The charity is adapting its support service to help industry members through this pandemic. We are providing regular updates for the industry and offering lots of useful information, advice and support links on issues that may be affecting you or your family members during COVID-19 such as:
Practical Support - Reducing personal debt, helpful advice for those who are worried about their and the person that they care for safety - Salary and more.
Employed and Self-employed support - Help and Guidance for employers who are looking to furlough employees or struggling with Covid-19 generally and more.
Mental Health support - Feeling the pressure to be productive? A useful toolkit to support your mental health during the pandemic, how to protect your mental health during the pandemic and more.
Housing support - The welfare team are supporting renters who need to write to their landlords in support for rent holidays and more.
Welfare benefit Support - If you are self-employed or lost your job because of COVID-19 consider applying for universal credit? And more.
Legal support – Advice for employees requiring legal support during the pandemic and more.
Self-Isolation - Guide for social distancing and more.
This month we focus on the important topic of Men’s Health. This is particularly important for our industry as 85% of the employees are men. Globally, men die on average six years earlier than women, and for reasons that are largely preventable. It doesn’t have to be that way; we can all take action to live healthier, happier and longer lives. Generally, men are more reluctant to visit medical centres and or doctors and studies have proven women are 100% more likely to visit the doctors. Sometimes masculinity can drive riskier behaviour such as dangerous driving and going that little bit further can have repercussions on our health. We explore the most prevalent male cancers, men's mental health and common health issues men face within the industry.
This November is Movember and at the Electrical Industries Charity we’re highlighting some of the most prevalent issues facing men today. The electrical and energy sector consists of 85% men and on average men are 12 x less likely than women to go see a doctor for both their physical and mental health. This month we’re highlighting prostate cancer, testicular cancer and how to check for it and men’s mental health. It can be difficult to discuss these issues and the Electrical Industries Charity want to stop the stigma surrounding the health issues men face.
While we often think of women as the victim of domestic abuse 786,000 men every year experience domestic abuse within their relationship. Simon, a 43-year-old electrician within the construction industry, sought assistance from the Electrical Industries Charity nearly 2 years ago. He had worked in the sector for 15 years before the owner of the firm decided to sell-up and Simon was left looking for a job. Alongside the stress of his redundancy Simon was struggling at home living in an abusive and controlling relationship.
Simon and his partner had been married for some years and had three children together aged 18,13 and 10. While they had been happy their relationship had deteriorated, and Simon’s wife had become extremely volatile with Simon. Their marriage was tumultuous and Simon’s wife often unreasonable. Two of their children struggled with disabilities, the eldest was almost profoundly deaf and his youngest had hip dysplasia. While Simon’s partner claimed numerous benefits for herself and their children, she refused to share this money with Simon, and he was left to survive on a small carers allowance.
Simon’s sense of self worth and mental state was at an ultimate low. His partner would demand him to buy food and force Simon to beg her for money for food and petrol. Simon had lost all confidence and was belittled, humiliated and abused daily in his own home. Prior to coming to the charity Simon had already joined a local support group for men living with domestic violence and it was here he was encouraged to file a police report and speak to social services regarding his children’s well-being.
Once taking these initial and monumental steps Simon felt confident enough to approach the charity and ask for help with his dwindling finances. Simon was unable to leave the home on a small carers allowance and was reluctant to go into refuge facilities. He struggled to find a job and found his allowance barely enough to cover his essential outgoings.
The Electrical Industries Charity awarded Simon a small financial grant to assist him with living expenses while he searched for a job. With this grant Simon was able to leave his perpetrator and moved in temporarily with his sister. The Charity supported Simon with a listening ear and continued financial assistance while he tried to re-start his life.
Simon hoped to have his children live with him once he had found suitable accommodation and the Charity wanted to ensure both him and his children would be safe and provided for. Communication between Simon and the Charity welfare team continued and while Simon began to get his life back on track circumstances with his now ex-wife and children were breaking down.
