Work Place Mental Health – ‘Let’s Be Kind To Our Minds’

The rise in awareness regarding workplace mental health is on the increase and for good reason, businesses can be held accountable and hold a legal duty to ensure that its employees are protected from physical and emotional stresses within the workplace.

A high proportion of employees, 86%, regard work as key to their identities, emphasising the criticality businesses play in ensuring the mental health and wellbeing of its employees. However, statistics indicate that despite this mental health is currently the number one reason for staff absence – 70 million work days are lost collectively within the UK each year due to mental health illnesses; which in turn is combined with a cost of approx. £2.4bn for UK employers.

Therefore, I am sure you can agree that workplace mental health is a priority that is paramount in order to ensure the highest productivity and a healthy working environment for all within a business.

So in what ways can you help to ensure that your business is providing its employees with a happy workplace environment?  Invest into some Mental Health First Aid Training accredited by MHFA England.

Mental health first aid training is available for those who are responsible for adults and youths, whilst being recognised and endorsed by the government to be adopted by businesses in order to stop preventable health issues arising. The training is designed to help to build a supportive culture around mental health, whilst equipping those with the tools needed to support themselves and other colleagues in relation to wellbeing.

Here at Livius Training we offer two types of Mental Health First Aid Training:

Let’s work together to be kind to our minds.

Types of Fire Extinguishers and Their Uses

In this blog post, we’ll look at the different types of fire extinguishers and their uses.

So, you can understand which types of extinguisher you need in your workplace.

And, importantly, know the correct extinguisher to use in the event of a fire!

In addition, you can find guidance on the different classifications of fires, when to tackle a fire and where to position your extinguishers.

We’ll kick off by discussing the classification of fires.

Classes of Fire

In the UK, fires are categorised depending on the source of fuel.

Below are the different classifications:

Class A – Solid combustible materials e.g. wood, paper, textiles, rubbish, etc

Class B – Flammable Liquids e.g petrol, diesel, oil

Class C – Flammable Gases e.g. natural gas, propane

Class D – Combustible metals e.g. Lithium, Sodium, Magnesium

Class F – Cooking Oils/Fats e.g oil in deep fat fryers

Electrical Fires (Class E) – Electrical fires e.g. short-circuiting equipment, overloaded cables

Class E doesn’t technically exist because electricity is a source of ignition rather than a fuel. However, electrical fires can electrocute those using an incorrect extinguisher. Therefore, these types of fire require special attention.

Note: Once you turn off the electricity supply, you can categorise the fire into one of the appropriate of the classes above depending on source of fuel.

Fire Classifications

Now, we understand the different classifications, we will look at which extinguishers we can use on each.

Methods of Extinguishing Fires

When extinguishing a fire your main aim is to remove one of the three elements of the fire triangle.

Oxygen, Heat or Fuel.

Fire extinguishers work in different ways to achieve this goal as you’ll see below.

Some cool the fire by removing the heat. Others smother the fire by removing oxygen. And, the rest starve the fire by creating a barrier between fuel and flames

So, let’s look at the different types of extinguisher and their uses.

Types of Fire Extinguisher

Water Fire Extinguishers

We’ll start by looking at water extinguishers.

Of which, three important variants exist:

Water Fire Extinguishers

Standard Water Extinguisher

Used on: Class A fires

Don’t use on: Electrical fires (Class E – can lead to electrocution). Class B and C (spray can spread flames). Class D and F.

How it works: The water spray lowers the temperature of the burning material so the fire can no longer burn.

Method of Extinguishing Fire: Cooling

How to Identify: ‘Water’ written in white on a red background. See above picture.

Pros: Rapid extinguishing; no environmental impacts.

Cons: They only extinguish Class A fires

Water Spray Extinguisher

Used on: Class A fires

Don’t use on: Electrical fires (Class E – can lead to electrocution). Class B and C (spray can spread flames). Class D and F.

How it works: These extinguishers have a specific nozzle that works at high pressure. The resulting spray has a higher surface area than ordinary water extinguishers which increases the cooling rate and therefore the rate of extinguishing the fire.

Method of Extinguishing Fire: Cooling

How to Identify: ‘Aqua Spray’ written in white on a red background. See above picture.

Pros: More effective than a standard water extinguisher; no environmental impacts.

Cons: Again, they only extinguish Class A fires.

Water Mist Extinguisher

Used on: Class A, B, C, F and Class E (up to 1000V if dielectric tested to 35kV)

Don’t use on: Class D fires.

How it works: Deionised water passes through a supersonic nozzle which turns water into microscopic droplets. When in use, the fine mist suffocates and cools the fire.

Method of Extinguishing Fire: Cooling & Smothering

How to Identify: ‘Water Mist’ written in red on a white background. See above picture.

Pros: Covers a wide range of fire classes; no environmental impacts; Uses no chemicals so suitable for kitchens and food production facilities.

Powder Fire Extinguishers

Currently, two types of powder extinguishers are available…

Powder Fire Extinguishers

Dry Powder Extinguisher

Used on: Class A, B, C fires. Class E fires (although, susceptible to reignition)

Don’t use on: Class D and F fires

How it works: The powder forms a barrier between fuel source and flames starving the fire.

Method of Extinguishing Fire: Starving the fire.

How to Identify: ‘Powder’ written in white on a blue background. See above picture.

Pros: They work on 3 most common classes of fire

Cons: Reignition can occur because the powder doesn’t absorb the heat; Dangers associated with inhalation (not recommended inside buildings or small spaces); messy after discharge.

L2 and M28 Dry Powder Fire Extinguishers

Used on: Class D fires. M28 – Sodium, Magnesium, Aluminium, etc excluding Lithium. L2 – Sodium, Magnesium, Aluminium, etc including Lithium.

Don’t use on: Class A, B, C, E, F

How it works: A specially designed hose sprays the powder over the combustible metal. This creates a shield which prevents the metal from encountering the cause of combustion i.e. water/oxygen.

Method of Extinguishing Fire: Interfering with Chemical Reaction.

How to Identify: ‘Powder’ written in white on a blue background. Distinctive hose. See above picture.

Foam Fire Extinguishers

Foam, Co2 & Wet Chemical  Extinguishers

Used on: Class A and B fires. Class E fires (up to 1000V if dielectric tested to 35 kV).

