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Occupational Health & Wellbeing Campaigns

The health and wellbeing of each and every one of our people is our top priority. To raise awareness of some of the health issues faced by our workforce on a daily basis; which can often have serious, long-term or even life-changing effects, we are producing monthly Occupational Health & Wellbeing Campaigns for our staff. These campaigns are delivered to all our staff via email, posters and toolbox talks on site. 

Please see below for the campaigns we have issued so far. 


Raising Awareness of Mental Health in Construction - May 2018

In preparation for mental health awareness week (14th-20th May) Allard Construction is working alongside Mates in Mind to raise awareness of mental health in construction.

Working in construction inevitably involves heavy workloads and long working hours. Then there's the lack of routine, frequent travelling, separation from family and working in isolation. Many construction workers are also contract-based; there can be a lack of job security or steady pay, tight deadlines and restrictive budgets. 

The sad and often unspoken truth of it is construction workers are prone to stress, anxiety, depression and a range of other mental health issues.

It's also a sector that's known for its over exaggerated macho culture, which means it's a predominantly male field where people don't ask for help or talk about their problems.

It's common for workers to avoid admitting to their colleagues that they don't know how to do something or that they're overwhelmed by their job in some way.

They often take their problems home, projecting them on to their loved ones; straining their relationships with their friends and family. 

With mental health, stigma and the fear of losing their job silences people, hindering their access to support. 

Tragically sometimes help is too late.

In construction, more workers die through suicide than falls from height.

Recognising the signs of mental health

If you suspect someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, here are some of the physical signs to look out for:

  • Lack of energy or feeling tired all the time
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Becoming angry or confrontational over the slightest things
  • Poor appetite or weight loss
  • Smoking or drinking more than usual, or using drugs
  • Self-harm

How you can help

Construction thrives on change and teamwork. You don't need to be an expert to talk about it, you simply need to start a conversation.

  • Ask them how they are
  • Listen, if someone feels that they can be honest and ask for help without feeling embarrassed or ashamed, you can intervene before their mental health deteriorates
  • Offer constructive support

You can make a big difference and unknowingly save a life.

Who to contact for support

There are a number of free support services available which specialise in mental health and wellbeing. These services are strictly confidential. It can't hurt to talk to someone.

  • Samaritans: 116 123
  • Mind: 0300 123 3393 or text 86463

Further information

Also, take a few minutes out to watch the following videos, these help to demonstrate some of the effects of poor mental health:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiCrniLQGYc 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmvZ8I5cfNM 

Sun Awareness - June 2018

Now that we have endured another typical wet and miserable British winter; we're all looking forward to the longer days and warmer weather of summer.

We must however consider that as specialist roofing contractors, we spend a lot of our time outside, exposed to the sun.

It's not surprising therefore that we are at a greater risk of suffering from sunburn.

Whilst this may not seem like a serious issue, it is a little-known fact that getting sunburnt as little as once every two years triples the risk of developing skin cancer (melanoma).

Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK. Around 13,500 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed each year. More than 2,000 people die every year in the UK from melanoma. 

More than a quarter of skin cancer cases are diagnosed in people under 50, which is unusually early compared to most other types of cancer. Over recent years, skin cancer has become much more common in the UK. This is thought to be the result of increased exposure to intense sunlight.

Remember, there is no such thing as a healthy tan.

Recognising the signs of skin cancer

Melanoma can take many different forms. The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a chance in an existing mole. This can occur anywhere on the body, but the most commonly affect areas are the back in men or the legs in women. These are uncommon in areas which are protected from sun exposure, such as the buttocks and the scalp.

In many cases, melanomas have an irregular shape and are more than one colour. The mole may also be larger than normal and can sometimes be itchy or bleed. Look out for any moles which change progressively in shape, size and/or colour.

Sun safety tips

  • Try to take regular breaks in the shade when the sun is strongest. In the UK, this is between 11am and 3pm from March to October;
  • Make sure you never burn;
  • Cover up with suitable clothing, such as a long-sleeved top, trousers or long skirts in close-weave fabrics that don't allow sunlight through;
  • Wear sunglasses with wraparound lenses or wide arms with the CE Mark and European Standard EN 1836:2005, and;
  • Regularly apply at least factor 15 sunscreen/sunblock with at least 4-star UVA protection to exposed areas.

Who should take extra car in the sun?

You should take extra care in the sun if you:

  • Have pale, white or light brown skin;
  • Have freckles or red or fair hair;
  • Tend to burn rather than tan;
  • Have many moles;
  • Have skin problems relating to a medical condition, or;
  • Have a family history of skin cancer.

