Our time at Express Medicals

By Julia Griessler and Catharina Chalupa

We decided to apply for a marketing internship at Express Medicals as soon as we got the heads up that they were hiring. Our first day at Express Medicals was February, 19th and after 3 fantastic months we are now completing our internship in London.

It was great coming from University into such a dynamic team and putting into practise what we learned at into Express Medicals. The team were very welcoming, and the working environment at Express Medicals is incredibly good.

We took a tour around the business and were introduced the different departments. And even though we only worked part time, we still felt very welcomed and enjoyed meeting everyone.

Our roles

We worked in the Marketing & Sales department and were able to learn a lot, not just from our Commercial Manager Rory Evans, but from the whole team at Express Medicals.

Our tasks included analysing different Marketing Channels, including the Website, competitors pages, Social Media and so much more. Furthermore, our work on the Website and Blog has given us confidence with our own published work.

It wasn’t only great to work in the company, but it was also interesting to see the cause the company is working for.

We realised the importance of Occupational Health at our time here. Seeing first-hand how well-being assessments can improve motivation and foster productivity brings a healthy lifestyle.

To conclude…

We really appreciate the opportunity of working for the company and wish you all the best for the future.

Our working experience at Express Medicals was great. It taught us a lot about teamwork and real work experience. Thank you for the incredible experience to the entire Express medicals team.

Express Medicals is one of the UK’s leading independent occupational health companies with over 23 years’ experience. We provide medical testing, drug and alcohol testing and well-being and mental health services.
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CBD oil – am I affected at work?

A number of stores in the UK are now selling Cannabidiol Oil (CBD) as a herbal supplement. However, the question remains – would I test positive in a drugs and alcohol test? More importantly, am I safe at work?

Cannabis has many active chemical constituents.  The two that have been investigated the most in respect of their medicinal value are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

THC is the major psychoactive constituent of cannabis, and is considered responsible for giving so called “highs” to users of cannabis. CBD however, is not psychoactive. 

First up, CBD oil

CBD oil is an unlicensed product in the UK, but is available to purchase in high street shops or online.  These claim to contain either none or extremely low levels (less than 0.2%) of THC, which is the compound that can lead to positive results. 

CBD oil is not licensed in the UK, therefore the THC concentration might be more than stated and cannot be guaranteed.  If not taken according to manufacturer advice, it may cause a positive drug test result. 

Please note, CBD oil products purchased illegally or on the internet may contain high levels of THC and this can lead to some individuals failing a drug test.

Next up, Sativex

From the 1st November 2018, new regulations in the UK meant that certain specialists could prescribe Sativex. However, it’s important to recognise that this differs from the over the counter CBD oil products.

Sativex is a medicine that can be legally prescribed in the UK by certain specialists for patients with Multiple Sclerosis and other certain medical conditions. Any individual using Sativex will have a legal medical prescription, therefore Sativex is not available over the counter. 

This medicine contains significant levels of psychoactive THC [Tetrahydrocannabinol]. The cannabis extract in this medicine will lead to a positive drug test result and the individual might not be safe at work due to the psychoactive effects of THC.

Please note that Express Medicals can never guarantee the outcome of a drug test if CBD oil has been used / is being used.

If you have any questions or concerns, please consult your doctor.

Express Medicals is one of the UK’s leading independent occupational health companies with over 23 years’ experience. We provide medical testing, drug and alcohol testing and well-being and mental health services.
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Giving you fun fitness tips for optimum well-being

Fitness for Wellbeing

At Express Medicals we know the importance of keeping fit to improve your overall well-being. In support of #WorkoutsAndWellbeing we’re giving you fitness tips for optimum well-being to make fitness fun and enjoyable.

There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way of exercising

Do what works for you and most of all what you ENJOY. This could be going for a run outside, trying out a new class, playing sport, resistance weight training in the gym or quick and easy home workouts. Enjoyment and convenience are key factors, if the exercise you do is both enjoyable and convenient you are most likely to stick with it.

For example, a home workout is quick and easy. You can play your own music, be completely comfortable and get everything completed in an hour! Sometimes this consistency of training at home can see better results than the gym.  

