Working Safely in the Winter

Yes its not quite over yet so we shouldn’t ignore the weather; cold, wet and or windy let’s stay safe out there! This advice works for sporting events too!!

Reblogged with thanks from EHS Today 

Author Stefanie Valentic  (click for more)   and first published  Dec 05, 2016
As the mercury drops, protecting workers from winter conditions is not something an employer should just plow through.

Table of Contents:

  • Winter Safety from Head to Toe

Santa Claus is the ultimate winter warrior. He comes like clockwork, every year, working a grueling 24-hour shift so that all the little boys and girls receive presents (or coal).

Santa is prepared for the cold weather. This fictional character almost seems to have PPE down to a tee: hat, gloves, waterproof boots and layered clothing.

However, unlike Santa, outdoor workers typically work year-round, rain, sleet, snow or shine with a similarly hectic schedule. So, an employer must take the time to prepare and educate workers about exposure to colder temperatures to avoid injuries and illnesses.

A 2014 study from the National Center from Health Statistics, examined weather-related mortality rates between 2006-2010. It showed that more than two-thirds of deaths in the United States were attributed to excessive cold, compared to one-third of heat-related deaths.

Workers or those with preexisting chronic conditions – including cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, conditions that impair thermoregulatory function and those taking various medications – are more susceptible to cold effects, the NCHS study stated.

For outdoor workers, cold stress, hypothermia, frostbite, trench foot, and chilblains are the most common ailments. However, with the proper protection and training,  winter-related injuries are preventable.

The First Step

As with all safety measures, the first step to protecting workers from winter conditions is a job hazard analysis (JHA), says Joe Corvello, corporate director of health and safety at American Bridge Co., a 2016 America’s Safest Companies winner.

Assessments should be based on geographic location, type of work environment and duration of work activity exposed to the elements.

Next, the safety leader should perform a PPE assessment to meet the requirements identified in the risk assessment or JHA.

The safety leader also should identify training requirements to educate workers on cold weather working, the risks and hazards associated with that working environment and the PPE required to protect them from the elements and hazards associated with the work activity, Corvello says.

Donald Garvey, construction technical specialist at 3M, says both workers and supervisors should be trained on the following:

  • Hazards of cold work.
  • The initial signs and symptoms of cold stress.
  • Basic first aid for cold stress – especially frost bite and hypothermia.
  • The use of a buddy system to monitor each other.
  • Eating and drinking habits on the job and after work and the need to rehydrate.
  • Sweating which is a cooling mechanism for the body.
  • Medication and other susceptibility factors which could cause cold sensitivity.
  • Clothing – keep it loose, dry and layered.

Once all of the above assessments have been completed, a cold weather working plan specific to the project location and environment can be completed, Corvello says. Additional information in a cold weather plan will cover winterization of equipment, protection of permanent materials in place, snow removal and monitoring/surveillance.

“Having a good winter working plan in place to identify snow removal, gritting and temperature work restriction demonstrates a company’s commitment to keeping workers safe,” he says.

Proper Protection

Even though it may seem like common knowledge to bundle up in cold weather, some workers have not experienced longer exposure to winter conditions or are not conditioned, which could present a hazard if they underestimate Mother Nature. Appropriate PPE exists for all extremities and should be utilized as temperatures drop.

Head
One thing is certain: workers should be protected from head to toe. Starting from the top, a head covering is essential. Specially-designed liners and coverings can work with helmets and hard hats to provide protection in the cold, says Jason Lindula, safety coordinator at Egan Co., a 2014 America’s Safest Companies recipient.

Eyes
A worker’s eyes must remain protected 100 percent of the time to prevent snow blindness and damage from UV rays.

“Typically during winter weather, high winds and sun glare are the most risk to eyes,” Corvello says. “Polarized, foamed-sealed safety glasses with anti-fog provide the best protection from wind chill, debris and sun glare.”

Snow blindness, a condition in which UV rays essentially sunburn the cornea, can be a hazard in winter environments, especially when working at higher elevations, Garvey says. While it is called snow blindness, snow is not required for it to occur. Water or any reflective surface can create the same hazard.

“Even on cloudy days, eye protection should still be worn, as UV radiation may still penetrate the cloud cover,” he warns.

Body
A multi-layering approach to clothing is crucial to protecting workers during hazardous, ever-changing winter weather conditions.

