While we have been dreaming of football coming home, over on the other side of the world, some incredible people have shown us what can be achieved when we are called upon to operate at the very peak of our abilities. The Thai footballers were saved, successfully in a daring, and doubtless terrifying cave rescue operation. They really did come home.

So, when does stress cross the line between the good stuff that brings out the best in us to the negative pressure that causes short and long-term damage to individuals and businesses? And how, as employers and managers do we prevent and manage this part of our legal duty to ensure the health (both physical and mental) of our employees?

Stress at work and the mental health issues that surround it are so often seen a mystery area, a dark art or a hazy zone of guess work and speculation – but it does not need to be this way. There is good, solid guidance out there that will show us how to deal with the difficulties that we face, and to help us place ourselves and those we manage on the right place on the Yerkes Dodson stress/performance curve (yes – this is where research and science meets proper management standards).

To find out more about the relationship between stress and performance, and to find out exactly what the law requires us to do, we need to get educated. The knowledge is out there and its simpler than you might think.

HCS Safety’s new training course – Mental Health Awareness – Preventing and Managing Occupational Stress will help you to do just that. You can book onto a course at our Southampton training centre, or we can provide training and guidance in your own workplace anywhere in the UK.

The HSE have released their figures on fatal work-related injuries for the 2017/2018.

The latest stats show that 144 people were killed at work during the 2017/18 period- an increase of nearly 10 from last year’s 135.  The figures show that work-related fatalities in the UK are not in decline: the figure of 144 is in line with the 147 fatalities in 2015–16, and 142 in 2014–15.

Around a third of the people killed were self-employed, which was more than twice than those who were directly employed by a company.  The figures also show that older workers are disproportionately vulnerable at work, with 55 fatalities among the over 60’s making up 40% of the total, while this group represents only 10% of the workforce.

Work at height has regained its position as the most common cause of work-related deaths in the UK with 35 fatalities, compared to 25 in 2016-17 when it dropped to second place to fatalities resulting from being struck by a moving vehicle (31 last year, falling to 26 in 2017-18).

The agriculture (29) and waste and recycling (12) sectors are also confirmed as the UK’s most dangerous workplaces in this year’s HSE provisional figures for fatal injuries at work in 2017–18, with a fatality rate running at, respectively, 18 and 16 times the all-industry average.

The construction sector, with 38 deaths compared to 30 in the preceding year, had a fatality rate of four times the all-industry average, slightly lower than the rate of fatalities in the mining and quarrying sector, at five times the all-industry average.

In addition,100 members of the public died in 2017–18 as a result of work-related activities- eight more than the 92 who lost their lives in the preceding year. Of the 100 deaths,  51 were killed on railways, and a further 16 occurred in the health and social work sector.

These figures exclude suicides on the railways, and the deaths of patients or service users.

The data covers deaths reported to the HSE, local authorities and the Office of Rail and Road that are judged to be reportable under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurences Regulations (RIDDOR).


If you run your own business you will know that it is a world of many ups and downs. The hard parts are when the work starts to take up the weekends and evenings and emails come on holiday with us, causing us to miss time with our family or friends. Or when we might be awake into the small hours worrying about just how we are going to solve that latest problem, and never quite switching off.

But the good times do make up for it. There is such a feeling of satisfaction when things go well. When your company pulls off a great project that you can be truly proud of, when an employee realises their full potential and when we reach those oh so important financial milestones. The thrill of this is deeply addictive. How many of us would ever want to say good bye to that?

A story has appeared just this week about an individual who has been banned from being a company director. Why? Because he put people at risk and tried to get around the consequences. Michael Allen liquidated his company (Allen and Hunt Construction Engineers) and set up a new business to avoid paying a fine after one of his workers was seriously injured. He has been banned from promoting, forming or managing a company for six years without the permission of the court.

