Unfortunately we have been seeing a greater demand being placed on existing first aiders due to poor ambulance response times. The ambulance service has been under great amount of pressure and this demand will only raise with the up coming winter pressures. At BLS we pride ourselves in ensuring that candidates from our courses feel confident with the skills learnt, this is now becoming a important aspect of our courses with ambulance pressures. Our trainers are all professional trainers with real hands on experience usually with NHS or ambulance service background this just means the candidates can relish the opportunity to truly manage a casualty from people who have!

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is focusing on the way stress impacts our lives. As part of this, Mind’s major new survey of almost 44,000 employees, has found that almost half (48 per cent) had experienced poor mental health, such as stress, low mood, and anxiety, while working at their current organisation. Of those respondents, only half chose to tell their employer about their difficulties (10,554).

The data was gathered from the 74 organisations that took part in Mind’s latest Workplace Wellbeing Index, a benchmark of best policy and practice which celebrates the work employers are doing to promote and support positive mental health.

These new findings also show:

More than eight in ten people (84 per cent) would continue to go to work when experiencing poor mental health while only just over half (58 per cent) would go to work when experiencing poor physical health
Only two fifths (42 per cent) of all employees surveyed felt their manager would be able to spot the signs they were struggling with poor mental health
A fifth (21 per cent) of all respondents feel that their current workload is unmanageable
Employers taking part in Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index are aiming to create a culture where staff feel able to talk openly about their mental health. Encouragingly this year two thirds (61 per cent) of employers taking part in the Index[3] intend to increase spend on workplace wellbeing activities to create a more positive and open culture.

Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, said:
“As we mark Mental Health Awareness Week, it is worrying to discover that half of employees still don’t feel able to speak out. Too many people struggling with poor mental health, such as stress, anxiety and depression, still feel they need to stay silent. For some, reasons include; not feeling comfortable disclosing their mental health problem, worrying their employer will think they can’t do their job and not wanting to be treated differently.

“We know that changing workplace culture takes time to filter through an organisation. Encouragingly forward-thinking employers, like those organisations taking part in Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index, are taking steps in the right direction and their bespoke reports identify what they are doing well and the areas for improvement.

“Organisations in the Index recognise that making workplace wellbeing an organisational priority is not just the right thing to do, but makes good business sense too. Those taking part have shown a real commitment to make mental health a priority. It’s great that so many organisations are asking themselves some challenging questions about how they are supporting their workforce and what they can do to provide a better experience. We need to see more workplaces encouraging open conversations about mental health and championing a more supportive and open environment.

“We’d urge other employers to follow in the footsteps of these organisations and sign up for Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index, a benchmarking tool to help them identify where they are doing well when it comes to promoting good mental health at work, as well as highlighting areas for improvement.”

The organisations taking part in the Index receive an in-depth analysis of their results, an assessment of how well they are supporting the mental health of their staff and recommendations for where they can make improvements. Each employer is given a Gold, Silver, Bronze or Committed to Action Award to reflect their performance.

The Environment Agency topped this year’s Workplace Wellbeing Index, for the second year in a row. The non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), achieved the highest score in the Gold category.

Martin-Baker fined £1.1m for Red Arrows pilot’s fatal ejection seat failure

23 February 2018

Ejection seat manufacturer Martin-Baker Aircraft Company has been fined £1.1m over the death of a Red Arrows pilot who was propelled into the air and plunged 67 m.

Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham, 35, was carrying out pre-flight checks on his Hawk TMk1 XX177 jet at around 11am on 8 November 2011, preparing for routine flight training. The aircraft’s engine was running but it was stationary on the Royal Air Force Scampton airbase in Lincolnshire.

Cunningham’s Mk10 ejection seat inadvertently fired and sent the pilot into the air. The main parachute on the seat failed to open and he fell to the ground, sustaining multiple injuries. He later died in hospital.

