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IOBAC calls for help to explore virus solution 09/04/2020

TECHNOLOGY COMPANY, IOBAC Ltd, is calling for help to explore the potential for Far Infrared (FIR) heating to help prevent and fight RNA viruses, including coronavirus (COVID-19).

A study in progress

The move follows IOBAC’s recent investigation into the availability of scientific studies on the proven health benefits of FIR. This research unearthed a landmark preprint study from En-Jing, Li (Office of Environmental Protection and Office of Radiation Protection, Peking) and Wei-Hong Huang (State Key Laboratory of Molecular Developmental Biology) published in February 2020: Instability of Nucleic Acids in Airborne Microorganisms under Far Infrared Radiation.1 The study, which will potentially be published in a journal in June for peer review and analysis, investigated the effect of FIR radiation on the inhibition of airborne microorganisms. 

FIR impact on viruses

Infrared radiation is an invisible form of electromagnetic energy, the wavelength of which is longer than that of visible light; too long to be perceived by our eyes. The human body experiences its energy as a gentle radiant heat which can penetrate up to 4cm beneath the skin. Its benefits? In short, it enhances the immune system by stimulating the body’s metabolism and production of white blood cells to help fight infections.

As well as historical evidence of how previous viruses, such as SARS and Spanish flu, have been negatively impacted by an increased intensity of sunshine,2 there are also early hints that higher temperatures are linked to lower incidence of COVID-193.

Infrared radiation does not heat the air, which means all of this radiation’s energy is used on heating any objects and surfaces in the infrared radiation zone.  Viruses may simply overheat in infrared radiation and die. Indeed, previous research on the SARS virus showed that “heating and UV irradiation can efficiently eliminate the viral infectivity.”4

A summary of En-Jing, Li and Wei-Hong Huang findings is as follows:

The result confirmed that double strand DNA from airborne microorganisms were stable under mild FIR radiation. However, single strand RNA was found to be sensitive to FIR radiation, indicating that RNA virus in airborne particles is instable under FIR radiation. Based on this observation, two models on the usage of FIR radiation to prevent RNA virus transmission and cure RNA virus infection were proposed, implying that FIR radiation might be a cheap, convenient, and efficient method [of eliminating single strand RNA viruses] (p.2).

A call to arms

“By no means are we saying that FIR is the silver bullet for fighting COVID-19,” explains Paul Woolvine, CEO of IOBAC Ltd. “But, as this preprint study suggests, its ability to act as a complementary therapy in the fight against airborne microorganisms can’t be ignored; it must warrant serious consideration.

“We’re therefore putting the call out to any potential partners with the ability to put this technology through the necessary tests and clinical trials with the aim of (hopefully) putting it to good use in the fightback against RNA viruses, including COVID-19. The technology is ready and waiting. We just need an organisation with the knowledge and expertise to confirm its efficacy and put it to use in the healthcare industry.” 

Technology at the ready

As well as fighting RNA viruses, established research suggests that FIR can help to reduce joint pain and inflammation by improving blood circulation via deep penetration of the skin and underlying tissues. It’s also said to encourage growth of healthy cells; prevent damp and mould; reduce allergens; provide arthritis pain relief; enhance sleep effects; and offer cardiovascular benefits.5

FIR treatment methods can be divided into two categories according to clinical implementation in general. The first is FIR dry sauna therapy. The second is a FIR emitter composed of electrified ceramic plates placed 20 cm above a patient applying low energy to increase skin temperature steadily.6 This is, potentially, where IOBAC and this technology comes in. 

“IOBAC has a patent pending on a Far Infrared (FIR) heating system using graphene-based technology in various formats, including super-conducting coatings and ceramics,” continues Paul. “The technology works via a DC supply and incorporates a wall-mounted temperature control system. It’s integral to whatever surface it’s applied to and can be powered by renewable energy sources. It’s very quick and easy to set up as well.”