Who to contact for support

See your GP if you notice any change to your moles. They'll refer you to a specialist clinic or hospital if they think you have melanoma. Report these to your doctor as soon as possible. Skin cancer is much easier to treat if it's found early.

Further information

More information can be found using the following links:

https://www.nhs.uk/livewell/skin/pages/sunsafe.aspx 

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/melanoma-skin-cancer/ 

 

Heat Exhaustion & Heat Stroke - July 2018

No doubt that you will have already noticed that we have entered the hottest part of the year; temperatures are expected to regularly exceed 30°C until September.

As specialist roofing contractors, we have little choice but to spend a lot of our time outside, working whilst exposed to the effects of the summer heat.

Just like cars on hot days, our bodies can overheat and start to break down; this is called heat exhaustion.

If someone is showing the signs of heat exhaustion they need to be cooled down. Things you can do to help cool someone down include:

  • Seeking advice from a first aider;
  • Moving them to a cool place;
  • Getting them to lie down with their fleet slightly raised;
  • Getting them to drink plenty of water, sports or rehydration drinks are OK, and;
  • Cooling their skin - spray or sponge them with cool water and fan them. Cold packs around the armpits or neck are good too.

Stay with them, they should start to cool down and feel better within 30 minutes.

If they are not feeling better within 30 minutes, feel hot and dry, are not sweating, have rapid or short breath, have a seizure or lose consciousness they may have heat stroke, which is a medical emergency - call 999.

Preventing heat exhaustion and heat stroke

To help prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke:

  • Drink plenty of cold drinks, especially when working whilst exposed to the summer heat;
  • Take cool baths or showers after work;
  • Wear light-coloured, loose clothing;
  • Sprinkle water over skin or clothes;
  • Take regular breaks from the sun where possible between 11am and 3pm;
  • Avoid alcohol during hot weather, and;
  • Avoid extreme exertion.

Keep an eye on people known to have long-term health conditions (like diabetes or heart problems) because they're more at risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Further information

More information can be found using the below link:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heat-exhaustion-heatstroke/ 

Stress - August 2018

The summer is one of the busiest times of year for Allard. With the additional academy works, people’s holidays and labour shortages to juggle on top of our regular works, some of us will no doubt be feeling like things are getting out of control.

Feeling like you aren't in control of events in your life can cause stress.

Stress may be related to:

  • work – for example, unemployment, a high workload or retirement;
  • family – for example, divorce or relationship difficulties;
  • housing – for example, moving to a new house or problems with neighbours, or;
  • personal issues – for example, coping with illness, bereavement or financial problems.

It's important to tackle the causes of stress in your life if you can. Avoiding problems rather than facing them can make things worse.

Symptoms of Stress

Stress can affect how you feel emotionally, mentally and physically, and also how you behave.

How you may feel:

  • overwhelmed
  • irritable and "wound up"
  • anxious or fearful
  • lacking in self-esteem

How you may have:

  • racing thoughts
  • constant worrying
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty making decisions

How you may feel physically:

  • headaches
  • muscle tension or pain
  • dizziness
  • sleep problems
  • feeling tired all the time
  • eating too much or too little

How you may behave:

  • drinking or smoking more
  • snapping at people
  • avoiding things or people you are having problems with

Dealing with Stress

The NHS promotes 10 simple steps you can take to help deal with stress:

Be active

Exercise won't make your stress disappear, but it will help to clear your thoughts and let you deal with your problems more calmly. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind; try getting started with exercise.

Take control

There's a solution to any problem. Thinking, “I can't do anything about it”, will make stress worse. Take control of the situation and find a solution that satisfies you and not just someone else.

Connect with people

A good network of colleagues, friends and family can ease your troubles and help you see things in a different way. Friends help us relax, we often have a laugh with them, which is an excellent stress reliever.

Have some 'me time'

Here in the UK, we work the longest hours in Europe; we often don't spend enough time doing things we enjoy. Set aside a couple of nights a week for some quality time away from work.

Challenge yourself

Setting yourself goals and challenges, whether at work or outside, such as learning a new skill, or a new sport helps to build confidence. This will help you deal with the stresses in life.

Avoid unhealthy habits

Don't rely on alcohol, smoking and caffeine as your ways of coping, these crutches won't solve your problems. You need to tackle the cause of your stress.

Help other people

Helping people who are often in situations worse than yours will help you put your problems into perspective. The more you give, the more resilient and happy you feel in yourself.

Work smarter, not harder

Working smarter means prioritising your work, concentrating on the tasks that will make a real difference. Leave the least important tasks to last, accept that your in-tray will always be full!

