HCS Safety are delighted to announce that we are re-opening our training centre in Southampton for face-to-face classroom learning from 22nd February.

We have given a lot of thought to how we re-open safely in light of the new variant of the virus and have concluded that to do the right thing morally and legally, for both our customers and own employees, we will start to conduct lateral flow Covid-19 rapid testing for all our attendees and staff.

We will re-open in stages as follows:

22nd February – 5th March – Scaffold Inspection / PASMA Towers for Users / CITB Health & Safety Awareness (Green Card Course) / all in-house courses will be live in the classroom. All other courses will be delivered remotely via Microsoft Teams.

8th March – all training will be back in the classroom until further notice.

For full details of all our training courses, dates, prices and booking, please click here.

 

KEY QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

What if they test positive?

We will provide a leaflet to the delegate setting out the government requirements. We will inform you as soon as possible that they have tested positive for Covid-19. They will not be allowed to enter the building. We will discuss moving their booking to a later course. There will be no charge for this.

Will we have to pay for the test?

No – we will pay for the tests and will not pass on this cost to you. We are doing this to allow us to open safely and to protect our customers and staff.

How long will HCS Safety do this for?

Our current plan is to conduct pre-course testing until the Easter break, Thursday 1st April.

We will be closely monitoring the infection numbers and may stop before then or continue after. We will also review the situation based on how many positive tests we are seeing.

*18/03/21 Edit – Originally we had planned to stop testing after Easter, but we have taken the decision to extend our testing regime until the end of April, when we will review it in the light of data on transmission rates both locally and nationally.*

What test are you using?

We are using a Siemens CLINITEST Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Test. This works with a simple nasal swab and has an accuracy rating of 96.35% – 99.74%. If you would like more information on the test itself, please email zoe@hcssafety.co.uk for a fact sheet.

How will this work on the day?

Our staff will greet vehicles as they arrive and ask them to reverse park in our front car park to await their test.

We will pass a test kit with clear instructions to delegates and ask them to undertake the test themselves. These are very simple to do and the instructions will be very clear.

Once delegates have taken their nasal swab sample, they will set a timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes they will put on their hazard lights to let us know their test is complete.

We will approach their vehicle window to read the test result. If negative they will enter the building and sign in as usual.

If positive we will provide them with guidance info on what to do but we will not allow them into the building. We will inform you of any positive tests.

If the test has failed we will ask them to repeat it with another kit.

What if the delegate is coming via public transport/bicycle/taxi?

For poor weather we have a limited area for testing people inside the building. If the weather is good we will set up an area outside.

What if they are late?

We do reserve the right to deny entry for anyone arriving too late as we do in normal times. They will still need to undertake a test before we allow them into the building so it is vital that they arrive early.

What if they have already had a test recently?

If delegates can show us evidence that they have had a negative PCR test within 48 hours of arrival, they do not need to undertake our lateral flow test. They will need to show us the email they will have received after receiving their negative test results.

If they have undertaken a lateral flow test elsewhere even very recently, they will still need to take our test.

The course lasts 2 days – do they get tested every day?

No – we will test delegates on day one but not on the 2nd or 3rd consecutive day. If the course runs into a second week we will test them on the 1st day of the course in the 2nd week.

How about the tutor? Will they be tested?

Yes – we will be testing our tutors regularly in order to protect the health of our customers. Tutors will be tested at least once per week. More if they are teaching on more than one course.

Will you be relaxing social distancing while you are doing this?

No – absolutely not. Our classrooms are still set up so individual desks are 2m apart, individual exercise materials are provided and all other requirements for distancing, handwashing and sanitising will remain in place. Delegates are encouraged to wear face coverings and we may require this for certain situations such as practical parts of some courses. Delegates will be expected to have a face covering with them.

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The vaccine roll out looks like it will be the success story of the pandemic – it is heartening to see how well and how quickly our country can mobilise to get this delivered to the people that need it.

But why is it that a healthy 55 year old who works from home will receive their vaccine months before a 25 year old working in a supermarket, in a factory or on a construction site?

Risk is about more than the seriousness of outcomes, it is about the likelihood of contracting and spreading the disease.

We have been conducting Covid-19 compliance inspections on construction sites and other workplaces since April of last year, and although some of these places are doing really well with their risk control measures, many of them are not. We have heard from our clients about a number of outbreaks on sites, and many more people having to self-isolate as a result.

There are also serious issues in Construction in particular with a large proportion of self employed people – people who are less likely to self isolate when they should as they will not be paid in this situation.

If the government is keen to keep the economy operating and has specifically stated that those who cannot work from home should continue to attend their workplaces, it makes sense to get these workers who are far more likely to be exposed to the disease vaccinated first.

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As we enter the latest lockdown we will be moving most of our training online until the situation improves. We have not made this decision lightly, but as we are now faced with a new, more transmissible variant of the virus, school closures and the NHS facing huge pressure, we feel this is the correct moral and legal decision to help to fight the virus.

As experienced training providers we wholeheartedly believe that there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction, but we understand that for essential safety training, you may not be able to wait for classroom training.

What are our solutions?

Option 1 – remote training via Microsoft Teams

We will be offering a comprehensive training program to be delivered remotely via Microsoft Teams. Courses will be delivered by our accredited tutors and will work well for those of you who are unable to delay your courses. Delegates who are furloughed or who may be self-isolating can still undertake this training.

