How to treat burns – First Aid

Burns are the most common household injury and unfortunately a regular occurrence in certain work environments.  This article discusses how to treat burns.

More than 1 million people in the UK seek medical treatment for burn-related injuries each year.  50,000 people are hospitalised due to burn-related injuries.  4,500 people die from burn related injuries.

Burns should always be treated as serious regardless of severity.  Before treating a burn-related injury however, it is important to first determine the type and degree of the burn. Continue reading “How to treat burns – First Aid”

First Aid – What to do for electrical burns

Electrical burns can be caused either by low or high voltage current.  High voltage currents can jump distances of up to 18 meters (known as “arcing”).  In such instances do not approach the casualty; stay at least 25 meters away until the power source has been turned off and contact emergency services.

With all electrical burns, there may be visible wounds on the skin where the electric current has entered and shocked the body.  Internal damage to the body may also have occured and can range from an irregular heart beat to cardiac arrest.

Continue reading “First Aid – What to do for electrical burns”

Housing providers admit fire safety failures

A new survey has revealed that three quarters of the people who work for housing providers do not believe proper fire risk assessments have been carried out.

The survey, undertaken by the fire service and the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), involved asking nearly 400 employees of different housing providers if they were confident their organisations had properly assessed all fire risks at the high-rise tower blocks they managed.

The results of the survey, which was launched following the deaths of six people in a fire at Southwark Council tower block Lakanal House in July 2009, revealed that 75 per cent of employees were not confident that the housing provider they worked for had carried out a suitable fire risk assessment.

Concerns were also raised about the level of fire safety training those employed to carry out the risk assessment had undergone, as 49 per cent of survey respondents said they didnâ’t think their block’s risk assessor was wholly competent.

All of this could mean that large numbers of tower blocks in the UK are potential fire hazards. Andy Cloke, from the Chief Fire Officers Association, said:

“We are still finding buildings with significant problems, It wasn’t until Lakanal that we got a bit of a jolt in the arm and we started to uncover the sort of problems we are now aware of.”

UK care homes found to be routinely breaching fire regulations

A number of care homes in the UK have been found to be routinely breaching fire safety regulations and putting their residents at risk, according to a report in the Guardian.

Following a freedom of information request, it was revealed that as many as 135 care homes in the UK have been identified as fire hazards by inspectors from the fire service. In total, as many as 4,700 elderly and disabled people were found to be in danger by residing in these unsafe care homes.

There was a wide range of hazards uncovered during the inspections, including:

– Faulty smoke detectors and inadequate fire alarms
– Damaged and potentially dangerous equipment
– Staff who had not undergone the proper training on fire safety in care homes
– Blocked escape routes

A spokesperson from the Alzheimer’s Society commented on the findings, saying:

“In the event of an emergency, older people, especially those with dementia, will need more time to understand what is happening around them and negotiate fire exits,”

“Urgent action needs to be taken to protect people from the serious and tragic consequences that could occur in the event of a fire.”

Each of the care homes branded as being a fire risk had been issued with a fire safety enforcement notice, and it is hoped that the right changes have now been made to improve safety and protect residents from harm.

Building managers fined over fire safety breaches in London flats

The managers of a block of flats in London have been fined thousands of pounds by Southwark Crown Court after numerous fire safety breaches were uncovered at the property.

Inspectors from London Fire Brigade visited the Gloucester Terrace flats in Paddington after a fire broke out in one of the flats. They found a number of quite serious fire safety hazards, including failures to lock the electrical intake cupboard and failure to install a proper fire alarm system.

The fire service also found that although a fire risk assessment had been carried out on the property, both the leaseholder and the managing agent of the flats had failed to act on its findings. Whether due to a lack of fire safety training or plain negligence, no emergency plan was made, nor were emergency lighting or self-closing fire doors installed.

Douglas and Gordon Ltd, the managing agent, was ordered to pay £100,000 in fines and 13,000 in court costs. Leasehold owner of Gloucester Terrace, Atomlynn Ltd, was fined £33,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,440.

Steve Turek, the assistant commissioner for fire safety regulation, said:

“London Fire Brigade will continue to take action against managing agents, lease owners or landlords who do not take their fire safety responsibilities seriously. Failure to comply with the law can, as this case has shown, result in a prosecution.”

Mansfield hotel manager pleads guilty to fire safety offences

A manager of two hotels in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, has pleaded guilty to a number of fire safety offences at Nottingham Crown Court.