Remember your body is totally unique

Don’t compare yourself to friends as their body may excel in certain movements and yours will excel in others. You may see others lifting more, squatting more but it’s important not to match them. Focus on what works for you, realise your body is different and concentrate on exercises to improve weaker areas.

Mind muscle connection

It’s incredibly important not to push yourself too hard.  For example, by lifting too much weight could be putting strain on other areas. Therefore, when doing an exercise on your first few repetitions ask yourself whether the muscle you intend to work is doing the majority of the work load. This could lead to you picking up a lighter weight. This will see your weaker muscle groups strengthen and prevent your more dominant muscles taking over.

Perseverance

You may feel silly doing certain movements for the first time, but like anything the more you do it the better you become. For example, running on the spot raising your knees high and punching the air admittedly makes you feel like a bit of a lemon. However, the more you persevere the more comfortable you feel and soon it will become second nature.

Stay motivated

When you are lacking motivation to workout think about the positive endorphin rush you will feel after your exercise. ‘When endorphins are released in the body of a person, he or she experiences a feeling of bliss, a flow of euphoria’ (Holloway, 2019). 

For more information about Express Medical’s range of occupational health services, visit expressmedicals.co.uk

Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn andTwitter

🧘 Managing stress for a well-being 🧘

Managing stress for a well-being

Connect with those you care about

Ever find yourself saying ‘I didn’t have time’? Perhaps more often than you’d like…
We communicate every day with texts, email or social media, but still crave more meaningful connections.

Our first tip is to understand the importance of keeping in touch with your family, spending time with your children and your loved ones. Relationships that you have with your family provides a huge influence on your health including alleviating stress, helping with mental health illness, giving you energy and providing a sense of contentment like no other.

If you surround yourself with support, you can weather the bad times with less stress and add years to your life.


Get outside at every opportunity you can

Our next tip is whenever you can, push yourself to get outside into the fresh air. If the sun is shining take the kids out and go to the park, organise a picnic, visit a National Trust site and go for a walk. We spend lots of time sitting down, so to counter the effects of enforced immobility it’s a great to move around and get outside.

“There’s no question that cognition, and concentration are improved by minimal levels of physical activity,” says Dr Andrew Pipe, chief of the division of prevention and rehabilitation at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. “Walking at a pace where you can have a conversation with someone for 10 or 15 minutes every day can substantially improve your overall level of health.”

Get creative 

It’s time to get creative! Simply engaging in creative behaviours (even trendy colouring in books) improves your brain function, mental health, and physical health.

Did you know that the average person has about 60,000 thoughts in a day? Partaking in a creative act releases dopamine, a natural anti-depressant which helps reduce anxiety, depression and stress.

Activities such as drawing, writing, knitting, gardening, DIY and dancing are all included so why not think about a new hobby?

Overwhelmed? Get it down on paper

Writing has been proven to provide calm and order to a highly productive brain. We call it ‘habit stacking’. Simply categorising your to do list can help break down larger tasks and make them manageable. Block out a time each day in your calendar, say 2-3pm and batch tasks together. For example, use this time to go through your emails, or make some phone calls.

Lastly, make sure you play to your strengths – if you are more productive in the mornings use this time wisely to crack on with your priorities.


Focus on you and your concentration

It’s easy to get caught up in your colleagues printing disasters, or to attend that meeting instead of doing that task you said you’d do last week.

Our tip would be to try where possible to alleviate distractions and concentrate on the task at hand. It’ll keep you focused and motivated to keep going. Try and find a fun way of telling colleagues you’re ‘out of office’ and we don’t mean literally! Simple post it stickers with ‘in’ or ‘out’ politely tells your team you’re in the zone, and not to disturb.

SAVE MONEY – STOP SMOKING

FACT: Many people who quit smoking feel in charge, feel more relaxed, have more money and are not as worried about their health.

They look and feel better, their skin looks healthier and they have more energy when they walk, play or do something active. Also they don’t smell of smoke! So Stop smoking – save money!

Top tips:

Find ways to cope by learning from past attempts.

