How To Reduce Your Chances Of Hearing Loss In A Noisy Workplace

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Image via Flickr creative commons from Jaymis

Hearing loss in the workplace or occupational deafness is a serious issue and one that affects an estimated 360 million people around the world, according to the World Health Organisation. It can be either congenital or alternatively acquired. One cause of acquired hearing loss can be down to excess noise in the workplace, perhaps because of noisy machinery on a factory floor or maybe loud music in a pub or a club.

What are the impacts of hearing loss?

The condition can have a major impact on the lives of sufferers and at a very basic impair their ability to communicate properly with other people. Feelings of loneliness and isolation are very common, as is the intense feeling of frustration. Communication issues can be tackled through the use of sign language, but the social and emotion impacts of hearing loss can still be very relevant.

Awareness is key

One of the most important ways of minimising your chances of acquiring occupational hearing loss is to be aware of the condition and what causes it. If you know that you are putting your hearing at risk by working in a noisy environment without using any form of ear protection then you will be far more likely to take steps to minimise your exposure and level of risk. Empowerment through knowledge is key.

Safety equipment

Making use of supplied safety equipment and following recommended safety procedures is always going to be essential when it comes to avoiding injury and reducing the chance of acquiring occupational deafness. Personal protective equipment options are wide and varied and include everything from large over-ear ear defenders through to in-ear buds. Of course it is essential to ensure that the equipment is up to the job and that means making sure seals are undamaged and clean, and that no modifications have been made to the ear protection device. It’s advisable for businesses to provide a variety of options when it comes to hearing protection so employees can choose which one suits them best.

Employer responsibility

While it is important that you are aware of the risks of working in a noisy environment and take steps to mitigate those risks, it is important to remember that all employers have a responsibility. Health and safety in the workplace is a major issue today and businesses have a legal responsibility to protect the health of their workforce under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. If an employer is not meeting the required standard and fails to adequately protect workers then the company can be held liable.

Taking action

Workers should feel empowered to take action if they feel their employer is not offering a sufficient level of protection, or if legal health and safety requirements are not being met. Making an industrial deafness claim is a lot easier these days thanks to the number of professional claims specialists out there and there is a far higher level of understanding today about the issue and the impact that occupational deafness can have on a person’s life.

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How to Make Your Small Business Correspondence Look As Professional As Possible

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Image via Flickr creative commons from Foxtongue

There are a number of commonly-applied rules which form the correct etiquette for the format of business and other types of formal communication.

Yet with the spread of email and text communication, the lines between these types of communication, and the more formal written types are often blurred.

As a business owner or manager, you need to give careful consideration to the purpose of your written correspondence, as this will often dictate the format and types of salutations which are used.

In the commercial field, it is often wise to make it plain in any written communication whether there is any timescale during which you expect to receive a reply. Yet this should be done with a balance of politeness and forcefulness, as if expressed in the wrong way it might appear too ‘pushy’.

Phrases such as ‘An early reply would be appreciated’ or ‘I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience’ are accepted forms of framing such a request.

There is an accepted format for the salutation and sign-off of any letter which also applies to business communications, which is as follows: if you don’t know the name of the person for whom the letter is intended, you should use ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Madam’ as your introduction, and a letter of this type should always be signed off with the phrase ‘Yours faithfully’. If, however, you are writing your letter to someone known to you, you should use ‘Dear Mr’ (or Mrs, Ms or whichever is the preferred form of address of the individual person), and sign off with a ‘Yours sincerely’.

And while written business communications should follow all the strict rules and conventions of English grammar, this is a convention which it can be difficult to remember, especially given that so much modern communication takes the form of an e-mail.

One short cut to remembering how different kinds of business letters should be framed and worded is to use the services of a professional printing company. Such an operation will have experience of framing appropriate communications for a range of clients and other contacts, so should be able to advise on a preferred way of wording such communications.

Of course, another important consideration when drafting business communications is the kind of mage which a company wishes to portray to its customers. In much the same way as wearing a jacket, shirt and tie to work is steadily becoming less essential than in times past, so the type of business which the sender represents – and the customers with which it communicates – can dictate how a latter is both worded and presented.

Business letters fall into a number of categories, such as introductory letters, new contact letters sent to someone whom the sender may not have met, or employee introduction letters, with the purpose of informing a client or contact that they will be dealing with a new contact henceforth.

One absolute no-no when it comes to business communication is getting your recipient’s address wrong. In order to minimise the risk of this happening, it can be a good idea to have pre-printed address labels produced. These can then be carefully checked before any items are sent, and offer the benefit of eliminating the risk of a person inadvertently making a mistake when writing an address by hand, as well as minimising the risk of an address being misread.

What does the future of postage hold?

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Image via Flickr creative commons from hahatango

Predicting the future is a task which is almost certainly doomed to failure. While many people make big, bold, sweeping predictions of what the future has in store for anyone, or any individual sector of society or business, the actual predictions they make are likely to be either too far-fetched, or at the other extreme, far too conservative.

