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 go about picking out a casual work outfit

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Image from Flickr creative commons via …love Megan

Depending on where you work and the nature of your work, you may find that you have a dress code to adhere to. If you work in a high-powered professional role, it’s likely that your work ‘uniform’ will consist of a smart suit, shirt and a tie for men, whilst women may be required to wear skirt suits or smart dresses and blouses. Tradespeople on the other hand should wear heavy duty casual clothes that allow ease of movement and incorporate high visibility elements to increase health and safety. Some offices adopt a policy of smart casual dress code, meaning that employees are allowed to wear some more casual items but they have to have a smarter edge. So how do you go about picking out a casual work outfit?

As we discussed above, workwear doesn’t have to be purely smart. You’d be forgiven for assuming that work clothing is all suits and ties, but when you consider the sheer diversity of jobs and job industries, you begin to realise that just as every company is different, so differ the dress code policies. Many offices also have what’s known as ‘casual Friday’ where all employees, including management dress down in a bid to welcome the oncoming weekend.

Whilst the idea of business casual sounds appealing, it can be a little confusing for most people. Many HR managers attempt to define the rules and set boundaries about what is smart casual and what is in fact, plain casual. However, it’s not so simple, as many people’s opinion about smart casual differs. Some people find the wearing of jeans inappropriate, whereas others say that jeans are fine as long as they have no rips and are not overly baggy. There are others still who feel that smart casual is somewhere in between a full-blown suit and jeans. They say that men should be able to get away with wearing trousers or khakis and a shirt with a collar. Women on the other hand can wear trousers or a knee-length skirt and a blouse or a shirt with a collar. Jeans and athletic wear are not permitted.

It seems therefore, that there is a general lack of consensus about the notion of smart casual and that it can actually make deciding what to wear for work more problematic than having clear cut rules. Although a good indication is to see what other employees are wearing and try to match their style. Furthermore, if you find you’re receiving strange looks from the managers, it may be an indication to change your work attire.

Let’s take a look at some examples of casual business attire for men. You should always choose shirts that have collars and make sure you tuck it in to your trousers. For business casual, it’s not necessary to wear a tie. If you’re totally unsure, it’s best to play it safe and stick to a white button-down shirt, although any colour of shirt is acceptable.

When it comes to trousers, styles such as khakis, dress pants, trousers and corduroy pants are all acceptable. Jeans are generally not considered to be business casual although check with your employer if you’re unsure. It’s always better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed, so if you’re unsure about an item of clothing, it may be safer not to wear it and stick to the safer options.

Rather than wearing a blazer, layer a jumper over the top of your shirt for a more casual look. Stick to formal work shoes in traditional black, grey or brown colours.

Okay so now we’ve covered what is appropriate for men to wear, let’s focus on the rules for casual office attire for women. For a good indication of the sorts of styles you should be wearing, take inspiration from the men. Of course, as a woman, you’ll want to distinguish yourself in a way that makes you look both stylish and feminine. Try a pair of linen pants teamed with a fitted top. Avoid wearing clothes that are too tight fitting but opt for styles that fit your form and emphasise womanly curves. In terms of shoes, black heels are an obvious yes but make sure you keep a comfy pair of flats by the side of your desk to pop on when your feet start to hurt. Ballet flats are chic yet comfortable and make an ideal choice of footwear for business casual.

The main thing to remember about smart casual dress codes is that it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Oh, and if you have a client meeting, ensure you’re wearing your smartest clothes.

Have You Considered Working In HR?

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Image via net_efekt on Flickr creative commons

Given the generally precarious state of the British jobs market at present, you could be forgiven for wanting to try your hand at something else. Many people are finding their ambitions are being thwarted as a result of the ongoing economic upheaval we’ve seen over the last few years, and so now could be a good time to learn some new skills and try your luck in a different profession altogether. There are of course many different paths you could take, but talented, hardworking human resources – or HR, if you prefer – workers are always in demand. So what is HR, and why should you consider a career in it?

An article from eHow.com points out that most medium or large-scale employers are likely to need an HR professional to help them keep things ticking over. Human resources involves a range of different tasks, mainly centred on staffing, remuneration and training. As an HR professional, you’ll find yourself attending to a number of important function, including but not limited to interviewing and integrating new members of the team, payroll administration and organising the ongoing training of employees. As HR encompasses a fairly diverse range of functions, it’s not hard to see why so many people are attracted to the profession. Workers with particularly outgoing personalities and who relate well to other people are particularly likely to be sought-after in human resources.

Another aspect to remember is that working in HR means you may need to be a Jack – or, of course, Jill – of all trades, so to speak. It helps to be adaptable, as you’re likely to have to keep on top of a wide variety of different tasks. You’ll need to be well organised so that you can keep tabs on all the various roles you’ll have to fulfil. However, not all HR professionals work in this manner. Some work as part of a large team, and so their role is more focused on one or a limited number of areas.

According to Monster.com, another key advantage of working in human resources is that it offers a range of different options for career progression – something which is likely to be music to the ears of anyone who currently finds themselves trapped in a dead-end job. The complex nature of some of the tasks involved means that skilled workers are usually in high demand. Among the other roles you’ll be expected to attend to as an HR professional, you’ll also need to have a reasonably in-depth knowledge of welfare and employment law. It’s not hard to see, then, how you can continue to progress and develop your own skills as an HR worker.

Whether you want to play an integral role in an organisation or you simply enjoy helping your colleagues match their full potential, a career in HR could open up a whole wealth of opportunities for you. If you’re curious about the possibility of embarking on a human resources career, it’s well worth finding out more about how you can go about obtaining the skills you need. HR courses are a great way to take that crucial first step on the road to a rewarding career in human resources.