“With all three layers it is nice to have zipper openings,” Garvey suggests. “This allows venting of sweat and customizing the insulation properties to the specific environment to minimize sweating.”

Because weather conditions can change throughout the day, employees can remove or adjust layers. In addition, each layer has a specific purpose. Garvey specifies:

Layer 1 (closest to the skin) – A polypropylene or similar wicking material.  This helps draw sweat away from the body to keep the skin dry.

Layer 2 (middle layer) – An insulating layer of wool or polar fleece-type materials. This provides insulation even when wet. Cotton should not be used as the insulating layer as it quickly loses its insulation properties when wet.

Layer 3 (outer layer) – A nylon or similar material to block the wind.
Winter layers can be bulky, but don’t wear loose clothing that could get caught in machinery, Corvello says. Workers should bring dry clothes to work to change if clothing gets wet, and regular PPE such as safety vest should still be worn over winter items.

Hands
Just as with eyewear, companies should require workers to wear gloves at all times. Gloves for winter work should still be task-specific, such as cut-resistant, while also providing insulation and dexterity, Lindula says.
The use of glove liners can be used with cut-resistant or chemical gloves, Corvello suggests.

Footwear
For outdoor workers, studded overshoes with waterproof properties can provide insulation as well as traction on ice and snow to prevent slips, trips and falls, Lindula says. Shoe/boot coverings with studs also are available.

Shifting Work Indoors
Finally, if conditions prove to be too hazardous, outdoor work should be moved to a different day, depending on the weather forecast and the availability of indoor job tasks.

“Ideally, we like to be inside but we know that’s not always the case. Just because the news says one thing, your location may be different,” Lindula says. “If we don’t think it’s safe to be outside working, we find interior work and put outdoor work off for another day.”

Company policies or guidelines should be addressed prior to the start of the winter season. For Egan Co., if the wind chill hits a certain threshold at 6 a.m., employees are not required to come in unless there is interior work that safely can be done. If temperatures rise throughout the day, workers could be asked to come in at a later time. If hazardous conditions arise later in the day, this is addressed as well.

“Our jobsites will shut down early so employees can go home and don’t have to travel in conditions that may not be the best,” Lindula says.

The Journey to Mental Illness

Reblogged with thanks to Leasa and discover more at lostsouls24.blgspot.co.uk

I dreamt about writing this piece all night and in my dreams it was just right and I got my point across perfectly, so here’s hoping the conscious self is as astute as the virtual one!!

I dreamt about a journey that I’ve been on from my childhood through to police service and the point at which I find myself now. I saw it as a journey and would like to try and put that into writing thus making sense of what I saw last night.

The Time prior to joining the Good Ship ‘Police Service’!

The way I see it at nineteen years old prior to joining the police service of the late 80’s,  I was a middle class child, and an only child at that, fairly protected from the worlds horrors. My Mother was a bit of a bully and my Dad a respected banker. The bullying had taken quite a toll already leaving me lacking in confidence and somewhat socially reticent.

I left school and worked in a bank where I realised I wasn’t as useless as my Mother made out and when a co-worker was accepted as a police officer I also decided to join up, to embark upon the journey it represented. My Mother was adamant that I was making a big mistake but I forged ahead and was accepted starting my voyage aboard the good ship ‘Police Service’ in August 1989.

The ports visited along the way!

The first port the good ship police service visited was training school. The streets here were littered with sexual discrimination  something I had never encountered up until this point. It never really made sense to me back then why I was treated differently because I was female. Of course there were the obvious uniform differences, skirts, tights, a handbag and no truncheon. The commandant demanding of me one parade if I was merely the ‘course mascot missy’ or are you ‘a real police officer?!’ The venom in some chaps faces just because I was there, others because I shared a self defence mat with them I was never really prepared for that. It scolded my young self and provided the wake up call I probably needed that this was not necessarily a holiday rather a voyage of self discovery.

