Defibrillators Save Lives in Your Workplace & Community

Also known as an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), a Defibrillator is a device that restores a normal heartbeat – by sending an electric pulse or shock to the heart – in the case cardiac arrest or if the heart suddenly stops.

AEDs, which are in many public spaces, were developed to save the lives of people experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. While even untrained bystanders can use these devices in an emergency, defibrillator training is recommended for workplaces, communities and individuals.

How does an AED Work?

An AED is a lightweight, battery-operated, portable device that checks the heart’s rhythm and sends a shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm.

Sticky pads with sensors (electrodes) are attached to the chest of someone who is having cardiac arrest. The electrodes send information about the person’s heart rhythm to a computer in the AED, which then analyses the heart rhythm to find out whether an electric shock is needed. If needed, the electrodes deliver the shock.

Signs of Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac arrest is a serious cardiac event that occurs when the heart stops pumping blood around the body. A person suffering a cardiac arrest will stop breathing and lose consciousness almost immediately.

For many people, a cardiac arrest comes without any warning signs. However, some people do experience some warning signs before a cardiac arrest. These can include:

  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations
  • Fainting
  • Breathlessness.

Someone who has already had a cardiac arrest will be:

  • Unconscious
  • Unresponsive
  • Not breathing.

Using a Defibrillator in an Emergency

A person whose heart stops from sudden cardiac arrest must get help within 10 minutes to survive. Fainting is usually the first sign of sudden cardiac arrest.

If you think someone may be in cardiac arrest, try the following steps:

  • If you see a person faint or if you find a person already unconscious, first confirm that the person cannot respond. The person may not move, or his or her movements may look like a seizure.
  • You can shout at or gently shake the person to make sure he or she is not sleeping, but never shake an infant or young child. Instead, you can gently pinch the child to try to wake him or her up.
  • Check the person’s breathing and pulse. If the person is not breathing and has no pulse or has an irregular heartbeat, prepare to use the AED as soon as possible.

If someone is having sudden cardiac arrest, using an AED and giving CPR can save that person’s life. When using an AED:

  • Call 1-1-1. 
  • If two rescuers are present, one can provide CPR while the other calls 1-1-1 and retrieves an AED.
  • Ensure the area around the person is clear. If a bystander touches the person, this could interfere with the AED’s reading of the person’s heart.
  • If an electric pulse or shock is needed to restore a normal rhythm, the AED uses voice prompts to tell you when and how to give the shock, and electrodes deliver it. Some AEDs can deliver more than one shock with increasing energy.
  • The device may instruct you to start CPR again after delivering the shock.

AED Training

Knowing how to operate an AED could save someone’s life. In fact, every minute defibrillation is delayed, the chances of survival for someone experiencing cardiac arrest decrease by 10%.

AED defibrillator training is recommended for workplaces, communities and individuals. While defibrillators are easy to use – with many now including voice prompts to help rescuers navigate the situation – nothing can replace hands-on training to increase confidence in using a defibrillator, and help you use one as quickly as possible.

TriEx offers practical defibrillator training – including where you can find an AED, when to send for one and when and how to use it. We also cover important topics such as patient preparation, current CPR processes, and patient dignity and privacy.

Finding an AED

It’s estimated that there are around 9,000 AED devices publically available throughout New Zealand. TriEx has an AED in our foyer, which is available to the public in case of an emergency in the area.

To find an AED in your location, we recommend heading to the AED Locations website, or downloading the app (available for Android and iPhone). AED Locations offers easy-to-use search functionality to help you find the nearest publically accessible defibrillator in an emergency.

If your workplace is interested in having an AED onsite, Alsco offers a Rented Defibrillator service – which is a great alternative to purchasing a defibrillator outright.

 

To learn more about renting a defibrillator for your workplace, visit the Alsco website.

To learn more about Defibrillator training or to book a training session for you team, please contact the TriEx team on 0800 487 439 or via email at enquiries@triex.co.nz.

Helping Your Team Beat the Back to Work Blues

It’s official – Kiwis are now back at work after what might feel like an all-too-brief summer break. Gone are the days of lazy morning lay-ins and vacation sightseeing as staff ditch jandals and shorts for work attire, and get back behind their desks and tools.

The first week or two back at work is widely recognised by employees (and even psychologists) as one of the most melancholy times of the year, with many dubbing the third Monday in January Blue Monday, given it’s the day many teams return to ‘the grind’ after an extended break.