Simon’s ex-partner had begun to be violent towards their children and the police alongside social services had to step in and remove the children from the partner’s care. The three children now live with Simon in his sister’s home while he looks for a new home where they can all finally be safe. Simon is feeling much happier and is positive about a brighter future with his children by his side. The Electrical Industries Charity continue to support Simon and hope he continues along a positive pathway.
In the UK, the male suicide rate is its lowest since 1981 – 15.5 deaths per 100,000. But suicide is still the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45. And a marked gender split remains. For UK women, the rate is a third of men’s: 4.9 suicides per 100,000. It’s the same in many other countries. Compared to women, men are three times more likely to die by suicide in Australia, 3.5 times more likely in the US and more than four times more likely in Russia and Argentina. WHO’s data show that nearly 40% of countries have more than 15 suicide deaths per 100,000 men; only 1.5% show a rate that high for women. Suicide is a hugely sensitive, complex issue with a tangled multitude of causes – and the very nature of a death by suicide means we can never fully know the reasons behind it. Still, as mental health awareness has grown, there is greater public understanding about potential contributing factors. One of the questions that has persisted, though, regards the gender gap.
One key element in this gender gap is communication. It’s too simplistic to say women are willing to share their problems and men tend to bottle them up. But it is true that, for generations, many societies have encouraged men to be “strong” and not admit they’re struggling. It often starts in childhood. The society is programmed to tell boys that 'boys don't cry'. We condition boys from a very young age to not express emotion, because to express emotion is to be 'weak'. Men may be less likely to admit when they feel vulnerable, whether to themselves, friends, or a GP. They also can be more reticent than women to see a doctor. A UK British Medical Journal study found general primary care consultation rates were 32% lower in men than women. (Consultation rates for depression, assessed by whether patients received antidepressant prescriptions, were 8% lower in men than women).
Men seek help for mental health less often. It's not that men don't have the same issues as women – but they're a little less likely to know they have whatever stresses or mental health conditions that are putting them at greater risk for suicide. Other risk factors can be related to family or work. When there's an economic downturn that results in increased unemployment, for example, there tends to be an associated increase in suicide – typically 18-24 months after the downturn. One 2015 study found that for every 1% increase in unemployment there is a 0.79% increase in the suicide rate. Read more
Here are our top 5 things to know and do:
- Spend time with people who make you feel good. Stay connected. Your mates are important and spending time with them is good for you. Catch up regularly, check in and make time.
- Talk, more. You don’t need to be an expert and you don’t have to be the sole solution, but being there for someone, listening and giving your time can be lifesaving.
- Know the numbers. At 50, talk to your doctor about prostate cancer and whether it’s right for you to have a PSA test. If you are black or have a father or brother with prostate cancer, you should be having this conversation at 45. Know your numbers, know your risk, talk to your doctor.
- Know thy nuts. Simple. Get to know what’s normal for your testicles. Give them a check regularly and go to the doctor if something doesn’t feel right.
- Move, more. Add more activity to your day. Do more of what make you feel good.
- Take a walking meeting
- Park further away from the station
- Get off the bus a stop or two earlier
- Instead of the lift, take the stairs
- Cycle to work instead of driving
Helping a friend is easy when you know how. Follow these four steps to let the conversation flow: A L E C
A – ASK
Start by mentioning anything different you’ve noticed. Maybe he’s spending more time at the bar, coming into work late, or missing social events.
“You’ve not quite seemed yourself recently. Are you okay?” Trust your instinct. Remember, we often say “I’m fine” when we’re not. So, if you think something’s wrong, don’t be afraid to ask twice.
L - LISTEN
Try to give him your full attention, without interruptions. Don’t feel you have to diagnose problems, offer solutions or give advice. Just let him know you’re all ears, judgement-free. Follow-up questions are good too. They’ll help let him know you’re listening: “That can’t be easy. How long have you felt that way?”
E - ENCOURAGE ACTION
Help him to focus on simple things that might improve his wellbeing: Is he getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and eating properly? Maybe there’s something that's helped before? Suggest he tells other people he trusts how he's feeling. This will make things easier – for both of you. And if he’s felt low for more than two weeks, suggest he sees his doctor.