Martin-Baker director John Martin entered a guilty plea on behalf of the company at Lincoln Crown Court on 22 January to breaching s 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The court was told that the parachute did not deploy due to a mechanical fault that Martin-Baker had known about since the 1990s.

To deploy the main parachute a drogue weight is fired into the air and releases two drogue chutes. They are inflated and slowed by the drag which creates force needed to deploy the main parachute. The two drogue chutes have to apply sufficient force for the two shackles holding the main parachute to free from one another.

On the day of the accident Cunningham was ejected from a grounded stationary position, known as a zero-zero ejection (zero altitude and zero airspeed). The drogue chutes were caught by a much lower air resistance and therefore exerted insufficient force to free the two shackles holding the main parachute.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector David Butter told IOSH Magazine: “Had the aircraft been travelling at over 50 knots [93 kph] the additional force that would have been applied from the drogue parachutes would have pulled it through cleanly. This only presents itself in a zero-zero or low speed ejection.”

However, Butter added that the Mk10 seat was designed to rescue a pilot from a zero-zero ejection. “Even though it was inadvertent, Sean Cunningham should still be here today to talk about it. This should have been a survivable ejection,” he said.

There had been 24 successful zero-zero ejections since 1959, the court was told, and 16 of these involved the same parachute deployment mechanism as that which failed on the day Cunningham was killed. There was also a successful zero-zero ejection test in 1995 using the same assembly. The incident in November 2011 was the only such ejection where the main parachute did not deploy.

It failed to deploy because two shackles – a drogue shackle and a scissor shackle – jammed together. The drogue shackle is horseshoe-shaped and comprises two lugs. It is fastened by a locknut and bolt and connects the lines to the main parachute and the drogue chute. The scissor shackle secures the drogue shackle in the head box, in which the main parachute is packed directly behind the pilot’s head.

The drag on the drogue chutes causes the scissor shackle to move like a hinge from a horizontal to a vertical position. When the scissor opens, the end of the drogue shackle lugs pass over the scissor shackle and release the main parachute. If the two shackles jam together however, this cannot happen.

An investigation found that during a routine inspection on the Hawk jet in October 2011, a Royal Air Force (RAF) engineering technician overtightened the locknut on to the bolt of the drogue shackle to 1.5 threads. This compression meant the width of the scissor shackle was wider than the gap between the outer ends of the lugs on the drogue shackle, known as an “interference fit”. The two parts jammed and were unable to separate.

Only the force created by the drogue chutes in an ejection at 50 knots or more would have been able to overcome the interference fit.

The HSE said that in 1990 McDonnell Douglas, a manufacturer of US military aircraft fitted with Martin-Baker ejection seats, wrote to the company warning it of the risk of an interference fit and potential jamming of the shackles. Defence, security and aerospace firm British Aerospace then raised similar concerns over the drogue and scissor shackle arrangement a year later.

Between 1990 and 1992 Martin-Baker introduced a written warning in its user manuals which read: “Warning. To prevent possible pinching of the scissor shackle, which may cause hang-up of the drogue shackle during ejection, do not overtighten or torque load the drogue shackle nut and bolt.”

The manuals were provided to five overseas air forces only, in India, Pakistan, Egypt, Italy and Finland; the RAF/Ministry of Defence was one of several customers that were not told about the issues with the overtightening of the shackles.

Butter said: “In light of this correspondence and the overseas manuals, it was our view that Martin-Baker had failed to adequately control the risk of an interference fit.”

At the inquest into Cunningham’s death in 2014, coroner Stuart Fisher criticised Martin-Baker for this “very serious failure of communication”.

The inquest also heard the ejection seat firing handle was in an unsafe position and could have accidentally activated the seat. He said the safety pin that went through the firing handle was “entirely useless” and was “likely to mislead”.

Butter said: “Regardless of whether Sean needed to exit the aircraft or not, he still should have survived. The HSE didn’t look at what initiated [the ejection] because had he needed to use it, the outcome would have been the same.”