The second port was my initial posting and another liberal dose of sexism. I was nicknamed ‘the strumpet whore’ for no other reason than I was a female. I was naïve sexually so I know for a fact it wasn’t due to any promiscuity! I accepted this name willingly as I wanted to fit in and back then I think I even wore it as a badge of honour representing what I felt I had achieved so far. Along sexism street I was pinned against walls, called names, banned from attending certain incidents and touched up by the sergeant in charge of my probationary two year period. A baptism of fire. I recall very vividly watching a Detective Inspector balling very loudly at a shivering, cold, wet, rape victim in the enquiry office of the station interview room about how she had been asking for it, and what did she expect dressed like that. I think it was at this part in my journey that I started carrying a rucksack for those chips that got gouged out of my shoulders.

As time progressed I developed very chipped shoulders yet I saw them as well earned war wounds. Trophies as you will. I was succeeding where I had been told I would fail, I was proud to be a police officer. The service was the making of me I thought and despite the sexism I enjoyed the camaraderie, I felt like I belonged to something worthwhile and I knew I could be good at it.

The places I visited along the way have shown me the horrors of human nature, I have seen bodies broken beyond recognition, babies raped, and low lives willing to assault and thieve from the elderly. I have held the hands of parents whose children have been snatched, told people their loved ones will never be coming home again and given of myself to allow others a smoother passage.

As I have travelled this route like from all good journeys I have kept images of the things I have seen along the way. The horrors are all stored in my rucksack lest I forget. The sudden deaths, the road traffic casualties, the crashed helicopter pilot, the raped baby, and indeed the sounds of that baby being raped. Many, many memories.

That old adage that the police service deals with five per cent of the population ninety per cent of the time is very true but it was easy to lose sight of this fact along the way. The way I viewed the world and myself was shaped by these experiences and I never really knew what damage they were causing along the way.

The rucksack got heavier and heavier with the flotsam I collected until my first visit to Mental Illness in 2002.

Mental Illness the first visit
 
 
In 2002 I split with my husband getting divorced. I was appointed Detective Sergeant on a Sex Offender Unit and was dealing with paedophiles, viewing their putrid child abuse images day in, day out. A warped perverse world that somehow became my normality. I didn’t cope very well with my personal crisis, the new job, the subject matter and getting in to another relationship with step parenting duties all within a matter of months. In fact it all became too much and I fell ill and had some time off with stress. Now no one ever told me I was visiting mental illness, there were no road signs or maps. In fact it wasn’t something I was even aware of until two years ago. The doctor gave me pills which I took for a while but after I was belittled and laughed at by my police officer partner for being a light weight I quickly agreed that I didn’t need them, for I was a passenger on the good ship police service. I was therefore invincible.
Mentally Ill people were our ‘clients’ the people we dealt with, that person in the cells banging their head off the wall or the street wino who seemed to talk utter gibberish about their time in the military. Oh how we laughed about that. no it certainly wasn’t us the invincible police officers.
Not very long after returning to work I took a five year career break. Deep down I knew why but I never let on, not even to myself. It’s hard to explain, but I knew I wasn’t coping, I knew my mind was weakening but I couldn’t acknowledge it.  I cast out depression refusing to accept that it was actually a part of me now. I left it on the dock and tried to sail away without it.
I had a baby, traumatic in itself with an emergency caesarean, near critical blood loss and a week in hospital being transfused. New baby and parenthood, plus starting a successful property business left me thinking it may just be possible to disembark from the good ship police service. My rucksack was really heavy with life’s chattels and challenges, so we did plan that I would leave the service, run the business and bring up our daughter. However the good ship relationship then sank without a trace just as I was trying to board it, my rucksack proving far too heavy, that together with all our extra baggage it disappeared beneath the waves.
So I found myself a single parent facing an unwelcome return to the good ship police service as I needed to support us financially. I returned to a refurbished vessel,  departments had changed, policies and procedures with them and it felt much like I was entering a parallel universe, everything  the same yet completely different at the same time. New challenges now existed as I tried to balance parental responsibility with the demands of policing and that insatiable see saw between job and your child that can never possibly be balanced. The guilt that goes with that challenge just becomes an extra rock for the rucksack.
Mental Illness the second time around
 
