Monthly Archives: October 2014

7 Steps to Ensuring the Safety of Your Agency Staff

As the hirer, you are responsible for the health and safety of agency employees and contract workers whilst they are working on your premises or using equipment, materials and substances provided by you. In reality, agency workers are likely to be at greater risk in your premises because they are unfamiliar with your systems of work and the inherent hazards and risks. So what should you do to protect them?

Keep Agency Staff Safe with these Top Tips

  1. Ensure your health and safety policy includes agency workers and states who will take responsibility for their health and safety. Agency workers should be given a copy of the policy and made aware of their own health and safety responsibilities.
  2. Your risk assessments should take agency workers into account and include any special problems they may face, e.g. where English is not their first language.
  3. Provide induction training for agency workers before they start work – it should include fire safety, first aid, emergency procedures, reporting accidents and near misses. Ensure you give them information regarding risk assessments and control measures before they start work.
  4. Agency workers must not use machinery and equipment without being shown the correct operating methods. The same applies to the use of chemicals and substances.
  5. Before carrying out manual handling tasks, workers should be provided with instruction on safe methods of handling, and if they are going to be using a computer, remember that agency workers all come within the scope of the Display Screen Equipment Regulations if they fulfil the definition of user or operator.
  6. If you need to carry out health checks on employees, e.g. for hazardous substances, as best practice, you could include agency workers. Co-ordinate your arrangements with the agency so that everyone is clear about who will provide what.
  7. Make sure there is a clear agreement between you and the agency on who will supply personal protective equipment (PPE) to the worker. It must be supplied free of charge and the worker should be trained on how to use it.

The recent trend of the courts has been to increase the range of circumstances in which employers are held liable for the health and safety of agency staff. Don’t forget to include them in your health and safety arrangements.

Contact us should you require assistance.


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How Do I Identify Employee Health and Safety Training Needs?

As an employer, you have duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to provide health and safety training to workers on recruitment and on being exposed to new risks or new equipment, new technology or new systems of work.

5 Top Tips for Identifying Training Needs

  1. Carry out a training needs analysis of all the roles within your organisation to identify the skills and knowledge needed for people to carry out their work safely. Compare these against current skills and knowledge and identify the gaps. Don’t forget to include temporary employees and contractors. Assess your workers’ willingness to learn and their preferred learning style, e.g. classroom based, on-the-job training, etc.
  2. Your risk assessments must identify hazards and the controls needed to remove or reduce risks to health and safety. In addition to physical safeguards and procedures, your workers must be trained so that they understand hazards and risks and know their part in tackling them. Young workers are a vulnerable group and will require extra training, so ensure you consider their specific needs within your risk assessment. Migrant workers are also vulnerable and you will need to satisfy yourself that they have understood the training they have been given. Pictures and diagrams may be useful in helping deliver any training messages.
  3. If you are not competent to deliver training in house, you will need outside help. The law requires you to have access to suitable, competent advice to help you manage health and safety and this includes providing you with advice on health and safety training requirements and your options for meeting them. Training must be carried out in working time and must be paid for by the employer.
  4. Get employees to sign off the training they have received and keep records. The records should indicate the content and duration of the training.
  5. Regularly review the outcome of your training to identify any further training needs and to assess the effectiveness of your training needs analysis. You should also monitor your health and safety performance to identify any problem areas.

Act now to ensure employees are trained to work safely if you want to avoid hefty fines and civil action costs.

If you require training advice please contact us.


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Fines for Poor Asbestos Management: Will Your Company be Next?

The duty to manage asbestos is contained within Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. If you own, maintain or repair a building, then as the owner, you are responsible for the duty under Regulation 4. But in practical terms, how should you go about managing asbestos in your workplace?

