Fire & Safety for Children

Boy playing with fire

Children have an innate urge to explore their environment, to test their limits and to imitate others. It’s how they learn, but it can also get them into some tricky situations. I’ve had a few hair-raising experiences with my son who likes to test his physical limits; ‘can my head fit through these bars?’ Yes it can, but it can’t get back out again quite so easily. ‘Can I fit in this tree trunk?’ again, yes you can but it’s going to take 10 minutes and lots of screaming to pull you out.

Luckily for me, we haven’t had any fire-related near misses yet and I must admit I don’t think I’d be overly prepared if we did. I’m hoping that by taking a preventative approach and minimising the risk of fire in our household will be enough. I need to educate myself for the safety of my children and, let’s be honest, I’m not alone!

According to the RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) domestic fires pose one of the greatest risks to children and according to the Department for Communities and Local Government 6,000 fires are started each year by children under the age of 10. That to me is a shocking statistic and even more shocking is that fire is the cause of nearly half of all accidental deaths in children.

There’s plenty of advice available to parents and carers on how to minimise the risk of fires at home and here are the most important tips to prevent fires at home:

  1. Keep lighters and matches out of reach and out of sight
  2. If you are a smoker then make sure that you extinguish and dispose of your cigarettes properly
  3. When cooking try to use the back burners and ensure saucepan handles are out of reach
  4. Never leave chip pans unattended.  According to RoSPA approximately 16,000 domestic fires are started each year from deep frying food.
  5. Place fire guards on any open, gas or electric fires and ensure they are securely attached to the wall
  6. Straighteners and curling irons should be kept out of reach and turned off after use
  7. Never leave burning candles unattended and keep them out of reach of children at all times
  8. With the summer now upon us be extra vigilant with BBQs, firepits and fire torches. Don’t leave children unattended in the garden when they are lit

If the worst should happen and a fire does ignite you can give your family the best possible chance to escape if you have installed an adequate amount of smoke detectors for the size and layout of your property.  Only purchase alarms that comply to BS EN 14604 2005 and ensure they are in working order by regularly checking them.  Fire and smoke detectors can give you the extra minutes needed to evacuate safely.

You certainly don’t want to frighten your children but you should educate them on what to do if they hear the alarms and make a fun game out of evacuating the property.  Make sure they know not to stop to collect anything and to keep low.  Try and talk through the different evacuation routes in the house so they know what to do if one is blocked.

Finally, a simple saying to remember: Get out, Stay out, call 999!

Further Reading

How Safe Is Your Reputation

We live in an age where consumers have more choice than ever before and therefore it can be difficult for companies to stand out. It is for this reason that reputation is as important now as it ever has been. A good reputation can allow businesses to build long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with customers. However, should a company’s reputation become damaged this can prove catastrophic.

With social media so prevalent, it has never been easier to learn about news, as and when it happens. There have been many corporate scandals in recent memory, all of which do irreparable damage to the company in question. In 2014, car manufacture General Motors were forced to do a massive recall of 800,000 of its cars due to faulty ignition switches. Prior to the recall, the fault is estimated to have caused 13 deaths and 31 crashes. As well as costing the company a huge amount of money, the recall has damaged GM’s reputation with many previous and potential customers. A similar situation is happening with the holiday company, Thomas Cook. An inquest has been held recently, into the deaths of two children who died on a Thomas Cook holiday in 2006. Many consumers are unhappy with the way the company handled the situation and have pledged to boycott the firm in the future. Finally, we can’t discuss damaged reputations without mentioning the banking crisis of 2008 which is still having dramatic ramifications on consumers and their relationship with the finance sector.

These events are just the tip of the iceberg but they illustrate that no company or corporate infrastructure is safe from damage to their reputation. Fortunately, there are ways for businesses to safeguard themselves and therefore their overall standing with the public.

Health and Safety

Health a safety is an integral factor across the entire business world and it tends to be an issue which often informs reputation. If an accident happens, it shouldn’t be something that could have been avoided with better practices in place. With this in mind, companies should implement a comprehensive health and safety infrastructure and reassess these measures at regular intervals. If you are unfamiliar with current regulations or you would like more help, consider working with external organisations who are trained within this area.

Customer Service

Reputation is all about the relationship between a company and its current customers or potential consumers. Customer service is therefore key when attempting to build these relationships. Provide customers with different ways of contacting you, these can include phone, email, social media and instant chat. Also, if a customer has a complaint try to remain polite and helpful at all times and do your best to resolve the issue. Gestures such as these help to forge a good reputation and protect your company against any negative feedback.

Security

In recent years, many organisations have fallen victim to hacking and in some cases it’s due to inadequate security. This can be particularly worrying for customers who share sensitive information with companies. Make sure you are utilising a reputable firewall which includes antivirus and antimalware capabilities. Also, security software should be updated regularly in order to safeguard against current and future threats.

PR

A bad situation can be made infinitely worse with an ill thought out tweet or misinformed press release. Any mistake which is made by a corporation, however small can be magnified and displayed to the entire online world. It is therefore a good idea to guarantee that your PR infrastructure is just a developed as any other aspect of your company.

Why Health and Safety Makes Good Business Sense

Health and safety issues permeate every work based setting. Business owners are required to provide a working environment which is safe for both employees and customers. This can often include the creation of risk assessments, implementation of practices and the modification of the physical workspace. Whilst some may find the overall process to be time consuming and in some cases unnecessary, good health and safety practices can actually boost overall productivity. Here are just some of the ways in which this can happen.

