Crackdown Planned on Building Health and Safety

Occupational_Safety_EquipmentHealth and safety is quite naturally a broad ranging concept, and the different industries will all have very diverse health and safety concerns to take into account. Sometimes, people view health and safety as an instance of ‘red tape gone mad’, and a number of recent reports have suggested that, in many areas at least, health and safety regulations are becoming almost unbearably pernickety. However, that’s certainly not the case within the construction industry, as in this sector the observance of health and safety is of paramount importance.

The Proposed ‘Crackdown’

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has always viewed the construction industry as a sector where much improvement can be made, and reducing construction accidents is an almost omnipresent priority. To this end, a national clampdown upon health and safety is underway right now, with health, as well as safety, being heavily scrutinised. Whilst safety precautions like the correct equipment are neglected far too often upon construction sites, they are observed more regularly than plenty of more general ‘health issues’ are, and this is what the HSE aims to change.

Building Site

What’s Involved?

There are many areas that are set to undergo evaluation. Perhaps the most prominent of these is the regulation surrounding asbestos dangers. According to the Asbestos Advice Helpline, building, demolition and construction workers are among the highest risk professionals when it comes to exposure to asbestos, yet many laws continue to be ignored surrounding asbestos and its removal. Such removal needs to be carried out by a licensed contractor, but often the work is conducted in an unlicensed fashion, and safety measures are lax when it comes to protecting workers.

Asbestos isn’t the only such concern though. Silica dust is another hazard that is being targeted by the HSE, but there are also many other very commonplace health dangers as well. For example, noise and vibration are troublesome in their own right, but adequate protective measures like ear defenders aren’t always provided. Even rudimentary practices like ensuring that walkways remain free of obstructions are regularly disregarded, and easily avoided circumstances like trips and falls are a major cause of building and construction fatalities.

The Importance of Health and SafetyConstruction Safety

It’s the aim of the HSE to reduce work-related injury and ill-health, as well as the obvious efforts to minimise fatalities, and to this end the proposed crackdown is also going to implement some stricter health and safety training guidelines. Despite only making up a fraction of the UK workforce (about 5%), the construction and building industry is responsible for more than a quarter of fatal injuries, and quite simply that needs to change, and soon. As such, this is definitely one industry which can’t be accused of being a place where health and safety has ‘gone mad’. In actual fact, you’d be mad to overlook the significance of health and safety when the stakes are so high.

Clinical Negligence

Whilst there is no denying that medical professionals here in the UK offer a great standard of care, unfortunately there are rare occasions when things can go wrong and patients can suffer the consequences. Indeed in 2013 it was revealed by the NHS Litigation Authority that there had been a reported 6% increase in the number of clinical negligence claims.

What is clinical negligence?

According to the charity Mind, clinical negligence, previously referred to as medical negligence, refers to a situation whereby damage is caused to a person due to a breach of the duty of care owed to that person by a healthcare professional. Negligence can apply to numerous different circumstances including diagnosis, psychiatric care and a perceived delay in treatment.

The law

According to the law, clinical negligence can only be proven if a claimant is able to prove a  number of points, including that they were owed a duty of care in the first place, that this was not met, and that this consequently caused damage or harm to them as a result.

Why make a claim

As advised by the charity Scope, if you find yourself in a situation where you are unhappy with aspects of the healthcare you received, and feel you require an apology or would like to make improvements to clinical practice to avoid a similar situation occurring for other individuals in the future, then you may wish to consider making a complaint to the hospital or care service. For more information about making a complaint take a look at this guidance produced by the NHS and the Department of Health about the complaints procedure.

medical

However if you require financial compensation, for example to help pay for the expense of the additional care and support you may need, then you can make a claim for compensation. Whilst this may seem a daunting prospect, the first step in this process would usually be to contact a solicitor who should be able to provide valuable assistance. Indeed a number of law firms such as AYB Law specialise in clinical negligence claims and can help you negotiate the legal processes involved in making a clinical negligence claim.