This reckless disregard for others is fortunately rare, but there is, on a far larger scale, a worrying lack of knowledge and understanding out there. Regularly, we meet Directors who don’t really know what their duty of care entails, may not understand what negligence actually means and are largely in the dark about how to go about solving their problems in a structured way. We like the ones who are brave enough to admit it!

The positive side of this issue is that it is relatively simple to fix. Short, straightforward training is available to help – and it’s aimed at a level that will suit those who are approaching this area for the first time. Its heart-warming to see Directors face up to the gaps in their knowledge and enjoy the understanding that comes with attending either IOSH Leading Safely or the CITB Director’s Role course just for one day. Ignorance is no defence, so it’s better to face the gaps in our knowledge and start filling them as soon as possible.

Who is your first port of call for first aid training? There are a few big names that come to mind when we think of first aid training, but did you know that some of these organisations and charities are not regulated or monitored?


As an employer you have a responsibility to your employees to ensure that if they are taken ill or have an accident at work they receive immediate attention. To do this effectively you must have the right First Aid equipment, facilities and most importantly trained people available.
A First Aid needs risk assessment will help you to determine the number of trained employees you require and what level of training they need to complete, whether that is an Emergency First Aid 1-day course or the full First Aid at Work 3-day course.
It may surprise you to know that some of the biggest training providers in the UK that offer these courses are not monitored or regulated in any way. What this means is that they do not have to comply with current standards and guidelines that are recognised nationally and internationally. Unregulated trainers may not be up-to date with the latest techniques, information, and guidelines, and therefore may not deliver the same quality product as a regulated trainer who is monitored and assessed by a nationally recognised awarding body, such as OFQUAL.


By selecting a non-regulated training provider, you must check through your due diligence that the training provided complies with the currently accepted guidelines for first aid practice. This can be an arduous task as involves a lot of research on your part, and the consequences fall back on you if the training delivered is not up to the required standard. With regulated trainers, you know that the training meets the required standard so there is no responsibility on you to assess this yourself – you can trust the trainer!


Here at HCS we deliver regulated First Aid training that is monitored and assessed by the awarding organisation OFQUAL, giving you the confidence that the training we provide follows and complies with current guidance and legislation. Our trained staff are audited annually by an external auditor to check the quality and compliance of our course, which is in turn reviewed by the accrediting body. This helps ensure consistency and quality on every course.

Interested in finding out more?  Click Here.

1. British health and safety law is written to be reasonable. Most laws use a risk based approach with proportionality, founded on risk assessment, as its key principal.

2. The focus on health, the long-term illness and disease caused by work, is growing. Whilst the effects may be gradual, they are often irreversible. Management of health risks is a significant focus for the HSE and should be for businesses too. Businesses who get ahead of health risk management now will save their staff and themselves significant problems in the future.

3. Often the best resource a company has in health and safety is its own employees. The people who work for you know their job intimately, they do it every single day. Their involvement and knowledge of the work and the hazards it presents is vital when trying to protect them and you.

Feel free to have a look at the variety of Health & Safety services HCS has to offer businesses of all shapes and sizes https://www.hcssafety.co.uk/member-services/

Deciding the training requirements for your staff can be a tricky proposition. The best way is usually to get organised at the start of the process. This will allow you to make smart decisions on training levels, courses required, when they will need to be done by and how to plan for the future.

For this reason most companies will run a version of a ‘training matrix’. This permits directors and managers to sit down, look at what the business needs, the skills it already has and what more may need to be done to bridge the gap.

The law requires that all staff are competent to carry out their work safely. So by identifying the tasks that staff are required to carry out, and the risks they are likely to face you will be able to work through the most important to both give them the practical skills to prevent harm to themselves and others and discharge the companies duty to ensure competence. Once you have your matrix in place why don’t you visit us and see how we can help: https://www.hcssafety.co.uk/training/

Health and safety training for your employees, and the knowledge they gain from the training, can benefit your company in several different ways. From financial benefits to personnel and morale improvements. Listed below are just a few of the ways in which training your employees in health and safety can help you as employers.