Don’t use on: Class C, D, F

How it works: Foam forms a barrier on the surface of the flammable liquid which prevents flammable vapours combusting. Similarly, with solid materials, the foam forms a barrier between the combustible material and the flames.

Method of Extinguishing Fire: Smothering and Starving.

How to Identify: ‘Foam’ written in red on a cream background. See above picture.

Pros: More versatile than water; more effective than water on Class A fires

Cons: Leaves a messy residue

CO2 Fire Extinguishers

Used on: Class B and E fires

Don’t use on: Class A, B, D, F

How it works: Carbon dioxide replaces oxygen thereby smothering the fire.

Method of Extinguishing Fire: Smothering

How to Identify: ‘Carbon Dioxide’ written in white on a black background. See above picture.

Pros: No messy residue

Cons: Can suffocate users in confined spaces; Carbon dioxide dissipates quickly leading to reignition in some cases.

Wet Chemical Fire Extinguishers

Used on: Class F fires

Don’t use on: Class A, B, C, D or E fires

How it works: A fine mist helps cool the flames whilst chemicals react with the cooking fat/oil to produce a substance that creates a barrier between the flames and the oil (fuel source).

Method of Extinguishing Fire: Smothering

How to Identify: ‘Wet Chemical’ written in red on a yellow background. See above picture.

Fire Blankets

Fire Blanket

Used on: Small oil pan fires and people who have caught fire

Don’t use on: Class A, B, C, D, E and large Class F fires

How it works: Fire blankets smother fires by restricting their oxygen supply.

Method of Extinguishing Fires: Smothering

How to Identify: Red case with ‘Fire Blanket’ written in white.

We’ll finish our discussion about fire extinguishers with some general advice…

General Advice about Fire Extinguishers

When to Fight a Fire

There are certain times when fighting a workplace fire is sensible and others when it’s not.

You should only attempt to fight a fire when:

  • The fire alarm has been raised
  • Emergency services have been notified
  • Fire is contained and isn’t spreading
  • A clear escape route is available
  • You have the correct fire extinguishers

In contrast, you shouldn’t attempt to fight a fire if:

  • A fire is larger than a bin (General Rule)
  • You need more than 1 extinguisher
  • The room is filled with smoke
  • There is no clear escape route
  • The fire involves gas cylinders or chemicals
  • The correct extinguisher is not available

Locations of Fire Extinguishers

You’ll need to place your extinguishers in the right places so that you can use them effectively should a fire occur.

Below are some general guidelines to follow.

You should fix fire extinguishers to the wall or on a stand in their designated areas (which should be clearly visible). This is to avoid people moving them from the areas you need them most.

In addition, your extinguishers should be kept at a suitable distance from risk areas and along escape routes.

General guidance suggests placing extinguishers at the following distances from:

  • Class A Risks –> 30 metres
  • Class B Risks –> 10 metres
  • Class C Risks –> 30 metres
  • Class D Risks –> Case by Case
  • Class F Risks –> 10 metres

Adjust these down if you’ll need to get through doorways to the hazard as this will add crucial seconds.

Furthermore, each extinguisher should have a corresponding sign above it which details its contents and the classes of fires it extinguishes.

Replacing Fire Extinguishers

Extinguishers don’t last forever.

They each have a shelf life and need servicing annually by a competent person e.g. a fire extinguisher engineer.

And, if they are found to be damaged, discharged or cannot be used safely, they’ll need replacing.

Alongside an annual service, your responsible person should inspect your extinguisher(s) weekly or monthly to ensure they are in good working condition.

Then, after 5 years (10 years for CO2 extinguishers) your extinguishers need replacing regardless of condition.

Extinguisher Information

Fire Ratings

Every extinguisher has a fire rating.

This rating contains a number and letter i.e. 13A.

The letter gives the fire classification (so here a Class A fire).

And the number notifies you about the size of fire it can extinguish (the larger the number the bigger the fire).

A fire extinguisher can have several ratings depending on which fire classes it can extinguish.

For example, a foam extinguisher will have 2 ratings; one for Class A fires and another for Class B fires.

Conclusion

After reading this post, you should have a better idea of which extinguisher (s) you need in your workplace.

And, you know which extinguisher to grab in the event of a fire.

Both of which help keep your workplace that little bit safer.

Did you learn something you didn’t know after reading this post?

If so, what was it? Let us know in the comments!

The 5 Step Process to Risk Assessment

The 5 Step Process

Risk assessment is the foundation of health and safety in the workplace.

But, how do you conduct a risk assessment? And, what are the best practices?

Through this painless process, set out in this blog, you can control the risks in your workplace.

In this post, I will break down the 5 key steps of a risk assessment, so, you can ensure your business is working safely.

I will begin by answering a few common questions, before moving on to the process of conducting a risk assessment.

Are risk assessments a legal requirement?

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations
A screenshot of Section 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

The law requires employers to have suitable and sufficient risk assessments for their workplace.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states,

“3.—(1) Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of—

(a)the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work; and

(b)the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking”

As an employer, you don’t have to conduct the risk assessments yourself, but you must ensure that a competent person prepares them, and they meet the ‘suitable and sufficient’ criteria.

Note: If you employ fewer than 5 staff members, you don’t have to record any findings. However, you’ll still need to conduct a risk assessment.

So why has it become a legal responsibility? What purpose do they serve?

Let’s take a look…

What is the purpose of a Risk Assessment?

A safer workplace starts with its risk assessments.

Why?

Because when you identify your hazards and risks, you can manage them.

They help you to:

  • Discover the hazards in your workplace
  • Determine whether you have suitable and sufficient control measures
  • Ensure your staff have the best possible chance to avoid injury and illness

So, let’s move on the all-important 5 steps.

Risk Assessment: The 5 Steps

Risk assessments are commonly split into 5 stages.

  1. Identifying workplace hazards
  2. Determining who may be harmed and assessing the risk
  3. Evaluating and controlling the risk
  4. Recording your findings
  5. Reviewing your findings

I will talk about these in more detail below, but, first, a couple of definitions.

Definition of a Hazard – Anything that can cause harm.

Definition of a Risk – The chance someone can be exposed to a dangerous situation.

To put this into context, a risk assessment identifies hazards and evaluates the likelihood these will cause harm and the potential consequences of this harm (i.e. the risk).

With that in mind, we move on to step 1 of a risk assessment.