  • Tell everyone that you are quitting.
  • Join a stop smoking group and ask colleagues if they want to join you.
  • Try the gums/ lozenges/patches available.
  • Place stickers/pictures in places to motivate you.
  • Remember how much money you will save.
  • Congratulate yourself on your achievements.
  • Call the NHS Smokefree Helpline -0300 123 1044. • Fix a definite “quit”date.

Top tips for optimum health and wellbeing

If you’ve not already heard, this week is National Nutrition and Hydration Week. Here at Express Medicals, we aim to provide tips and tricks to keep you at your healthy best.

Did you know that in the UK alone, around 3 million people are at risk of malnutrition? That’s a staggering figure. So in order to prevent malnutrition and dehydration related illnesses and to ensure good health and well-being, we’re giving you advice to keep you tip-top.

What you can do:

  1. First and foremost, don’t skip brekky! Starting your day right with a nutritious breakfast kick-starts your metabolism. Furthermore, there are even studies suggesting it may be linked to weight loss! (ref).
  2. Choose wholegrain high fibre carbohydrates such as the humble porridge. Check here for ways to spruce up your morning oats. 
  3. Variety is the spice of life – taste the rainbow and add multiple colours to your diet such as a Buddha salad bowl – find a delicious recipe here
  4. Aim to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg each day.
  5. Fish of the day – try to eat at least two portions of fish each week, preferably at least one oily fish such as mackerel or salmon. Lastly, make sure it’s sustainably sourced!
  6. Cut down on your saturates and on salt –  Check nutrition labels for high fats and sugars and keep salt intake less than 6g per day.
  7. Keep active to maintain a healthy weight. Whether that’s taking a walk in your lunch-break, taking up a sport hobby or heading to the gym, it all contributes to that daily step count.

Last but not least, it is essential to drink water throughout your day. Aim to drink about 8-10 glasses or 1-2 litres if you’re drinking from a bottle.  Getting your daily dosage has been proven to increase brain power and boost your energy levels.  It promotes healthy weight management, flushes out toxins, improves your complexion, boosts your immune system and prevents pesky headaches.

Source: British Nutrition Foundation

Need advice or help with your sleep/shift patterns?


We’re here to help: it’s our dream job.

If your job involves shift work, you’re likely to need some extra help or advice on how to maintain the right amount of sleep to keep you healthy at home, and safe at work.

Sleep deprivation has been linked to some of the largest industrial accidents in recent memory, including the Three Mile Island nuclear accident (4am); Chernobyl (1.30am); the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, and the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

Our medical teams often face a range of questions from candidates who are new to, or struggling with, shift patterns. Dr Dan Hegarty deals with some common concerns, here, to help you make the right decisions.

We’ve all sat next to someone who’s fallen asleep on the train – how often have you wondered whether they were going to or coming back from work, or why they’re so tired, and what effect that will have on their performance or their colleagues’ safety?

‘Sleep issues have never been more important since sleep deprivation causes a whole range of health issues, from increased weight gain, to lack of concentration through to a number of mental health conditions. We’re working harder for longer hours – and there have never been more distractions to keep us awake.

We don’t just sleep in our bedrooms any more. In addition we watch TV, eat, browse on electronic devices – not exactly conducive to a calm, relaxing night’s rest.

So what can we do to help ourselves regain balance and ensure we wake up ready for the day, instead of planning when we can get back under the duvet?


What we know

Most adults need between 7 and 8 hours sleep a night, although this amount decreases with age. And, obviously, it can be harder to sleep in the daytime than at night, because it’s brighter and there are more noisy distractions.

If you’re trying to find a suitable sleep pattern that works for you, those you live with and those you work with, it can be helpful to keep a sleep diary, so you can work out when it’s best for you personally to get quality sleep. Once you’ve found that ideal pattern, try to stick to it. This pattern might include the following:


Creating a restful place to sleep

  • Sleep in a designated part of the house and make sure it’s dark, cool and comfortable
  • Ensure it’s as quiet as possible. If there is outside noise, or you’re trying to sleep while others are awake, either ask them to keep noise to a minimum (nicely, it’s not always possible) or invest in some earplugs
  • Use heavy curtains or blackout blinds to keep the room as dark as possible.


