Asbestos health and safety information from the HSE …


  • Asbestos still kills around 5000 workers each year, this is  more than the number of people killed on the road.
  • Around 20 tradesman die each week as a result of past exposure
  • However, asbestos is not just a problem of the past. It can be present today in any building built or refurbished before the year 2000.

When materials that contain asbestos are disturbed or damaged, fibres are released into the air. When these fibres are inhaled they can cause serious diseases. These diseases will not affect you immediately; they often take a long time to develop, but once diagnosed, it is often too late to do anything. This is why it is important that you protect yourself now.

Asbestos can cause the following fatal and serious diseases:

Mesothelioma is a cancer which affects the lining of the lungs (pleura) and the lining surrounding the lower digestive tract (peritoneum). It is almost exclusively related to asbestos exposure and by the time it is diagnosed, it is almost always fatal.

Asbestos-related lung cancer
Asbestos-related lung cancer is the same as (looks the same as) lung cancer caused by smoking and other causes. It is estimated that there is around one lung cancer for every mesothelioma death.

Asbestosis is a serious scarring condition of the lung that normally occurs after heavy exposure to asbestos over many years. This condition can cause progressive shortness of breath, and in severe cases can be fatal.

Pleural thickening
Pleural thickening is generally a problem that happens after heavy asbestos exposure. The lining of the lung (pleura) thickens and swells. If this gets worse, the lung itself can be squeezed, and can cause shortness of breath and discomfort in the chest.

Note: It is also important to remember that people who smoke, and are also exposed to asbestos fibres, are at a much greater risk of developing lung cancer.

World Restart a Heart Day.

Emergency First Aid at Work

Mental Health.

What are mental health problems?

What are mental health problems?

Mental health problems range from the worries we all experience as part of everyday life to serious long-term conditions. The majority of people who experience mental health problems can get over them or learn to live with them, especially if they get help early on.

Mental health problems are usually defined and classified to enable professionals to refer people for appropriate care and treatment. But some diagnoses are controversial and there is much concern in the mental health field that people are too often treated according to or described by their label. This can have a profound effect on their quality of life. Nevertheless, diagnoses remain the most usual way of dividing and classifying symptoms into groups.


Most mental health symptoms have traditionally been divided into groups called either ‘neurotic’ or ‘psychotic’ symptoms. ‘Neurotic’ covers those symptoms which can be regarded as severe forms of ‘normal’ emotional experiences such as depression, anxiety or panic. Conditions formerly referred to as ‘neuroses’ are now more frequently called ‘common mental health problems.’

Less common are ‘psychotic’ symptoms, which interfere with a person’s perception of reality, and may include hallucinations such as seeing, hearing, smelling or feeling things that no one else can. Mental health problems affect the way you think, feel and behave. They are problems that can be diagnosed by a doctor, not personal weaknesses.

Mental health problems are very common

As found by the APMS (2014), 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem.

Anxiety and depression are the most common problems, with around 1 in 10 people affected at any one time.

How do mental health problems affect people?

Anxiety and depression can be severe and long-lasting and have a big impact on people’s ability to get on with life.

Between one and two in every 100 people experience a severe mental illness, such as bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia, and have periods when they lose touch with reality. People affected may hear voices, see things no one else sees, hold unusual or irrational beliefs, feel unrealistically powerful, or read particular meanings into everyday events.

Although certain symptoms are common in specific mental health problems, no two people behave in exactly the same way when they are unwell.

Many people who live with a mental health problem or are developing one try to keep their feelings hidden because they are afraid of other people’s reactions. And many people feel troubled without having a diagnosed, or diagnosable, mental health problem – although that doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling to cope with daily life.


The word ‘depression’ is used in many different ways. Everyone can feel sad or down from time to time, but most people manage to cope and can recover without professional help. However, everyday ‘blues’ or sadness is not depression.

In this section the depression referred to is ‘clinical depression’. A person with clinical depression will feel depressed for longer periods of time (at least two weeks) and this will disrupt things in their life such as relationships or the ability to carry out their work. Clinical depression is a common but serious illness. People can recover, but depression may occur at another time in their life, often in response to stressful events or situations.

Although there are several different types of depression, there are a number of common symptoms. It is important to know that not every person who has depression will have all of these symptoms or the same severity of symptoms.

A person with clinical depression will have at least two of the following symptoms for at least two weeks:

  • an unusually sad mood that does not go away;
  • loss of enjoyment and interest in activities that used to be enjoyable;
  • tiredness and lack of energy.

In addition, the person can have other symptoms, such as:

  • loss of confidence in themselves or poor self-esteem;
  • feeling guilty when they are not really at fault;
  • thoughts of self-harm and/or suicide;
  • difficulty making decisions and concentrating;
  • moving more slowly or becoming agitated and unable to settle;
  • having difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much;
  • unusual weight loss, or for some people unusual weight gain.

What causes depression?