Try to be positive

Look for the positives in life; the things for which you're grateful. People don't always appreciate what they have. Try to be glass half-full instead of glass half-empty.

Accept the things you can't change

Changing a difficult situation isn't always possible. Try to concentrate on the things you do have control over, this way you feel less conflicted and are more focused on the things that make you happy.

Further Information

Also remember that Allard Construction is a partner with Mates in Mind and as a partner we have access to a range of people who can advise on matters including stress: Try 0345 605 1956.

Nutrition - September 2018

Importance of good nutrition for work life 

Having a nutritious and well-balanced diet can provide a valuable boost to career success. Consuming healthy food can improve your energy levels, brain power, increase your ability to concentrate and handle stress, and enhance your overall sense of well-being.

No more afternoon slumps

Glucose is key to keeping our brains alert and focused throughout the day. Certain foods and drinks, such as chocolate and fizzy drinks, release glucose into our bloodstream quickly. We experience around 20 mins of alertness followed by a drastic sugar crash – not what you want when you have meetings to attend/projects to complete. Healthier foods, like nuts, seeds and fruit, release glucose slowly and can raise your productivity levels by a whopping 20%! Having a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals will help you fly through your to-do list in record time.

Increased morale

The old saying - healthy body, healthy mind. Consuming a diet rich in fruit and vegetables promotes emotional well-being and feelings of happiness and calmness, having a massive effect on work life. Omega 3 fats are an essential nutrient for brain function and may protect against anxiety and other psychiatric disorders. Furthermore, eating more tryptophan-containing foods like pork, chicken, seeds and walnuts will make your body release more serotonin, your feel-good neurotransmitter.

Better night's sleep

Getting a decent night’s sleep clears your mind and renews your energy. This means you will be ready to tackle new tasks with drive the next day. Drinking lots of coffee can drastically affect your sleeping patterns – it takes six hours for just half the caffeine you ingest to leave your body! Likewise, eating lots of refined sugar can mess up our insulin levels and make it hard to get to sleep. Steer clear of caffeine and processed sugars in the evening and enjoy plenty of shuteye.

Less sick days

Eating well means that your immune system is better able to fight off infection and germs, particularly at this time of year when colds and flus begin to rise. An un-balanced diet means you’re much more likely to have to take a sick day and fall behind on your workload. Having a nutritious diet also reduces your risk of life-changing conditions such as asthma, allergies, obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Tips for snacks to keep at work

Lunch Ideas

Spicy Avocado Wraps

Pan-fry chicken/veggie chicken with lime, chilli and garlic. Squash half an avocado onto each seeded tortilla wrap, add peppers and sprinkle with coriander. Pile chicken etc. onto wrap and cool before assembling for packed lunch. Simple but full of flavour and under 450 calories.

Recipe: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/spicy-quorn-avocado-wraps


Zingy Salmon & Brown Rice Salad


Cook rice with soya beans and drain. Microwave/grill salmon. Fold cucumber, spring onions, coriander and salmon into the rice and beans. In separate bowl, mix lime zest and juice, chilli and soy, and pour over rice before serving. This ideal combo of slow releasing carbs, lean protein and heart-friendly fats.

Recipe: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1395639/zingy-salmon-and-brown-rice-salad 

Overall considerations

If you are not used to eating a healthy diet that promotes your well-being, making gradual changes can help you improve the way you eat in the long run. Substitute high-calorie, sugary drinks for water, for example, and switch from full-fat to low-fat dairy products.


Selecting lean meats instead of fatty cuts and whole-wheat grains instead of refined grains can lower your intake of unhealthy fats and increase your dietary fibre intake. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain less sodium than canned, and snacking on fresh, crunchy produce like carrots, apples and cucumber slices is healthier than the fats and salt in chips.

Stoptober - October 2018

Thinking about quitting smoking?

There will never be a perfect moment to quit smoking. Don’t wait for life to change, it won’t!

What is Stoptober?

Stoptober is a national stop smoking challenge. Stopping smoking for a month mean’s you’re five times more likely to stay smoke free for good! Getting started is sometimes the hardest thing to do, but with free expert support, stop smoking aids, tools and practical tips it can be done.

Quit smoking with your free personal quit plan here: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/be-healthier/quit-smoking/stoptober/  

3 reasons to quit:

Feel healthier – Stopping smoking is one of the best things you’ll ever do for your health, no matter how long you’ve smoked for. Smoking increases anxiety and stress, despite its image to relieve stress. Smokers are more likely to suffer from depression.

Save money – If you smoke a packet a day, you could save around £300 each month! Calculate the savings you can make using the link - https://www.nhsinform.scot/stopping-smoking/calculate-my-savings

Protect your family – More than 80% of smoke is invisible and odourless. Protect your loved ones from harmful second-hand smoke and reduce their risk of developing asthma, meningitis and cancer.