It is worth being aware that if you do decide to take legal action then depending on the policy you have taken out, some insurance providers may cover legal expenses. For example AVIVA offer legal services cover as an optional extra in their home insurance.

For more information you can also take a look at this handy guide produced by the Citizen’s Advice Bureau which has some great advice regarding the claims procedure.

Preparing for Medical Emergencies in the Workplace

There’s always a risk of an accident; whether you’re at home or at work, you should always be ready to respond accordingly if somebody is injured. However, it is in the workplace where many of us are at an increased risk of injury; this especially true in industries where the working environment is filled with potential hazards.

According to statistics published by the Health & Safety Executive , approximately 646,000 British workers suffered an accident at work during the 2012 to 2013 period. That’s an awful lot of accidents, many of which may have been preventable. Bearing these figures in mind, it’s always best to be ready to act if yourself or a colleague has an injury in the workplace.

Have Equipment to Hand

It’s important to ensure that well stocked first aid kits are stored in easily accessible places throughout your premises. Staff should know where the kits are and in areas where there is a greater risk of an accident or injury it would be wise to have more than one first aid kit readily available. If an accident does occur, then quick access to even basic first aid equipment could make a great deal of difference.

First Aid Kit

First aid kits that are suitable for the workplace can available from St John’s Ambulance supply website; these kits will be compliant with health and safety legislation. Also, remember in that some environments where there are unusual risks, first aid kits may need additional supplies.

Training is Vital

Knowing how deal with an injury isn’t instinctual; staff will need first aid training to ensure they’re able to handle such a situation should it arise. In many cases it is a legal requirement to have at least one first aid trained person, sometimes more, present in the workplace.

First Aid Training

First aid training courses are available from companies such as Human Touch, who provide training suitable for the workplace and other scenarios too. There’s no point in preparing for an emergency with first aid kits if there is nobody present who knows how to use them!

Ensure People are Aware of Risks

Training goes beyond ensuring there are staff capable of administering first aid present, it’s also vital that all staff are made fully aware of any dangers or risks in the workplace. That could be something as simple as putting out ‘caution wet floor’ signs when appropriate and making sure staff know how to handle spillages.

Safety Warning

However, if your industry requires use of specialised machinery or equipment that is potentially dangerous then make sure that all staff who use or work nearby this equipment are trained appropriately. Check out the workplace NHS’s health and safety assessment to see how your premises measure up. Remember that this only covers the general basics though; special rules are required in more hazardous working environments!

Follow these simple steps and make your place work safer, reducing risk of serious injury from accidents.

The Rise of Allergies in Modern Life

sneezeThe chances are that you either suffer from allergies or you know somebody who does. Today, one in three people suffers from an allergy of some kind, and severe reactions cause the hospitalisation of 20,000 people a year.

Scientists believe that bacteria play a large part in many allergies, and a recent BBC Horizon programme put this to the test, taking samples from two severe allergy sufferers and their family. The result was that the families had far fewer bacteria in and on their body than is found on people living in traditional tribes in the developing world. A number of factors, including the fact that we in the Western world tend to spend 91% of our time indoors, were cited as contributing to this difference.

Modern life, it seems, is causing changes in the bacteria that we are exposed to and contributing towards a rise in allergies.

This may, of course, be only one factor. Repeated or prolonged exposure to a substance can increase the likelihood of developing a severe allergic reaction – this can be the case with reactions to hair dye and to latex gloves.

So what can you do if you suffer from an allergic reaction? The first solution is, naturally, to avoid the substance that you are allergic to and seek out alternatives. If you suffer from a reaction to latex, then you can use alternatives like nitrile gloves, which are readily available from specialists like The Glove Club. If you are allergic to hair dye, the main culprit is often an ingredient called p-Phenylenediamine or PPD – you may still be able to use natural hair dyes which do not contain it.

Secondly, if the allergen is not one you can completely avoid, then there are a range of over-the-counter antihistamines available from high street chemists like Boots, or prescribed by your doctor, which can reduce allergic symptoms. In the case of a severe allergy, your doctor may also prescribe an Epipen or Anapen, to be used in the case of anaphylactic shock.