Step 1. Identifying Workplace Hazards.

Without knowing the hazards in your workplace, you cannot evaluate your risks.

A good place to start is by walking around your workplace and asking yourself what could cause harm.

Think about short-term hazards as well as longer-term hazards.

Then, talk to your employees and get their thoughts. Discuss with them the hazards they face regularly.

Top Tip: Lone workers and those who work off-site need consideration too.

Additionally, you should:

  • Consult your accident books for near-misses and incidents. Are there events that keep recurring?
  • Check manufacturer’s instructions for anything they have outlined.
  • Consider your workplace design. Is the layout of your workplace presenting any hazards?
  • Look at all non-routine activities and unusual conditions faced in your environment.
  • Think about visitors and contractors. What hazards might they face?

Write your observations down before moving on to create a comprehensive list of workplace hazards.

Remember, you do not have to plan for unforeseeable risk. Some hazards you can’t predict because they may only develop after certain incidents. As a result, you can’t plan for them.

So long as you have created ‘suitable and sufficient’ risk assessments, you won’t be liable.

Next, Step 2.

Step 2. Determining who may be harmed and assessing the risk

In this next step, you need to:

  • Consider who a hazard will harm
  • Decide the consequences of any harm
  • Weigh up the likelihood harm will occur

Ask yourself: Who could be harmed in the event of an accident?

Observations can easily be combined with the first step when you are busy putting together your list of hazards. Give special consideration to those who are at higher risk (i.e. pregnant women, young employees, those with disabilities, etc)

Note down your findings. These observations will help you when assessing the likelihood and consequences of harm occurring.

Next, start using a risk matrix to assess the risk of injury and illness

As discussed, Risk= Likelihood of harm * Consequence of harm.

LikelihoodConsequence
1 – Very Unlikely (1 in 1,000,000 chance)1 – Insignificant (no injury)
2 – Unlikely (1 in 100,000 chance)2 – Minor (injuries requiring first aid)
3 – Fairly Likely (1 in 10,000 chance)3 – Moderate (up to 3 days of absence)
4 – Likely (1 in 1000 chance)4 – Major (over days of absence)
5 – Extremely Likely (1 in 100 chance)5 – Fatal (death)

So, a point scale becomes useful when analysing your risk. Take a look at our example below.

Risk Matrix

By multiplying the likelihood score and the consequence score, you can quantify the level of risk a hazard poses.

For example, if you have spotted a hazard which is:

 Unlikely to cause harm (2), but,

could cause Major injury (4),

the overall risk score equals,

Risk= 2 x 4 = 8

By comparing this to a risk matrix you can see that this risk needs: Action

Step 3. Evaluating and Controlling Risk

After the assessment stage, you need to evaluate each hazard and put control measures in place to manage them.

These measures can either:

  • Reduce the likelihood of harm occurring
  • Reduce the consequence of an event occurring, or,
  • Both

Here’s where a hazard’s risk score is useful.

Use it when deciding which control measures would be adequate and appropriate.

Which leads on to another important concept – The Risk Control Hierarchy.

Risk Control Hierarchy

Control measures that rely on people following them to the letter are the most fallible.

Therefore, eliminating a hazard is by far the safest thing to do.

However, at times this isn’t appropriate.

So, you’ve got to choose other methods of controlling the risk. This decision should follow the Risk Control Hierarchy.

  1. Eliminate the hazard – Cut out the risk at its source.
  2. Substituting the hazard – Replace a hazard with a less hazardous one i.e. using working platforms instead of step ladders.
  3. Engineering Controls – Reduce the likelihood of someone coming across that hazard i.e. placing guards on machinery.
  4. Putting safe systems of work in place – Ensuring safety procedures are in place i.e. supervision of new employees, safety signs, training, reducing the time spent around a hazard, etc.
  5. Personal Protective Equipment – Providing employees with PPE that reduces the risk of harm occurring i.e. hi-viz jackets, ear defenders, goggles, respirators, etc.
Risk Control Hierarchy

Weigh up the risk rating against the cost, time and effort of a control measure.

For example, if a risk scores a 2 or 3 on the matrix, it’s probably not appropriate to spend large sums of money to reduce this risk.

A more cost-effective solution, which doesn’t reduce the risk to the same extent, could be the better option.

Decide on the additional control measures you need to put in place for each hazard before moving on.

Then, reanalyse the risk.

Reassessing the Risk

This involves assessing the updated (or, residual) risk to ensure your control measure works.

For example, if a hazard previously had a likelihood score of 3 and a consequence score of 4, then the total score would have been 12.

But, now, your control measure reduces the likelihood score down to 1.

Therefore, reducing the hazard’s total risk rating to 4. And, switching it from action to monitor.

Complete this for each hazard and move on to the penultimate step.

Step 4. Record your findings

An all-important step!

Time to get all that previous analysis down on paper – if you haven’t already.

When filling out your risk assessment(s), be sure to include:

  • The person conducting the risk assessment
  • Date of assessment
  • Details of location
  • People working in that environment
  • Equipment used in that environment
  • Activities conducted in that environment
  • Hazards
  • Existing control measures
  • Proposed control measures
  • Residual risk
  • Date of review

AND then, share these findings with your employees!

Risk Assessment Template
The start of our risk assessment template.

By doing so, your workforce can understand where your workplace risks lie and mitigate the chances of injury and illness occurring.

Download our template to start recording your findings. Or, take a look at some examples here.

Step 5. Review your risk assessments

Risk assessments are a continual process and need reviewing whenever there are changes to your workplace.

This could be the installation of new equipment or a new employee starting work.

Whilst reviewing your assessments, account for any new hazards and remove any redundant hazards from your records.

Additionally, if you identify any new issues or you experience a string of accidents & near misses, it may be time for an update.

Conclusion

As an employer, you are legally required to fill out ‘suitable and sufficient’ risk assessments for your workplace.

And, you must remember to regularly review your assessments.

They exist for a good reason – to ensure everyone has the best chance to go home healthy and happy from work.

In this post, we have seen how a 5-step process can help you create your own risk assessments with ease.

So, take the time to fill them out and you’ll protect your staff and save yourself from prosecution.

If you want to increase your health and safety knowledge, you can take one of our health and safety training courses.

5 Major Benefits of Onsite Training

5 Benefits of onsite training

Onsite training offers the perfect balance between flexibility and cost-effectiveness for training your team.