Find out how quickly you can feel the benefits!

Further information:

Get the Stoptober app from the NHS website to track your progress, see how much you're saving and get daily support wherever you are.

Listen to Terri’s Story and get inspired - https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/for-your-body/quit-smoking/terris-story/ or read NHS’s Quit Smoking Tips - https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree/why-quit/quit-smoking-tips                                                                                           

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started” – Mark Twain

Fire Safety - November 2018

Importance of Fire Safety

Understanding the importance of fire safety can save lives. Fire can be extremely dangerous and hazardous if not managed carefully. It does not matter what environment you are in whether it be at home or at work people must be able to identify the potential triggers and fire safety plans.

Fire Prevention

It is imperative for all businesses and homes to have a fire safety plan. Before you create you fire safety plan a fire risk assessment should be carried out irrelevant of what environment you are in. Below is an example of what your fire risk assessment should contain.

  • Identify the potential triggers and hazards.
  • Identify who could be at risk.
  • Evaluate these risks and hazards and find solutions to reduce these risks.
  • Record the results and add these solutions to your fire safety plan which should be implemented when carrying out fire safety training.
  • Your fire risk assessment should be reviewed regularly.

Potential Triggers

1.       Electrical fault – do not overload electrical circuits and make sure all appliances are turned off at the end of the day. If any electrical faults happen at work they must always be reported. Make sure all electrical wiring is approved by a professional electrician.

2.       Discarded cigarettes – staff should only smoke in a designated area and properly disposed of.

3.       Not correctly storing chemical substances – always make sure they are stored in a safe place with hazardous labels and warning signs.

4.       Cooking equipment – always make sure you stay in the room if you are cooking never leave the kitchen unattended.

5.       Heating – if you have portable heaters make sure they are not near clothing or any other materials.

Devices to Install

Whether you are in a low or high risk environment all houses and buildings should have fire fighting equipment installed and clearly marked. Equipment should be correctly installed, tested and maintained to ensure that if a fire breaks out you are prepared.

Examples of fire-fighting equipment:

  • Fire extinguishers
  • Fire blankets
  • Industry standard recognised signage
  • Fire alarms
  • First Aid kits

Fire Safety Plan

It doesn’t matter whether you are at work or at home having a fire safety plan in place is key. This means in case of a fire breaking out everybody knows how to respond. You plan should include the following:

  • Marked escape routes so that everyone knows exactly how to safely exit the building. In most commercial buildings illuminated fire exit signs will guide you to the closet exit.
  • A safe meeting point away from the building.
  • Emergency safety lighting in case of an electrical fault and emergency doors clearly marked.
  • Clear routes to your outside meeting point.
  • Understanding that nobody should return to the building.

There are many different plans you can put in place depending on what environment you are in.  Click the link below to see an example of a fire risk assessment checklist.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fire-safety-risk-assessment-5-step-checklist

All staff or families should be trained and informed of what to do in an event of a fire. It is also recommended that a fire alarm test should be carried out for all buildings at least once a year. Regular training should occur so that your fire safety plan stays fresh in everyone’s mind and so that everybody is fully prepared.

Fireworks & Bonfire Night

Bonfire Night can be an exciting night for all, but it is important to stay safe when attending a bonfire event. Figures support that attending a large public display results in far fewer people getting injured than a small family or private event. If you are hosting a small event it is advised to follow the Firework Code. It is important to note that even at the larger displays’ safety is key.

Did You Know?

  • If you are under 18 it is against the law to purchase or carry fireworks around.
  • Throwing a firework is a criminal offence and you can be fined up to £5,000.
  • It is an offence under the Explosive Act 1875 to tamper with or modify fireworks.
  • Only purchase fireworks which carry the CE mark.

Informed common sense is ultimately the greatest defence against harm. Should a situation occur or matters get out of hand it is critically important to stay calm and call the emergency services if required.

2017 Figures:

  • 990 injuries were caused by fireworks.
  • 494 children were injured.
  • 479 people required hospital treatment from fireworks.
  • 475 accidents occurred at family events & private parties & 121 accidents happened during a public display.

So now you have a little more knowledge and understanding of some of the hazards that could occur on Bonfire Night. If you have the right plans and precautions in place and keep these safety tips in mind it will be a great, fun evening for all.

For more safety information visit: http://www.bonfire-night-safety.co.uk/

Alcohol Awareness - December 2018

The Christmas season is fast approaching where many of us attend Christmas work parties or celebrations with friends and family. Even though December is the month to celebrate and socialise after a year of hard work we must still remember the effects alcohol can have on our minds and body and the serious dangers of drink driving.