However, if the theories portrayed by the Horizon programme are correct, you may also be able to reduce your chances of developing severe allergies simply by getting outside more and not seeing all bacteria as harmful.

Quitting Assistance – Smoking Cessation Techniques and their Effectiveness

There’s no doubt that quitting smoking without assistance is a challenge. Breaking out from a routine coupled with the highly addictive nature of nicotine makes giving up tobacco especially difficult.

Luckily, for smokers there’s a whole host of products on the market to help us break the habit of a lifetime, but which are the most effective? Let’s take a look at some of the most popular aids to quitting and help you evaluate what will be the most useful aid on your journey to a smoke-free future.

Patches:

Nicotine patches are an extremely popular and widely recognised smoking cessation aid that have been on the market for over thirty years, with big name brands such as Nicotinell producing patches of varying potency. The idea is that patches reduce your craving for a smoke by slowly releasing nicotine into your body through the skin.

Nicotine Patch

However, the question on your lips is of course ‘are patches effective?’ Well, the answer is sometimes. Numerous clinical trials have been carried out, and in open tests nicotine patches were shown to have a 10% success rate.

Gum:

Originally only available through prescription, nicotine chewing gum is now available over the counter. There are numerous varieties available, but the type of gum produced by companies such as Nicorette is probably the most well known in the UK.

Nicotine Gum

As the name suggests, nicotine gum is quite simply chewing gum that’s laced with nicotine, absorbed into the blood stream through the tissue of the mouth.  The gum is usually available in different strengths, and depending on how heavy a smoker you are, you’ll be recommended to use either 2mg or 4mg gum.

Does it work? Well, much like nicotine patches, success rates are quite varied for gum, and there is certainly quite a degree of willpower required too.

E-Cigs:

Cause of much controversy in the press, e cigarettes have been embraced by many smokers as an alternative to tobacco. They allow users to inhale heated vapour that contains nicotine and often a flavouring of their choice. The sensation of inhalation of e-cigs is very close to that of a tobacco cigarette, which is why they’ve proved to be so popular.

Electronic Cigarette

Manufacturers of e-cigs purport that their products are a harmless way to satisfy the cigarette craving, by inhaling only water vapour, nicotine and glycerol (a commonly used mixing agent found in medicine). However, there is currently no regulation of the e-cig market and no long-term studies have been performed into their effect on health.

Do they work? Many former smokers will tell you that e-cigs are a brilliant quitting aid, with over 31% of people who tried them quitting smoking within 6 months of e-cig use. However, many argue that by using e-cigs, smokers are just replacing one addiction with another. Also, the jury is still out on the potential health effects of these products too.

Cold Turkey:

This method takes will power, lots of will power. It’s well known that quitting smoking cold turkey can be extremely challenging and the withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant. However, it’s not impossible and many people have managed to just give up without assistance. Have a look at this guide if you’re planning on giving up the cigarettes unaided.

All methods of quitting cigarettes have their pros and cons, and whichever option you choose, it’s not going to be an easy journey. However, you will thank yourself for quitting; the health benefits are significant and you will feel so much better for it. The NHS Smokefree program offers assistance and advice for those who want to give up, so do not feel that you have to undertake this task on your own.

3 Meal Ideas Your Personal Trainer Will Love You For

PT SessionWhy are you not seeing positive changes in your body from training? If you’re putting the hours in at the gym, but you’re not progressing then it’s time to evaluate what you’re eating. The chances are that it’s your diet that’s holding you back. Remember that your diet is equally as important as your training routine when it come to achieving goals.

 

We spoke to the good people at Tom Kelly Personal Training in London, and they agreed with us that people who are focused on training sometimes neglect to maintain a healthy diet. Another commonly seen mistake is people thinking it’s okay to ‘treat’ themselves after a workout; talk about counterproductive.

 

A healthy diet shouldn’t be a chore, and it doesn’t equate to denying yourself food that you enjoy. We’ve prepared three simple ideas for recipes that are easy to prepare, enjoyable and will get the thumbs up from your PT.