The right frame of mind

  • Go for a walk, listen to music or read a book before you go to sleep – get into a routine because it helps your body know what’s coming next
  • Don’t use electronic devices as the blue light they emit can affect the quality of your sleep
  • Avoid caffeine or energy drinks since these are highly stimulating to help a good night’s rest
  • Avoid alcohol as it lowers the quality of sleep


Other hygiene factors

  • Regular exercise can help you reach a deeper sleep. However, make sure it’s not too close to bedtime (within two hours) as that can make it harder to fall asleep
  • Try not to take your worries to bed since internal stimuli will affect your ability to get to sleep. Hardly anyone can voluntarily make themselves fall asleep instantly. If you have concerns, make a list and an action plan to deal with them, however, leave the list in a different room to confront yourself with when you wake up with a rested mind. Worrying, when you can’t do anything about it results in destructiveness to your physical and mental health.

If you’d like further information or sleep advice or want to find out more about our shift workers’ medical, contact our commercial team on 0207 500 6900.

Chinese New Year


Ever wonder why Chinese zodiacs are animals?

The legend goes that the Jade Emperor ordered all the animals that inhabited the Earth to congratulate him on his birthday on January the 9th one year. 

He made a rule that all animals would run across a river, and each animal’s position in the zodiac would be set by its place in the race.

The rat had to stop by the river owing to the swift current. Having waited for a long time, the rat saw the ox crossing the river, so he swiftly jumped into the ox’s ear.

The kind-hearted ox did not mind at all and kept on crossing the river. After crossing it, he ran towards the palace of the Jade Emperor.

Suddenly, the rat jumped out of the ox’s ear and rushed to the feet of the Jade Emperor; therefore he won the first place, followed by the ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.


Which Zodiac are you?


Year of the Rat

Born in: 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020

Personality of the Rat

People born in the Year of the Rat are instinctive, acute and alert in nature, according to Chinese zodiac analysis. This makes them brilliant business people since they can always react properly before the worst circumstances take place. They are also sophisticated and popular in social interaction. They are sanguine and very adaptable, being popular with others.


Year of the Ox

Born in: 1913, 1925,1937,1949,1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021

Personality of the Ox

The Ox is huge and is often used to indicate something big in size or number. People with this sign bear persistent, simple, honest and straightforward characteristics. They are leaders with strong faith and strong devotion to work.


Year of the Tiger

Born in: 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022

Personality of the Tiger

In most cases they are powerful, independent, confident and brave. In their middle age their fate may be uneven, but after hardships they will enjoy a bright prospect. They are also likely to be dogmatic and like showing off when accomplishing something.


Year of the Rabbit

Born in:1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023

Personality of the Rabbit

Rabbits usually impress others with an image of tenderness, grace and sensitivity. They are romantic in relationships, they avoid arguing with others and can convert an enemy into a friend.


Year of the Dragon

Born in: 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024

Personality of the Dragon

They are usually a group of people who are lively, intellectual and excitable. They can clearly tell right from wrong. They are upright and frank. However, they are also a bit arrogant and impatient. Female Dragons tend to be overly confident. They hate hypocrisy, gossip and slander.


Year of the Snake

Born in: 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025

Personality of the Snake

Usually people regard Snakes as a cunning and sly animal, which likes hanging out in darkness. In fact, this animal is also a symbol of wisdom and wit. People with this sign are calm, sensitive and humorous, and most of them are gifted in literature and art.


Year of the Horse

Born in: 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026

Personality of the Horse

They always impress upon people their dynamic, zealous and generous image. Although endowed with many shinning points, they have to face weaknesses in their characteristics.


Year of the Goat

Born in: 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027,

Personality of the Goat

People born in the Year of the Goat are tender, polite, clever and kind-hearted. They have special sensitivity to art and beauty and a special fondness for quiet living. They are wise, gentle and compassionate and can cope with business cautiously. In their daily life they try to be economical.


Year of the Monkey

Born in: 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028

Personality of the Monkey

The general image of Monkeys is of always being smart, clever and intelligent, especially in their career and wealth. They are lively, flexible, quick-witted and versatile. In addition, their gentleness and honesty bring them an everlasting love life.