For more information, visit www.iobac.com

References

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CPS brings coronavirus criminals to justice 09/04/2020

A NUMBER of people who have spat or coughed at emergency workers, or exploited coronavirus for their own gain, have been charged and prosecuted recently.

Max Hill, Director of Public Prosecutions, has made it clear that anyone using coronavirus to threaten emergency and essential workers would face criminal charges, as a snapshot of the cases the CPS has charged and prosecuted recently shows.

Spitting or coughing on essential workers

Here's a sample of some of the cases which the CPS has charged and prosecuted recently for spitting or coughing on essential workers, claiming that they have coronavirus.

  • Bevan Burke, 22, was arrested on 3 April in Leicester for breaching the terms of his licence and in the process, coughed at police officers telling them he hoped they died from the virus. He has been sentenced to 42 weeks in prison for two counts of assaulting an emergency worker and assault by beating.
  • On Friday 3 April in Newton Aycliffe, Tony Brash,33, purposely coughed on six police officers who were processing his arrest for an earlier incident when he was abusive to a shopkeeper. He pleaded guilty to assaulting an emergency worker and was given a 12-week suspended sentence.
  • Scott Crook, 29, and Stewart Motley, 29, stole £32.91 from an Alzheimer’s charity box from a closed climbing centre in Leicester on Saturday 4 April. Despite being pursued by police, Motley responded to the officer trying to arrest him by coughing directly in his face. Motley and Crook have been sentenced to a collective 44 weeks in prison as a result.
  • On 28 March when Wesley Upton, 26, was arrested for breaching a criminal order in Huntingdon, he spat at police telling them he was infected with coronavirus and hoped that everyone around him would be infected. Upton admitted his actions and was sentenced to six months in prison.
  • Patrick Delaney, 47, spat at employees in a Lidl in Warrington before spitting on police who responded to the incident on 30 March. Delaney pleaded guilty to the assault and has been jailed for 22 weeks.

As well as these horrific cases of people putting essential workers at risk by coughing or spitting at them, we have seen a number of defendants charged in relation to other offences exploiting coronavirus.

The criminals exploiting coronavirus for their own gain

Despite many people following the clear instructions to only leave your house in an emergency, a few are using the current pandemic to commit criminal offences and put others at risk.

  • Ashaq Sattar, 40, knocked on the doors of elderly and vulnerable people in Kirklees, pretending that he was an NHS volunteer and would collect their medicine for a small fee. He pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud and was sentenced to 52 weeks in prison.
  • On 28 March, Steven Mackie, 53, kept approaching people stood in a queue to get into a Tesco in Stalybridge. Despite police taking him home, 15 minutes later he returned to the same shop and was causing a nuisance. Mackie was given a £500 fine for breaching the restrictions on movement.
  • Jason Harewood, 27, pleaded guilty to contravening the requirement as to the restriction of movement during the emergency period and drug related offences, after he was caught distributing drugs on his pedal bike in Islington on Friday 3 April with no reason to be outside.
  • Kierran Stevenson, 32, was given a 12-week prison sentence after he posted on social media that he was going to go walk around a hospital in Aylesbury to see the extent of the coronavirus pandemic for himself. He then posted photos on Facebook at the hospital and images of hospital corridors on 30 March, and commented that staff were not taking safety measures seriously.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill QC, said: “Although this is only a small sample of the cases that we have prosecuted over the last week, it clearly demonstrates the number of people who are determined to break the law in the most critical of times.

“It is disappointing to see charges come in on a daily basis of hard-working police officers, NHS staff and other vital workers, being coughed or spat at, sometimes deliberately exposing them to the risk of infecting them with coronavirus.

“We take these offences immensely seriously and want to make it absolutely clear- that where there is evidence to do so, people will be prosecuted and can face up to one year in prison.

“We recently launched our interim charging protocol where we set out that any offending related to coronavirus will be treated as the highest priority, and we will not hesitate to bring offenders to justice.”

