Firework Fun on Bonfire Night

Just a quick reminder for any of you planning to have a bonfire party this weekend  5th November, to take extra care with fireworks.

Fireworks are hot, fast & fun

Did you know:

  • a sparkler reaches 2000°C? That is 20 times the boiling point of water!
  • Rockets can travel at up to 150 miles per hour!


Every year in the UK, approximately 1000 people are seriously injured by fireworks, many of them at parties held at home. Most injuries are to the hands and face which can require grafting and lengthy stays in hospital.

To avoid injury, one option is to go to an organised firework display.  However, if you are going to hold a bonfire party at home there are few basic things you should remember to do.  Above all, follow the firework code:

Firework Top Ten Safety Code for Adults

Young people should watch and enjoy fireworks at a safe distance and follow the safety rules for using sparklers.

Only adults should deal with firework displays and the lighting of fireworks. They should also take care of the safe disposal of fireworks once they have been used.

  1. Only buy fireworks marked BS 7114.
  2. Don’t drink alcohol if yuo are going to be setting off fireworks.
  3. Keep fireworks in an closed box.
  4. Follow the instructions on each firework.
  5. Light fireworks with a taper, keeping them at arm’s length.
  6. Stand well back.
  7. Never go near a firework that has been lit – even if it hasn’t gone off, it could still explode.
  8. Never put fireworks in your pocket, or throw them.
  9. Always supervise children around fireworks.
  10. Light sparklers one at a time, and use gloves.
  11. Never give sparklers to a child under five years old
  12. Keep pets indoors
  13. Don’t let fireworks off after 11pm

First Aid Treatment of Firework Injuries

If you are accidentally injured by a firework the important thing is to cool the area immediately with cold water, and to keep cooling for a Minimum of 10 minutes. This takes the heat out of the wound and prevents further “cooking” of the skin.

Remove jewellery where possible and clothing if it hasn’t stuck.  Then wrap the area in clingfilm to keep it clean and protected and seek medical advice.

Lastly, Have Fun But Remember to BE SAFE, NOT SORRY

For Further Advice

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents  (RoSPA)have Safer Fireworks website with lots of useful information about firework safety

The UK Government also has a useful firework safety website, covering firework safety and the law.

First Aid training for minor burn injuries is covered in the Emergency First Aid training course syllabus, while the full 3-day First aid at Work training course covers burns in more detail.

RIDDOR Changes 2011

Changes to the way Incidents are reported to the HSE have come into effect.

Businesses have a responsibility to report incidents and accidents under the RIDDOR regulations. Up to now it has been possible to do that by phoning the HSE. However on 12 September this system was moved to an online reporting system.

From 30 September 2011 anyone seeking basic health and safety advice from the HSE Infoline telephone service needs to know that this service will cease to exist. Businesses will instead be directed to the HSE’s RIDDOR website. This is a vast website with a variety of matters covered.

Only fatalities and major injuries can now be reported via the phone to the HSE. It is recognised that in these traumatic cases, speaking to another human who can help them, is the most beneficial way of dealing with the situation.

All other work related injuries which are reportable under RIDDOR can be reported using one of 7 new online forms.

For more details, you can visit the HSE’s RIDDOR website, or take a look at our RIDDOR FAQ page.

New First Aid Kit Announced

NEW  BS 8599 Standard First Aid Kit Introduced

A new British Standard Workplace First aid Kit was launched under BS 8599 on 30th June 2011.  Although under the Health & Safety (First Aid) regulations 1981, it is not mandatory to have a kit which complies with the BS 8599 standard, the change should prompt employers to review their kits, to check that they are in-date, and suitable for their requirements.

The HSE state that employers should do a first aid risk assessment to determine the level of kit that is needed, and to match that kit to their needs assessment.  In other words, the options for workplaces are:

  1. Within your workplace you have access to a first aid kit whose contents comply with BS 8599 and matches your needs assessment; or
  2. Within your workplace you have access to a first aid kit whose contents matches your needs assessment but does not comply with the requirements of BS 8599.

Riddor Reporting Changes

On 12th September, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) changed the way in which work related injuries are to be reported. In addition, from 30th September, they closed their Infoline telephone service, starting instead to direct all enquiries to the HSE website.

Legal Requirement

All businesses are required by law  (the Reporting of Injuries and Dangerous Occurrence Regulations-  RIDDOR) to report any deaths, causes of disease, injuries that are directly attributable to the workplace  and near misses relating to the workplace.

For most businesses the part of the regulations that applies most frequently are those injuries that cause the injured person to be off work or unable to do their normal working duties for more than three  consecutive days (not including the day of the accident). These must be reported within 10 days of the incident.

The types of injuries that are reportable include death, fractures (except to thumbs, fingers, toes), amputations, loss of sight, burns, and any loss of consciousness or any injury that requires treatment in hospital.

Online Reporting

From now on these injuries can be reported via one of 7 new online forms which are designed to be easy to use and send with the click of a button. They may be found at on the HSE’s RIDDOR site.

For most  businesses this won’t cause too much trouble, as much of our working life is now done online.