In this post, I delve into the 5 major reasons why onsite training can work for your business.

Read on to find out more.

Benefits of Onsite Training

1 – Flexibility

The biggest benefit of onsite training.

You get a choice of dates and times to suit you including Saturdays and evenings.

And, with Livius, you can split your course over a couple of sessions, so you don’t have to lose staff for a day.

Picking onsite training means you get the training you need at time convenient for you.

Group fire safety training

2 – Adaptable courses

With onsite training, you train in the environment your team work in on a day-to-day basis.

Therefore, each course is adapted to your environment; your team; everyday tasks being conducted and common problems faced by employees and managers.

The result?

A well-trained workforce who have the knowledge to work safely in their environment

3 – Safer working practices

Following on from the previous point…

Receiving practical, simple to follow advice which is relevant to your situation makes employees safer at work

So, you’ll see a boost in productivity and a reduction in days off through illness and injury.

A win-win for you and your team.

Manual Handling Training HSE
The Health and Safety Executive have been urging businesses to purchase tailored courses which take into account your workplace’s risks and hazards. Read more here.

4 – Open Health and Safety Discussions

As a manager, it can be hard to spot every single hazard in a working environment.

So, talking to your team is greatly advised.

But, without training, they maybe unsure about the risks they currently face.

Group training gives both employees and managers the chance to think and reflect on issues faced in their everyday working environment.

Which they can discuss with the trainer and take any advice given back into their day-to-day activities.

In the end: Open streams of communication will lead to safer working environments.

5 – Cost-effective team training

Cost-effective training

All these benefits must come at a cost. At least, more so than sending staff on open courses?

Not necessarily.

In fact, it can work out cheaper for larger groups.

Over a certain number, you’ll start seeing the savings.

And, for smaller teams? Well, the added flexibility might be worth the slight increase in price.

Conclusion

When looking to train your team, it is important to consider onsite training as an option.

In this post, we have discussed the 5 major benefits of onsite training, from greater flexibility to cost-savings.

So, next time you need your team training, you’ll have a greater understanding of onsite training and whether it can work for your business.

For a personalised quote, fill in our form on our onsite training page. Alternatively, pick up the phone and call us on 0143 396780.

Yorkshire’s Ambulance Response Times: How Long Will You Be Waiting?

Ambulance

The time it takes for an ambulance to reach you can mean life or death.

Based on data from the Ambulance Trusts (Jan–Oct 2018) we have compiled a list of urgent ambulance response times based on the postcode districts of Yorkshire.

How does your postcode measure up to the national average of 7m 41s?

Take a look…

Yorkshire’s Ambulance Response Times

Before we get going, let’s discuss what the data actually means.

Firstly, each response time is measured as the time taken for a trained person to reach a casualty on an urgent callout.

And, secondly, an urgent call out is classified as any of these cases below:

  • Cardiac Arrests
  • Stab Wounds
  • Major Blood Loss
  • Seizures
  • Casualties who can’t breathe or are having difficulty breathing
  • Women in the end stages of labour

With that out of the way, let’s move on to the all-important data.

BD Postcodes

Fastest – BD8 – 5m 29s

Slowest – BD24 – 10m 35s

Average – 7m 51s

BD Postcode Response times

DL Postcodes

Fastest – DL3 – 5m 7s

Slowest – DL11 (Low sample numbers) – 22m 41s

Average – 8m 57s

DL Postcode Response times

DN Postcodes

Fastest  – DN2 – 5m 30s

Slowest – DN19 – 16m 47s

Average – 10m 0s

DN Postcode Response times

HU Postcodes

Fastest – HU1 – 5m 29s

Slowest – HU19 – 14m 16s

Average – 8m 19s

HU Postcode Response times

HG Postcodes

Fastest – HG2 – 5m 24s

Slowest – HG4 – 11m 58s

Average – 8m 15s

HG Postcode Response times

HX Postcodes

Fastest – HX1 – 5m 52s

Slowest – HX7 – 10m 41s

Average – 7m 55s

HX Postcode Response times

HD Postcodes

Fastest – HD1 – 6m 0s

Slowest – HD8 – 12m 21s

Average – 8m 20s

HD Postcode Response times

LS Postcodes

Fastest – LS2 – 4m 47s

Slowest – LS29 – 11m 42s

Average – 7m 44s

LS Postcode Response times

S Postcodes

Fastest – S3 – 6m 21s

Slowest – S17 – 11m 23s

Average – 8m 23s

S Postcode Response times

WF Postcodes

Fastest – WF1 – 5m 34s

Slowest – WF11 – 8m 52s

Average – 8m 7s

WF Postcode Response times

YO Postcodes

Fastest – YO31 – 4m 23s

Slowest – YO61 – 15m 6s

Average – 9m 42s

YO Postcode Response times

Yorkshire Ambuance Response Time Analysis

So, how does Yorkshire compare to the national average?

England’s average ambulance response time was 7m 41s according to the BBC.

Whereas, Yorkshire’s average clocks in at 8m 35s, therefore meaning Yorkshire’s average ambulance response time exceeds the national average.

Within Yorkshire, the DL11 postcode district, which covers rural areas such as Reeth and Muker, experienced the longest average wait of 22m 14s.

However the sample of fewer than 50 callouts can be deemed as too small to draw reliable conclusions.

The DL11 Postcode Region

Conversely, the YO31 postcode region achieved the shortest response time of just 4m 23s.

Covering York city centre and York hospital provide a clue as to why the response time was so short.

YO31 Postcode Region
The YO31 Postcode Region.

What do these results mean to businesses and schools?

Consider the average response times for your area when deciding on the first aid provisions you require.

The longer the wait, the more beneficial it will be to have greater numbers of first aiders.

Why?

It is said that if CPR is administered immediately after a patient has suffered a cardiac arrest there is a 2/3 chance of survival.  On the other hand, every minute that CPR isn’t being administered a casualty’s survival rate diminishes by 6-10%.

For this reason, there is a need for sufficient first aiders in the workplace.

However, activities such as CPR are very intense and hard to sustain for a prolonged period.

And, slower response times mean that CPR will need to be administered for longer.

So, if assistance is available, first aiders can alternate every couple of minutes to ensure CPR is carried out continuously until the emergency services arrive.

