Earlier I took the Unit B exam for the NEBOSH National Diploma. I knew exactly what to expect as I had already completed the Unit A exam and the format was the same; six short answer questions in section A and answer three of five essay style questions in Section B.
Just like the previous exam some of the candidates expressed how nervous they were before we went into the exam room. I asked if they had prepared and they said yes, I tried to reassure them that there was nothing else they could do except use the knowledge they had gained from the trainers and their revision to answer the questions.
The NEBOSH National Diploma is a recognised qualification and it is an important stepping stone for many in the health and safety industry. I think this is why a lot of the other candidates were nervous, because they wanted to do their best.
When we entered the exam room we signed our entry confirmation in front of the invigilator, just like last time. I knew I had prepared as much as I could with the use of the online learning material but I wore the same watch and took the same pens just in case they were lucky. You never know!
Then we had 10 minutes reading time to look through the questions. I focused this time on thoroughly understanding the questions in section B as I wanted to make sure I picked the three best questions from the five options.
The invigilator then told us we were to begin and I immediately wrote down my expected finish times next to each question. This had enabled me to keep to time before and I wanted to use the same technique again.
Just like the Unit A exam, time passed really quickly. I had a lot to say on the topics and I wanted to get it all down but I found it hard to write succinctly. I did try to stick to my answer plan but I may have said too much in parts.
I made sure I had enough time at the end to review my answers. I think this is one of the most important things to do, especially because my writing can become a bit of a scrawl and it is good to make sure everything is legible.
I was pleased to put down my pen at the end of the time, three hours goes by so quickly but writing for that long does make your hand start to ache. When we left the exam room one of my course friends asked me how I had got on. I told her I thought it went really well and that I was happy with my performance. She agreed saying she had managed to keep to time better than the Unit A exam.
Check back for the next instalment of Jo’s journey through the NEBOSH National Diploma.
Missed Jo’s instalment when she took the Unit A exam? Click here to read how she got on.
As a relatively new but rapidly growing phenomenon, the rise of the electronic cigarette has left many employers scratching their head. But what does the law say regarding this, and what should the stance be on e-cigarettes in the workplace?
Current estimates by Action on Smoking and Health indicate that there are now 1.3 million people in the UK who use e-cigarettes. These battery powered devices generally contain no tobacco, but convert nicotine into a vapour (which can be mixed with other chemicals or flavourings) which is then inhaled.
There is a general consensus that the legislation introduced under the Health Act 2006 to ban smoking in enclosed (or substantially enclosed) workplaces, is unlikely to apply to the new battery powered devices; it is this absence of legal clarity, coupled with a lack of conclusive research into potential health effects, which has led to confusion amongst employers.
The use of e-cigarettes in the workplace is not specifically prohibited and employers are not required to ban them, however, neither do they have to agree to their use. Employers must decide on the policy that is appropriate for their organisation and ensure that it is fairly implemented; indeed, the British Medical Association is supportive of employers who choose to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes.
When setting a policy, employers should be aware that users of e-cigarettes may expect to be supported in their efforts to stop using conventional cigarettes. This has to be balanced with a “duty of care” which employers have concerning the health and safety of their staff, and whether they want to project smoking as normal behaviour. Other employees, particularly expectant mothers, may be concerned about their use or see e-cigarettes (and their vapour) as a distraction. There may also be fire safety concerns regarding the charging of e-cigarettes, which can sometimes involve the use of USB ports (which could breach IT policies).
Where businesses decide to prevent or restrict the use of e-cigarettes, they should –
- Introduce (or amend existing) drug and alcohol policies to clarify the approach which is being adopted, for example, a ban on the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace, on client premises and in company vehicles;
- Clarify the application of the policy to non-employees eg. contractors;
- Explain the circumstances where the use of e-cigarettes may be acceptable (eg. social events);
- Explain that disciplinary action may be the result of non-compliance;
- Decide if an area needs to be designated specifically for the use of e-cigarettes. Employers should not direct users of e-cigarettes to designated smoking areas.
- Provide information and support to staff who wish to give up smoking.
Devised by Santia’s occupational health team, Choices for Wellbeing takes a single issue each month and provides occupational health professionals with resources and support to assist them in communicating the importance and benefits of staff looking after their own health and wellbeing.
For more information on our Choices for Wellbeing calendar, contact us on 0845 5040 402 or complete the contact form to receive your free digital copy each month.
The principle of simplifying requirements to cut through small business “red tape” is one which has been broadly welcomed, but a warning note has been sounded concerning the Deregulation Bill which is currently progressing through Parliament.
Under the proposed legislation, self-employed workers who do not work in “prescribed sectors” will be exempted from health and safety legislation, and the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) fears that this could lead to a lowering of safety standards.
