PCS R&C Benton Park View Branch

For members of the PCS Union at Benton Park View

Health & Safety

Click here to go to the Health & Safety section of the main PCS website

General Wellbeing

6 ways you can protect yourself from illness during cold season - source: The Telegraph

1. Avoid other people. My number one tip is to keep what I call ‘sensible distancing’ from coughs and sneezes,” says Professor Oxford. “If you’re on a Tube or train and somebody is coughing or sniffling, move away. Create as much distance between them and you as possible. But with a recent study from Aviva finding one in seven British people go to work when they have a bad cold, how can you keep from contagious colleagues? “That’s trickier,” admits Professor Oxford. “Nobody likes to be seen as a wimp when it comes to work, but from an infection point of view it’s better to nurse the worst of your cold at home than brave it out and infect all your co-workers. “If you do have a cold at work, sneeze into a clean tissue and discard it immediately – don’t tuck it up your sleeve or leave it rolled up on your desk, which can spread infection further. If you don’t have a tissue to hand, never sneeze into your bare hand but rather the crease of your arm – the so-called elbow sneeze. It’ll help contain the contagion from spreading, because nobody ever shakes you by the elbow.”

2. Wash your hands – a lot. About 5,000 germs live on your hands at any given time. Hands, says Professor Oxford, are “perhaps the most fruitful way for winter viruses to spread”. He advises washing them twice as often in winter – particularly if your job involves greeting people throughout the day, or if you work in an office and touch things touched by others, such as door handles, lift buttons, office kettles and so on. “Wash your hands regularly throughout the day with soap and pretty hot water,” says Professor Oxford. “Never use the cold tap, because germs don’t like hot water.”

3. Swap the sandwich lunch for a warming bowl of soup. “Hot foods and drinks are perfect for this time of year,” says wellness expert Jasmine Hemsley, author of East By West, a book on adopting Ayurvedic principlesto western living. “It’s logical to think seasonally about what we’re eating and drinking.” A recent study found that drinking any warm liquid – like tea, soup or stew – helps relieve cold and flu symptoms by helping to loosen congestion and stimulate the flow of mucus. Plus, they help keep you hydrated, which can also reduce the risk of picking up a cough or cold. “Help your digestion by avoiding iced foods and chilled drinks, and stick to sipping warm water throughout the day,” says Jasmine. “I also drink a lot of ginger or fennel tea in the winter to curb those winter snacking cravings. And try adding warming and immunity-boosting spices such as ginger, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper and cumin – all of which can be enjoyed all year round, but especially amped up at this time of year in your everyday cooking. Cooked foods are easier on the digestion and go for plenty of greens like cabbage and kale.”

4. Sleep with the seasons. Avoid the internet and binge-watching an hour before bed. Seasonal changes can impact on our ability to sleep, and studies have shown that populations that undergo dramatic seasonal changes, such as those in northern Europe, suffer more from insomnia, tiredness and low mood in winter, than very hot countries with fewer seasonal changes. Winter sleepiness can also be caused by a decline in levels of energy-boosting vitamin D (see below). Research also finds that up to 55 per cent of us suffer from sleep discomfort, such as feeling too cold, in winter, yet only 10 per cent of us change our summer duvets for a higher tog when the seasons change. As better sleep is linked to stronger immunity against coughs and colds, how can you sleep better in winter? “Avoid the internet and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix in the hour before bed, and wind down with a bath and a good book instead,” says sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley. Lastly, limit sugar in the evenings, too, as that has been shown to disrupt your ability to nod off.

5. Keep your vitamin D topped up. Grilled tuna is packed full of vitamin D. Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition suggests a link between upper respiratory infections and low levels of vitamin D, which is known as the “sunshine vitamin” as our bodies produce it naturally after incidental exposure to sunlight. Our levels of vitamin D can dip in winter because there are fewer daylight hours and we spend less time outside. So to keep coughs and chest infections at bay, eat plenty of vitamin D-rich foods like oily fish such as tuna, mackerel and salmon, beef, cheese and eggs. Switching to fortified milks, such as rice and soya, can also help lift your intake. And if all else fails, try a supplement, such as Wild Nutrition Vitamin D (£10 for 30 capsules, wildnutrition.com) – or, gulp, cod liver oil. In the gloomier months, it’s important to make time in the middle of the day to head outdoors. “It’s all too easy to miss out on any sun in the winter and stay tucked up in a heated house or office,” says Jasmine. “I take every opportunity to get outside – wrapped up, of course. That way I get some all important daylight to help with melatonin levels as well as vitamin D.”

6. Clear the air in your lungs. If you don’t fancy throwing open the windows and letting all the warmth out of your home, go for a walk. Outdoors – away from old, damp, central-heated air – sneezers often find that their sniffles stop on the spot. According to personal trainer James Duigan (whose clients at his Notting Hill gym have included Pippa Matthews, nee Middleton), “walking in fresh air is the best medicine there is. And this time of year, I always tell my clients that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” So wrap up and get out every day to feel better all winter.

Infectious Diseases

Posted 17/11/2017
Infectious Diseases

This image is a list of Infectious Diseases that may prevent you from taking your driving test as contracting a contagious disease can present a risk to others, especially pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

However, many of our colleagues in HMRC and DWP are receiving written warnings even though they have a doctors note (for example: for shingles) advising our Employer that their member of staff has contracted a contagious disease and must not attend work on Health & Safety grounds.

Staff are still receiving sick warnings because according to the guidance certain contagious diseases (like shingles) are not on HMRCs list.

To prevent more staff from receiving unjustified sick warnings and PCS reps having to use up valuable facility time helping our members appeal against these unnecesary sick warnings and the loss of man hours from staff/managers/appeal managers not doing their normal duties, isn't it about time HMRC/DWP updated their list?

Maggies Cancer Care Center


Maggies is a drop in center - no referrals are required - and offers a support service to anyone affected by cancer including friends, family, managers and co-workers of a cancer patient. Described as offering 'emotional A&E' services. It is a service that open to Men, Women and Children

For more information pleade click on the link below: www.maggiescenters.org/our-centres/maggies/newcastle/

Sleep - How Sleep Affects our Mental Wellbeing


Insights from the recent launch of The Charity for Civil Servants’ mental wellbeing campaign indicates that many people are looking for advice on ‘How to Sleep Better’.

More than a third of the UK population suffers from insomnia or other sleeping disorder and for many, worries about work stress or personal problems like debt, impacts on their sleep - which can then impact on their ability to function during the day. That’s why the Charity has linked up with The Mental Health Foundation to look at this important issue and why they’re encouraging people to download their free booklet on ‘How to Sleep Better’.


With 1 in 4 people affected by mental health issues in any one year, all managers are likely to come into contact with it at some point, although we know many feel ill-equipped to do so. That’s why the Charity has a dedicated area on their website offering support and resources for managers.


For further information take a look at their website www.foryoubyyou.org.uk or call to speak to an Advisor in confidence on Freephone 0800 056 2424.

Work Related Stress

BPV staff have reported an increase in their stress levels due to the constant flipping/flexing of work streams and the lack of training available. As an Employer HMRC have a duty of care towards their employees and should aim to provide a comfortable working environment for their staff. Anyone with increased levels of anxiety or stress may wish to consider completing an HR Stress 1 form and ACC1 accident form


PCS BPV Branch reps post here in an individual capacity and the views expressed are not necessarily those of PCS or PCS BPV Branch
We are not responsible for the content of external websites
©PCS BPV 2017