We can provide you with HSE and Ofsted compliant first aid training in the following courses:

The data in this article is taken from this BBC article. They have in turn received the data from the Ambulance Trusts.

5 Invaluable Resources for Improving Workplace Mental Health

Workplace mental health is a subject that has never been more important.

Because conditions such as stress, depression, and even those, such as schizophrenia, can result from issues with our work.

Yet, due to the stigma surrounding mental illness, many people feel like they cannot open up to their colleagues or employers.

Which has led to, according to the Go Home Healthy campaign, around 595,000 sufferers of depression, stress, and anxiety in the workplace.

Luckily, employers can play their part in improving this statistic! 

But, you may not know what to do or where to start.

Thankfully, there are some great resources out there.

And, in this blog, we will take a look at 5 invaluable resources owners and managers can use to help take action in your workplace.

But, first up, let’s look at why action is necessary…

Mental Health at Work Statistics

  • It is estimated that by offering better mental health support, the businesses of the UK can save up to £8 billion. (Mental Health at Work)

Hopefully, you can see by these statistics the importance of taking mental health seriously at work.

5 Invaluable Mental Health Resources for Any Business

1) mentalhealthatwork.org.uk

Mental Health at Work

Launched in 2018 by the Duke of Edinburgh, this site is a collaboration between Mind, Heads Together and The Royal Foundation.

It’s aim? To act as a gateway to information, resources and toolkits all designed to help businesses improve mental health in the workplace.

Boasting over 150 different mental health resources makes it a must when you’re looking for guidance.

Don’t miss the toolkit section where resources are grouped together around a central theme.

These are especially useful when you have identified an area of mental health you’d like to target. This could be promoting a positive safety culture or tackling workplace stress.

Link – https://www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk/

2) Time to Change – Take the Employer Pledge

Time to Change - Employers pledge

Fancy committing to improve mental health within the workplace?

Take the employer pledge with Time to Change.

Over 900 employers have committed to the pledge already including names such as:

(Click their name to get taken to their pledge)

When you sign up to the pledge, you’ll first submit your action plan for getting employees talking about mental health.

Time to Change can provide support during the creation of this plan to ensure that your plan works for you.

If you are looking for a great place to start your journey, take the pledge.

https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/get-involved/get-your-workplace-involved/employer-pledge

3) Mental Health Toolkit for Employers

Mental Health Toolkit for Employers

This toolkit was born from a collaboration between Business in the Community and Public Health England.

Both organisations wanted to create something that offers practical guidance based on the research and evidence surrounding mental health.

Jam-packed with useful information, this 68-page toolkit can be used by owners and managers alike.

In addition, several case studies provide a glimpse into the types of actions other companies have taken to tackle mental health issues.

An excellent resource for those who need actionable advice.

https://wellbeing.bitc.org.uk/sites/default/files/mental_health_toolkit_for_employers_-_small.pdf

4) Talking Toolkit – Go Home Healthy

Starting a conversation about mental health can be tricky. Even more so if you don’t know what to talk about.

Fortunately, the Go Home Healthy campaign has produced their talking toolkit in a bid to reduce workplace stress.

Follow along with the exercises to start talking with employees about the leading causes of workplace stress:

  1. Demands of the job
  2. Control over the work
  3. Support whilst at work
  4. Working relationships
  5. Role and Relationships
  6. Change

These difficult conversations allow employees the chance to open up about their roles and whether any aspect is causing them unnecessary stress.

Use the answers to spot any regular issues and address the core problem behind them.

http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/assets/docs/stress-talking-toolkit.pdf

5) Managing Mental Health in the Workplace

Managing Mental Health in the Workplace

Line managers and supervisors are a key group of your staff that need to champion mental health because they deal with your workforce on a day-to-day basis.

But, if they don’t know how to manage mental health issues, then it can be hard to build a good workplace culture.

In steps this gem of a resource.

Managing Mental Health in the Workplace combines theory with practical exercises to get you thinking about the prevention, protection, and intervention measures your business can put in place.

Adequate training for your managers can pay dividends when trying to improve mental health in the workplace. And, this offers a great first step.

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/managing-mental-health-workplace

And, finally, lets take a look at some of the important dates for 2019 surrounding Mental Health and see how you can get involved.

Mental Health Dates 2019

  • Children’s Mental Health Week4th – 10th February 2019: This year Children’s Mental Health Week is looking to improve both mental health and physical health because a healthy body helps to create a healthy mind.
  • Time to Talk DayThursday 7th February: Time to talk day sets out to get people engaged in conversation around mental health in order to help end the stigma.
  • Mental Health Awareness Week13th – 19th May: This year, Mental Health Awareness Week is aiming to tackle the subject of body image and mental health.
  • World Suicide Prevention DayTuesday 10th September: This day throws suicide into the spotlight and aims to bring a greater understanding of suicide and how it can be prevented.
  • World Mental Health DayThursday 10th October: An annual day which aims to raise greater awareness about mental illness
  • National Stress Awareness DayWednesday 6th November: This day helps to raise awareness for stress and the effects it poses to mental and physical health.

Conclusion

There is no doubting that the workplace has to part of the responsibility for keeping their staff happy and healthy.

Slowly, but surely, we are realising this.

Employers and employees are waking up to the fact that good mental wellbeing at work is extremely valuable.

Now is your chance to act for the greater benefit of your working environment.

Which resource will you use? Which is your favourite? Is your business taking mental health seriously?

Leave your answers in the comments below.

Food Contamination: A Guide for Food Businesses

The repercussions of food contamination can be deadly.

Therefore, it is important that your business takes the appropriate measures to prevent contamination.

Knowing the right measures to put in place starts with understanding how contamination occurs.

Do your staff know the answers to the following questions? Do you?

  • What are the 3 types of food contamination?
  • How can you prevent food becoming contaminated?
  • What do the 4C’s of food safety stand for?

In this post, we’ll examine the different types of contamination, the consequences of food contamination and tips for preventing food contamination because understanding is the first step in prevention.

So, let’s start with the obvious question…

Why Care About Food Contamination?

Not only is it a legal requirement that food businesses ensure all food is safe for consumption, but a single case of food poisoning can cause serious problems for your business.

Consequences range from a drop-in reputation to fines and imprisonment.

Therefore, staying on top of food hygiene within your business becomes crucial retaining customers and building your brand.