Year of the Rooster

Born in: 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029

Personality of the Rooster

People born in the Year of Rooster have many excellent characteristics, such as being honest, bright, communicative and ambitious. Most of them are born pretty or handsome, and prefer to dress up. In daily life they seldom rely on others.


Year of the Dog

Born in: 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030

Personality of the Dog

People born in the Year of the Dog are usually independent, sincere, loyal and decisive according to Chinese zodiac analysis. They are not afraid of difficulties in daily life. These shining characteristics make them have harmonious relationships with the people around them.


Year of the Pig

Born in: 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031

Personality of the Pig

People with this zodiac sign are considerate, responsible, independent and optimistic. They always show generosity and endure other people’s mistakes, which help them gain harmonious relationships. However, sometimes they behave lazy.


Why Chinese New Year falls on a different date every year?

The UK traditional uses the ‘Gregorian’ calendar which always starts in 1st January.

The Chinese follow the lunar new year, which is when there is the start of a new moon.


Wishes from Hayley Lancefield (née Lau)

According to the Chinese astrology, 2019 year of the pig is a great year to make money, and a good year to invest. Therefore, I wish you all a very healthy and prosperous year.

Guaranteeing Your Chain of Custody

At Express Medicals, we know that the integrity of the chain of custody process is crucial. We have worked closely with Eurofins, one of the leading forensic labs, for many years now. At no time has there ever been an investigation regarding incorrect results being issued.

Eurofins Scientific is one of the global independent market leaders in certain testing and laboratory services for genomics, discovery pharmacology and forensics. Furthermore, the company provides advanced material sciences and supporting clinical studies.
In addition, Eurofins is a key emerging players in specialty clinical diagnostic testing in Europe and the USA. With over 45,000 staff in more than 650 laboratories across 45 countries, Eurofins offers a portfolio of over 150,000 analytical methods. These evaluate safety, identity, composition, authenticity, origin and purity of biological products. The Group objective is to provide its customers with high-quality services and innovative clinical diagnostics. Lastly, Eurofins is world-known for its accurate results as well as expert advice by its highly qualified staff.

DIY SOS by Hayley Lancefield

I was given the opportunity to go to a DIY SOS site with one of our occupational health technicians. We provided quick health checks to everyone who was interested in volunteering.

I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t too sure if anyone wanted to know their blood pressure reading, or what their glucose or cholesterol levels were. However, while we were still setting up people showed immediate interest. One of the presenters, Julian Perryman, came up and said: “It’s good that you have come onsite today as someone felt faint yesterday”.

After setting up he was the first to get a quick health check. Following him, people of all ages lined up since they never had their blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels taken. There were also a few people who were on blood pressure tablets. It was important for them to get the reassurance that their medication was working. Otherwise they would have needed to wait more than three weeks for a GP appointments.

Many of our patients were curious about their results and what they could do to get better readings. We saw about 50 people in total and Nick Knowles, another presenter, came for a health check towards the end. He spent some time with us and discussed the importance of people understanding the meaning of their results.

That day, I experienced a great community atmosphere and it was nice to see everyone interested and engaged in a good cause.

 

The Construction Toolkit That Could Save Lives


Health and well-being is a topical subject and a current in the construction industry. Through this article I would like to explain how National Grid tackled the issue of stress, using a new process I helped design.

It is essential for business and construction to avoid assuming men know what to do about stress levels. Another risk may include thinking men don’t want help. It all starts by talking about it. We don’t have to have all the answers but let’s begin and learn from it. If we don’t know what Construction workers want, let’s ask them and listen to what they say. It’s likely it won’t be much different to what the rest of us want or need. But if we ask them, they’ll know we care, and that’s what matters.

How National Grid took initiative

Construction workers within National Grid learned about site safety by Health & Safety Reps. The Reps had never received training in stress and mental health. So, National Grid felt the subject of anxiety hadn’t been discussed. Managers also struggled to support staff if they took time off for stress. The issue felt like the ‘elephant in the room,’ and they began a campaign to correct this. I helped design a toolkit that recognised stress early. It equipped managers with tools to approach a vulnerable employee. It also covered how to support them. The benefit of this was greater confidence when discussing the subject. It improved how easy it felt to talk about personal issues. It also increased their understanding of what people needed and helped.