 
Four years in to my return to the good ship police service I find myself two years into a posting on the Professional Standards Department. An unforgiving environment dealing with anger and discontent. Members of the public making complaints about police officers or the service in general, people you had to visit and sit and listen to whilst they spat putrid nastiness at you, in turn police officers feeling aggrieved and affronted by you asking them to account for their actions giving you the run around and / or the cold shoulder plus unsupportive line management heaping more muck in your direction regardless of the weight limits or you being obviously off balance. That’s all before the IPCC cast their shadow in your direction.  It was a hell hole, it is a hell hole.
This is when I visited mental illness again. This is was when I looked in the mirror and finally said hello to my old friend, acknowledging the black dogs reflection for the very first time. Even then it took me six months of physical symptoms, convinced I was dying of some mystery illness before I allowed myself to entertain the dark canine.
Oddly I thought that once I had greeted the black dog and given it a bone it would settle down in it’s bed and go to sleep but how wrong I was. It had days when it hassled me non stop always there never silent, and others when it was perfectly happy to curl up in its basket and sleep. But once he’s come to you, you have a pet for life. He’ll demand attention at the most inopportune moments and sometimes you cannot make any headway through life but for its high jinx.
As I approached the half pay point of having been six months absent from the service and after the captain had commenced the sanctions against me known as UPP (Unsatisfactory performance procedures) for not being at work I forced myself to climb back aboard the good ship police service. Financially I had no choice but I knew it was more a case of when I’d be ill again as opposed to if.  The black dog came too, he won’t be left alone you see, not under any circumstances. he is very insistent that he stays in your company at all times.
This time I found acknowledging my illness out loud to people very cathartic, it seems to make people very uncomfortable I can see that and honestly part of me enjoys watching them wriggle about when I discuss it. But the captain had the last laugh ultimately as the accommodation was never adapted for keeping a pet nor was the workload or type. Nothing ever changed from before I was ill to when I returned. I even found a good proportion of the work I’d left in my tray was still sat there waiting for me six months down the line.
I battled on for a further two years. Despite my dislike of the work I knew it was a guaranteed desk job, with 9-5 week day shifts and this suited my ever present battle with balancing that damned see saw. I knew I was selling my soul to the devil in some respects but it felt like a necessary evil.
Just before Christmas 2016 I knew I was wobbling, I started getting very tearful at work. I found myself dog tired the minute I sat down at my desk, to the point that I could barely keep my eyes open at nine in the morning. I would get so angry at silly things and I felt a burning hatred for the environment and people around me. Completely paranoid, watching people automatically assuming they were talking about me and burning with resentment. It’s like an allergy to work, I could feel myself welling up with tears as I approached the building daily, the hyper ventilation as I approached the office, the nausea as I entered. It repulsed me, I feared it and I’m terrified of returning to it.
Mental Illness revisited
 
 
So here I am again. Revisiting my old stomping ground. Sick. Ill. Unwell. Mad. Zombie like. Slightly agro phobic. Battling demon headaches and constant nausea. Joints aching and swollen. Fearful of the telephone ringing, panicked by work emails and sorely tempted to move to the outer Hebrides and an uninhabited island away from people, policing and myself. Except I guess I would sort of have to be there wouldn’t I!
My rucksack is overflowing and it feels like I’ve been cast adrift in a small rowing boat away. Pushed away from the master vessel I’m bobbing around without direction. I’m out of my depth when I look over the side yet I feel too weak to row anywhere.  If I stand up the weight of my rucksack rocks the boat. I have a map but cannot seem to make head nor tail of it and instead I find myself staring at it bemused. I sort of know how I might be able to get this boat to the shore, I might even be able to tether it when I got there but I truly cannot be bothered. The captain of the master vessel, police service, hasn’t transmitted an SOS message for me and it seems that their expectation is of me saving myself as they have no responsibility or jurisdiction over my predicament.

I am lost on the sea of Mental Illness, my only apparent grid reference is  ST1 GMA.

 

Talking About Being Prepared In Case Of Crisis (Or – We All Have Our Part To Play In Getting A Booklet Correct)

There are times when words just fail me.

I am looking at a booklet which I was handed on Friday by a friend of mine called Julian Harrison (yes – he has been mentioned in a previous blog post).

He would like your help with a consultation process relating to the information provided to people with Mental Health Issues regarding Advance Planning.  This is so people know what to do when your condition worsens to such an extent that you do not have the capacity to make decisions for yourself.

Now – I am not exactly the most highly intelligent person on the planet but I am having trouble trying to break the information into manageable chunks in order to wrap my brain cells around it.

It is written in a language which is theoretically aimed at patients and their carers.  However, it appears to have been written by someone who has never experienced the situation for themselves.