In the field of communications, for example, how many people would have predicted that the written letter – such an integral part of life for many centuries, and the foundation on which civilisations have been built, and destroyed – would have ever been an endangered species?

But as we sit in front of our computer screens today, with all the ability which these devices give us for instant communication – or at least a means far more prompt than is possible by letter – how many of us think just how far-fetched such concepts would have seemed, even just a few decades ago?

Even given all the advances which the computerised world has brought us, it can be argued that the most fundamental of all is the ability to send a message which we have composed in an instant. The actual composition of the message can be as time-consuming as it has ever been – yet the actual process of sending it is something which we can now do in time which can be equated to the blinking of an eye, or the drawing of a breath.

This massive change has, in a matter of a few years, had a ground-breaking effect on the ways in which we communicate. From being something which we had to take time out to do, and to consider how we did it, communication has become something which is all around us.

This massive technological leap has left those involved in operating services which are losing their importance in the digital era with some fundamental issues to address. Prime among them, if they are primarily letter-carriers, is how they can guarantee to still be able to provide such a service when it is needed – and there are circumstances in which this will remain the case – given that their revenue from doing so is likely to shrink, while the cost of providing the service can only head upwards.

This can’t be considered an isolated problem. Even given that technology in some countries is much less sophisticated and wide-spread than in others, the imperative of retaining a service for written mail to be delivered anywhere within a certain amount of time is one which every civilised nation has to face up to.

One development which is being seen in the field of written mail is the ability of senders to put their essential messages into a email format, and then for these to be printed out at a location close to where they are destined, and then placed in an envelope for delivery over the final few miles. For important legal documents and the like, this could be a way forward.

Meanwhile, for the rest of the postal sector, the key to a prosperous future is likely to lie in the delivery of larger items which can’t fit into a mailbox. After all, sending physical goods is one task which any computer can’t actually do. But its ability to help streamline the process of doing so cannot be in doubt, and is why such cutting-edge services as same day delivery by Parcel2Go are so popular.

Meanwhile, for the future of large consignments, there will always be a need for trustworthy couriers, so FedEx couriers from Parcel2Go are sure to continue to find a ready market – even though that market might become ever-more competitive.

SOURCES:

https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/ensuring-the-future-of-the-universal-postal-service-and-post-office-network-services

http://prospect.org/article/postal-service-faces-future

Top Tips for Keeping Workplace Kitchens Clean

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Image via Flickr creative commons from The Clovenhoof Society

If you’ve spent any length of time working in an office, you’ve probably noticed just how easy it is for people to rub one another up the wrong way. Looking from the outside in, some of the conflicts that flare up between office workers can seem exceptionally petty. It isn’t until you’re on the inside that you start to realise just how and why colleagues frustrate one another. One of the most common sources of workplace strife is the communal kitchen. While office kitchens are generally very useful and highly valued facilities, they can often be the scene of seemingly endless aggravation. This is why it’s important to take steps to ensure that your workplace kitchen remains clean. After all, it’s really just a basic question of showing respect and consideration for others.

An article from eHow.com observes that as storage space in communal kitchens tends to be somewhat limited, it makes sense for workers to ensure that they leave as little food there as possible. It might be tempting, but for the sake of workplace harmony if nothing else you should at least try to ensure that you don’t occupy too much space. You should ask yourself precisely how much food you actually need to take with you, and consider whether you can afford to take a little less. You should also avoid leaving strong-smelling items of food in the communal fridge. Make sure that the items you do leave in the fridge are unambiguously labelled.

It’s also essential that you clean up after yourself once you’re done. Don’t just leave plates and cups lying around for other people to deal with – this is simply ignorance. If you make a mess while you’re eating, make sure you clean it up. Keep a close eye for any stains, and ensure that they’re cleaned up as quickly as possible. The longer you leave it, the harder it’s likely to be to clean said stains. This is really just a matter of basic hygiene. Nobody wants to have to endure an unclean kitchen, and you probably wouldn’t approve if other people failed to uphold basic standards. You should therefore seek to uphold these standards yourself.

Another article from the Laurence Journal-World suggests that it could be a good idea to put someone in charge of overseeing goings-on in the kitchen. This needn’t necessarily mean micro-management, of course. Simply task someone with the responsibility of setting up a cleaning schedule and enforcing an agreed set of rules. This could help to defuse much of the tension that so often surrounds the issue of who’s actually responsible for cleaning up.

Also, if you know you’re likely to be out of the office for a few days – if, for example, you have a holiday planned – you should ensure that you don’t leave any food behind. If you do, not only is it likely to take up space which someone else could be using, but there’s also a chance that the food will start to turn bad before you return. This then leaves your colleagues to deal with the potentially thorny issue of whether or not to throw it away. It might also be worth asking catering equipment suppliers which types of kitchen equipment would be best suited to communal office usage.