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HSE and PHASS make joint statement 09/04/2020

THIS IS an extremely worrying time for businesses and workers. We know many workers, union reps and employers have questions and concerns about safe working – especially for those continuing to attend a place of work away from their homes.

This statement by the Partnership on Health and Safety in Scotland1 (PHASS) is intended to clarify the position. The health and safety of workers remains paramount. Employers are and must continue to provide workers with information about risks to their health and the actions their employers must take.

We have high expectations of how fair work principles should be applied during the current crisis. This means an approach where workers, trade unions and employers work together constructively to reach the right decisions on all workplace issues that arise throughout this crisis.  The dimensions of fair work as defined by the Fair Work Convention: effective voice; security; respect; opportunity and fulfilment, applied to the current context, offer a framework for taking these decisions.

Social distancing is a key public health measure supported by the Scottish Government to reduce the spread of infection but certain businesses are required to close by law.  Businesses unsure of the guidance should visit: https://www.gov.scot/news/social-distancing-guidance-for-business/.  Those that can safely stay open, keeping the country running, must also follow government guidance.

Most employers are going to great lengths to ensure social distancing. PHASS wishes to publicly support these efforts.  But if it comes to the HSE’s attention that employers are not complying with the relevant public heath guidance (by enabling social distancing when it is practical to do so before personal protective measures), HSE will consider a range of actions ranging from providing specific advice to employers through to issuing enforcement notices, including prohibition notices. Local authorities also have enforcement powers in specific premises under health and safety legislation and also powers – including to be able to close non-essential businesses – under new public health Coronavirus legislation in Scotland.

Where a worker has a genuine concern about health and safety which cannot be resolved through speaking with their employer or trade union, they should contact the relevant enforcement agency – either their local authority, or the HSE through https://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/concerns.htm

———————-

1 British Occupational Hygiene Society, CBI Scotland, , Federation of Small Business, Scotland, Health and Safety in the Voluntary Sector Scotland, Heath and Safety Executive, Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, Professional Organisations in Occupational Safety and Health in Scotland, Public Health Scotland, Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland, Scottish Council for Development and Industry, Scottish Government, Scottish Hazards, Society of Chief Environmental Health Officers, Scotland, Society of Personnel Directors, Scotland, STUC.

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Agency worker dragged into press roller 08/04/2020

A MANUFACTURING company has been fined after an employee’s arm was dragged into a press roller.

Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard that on 19 June 2019, an agency worker at E.G.L. Homecare Limited suffered a severe crush injury to his arm as he attempted to remove dirt from a press roller at the address on Campfield Road, Shoeburyness. He was working on a production line that glued sponge to abrasive sheets to make scourer sponges. His job was to remove the sheets of scourer sponges from the conveyor onto a pallet when his right hand got dragged into the nip point of two in-running rollers up to his shoulder. He was diagnosed with forearm compartment syndrome, a painful condition caused by bleeding or swelling within an enclosed bundle of muscles. He had an operation on his arm and had to stay in hospital for six days.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company failed to provide a tunnel guard on the press roller to prevent access to the rollers.

E.G.L. Homecare Limited of Campfield Road, Shoeburyness has pleaded guilty of Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company has been fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,314.08.

Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Carla Barron, said, “This incident could have been avoided had the company properly assessed the guarding arrangements on the machine when it was installed. Unfortunately access to in-running rollers is a common cause of injury but it can be easily avoided by providing effective control measures such as the provision of tunnel guards.”

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Farm Safety Partnership urges caution 08/04/2020

THE FARM Safety Partnership (FSP) has urged the farming community to exercise extreme care and attention during these very challenging times.