What Julian would like to do is find out how the information can be more accessible to patients, carers, and the “Generally interested”.

If you have any experience of Mental Health Issues – and you would like to help Julian – please email him at julian.harrison@ntlworld.com or call him on 07767297566.

Parkrun organisers and runners condemn decision to charge for park usage

Via Get Surrey on 14 APR 2016 Author:  NATASHA SALMON

Council’s decision to charge labelled ‘shortsighted’ while Surrey and North East Hampshire Parkruns say they will remain free of charge .

04/10/2014. 10th anniversary Park Run at Stoke Park. Event founder & Organiser Linda Cairns

The decision by a Bristol parish council to charge a free fitness event to use their green space has been condemned by organisers of Parkrun in Surrey and north east Hampshire.

Runners of every ability are encouraged to take part in Parkrun’s 5km events which are held weekly and locally in CranleighFarnhamFrimleyAldershotWokingGuildford and Reigate.

The runs are organised by volunteers in green spaces and have had almost 933,000 runners take part in the last two years.

Volunteers will help set up and organize the Cranleigh parkrun and take a record of competitors times at the end

However Stoke Gifford Parish Council in Bristol went against the “founding principles” of Parkrun and decided to charge the Little Stoke event to use their park.

This will end that particular Parkrun from taking place and chief operating officer for Parkrun, Tom Williams, said: “Parkrun has had unprecedented success in engaging the least active and encouraging them to exercise regularly.

“Imposing a charge at one event is something that contradicts our founding principles and would set a precedent that threatens our future.”

“It is clear that a per-event or per-runner charge simply would not be sustainable and would threaten our free-to-participate ethos.

“By agreeing to a charge in relation to use of the land at Little Stoke Park we would be establishing a precedent that would put the future of parkrun at risk.”

One of the pilot runners crosses the finish line of the tested Cranleigh parkrun

Following the wide discussion surrounding the topic we approached the Parkruns in Surrey and North East Hampshire for their take on the topic.

Cranleigh

The Cranleigh Parkrun is at Knowle Park and was started in October 2014 by local business owner Martin Bamford.

Mr Bamford said the organisers and parish council recognised the need for free events and therefore there’s would remain so.

“Forcing local parkrun groups to pay goes against the free to participate principle of parkrun events.

“I feel very sorry for all of the volunteers and runners at Little Gifford parkrun, who will have devoted countless hours to establishing and hosting this community event.

“It feels very short-sighted on the part of the parish council, at a time when the national faces a massive public health challenge around obesity and inactivity.

“Here at Cranleigh parkrun, we have an excellent relationship with our landowners, Cranleigh Parish Council and the Knowle Park Initiative, which both recognise the importance of the free-to-participate principle behind parkrun events.

“Since we started Cranleigh parkrun, we have hosted 81 free events with more than 3,800 runs covering 19,280km, from 1,040 different runners.

“We look forward to a long and happy future for Cranleigh parkrun, and welcome anyone who wants to join us on a Saturday morning for a free, timed 5km run around beautiful parkrun.”

Frimley Lodge Park Parkrun

Alice Holt Forest

The Alice Holt Park run, just outside Farnham, hope the Little Stoke Parkrun would only be cancelled temporarily and they would find another location.

Paula Patterson, event director at Alice Holt, said there is no risk of their event stopping any time soon.

“Parkrun will not pay to use the parks so if Surrey parks decided to do this then that would be the end of any Parkrun in that park.

“Alice Holt Parkrun takes place on Forestry Commission land and, as such, is not affected by any decision made by parish/town/borough/county councils.

“As far as we are aware there are no plans by the Forestry Commission to charge us to use the land we run on but if they did then we would have to cease or find an alternative venue.”

The Alice Holt parkrunners pay for their parking while they are at the site which supports the upkeep on the Hampshire forest.

Roger Nield
Runners taking part at the Rushmoor Parkrun

Rushmoor

Run organiser at Rushmoor, Martin Sterio, said their were no future plans to charge for the event held at the army training ground in Farnborough.

Retired Runnymede neighbourhood inspector and MBE holder Roger Nield regularly takes part in the Rushmoor Parkrun, with his wife Lucy, and said the decision by Little Gifford Parish Council was “foolish”.