IOSH’s head of policy and public affairs Richard Jones warned -
“As we have made clear to Government, we think it would be unhelpful, unnecessary and unwise to exempt certain self-employed from health and safety law, as the Government is proposing – causing more of a hindrance than a help.
“Health and safety is often misunderstood and wrongly labelled as a barrier to business – whereas in fact, it sustains business growth and success. The Government needs to promote this message, provide health and safety support for SMEs and debunk the misperceptions.
“It’s important to remember that health and safety failures in the UK cost a staggering £13.4 billion per year, double this once you take into account the cost of occupational cancers and property damage. Good health and safety saves lives, supports business and sustains the economy.”
The proposal in the Deregulation Bill came about as a result of Lofstedt Review of Health and safety regulation published in November 2011, where he proposed ‘exempting from health and safety law those self-employed whose work activities pose no potential risk of harm to others’. According to a press release from the Cabinet Office, the proposed change will amount to 800,000 people and save businesses £300,000 a year.
Mike Taylor, Health, Safety and Environmental Technical Director at Santia Consulting Ltd commented:
“Not all self-employed people will be affected by this change, so if it passes into law, it is essential that clear guidance is produced to unambiguously establish who will be exempt; otherwise, a great deal of confusion may arise over who has to comply and who doesn’t.
“Self-employed people often struggle to identify what they have to do to stay within the law, and communication of these changes will be vital in order to avoid costly misunderstandings.”
Santia’s erisk system enables businesses to simultaneously manage a range of risks. Delivered via the Internet, the full range of disciplines relating to health and safety, fire safety through to the management of asbestos, environmental control and occupational health are clearly presented on one screen.
To assist the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in monitoring the public’s perception of food safety issues, the agency commissions a Biannual Public Attitude Tracker. A set of 10 questions asked to consumers in a face to face survey, the latest omnibus survey took place between the 6th and 17th of November 2013 (wave 7), with findings released this month.
Using a representative sample of 5,509 adults within the UK, they asked both spontaneous and prompted questions, food hygiene when eating out (36%) and food poisoning (26%) were listed within the top three safety issues for consumers.
Over three quarters of respondents (82%) reported that they are aware of the hygiene standards in places they eat out at or buy food from and worryingly just under half of respondents (49%) reported concern about food safety in UK restaurants, pubs, cafes and takeaways.
With both awareness and concern being an issue for consumers, how can eateries put their customers at ease and give confidence in the food safety of their establishments?
1) Implementing and managing a robust food safety system
Whatever size or type of food establishment you own, food safety regulations must be followed to ensure that customers are consuming food prepared and served under safe conditions and thoroughly cooked to prevent food poisoning.
A robust food safety management system based on the principals of HACCP with clear and practical procedures can help you plan your food preparation activities and eliminate the risk of poor food hygiene and hygiene practices, ensuring your food is safe to eat.
So what are the common mistakes food establishments make with their food safety management system?
To put it simply, having a well-documented food safety management system is not enough!
A common mistake is the failure of management to undertake regular detailed compliance audits to ensure hygiene standards are being met and procedures are being followed effectively by their employees. Undertaking regular audits can provide comfort that your practices are safe and compliant and can also provide valuable insight into areas of improvement and most importantly send an underlying message to your employees, that food safety is important to your business and your customers.
Another common mistake often overlooked by food establishments, is the failure to undertake regular reviews of their food safety management system and as a result procedures and practices are often not kept up to date with new food safety requirements or operational changes.
2) Create a culture of food safety with your employees
When asked during the survey about the main ways respondents become aware of hygiene standards in places they eat out or buy food from; general appearance of premises and appearance of staff where both noted by consumers.
By creating a culture within your organisation that food safety is at the heart of your business and of the utmost importance, staff will start to take pride in both the appearance of your premises and in their own personal hygiene.
How do you create a culture of food safety?
As mentioned, having a robust and up to date food safety management system along with regular compliance audits sends an underlying message to your staff on how seriously you take food safety and therefore is the foundation of your culture.
You do however need to build on those foundations get them to take food safety just as seriously as you do.
Tackling the personal hygiene of your staff as part of your food safety management system will of course play a key role in achieving this and provide consumers with the confidence they need. Don Meredith, Technical Director for Food Safety at Santia Consulting Ltd advises, “The personal hygiene of all staff likely to come into contact with food is of the utmost importance when it comes to food safety. A key characteristic of personal hygiene is of course ensuring that staff understand they are required to wash their hands after using the rest room. In addition, measures should also be taken to ensure staff cover hair and cuts on the body, wear clean clothes to work and cover their mouth and nose when sneezing, coughing and of course, then washing their hands again”.
The most fundamental action an employer can take in building a culture of food safety, is without doubt undertaking basic food safety training. Your employees must know not only what is expected of them from both a legal and company policy perspective, but have an understanding of the consequences of not adopting both rigours procedural and personal hygiene standards.