If you’d like more information, please visit the HSE, or take a look at our What is RIDDOR FAQ.

Does Peeing on a Jellyfish sting take the pain away?

Last week the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) reported an increase in the number of Jellyfish inhabiting British waters including the barrel, moon, compass, blue and lion’s mane jellyfish.  None of these jellyfish has a lethal sting.

The MCS has asked members of the public to report sightings of these creatures as they give a good indication of the state of our seas.  The MCS urge the public to look but not touch as some of the jellyfish can sting, particularly the Lion’s Mane jellyfish which is swarming in huge numbers off the coast of the North West.

Jellyfish Soup

Currently the Irish Sea is described as a bit like “Jellyfish soup”, as the waters appear to be great grounds for them blooming. Other coastal areas have also been affected including the North West and North East. Indeed Scotland’s Torness power station was temporarily shut down a few weeks ago as swarms of the creatures blocked the water intake cooling systems.

Painful experience

If you are lucky enough to be holidaying near the sea then you may be unlucky enough to be stung by a jellyfish, which can be an intensely painful experience.  Popular rumour aided & abetted by episodes of “Friends” suggests you should pee on a jelly fish sting to neutralise the pain. But is there any truth in this or is it urban myth?

There is an element of truth in this rumour, but it really depends on how acidic your urine is. Acidity of urine is wholly dependent on your diet and most of us don’t produce urine that is acidic enough to neutralise the jelly fish sting. A better and less embarrassing option is to use vinegar. This deactivates the nematocysts (stinging cells) that may still be attached to the skin.

Treatment advice

If you are stung then the first aid advice is to:

  • Gently remove any tentacles that are still attached ideally by using gloves and tweezers.
  • Flood the area with vinegar, this deactivates the nematocysts (stinging cells) that may still be attached to the skin.
  • Do not rub the skin as this may cause the nematocysts to release more venom.
  • In the absence of vinegar pour more seawater over the area to help reduce the rash. Freshwater is not advised as it may cause more irritation.
  • Over the counter painkillers may be of some help in reducing the pain.
  • If breathing difficulties develop seek urgent medical help. If the inflammation does not seem to settle or the rash gets worse, seek medical help.

Useful information

To report jellyfish sightings follow this link:

Diabetes Week 12 – 18th June

Almost 2.8 million people in the UK live with some form of diabetes. It is one of the most common illnesses that affect people and perhaps one of the most misunderstood. In addition around a million people are estimated to have the condition but are as yet undiagnosed.

This week is National Diabetes week and the UK charity Diabetes UK is trying to raise the profile of the work that they do in helping us to understand the condition more clearly. They have discovered that nearly a million people with the condition are too embarrassed or scared to let close friends and colleagues know in case they are stigmatised or bullied at school or work. The issue was raised in this week’s Prime Minister’s Question Time by the Adrian Sanders, MP for Torbay, who is helping with the campaign, encouraging those with diabetes to speak out more about the condition and what it is like to live with.

It is an issue that all of us should be aware of, as with increasing levels of obesity, lack of physical activity and poor diets, many of us are putting our long term health at risk, running the very real possibility of developing the condition as we go through life.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition which causes problems with controlling the level of sugar in our blood. There are two main types; Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetics typically do not produce any of the hormone insulin which is needed to utilise the sugar in our blood and turn it into usable fuel for our bodies. It typically begins in childhood or early adulthood and accounts for about 5-10 % of all cases of diabetes. It is not caused by poor diet and lifestyle factors.

Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for around 80 – 85% of all cases, develops later in life and is heavily influenced by diet, and physical activity. Being overweight significantly increases your chances of developing diabetes.  Lack of physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle and a poor diet are known risk factors for developing diabetes.

Either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, if left untreated, can have serious implications on the long-term health of sufferers.  If you suspect that you may be affected by diabetes, you should contact your GP.

Risk factors in developing Diabetes

Your genetic make-up has a large influence on your chances of developing either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.  If you have a strong family history of diabetes, your risk increases significantly.

Obesity is becoming a global issue with knock on effects on healthcare. Approximately one in five adults in the UK is overweight and this is increasing steadily.  Diabetes and it’s associated complications are costly to treat and with an ever increasing population that is ageing and becoming more unhealthy the cost to the NHS is huge.

A report out this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association has also suggested that watching too much television can also contribute to a 20% higher risk of developing the disease.  However, it is important to note that this is more likely down to the fact that those who watch television for more than two hours per day are also more likely to snack on unhealthy foods and participate in less physical activity.  It is likely that this, rather than television itself, is the true cause of this relationship.

Reducing the Risk

Small changes in the way we live our lives, losing weight, eating healthily and exercising can do much to prevent us developing diabetes.

Don’t Suffer in Silence

For those that already have the condition, ensure that all around you know about it so that if you become unwell they can help you. You never know, telling others about it may help someone else get the treatment they need or prevent another person developing the disease.

Further information

Recognising and treating a hypoglycaemic attack is covered in the 3 day first aid at work course. For more details see our First Aid at Work syllabus page.