C - CHECK-IN
Suggest you catch up soon – in person if you can. If you can’t manage a meet-up, make time for a call, or drop him a message. This will show you care. Plus, you’ll get a feel for whether he’s feeling any better.
or 0800 652 1618. If you’re worried that somebody’s life is in immediate danger, go directly to emergency services.
Resources - Movember Poster
Prostate cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in men in the UK. Know the facts and act early.
Early detection is key:
The difference between early detection and late detection can be life and death.
Who's at risk?
Your risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age, but that doesn’t mean it’s a disease that only affects old men. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide. Men who are black, and men who have a family history (a brother or father with prostate cancer), are 2.5x more likely to get prostate cancer.
If you’re 50, you should be talking to your doctor about PSA testing. If you’re black, you need to start that conversation at 45. And if you have a brother or father with prostate cancer in their history, do it at 45.
What's a PSA test?
It’s a simple routine blood test that is used to determine the measurement of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) concentration in the blood, it is the primary method of testing for prostate cancer. You should be talking to your doctor about whether testing is right for you.
So, what do you need to do?
Go to the doctor and ask about PSA testing. Catch prostate cancer early!
Only men have a prostate gland. The prostate gland is usually the size and shape of a walnut and grows bigger as you get older. It sits underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra, which is the tube men urinate and ejaculate through. Its main job is to help make semen – the fluid that carries sperm. Prostate cancer occurs when some of the cells in the prostate reproduce far more rapidly than normal, resulting in a tumour. Prostate cancer often grows slowly to start with and may never cause any problems. But some men have prostate cancer that is more likely to spread. These prostate cancer cells, if left untreated, may spread from the prostate, and invade distant parts of the body, particularly the lymph nodes and bones, producing secondary tumours in a process known as metastasis.
Detecting prostate cancer:
Not everyone experiences symptoms of prostate cancer. Many times, signs of prostate cancer are first detected by a doctor during a routine check-up. Some men, however, will experience changes in urinary or sexual function that might indicate the presence of prostate cancer.
Signs and symptoms:
• A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
• Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
• Weak or interrupted flow of urine
• Painful or burning urination
• Difficulty in having an erection
• Painful ejaculation
• Blood in urine or semen
• Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs
Treating prostate cancer:
Treatment options are many and varied. Testing still can’t answer lots of key questions about disease aggression, prognosis and progression. If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, it's important to keep in mind that many prostate cancers are slow growing and may not need surgery or other radical treatment.
Treatment options include:
• Active Surveillance
• Hormone Therapy
If you experience any symptoms or are over the age of 45 speak to your GP today! If you are living with prostate cancer and looking for advice and support reach out to Prostate Cancer UK. They provide a range of information and support so you can choose the services that work for you. All their services are open to men, their family, and their friends.
In United Kingdom, testicular cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in young men.
Who's at risk?
In United Kingdom, testicular cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in young men. Men with undescended testes at birth, or who have a family history, like a father or brother who has had testicular cancer, are at an increased risk. And if you’ve had testicular cancer before, there’s also a heightened risk it could return.
The facts about testicular cancer:
Testicles are responsible for the production of male hormones (mostly testosterone) and sperm. Testicular cancer starts as an abnormal growth or tumour that develops in one or both testicles. There are several types of testicular cancer, but the most common is the germ cell tumour.
If you've been diagnosed with testicular cancer:
The most important step is to talk to your doctor about treatment choices. You may consider getting a second or third doctor’s opinion.
Testicular cancer is a highly treatable cancer and can be effectively treated, and often cured, if diagnosed and treated early. Advanced testicular cancer can also be cured with treatment including:
- Orchiectomy (surgical removal of the affected testis), done under general anaesthetic
- Chemotherapy or radiotherapy, often prescribed after surgery to treat any remaining cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of the body, such as lymph nodes
Testicular cancer and the removal of one testicle should not alter your ability to have sex or have children. The effect on fertility following removal of one of the testicles is minimal as a single testicle produces such large numbers of sperm. Men with testicular cancer should talk to their oncologist about sperm banking before commencing chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
So, know your nuts - it's that simple!