But, wait, what exactly are your legal requirements?

Food Safety Responsibilities

Every food business has certain food safety responsibilities which have been outlined by the Food Standards Agency.

You must:

  • Ensure that food is safe to eat and the quality of food is as described
  • Not produce any misleading labelling, advertising or marketing
  • Record where food has been supplied from
  • Withdraw any unsafe foodstuffs and complete the necessary incident reports
  • Provide adequate food safety training for all staff
  • Follow a HACCP plan

So, let’s delve deeper into what can make food unsafe to eat.

Sources of Contamination

Sources can be separated into 3 broad categories: chemical, physical and biological contamination.

Chemical Contamination

Chemical contamination occurs when foodstuff contain harmful chemical substances.

Some of the most common examples are;

  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Pesticides
  • Sedatives
  • Corticosteroids
  • PCBs (Poly Chlorinated Biphenyls)
  • Acrylamide
  • Heavy metals
  • Cleaning Products

Over the years certain regulations have been put in place restricting levels legally allowed to be found in food.

You might be thinking “How can my business reduce this form of contamination?”

Buying from a responsible supplier with the current UK approvals is often your best bet when purchasing meat and washing all vegetables prior to use.

Understandably, chemical contaminants are the hardest form of contamination to control.

Acrylamide

Acrylamide has become a hot topic in the food safety world because of research suggesting it causes cancer.

Cooking starchy foods, such as potato and grains, at 120oC or above leads to the formation of acrylamide as certain sugars and amino acids react.

Note: Coffee and baby foods can also be affected.

However, the jury is still out on the negative health benefits seen through the consumption of this chemical; many questions about its carcinogenic nature are yet to be answered.

Nevertheless, in the UK, current legislation forces food businesses to consider acrylamide in the preparation of food.

But, fret no more, here are a couple of simple precautions you can take:

  • Aim for a golden yellow colour or lighter when cooking starchy foods.
  • Don’t keep your potatoes in the fridge (otherwise they undergo a process called cold sweetening leading to increased levels of acrylamide upon cooking).

Physical Contamination

Physical contamination occurs when a foreign object enters the food stuff.

The most common examples are:

  • Hair
  • Glass
  • Metal
  • Pests
  • Jewellery
  • Dirt
  • Plasters

Now, let’s see if how you can avoid physical and chemical contamination…

Avoiding Physical and Chemical Contamination

Physical and chemical contamination can be prevented in the following ways:

  • Food should be covered, where practicable, to prevent cleaning products and foreign objects from falling into the food.
  • Adequately controlling pests including insects and rodents.
  • Remove and dispose of any packaging as soon as it has been removed.
  • Repair or replace any broken equipment promptly. Teach employees to report any breakages to your responsible person who deals with faulty equipment.
  • Store cleaning products away from food.
  • Do not routinely use poisonous bait inside preparation areas.
  • Select utensils which are resistant to acid and salts.
  • Decant canned food, once opened, into food-grade containers before storing it in the fridge.
  • Dilute all cleaning chemicals to the correct level.
  • Ensure all ceiling structures, pipes and equipment are rust free and non-flaking.
  • Do not allow food handlers to wear jewellery.
  • Chewing gum and sweets should not be eaten/chewed whilst working with food.
  • Maintenance operatives and visitors should be briefed on your food hygiene practices.

And, so, the third and final type of contamination is…

Biological Contamination

Biological contamination occurs as a result of harmful living organisms growing on consumable food.

These microbes may be harmful in themselves or they may deposit harmful toxins on food.

Dangerous microorganisms can be found in:

  • Sneezing
  • Saliva
  • Pest droppings
  • Blood
  • Faecal matter.

And, are passed onto food through a process known as cross-contamination. This can either be directly or indirectly.

Direct Cross-Contamination: A contaminant comes into direct contact with food i.e. a piece of raw chicken touches a piece of cooked, ready-to-eat chicken.

Indirect Cross-Contamination: A contaminant is passed onto another piece of food via a vehicle i.e. a food handler touches a piece of raw chicken and then fails to wash his/her hands before touching cooked/ready-to-eat food.

But, the most interesting thing is…

This most common type of contamination found in the UK.

And, harmful microbes are the cause of food poisoning.

So, let’s look at the most common type of bacteria.

Food Poisoning

Under the right conditions, harmful bacteria can multiply rapidly and then continue to multiply after being consumed.

Amongst the numerous reported cases of food poisoning seen in the UK a year, the most common bacteria causing food poisoning include:

Salmonella

Salmonella bacteria

A group of bacteria found in the gut of animals. Salmonella bacteria are present in raw meat, undercooked poultry, unpasteurised milk and some eggs.

Listeria, Listeria monocytogenes

Often found on ready-to-eat foods such as cooked meats, soft cheeses, sandwiches, smoked meat and fish, pate and cooked shellfish. Don’t use these foods past their use by date and ensure that they are kept under the correct conditions. Sufferers offten present mild symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting.

camplyobacter bacteria

Campylobacter

This is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK, with 4 out of 5 cases resulting from raw poultry.

Clostridium

Clostridium Botulinium Bacteria

A bacteria found in soil. The most well-known strain causes Botulism which is a very severe condition and can be fatal. Clostridium can found in many things including honey, improperly canned goods and pots of garlic.

E. Coli

E. Coli Baceria

Found in the intestines of humans and animals. Despite, most strains being harmless, some strains pose severe health risks, such as strain 0157. Outbreaks have resulted from raw and undercooked meat, unwashed salads and dirty water.

As with most diseases, those at greater risk are young children, the elderly, pregnant women and those who have a weakened immune system.

However, the best part is….

These can all be prevented by following the 4C’s.

The 4 C’s of Food Safety

A food business can stay food safe and prevent biological contamination by following the 4 C’s.

These are:

  • Cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Chilling
  • Cross-contamination

Cleaning

Cleaning kills bacteria so that they cannot spread.

Your cleaning practices should include:

  • Washing hands before, during and after food preparation as well as after going to the toilet.
  • Worktops, utensils, chopping boards, knives, and all other work equipment should be cleaned regularly.
  • Rinsing unwashed salad, fruit and vegetables in drinkable, cold water.

You should follow a 2-step process:

  1. Wash with hot soapy water
  2. Rinse with clean water

A cleaning schedule can really help you stay on top of things, check out the FSA’s example.