1. Firstly financially, accidents can be expensive. This could be fines, legal fees, compensation pay-outs or statutory sick pay. Not only will having a well-trained workforce, with a clear understanding of how to work safely with regards to their own, and those around them, safety reduce the likelihood of accidents occurring and enduring the above financial costs. The fact that the staff are trained, could also work in your defence, should any accident lead to a court case.

2. Reducing the likelihood of accidents by training your employees to work safely can also have a big effect on staff turnover. If you can reduce employee absences due to work related accidents or illness, then you will save the cost and time in recruitment replacement or cover staff members. Not only this, but if an existing staff member feels safe then they are less likely to want to move on and find somewhere else to work.

3. Staff morale is a key issue for any business. You want your employees to feel happy and actually want to work for you. Creating a work environment where everyone is able to play an active role in health and safety is known to have far fewer accidents. Providing members of staff with health and safety training demonstrates to them that take bother their safety and well being seriously. Knowing that they are working somewhere safe will make them happier as they’re not worried about what could go wrong.

4. Health and safety training can also help you with building a positive reputation with not only your employees, but also your clients. Providing the correct training and investing money into doing so, shows that your care about your business and your staff. This will help your brand and could even swing potential deals in your favour, if clients feel they won’t need to worry about any accidents going forward.

For all information on any of our provided training courses and to book a place, please click here.

Too many times I’ve seen burnt workers, guys wandering around in the hottest part of the day without a top or sun protection on. I’ve been scoffed at by my guy friends when I’ve offered them sun cream– even though they know my story.

Many of you would have noticed my long absence around May last year. That is because on the 4th May ‘17, after 10 months of marriage, my husband Sam passed away from Melanoma Metastasis. He was days away from his 34th birthday.

I first spotted the mole on Sam’s back in July 2014. He was moley generally, with fair skin, but this one looked a little different. It had an odd red blemish on one side. I told him he should have it looked at, as a precaution. “Why? I haven’t ever had bad sunburn!” he told me. It wasn’t until April 2015 when the mole started to rub on his shirt whilst he was at the gym that he listened to me and had it looked at. And it was cancer. He had surgery to remove all 0.5mm of it, and we thought that was the end of that. We carried on with life and got engaged that July in Rome.

April 2016, and Sam comes out of the shower with concern on his face- he’s found a lump in his underarm. A visit to his surgeon and a biopsy confirms the worst. He undergoes more surgery, and radiotherapy is booked as a precaution- “Belt and braces” they called it. They postpone it slightly for our wedding in July, so after a 6 day honeymoon we are back at the hospital every day for 6 weeks of radiotherapy. Chemotherapy is not an option for Melanoma. It’s too aggressive. During the radiotherapy bruising and lumps start to appear all over his body. We call his surgeon. Sam had gone stage 4. In September 2016 we are told that the cancer was not only all over his body, but it was now in his lungs and brain.

We took the medication and steroids and carried on with life as best we could. No one could give us timescales. All we knew is that these drugs would keep him going until the cancer adapted, mutated so that it was immune to the treatment. So we decided to carry on with life as best we could, travelling to Budapest for my 31st birthday, buying our first home together, trying to start a family.

13 days after moving into our first home together, Sam passed away suddenly. It was exactly 1 week after being told that the brain tumours were mutating and fighting his medication.

People don’t seem to take things seriously until it happens to them, or someone they know. Well, I’m here to tell you that now you do know someone. I’m a widow at 31. We were trying to start a family- but it wasn’t meant to be.

Sam wore sun cream. He covered up. And he still got cancer. Cancer can happen at any age and Melanoma is by far the most difficult to treat. We have come so far with cancer treatments, but we are still very much in the dark when it comes to treating skin cancer. Why increase your chances of getting it for the sake of not protecting your skin? Spending 5 minutes popping some cream on? So before you take your shirt off, singe your skin whilst sat in the pub garden and think you’ll be ok… just ask yourself. Is it worth it?