COVID-19 has created an unprecedented situation for everyone in Northern Ireland with severe pressure being placed on our health and emergency services. No-one wants an incident on their farm but at this point in time our health service cannot cope with any additional strain being put on them, therefore the FSP are asking all farmers and their families to please stop and think SAFE before you do any job. This is especially important considering that children are out and about on our farms now more frequently and with our older family members potentially self-isolating this can put additional strain on families. You must ensure that you do not take any unnecessary risks at this time when working on your farms.

Farming is a vital part of the Northern Ireland structure and economy. Farmers must continue working and producing essential foodstuffs on a daily basis, the FSP recognise this but they are reminding everyone in the community of their commitment to health and safety, and to ensure our farms are safe places to work every day.

Victor Chestnutt, deputy president of the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU), said, “There is no doubt that our Health Service is under increased pressure at present and is facing challenging times in the days and weeks that lie ahead dealing with patients affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, now more than ever it is extremely important that everyone exercises extreme caution when working on farms in order to reduce the likelihood of a serious incident occurring, and this includes children who must be supervised correctly. 

“All of our Health Services’ resources and staff will be required in the battle against Covid-19 and we really need to reduce the numbers of people presenting at Hospital Accident and Emergency departments having been involved in an incident on a farm, so please I urge you slow down and exercise extreme caution.”

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SATRA prioritises support for PPE manufacturers 08/04/2020

SATRA IS open and prioritising the testing and certification of Face Shields, Eyewear, Gloves and Protective Clothing to help contain the COVID-19 Pandemic.

SATRA, as a Notified Body for the European PPE Regulation with ISO 17025 accredited testing laboratories, is committed to supporting our customers through these uncertain and difficult times.

The European Commission has asked Notified Bodies to deploy all measures at their disposal to support efforts to increase the supply of PPE during the current COVID-19 outbreak.

SATRA is supporting this drive by providing advice and prioritising the testing and certification of PPE that medical and other key professionals urgently need.

The UK government has just announced a temporary measure that PPE being purchased by the UK Government or NHS (National Health Service) for use by healthcare workers does not need to be subject to the full conformity assessment procedure under European Regulation (EU) 2016/425. It just needs to be manufactured and tested in accordance with a suitable standard or technical specification. SATRA can advise what testing is required and get it done quickly.

The following testing and associated certification, if required, will be prioritised:

Eyewear including Face Shields
Protective clothing
Gloves

BSI has made a series of European Standards (ENs) for medical devices and personal protective equipment (PPE) used in the context of the current COVID-19 outbreak available without charge on its website.

For full details of priority testing and link to BSI website please click here.

If you wish to discuss any requirements with SATRA or have any questions in relation to the information supplied above, please contact us:

ppe@satra.com
+44 (0)1536 410000

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Study reveals impacts of work-related stress 08/04/2020

AS APRIL marks Stress Awareness Month, Perkbox, the employee experience platform, commissioned a new study of 1,815 employed people to measure levels of work-related stress and how they are being supported by their employers.

Work-related stress is the most common form of stress in the UK, the study revealed. A staggering 79% of employed adults regularly experience this, with just 1% stating that they ‘never’ experience work-related stress. The second most common causes of stress are financial issues, with 60% experiencing this, followed by family (48%), health (45%) and relationship stress (35%).

The study revealed how serious impacts of work-related stress are by highlighting how the effects continue after the working day is done. A huge 55% of employed adults experience anxiety as a result of work-related stress, which can cause numerous physical and mental impacts on the body. Many employees are also noticing further effects on their health and wellbeing. Almost half (43%) experience a loss of sleep due to work-stress, while 32% increase their use of stimulants such as nicotine, alcohol or caffeine and a third turn to comfort eating. In terms of working productivity, 51% feel that stress disrupts concentration while just 5% of employees say workplace stress makes them more engaged, and another 5% more productive.

Thankfully, the study highlighted that many employees are becoming aware of the need for self-care. 88% of employees are now taking measures in their own lives to actively alleviate stress. 