Some of us are lucky enough to learn the tools we need to help us cope well in life. Loneliness, when working away from home or balancing work with home life, can be tough. So can be handling marital breakdown or losing someone we love. If we haven’t managed to deal with these or have them taught to us by parents, then we can feel ill-equipped. Communication is crucial and talking about our emotions can bring stability in our routine. Not talking can have significant effects on our health. Some of the time we ‘learn’ what is acceptable, or unacceptable in our behaviour from the habits we are surrounded by. If it is ‘negative’ to express our emotions, then we are likely to stay closed off. Another issue is that men often find it more challenging to talk about feelings than women. 

The difference of emotional state between the genders

Women experience emotions on both sides of their brains. They have many connections within the brain to the part of it responsible for language. It is much easier for women to express what they are feeling. Men still experience emotions but find it tougher to explain. For men, it can be much harder to find the right words. So, some men may choose not to speak about things, and for some, it may feel more as if they can’t. Others may use different coping mechanisms such as withdrawing or avoiding things. Some may channel their distress by taking exercise or team sports and seem to avoid talking. Because men do this, it doesn’t mean they want to, and it doesn’t mean someone may not be able to help. They may be well received were they to offer. The key to helping men is to provide help but in a way that appeals to them. To do that well keep the process simple.

Helping is much easier to do when you know someone well, such as a good friend. The question ‘how are you?’ isn’t coming from management and doesn’t feel threatening. It’s also easier to ask for help from a friend rather than a professional. So, National Grid implemented a toolkit. Reps knew to look out for someone they knew may be struggling with stress. They didn’t try to resolve the problem; they offered a helping hand of a friend.

The 4 symbols that represent what this toolkit looks like

The Buddy Toolkit

I developed better expertise with this process over time and revised it. I called it a Buddy toolkit or ‘looking out for your mates.’ I extended it beyond Health and Safety Reps to the workers whenever I introduced this. It was important workers didn’t have to look out for everyone they knew but watched out for their best mate. It was also important not to feel they had to fix how someone was feeling or make them feel better. All you do is watch out for your mate and check in with them. When you’ve asked how they are if they are unhappy and you think you can help offer your thoughts. Talk about when you’ve experienced something similar. If you don’t think you can help, direct them towards someone, you know who can. Whether that someone is on-site or off-site does not play a role. Make it your business to know what services are available then you’ll know you tried and they’ll feel valued. Keep in touch and check in again a few days later.

With the Buddy toolkit, you also pair people up within your project team. If someone is new to the team, a more experienced site worker would be better paired with them for a few weeks. That is so they can show the new person the ropes but also look out for them. Often, we are at our most isolated when lonely, and we don’t know anyone. That is a risk for mental health. It’s also the time when men are most likely to find out what is and isn’t ok in that culture. If they are new in, need help but don’t ask, the buddy system gives them someone they can approach.

We all need support in life, and this toolkit helps. What this achieves is simple; you show you care and they feel that. If they are going to reach out, then they’ll come to you. So, look, watch and ask how they are, if you see they aren’t themselves at any time.

Article by Sue Firth, Business Psychologist for Express Medicals


Health surveillance and hazard control in the workplace

Health surveillance is a process of on-going monitoring of employees to detect whether they’re working in circumstances that could be harmful.
Companies need to put health surveillance into place when hazards such as noise, manual handling, biological agents and other factors influence the workplace. However, employers sometimes wrongly consider surveillance as a method for preventing harmful situations. Even though this is a convenient approach, it can not avoid employee exposure to dangerous situations. Complete prevention of these serious situations, is the most appropriate way of controlling risks.
Moreover, health surveillance is considered part of health risk management and requires a systematic approach for early detection of diseases. Besides that, it gives employees a positive feeling when they know that an effective health control programme is in place.

Hierarchy of hazard control

The system is used in this industry to minimize or even eliminate exposure to hazards. The infographic below is used by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

New training keeps offshore workers safe in transit

This month, our doctors have been reviewing and updating their skills, to ensure we can offer trusted training, following Oil and Gas UK’s new requirements for offshore medical workers.

New medical requirements mean offshore workers have to pass medicals ensuring they are fit to use Emergency Breathing Systems. This kit is designed to keep them safe should there be an accident on any helicopter.

