of fear and frustration that prevents young people from exploring the world around them – and the LASER Alliance is among them. To generate debate, the Alliance is calling on as many MPs as possible to put their name to Early Day Motion (EDM) 1954. More than 150 MPs have already signed-up, but the campaign needs at least 50 more to make an impact. It is part of the wider “Free Range Kids” initiative, which is being spearheaded by Sustrans, which is also a member of the Alliance. If we’re serious about future generations of independent young people getting out and about with knowledge and confidence, then constraints should be cut to allow them to walk, cycle and play outside, benefiting children’s health in the process.

LASER Alliance practial safety education

The LASER Alliance aims to lead the way in practical safety education.

 The LASER Alliance aims to lead the way in practical safety education. It has a network of regional champions based across the UK who promote the Ten Principles of Effective Safety Education, which underpin the alliance’s definition of high quality practical safety education, and contribute to the LASER Alliance’s policy making process.  

Organisations working with children and young people that are interested in joining, should email cfrancis@rospa.com. For more information on joining the LASER Alliance, visit www.lasersafety.org.uk/join/.

Cassius Francis, LASER Alliance Co-ordinator and RoSPA’s Youth Liaison Worker

4 January, 2012

Help save children’s lives on the driveway with RoSPA’s checklist

Parking the car on the driveway is simple, right? You stop the car, put the handbrake on and go about your daily business. But what if you are attempting to park on an incline? Is there something that you might have missed?

driveway safety

RoSPA began looking into the safety of children in and around cars after it was approached by the family of Iain Goodwill who was killed when he was struck by a car on the driveway of his home near Inverness.

These few questions could help save a life. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is aware of 14 children who have been killed by a vehicle at home since 2006. There are also many more near misses and cases in which a child is injured, sometimes seriously. Some accidents have involved a driver pulling on to or off a driveway without seeing the child, and others happened when a child was able to move a car that had been parked in a driveway. Recently in the press, there have been reported cases of children being crushed by cars that rolled down on steep driveways. In these cases the brakes have been said to have failed as they cooled down causing the car to silently roll backwards, hitting a child in the process. Rule 252 of The Highway Code advises drivers to select a forward gear and turn the steering wheel away from the kerb when facing uphill. If facing downhill, drivers should select a reverse gear and turn their steering wheel towards the kerb. Alternatively, use “park” if the car has an automatic gearbox.

RoSPA began looking into the safety of children in and around cars after we were approached by the family of Iain Goodwill who was killed when he was struck by a car on the driveway of his home near Inverness. The family of the 17-month-old, who died in 2007, set up the Iain Goodwill Trust to hopefully prevent others enduring similar tragedies.

The majority of parents are unaware of the potential for an accident involving their children and a car at home, as we discovered when we conducted driveway safety research in 2010. The survey, run in conjunction with the Iain Goodwill Trust (www.iains-trust.org), focused on children being struck by cars on driveways. One of the main issues identified through the research was that parents and carers did not think an accident would happen to their family, unless they knew someone who had already experienced one, meaning they did not take simple precautions.

Of those who took part in the survey:

  • 59 per cent could recall a time when their child had followed them out of the house on to the driveway without them realising
  • 22 per cent had started to manoeuvre a vehicle on the driveway and realised their child was close to the car when they thought they were elsewhere
  • 95 per cent reported temporarily leaving their children unattended in the car on the driveway while they “dashed back into the house” for something
  • 42 per cent said their children had picked up the family car keys without being seen to do so.

However, 68 per cent believed it was unlikely that their child would ever be injured by a vehicle entering or leaving their driveway. And 83 per cent believed it was unlikely their child would ever be injured by a vehicle parked on their driveway.

So how can you protect your children on your driveway? Between the ages of one and two, children become more and more mobile, meaning they can easily escape a parent’s supervision. It is not until the age of four or five that children begin to understand the concept of danger, and begin to heed warnings given to them. By raising awareness, we can help to highlight the dangers and the risks we take and look at the safety measures that can be put in place to make sure that children are not killed or injured around cars.

We advise:

  • Turning your steering wheel when you are parked in order to activate the steering lock – 22 per cent of respondents always activate the steering lock, but 36 per cent never do so
  • Reversing on to your driveway (if you have one) so that you drive forwards when pulling away – 26 per cent of respondents never reverse on to their driveway when returning home
  • Parking in gear if your driveway is not flat (first gear if facing uphill; reverse gear if facing downhill)
  • Locking your car doors before going into the house – a small minority of respondents reported never locking their vehicle doors when parked outside the home
  • Keeping your car keys out of reach of children – the majority of respondents reported keeping keys on a high-level shelf or other high place; however many said that they were aware they kept their keys in a place a child could easily access.

Adopting some of these safety tips sooner rather than later could make all the difference. Losing a life just yards from your front door is a very high price to pay for not being fully aware of the dangers – and this is where RoSPA can help.

For more advice on keeping children safe in and around cars visit http://www.rospa.com/RoadSafety/advice/incarsafety/info/children_in_cars.pdf

Kevin Clinton, RoSPA’s head of road safety

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