 

High Protein Porridge

Ditch the sugary cereals or processed meats in the morning. This porridge is a lot tastier than it sounds and will set you up for the day.

 

First, place a generous serving of Greek yoghurt into a bowl. Next, add a spoonful of peanut butter (100% peanuts with no added sugar or salt is preferable), a dollop of honey for sweetness and a few drops of vanilla extract. Give it a good mix. You can also mix in a scoop of protein powder if you’d like, but this is optional. Once the mixture is blended together mix in a serving of rolled oats and you’re ready to go. You could also add a chopped banana, some blueberries and a sprinkling of crushed almonds too.

 

This can also double up as a dessert for those of you with a sweet tooth! We know the urge to snack on sweets can be hard to resist, so check out this run down of high protein desserts from Greatist too.

Baked Chicken and Red Peppers with Almonds

 

Extremely simple to prepare, this meal is ideal for lunch or dinner and would be great served with some salad on the side.

 

Place chopped chicken breast, thinly sliced potatoes, onions and roughly cut red peppers into a bowl and season. In another bowl mix olive oil with finely chopped garlic, ground cumin, paprika and some crushed fennel seeds. Pour this over the chicken mixture and place everything into a baking tray.

 

Bake for around 30/40 minutes at 200°C, or until the chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle over some crushed almonds for the last ten minutes of cooking. Serve in bowls with a helping of Greek yoghurt and some chopped coriander.

 

Easy to prepare in advance, you can quickly whip this up of an evening for your dinner and then have some leftovers for lunch the next day.

 

Chicken fillets and other high-protein, low-fat meats are available at excellent prices from Musclefood.com, much cheaper than the supermarkets.

 

Salmon, Egg & Soya Bean Salad

 

First off, poach or bake salmon fillets, whichever you prefer. Also, boil some puy lentils for about twenty minutes. Once ready, set the salmon and lentils to one side.

 

Boil an egg and add soya beans to the pan for the final couple of minutes. Drain the pan, cool under cold water and then shell & cut the egg. Mix some lemon juice and zest into the soya beans along with a little olive oil, crushed garlic, the cooked lentils and chopped spring onions.

 

Plate up the bean and lentil mixture and then flake the salmon filet over the top, drizzling with a little lemon juice.

Healthy Food

If you stick to a healthy regime of high protein meals with a good mixture of nutritious vegetables and complex carbohydrates then you’ll soon see much better results from your training program. If you’re having trouble keeping track of what you eat, then My Fitness Pal, the calorie counting app, is very useful!

 

Remember that healthy eating doesn’t necessarily mean missing out on the foods you enjoy, just enjoying them in moderation.

Adjusting to Disability

disabilityAccording to government statistics, there are over eleven million people living with a long-term disability, illness or impairment; of these eleven million people, less than 20% were born disabled. Every year, many people face living with a new disability, and have to find ways to adjust and adapt in order to maintain their quality of life.

For a newly disabled person, many of the first issues you will face will be within your own home. The average home is not designed with a disabled person in mind, so a range of adaptations may be necessary. Disabled facilities grants are available from the government to help cover the costs of such adaptations – widening doors and installing ramps, for example – but you will need to wait for your application to be approved before work can begin. If you live in a multi-level home, you may require a facilitated lift in order to access all floors and rooms. Disabled lifts can often be an expensive investment, so be sure to find a specialist accessibility lift supplier who can provide those with limited mobility the lift to suit their needs, providing the individual with a great sense of independence and the ability to enjoy their home. In the meantime, you can purchase a wide range of daily living aids which can help to make your home more suitable, including grab rails and portable ramps.

Transport is also a frequent issue for the disabled; around a fifth of disabled people report having issues related to accessing transport. Although an increasing number of bus companies offer low-floor accessible services, it can be difficult to know in advance whether they will be in use on your route; a number of railway stations are still inaccessible to wheelchair users, or only accessible by lifts which may be out of order on any given day. Wheelchair accessible vehicles remove the need to rely on public transport, and help to preserve your independence.