7 Tips for Managing Asbestos in Your Workplace:

  1. Start with a management survey, which should be carried out by a UKAS accredited company. The survey should state the location and condition of known, or presumed, asbestos containing materials (ACMs). If you are going to demolish or refurbish your premises, then you will need a demolition or refurbishment survey, which will involve destructive inspection.
  2. Now assess the risk of exposure, taking into account tenants, contractors, cleaners, maintenance personnel and others, e.g. the emergency services. From this, you can develop and implement your management plan, which should set out how you intend to carry out your control measures so that persons are not exposed. Prioritise your actions and write them in an action plan.
  3. You will need to think about how you will carry out checks for any damage or deterioration. Damaged or deteriorated ACMs must be repaired, removed or isolated to prevent exposure to released fibres. If ACMs need to be sealed, encapsulated or removed, you will need to employ a licensed contractor if the materials are high risk, e.g. asbestos insulation panels. If the materials are low risk, e.g. asbestos cement, then an unlicensed but competent contractor may carry out this work.
  4. Aim to prevent all unintentional disturbance of ACMs by having clearly defined procedures. Don’t forget to include emergencies. Appoint a responsible person, who is competent, to oversee the management of asbestos. List workers who may be affected by asbestos and stipulate the training requirements for each group.
  5. Control access to the premises and ensure that work in areas where ACMs are present cannot start without a Permit to Work. Maintenance staff and contractors should know your rules about ACMs and how to work safely on or adjacent to them.
  6. If ACMs are accidentally disturbed, you must log the incident.
  7. Review your management plan at least every 12 months by carrying out visual inspections for damage, reviewing the incident log.

Remember: the duty to manage is all about putting in place practical steps to protect maintenance workers and others from the risk of exposure to asbestos fibres. Avoid costly fines and review your procedures today.

Contact us should you require advice.

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Gate Safety Week to Launch in October – Avoid Tragedies at Your Workplace

As an employer, you have responsibilities under health and safety legislation, including ensuring that gates are maintained in efficient working order by a competent person and keeping records of such maintenance. You should only use a reputable company that regularly tests the safety features of the gates to ensure they are set and working correctly.

6 Tips for Ensuring Your Gates are Installed and Maintained Safely

  1. Arrange for a gate ‘MOT’ to be carried out, which should include a documented risk assessment force test, as specified within BS EN 12445. The risk assessment must be performed by the gate installer as proof of compliance when carrying out servicing, maintaining or repair.
  2. Have your gates force tested annually. If the gates are unsafe, take steps to make them safe by installing safety devices or protective mechanisms. As an interim measure, the gates must be deactivated by isolating the power. If you are concerned about security, you should only permit the gates to be used under strict supervision.
  3. Ensure the gates are inspected at least every 6 months to ensure they work properly and that the protective mechanisms are effective, e.g. the automation system, earth connection, operating/stop devices, photocells, other safety devices, control panel settings and manual release operation.
  4. Following inspection, the risk assessment should be reviewed and amended, if necessary.
  5. By law, the gate installer must provide you with information on how to maintain the gates, this includes use of the manual release key.
  6. The Machinery Directive requires you to keep several key documents in a technical file, including: risk assessment, declaration of conformity, force testing results, declarations of incorporation (conformity) from the drive unit and safety device manufacturers, guide for the safe use of the gate, details of the location of emergency devices and installation/maintenance log.

The message is simple – no one should install or work on powered gates without knowing the relevant legal standards. Employ the services of a company that can prove its ability to do the work safely.


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National Stress Awareness Day!

Stress is back under the spotlight this month with National Stress Awareness Day on Wednesday 5th November. At this time of the year stress levels typically rise, because although nature may be slowing down and encouraging us to rest and retreat, our modern lives and work schedules continue to demand constant activity and productivity.

Winter offers an invitation to turn inward and recuperate. When we override this seasonal rest cycle by forcing ourselves to race on without refuelling we can begin to experience burnout. A common symptom of this is depression.


1. Listen – Allow the wisdom of your body to communicate with you by noticing the physical signs and symptoms it gives you rather than overriding them. Be kind to yourself. It is okay to feel low.

2. Pause – Give yourself permission to press pause, de-stress and take time out to rest.

3. Lighten Your Load – Let go of unnecessary commitments. Clear some space in your calendar so that you can slow down, indulge in some personal reflection and get more sleep.

