Monday 17 January 2022 is Blue Monday. So, what is Blue Monday? The idea was drawn up as a PR stunt for Sky Travel by Psychologist Cliff Arnall. Arnall used a formula to calculate the gloomiest day of the year and his conclusion is that it falls on the third Monday in January.
Although the original concept may have been dreamt up as a marketing gimmick to sell more holidays, it helpfully raises awareness in the importance of maintaining good mental health. There is type of depression known as Seasonal Defective Disorder (SAD) or “winter blues”. The exact causes of SAD are unknown, but it is considered the lack of exposure to sunlight affects the bodies internal chemistry.
What are the signs of SAD?
Loss of appetite
Loss of interest
Reduced energy levels
Weight gain or loss.
There are several treatments for SAD including light therapy, medication, cognitive behaviour therapy etc. It is important to consult with your GP for the relevant treatment.
Hints and Tips for overcoming Blue Monday
Even for those who don’t have a condition such as SAD the last two years have been hard on everyone’s mental health. Below are some hints and tips for overcoming Blue Monday.
Don’t give up on your New Year’s Resolutions. You may have committed to Dry January or Veganuary and had a blip but don’t be hard on yourself.
Don’t hibernate. It is easy to stay home during the cold winter months however it is important to get outside get fresh air and see sunlight.
Exercise – you don’t have to run a marathon just go for a walk.
Be social. Over the last two years we have been reminded about social distancing. Being with friends and family and socialising is good for positive mental health. Just remember to be safe and follow Coronavirus guidance.
Make time for yourself. We all have demands on us either work or family but remember to take time for yourself.
Set yourself small goals to achieve either work, personal or social. A sense of achievement positive for your mental health.
Finally, remember to smile as it is proven to reduce stress. It elevates mood and is contagious.
Christmas is a time when families gather to celebrate, and share presents. However, a lot of people are unaware of the potential hidden danger in your child’s Christmas present. Button batteries are extremely dangerous to a child if swallowed. These batteries can be found in many festive items such as small toys, Christmas decorations, and even musical cards.
So, what is the danger?
If swallowed when combined with saliva the electric current produced by the battery produces caustic soda that can cause catastrophic burns to the airway or stomach.
It is estimated in the UK three children die and around hundred are admitted to hospital per annum after swallowing button batteries.
The following time lapse video shows how the damage occurs.
Christmas is a busy time getting ready for the big day. Therefore, it is easy for people to drop their guard. Toy Safety Regulations require button battery units to be secure. However, check each toy or gadget before giving it to the child also check any loose package to ensure no loose batteries.
Discard of old batteries safely
When replacing old button batteries remember to check that the new battery is securely fitted. It is important to remember that old batteries may still have sufficient charge to course damage. Also store the old battery securely until you can safely dispose of it.
Don’t leave children alone with devices such as Christmas decorations which contain button batteries. Also, place musical Christmas cards out of the reach of young children.
What are the signs of a swallowed battery?
A sudden onset of crying (some children may not be in pain)
Decreased eating or drinking.
Chest pain or discomfort.
Abdominal pain, blood in saliva and stool.
What to do if a child swallows a button battery?
It’s important if a child swallows a button battery, they seek medical attention immediately. Either phone 999 or 112 for an ambulance or take the child straight to A&E. Do not encourage the child to vomit as the caustic soda can travel further up into the airway and cause further damage. It is important to also take the toy or device and any packaging to hospital with you to demonstrate to doctors the cause of your concerns about your child’s health.
Remember to stay safe and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Safely Does IT.
Writing this blog post reminds me how I got involved in health and safety training when I worked in sports and leisure management. Whilst working as a Duty Manager at a newly opened Sports Centre in southwest London, I was delegated the responsibility of health and safety. One of my first tasks was to complete a risk assessment for the Sports Centre. As you can imagine, not knowing where to begin like most people, I carried out a quick Google search which only raised more questions!
Following on from that daunting experience I decided to get myself trained and qualified in health and safety. You could say my journey into health and safety was a lucky accident.
That all seems a long time ago. Since establishing Safely Does IT in 2006 I have taught numerous other people how to complete their own risk assessments.
The following is a beginners guide to writing a risk assessment using the standard five step process.
1. Identify the hazards
First, it is good to establish the terminology. A hazard is something with the potential to cause harm and will primarily be affected by your occupation. Hazards can be categorised as physical, chemical, ergonomic, psychosocial etc.
Risk is the likelihood; and severity of the hazard affecting someone. Normally these factors are both given a score of 0-10. If you multiply these numbers together this gives, your risk rating for the hazard. Establishing a risk rating helps you to identify your priority hazards.
2. Decide who can be harmed and how
Think about who could be harmed by the hazards you have already identified and how? This is not a fortune telling activity – most of the hazards are obvious. Remember to consult everyone within the business and do not forget to remember customers; contractors; or anyone who could be affected by the work you do. It is essential you include vulnerable groups such as children or people with special educational needs.
Think outside of the box. I can remember delivering a risk assessment course for a nursery around ten years ago and I was surprised one of the hazards they had included was squirrels. When I raised this with them the staff mentioned that in the past the squirrels had hidden nuts from bird tables in the garden. Obviously, any child with a nut allergy would be at risk.
3. Decide on control measures
This is the stage where issues can occur because people can under or over evaluate the control measures to manage the hazards. We have all heard of over evaluated control measure stories in the press where children’s games such as conkers or throwing snowballs have been banned due to health and safety. On a more serious side, poor risk management can lead to injury, illness or even death.
Health and safety legislation sets out what we must do as a minimum by law but also some of the responsibilities are quantified by the phrase “so far as is reasonably practicable”. In laypersons turns this means the hazard is balanced between the cost, time and trouble taken to manage the hazard.
A hierarchy of control is normally used to control the hazard. The hierarchy starts with elimination of the hazard if this is reasonably practical; and where this is not possible, the latter stages rely on discipline based upon policies and procedures. The overall aim is to remove any negative human behaviour influence.
4. Record your findings and implement them
It is important that your risk assessment is suitable and sufficient. On numerous occasions I have seen risk assessments copied from other business. I even found on one occasion where a business forgot to remove the previous business name of the document. Obviously, this is not suitable.
In some situations, you might need a specialist to conduct your risk assessment such as a fire risk assessor. This satisfies the sufficient element. Certain Health and Safety laws such as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations and the Manual Handling Operation Regulations require a more specific approach to risk assessment.
Safely Does IT provides training on both of these health and safety subjects.
There is no specified document to record your risk assessment. However, it is important to remember that if there was a civil or criminal case against your business, whatever document you use may be shown to the court. So, the risk assessment should be a well written document recording your due care and attention to this requirement for your business.
When implementing your findings, it is important to remember the first two steps and concentrate on the most significant hazards rather than the mundane.
5. Review and Update
It is important once you have completed your risk assessment not put your feet up! Risk assessment is a continuous process. The hazards you have already identified are always present and further hazards may be on the horizon. So, if there is an accident or if anything changes in your business environment, the risk assessment should be reviewed to ensure it remains fit for purpose. You could set annual reminders in your diary at a minimum, to reflect on your risk assessment to ensure it remains relevant for your business.
It is important not to be complacent and remember Safety Is Not Achieved By Accident.
Safely Does IT is a provider of health and safety courses including the Level 2 Award in Principles of Risk Assessment.