We’ve been involved in certification for offshore workers for many years: correct assessments are vital when workers are close to unpredictable weather and potentially life-threatening conditions. The latest changes to process were recommended by the Civil Aviation Authority. This was introduced following a helicopter crash in 2013, which resulted in the death of four offshore workers.

Oil and Gas UK, the industry’s member organisation, has now changed the training for workers that go offshore, to ensure they’re fit for work. This is done by using a new compressed gas emergency breathing system. This new assessment is vital to ensure anyone using the system is aware of the risks and mitigations around barotrauma. Also known as decompression sickness, a range of injuries caused by changes in air or water pressure can occur.

Workers are now required to complete survival course in-water training exercises. With a compressed-air emergency breathing apparatus (EBS) it is ensured that they can correctly operate the equipment, in a controlled environment. That’s where Express Medicals comes in.

Before taking part in the course, trainees must have an assessment of their medical fitness to participate. A worker who needs to be certified for offshore work and has not already completed the survival training will now also need an assessment of their fitness.

Express Medicals makes this assessment at the same time as the standard Oil and Gas UK assessment and will issue a certificate ‘fit for training’.


Objective of medical assessment

The objective of the fitness for in-water EBS training is to:

  1. Ensure trainees have understood the nature of the hazard of barotrauma, that some medical conditions may increase the risk, and the importance of providing an accurate medical history.
  2. Classify trainees as either ‘fit’ or ‘unfit’ for in-water EBS training.
  3. Ensure all trainees have received explanation of risk mitigation and measures in general. As well as that trainees with medical conditions have received personalised risk mitigation advice relevant to their condition.
  4. Provide documentary confirmation of fitness status, for employers and training providers.


How we assess

The candidate completes a questionnaire. One of our medical staff will sit with them and clarify any positive answers.  At this stage, we discuss the hazard and risk of barotrauma, and ensure the candidate has had sufficient opportunity to provide an accurate medical history. For candidates without any relevant medical history, we can then certify fitness to participate in training without need for further tests or physical examination.

For candidates with a history of relevant medical condition(s), we will examine the respiratory and/or ENT systems, and/or performance of lung function tests. Unless we obtain a clear history of absolute contraindication to training (in which case the examining doctor may directly certify unfitness for training).

If the examining doctors suspect a clinical diagnosis relevant to EBS in-water training, despite lack of history, they will undertake clinical examination and/or lung function testing and/or other relevant tests considered appropriate.

Some conditions that might affect fitness to train are:

  • Lung conditions, for example –   Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD, Pneumothorax, Sarcoidosis or a history of Bullae.
  • Ear Nose and Throat conditions, for example – difficulty in clearing their ears, tracheostomy, perforated tympanic membrane etc.


Why training has changed

Following a helicopter crash off Sumburgh in August of 2013 in which four passengers died (two from drowning, one from cardiac arrest, and one from an incapacitating head injury) the Civil Aviation Authority directed the UK oil and gas industry to introduce a more easily deployed emergency breathing system. The ‘PSTASS’ (Passenger Short-Term Air Supply System) compressed-air breathing apparatus was introduced to service for passengers on offshore helicopter flights in the UK sector of the North Sea in 2015.

Silica medicals extended across our clinic network

We’re delighted to announce that silica medicals are now available at every one of our 15 clinics across the UK.

The railway industry is becoming increasingly aware of the dangers for workers caused by dust in ballast, which contains silica particles.

It’s a threat to health that some have likened to the danger from asbestos – and employers have reacted responsibly, to avert a similar long-term health catastrophe.

How it effects workers?

Workers inhale silica dust when handling ballast as well as when they drill into concrete, bricks or tiles and also it is a real risk in many common construction situations. Last year, Volker Rail won a Railstaff Award for their initiative, “Positive Intervention to Control Exposure to Ballast Dust”.

Nowadays rail companies are working closely with occupational health providers, ensuring their testing includes specific silica tests to maintain a high level of commitment to staff safety.

Express Medicals Ltd tests for silicosis and related conditions at clinics throughout the UK, and is seeing an increase in customer requests.