The best thing you can do for your testicles is give them a bit of a feel each month or so, and if something doesn’t seem right, head to the doctor. If you notice a change in size or shape, a lump that wasn’t there before, or if they become painful to touch, see a doctor. Don’t panic but do get it checked out.
Men are more likely than women to drink excessively. Excessive drinking is associated with significant increases in short-term risks to health and safety, and the risk increases as the amount of drinking increases. Men are also more likely than women to take other risks (e.g., drive fast or without a safety belt), when combined with excessive drinking, further increasing their risk of injury or death.
Drinking levels among men
• Approximately 58% of adult men report drinking alcohol in the last 30 days
• Approximately 23% of adult men report binge drinking 5 times a month, averaging 8 drinks per binge
• Men are almost two times more likely to binge drink than women
• Most (90%) people who binge drink are not alcoholics or alcohol dependent
• About 4.5% of men and 2.5% of women met the diagnostic criteria for alcohol dependence in the past year
Injuries and deaths because of excessive alcohol use
• Men consistently have higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations than women.
• Among drivers in fatal motor-vehicle traffic crashes, men are almost twice as likely as women to have been intoxicated
(i.e., a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or greater).
• Excessive alcohol consumption increases aggression and, as a result, can increase the risk of physically assaulting another person.
• Men are more likely than women to commit suicide, and more likely to have been drinking prior to committing suicide.
Reproductive Health and Sexual Function
Excessive alcohol use can interfere with testicular function and male hormone production resulting in impotence, infertility, and reduction of male secondary sex characteristics such as facial and chest hair. Excessive alcohol use is commonly involved in sexual assault. Also, alcohol use by men increases the chances of engaging in risky sexual activity including unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, or sex with a partner at risk for sexually transmitted diseases.
Alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon in men.
Alcohol dependence, sometimes known as ‘alcoholism’, is the most serious form of drinking problem and describes a strong, often uncontrollable, desire to drink. Drinking plays an important part in the day to day life of alcohol dependent people, which could lead to building up a physical tolerance or experiencing withdrawal symptoms if they stop.
There are varying degrees of alcohol dependence and they don’t always involve excessive levels of drinking. If you find that you ‘need’ to share a bottle of wine with your partner most nights of the week, or always go for a few pints after work, just to unwind, you’re likely to be drinking at a level that could affect your long-term health. You could also be becoming dependent on alcohol. If you find it very difficult to enjoy yourself or relax without having a drink, you could have become psychologically dependent on alcohol. Physical dependence can follow too, that is your body shows withdrawal symptoms, such as sweating, shaking and nausea, when your blood alcohol level falls.
Alcohol dependence can contribute to mental health problems
Anxiety, depression and suicidal feelings can all develop when you’re alcohol dependent. This is because regular, heavy drinking interferes with neurotransmitters in our brains that are needed for good mental health. Being dependent on alcohol can affect your relationships with your partner, family, and friends. It might mean you don’t perform so well at work and if that continues for any length of time you could face losing your job, leading to financial problems as well. These issues can also contribute to depression and anxiety. Alcohol can also make you more aggressive. If you use alcohol to try and improve your mood, you may be starting a vicious cycle.
If you think your mental health is suffering because of your drinking, but you feel you’re not able to stop, ask for professional help. Start with a visit to your GP or by contacting one of the organisations listed at the end of this page. Alcohol can even make you more aggressive.
How to reduce your risk of becoming alcohol dependent
Taking regular breaks from alcohol is the best way to lower your risk of becoming dependent on it. If you drink regularly, your body builds up a tolerance to alcohol. Tolerance is a physiological response we have to any drug: the more you consume, the more your body needs to have the same effect. Regular drinking induces certain enzymes in your liver that break up (metabolise) alcohol. If you drink heavily over weeks or months, levels of these enzymes go up, your tolerance builds, and you need more alcohol to get the same effects.
Brain systems get tolerant to alcohol too, and although you may be able to walk a straight line after drinking quite a lot, this means the brain has adapted so that next day the brain cells ‘expect’ alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and jitteriness occur, and you can find yourself drinking alcohol just to relieve that. When you’re drinking most days, you can become psychologically dependent on alcohol too. Breaking your drinking cycle is an important way to test for – and tackle – this kind of dependence. It can prevent your body from becoming accustomed to alcohol and help to lower or ‘reset’ your tolerance.