Accidents

According to government statistics, during 2013/2014 as many as 629,000 employees had an accident at work. 148,000 of these people were absent from their workplace for at least 7 days as a consequence of their injury. These statistics show the direct relationship between safety in the workplace and productivity. Every time an employee is absent it costs an employer money and manpower but if just some of these absences can be avoided, every effort should be made to do so.

It should be noted that not all of the accidents within these statistics will be due to poor health and safety practices but it’s likely to be the case in a large proportion.

Stress

Countless pieces of research have found a link between stress and poor health, especially the low level, chronic stresses often found within the workplace. As well as potentially leading to sickness and absence, stress can also be demotivating which can lead to employees becoming less productive. Psychologists have pin pointed some of the main perpetrators of stress within the workplace. These include powerlessness (no control over your current situation), feeling as if you are wrong for your job, witnessing traumatic events within the workplace, no job description and a poor working environment. Obviously health and safety practices don’t cover all of these issue but any way in which you can alleviate stress for your workers will not only benefit them but the company as a whole.

Environmental Conditions

Environmental conditions can affect productivity in a variety of different ways. For example, employees within an uncomfortable environmental are not going to work to the best of their ability. Furthermore, certain conditions can even affect health and safety and therefore lead to absence. Factors which come under the umbrella of environment conditions include, temperature, humidity, lighting, air quality, bathroom facilities and the presence of dangerous particles such as asbestos or moulds.

All of these can be factored into a company’s health and safety infrastructure, with measures to protect employees.

Reputation

Health and safety is an aspect of business which can have repercussions on reputation. Companies that are recognised as enforcers of good practices are more likely to be respected and therefore favoured by potential employees. The same is true of the opposite, a business with a poor reputation for health and safety is less likely to attract workers.

Health and safety reputation is also going to affect the way consumers think about companies. This is especially true when it comes to food outlets or any companies which offer consumables. Obviously, anything which deters customers from buying is never good for a business and will lead to a loss in profits.

Health and safety is often a complex issue which requires a lot of time, effort and commitment. This being said, good practices will not only safeguard you, your employees and your customers but will also protect your organisation from lapses in morale and productivity.

Top Tips for Writing Effective Health & Safety Procedures

Health and safety, let’s face it, isn’t the most glamorous subject. It’s not something the majority of the population would get excited about; nevertheless it is a necessity. Everyone with your organisation, no matter how big or small it is, has a duty to comply with the framework set out by the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, therefore it’s important that the procedures you use internally are easily accessible and digestible by all.  All too often epic documents are produced that do indeed set out compliance information but are in no way user friendly or reflective of the fact that most employees don’t have hours available to trawl through the information.  You don’t need to be the greatest wordsmith to get it right and here are a few pointers to help you produce a document that gets the balance on an even keel.

Writing & Formulating

When compiling your document keep the following four C’s front of mind:

Comprehensive – It’s essential your procedures are thorough and set out all the steps required in order to show due diligence.  Omitting crucial information may leave you in breach of the law.  Also, consider highlighting the reason behind the procedures’ existence.  If they understand why it’s there in the first place they be more likely to comply and will be better equipped to make decisions should an instance arise whereby they cannot follow the procedure exactly.

Concise – This seems a bit at odds with ‘comprehensive’ but you can have a combination of the two.  It is absolutely imperative that the document is as concise as possible.  Many organisations cram as much information in as they can to ensure they fully comply with the Health & Safety at Work Act.  But too much information leaves you at risk of losing the reader and jeopardises the success and purpose of the document.

Clear – Use visual aids wherever appropriate to make it easier for information to be seen and processed.  Think flow charts, diagrams and symbols.  Symbols are particularly useful at highlighting areas that are highly important or where decision making is necessary.  Make sure symbols are easily recognisable and are used in a consistent manner throughout all your procedures.  Include a table of contents to enhance usability and include checklists as a way to create a clear path for the reader, allowing them check they have met each step in the procedure.

 

Comprehensible – When writing any important document, but in particular those relating to health and safety practices, it is essential they can be understood by everyone with the organisation.  Avoid the use of jargon, or if this is unavoidable ensure clear definitions are provided.  It’s all too easy to forget that not everyone is familiar with health and safety terminology or business vocabulary.

Testing & Checking

The best way to check that your document is comprehensive, concise, clear and comprehensible is to get it tested by several people who will be using it in the future.  Outline to them its purpose and explain what you are trying to achieve from the testing process. Consider providing them with some prompts at the beginning or end of the document to help them with their feedback, for example: ‘how long did it take you to read this?’, ‘were there any areas that you found difficult to understand?’.  This way you are more likely to receive constructive comments.  Two rounds of testing are preferable to make certain your document is as effective as possible.

Accessibility

Your procedures then need to be clearly communicated to all staff to whom they are relevant.  If the procedures are new or you’re making extensive alterations to existing ones then consider scheduling a training session.  This is the most effective way to ensure all relevant personnel are familiar with the changes but also to clarify why the changes have been made.  It is common practice for procedures to be kept on a shared area within a company’s IT system so that individuals can access them whenever they need to.  If any minor changes are made then relevant personnel should be informed and directed to the specific area of the document.

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