Safety Message: Hay Fever

BY: Tracey Mesken22/12/2016

​It’s that time of year. Where the eyes hurt, the sneezes start and antihistamine medication use is on the rise. Our WorkPac Safety and Risk Management Team have put together some information on hay fever and how to manage it during the summer season.What is it?Allergic rhinitis, otherwise known as Hay Fever is an allergic reaction that affects large numbers of people every year. There are two main classifications. These are:Seasonal: experience symptoms during spring and summer with the most common allergen to be pollen.Perennial (all year round): experience symptoms all year around with the most common allergens to be dust mites, animals, moulds and dust.Allergies are common. Your genes and environment may make you more prone to allergies.Whether or not you are likely to develop allergies is often passed down through families. If both your parents have allergies, you are likely to have allergies. The chance is greater if your mother has allergies.How the allergy works?The nose has very fine hair that acts like a biological dust mask which catches and filters particles that enter, trapping them. These either exit through sneezing or becoming trapped to mucous and going down the back of the throat. When you suffer hay fever the fine hairs in the nose become inflamed from the particles that are entering the nose. As a result the body will create chemicals called histamines which give you the symptoms.SymptomsSymptoms can vary in severity and type. Symptoms often occur shortly after you come into contact with the substance you are allergic to and may include:Itchy or runny noseItchy mouth, eyes, throat, skinProblems with smellSneezingWatery (teary) eyesFor longer term reactions symptoms that may develop later include:Nasal congestionCoughingClogged earsDecreased sense of smellSore throatPuffy and dark circles under the eyesFatigue and irritabilityHeadache TreatmentBefore undertaking any treatment it’s best to consult your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment advice. Once confirmed that you have hay fever the best treatment is to avoid or reduce the exposure to the triggers. However where this is not possible, there are a number of treatment options that may be considered. Typically these can be either medication or desensitisation treatment. Examples include:AntihistaminesCorticosteroid nasal spraysDecongestantsDesensitisation injectionsMake sure you read the product information especially if you are driving or operating equipment and follow the advice of your pharmacist or doctor.


Fatigue Management: A Worker's Guide

BY: Tracey Mesken24/10/2016

​WHAT IS FATIGUE?Fatigue is more than feeling tired and drowsy. In a work context, fatigue is a state of mental and/or physical exhaustion that reduces a person’s ability to perform work safely and effectively.It can occur because of prolonged or intense mental or physical activity, sleep loss and/or disruption of the internal body clock.Signs of fatigue include:Tiredness even after sleepReduced hand-eye coordination or slow reflexesShort term memory problems and an inability to concentrateBlurred vision or impaired visual perceptionA need for extended sleep during days off work WHAT CAUSES FATIGUE?Fatigue can be caused by work related or non-work related factors or a combination of both.Work related causes of fatigue include excessively long shifts, not enough time to recover between shifts and blocks of shifts, very strenuous jobs and long commuting times. An example of non-work related fatigue would be poor quality sleep due to street noise or family demands.THE BODY CLOCKMost people are day-orientated meaning they are most alert and productive in the daytime and sleep at night. The circadian rhythms (the body clock) cause regular variations in individual body and mental functions repeated approximately every 24 hours.These rhythms regulate sleeping patterns, body temperature, heart rate, hormone levels, digestion and many other functions.These rhythms influence job performance and quality of sleep. Most of the body’s basic functions show maximum activity by day and minimum activity by night.The body rhythms affect the behaviour, alertness, reaction times and mental capacity of people to varying degrees.WHY IS FATIGUE A PROBLEM IN THE WORKPLACE?Fatigue may increase the risk of incidents because of a lack of alertness. Fatigue may result in a slower reaction to signals or situations and affect the ability to make good decisions, particularly when:Operating fixed or mobile plant including driving vehiclesUndertaking critical tasks that require a high level of concentrationUndertaking night or shift work when a person would ordinarily be sleeping.A person conducting a business or undertaking must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers while they are at work.This means if fatigue is identified as causing a risk to work health and safety, then suitable control measures should be implemented in consultation with workers to eliminate or minimise the risks.YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AS A WORKERWorkers have a duty to take reasonable care for their own safety and health and that their acts or omissions don’t adversely affect the health or safety of others.Workers must also comply with any reasonable instruction and cooperate with any reasonable policy or procedure relating to fatigue at the workplace, for example fitness for work policies and policies regarding second jobs.REDUCING THE RISK OF FATIGUETo reduce the risk of being involved in a work incident caused by fatigue, you should:Comply with your organisation’s policies and procedures relating to fatigueUnderstand your sleep, rest and recovery needs and obtain adequate rest and sleep away from workSeek medical advice and assistance if you have or are concerned about a healthcondition that affects your sleep and/or causes fatigueAssess your own fitness for work before commencing workMonitor your level of alertness and concentration while you are at workLook out for signs of fatigue in the people you work withIn consultation with your supervisor, take steps to manage fatigue, for example take a break or short nap (night shift), maintain hydration (drink water), do some stretching or physical exercise, adjust the work environment (lighting, temperature)Talk to your supervisor or manager if you foresee or experience being impaired by fatigue likely to create a health and safety risk e.g. because of a health condition, excessive work demands or personal circumstancesAssess your fatigue levels after work and take suitable commuting and accommodation options (e.g. avoiding driving if fatigued) HOW MUCH SLEEP DO WE NEED?Sleep researchers believe there is no one magic number for ‘sleep need’ and there are a lot of individual differences in what children and adolescents need to sleep to be at their best. But below is a guide of the best evidence we have so far:Babies under 1: 14-18 hours throughout the day and nightToddlers: 12-14 hours per 24 hour periodPrimary school: 10-12 hours per dayHigh school: 8-10 hours per dayAdults: 7-9 hours per day GOOD SLEEP HYGIENE CAN HELP PROMOTE GOOD SLEEP"Sleep hygiene" - this can be defined as habits that can help us to sleep or stop us from sleeping. If you or someone you know is having trouble sleeping you can try to change or include some of the things on this list and see if it helps.No TV/computer games 1 hour before bed. No TV s in bedroomsMonitor mobile phone use in bedNo caffeine, high sugar or high spicy food 3-4 hours before bedEnsure relaxing and regular bed time routine - special time with children, relaxation techniques such as breathingNo vigorous exercise 1 hour before bed - it raises the body temperatureFinish eating 2-3 hours before bed - digestion competes with sleeping - hot milk is OKMake sure the bedroom is comfortable (temperature, light, noise)Set bedtimes and wake times - try and keep these regularLearn to relax - deal with worry and stressUse a sleep diary to check how many hours you are sleeping - Are you sleeping enoughConvince children that it is important to sleep well - reward them for complying with bedtime rules