The feeling of gloom can be compounded by the post-Christmas financial hangover, the consequences of silly-season over-indulgence, and the guilt that those best-intentioned New Year Resolutions have already fallen by the wayside.

It’s little wonder January is regarded as a peak month for job searching!

The good news is, you can help you team start fresh in January and enjoy getting back into the swing of things. Employers have a responsibility to help staff maintain wellbeing at work, but focusing on workplace wellness is not only the ethical thing to do this time of year – it’s also the smartest thing to do for your bottom line, given the benefits your business will reap.

We’ve compiled a list of ideas to help employers support staff to beat the back to work blues and kick the start of the work year off on a positive note.

1. A Balanced Workload

January can be a busy time for businesses that have closed down over Christmas, and while it’s important for staff to have a busy routine that offers purpose, overloading your staff with work can have a negative impact on their stress levels and wellbeing. Check in with your team on their work in progress and focus on prioritizing tasks, so they have a handle on which jobs are the most important.

Prioritising your team’s workload or schedule is a great way to ensure staff don’t feel overwhelmed. Balance is the key – staff want to be occupied (as not being busy enough can lead to boredom and fatigue), but they also want achievable tasks and goals.

2. Ease-In Hours

If your team has been on an extended break over Christmas and New Year, recognise it can be tough for staff to get back into the swing on things and consider implementing ‘ease-in’ hours the first week or two back in the office!

Giving staff the opportunity to start an hour later in the morning, finish a couple of hours earlier in the day, or take Friday afternoons off is a great way to show your team you’re supportive of their workplace wellbeing. Studies show that shortened hours can actually boost productivity levels, so what’s good for your staff is also good for business!

3. Supportive Management

Managers should strive to be actively interested in the physical and mental wellbeing of employees, and create an environment of open dialogue around wellbeing at work. Encourage employees to share their thoughts around wellbeing within your organisation, and support management to be receptive to staff input.

As a company, it’s important to recognise that all employees are all different, and there is no one-size-fits-all solutions when it comes to wellbeing in the workplace. Considering the needs of individual employees, and showing you business is actively working towards supporting those needs, is a great consideration for your workplace wellness strategy.

4. Autonomy & Ownership

Research shows that employees having a sense of ownership and control in their job is vital to wellbeing. While this may not always seem easy, depending on your industry, some out-of-the-box thinking and suggestions from employees on how they can have more autonomy in their work can make a big difference. Something as simple as having your staff decide when they take their breaks, or giving them more say over their shift patterns and daily start times, can foster a great sense of ownership in the workplace. Not only is this great in terms of wellbeing – it can also increase productivity, since staff who feel in control of their own work tend to be happier and more effective.

5. Time for Fun

A happy and engaged working environment is an important piece of the workplace wellness pie, and making time for fun during office hours is an easy way to increase employee engagement and satisfaction. Schedule a team lunch on ‘Hump Day’, call it quits early on Thursday and head out for a team dinner, or plan an out-of-office activity the first Friday back, such as bowling, a family picnic (as many of your staff will be dealing with childcare before school starts back), or a round of mini golf.

Planning something for your staff to look forward to during the first week or two back is a great way to support workplace wellbeing – and these social engagements work double-time as a team-building exercise, fostering a tighter-knit team to be taken back into the workplace.

December Newsletter

The countdown is on — and with just 8 days to go until Christmas, the TriEx team is busy wrapping things up for 2019, and planning ahead for 2020!

We know how busy the last couple of weeks of December can be, so we’ve keep our latest email short and sweet. Mark your calendar with our Christmas break holiday dates, discover some useful reminders on health and safety for your staff Christmas party, and share some festive season road safety tips with your team to help them stay safe over the break. You’ll also find more info on our 2020 Workplace Flu Vaccination Programme, and our 2020 Workplace Training Calendars for those of you taking this time to plan ahead for the New Year.

Read the full email online for more info!

H&S Reminders for Your Team Christmas Party

The law requires employers to ensure the health and safety of staff in their workplace, so far as reasonably practical… but did you know this responsibility also extends to the work Christmas do – even if it’s off-site and outside of normal business hours?

Yes indeed – employers organising Christmas parties still need to be aware of their health and safety responsibilities, regardless of where the event is hosted, and whether it’s inside or outside a company’s normal hours of operation.