Of course, the physical issues that a newly disabled person faces are only part of the equation; mentally and emotionally, it can be very difficult to cope with the changes. The process of coming to terms with a new disability is, in many ways, a grieving process; people may feel that they have lost their independence, the future that they had planned, a sense of control over their lives and more. It is important not only to find practical ways to surmount these losses but also to recognise them, and it may be worth seeking counselling for disabilities.

Disabilities can vary greatly; however in an increasingly aware society there are a great many ways that you can seek assistance in adjusting to your new condition, and with the right support you can maintain and enjoy a high quality of life.

The Essential Facts About Tattoo Removal

Tattoo_MachineGetting a tattoo used to be forever, but that’s simply not the case anymore. Statistics shows that tattoo removal has increased on a global scale by as much as 440% in the last decade, with celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Megan Fox and Melanie Griffith setting an example that others are keen to follow.

There are obviously lots of reasons to get a tattoo removed. The most common reasons are perhaps the negative career prospects that an obvious tattoo can create, a desire to distance yourself from the incentive that first led you to get a tattoo in the first place (like a relationship), or simply a lack of enthusiasm for body art that has come about in later life.

Regardless of the reasoning, the fact is that tattoos can now be removed, but it’s still worth considering your options before you jump in.

Laser Treatments

TattooLaser tattoo removal is undoubtedly the most well known method of disposing of an unwanted tattoo. A series of concentrated light treatments are used to remove the tattoo, but there is a lot of pain involved, even if methods have progressed to greatly lessen the presence of scarring.

However, there are different methods even among laser tattoo procedures. For example, R20 laser tattoo removal has been endorsed and condemned in equal measures by various providers. The practice essentially combines multiple treatments into a single session, theoretically achieving tattoo removal in an incredibly short time, but some specialists like the Apple Wellness Center have criticised it for being poorly researched and excessively damaging.

Clearly then, not all laser tattoo methods are equal, so if you decide upon this common route then be sure to look into the options and select a reliable service. Laser tattoo removal does work, but a bad experience could easily offset that benefit.

Other Methods

Laser tattoo removal is not the only option for tattoo removal, as over the years many other techniques have been trialled. Whilst you’re unlikely to be interested in the somewhat archaic (and hugely painful) methods of ‘sanding’ or ‘cutting’ a tattoo away, there are a couple of possible alternatives, even though they have their drawbacks.

  • Intense Pulsed Light Therapy: known as IPL for short, also relies upon light, but in the form of pulses instead. Again, some specialists don’t recommend this treatment, and even those who claim that it works even better than laser therapies are forced to concede that it is very expensive (you pay per pulse of light!).
  • Tattoo Removal Creams: popularised by Tat B Gone, these are an attractive alternative for those who don’t fancy undergoing potentially painful tattoo removal via lasers. However, their effectiveness is still under some dispute, although for a person who merely wishes to fade a tattoo, rather than removing it completely, they may well have some merit.

MTattoo Removal Processodern society has proved that tattoos don’t have to last forever, but that doesn’t mean that you can get them removed without a second thought. The most helpful thing that can be said is to consider carefully whether you want a tattoo in the first place, but for those who have already gone ahead it’s very wise to thoroughly investigate the available options to get the best results. In this way, you’ll inevitably attain a better final result.

Cosmetic Surgery and Non-Surgical Alternatives

Patient-with-Surgical-Mar-001Throughout human history, people have tried to change their appearance for a wide range of reasons. Originally, most plastic or cosmetic surgery was largely aimed at restoring the appearance of an individual after an injury; treatments for the repair of a broken nose were recorded in the Edwin Smith papyrus, which is dated to 2500 BC or earlier, and modern plastic surgery techniques were largely developed in the care of wounded soldiers from the First World War.

Today, alongside repairing disfigurements caused by injuries, cosmetic surgeons and those offering non-surgical alternatives frequently treat people who are unhappy with their appearance due to medical conditions or simply because they feel unattractive, as well as those looking to fight the signs of ageing.