4. Go Within – Use creative mediums like poetry, art, song, dance and body movement to explore and process your emotions, especially the ones you’ve felt unable to express in the past.

5. Remove the Mask – Make a list or draw pictures of all the things you pretend to be in your life. What are you putting up with? What are your frustrations? Where do you feel tension? By expressing these it becomes easier to go behind the mask you wear and rediscover who you truly are underneath.

6. Get Outside – Make an effort to get outside during the day and increase your exposure to daylight. This will help to boost your mood and is especially important during the winter months when there are shorter daylight hours.

7. Uncover Your Passions Connect with your true interests to boost your sense of self-fulfilment and help overcome depression. Lacking inspiration? Remember some of the things you used to love to do as a child and reignite old hobbies or experiment by trying something new.

NB: If you think you may be suffering from prolonged stress, depression or SAD consult your GP for further advice and information.

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Defibrillators in the Workplace: Find Out if You Should Provide Them

An AED is a device that shocks a casualty to restore the normal pumping of the heart to restart the blood circulation. It works by interpreting the heartbeat and automatically sending an electric shock, but it will not deliver it unless it can detect the presence of a heart rhythm. There is no explicit legal requirement to provide defibrillators in the workplace, but the British Heart Foundation and the Resuscitation Council UK advocate their provision. Generally speaking, if your first aid needs assessment indicates that the likelihood of cardiac arrest in your workplace is high, you should provide a defibrillator.

8 Top Tips for Managing Defibrillator Use

  1. Review your policies to ensure you have clearly defined the roles and responsibilities of personnel who oversee and use AEDs.
  2. Ensure your employees know that there is an AED present, where it is and what it is for.
  3. An AED can be used safely and effectively without previous training. However, training should be provided to improve the time to shock delivery and correct pad placement and to demonstrate compliance with the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER).
  4. In terms of location, the AED is best positioned in public areas. If there is a significant risk of theft or vandalism, any measures you put into place must be accompanied by reliable arrangements to minimise the delay in obtaining access when needed.
  5. Whenever the AED is deployed, ensure you undertake a detailed investigation and review as part of the company’s health and safety management system.
  6. Ensure that the device, as with all other first aid equipment you provide, is properly maintained under PUWER. Failure to maintain an AED unit and its disposable parts, such as batteries and pads, can result in the equipment malfunctioning at the critical moment of deployment.
  7. The use of an AED, especially in the case of a fatality, can result in the operator suffering psychological distress and you should consider implementing post-incident counselling.
  8. If you intend to use the equipment on non-employees, check your insurance company will indemnify you.

A person who has had a cardiac arrest will die if they don’t receive emergency treatment. Seconds count, and using a defibrillator will increase their chance of survival.

Contact us if you wish to purchase a defibrillator and update company procedures.



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Tips for staying safe during the dark nights

With the shortest day of the year coming up, we have issued a number of tips to ensure people stay safe over the festive period.


With winter quickly approaching we are urging people to take a number of measures to protect themselves and their properties during the darker nights.


The aim is to cut crimes which traditionally rise when the clocks go back. While crime has been reducing in recent years, burglary, robbery and vehicle crime can increase with the darker nights.


Our tips are:


* Most burglars are opportunists – Make sure you use a light timer switch to make it look like you’re at home

* One in five burglaries take place through unsecure windows and doors, so keep them locked – don’t let them in!

* Do not leave your house or car keys in a visible and easy to reach place in your house

* Be careful not to advertise your movements when visiting public places or using social media sites like Facebook

* When out and about keep expensive items out of sight and close to you at all times

* Consider property marking your expensive and valuable items

* Make sure people know your whereabouts

* Do not leave property on display in your car

* Consider personal safety when travelling at night, avoid dark short cuts and always let someone know where you are going

* Register your valuables for free on the National Property Database

* Plan journeys in advance and remember to book a licensed taxi before heading out for the night.


With the darkest nights upon us, thieves may take advantage which could increase the risk of burglaries and thefts. We are urging people to do as much as they can to ensure they are not targeted by thieves and by following a few common sense safety tips they may save themselves and their families a lot of money and distress.

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