Training should be undertaken as part of an employee’s induction whether they are permanent, temporary, through an agency or working full or part time. Regular refresher training should also take place especially when new legislation comes into effect.
It is of course, important to acknowledge that the time and cost of training employees can present a challenge especially for small businesses, however, you should not underestimate the value and impact that regular training can have on your food safety practices and culture. In today’s digital world there are a number of online training courses that are cost effective from both a price and time perspective. Undertaking tool box talks at the start of every shift is also another great inexpensive way of training your teams.
3) Get help from professionals
Using food safety experts such as Santia Consulting can provide your business with much needed resources and expertise, allowing you and your management teams to spend less time managing risk and more time running and growing your business.
Our experienced and qualified team of food safety experts provide peace of mind when it comes to:
• Preventing cases of food poisoning
• Demonstrating due diligence
• Protecting your business reputation
• Complying with local government regulations
We can provide you with both a robust food safety management system that is site specific and ensures relevance to your business, and our second and trained pair of eyes will ensure that you are in line with the applicable regulatory requirements. At Santia we take pride in offering a consultative approach meaning you have guidance and advice on how to improve, implement and ensure compliance. We believe in offering practicable and actionable advice, at the right level, in order to build rewarding relationships based on meeting your goals and aspirations.
Whether you are new businesses looking for a food safety manual or an established food business that requires consultancy on a particular issue or a gap analysis of your current food safety management system; our experienced and qualified food safety team are on hand to help. We also offer an extensive range of high quality and competitively priced food safety training courses available online, in house or at our state of the art training centre near Cardiff, South Wales.
To find out more on how Santia can help your food business and regain consumer confidence, click here or contact us on 029 20 859311.
With reports of Heston Blumenthal’s London restaurant, Dinner having been closed following an outbreak of norovirus, what can food businesses do to limit an outbreak of norovirus?
Let’s start with firstly understanding what norovirus is and how its spread.
Noroviruses are a group of viruses that can cause gastroenteritis, which is an infection of the gut (intestines). Symptoms usually are vomiting and diarrhoea and are likely to develop 24-48 hours after first contact with norovirus. In most cases the infection clears within a few days, but can sometimes take longer. The treatment is to have plenty to drink as the main risk is dehydration.
Norovirus is easily spread from one infected person to another through close contact and this is usually because of the virus being present on the infected persons’ hands after they have been to the toilet. The virus can be transmitted if the infected person prepares food or comes into contact with surfaces or objects.
So how can food businesses limit the spread of infection to others?
If food handlers develop diarrhoea or vomiting, they must immediately leave the food-handling area. Make sure your staff inform management immediately if they are experiencing any of the norovirus symptoms.
Make sure the infected person stays away from work for at least 48 hours after their last episode of diarrhoea or vomiting.
The most effective way to prevent the spread of norovirus, whether person to person or contamination of food, is through people practicing good personal hygiene.
Hand washing is the most important thing you and your staff can do. Make sure hands are washed thoroughly using liquid soap in warm running water after going to the toilet and before preparing or touching food and drinks. If there is no liquid soap, soap is better than none. Hands should also be dried properly after washing. The simple measure of washing hands regularly and properly is known to make a big difference to the chance of developing norovirus.
Make your teams aware of the procedures you are adopting and the importance of personal hygiene, through a newsletter or toolbox talk.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have a wealth of information on their website including a practical guide food business operators on fitness to work. To obtain this information please click here.
Expert help from Santia
In today’s climate it’s never been more important to ensure that food hygiene and food safety responsibilities are taken seriously. It is our mission to help clients stay compliant so they can concentrate on keeping their businesses running and developing their competitive edge without having to worry about prosecution, litigation or loss of reputation.
Our food hygiene services cover hygiene and safety solutions throughout the supply chain for food handling businesses.
There are so many resources and news sites available on the internet it is hard to know which ones are useful and regularly updated. To save you time we have searched the World Wide Web and put together a list of our top five resources and blogs across five different health and safety sectors:
• Five useful health and safety resources
• Five useful asbestos resources
• Five health and safety training resources
• Five resources for the construction industry
• Five useful food safety resources
Click on the links above to read more.
We have chosen five food safety resources that you may find useful. These sites have been selected because of the range and depth of information they provide:
Food Standards Agency – Responsible for food safety and food hygiene across the UK the Food Standards Agency works with local authorities to enforce food safety regulations. They have a handy directory enabling you to check the hygiene rating of any food establishment.
Follow on Twitter @FoodGov
The Deb Group – With over 65 years’ experience in the skin care industry the Deb Group have established regimes for all types of workplace and public environments, spanning industrial, commercial, healthcare and food sectors. Their blog focuses on hand hygiene, infection prevention and food safety.