The most popular method to reduce stress is to discuss problems with friends and family, with 40% of employees taking this action. Many are also trying other healthy methods for stress reduction – 42% turn to exercise to improve their mental wellbeing, 37% choose to get some rest, and over 1 in 5 practice mindfulness, yoga or meditation. 

Unfortunately, it seems that most don’t feel comfortable to discuss problems with managers - as less than 1 in 5 would discuss concerns with a superior at work. Instead, many would take matters into their own hands, with 16% prepared to leave a company that is causing stress. 

However, companies are working to help – just 19% of employees state that their workplace has no measures in place to help with stress. The most popular stress-reducing policies include flexible working hours (offered by 37% of workplaces), regular one-to-ones between employees and managers (37%), and counseling services for staff (33%). 

Nevertheless, as stress levels continue to rise, it begs the question of if more innovative methods for stress reduction are needed for today’s climate. These methods could include strategies such as stress management or resilience training, which just 11% of workplaces currently offer. By teaching employees the tools to handle stress, workplaces not only improve their employees’ wellbeing, they can also improve productivity and engagement within the company - this is an area we expect to see this area grow in the upcoming years.

For more information, view the study ​or contact Perkbox

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DPD helps during PPE shortage 08/04/2020

PAREL DELIVERY firm DPD has joined forces with 3DCrowd, the community of 3D printer owners who are using their machines to help alleviate the acute shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare workers.

Thousands of volunteers across the UK are giving up their time to use their 3D printers to make the components to create face shields - a full-face visor on a plastic headband - which protects the whole of the front of the face. 

DPD is collecting the component parts from all the different volunteers and delivering them, free-of-charge, to a central hub in Sheffield where the face masks are being assembled by a company called Pimoroni. 

DPD will then distribute the completed visors to hospitals, GP practices and other healthcare organisations around the country.

The design for the masks was supplied by Josef Prusa, a 3D printer based in the Czech Republic.  Volunteer printers have been supplying their own materials to produce the shields. 3DCrowd has also been collecting donations through crowd funding.

Dwain McDonald, DPD's CEO commented, "This is a really smart example of a community working together and shows how our nationwide network can be used to support key services at this time.  Our healthcare workers are doing a fantastic job - despite the exceedingly difficult situation they find themselves in.  The supply of the much-needed face-shields is crucial, and we are delighted to be able to help."

For information on how to donate to 3DCrowd or offer your services as a 3D printer visit: https://www.3dcrowd.uk/

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Protect workers or face consequences, says BSC 08/04/2020

THE BRITISH Safety Council has backed a joint statement from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the CBI and the TUC calling for employers to ensure safe working conditions during the coronavirus outbreak.

The British Safety Council is a membership organisation and charity which campaigns to ensure that no-one is made ill or injured through their work.

Lawrence Waterman said, “Since the government’s restrictions came in, we have been very clear that employers must protect workers – key to this is for managers to talk to their employees about how they can manage the risks that coronavirus presents.”

“Coronavirus has presented us with a new set of challenges, but it should not undermine our principles – good health and safety practice is about working together to reduce risks and those principles should be applied to making work safe during this crisis.”

Speaking from his home he went on to say, “There are clearly some employers who are putting safe working conditions at risk – this must end and the HSE is right to insist that it will take action if it has to.”  

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Scaffolding Association issues COVID-19 advice 08/04/2020

THE SCAFFOLDING Association has launched two Scaffold Industry Guidance Notes (SIGNS) which address the requirements for scaffolding inspection during COVID-19.

Stacey Underhill, head of external affairs, said, “We have had a large volume of enquiries from contractors and clients asking for clarification on scaffold inspections during COVID-19, particularly where sites are ceasing to operate.

These documents will clarify those requirements and offer up some of the risks that you should be considering when sending people to site to undertake those inspections.”

The documents are free to download from the Scaffolding Association website: https://scaffolding-association.org/covid-19-advice/

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