After the accident Martin-Baker modified the release mechanism with a shouldered bolt to design out the risk of an interference fit. It also introduced a new housing for the safety pin.

Handing Martin-Baker the fine on 23 February, Mrs Justice Carr said: “Flt Lt Cunningham was a fit and professional trained pilot, aged only 35 years, with a promising future ahead of him. This was, in the words of his father, an entirely preventable tragedy.”

Of the sentencing guidelines she added: “I have regard to the guideline, considering the very recent authoritative guidance of the Court of Appeal in Whirlpool UK Appliances Limited v R (upon the prosecution of Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Health and Safety) […] The court in Whirlpool addressed in particular the correct approach to sentencing large and very large organisations, and the relevance of the offender’s financial circumstances.

“The decision in Whirlpool makes it clear that no two health and safety cases are the same. There is inherent flexibility in the guideline, which is not a straitjacket.” (See the table below for how she applied the sentencing guidelines.)

Martin-Baker said after the sentencing: “This tragic accident was the result of an inadvertent ejection and main parachute deployment failure due to the overtightening of the drogue shackle bolt.

“In November 2017 the HSE confirmed that the inadvertent ejection was not caused by any fault attributable to the company.

“Upon receiving clarification of the HSE’s case, the company accepted a breach of s 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act, on the basis that it failed to provide a written warning to the RAF not to overtighten the drogue shackle bolt.”

The HSE was given primacy of the investigation after an MoD Service Inquiry, investigations by the civilian and military police, and technical investigations involving the Military Aviation Authority and the Military Air Accident Investigation Branch.

Its operations manager Harvey Wild said: “We understand that a great deal of time has passed since this tragic event. However, this was an extremely complex investigation and no protection could be initiatives until after the inquest and other inquiries had concluded.”

We are pleased to announce that BLS Safety and Training have become endorsed learning provider for Norfolk and Suffolk Care Support Ltd, a body that provides support to the acre industry.  We are proud to be part of a fantastic body who provide support to the care industry through active communication and events in Norfolk and Suffolk.

We are approved for: subjects in First Aid, Health and Safety, Moving and Handling, Fire Safety and Food Safety.

A boy of ten saved his brother’s life using first-aid skills he learned on a school visit to a hospital just days before.
Louis Edwards was in his bedroom watching a video with his brothers Bradley, eight, and three-year-old Jake, when the toddler swallowed a commemorative coin.

Jake was fighting for breath so Louis ordered Bradley to fetch their mother.

But when Jake began to turn purple, Louis realised there was no time to waste.

He put Jake over his knee and slapped him on the back four times.

Jake coughed up the coin – about the size of a 50p piece – just as his mother Rachael and father Nick arrived in the room to take over.

Yesterday his family, from Chester, and teachers praised him for his cool thinking.

Mrs Edwards, 33, said: ‘Bradley was screaming hysterically when he came running downstairs, saying that Jake had swallowed something and wasn’t breathing.

‘When we burst into the room, Louis was still hitting Jake’s back and he was really purple.

‘Then Jake vomited and brought the coin back.

‘Louis just said it was a good job Jake had thrown up at that point or he would have had to do the fifth slap in the stomach, which he had been shown at the hospital.

‘I was shaking like a leaf but Louis was quite calm about it.’

Mr Edwards, also 33, added: ‘It is lucky he was there because Jake was in some difficulty.’

Apart from shock, however, Jake was fine after his ordeal.

Louis had been to the Countess of Chester Hospital with 50 other pupils from Woodfield primary as part of a programme to ease their fears should they ever need treatment.

During the visit, they were given life-saving advice, including what to do if someone was choking.

Mrs Edwards said: ‘He obviously remembered everything and I’m so glad he did.’

Diane Kennedy, his headteacher, said: ‘We are very proud of Louis for his quick thinking.’