David Liu, the manager of both the Market Inn and the Dial Hotel, admitted 15 breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 after officers from Nottingham Fire and Rescue Service uncovered serious problems at his hotels.

During a routine inspection, fire safety officers found that the upper floors of both premises were being used as sleeping accommodation without the property fire safety precautions being taken to protect occupants. Risk assessments were prepared for both premises, but they both failed to spot a number of significant hazards and deficiencies in fire safety policy.

Mr Liu has now been handed a jail sentence of eight months for the breaches, along with the man who carried out the fire risk assessments on the hotels, John O’Rourke of Mansfield Fire Protection Services, was also given the same sentence. Whether through improper fire safety training on how to conduct risk assessments or through negligence, Mr O’Rourke failed in his duty to fully assess the safety of each property.

Staff use fire safety training to save residents in care home blaze

The staff at a care home in Enniskillen in Northern Ireland had occasion to use the skills learnt in their fire safety training after a fire broke out and residents had to be evacuated safely.

The Clare House care home, which specialises in the treatment of people with mental health problems, went up in flames last Tuesday (12th July) at around 12.30am. By the time the fire brigade arrived on the scene to tackle the blaze, the home’s staff had already safely evacuated most of the residents from the burning building.

The local fire service praised the actions of the staff, with group commander Robbie Bryson saying:

“An excellent job was done by the two staff members on duty,”

“When we arrived the residents were clear and none of them had suffered any problems or any smoke inhalation. The fire alarm raised the alarm and the nurse on duty noticed sparks coming from the roof.”

None of the staff nor the sixteen residents of the home were hurt during the incident, but they did have to be temporarily rehoused as Clare House itself sustained heavy damage from fire and water during the frightening incident.

Cumbrian firm fined for health and safety breaches after fireball incident

A firm from Cumbria has been fined more than £100,000 after workers were injured in a huge fireballincident at its Wigton factory.

The international packaging film manufacturer, Innovia Films Ltd, was investigated and then prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) over the incident, which endangered the lives of two workers.

There was a small fire in an electrical distribution box the day before the incident, but this was extinguished by employees using a CO2 extinguisher. The power supply was also re-routed to a switch that was not damaged so that production quality in the factory, which used cooling equipment, could be maintained.

The very next day, two workers were plating over the damaged switch when they were engulfed in what has been described as œan explosive arc of electrical energy. This set their clothes on fire, and caused serious burns and injuries which left one employee in a coma for four weeks and another facing a nine week hospital stay.

Carlisle Crown Court heard that whether because of negligence or insufficient fire safety training, a proper risk assessment had not been carried out before the two workers started their work. For putting their employees lives at risk, Innovia Films Ltd was ordered to pay £90,000 in fines and £26,790 in court costs.

How to take your fire safety knowledge to the next level

It is very important in any working environment for at least one person to hold responsibility for fire safety. This responsible person™ should have undergone at least basic fire safety training, in which they learnt how to implement fire safety practices, spot hazards and reduce risks.

There are, however, more advanced fire safety training courses you can take to help you to expand on your existing knowledge. The more training you get, the closer you are to becoming an expert in fire safety, and the more of an asset you are to your workplace.

By obtaining a qualification such as the CIEH Level 3 Award in Fire Safety Risk Assessment and Control, you will be able to understand and carry out a formal fire risk assessment for most low-complexity premises. You then become someone who can support the responsible persons™ within the business, as well as playing a bigger part in planning and implementing fire safety policy.

You may also become more valuable to current or future employers with this kind of qualification on your CV, as you will be able to help the business to meet its legal obligations with regards to fire safety. More importantly, you can contribute to making the business much safer overall.

Companies fined for safety breaches which caused Cheshire chemical fire

Two firms have been prosecuted and fined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a major chemical fire broke out at a site in Cheshire.

The fire at the Gateway industrial estate broke out in June 2007, and required more than 100 firefighters to put it out. The blaze also caused aerosols in drums and cylinders to violently explode, prompting police to set up a 200m exclusion zone around the factory.

Investigating the cause of the fire, the HSE found that the machine used to shred aerosols was not suitable for shredding containers which still had flammable gases and liquids inside, yet this is what it was being used for. This work should also have been carried out in an area away from flammable substances, which is yet another thing that would have come up had a fire risk assessment been carried out by someone with the right fire safety training.

Two companies were fined over the incident – the Preston-based firm Pakawaste which manufactured the shredding machine, and the recycling company Greenway on whose premises the fire took place. In total, the HSE ordered these firms to pay fines of £87,500 plus costs for breaching a number of health and safety regulations.