“Testing for silicosis is an important feature of railway medicals. We work closely with a number of companies to ensure workers are silica free, or to find out if they should receive early intervention as well as treatment if we find they’ve been exposed to levels that might cause harm,” explains Dr Dan Hegarty, CEO of Express Medicals Ltd.

“We anticipate a significant rise in the number of these medicals throughout 2018 as awareness of the various diseases caused by dust-borne particles continues to be of concern. It’s vital to test early, to help prevent the onset of silicosis.”

Silicosis is a serious lung disease, which has an affect on any worker who breathes in silica dust. In most cases the condition develops over a long period of time. If a large amount of silica is inhaled over a short period of time, then it’s possible to suffer from a rapid onset acute form of silicosis. Sufferers usually present with a cough and increasing breathing difficulties upon exercise.


There is an increased incidence of some other medical problems in people diagnosed with silicosis including:

  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) which also causes breathing difficulties
  • RA (rheumatoid arthritis)
  • TB (tuberculosis)
  • Lung cancer.

Thus, the role of correct PPE, including well-fitting face masks, is paramount.

A good occupational health provider will also help employers ensure they’re meeting their requirements under the COSHH Regulations 2002. This is done by contributing to briefing sessions to advise on occupational lung diseases, including silicosis. What is silicosis? How does it affect sufferers? What does it do to the lungs? How is breathing disturbed? Why is it associated with some other medical conditions? Is it very dangerous? How quickly does it develop? Is it likely to interfere with fitness and the ability to work? Is forced retirement inevitable?


At Express Medicals we have created a four point process to assist managers. You should consider:

1). How best to educate your workers about the risks from silica?

2). Who to include in your health surveillance programme?

3). Who to appoint as the responsible person to organise and oversee the programme?

4). The appointment of an OH provider.

The OH provider will act as a significant advisory partner to your health & safety staff and the management team. Its services will include questionnaires, medical examinations, chest X-rays (when appropriate) and liaison with GPs / other health professionals. A provider like Express Medicals will be skilled in handling situations in which silicosis (or any other occupational disease) is detected.

The role of an occupational health provider in relation to silicosis falls within the much wider remit of health & wellbeing and health surveillance. The benefits of providing health & wellbeing services are increasingly recognised by employers. When helping to protect the health of a workforce, such services positively affect morale, retention and performance in any company. A workforce that is cared for will be more motivated, more efficient as well as boost company performance.

A good occupational health provider will provide valuable up-to-date information for your health and safety staff as well as the management team. They are essential partners in developing effective health and wellbeing programmes, to ensure staff are motivated and efficient.

For further information about occupational health services, please contact us on our website or call us directly in the office. 

workhealth@expressmedicals.co.uk

020 7500 6900

Dr Dan Hegarty, CEO of Express Medicals Ltd, has more than 21 years’ experience of occupational health in the railway sector.

The Health and Safety Executive [HSE] provides helpful information on its website.

A very useful HSE guidance leaflet is ‘G404. Health surveillance for those exposed to respirable crystalline silica (RCS)’.

Sugar, sugar

As part of Diabetes Week, our medical staff was out and about with clients, testing their staff for blood sugar levels. This is where we discovered some surprises.

Lifestyle, diet and exercise levels all affect the onset of Type 2 Diabetes. Whether it’s four sugars in four teas a day, multiple energy drinks to kick start your day or unhealthy fast foods on the way home.

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MORE LIFE – LESS STRESS!

I was delighted to answer the call from Express Medicals Limited looking for specialist input as part of ‘Stress Awareness Week’. One of their clients, Dragados, had asked for a speaker to help everyone understand the subject of stress, what it does and how to tackle it.

It was an early start at Bank underground station: the talks started at 7.30am. Their questions and interaction were fascinating – here I’m revisiting some of the key points I made, so that you can read what I covered too.

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The fun of walking

When we think of exercise we think of sports, the typical but structured process of a regular routine. Either where we join other people or work out in the gym on our own. This requires a lot of effort and often doesn’t suit us all.

Instead, think of a simple process: moving more often!

Many of us are far more sedentary than is good for us. If going to a gym or organised sport feels too much of a commitment, aim for something simpler!

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