I wouldn’t wish the pain of losing my best friend, the man I was to spend the rest of my life with, on my worst enemy.

This isn’t ‘health and safety gone mad’. It’s common sense.


You can read Jess’s original article on Linkedin.

The CITB have recently changed their rules regarding their levy scheme- and users are being caught out.

Those who have signed up for, and are part of CITB’s grant scheme, can now only claim money back from training courses held at a training centre that has been awarded an ATO (CITB Approved Training Organisation).

HCS Safety is pleased to announce that we are now an ATO, proving that our teaching reaches an industry recognised standard, as well maintaining our ability to help you claim back as part of the CITB Grant Scheme.

The CITB grants scheme provides grants for employers in the construction industry to train their workers.

You can claim grants if you are an employer registered with CITB and you send a Levy Return by 31 December each year. Small employers that don’t need to pay the levy can still claim grants.

CITB grants are for training and qualifications completed in the grant scheme year (1 April of this year to 31 March of the next year).

You claim grants after your employee finishes their training or gains their qualification. If a course runs over more than one grant scheme year, you make separate claims for each year.

CITB has recently changed the way it supports training for the construction industry, including the introduction of ATOs.

CITB describes an ATO as ‘an organisation which provides construction training courses and qualifications to a defined and industry agreed training standard.’

If you book and complete a CITB course through a company that is not a registered ATO, you will not be able to claim anything back.

For more information or to ensure your places on any of our CITB courses, please contact our training team on 02380 894695.

  By Andy Bishop, Health and Safety Consultant

“What on earth?”, “there are no barriers”, “do they not know the risks they are exposing themselves to?”. ‘Why are so many people up there?’. My Safety Bloke brain was going into overdrive as I struggled to take in the image I was transfixed by.

I don’t like Mondays’ tailed off on the radio and Jeremy Vine mentioned something about gun law in the US and Bob Geldof. As he started his next item my ears pricked up. He mentioned a public awareness campaign taking place in London which aimed to get men talking about mental health.

It started to dawn on me, this was the picture I was staring at. Gradually, realisation sunk in – ‘every two hours’ – ’84 a week’ – ‘4368 a year’.

These figures are shocking, they refer to the number of men who commit suicide every day, every week, every year in the UK alone. The 84 statues represent those poor souls for whom life has proved too much. Men in their prime who don’t have anywhere left to turn, who think that the only way is down, looking for some way to end their pain, their torment, their anguish.

As I listened and Googled the information, I was haunted by this image and the powerful message that it portrayed. All the statues are clothed, some in casual hoodies and jeans, others wearing suits and ties, some in uniforms, some in work wear, some are black, some are white, some are young, some are older a cross section of men in the UK. The single common denominator that all of them share is the overwhelming, all consuming desire to end their lives.

I remembered my own journey which took me closer to the edge than I dare recall and all the feelings associated with it. At this point I started to weep as I remembered two of my close friends who found themselves in similar positions. Both gave no outward signs that they were suffering. I was reminded of my friend’s son at the graveside, sobbing uncontrollably as his Daddy was lowered. I remember how I felt seeing and hearing that, it is an image that will never, ever leave me.

I remember my daughter hugging me tightly and saying through tears ‘promise me you won’t ever do that’.

I have learned that suicide does not end the pain, it’s simply a transfer of ownership. Those that are left behind don’t get any answers, the whys and wherefores, the reasons.

…And I can see no reason, ‘cos there are no reasons, what reason do you need to be sure…

Talking about emotions and feelings, stresses and poor mental health is not something that comes naturally to men, we tend to see it as weakness until it goes to far. We are geniuses at hiding our emotions from people, putting on a brave face.

But every two hours of every day, somebody’s Partner, Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, Family and Friends take ownership of that brave face and have to wear it for the rest of their lives.
Gents, let’s get together and end the stigma associated with our mental health. It’s definitely not weak to speak.

For more information about Project 84 and CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), please see their website https://www.projecteightyfour.com