Health & Safety Top Tips

5 Health & Safety Top Tips for Your Business

In February 2016, sentencing powers, for the non-compliance of Health & Safety legislation, within the Scottish court system became tougher. This was designed to bring the penalties more in line with those available in England and Wales, and since February 2016 the fines handed down from Scottish courts to businesses has ranged from anywhere between £160,000 to £2.6 million.
The likelihood of custodial sentences being imposed on individuals for serious breaches of Health & Safety law also became more common, with sentences of 26 weeks imprisonment available for offences even where no negligence was found.

Furthermore, even where no criminality took place, the implications for businesses which suffer major incidents are considerable.
For example, 60% of UK businesses which suffer fire damage never recover; the loss of premises, equipment, stock and clients being too much for a company to regain.

To assist you in creating a safer workplace, and avoid falling foul of the law, we’ve created what we consider to be 5 Health & Safety Top Tips.

1) Appoint Competent Persons.

A Competent Person is someone with the relevant experience, skills, knowledge and, just as importantly, the motivation to manage Health & Safety for your business and workforce.
As safe working practices will have a much better chance of being successful if they’re accepted rather than enforced, your Competent Persons should be able to demonstrate a good understanding of effective man-management techniques.
They should be able to demonstrate, through accredited certification such as an IOSH Managing Safely course, a CITB or an NEBOSH equivalent, that they have at least understood the fundamentals of Health & Safety legislation, regulations and Accepted Codes of Practice. They may also require further accredited certification if your business operates in specialised sectors, such as offshore, mining or construction.

For low-risk businesses, that Competent Person may be yourself, or one or more members of staff whom you feel meet the above criteria, but for larger organisations and those where the work activity reaches a medium to high-risk category it may be necessary to hire an expert consultant, either on a freelance basis or fully employed within the company itself.

There are a number of sources available to advise and guide you in appointing or recruiting the right person. These may include:

Trade associations
Safety groups
Trade unions
Consultants registered on the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register (OSHCR)
Local councils
Health and safety training providers
Health and safety equipment suppliers

2) Have a written Health & Safety policy for your Business.

Despite the fact that it is a legal requirement for businesses with 5 or more staff to have one, you’re simply not going to have a workforce which understands your commitment to a safer workplace, far less how to achieve it, if you do not have a formal written policy in place.

Your Health & Safety policy will quite simply state who does what, when and how. There’s no need to over-complicate things. Keep the policy simple and clear, and keep the objective in mind when writing it.

The Health & Safety Executive have created handy templates to assist with writing your policy.
http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/safety-policy-risk-assessment-template.odt

Remember, a workplace policy will only be effective if everyone involved follows it and you review it regularly.

 
3) Conduct a Risk Assessment.

Again, this is not something you can nor should avoid. For one, you have a legal obligation to “avoid or reduce risks to what is reasonably practicable”, and secondly, you cannot hope to eliminate or reduce risks if you have not clearly identified what they are.

Like your written policy statement, your Risk Assessment should be kept simple. There are 5 main stages to risk assessing:

  1. Identify the Hazard
  2. Identify who is at Risk
  3. Evaluate the Risks
  4. Record your findings
  5. Revise & Review the RA at regular intervals or when necessary

Essentially, all you’re doing is attempting to identifying everything significant that may cause harm to anyone affected by your business and then devise a plan to avoid that risk altogether or reduce it.
You won’t win any business award for over-complicating the Risk Assessment so keep things simple and focus on the control measures you can put in place.
Take a tour of your premises or site and look for anything that may cause harm. Speak with your colleagues and staff, listen to any concerns they raise and consider them carefully. Very often a potential hazard will be identified by someone else when it may not seem obvious to you.
Don’t fill your risk assessment with everyday hazards and don’t attempt to predict unforeseen risks, rather concentrate on the significant hazards which are likely to cause harm without sufficient control measures in place. Remember to consider people who may not normally work on your site, such as inductees, temporary workers, contractors and visitors. As they’ll be unfamiliar with your workplace, the chances of a hazard harming one of these individuals is higher than someone who has spent a reasonable amount of time working there.

Different templates and example Risk Assessments are available all over the internet, but the HSE website is probably your best first port of call. If you use theirs, you can be sure all fields of entry will cover what you require.

Finally, as hazards and risks continually change and evolve over time (and sometimes day-to-day) remember to regularly review and revise the Risk Assessment so that it continually meets your requirements. This should be done when there is any significant change to policy, working practice or when you appoint new staff.

4) Invest in your people.