Cooking

Cooking kills bacteria on food when done properly.

But, because bacteria grow within a temperature range of 5oC to 60oC, dubbed the “danger zone”, the core temperature of food being cooked needs exceed 60oC for specific time frames.

Otherwise, food may still contain traces of harmful bacteria which can multiply further.

Current guidelines state that the core temperature must reach;

  • 60oC for 45 mins
  • 65oC for 10 mins
  • 70oC for 2 mins
  • 75oC for 30 secs, or,
  • 80oC for 6 secs

Monitoring this through a temperature probe and recording the temperatures daily is a good practice and should be included in your HACCP Plan.

Want more info on high risk foods?

Visit our blog on high and low risk foods.

Chilling

Chilling, either by refrigeration or freezing, slows down and even stops the multiplication of bacteria.

However, inadequate temperature control of high-risk foods (such as cooked meat) is one of the leading causes of food poisoning.

Therefore, it is an important aspect of food safety to get right.

Things to ensure:

  • Refrigerators should operate within the 1oC-4oC range
  • Commercial freezers should operate below -23oC
  • Cooked food should be refrigerated as soon as possible (usually with 1-2 hours) if not being used. Do not place boiling hot food straight in the fridge as this can cause it to raise in temperature above 4oC.
  • Defrosting food should be done in the fridge or microwave.
  • Your fridge should have clearly labelled sections with raw meat and seafood on the bottom shelves and ready-to-eat food on top shelves.
  • Cover all food within the fridge (where applicable) to prevent anything falling into the food.
  • Do not overfill the fridge and ensure there is adequate air circulation.
  • Rotate your stock each time you have an order arrive. Oldest to the front, newest to the back.
  • Check all best before and use by dates daily so that anything that has expired can be thrown away.
  • Monitor and record the fridge and freezer temperatures twice a day.

Cross-Contamination

Cross-contamination refers to the transfer of microorganisms from contaminated surfaces to uncontaminated surface.

Avoiding cross-contamination is crucial to keeping food safe for human consumption, here are 6 ways to prevent cross-contamination:

  • Always keep raw and cooked food separate.
  • Never wash raw meat (this helps to spread dangerous bacteria).
  • Cover raw meat and seafood and store on the bottom shelves of your fridge.
  • Wash utensils, chopping boards, plates, etc thoroughly between handling raw and cooked foods or use different sets altogether which is the preferred option.
  • After every use, anything that has come into contact with food should be cleaned with the correct cleaning products.
  • Hands need to be correctly washed before, during and after handling any food and after going to the toilet.

So, hopefully you have got to grips with food contamination and know how you can prevent it in your business.

But, if you are ever a victim of food poisoning or accidentally serve up unsafe food, you’ll need to know how to report an incident…

How to Report Food Contamination

Consumers can report a problem directly to the Food Standards Agency.

You can report an incident of food poisoning, incorrect food labelling, poor hygiene practices or serious food crimes.

Additionally, businesses and employees can report issues including times where they have sold or produced food that is unsafe or any serious food crimes they have witnessed.

Conclusion

Handling food contamination is one of the many aspects of food safety that needs to be controlled.

Without the correct preventative measures in place, your business can leave itself open to legal action, a drop in reputation and lower hygiene ratings.

Remember 4 C’s: cooking; cleaning; chilling and cross-contamination and you shouldn’t go far wrong.

Most of the methods talked about here are easy and simple to implement.

Not only are these considered industry best practices but they are your responsibilities as a food business.

So, which method are you going to implement first? Let us know in the comments!!

Below, I have compiled a list of resources you can use to read up on all things food safety.

Excellent Resources

The Food Standards Agency

Food Standard Agency’s YouTube Channel

Safer food, better business – Guides on food safety for caterers, retailers, care homes and childminders.

North Yorkshire County Council’s Food Safety Page – Information for food businesses operating in the North Yorkshire area.

Acrylamide Toolbox

The Advice section of our website

First Aid FAQs

Creating a staff training plan for small to medium sized businesses

Creating a Staff Training Plan

An effective staff training plan is a great way to maximise your return on investment from workplace training.

Yet, setting one up can be daunting.

Many questions can be running through your head:

  • What are the steps to create a great training program?
  • What training does my company need?
  • Who in my organisation needs training?
  • How can I measure its effectiveness?

But, this post will provide answers to these questions by giving you a method for creating your very own employee training plan.

Goal setting

First up on the agenda is the subject of goal setting.

Before you start anything, setting goals for your staff training plan is essential. Without well-defined objectives, there is no way to measure the effectiveness of training.

There are many methods for creating goals but one great way is using the S.M.A.R.T. goal method.

Specific – What is it that you want to achieve?

Measurable – How can you measure the outcome?

Achievable – How you can you accomplish this goal?

Relevant – Does this fit in with the wider business goals?

Timescale – What time limit should this objective have?

Training goal setting

Below, we have created a S.M.A.R.T goal for a company dealing with large numbers of reported injuries in their workshop:

  • Specific – We want to reduce the number of injuries reported by employees in our workshop by 25%. This will reduce the number of days lost and ensure our workforce go home happy and healthy.
  • Measurable – We will measure the outcome by comparing the number of injuries reported to RIDDOR before and after training.
  • Achievable – We will provide extra health and safety training to those in the workshop. We will review the injuries sustained to date and see if there are any patterns. We will engage employees and listen to concerns. We will tell management to apply greater emphasis on promoting safety in the workplace.
  • Relevant – One of our objectives is to protect our workforce and allow them to conduct their jobs in the safest possible manner.
  • Timescale – We want to reduce injuries by 25% within 6 months.

Overall goal: We want to reduce the number of injuries sustained by our employees in the workshop by 25% within 6 months.

To aid with your S.M.A.R.T. goals, you’ll find it useful to conduct a training needs assessment

What exactly does that mean?

Training needs assessment

A training needs assessment identifies skills and knowledge needed by staff to do their job in the best possible manner. It helps identify:

  • Problems in your organisation
  • Areas in need of urgent training
  • Current training practices and improvements needed
  • Performance against legal requirements
  • Those in need of training

Let’s delve deeper.