Staying in control
Drinking within the low risk unit guidelines will help you keep your drinking under control. Here are three ways you can cut back: Try alternative ways to deal with stress other than alcohol. Instead of reaching for a beer or glass of wine after a hard day, go for a run, swim or to a yoga class, or a talk to a friend about what’s worrying you.
Keep track of what you’re drinking. Your liver can't tell you if you're drinking too much, but MyDrinkaware can. It can even help you cut down.
Give alcohol-free days ago. If you drink regularly, your body starts to build up a tolerance to alcohol. This is one of the main reasons why many medical experts recommend taking regular days off from drinking to ensure you don't become addicted to alcohol. Test out having a break for yourself and see what positive results you notice.
Your GP can help you figure out if you should make any changes in your drinking and offer help and advice along the way.
If you’re concerned about someone’s drinking, or your own, Drinkline runs a free, confidential helpline. Call 0300 123 1110.
Alcoholics Anonymous: If you need help with a drinking problem you can phone the national helpline on 0800 9177650 or email:
Causes of colour blindness:
Colour blindness is a usually a genetic (hereditary) condition (you are born with it). Red/green and blue colour blindness is usually passed down from your parents. The gene which is responsible for the condition is carried on the X chromosome and this is the reason why many more men are affected than women.
8% of the male population and 4.5% of the population of the UK are colour blind and there are estimated to be over 250 million colour blind people worldwide. Many people with a colour vision deficiency have inherited their condition from their mother, who is normally a ‘carrier’ but not colour blind herself. Some people also acquire the condition because of long-standing diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, some liver diseases and almost all eye diseases. The effects of colour vision deficiency can be mild, moderate, or severe depending upon the defect. If you have inherited colour blindness your condition will stay the same throughout your life – it won’t get any better or worse.
The retina of the eye has two types of light-sensitive cells called rods and cones. Both are found in the retina which is the layer at the back of your eye which processes images. Rods work in low light conditions to help night vision, but cones work in daylight and are responsible for colour discrimination. There are three types of cone cells and each type has a different sensitivity to light wavelengths. One type of cone perceives blue light, another perceives green and the third perceives red. When you look at an object, light enters your eye and stimulates the cone cells. Your brain then interprets the signals from the cones cells so that you can see the colour of the object. The red, green, and blue cones all work together allowing you to see the whole spectrum of colours. For example, when the red and blue cones are simulated in a certain way you will see the colour purple. The exact physical causes of colour blindness are still being researched but it is believed that colour blindness is usually caused by faulty cones but sometimes by a fault in the pathway from the cone to the brain.
People with normal colour vision have all three types of cone/pathway working correctly but colour blindness occurs when one or more of the cone types are faulty. For example, if the red cone is faulty you won’t be able to see colours containing red clearly. Most people with colour blindness can’t distinguish certain shades of red and green.
Colour blind people face many difficulties in everyday life which normally sighted people just aren’t aware of. Problems can arise in even the simplest of activities including choosing and preparing food, gardening, sport, driving a car and selecting which clothes to wear. Colour blind people can also find themselves in trouble because they haven’t been able to pick up a change in someone’s mood by a change in colour of their face, or not noticed their child getting sunburnt.
Colour blindness can affect access to education, exam grades and career choice.
Here are a just a few examples of typical, everyday problems:
- Most red/green colour-blind people won’t know if they’ve cooked a piece of meat rare or well done and they’re unlikely to be able to tell the difference between green and ripe tomatoes or between ketchup and chocolate sauce.
- Colour blind people often try to eat unripe bananas because they can’t tell the difference between a green unripe banana and a yellow ripe banana – to them because both of the colours are the same shade they often think they are the same colour.
In the UK society doesn’t generally think of colour blindness as a disability, but in most cases colour blindness should be considered to be a disability and therefore employers, schools and businesses must treat colour blindness in the same way they would any other disability. Unfortunately, the Guidance Notes to the Equality Act 2010 are misleading but the Government Equalities Office recognises colour blindness can be a disability, despite this ambiguity.