You’ve come this far. You’ve appointed a Competent Person and you’ve written a formal Health & Safety policy. This will all fall short, however, if you do not train your staff to identify hazards and risks for themselves and, by extension, how to work safely. Don’t rely on your staff having, “common sense”, ensure that they are made aware of the hazards they may face and the consequences of failing to work safely.

A Health & Safety poster is your first step, but you’ll need to provide more if you’re serious about creating a safer working culture.

Not all staff will have to attend the same training courses. So take a considered, proportionate approach when considering what type of training should be provided and who it should be provided to. Low-risk businesses, for example, will generally only require staff to receive simple information, instructions or guidance. If you’ve identified a need for your staff to receive a formal training course, remember that, as most Health & Safety training can only ever provide general information and advice, you’ll have to supplement the training with in-house updates and more specific details peculiar to your own business or workplace.

Consult your staff and ask them for feedback on the training they’ve just received. This will allow you to determine whether the training was effective or even relevant.

Document all training and retain records. Not only is this a legal requirement, it will greatly assist you when the time comes to renew or refresh training.
All work-related training should be paid for by the business itself and take place during normal working hours. Don’t simply go for the cheapest or most expensive training either. Price is not a good barometer of quality, and, unfortunately, neither is simply going for one of the “big names”.
Instead, choose a training provider which is affiliated to an industry body such as IOSH, CITB or NEBOSH. This will demonstrate that the training provider has achieved a high standard of accreditation underpinned with relevant industry knowledge and experience.

Providing Health & Safety training to your staff may feel like a distraction or expensive without an obvious ROI, but remember these key points:

* A well trained, safety conscious workforce will reduce the risk of accidents.
* A reduced risk of accidents prevents loss of reputation and the prospect of claims
* A good Health & Safety culture may be rewarded with reduced insurance premiums
* The absence of accidents helps to prevent stress
* An accident-free, stress-free workforce is generally a happier & more productive workforce.

Remember to include contractors and the self-employed in any information you provide.

5) Don’t be afraid to encourage the reporting and documenting of ‘Near Misses’

Accidents can and will happen. We can implement all the safety measures available to us, but we have to face up to the fact that human error is one of the main causes of accident in the workplace. Hopefully, no one is harmed. But recognise that the potential for someone to have been harmed was very real, but for luck or good fortune.

Therefore, do not fear the reporting and documentation of near misses or “Dangerous Occurrences” as something that may get your business in trouble with the authorities. Instead, look upon them as an opportunity to learn and improve your working practices. Use the opportunity to work in partnership with your staff, the HSE or local authority to ensure “so far as reasonably practicable” that it doesn’t happen again.

Encourage your staff to report genuine concerns. By doing so you’ll automatically begin to engineer a safer culture, and if the staff feel like senior management is approachable, flexible and attentive where there welfare is concerned, you’ll achieve something which cannot be bought – their loyalty.

Health and Safety for Construction

Construction Companies Affected by New Health and Safety Legislation

Construction companies have definitely had to swallow a bitter pill when it comes to changes in health and safety legislation if they have been non-compliant.  There were revisions made in February and there have been heavy consequences for companies that don’t comply.  It is said to be the largest overhaul of legislation of this nature in over 40 years for not only health and safety but for corporate manslaughter and food hygiene.

Since February the BLM Health and Safety tracker have recorded that nearly 40% of construction business have not only breached legislation but have been given fines which have totalled over a massive £8 million.

A variety of things were taken into consideration before handing out these heavy fines, the size of the corporation is one of them.  Construction companies that are larger and have a turnover of over £50 million are the ones that are hit the hardest as if their offences are serious – the fine could be over £10 million.  3 of the largest cases have accumulated fines of £5.6 million and examples have also been made of Directors who were given custodial sentences.  Of course, legal fees were also applicable and totalled over £185,000 for the 3 cases.

Helen Devery is the head of the SHE Practice and she stated that if there is a large construction company that are in serious breach of any of the new legislation, then they can expect some hard-hitting fines.  It has definitely opened some eyes and more care and attention has to be placed on ensuring that everything is to the regulated standard for the sake of the company and the employees.  If you are interested in any of our health and safety training courses – please contact us for a free consultation.

What does Brexit mean for Health and Safety

What Does Brexit Mean for Health and Safety?

The whole of the UK is still reeling from the result of the EU referendum, and although many questions have been asked, one of them is “Could this mean changes to legislation?”

The concern with health and safety legislation is that although held by the UK, the policies are a mix of that implemented by the UK and the EU.  It is probable that if there was a complete exit from the EU a 2 year notice period would need to be given and during this time legislation that has been derived from the EU would still remain in place.