Business owners and senior managers may be liable if a worker is injured, harmed or harassed at the festive season staff party, and a business must allow employees to take paid sick leave (providing they have the days available) if they injure themselves at a work Christmas party. Even if the injury was a result of the employee’s own… negligence.

Sharing a few bottles of bubbly and some good food is a tradition for many Kiwi businesses celebrating the end of year – and there’s no reason your business can’t continue to enjoy the holiday cheer with a little forethought.

Here are our tips for celebrating the festive season with your team, while avoiding a health and safety hangover in the New Year.

#1 Remind Staff to Have Fun, But Act Responsibly

Intoxication doesn’t only have the potential to lead to injuries – it can also increase instances of harassment, so remind staff of appropriate standards of conduct for your event. You can do this without coming across like a stick in the mud – a quick email around or a notice up in the staff room using health and safety slogans like “look after your mates” is a good way to get the message across. A light-hearted reminder of what’s appropriate and what isn’t will set the right tone, so remind people that nobody likes to be sworn at, groped, assaulted or subjected to discrimination, and that drinking responsibly will reduce the risk of this type of behaviour.

#2 Know Your Legal Obligations Around Alcohol

Whether you’re having a barbecue and a couple of beers at the workplace or going to the local pub, be sure you follow the law around serving alcohol, and ensure no-one drinks alcohol who shouldn’t (for example, staff aged under 18).

#3 Offer Alcohol Free Alternatives

Make sure you provide low-alcohol options and alcohol-free alternatives. Not only will there be some members of your team who prefer not to drink, but having alcohol-free options will help to encourage staff to pace themselves and drink responsibly. Not everyone will want to imbibe at the Christmas party, so ask for volunteers who are happy to act as a “sober buddy” for anyone who needs help during the event. Encourage staff to pace themselves throughout the function. You could even make a game out of having everyone make every second or third drink a glass of water.

#4 Food, Glorious Food

Provide plenty of food, including healthy options. A meal won’t completely negate the effects of alcohol, but it will help. Alcohol is absorbed through the stomach wall. The less food in someone’s tummy, the faster any alcohol they consume will enter their blood stream. The faster alcohol is absorbed, the bigger the impact it has upon someone’s liver, digestive system, kidneys, and cardiovascular system. Ensure your team eats before they drink – particularly foods rich in natural fat (think salmon and avocado, not pizza and burgers), which further slows down alcohol absorption.

#5 Games & Activities

Have a couple of fun activities planned for the staff party so drinking is not the sole focus of the event. It might be a Christmas-themed or ‘know your team mates’ quiz or the opening of your secret Santa gifts if you’re at a restaurant, some karaoke or dancing if you’re at the pub. Planning your event around a particular activity is a great way to take the focus off drinking, so take the team out for bowling, golf, a local concert, cart racing or something else a little different, followed by dinner.

#6 Limit the Quantity of Alcohol Available

Limit the amount of free alcohol on offer to discourage excess consumption and intoxication, or include 1 or 2 drinks on the company tab and let staff know they’ll need to pay for any extra out of their own pocket. Avoid activities or games that encourage excessive alcohol consumption (beer pong is definitely out) and ensure any alcohol is served by trained bar staff, as opposed to a free for all. As mentioned above, call for “sober buddy” volunteers to keep an eye on consumption levels and the wellbeing of their teammates, or nominate a member of your management team. Some organisations impose a drink limit if they know their employees tend to overindulge, and refuse to serve anyone that appears to be intoxicated.

#7 Safe Transport Options

One of the greatest risks to health and safety is transport home at the end of the night, so organise taxis, Ubers or sober drivers to ensure people get home safely after your event. Paying for staff to taxi, Uber or bus home will ensure they’re not tempted to jump behind the wheel if they’ve had ‘just’ a couple of beers. Offer an incentive for staff willing to sober drive their workmates, such as a petrol or grocery voucher.

A little planning goes a long way, so consider the impact on your business and your team, and take your health and safety best practices – and good old fashioned common sense – with you to the Christmas party to result in a great event!

Christmas 2019 Holiday Hours

A New Year is right around the corner, so our team will be taking a well-deserved break to rest and recharge over the holidays!

TriEx will be closed from 5pm, Friday 20th December 2019 — reopening on Monday 13th January 2020.

For urgent enquiries, a skeleton team will be available from Thursday 9th January.

Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
The team at TriEx

Road Safety During the Festive Season

The health and safety of your team doesn’t stop when they leave the workplace. While you may not be responsible for your team’s wellbeing outside of work, reminding them to stay safe during the vacation break will help ensure your workforce is fit, healthy and ready to return to work after the New Year.

We’ve compiled a few useful summer road safety reminders below. Flick them around your team before you finish up for the 2019 Christmas break!

Summer Road Safety

Drivers should take extra care when travelling in holiday periods due to increased traffic volumes, fatigue and people driving in unfamiliar environments.

Other factors that can increase your risk on the road over the holidays, according to the New Zealand Transport Agency, include:

  • Increased stress from factors such as heat, traffic jams and noisy children
  • Decreased road safety vigilance (speeding, driving when tired, not buckling up) when people are in holiday mode
  • Increased instances of drink-driving

How to be Road Safe this Summer

Whether you’re nipping a few suburbs over to visit family and friends, or taking a longer trip to explore some of New Zealand’s beautiful sights, it’s important to give the road the attention and respect it deserves this summer.

Plan Ahead

  • Take just a few minutes to make sure your vehicle is safe before beginning your journey
  • Plan your driving to avoid the worst peak traffic periods, when many highways become congested
  • Allow yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. Take plenty of rest stops make the drive part of your holiday

Have Your Vehicle Checked

Book in a pre-Christmas check or service with your mechanic. Most garages also offer safety checks for tyre tread and pressure, lights, brakes and cooling systems. A well-tuned vehicle is more fuel efficient, so planning head will save you money on fuel costs in the long run.

Pack Smarter

When packing your vehicle for a trip away, ensure everything is securely stowed. Loose objects can become dangerous projectiles in the event of a sudden stop or crash (even relatively small items), so take care to secure all of your family’s gear.

Drive to the Conditions

Driving to the conditions is vital – but it doesn’t only refer to the weather. When driving to the conditions, consider: 

  • The road you’re on
  • Traffic congestion
  • Your vehicle and load
  • Your alertness – if you’re tired, this will affect your driving

Be Mindful of Fatigue

Fatigue can be deadly when you’re driving. Plan to get enough rest before you set out on the road, and take regular breaks throughout your trip. Stop at rest areas to take in the view and stretch your legs, or take a couple of half-hour sojourns at one of the towns on your route to grab a coffee and a bite to eat.

Be Courteous and Keep Your Cool

Holiday driving can be frustrating when the roads are busy, the temperature rises, and out-of-town travellers drive slower to check road signs. One of the most important aspects of summer vacation driving is to be courteous to other drivers, and to keep any signs of travel stress in check.

  • Keep left unless passing
  • Be courteous and let others drivers merge into traffic
  • Remember to indicate before turning or changing lanes
  • If you’re on an unfamiliar road and driving a little slower, pull over when you can to let others pass
  • Be patient with other drivers on the road, including trucks and towing vehicles who have lower speed limits
  • Don’t be provoked by other drivers’ aggressive behaviour
  • Never overtake unless it’s safe to do so. When traffic is busy, wait for a passing lane
  • Keep an eye out for cyclists and give them plenty of space
  • On country roads, be mindful of rural traffic (such as tractors) and horses

Remember the Two-Second Rule

Always keep a safe following distance between your car and the vehicle in front. This gives you a safe stopping distance should the vehicle in front of you stop suddenly.

Watch Out for Summer ‘Ice’

Few drivers have heard of summer ice, but it’s a hazard that is common over the Christmas and New Year period – resulting in conditions similar to the black ice experienced in winter.

During long dry spells, dust, dirt, oil and other materials can build up on the road’s surface. When it rains, the road surface becomes greasy – making it very slippery. Even a little rain after several days of dry weather can trigger these conditions, creating a potential danger for unsuspecting drivers.

If the road is wet after a long dry spell, be summer ice smart by:

  • Allowing extra travel time
  • Reducing your speed
  • Taking extra care on curves
  • Increasing your following distance from vehicles in front of you
  • Braking and steering gently

Find more driver safety information and tips via the New Zealand Transport Agency website.

November Newsletter

Summer, the festive season and the New Year break are right around the corner! With many organisations tackling the end of year rush, we’ve included our top tips for Christmas stress busting below, and have one final Psychological First Aid course scheduled for 2019.