“We have been going for a year and half and there are some people who have made the most incredible improvements.

“It is great for people who want to get into running but like myself are not part of a running club.

“You can run or wobble and at Rushmoor we had 227 people last weekend of all ages. You can run with your dog or push your child in a pram, it doesn’t matter, it is for eveyone.

“This business in Somerset is a really churlish move and a bit foolish by this council, especially with how big parkrun is in the country and across the world.”

Mr Nield, who is about to start training for a marathon, said its also an opportunity for people to appreciate their green spaces too.

Liz Read and her fellow parkrunners last week at Frimley Lodge Park

Frimley Lodge

Organisers at Frimley Lodge parkrun would not comment on the news from Bristol however they reassured Get Surrey that there were no plans for charges to be introduced at their events.

Liz Read from Aldershot takes part in the Frimley Lodge event every week and thinks the actions of the parish council in Little Gifford are “disgusting”.

“Parkrun is a community event free to everyone and it encourages people to try and be active in a safe and friendly environment.

“on of the key beliefs of Parkrun is that it will always be free to all.

“I have done 58 Parkruns now and if Frimley had to stop it would ruin my Saturdays and I would miss the social side.”

The Frimley Lodge Parkrun on Halloween in 2015

Woking

Woking Borough Council confirmed there were no plans to charge Parkrun to use Woking Park, which many runners will be relieved to hear.

The organisers of the Woking Parkrun would not comment on the actions of Stoke Gifford council but a Parkrun spokesman said: “None of our other 850 worldwide events is under threat, and this is the first time in 12 years we’ve had a council suggest a charge.

“We have events on local authority managed land in addition to sites managed by the Forestry Commission, National trust, Woodland Trust, many runs are in country parks, nature reserves, on sandy beaches etc and our volunteers work closely with them through the set-up process and going forward to ensure the events work for everyone.”

Runners at the start of the 100th Guildford parkrun in Stoke Park, which has now been going for two years. More than 200 took part in this one, taking the total to around 13,000.

Guildford

There are currently no plans to bring in charges at the Guildford Parkrun in Stoke Park.

The organisers could not comment on the events but reiterated Parkrun’s general statement that no charges would be brought to the event.

Graham Evans MP, and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Running, said: “Parkruns provide an invaluable way of utilising public spaces and getting the whole community involved – young and old – in physical activity, which we all know is massively important for our health and wellbeing.

“I am a huge fan of parkrun and regularly take part with my family – the children love it, and my wife and I love being out in the fresh air using our beautiful parks and countryside with them.

“I sincerely hope that a solution will be found to enable Little Stoke parkrun to continue.”

Reigate

There are currently no plans to bring in charges at the Reigate Parkrun in Priory Park.

What does it take to save a veteran?

Servicemen and women, our reserves and their families are, like the rest of us wanting to live their lives in peace and in a setting they have chosen. Of course most of us make compromises due to our age, health and lifestyle choices. But for many who find themselves in an accident, a victim of crime or even caught up in a major incident they may face what is euphemistically called “life changing injuries”. These injuries may leave mental scars instead of or as well as physical ones.

People who serve in our armed forces however may be ordered to places where they face truly horrific incidents; where they see what no person should see and attempt to deal with what no person should ever have to do. They are expected to function, under discipline to resolve whatever they have been directed to do. Life changing injuries of one sort or the other, or both may ensue.

This I believe sets them apart and it takes a special sort of courage to know that your job may place you in harms way. Hopefully through training and teamwork they will pull though, wiser and more experienced but not all will be so fortunate.

There are a multitude of organizations to support these service personnel, reserves and their families but as physical scars are clear and obvious at their inception the mental ones can often lie dormant for years.

And when the ‘boxed up’ troubling memories arise they can be denied or inappropriately self-treated and end up bringing the veteran into conflict with their family, their place in the community and into contact with the criminal justice system. Now clearly there are lots of charities, local services and organizations who can help prior to this point IF the veteran is prepared to find and accept the support available. However when you are on a downward spiral and becoming less outgoing this can be difficult to do.

This is where the Veterans Programme can help. A referral to us can make all the difference. When a veteran comes into the criminal justice system [CJS] we work with them to get them to realize the situation they are in. Often the CJS contact acts as a shock. Our team will work to help them retain their freedom and undertake restorative justice. Where other charities provide support for specific needs we not only signpost these but ensure the end user can access them. Support for families is vital at this time and coaching or mentoring can make the difference to the outcomes for these hurting folk.