Understanding Units And How To Track What You Are Drinking

It is important to know exactly how much alcohol you are consuming and how different alcoholic drinks can differ in regards to short and long term risks.

You need to be aware that the volume of alcohol differs from drink to drink. Spirits are considerably stronger than wine and beer. For example, standard spirits are normally around 30-40% ABV (alcohol by volume) meaning that these drinks contain 30-40% of pure alcohol. A pint of beer is roughly 5% and a glass of wine is 11%.

Always check the strength of your drink which can be found on the side of the bottle and will be labelled as ABV.

If you are mixing alcohol and soft mixers it is important to remember that this can sometimes mask the taste of the alcohol and make it easier to drink and therefore in many cases means you consume a lot more alcohol.

If you are drinking from home it can be difficult to know exactly how much alcohol you are consuming. It’s recommended to purchase a 25ml measure so you can track how many units you have consumed.

Tips

·         Opt out when being offered a shot and choose a long drink which will avoid how quick you consume this level of alcohol.

·         Always check the side of your drink to see the volume of alcohol you are consuming.

·         If you are driving why not try an alternative alcohol free beer or ‘spirit’.

·         Try not to mix energy drinks and spirits as this could cause serious health issues. When alcohol is mixed with caffeine, the caffeine can mask the depressant effects of alcohol. Even though caffeine is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant mixing the two together does not cancel the other one out. As a  result, people are likely to drink more alcohol and become more impaired than they realise.

Long Term Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol effects nearly every part of the body and can seriously damage some of your most important organs. The core organs that are normally effected by alcohol misuse include the brain, nervous system, liver, pancreas and heart.

If you are continuously drinking alcohol it will start to weaken your immune system which will make you extremely vulnerable to serious infections.  Your blood pressure will dramatically increase which could cause major cardiovascular risks such as strokes and heart attacks.

See below for the long term heath effects associated with alcohol misuse.

The Consequences Of Drink Driving

Irrelevant of how many alcohol drinks you have consumed any amount of alcohol will go straight to you bloodstream which effects peoples ability to drive.

So what are the dangers?

·         Alcohol reduces your ability to concentrate.

·         Your level of judgement is reduced in turn limiting the capability to foresee potential risks whilst driving.

·         Alcohol can affect your vision which can be an extremely dangerous when driving.

·         Your reaction time slows down.

·         Drinking alcoholic drinks affects coordination.

Drink driving penalties and consequences

If you are found guilty of drink driving the effects could be life changing. Depending on the severity of the of the offence you can be fined, banned or even imprisoned. See below for the list of punishments according to gov.uk: (https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/alcohol-and-the-law/drink-driving-penalties/)

1.      Being in charge of the vehicle could result in 3 months imprisonment or £2,5000 fine or potentially a driving ban.

2.      Driving or attempting to drive the car could mean a person is faced with 6 months imprisonment, an unlimited fine or a driving ban of a least 1 year.

3.      Refusing to provide specimen of breath, blood or urine could lead to 6 months imprisonment, unlimited fine or a ban from driving for a least 1 year.

4.      Causing death by dangerous driving could result in 14 years imprisonment, unlimited fine or a ban from driving for a least 2 years.

As well as the above legal implications if you are caught drink driving you could lose your job and potentially find it difficult to secure another as this will be seen on your driving licence. Having a drink driving offence could mean you are refused entry into certain countries such as USA.

Christmas Parties

Even though work Christmas parties are the one time of year to let your hair down and enjoy the evening with your colleagues after a year of hard work your tolerance level of alcohol should not be ignored or forgotten.

Tips to limit your drinking and staying safe at your Christmas parties

·         Eat beforehand – Make sure you eat a meal before going out. Eating will delay the absorption of alcohol in your bloodstream.

·         Be wise when choosing drinks – Opt for smaller measures such as a 125ml of wine rather than a 175ml. Always ask the barman if there are an alternative option that is a lower strength.

·         Stay hydrated – It is recommended that you drink water before your night out and to have a few glasses in between your alcoholic drinks so that you replenish the water in your body. Drinking a few glasses once you get home is also key to avoid the hangover!!

·         Plan your journey home – Have a taxi booked before you head out or make sure you have several different licensed taxi numbers in your phone.

·         Don’t leave on your own – Never leave your Christmas party on your own, it’s best to leave with a group to avoid leaving anyone in a vulnerable position.

  • Head Office:
    Units 13-15, Maple Park, Essex Road, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, EN11 0EX
    Tel: 01992 463090 Fax: 01992 440798
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