Whether it is due to injuries, medical conditions or simply quirks of genetics, when an individual is severely dissatisfied with their appearance it can have a deep psychological effect. Whilst they are often told (with the best intentions) that it’s what is inside that counts, for somebody living with what they feel to be a disfigurement, appearances do matter.

For some, it is possible to adjust to living with and accepting their appearance. The charity Changing Faces is dedicated to people with conditions or injuries which affect their appearance, and can provide help and information on boosting confidence and self esteem.

For others, cosmetic surgery is indeed the most suitable option. Cosmetic surgery on the NHS is usually only available where there is an overriding concern for the individual’s health and wellbeing; for example, a rhinoplasty (nose job) may be funded by the NHS to treat breathing problems, and breast implants may be funded when they are intended to treat severe underdevelopment or lopsidedness. Because there are often long waiting lists for such treatments, even when the patient is entitled to NHS treatment, many prefer to seek private cosmetic treatments instead, using facilities like Restore Surgery, a specialist provider of plastic surgery in York, and you’ll find similar clinics in many other cities as well.

Because it is a drastic option, it is generally recommended that an individual considering cosmetic surgery undertake counselling beforehand to be sure that it is the right choice for them. It is also strongly recommended that, where there are non-surgical alternatives available to treat that particular issue, these are tried before resorting to the surgeon’s scalpel.

For example, you can often find qualified doctors and dermatologists in private beauty clinics. Amongst their range of beauty treatments in Watford, one such clinic offers a non-surgical facelift which can help those concerned with the signs of ageing, skin treatments to improve the appearance of acne scarring and other skin conditions, and even non-surgical liposuction – all of which can have a hugely beneficial effect on an individual’s confidence and self-esteem.

Whether you choose cosmetic surgery or a non-surgical alternative, the key point to remember is that it should not be about achieving somebody else’s version of beauty, but instead about reaching a point where you can be happy within your own body.

The Medical Benefits of Massage

800px-Massage_FrankfurtMassage has been used therapeutically for many centuries; there are references to varying massage techniques in Chinese documents from the very beginning of recorded history. Over time, many different styles have been developed, each of which uses differing techniques to achieve their desired effects.

Swedish Massage

Swedish massage, also referred to as classic massage, uses five kinds of long, flowing strokes, and has been shown to be particularly helpful in reducing pain and joint stiffness in patients with osteoarthritis. A study in 2010 showed that Swedish massage causes measurable changes in immune and endocrine responses in healthy adults, showing that it can be beneficial to any recipient.

Deep Tissue Massage

Compared to Swedish massage, deep tissue techniques are slower and use more pressure, in order to reach deeper layers of muscle and fascia (connective tissues). Studies have shown that deep tissue massage can have a beneficial effect on blood pressure, with an average drop in systolic pressure of 10.4 mm Hg, and it is also reported to be effective at relieving chronic pain.

Sports Massage

Although developed specifically for the benefit of athletes, many sports massage specialists such as London-based Technique Physio report beneficial responses from all walks of life. Sports massage tends to be a deeper form of therapy, using deep tissue techniques and trigger point therapy to decrease tension within muscle tissue and restore optimal muscle length. For athletes, one of the key benefits is prevention or reduction of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) after exercise;  for more sedentary recipients it can improve circulation and reduce stress, as with other massage techniques.

Reflexology

This is an ancient Chinese practice; according to practitioners such as Rosanna Bickerton at Hands on Feet, reflexology promotes health by manipulating pressure points on the feet, hands and ears which correspond to other organs, glands or structures of the body. Whilst this cannot be proven, studies have shown that it can aid in reducing pain, blood pressure and anxiety, and it has shown beneficial effects for migraine and tension headache sufferers.

Whichever form of massage is recommended, it is important to ensure that certain contra-indicatory factors are not present; massage should generally not be used on patients with bleeding disorders or who are taking blood-thinning medication, deep vein thrombosis, severe osteoporosis or fractures, and care should be taken with oils and lotions, as they may cause allergic reactions in sensitive patients.