Now one in four of us will have a mental health episode in a year. Everyone needs support and help but for our veterans who have put themselves in harms way to defend us and our freedoms it is right and proper that they are able to rely on the rest of us to defend and protect them from the injuries they have sustained in our service. A pension is not enough. That is why the vulnerable veterans programme is absolutely necessary.

Read more about the programme at www.smpl.org.uk

Parents urged to be vigilant after boys falls victim to online crime

This was discovered but the Surrey Res Net team – and shared here! Thank you too Surrey police

Surrey Police is urging parents to be vigilant and protect their children from falling victim to online crime, as officers investigate a report that a teenage boy was blackmailed by someone he was befriended by on the Internet.

The 15-year-old victim has alleged that he was befriended by a woman he met through an online game. She is alleged to have recorded him performing a sexual act and then threatened to pass the video to his family and friends if he did not pay her 500 euros.

PC Carina Jewell, who is investigating the allegation, said: “We have carried out extensive enquiries since this was reported to us at the end of December 2015 but unfortunately the woman has changed her name and photo so we have no way of tracing her. However, we do have concerns that she may have befriended other young people and threatened them in the same way and we would like to hear from anyone who believes they may have been a victim of a similar offence.

“We would also like to remind young people in particular to be careful online and never add people they don’t know. Social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have obviously become incredibly popular in recent years and most users are genuine, but because it is so easy to hide your real identity, it is possible to come into contact with people you would normally avoid.

“If you believe you have been a victim of any type of crime, please ensure you report it to us by calling 101 or use our online reporting form.”

Anyone using the Internet is urged to follow the advice below to ensure their online safety:

» Read more

Making Meetings Accessible for Folks with Challenged Sight.

A new stream of consciousness by Blogger Ineke Poultney

So you have decided to hold a conference or have a meeting???  Great.  You have decided what topics you are going to cover, as well as making sure everything is Health & Safety compliant???  In that case, you are good to go, aren’t you???

Actually, chances are you have forgotten about people like me – those of us with sight problems which are not immediately obvious.  Don’t worry – we are easily overlooked.

The aim of this guide is to help you help me (and people like me) to get as much out of your conference/meeting as someone with “normal” sight.

Just because I have a pair of glasses on my nose you cannot assume I can see what everybody else can see.

I have a combination of three sight problems which have more of an impact on me than might first appear obvious;

I am seriously shortsighted (as in I am closer to blind than 20/20 vision).  My glasses do help me see, however, not to 20/20 vision standards.

The second problem is Photophobia- my eyes are extremely sensitive to bright lights.

On the flip side of that I cannot see in the dark.

So – how can you help me to get as much out of the meeting as the rest of the people attending???

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Run, Hide, Tell

With thanks to the National Police Chiefs’ Council NPCC for this advice:

In the UK the Police Service and partners work very hard to keep us safe from the threat of guncrime. Firearms and weapons attacks are thankfully extremely rare, but we must always know to do stay safe. What would you do if you came under fire or heard gunshots at work or in public? Should you stay and hide, or run for the nearest exit? Would you know what to do to stay safe?

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Drones, Privacy and Harassment

Recently there was a statistic published and repeated on Twitter stating that complaints about drone use to the police had risen 2000 percent “Calls To Police Over Drone Privacy Up By 2,000%” via Sky News.

UnknownThe article and the statistic authored by Adele Robinson, Sky’s Midlands Correspondent is well researched but the debate moved into whether the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 would be available to reduce the complaints about drones invading your privacy. Well yes, in England and Wales this Act could be considered but it is probably not the first legislation the authorities might look to.

This is because Section One of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 states that a persons actions (with or without a drone) must amount to a course of conduct and that they know or ought to know that [their action] amounts to harassment. Some point out that CPS guidelines “to amount to harassment one must show a ‘course of conduct’ on 2 occasions within a year.” So the Harassment Act is not going to provide a swift solution notwithstanding the police could issue a warning to the offender. This being the case what other common or civil law might apply?