Helping Kiwi businesses take care of the health and wellbeing of their teams is what we do best, and TriEx’s focus on mental health and emotional wellbeing is an important part of our offering. Check out our November newsletter online for more info.

Case Study: Supporting the Emotional Wellbeing of SkyCity Staff

SkyCity’s Health and Safety team performed exceptionally while safeguarding the physical and emotional wellbeing of its staff during the events of last month’s fire. TriEx was proud to support them through the first response phase, with two of our Christchurch-based team members going above and beyond to provide additional support and expertise.

SkyCity contacted our team the day the fire began with a request for us to send support. As luck would have it, Donevon Viljoen was already in Auckland with plans to teach a first aid course that day. Fellow First Aid InstructorRick Eisenhart joined him shortly after, boarding a plane from Christchurch within hours to land in Auckland that evening.

Donevon and Rick’s vast experience in first aid and psychological first aid training proved invaluable during this time – as did their backgrounds; with Donevon having worked as a Paramedic in South Africa, and Rick having 35+ years’ of fire fighting experience both in New Zealand and abroad. The pair worked tirelessly over five busy days (and nights!), with a key focus on providing emotional support and techniques to relieve anxiety and stress to the hundreds of SkyCity staff onsite.

“The key thing for us was to touch base with the staff and talk to them about how they were doing,” said Rick, who described SkyCity’s response in dealing with the incident as “absolutely fabulous”.

Donevon agreed that the efficient management of the response efforts – and SkyCity’s transparency and willingness to provide TriEx with all-areas access – ensured the best possible outcomes for staff onsite.

“As soon as we arrived onsite, we met with Peter Hayes (Group GM Health and Safety SkyCity) who was running the health and safety response for the precinct. 

“We were briefed about what SkyCity’s response was and what was expected of us, and then Rick and I began the task of briefing staff returning to the precinct about the measures being taken to ensure their safety and wellbeing. A significant part of this was talking them through the kinds of emotional responses they could expect re-entering an evacuated area.”

Kitted out in hi-vis gear, which is ordinarily not allowed on casino premises, Rick and Donevon made themselves visible and available to all SkyCity staff across all different shift patterns, including security, dealers, cleaning staff, kitchen staff and reception.

“After walking through the entire facility and being briefed by one of New Zealand’s leading Occupational Hygienists, Derek Miller, we were able to reassure staff that no particulates had been found in any of the tests conducted, and that the site was safe,” said Rick.

“It was really important to acknowledge that it was completely normal for them not to be feeling right, and encourage them to talk about their thoughts and concerns, and really listen to them. Sometimes we’d break the ice with a funny handshake, and that injection of humour was just what some of the staff needed to feel a bit more relaxed.

“We started with a briefing on how they would feel being back onsite, and then we’d continue to touch base with staff throughout the casino each day. We spent entire days walking around the site and just talking with people, and walking them through different techniques to relieve stress and anxiety. We’d circle back past employees later in the day and see them practicing the techniques we’d shown them, so it was really cool to see them putting that into action.”

Rick and Donevon understood the importance of looking after their own wellbeing throughout the course of the 120-hour fortnight – making it a priority to walk around outside and catch up for a debrief at the end of each day.

“It was a real team effort,” said Rick. “Anatoly, who is also a First Aid Instructor at TriEx, was supposed to be on leave. He changed his schedule to fill the gaps our absence at training courses left, which we really appreciated.

“TriEx management blocked out a day for us after our return to Christchurch, so the entire team was really supportive.”

All of us at TriEx would like to extend a huge THANK YOU to Rick and Donevon for their incredible effort in support of SkyCity’s health and safety team and SkyCity staff. Your care, compassion and wisdom is an amazing resource for our clients!

Seasonal Stress Busting Tips

Christmas is widely regarded as the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be a time when stress levels soar. There’s often personal pressure to create the picture-perfect holiday, added financial strain and even increased family conflict – not to mention more stress at work thanks to holiday-shortened deadlines, anxious clients and customers, and frenzied end-of-year workloads.

Feeling overwhelmed by an increased To Do list, disappointed by unrealistic expectations and worried about money are some of the chief symptoms of the holiday blues – and with some retailers promoting the season as early as October, fatigue can begin to set in even earlier.

Most of us are aware of the adverse effects that stress can have on our emotional and physical wellbeing. In fact, studies have shown a correlation in the increased occurrence of heart attacks during the festive season, which may be due to increased stress, combined with heavy alcohol consumption and a fattier-than-usual diet.