Considering all the options

Here is a look at some of the key ways to get a feel for training needed by your organisation:

  • Previous accident reports – Identify areas with the highest level of injury and illness.
  • Risk assessment – Identify the risks facing your employees.
  • Current training records – Identify if you are meeting legal requirements for training.
  • Future skills needed – Identify the new skills that you require shortly i.e. if you are investing in new machinery or if you will have an influx of employees.
  • Engaging with employees – Gather a more rounded view of training needs. This is important and is discussed in more detail below.
  • Tasks being performed – Identify how often your employees are performing each job and the skills they need for each task.

The purpose of these activities is to gather and analyse as much data as you can get your hands on.

It sounds clichè but, the more information available to you in the decision process, the better the choices you can make.

As mentioned above, one of the best ways of getting to know your training requirements is engaging with employees.

Here is why.

Engaging employees in your staff training plan

Your employees do their jobs day in day out. Therefore, they can tell you what training can provide the greatest impact on their ability to work safely and effectively.

Not only this but consulting staff has the benefit of making them feel heard.

This makes it the most important step in creating a sustainable staff training plan.

But, the bottom line is…

The usefulness of the information you receive is determined by the questions you ask.

Engaging employees in your staff training plan

Start thinking about the answers you want.

For example, do you want to know whether employees would find it

more useful to get Excel for Beginners training OR Excel for Intermediates training?

If so, design a question that will provide the answer to this question.

If you need some more help creating excellent survey questions make sure to check out this article.

Then, consider how you will collect answers.

Will you have an employee focus group?

Get employees to fill out a questionnaire?

Here are some great ways to tap into your employee’s knowledge:

  1. 1 on 1 conversation allows in-depth discussion but can be time-consuming
  2. Open office hours allow staff to discuss training at an allotted time each week but again, this can be time-consuming
  3. Health and safety committees give employees a voice on safety matters leading to suggestions on health and safety training (advice on starting a committee here)
  4. Questionnaires are a less time-consuming option, but you gain less detailed information
  5. Suggestion boxes allow staff to raise opinions whenever they feel the need
  6. Team meetings can be a great way to get an overall consensus and relay decisions regarding training

Don’t forget that engagement isn’t just about gathering data. Another key aspect is communicating back the results and decisions being made.

You do not have to agree with every suggestion/answer but with open streams of communication, you can generate greater trust in the system.

After you have collected all the data, you will have a good idea of what training may be required.

But, make sure you don’t overlook these groups of people…

Employees which require extra training

Some employees will have extra requirements for workplace training.

These are shown in the table below.

GroupTraining Requirements
New Staff Members• Essential induction training for performing their job safely
• Learn the Health and safety and fire safety policies
• Understand how to spot risks and inform management
Staff Changing Roles• Essential induction training for performing their new job safely
• Understanding the new hazards
Young Employees• Extra health and safety training (younger people have higher injury rates)
Employee Representatives/Management • Training that matches their job title (higher level H+S, fire safety, and first aid training, etc)

With a solid bank of data and a concrete list of goals, we move on to the next step.

Delivering training

What is the best way to provide training in your workplace?

The truth is that there is no right or wrong answer.

Each method has its advantages and disadvantages.

Simple things can often be taught in-house such as health and safety inductions for new employees.

 But, remember, training in-house must be given by a competent person 

However, certain needs may require an outside provider i.e. external qualification for first aiders.

First Aid Training

Consider these questions when considering your overall goal:

  • What in-house training can we offer?
  • Is training the best way to meet our goal?
  • How many people would need training?
  • What external training is out there?

Example: Let’s take our goal from earlier “We want to reduce the number of injuries sustained by our employees in the workshop by 25% within 6 months.”

It was discovered that most injuries resulted from the heavy lifting of objects. This led the company to take the following actions:

  1. A training provider was used to give all employees in the workshop a manual handling training course.
  2. All new employees were inducted with a talk on safe lifting by a competent member of the management team on their first day.

This process should be applied to each goal and problem identified in your previous research.

Hopefully, this will create your comprehensive list of training needs.

Then it becomes important to consider…

Budget

You most likely have a predefined budget; planning how to utilise this to give the greatest return is crucial.

As we said before, simple training can be done in-house at limited cost. But, there will be times where you need to seek an external provider.

Remember: Training is an investment in your workforce, and any budget should be spent in a way to maximise ROI.

A cost-benefit analysis can be useful in establishing whether training will show a positive ROI.

Data from this will also allow you to prioritise training activities.

Don’t forget to consider the urgency of the training as well i.e. if you have two employees that have a first aid qualification expiring soon and need to keep both as first aiders.  A refresher course must become a high priority.

Remember: Some health and safety training is required by law so will need to be taken care of regardless of its cost-benefit analysis.

Check out how we used our training organiser to get a better overview of the training needed in our earlier example.

Staff Training plan record sheet

Now, it’s time to plan!

This will be different for every organisation and there isn’t a particular method to help you.

We recommend looking at:

  • The level of training that is affordable over the course of the year.
  • Putting training in place starting from the highest priority and highest urgency training.
  • Trying to organise your companies training at dates and times best suited to you. (We offer courses at flexible times such as weekends, evenings or split courses. Contact us for more info).

This leaves one last thing…

Reviewing Goals

Without reviewing how you have performed against your goal, your staff training plan will always be incomplete.

If the company, in our example earlier, experienced a fall in injuries in their workshop by 50% then they have outperformed their initial goal. The plan they put in place was effective and no further steps are needed.

However, if they underperformed against their target, an alteration in their current strategy would be necessary.

They may decide that a higher-level health and safety qualification is needed, or new equipment such as forklifts need to be provided to reduce heavy lifting. They may choose to go back and ask employees opinions again.

Regardless of the option they choose, it is important that you adapt to the position you find yourselves in after the review stage.

Without a review stage, there can be no improvements to your company staff training plan and you may never reach your goal. ☹

Remember: This must be a continual process. You need to regularly undergo this process to keep your business training up to date.

But, there is no need to fret because here’s the best part,

Training Organiser

We have created a helpful tool for you to organise your training efficiently.

Download our training organiser here or click the button below.

Complete with training record sheets, a training checklist, and a goal recorder. Everything you need to manage your well-prepared staff training plan. You’ll be a well-oiled machine in no time.

If you are struggling with any aspect of this, then make sure to comment below and we will get back to you with advice.

Or, give us a ring on 01423 396780 for a free consultation.

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Useful info: HSE training publication