There are many different factors which can contribute to the risk of someone becoming depressed, and the more factors that are present the greater the risk of depression. For example:

The more risk factors a person has, the greater their vulnerability to depression. However, it is important to remember that sometimes, depression just happens and there may be no obvious reason.

If you are concerned about depression speak to your GP or other health professional.


Recognize the signs of hypoglycemia

Low blood sugar can happen suddenly. 
Recognize low blood sugar early and take action. 

It’s important that you notice when your blood sugar gets too low. Low blood sugar is something that people living with diabetes need to be prepared to treat. Less severe cases of hypoglycemia should be treated right away by eating sugar or a sugar-sweetened product such as a regular soft drink or fruit juice.

You might get low blood sugar if you:

  • Take certain medicines or eat too few carbohydrates (starches) or skip or delay a meal
  • Take too much medicine (ask your diabetes care team if this applies to you)
  • Are more physically active than usual

Nonsevere Hypoglycemia

To help with low blood sugar, it is generally recommended that you:

  • Test your blood sugar even if you only feel a little dizzy or have other symptoms
  • Carry low blood sugar treatments with you, like glucose tablets
  • Call your health care provider if your blood sugar is less than 70 mg/dL more than once a week

Early symptoms of hypoglycemia may include:

  • sweating 
  • drowsiness 
  • dizziness 
  • sleep disturbances 
  • irregular heartbeat (palpitation)
  • anxiety
  • tremor 
  • blurred vision 
  • hunger
  • slurred speech  
  • depressed mood  
  • tingling in the hands, feet, lips, or tongue 
  • irritability 
  • abnormal behavior 
  • lightheadedness 
  • unsteady movement 
  • inability to concentrate 
  • personality changes 
  • headache 
  • restlessness 
  • depressed mood  
  • tingling in the hands, feet, lips, or tongue 
  • irritability 
  • abnormal behavior 
  • lightheadedness 
  • unsteady movement 
  • inability to concentrate 
  • personality changes 
  • headache 
  • restlessness 
  • depressed mood  
  • depressed mood  
  • tingling in the hands, feet, lips, or tongue 
  • irritability 
  • abnormal behavior 
  • lightheadedness 
  • unsteady movement 
  • inability to concentrate 
  • personality changes 
  • headache 
  • restlessness 
  • depressed mood  

Severe Hypoglycemia

If not treated early, hypoglycemia may worsen and the person may have severe hypoglycemia. Signs of severe hypoglycemia include:

  • confusion 
  • unconsciousness 
  • seizures
  • death

Chemical burns

What are chemical burns?

A chemical burn occurs when your skin or eyes come into contact with an irritant, such as an acid or a base. Chemical burns are also known as caustic burns. They may cause a reaction on your skin or within your body. These burns can affect your internal organs if chemicals are swallowed.

You should immediately check your mouth for cuts or burns if you swallow a chemical. You should also call a local poison control center or go to the emergency room right away if you swallow a chemical. 

Call 999 / 112 if someone you know has a chemical burn and is unconscious.

What causes chemical burns?

Acids and bases cause most chemical burns. Burns caused by chemicals can happen at school, work, or any place where you handle chemical materials. Some of the most common products that cause chemical burns are:

  • car battery acid
  • bleach
  • ammonia
  • denture cleaners
  • teeth whitening products
  • pool chlorination products

Who is at risk for chemical burns?

People who are at the highest risk for chemical burns are infants, older adults, and people with disabilities. These groups may not be able to handle chemicals properly. You may be at increased risk for chemical burns if you’re handling acids or other chemicals without assistance and you have decreased mobility.READER SURVEYPlease take a quick 1-minute survey

What are the symptoms of chemical burns?

The symptoms of chemical burns can vary depending on how the burn occurred. A burn caused by a chemical you swallowed will cause different symptoms than burns that occur on your skin. The symptoms of a chemical burn will depend on:

  • the length of time your skin was in contact with the chemical
  • whether the chemical was inhaled or swallowed
  • whether your skin had open cuts or wounds or was intact during contact 
  • the location of contact
  • the amount and strength of the chemical used
  • whether the chemical was a gas, liquid, or solid

For example, if you swallow an alkaline chemical, it will cause burns on the inside of your stomach. This may produce different symptoms than a chemical burn on your skin. 

In general, the common symptoms associated with chemical burns include:

  • blackened or dead skin, which is mainly seen in chemical burns from acid
  • irritation, redness, or burning in the affected area
  • numbness or pain in the affected area
  • a loss of vision or changes in vision if chemicals have come into contact with your eyes

Some of the following symptoms may also occur if you’ve swallowed a chemical:

How are chemical burns diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will make a diagnosis based on several factors. These may include:

  • the level of pain in the affected area
  • the amount of damage to the area
  • the depth of the burn
  • signs of possible infection
  • the amount of swelling present

What are the types of chemical burns?

Your doctor will classify the burn according to the extent of the injury and the depth of the burn itself: 

  • Injury to the top layer of skin, or the epidermis, is called a superficial burn. This was formerly called a first-degree burn.
  • Injury to the second layer of skin, or the dermis, is called a partial thickness injury or dermal injury. This was formerly called a second-degree burn.
  • Injury to the third layer of skin, or subcutaneous tissue, is referred to as a full thickness injury. This was formerly called a third-degree burn.