Whether you’re looking for ideas to reduce your own holiday stress levels, or to help get your workers through the added pressure of the festive season, we’ve put together some top tips to help stop silly season stress in its tracks.

At Home: Be Mindful of Finances 

Financial strain is one of the leading causes of stress during the holiday season – but an increasing number of families are bucking this trend by focusing on spending less, and putting their focus on time together over gifts, extravagant decorations, and belly-boggling feasts. Something everyone can do to limit financial stress is set a budget, and making an effort to manage impulse spending. 

At Work: Go for a Walk

Getting away from your desk and going to a brisk walk is a good idea year round – but it’s especially important in the lead-up to Christmas, when stress-levels and workplace pressures are higher. Get away from your desk and take a walk around the block on your break. Exercise of any kind produces endorphins, and even a short stroll has been shown to reboot the brain in such a way that it reduces its response to stress.

At Home and At Work: Avoid Overindulging

‘Tis the season to eat, drink and be merry, and we can feel surrounded by extravagant foods and drinks at this time of year! Workmates bring Christmas cookies in to share and family members drop in for pre-Christmas drinks… and while all that merrymaking can seem like a nice treat in the short-term, those added glasses of wine and sugary treats can actually work against you by increasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Don’t avoid a indulging altogether – just be treat-wise and stay mindful of portion sizes.

At Home: Kids’ Expectations

Managing the expectations of children at this time of year is never easy – particularly when it seems they’re surrounded by festive hype. Remind children that Christmas is about being together, and that they won’t receive everything on their wishlist to Santa. 

At Work: Prioritise Your To Do List

Christmas is the biggest holiday of the year in New Zealand – and it comes at rather an inconvenient time, being so close to end of year deadlines! Many workers spend December in a frenzy, attempting to complete reports and projects that have been left on the back burner… all the while aware that not everything is going to be marked as complete.

This year, prioritise your workload – deciding which tasks absolutely MUST be done before Santa’s sleigh bells ring, and which less urgent jobs can be dealt with in January, if need be. Talk through your workload, timelines and suggested priorities with your boss or manager so ensure you’re both on the same page, and to give them a chance to re-delegate as needed.

At Home and At Work: Delegate!

Workload and stress are clearly linked, and regular day-to-day demands (cooking, paid work, school runs) don’t stop just because Christmas is fast approaching. If anything – because workplaces and schools shut down over the break– those demands can actually increase, with seasonal tasks such as gift buying and decorating heaped on top.

Trying to achieve everything alone during the holidays can take its toll on your mind and body, so be sure to delegate at home and at work. Share out silly season tasks such as grocery shopping with other family members, or make decorating the tree a fun, shared event rather than a chore. At work, ask for help when you need it! Colleagues and co-workers with lighter workloads will be more than happy to pitch in and lend a hand.

At Home: Sleep

Research shows few adults get the recommended 8-hours of sleep each night, but being well-rested is particularly important during times of increased stress! If there’s just one thing you take away from these tips on managing stress, let this one be it. A lack of sleep affects your mood, diet and quality of work, so don’t stay up all night finishing last-minute reports at home, or wrapping presents. 

At Work: Ditch Secret Santa

Secret Santa is great in theory… but in reality, many workers feel they simply don’t have the time or resources to complete all their usual holiday-related tasks – let alone throw gift purchasing for someone they may not know all that well into the mix! Surveys have shown that Secret Santa shopping can add to feelings of anxiety among employees, because it’s just one more personal task to do, and it can be hard finding a ‘thoughtful’ and clever gift within a $5, $10 or $20 budget. If Secret Santa is a tradition in your workplace, consider gifting staff an hour off during the workweek to shop. 

At Home and At Work: Have Fun!

They say laughter is the best medicine, and for good reason. Laughter lightens your mood, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, boosts circulation, releases endorphins, and – here’s the kicker – lessens the physical symptoms associated with stress. That all means savouring positive experiences, and giving yourself permission to have a little fun at home and at work, will help you get through those more stressful situations this festive season. 

Have 5-minutes before your next meeting starts? Find a Christmas meme and email it to your team. Take a couple of hours this weekend to sit down with your loved ones– or during some much-needed YOU time – and watch a Christmas movie. Pop a Christmas playlist on at work, or bake some festive cookies at home. The point is to decompress and get your to-do list off your mind for 5-minutes.