Follow on Twitter @DebGroupUK
British Frozen Food Federation – Their role is to promote and protect the interests of the frozen food industry. Keep up to date with the latest news and events within the frozen food industry by visiting their website.
Institute of Food Research Blog – The IFR provides underpinning science for government and the food manufacturing industry. They have an email subscription service which would allow you to keep updated with the latest news.
Follow on Twitter @IFRScience
Food Manufacture – The service seeks out news stories and data of value to decision-makers in food and beverage development in Europe.
Follow on Twitter @FoodManufacture
Did you find these sites useful? We would love to hear your feedback. Leave your comment below.
For more information on food safety visit our website.
Subscribe to the Santia news feed
We have selected five resources specific to the construction industry that you may find interesting. These sites have been selected because of the range and depth of information they supply:
WRAP – WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) believe that resources can be used sustainably. They work with the construction industry to help businesses use resources at their highest potential throughout the lifecycle. Visit their website for information on how you can reduce construction waste.
Follow on Twitter @WRAP_UK
Construction Industry Council – The CIC is the representative forum for construction industry professional bodies, research organisations and specialist business associations. They ensure the industry has a clear, strong voice in discussions. All active consultations can be found on their website.
Follow on Twitter @CICTweet
The Construction Index – This is the UK’s largest construction based search engine with everything from construction news to market data or jobs. It is a really useful resource for anyone working in the construction industry.
Follow on Twitter @TCIndex
Construction News – Subscribe to their weekly magazine for access to a large number of new contract leads. Construction News advertises themselves as one of the best ways for construction professionals to find work. Alternatively you can sign up for their free email newsletter for the latest news and headlines from the construction industry.
Constructive – Constructive provides engaging and bite-size commentary on the ever-changing legal landscape shaping development and construction.
Did you find these sites useful? We would love to hear your feedback. Leave your comment below.
For more information on our construction health and safety services visit our website.
Subscribe to the Santia news feed
After passing the Unit A exam with credit I was confident I could apply the same revision techniques to the Unit B content.
An additional benefit of studying the NEBOSH National Diploma with Santia was that I was able to get free access to their online course material. They announced they had a new learning management system and I was keen to login and see what it offered.
When I logged on I was greeted by a colourful looking dashboard. I clicked on the NEBOSH National Diploma and selected the first element of Unit B; Principles of Toxicology and Epidemiology. I was able to watch an introductory video explaining the learning outcomes of the element, download a copy of the course notes we were given in the training and complete a set of interactive tasks.
The tasks consisted of interactive slides to read, then I was asked to type the answer to a question based on what I had just read. After completing the question I was able to see an exemplar answer. This was really helpful because it gave me extra insight into what the examiners are looking for.
As well as using Santia’s learning management system to revise I went back to the resources I had found helpful when studying for Unit A:
• NEBOSH National Diploma revision notes
• NEBOSH National Diploma study books
• NEBOSH National Diploma exam questions
• NEBOSH National Diploma past papers
• NEBOSH National Diploma examiners reports
I was appreciative of the help and guidance Santia provided, through online resources and from tutor feedback. This information made me feel a lot more confident about my revision plan.
Check back to find out how Jo got on when she took the NEBOSH National Diploma Unit B exam.
Santia offers a wide range of industry recognised health and safety qualifications:
IOSH – over 130,000 people take an IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health) course each year. These training courses enable Managers, Supervisors and staff responsible for health and safety to effectively manage risk and resources in the workplace.
Follow on Twitter @IOSH_Tweets
NEBOSH – around 35,000 candidates are attracted by NEBOSH (The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health) qualifications annually. As an awarding body NEBOSH offer globally-recognised qualifications designed to meet the health, safety, environmental and risk management needs of all workplaces.
Follow on Twitter @NEBOSHTweets
IEMA – IEMA (The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment) is the largest environmental professional body. These training courses are designed for practitioners involved in environmental management and assessment. They provide practitioners with the knowledge, skills and tools to ensure sound environmental performance delivers real benefits in the workplace.
Follow on Twitter @IEMANet
BRC Global Standards – leading global safety and quality certification programme used by over 17,000 certificated suppliers worldwide. BRC courses offer businesses the opportunity to enhance and refine their compliance with regards to food safety, consumer products, packaging, storage and distribution.
Follow on Twitter @BRC_Standards
RSPH – with over 6,000 members the RSPH (Royal Society for Public Health) open to anyone working in the area of public health, their training courses include pest control, food safety and hygiene.
Follow on Twitter @R_S_P_H
Did you find these sites useful? We would love to hear your feedback. Leave your comment below.
For more information on the training courses we offer visit our training website.
Want to know more about the NEBOSH National Diploma? Read Santia Jo’s journey through the course.← Older posts