How are chemical burns treated?

First aid should be given to chemical burns immediately if possible. This includes removing the chemical that caused the burn and rinsing the skin under running water for 40 minutes. If a chemical came into contact with your eyes, rinse your eyes continuously for at least 40 minutes before seeking emergency care.

Remove any clothing or jewelry contaminated by the chemical. Wrap the burned area loosely with a dry sterile dressing or a clean cloth if possible. If the burn is superficial, you can take an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. You should go to the emergency room immediately if the burn is more serious.

You should also go to the hospital right away if:

  • the burn is larger than 3 inches in width or length
  • the burn is on your face, hands, feet, groin, or buttocks
  • the burn occurred over a major joint, such as your knee
  • the pain can’t be controlled with OTC pain medications 
  • you have the signs and symptoms of shock, which include shallow breathing, dizziness, and low blood pressure

Depending on the severity of your condition, your healthcare provider may use the following methods to treat your burn: 

  • antibiotics
  • anti-itch medications
  • debridement, which involves cleaning or removing dirt and dead tissue
  • skin grafting, which involves attaching healthy skin from another part of the body to the burn wound
  • intravenous (IV) fluids

For severe burns

You’ll need burn rehabilitation if you’re severely burned. This type of rehabilitation may provide some of the following treatments:

  • skin replacement
  • pain management
  • cosmetic surgery
  • occupational therapy, which can help you redevelop everyday skills
  • counseling
  • patient education

What is the long-term outlook for someone with chemical burns?

The outlook depends on the severity of the burn. Minor chemical burns tend to heal fairly quickly with the appropriate treatment. More severe burns, however, may require long-term treatment. In this case, your doctor may recommend that you receive care at a specialized burn center. 

Some people who have experienced severe chemical burns may have complications, including: 

  • disfigurement
  • limb loss
  • infection
  • scarring
  • muscle and tissue damage
  • depression
  • flashbacks
  • nightmares

Most people with severe chemical burns will recover if they have the proper treatment and rehabilitation. 

How can I prevent chemical burns?

You can prevent chemical burns by following safety procedures and taking precautions while handling chemical materials. These include:

  • keeping chemicals out of the reach of children
  • storing chemicals properly and safely after use
  • using chemicals in a well-ventilated area
  • leaving chemicals in their original containers with warning labels
  • avoiding the use of chemicals
  • avoiding mixing chemicals with other chemicals
  • only purchasing chemicals in protective containers
  • keeping chemicals away from food and drinks
  • wearing protective gear and clothing when using chemicals

Call a poison control center if you’re unsure whether a certain substance is toxic.

Prolonged Convulsive Seizures

An estimated 70% of people with epilepsy can expect to become seizure-free with optimised anti-epileptic therapy. Conversely, a sizeable minority of patients will continue to experience break-through seizures. Although these are bound to be a frightening experience for the patient and their family, many seizures are self-limiting within a short time, without the need for rescue medication.

A prolonged acute convulsive seizure is defined as a seizure lasting more than 5 min, or two or more seizures occurring within 30 min without the complete recovery of consciousness in between. In contrast to brief seizures, a seizure lasting more than 5min is far less likely to be self-terminating, and may often progress to Status Epilepticus if untreated.

Status Epilepticus (SE) is defined as a seizure lasting more than 30 min, and may be associated with significant morbidity. Common sequelae include learning difficulties, memory deficits, and the ongoing risk of subsequent prolonged seizure activity. Alongside the underlying cause, seizure duration is a primary determinant of prognosis.

SE also carries a significant risk of death. Mortality in the paediatric population is estimated at up to 5%, and this figure rises exponentially in refractory cases.

Respiratory Concerns

Causes of long-term breathlessness

Reasons for long-term breathlessness include:

  • obesity or being unfit
  • poorly controlled asthma
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – permanent damage to the lungs usually caused by years of smoking
  • anaemia – a low level of oxygen in the blood caused by a lack of red blood cells or haemoglobin (the part of red blood cells that carries oxygen)
  • heart failure – when your heart is having trouble pumping enough blood around your body, usually because the heart muscle has become too weak or stiff to work properly
  • a problem with your heart rate or rhythm, such as atrial fibrillation (an irregular and fast heart rate) or supraventricular tachycardia (regular and fast heart rate)

More unusual causes of long-term breathlessness are:

  • a lung condition where the airways are abnormally widened and you have a persistent phlegmy cough (bronchiectasis
  • a recurrent blockage in a blood vessel in the lung (pulmonary embolism
  • partial collapse of your lung caused by lung cancer
  • a collection of fluid next to the lung (pleural effusion)
  • narrowing of the main heart valve, restricting blood flow to the rest of the body
  • frequent panic attacks, which can cause you to hyperventilate (take rapid or deep breaths)