One of the main concerns for employees is that much of the legislation that has been derived from the EU are based on workers’ rights, so it’s natural that there has been a growing concern among UK workers.  The Framework Directive was implemented in the UK as the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 is just one example of legislation that could be affected. This was put in place for companies to ensure that health and safety risks in the workplace are identified and evaluated.

Although there are growing concerns amongst UK citizens, realistically we wouldn’t expect that too much would change.  It makes sense for the UK to continue to work with the European Trade Organisation in some form which means that there would still be cooperation needed by the laws that have been enforced by the European Free Trade.

There has also been a discussion about another Scottish independence referendum since Scotland voiced their preference to remain part of the EU and further complications that could arise there.  Although there may not be a complete overhaul of laws it is likely that there will be some changes to legislation including health and safety.

Get Better Workplace Training

Health and Safety in the New Year… and other stuff.

So, most of us will have been back at work for around a week now, and Christmas – or more specifically the time off – seems like a distant memory of a previous life. The only tangible thing to remind us, seems to be the few extra pounds of ‘holiday weight’ we’ve seem to put on. Damn you, After Eights!! However, we’re raring to go and see what this year has in store. We’re very excited to be launching our new Health and Safety courses in March, including Manual Handling, Risk Assessment, Fire Safety Awareness and much, much more.

Contact us today for more information on availability and discounts for these courses (details below).

We’ve also got big news coming soon, that’s sure to be of interest to the transportation and haulage industries, so stay tuned for that…

In the meantime, we’re still delivering First Aid training related courses at our training centre in Hamilton. Courses are already booking up fast for 2016, so be sure to book early and take advantage of our ‘early bird’ discounts. Savings of up to 30% off are available. The earlier you book, the larger the discount!

So if you’re reviewing your First Aid/Health and Safety procedures, or if you’re simply looking to increase your own C.V. content, get in touch and see how we can help.

We’ll take this opportunity to let you get back to your work, but let us remind you that you can contact us via the website, using the ‘contact us’ internal links, email us at info@firstpasstraining.com or you can speak with one of our advisors on 01698 421444 whom are only to happy to assist you with any training enquiries you may have.

Have a great January, and try to stick to those New Year Resolutions…we know we probably won’t!

‘Seasons Greetings’ from First Pass Training Ltd.

Well, we’re nearly at the end of another year, and what a quick year 2015 has been.

Since launching our training centre at Hamilton in May, we’ve met hundreds of interesting delegates and clients. Plenty of people have filed through our doors and successfully completed their First Aid training.

We’ve taken pleasure in knowing that, not only are Lanarkshire’s employers keen to have their staff trained to the highest standards, but there are more people now with the skills to potentially save a life than there was before.

However, there’s much work yet to be done.

When we compare the amount of people, whom are fully trained in First Aid techniques, in countries such as Norway (95%), to those in the UK (5%), it becomes clear there’s a direct correlation between this and out of hospital sudden cardiac arrest survival rates – Norway 50% chance of survival, UK 10% chance of survival.

We feel government could play a much bigger role in addressing these statistics. So we were left very disappointed when a recent proposal to teach First Aid to all secondary school pupils was ‘talked-out’ of parliament, meaning, MPs spoke for so long on the subject, there was no time left to actually vote on it!

Such “filibustering” techniques, as they’re known, on a subject as important as First Aid, really isn’t good enough, especially when looking to reduce the 75,000 adults who die each year in the UK from SCA.

Anyway, we’re sure the subject will be visited again in due course, and hopefully there won’t be as many MPs “playing politics” with people’s lives as there was this time around….

In the meantime, we’ll continue to promote good First Aid practice for the workplace and at home, we’ll help to remove stigma associated with various conditions, and hopefully we’ll continue to make First Aid a skill people want to learn, rather than having to learn.

We’re looking forward to launching a range of new training courses in the New Year, which will complement our First Aid courses, and will assist employers in achieving, and maintaining, the best Health & Safety standards available.

These new courses will include, at regulated level;

Level 1 Award in Health and Safety
* Level 2 Award in Health and Safety
* Level 1 Award in Fire Safety Awareness
* Level 2 Award in Fire Risk Assessment
* Level 2 Award in Fire Safety Principles
* Level 2 Award in Risk Assessment
* Level 2 Award in COSHH Risk Assessment
* Level 2 Award in Manual Handling Risk Assessment
* Level 2 Award in Safer Moving and Handling

We’re sure there’s at least one course there for everyone’s requirements, and we’re confident we can quickly become the preferred Health & Safety training provider for many firms in 2016 and beyond.

Our office will remain open until 17:00 on the 23rd of December, and will be open again after the festivities on the 5th of January.

May we take this opportunity to wish all our clients, customers, suppliers and delegates a very Merry Christmas, and a happy and prosperous New Year.