SkyCity Fire Highlights Importance of Managing Exposure to Airborne Contaminants

Following last month’s SkyCity fire, air quality experts have estimated the event caused a spike in particulate levels in Queen St air to more than five times national air quality standards. Smoke from the fire carried a combination of particles, burnt bitumen, wood smoke, and smoke from other building materials – resulting in tiny toxic particles potentially being drawn into the lungs and blood vessels of Aucklanders exposed. 

The event and subsequent air quality research serves as a timely reminder of the hazards of particulate spikes, which, at that level, could increase the risk of stroke, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. It also highlights the importance of Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) for New Zealand workers who may be exposed to harmful substances, such as isocyanates, dusts and asbestos.

TriEx offers a variety of air quality and related health services, including lung function testing and Respirator Fit Testing and education.

Spirometry

Spirometry is an office test measuring lung function by testing the amount of air you inhale, how much air you exhale and how fast you exhale. It’s useful in diagnosing breathing conditions by measuring the speed your lungs can be filled and emptied of air – giving an indication of how well your lungs are performing.

TriEx offers lung function tests – including spirometry – for employees who are exposed to contaminants in the air that could affect lung function.

What does Lung Function Testing Include?

  • Assessment of the employee’s past and present air contaminant history (includes recreational)

Full diagnostic Spirometry

Explanation of the results to the employee

Education on responsibility to protect

Assessment of their respiratory protection to comply with your annual audit of PPE

Lung Function Testing Helps You:

  • Identify employees at risk from hazardous air contaminants in the workplace
  • Comply with the ‘Approved Code of Practice for the Safe Use of Isocyanates’ and ‘Workplace Exposure Standards’
  • Take necessary action with regard to respiratory protection

What can Employees Expect During Their Test?

Spirometry tests are straightforward and will usually only take around 15 minutes. The test involves taking a full breath in and blowing out with your best effort into a tube attached to the spirometer machine.

To ensure accuracy, the test will be performed three times, and employees will be asked to:

  • Breathe in as deeply as they can
  • Seal their lips around the mouthpiece
  • Blow out as hard and fast as they can, and keep going as long as possible.

Spirometry tests may cause employees to feel a bit puffed, but usually it is not uncomfortable.  

If your workers are likely to be exposed to airborne contaminants, you will need to undertake air monitoring for chemical and dust exposure.

Respirator Fit Testing

Respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is a type of personal protective equipment (PPE) that guards workers from breathing in substances hazardous to health. 

Airborne substances harmful to health can be in found dust, mist, vapour or gas form, and employees may or may not be able to see these in the air. Common health effects from breathing hazardous substances may include headaches, forgetfulness, drowsiness, feeling dizzy and sick, mood changes, and eye and skin irritation. Effects can be short and long-term, with long-term effects including sleep disorders, memory loss, cancer, organ damage, fertility problems and death. 

If anyone in your team wears Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) then as the PCBU you must provide information, training or instruction on how to correctly use, wear, store and maintain the RPE.

RPE Fit Testing Requirements

Fit testing is required by AS/NZS 1715 before a respirator is worn in the workplace to ensure workers are wearing properly fitting RPE, with an effective seal to the face. 

A fit test should be conducted:

  • Upon the issue of RPE, 
  • Whenever a different size, style, model or make of respirator is used
  • When any facial changes occur that could affect fit, such as significant weight changes or significant dental work

RPE fit tests should also be conducted at least annually to ensure fit remains correct. TriEx recommends fit testing alongside annual health monitoring, where our Occupational Health Nurses discuss respiratory history and exposure history an perform lung function testing.

What is Involved in RPE Fit Testing?

TriEx carries out Qualitative Fit Testing for half face respirators used in environments where the hazard is less than 10 times the workplace exposure standard.

A sensitivity test is completed without RPE under a hood. The RPE is then worn and either a bitter or sweet solution is introduced whilst the worker carries out a variety of activities for one minute each including:

  • Normal breathing
  • Deep breathing
  • Moving head side to side
  • Moving head up and down
  • Bending over (or jogging in place)
  • Talking
  • Normal breathing again

RPE Education

Education is given as part of TriEx’s RPE Fit Testing service. This education includes care and maintenance of respiratory equipment and how to fit check RPE.

Contact TriEx today to learn more about lung function testing and RPE fit testing and education. Our experts can advise you on the most appropriate services to meet your business needs.