There is currently no treatment for inherited colour blindness. Some colour-blind people have found some coloured filters and some lenses might help them to distinguish between some colour combinations in certain situations, whilst others report no effect or that they can cause further confusion. There is hope on the horizon for a ‘cure’ for inherited colour vision deficiency using gene technology – for more information visit www.neitzvision.com. This will involve injecting genetic material into the eye so is not for the faint-hearted! Now there have been no trials on humans yet. For acquired colour vision deficiency, once the cause has been established and treated, your vision may return to normal.
Statistics: Noise Exposure and Hearing Protection
- About 51% of all workers in Construction have been exposed to hazardous noise.
- 31% of noise-exposed Construction workers report not wearing hearing protection.
Statistics: Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
- Approximately 14% of all Construction workers have hearing difficulty.
- About 7% of all Construction workers have tinnitus.
- About 25% of noise-exposed tested Construction workers have a material hearing impairment. Hearing impairment is hearing loss that impacts day-to-day activities.
- 16% of noise-exposed tested Construction workers have hearing impairment in both ears.
Noise Hazards in Construction
A construction site is a noisy place to work no matter what precautions are taken. Regular 8-hour exposures to 85 dBA can damage your hearing. If you have to use a jackhammer for 1 hour per day, you may experience hearing damage. The higher the noise level, the faster the hearing loss. This is bad news for construction workers because much of the equipment they use regularly is above the 85 dBA exposure level:
• Jackhammer: 100 dBA
• Chop saw: 105 dBA
• Chain saw: 110 dBA
• Hammer drill: 115 dBA
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that a 25-year old carpenter is likely to have the ears of 50-year old person who has not been exposed to noise. You may be exposed to various types and levels of noise of varying duration for much of your workday. But hearing damage, and the symptoms, can take time to develop. That’s why employers should provide yearly hearing tests for workers routinely exposed to hazardous noise levels. This can help determine if more needs to be done to protect your hearing. There are several devices, like sound meters and dosimeters, that measure noise levels, but you often don’t have access to them while you’re working. So what do you do? Use the 2-to-3 foot rule: Standing an arm’s length away from a co-worker (i.e. 2 to 3 feet), if you need to raise your voice to be heard, then the sound level is probably at or above 85 dBA.
Tell Tale Signs of Hearing Loss
Most occupational hearing loss is gradual, though the rate is greatest during the first 10 years of exposure. Continued noise exposure can cause hearing loss of frequencies needed to hear speech.
Awareness of the symptoms can help you identify possible damage and take the precautions necessary to reduce the damage. Signs of hearing loss include:
- Noise or ringing in your ears
- Difficulty hearing people on the phone
- Regular speech sounds like mumbling
- Difficulty hearing people when there’s background noise
- Trouble hearing cell phone rings or back-up alarms
- People must repeat what they said
- You hear muffled or distorted speech sounds
Also, OSHA recommends a self-test for workers who drive to work. Before you get out of your vehicle, turn off the engine and set the radio to a talk radio station so it’s barely loud enough to hear. At the end of your workday before you start the engine, note whether you can hear the radio with the power on. If you have trouble hearing it, there may be damage and you’ll need to better protect against high noise levels.
Sometimes administrative and engineering controls aren’t enough to adequately reduce noise to safe levels. Construction workers likely to be exposed to harmful noise should wear hearing protective devices. The various types of protection available are designed for specific conditions. Proper and consistent use of these devices is imperative for effective protection. If they aren’t comfortable and convenient, you might not use them, so it’s important that employers procure well-fitting, easy-to-use PPE.
When selecting and wearing hearing PPE, consider:
• Communication needs
• Convenience and comfort
• Noise level of the task
• Noise reduction of the devices
• Hearing ability
Typical hearing protective devices include roll down foam plugs, reusable earplugs, custom moulded plugs, canal caps, and earmuffs.
Remember: Your employer is required to provide you with the necessary PPE. If you don’t see it, ask for it. More info