Well while using a drone could ‘invade your privacy’ there is no specific law to protect your privacy, which point was reaffirmed when the House of Lords ruled in Home Office v Wainwright (a case involving a strip search undertaken on the plaintiff Alan Wainwright while visiting Armley prison).

However there are many pro-social uses for drones including their use by Search and Rescue teams. Such teams are civilian volunteers who work closely with police, fire and rescue, other charities and the Ambulance services of the UK. Their primary role is to find vulnerable missing people. This often requires them to search open areas of rough land. You can see that drone use perhaps using an heat source recognising camera by Search and Rescue teams could reduce the area to be searched. My point here is that there are quasi-official uses for drones that might impinge on someones property or privacy but that most folk would accept this was a lawful or social purpose. The use of a drone in this case would be a mere fraction of the cost of powering up, let alone flying a police helicopter. And of course such use is strictly guided by policy, procedures and insurance.

Fortunately there is legislation and guidance for all drone pilots not just the responsible ones which state you just need to have some common sense and safety rules. “Don’t fly near people, don’t fly over buildings, certainly don’t go near roads. Don’t fly over roads it’s just not sensible. At any moment your drone could drop out the sky, and no matter how much you prepare you need to be ready for that”. You need to fly responsibly.

The CAA provide a “dronecode” telling users not to fly higher than 400ft, or near aircraft or airfields, and always keep eyes on the drone.

The law also stipulates that drones fitted with cameras must not be flown within 50 metres of people, vehicles, buildings or structures, or over large gatherings.

However there is a problem with antisocial drone use – that of the potential remote user. If something goes wrong they may merely walk away. but just how big is the problem Sky New has highlighted? A two thousand percent increase? Well Adele’s Freedom of Information figures show in 2013 officers recorded 19 calls compared to at least 461 in 2015 and in the last year the number rose by over 160%. Just half of police forces in England that Sky News contacted responded to the request. Considering the number of drones in use and the hours flown and number of complaints in the low thousands suggests this remains a generally small problem but one that should be monitored and brought back before the courts as drone use evolves.

The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 is always available but I do not think it will feature often in cases of complaints about drone use.

Mobility Scooters – do you see them? 

UnknownMobility Scooters or Invalid carriages are a common sight on our roads, pavements and in our shopping centres. But are they safe? There are around 400,000 currently on our streets a growth of 33% since the early 2000’s. We have got over the hysteria of 2003 and 2012 where motorised scooters or invalid carriages, as the law knows them, were demonised through a few high profile events. These were generally where older folk made serious errors such as driving them onto a motorway.  But at present the danger to others by invalid carriage users has been assimilated into our daily lives. In fact recent work by the Department for Economy, Science and Transport and the National Assembly for Wales confirms that they of significant benefit to disabled people and goes even further suggesting amendments to the regulations to make them more available to younger folk.

The currently problem of invalid carriages is one of visibility – do you see them? The question is particularly appropriate as we approach the end of British Summer Time on Sunday 25th October 2015. Whether on the pavement, on the road or merely crossing the street at low speed (0-8mph) there are significant dangers to the users because they do not have to show front and rear position indicators (side lights) and there is no MOT required.

From our own recent field study of invalid carriages used in London and the South of England very few users are aware of the dangers and  what simple steps can be taken to make the user safer. However whilst 84% of users complain that motorists and cyclists ignore them, drive too close and “bully” them. (89% complain that pedestrians get in the way and that many shopping isles are too narrow) only some 10% of carriage users wear a high visibility clothing item when they use their vehicles. This one change to wearing a high-vis vest would, we argue, ensure that scooter users feel safer because other road users would see them earlier and be able to react sooner. This would be a useful step forward and we would ask the DoT to consider making this move mandatory following a wider survey.

It is also the case that of the 10% of users who wear high visibility clothing whenimages-1 on their mobility scooter over 70% of these do so because they have been involved in an accident or near miss with a vehicle. It would be an interesting subject for further research to examine the times, dates and weather conditions of such events.

Other useful safety changes would be for current invalid carriages to be fitted, like bicycles with reflectors and with reflected chevrons on the rear surface of the vehicle.

The study of mobility scooter safety will become simpler as from 2015 the police service will record incidents including invalid carriages.

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Meanwhile if you know a mobility scooter user don’t wait for wider research to prove our study you can buy a high visibility safety vest from around £5 and help them be safer in our community.