Teams invitations and course materials will be sent out via Microsoft Outlook to all delegates in advance. To work effectively, delegates attending via Teams will need:

  • a reliable internet connection
  • a good-sized monitor screen with functioning webcam and microphone (mobile phones are not suitable)
  • the ability to download documents/exercises to use during the course
  • A comfortable, quiet place to undertake the training

Option 2 – delay your training

If you wish to move a booking for any course to a later date, there will be no charge for this. It is our hope that the vaccine roll-out will allow restrictions to ease as this progresses. We will be reviewing the situation as it unfolds and hope to be able to go back into the classroom soon. The earliest we will be back in the classroom will be after February half term, but we will be led by the government guidance and will align ourselves with schools.

For our courses with a practical element, delaying the training will be the only option at this point. The courses that MUST be delayed until we are back in the classroom are:

  • Scaffold Inspection
  • PASMA Towers and Low Level Access
  • Emergency First Aid
  • Fire Warden
  • Abrasive Wheels.

All other training will be available remotely via Microsoft Teams.

Our other consultancy services will continue unchanged throughout the lockdown, including safety inspections, annual reviews with our members (via Teams) and other services which cannot be undertaken remotely.

We appreciate all the support that we have received from our clients, and hope that together, we can protect our workforces, continue to work safely and come through this most challenging of times with our heads held high.

 

 

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The HSE has published further information today on when employers should report coronavirus incidents under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations), as well as other health and safety guidance and advice on COVID-19.

The issue of RIDDOR is a tricky one. The HSE is trying to clarify the situation but whether to report or not remains a judgement call for employers.

We believe that in most cases, our clients’ work would not generally cause them to need to report a case of Covid-19 under RIDDOR unless they have a workplace which is clearly NOT Covid-19 compliant.

It might help to see this with the following in mind:

RIDDOR is all about collecting data on work related accidents, illnesses and dangerous occurrences

RIDDOR applies to all workplaces and that includes hospitals (The NHS is the UK’s largest employer), laboratories and care homes.

The HSE’s guidance says that employers would need reasonable cause to believe that a person diagnosed with Covid-19 caught the disease because of their work – specifically: “it should be more likely than not that the person’s work was the source of exposure to coronavirus as opposed to general societal exposure. Such cases may not be easy to identify when COVID-19 is prevalent in the general population.”

It is also worth noting that as the virus is so new, it is not known how multiple exposures in different environments (e.g. at home, in the office, in the supermarket on the same day) actually work in terms of transmitting the viral load.

It seems as if the most likely scenario in which a report under RIDDOR may be needed is in the event of an outbreak – a number of cases related to a single place of work. From what we have seen so far, the response from Public Health England to employers who are proactively informing of an outbreak, is specific, helpful and constructive, but does not mention RIDDOR. The HSE does not mention outbreaks yet, so perhaps there is still more guidance to come.

To see the HSE’s guidance, please follow this link: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/riddor/index.htm#what

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It’s hard to talk about mental health at the moment without mentioning the virus, but I’ll try to at least keep it in the background.

I’m going to talk about anxiety and change, and there’s some personal stuff here so please be gentle…

Anxiety is a natural reaction to certain situations. Nervous about your driving test? Of course you are and quite right too. I still get nervous about public speaking after 20 years – why? Because it matters, because it is important not to mess it up and the pressure is on to do a good job. This is all perfectly natural. What is less so are anxiety attacks and anxiety disorders. These are extreme examples of when we experience a variety of symptoms associated with panic at the wrong times, the unhelpful times…

I started to experience anxiety attacks when driving a couple of years ago. Not all the time, thank goodness, but in particular on larger roads or at higher speeds. My hands start to sweat, I get a buzzing in my ears, the heartbeat goes into overdrive and I feel almost as if the car has taken off or I’m on a roller coaster. This is no fun, believe me and I do nowhere near as much driving as I used to. When I really can’t avoid the motorway I will dread it for days, then sit behind something slow in lane 1, shouting out “COME ON – YOU’RE OK!!!!!!!” to myself. I have to keep driving though, as I don’t want to “give in” to this, or shut down a part of my life.

When I finally (and it took a while I admit) went to see my GP, she was very kind, she really listened, and didn’t seem to mind me blubbering all over her office (not something I was planning on doing). We talked about work related stress and she prescribed taking 6 months off work – oh how we laughed! But I did have a holiday and it probably helped. But that was 2 years ago and now it’s back with a vengeance, and I expect I’m not alone.  I feel as if we are blindly transitioning from chaos into some kind of uncharted new normal. Trying to make good decisions and then feverishly watching the news to see if they need to be unmade.

I understand that the role of businessowner is a stressful one, that this goes with the territory, and I have to take the lions share of this on the chin. I also know that I am lucky to have some truly excellent colleagues whose positivity and support I value more than turnover and profits right now.

But where does this leave our legal duties to our staff as we try to introduce them to whatever version of normal we are hoping to establish, as we try, tentatively to get back to work?

The HSE’s management standards for preventing Workplace Stress are: Role, Relationships, Support, Demands, Control and …..CHANGE. So we need to look at how we re-introduce people back into their work and look at what changes may have occurred. We may need to be kind, to acknowledge there is an undercurrent of fear that is ubiquitous and the situation at work may add to this.

Will the job be different? Does it involve new duties? Are we asking people to hold meetings online? Do they get to practice? Are they working from home now, and if so, how is that going? If they come into the office, does it look different, has their desk moved? Is there tape all over the floor? If, like me, you’ve been involved in a lot of furniture moving and floor marking recently, it’s easy to forget what a shocking sight it might be for those who have not been involved with the process. All this when they may fear redundancy, or have family who are ill, carers or have lost their jobs.

 

Our job is to make the new normal as good as it can be, but to remember that it isn’t the same as the old normal – not even close.

 

Zöe Drew CMIOSH
Director

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UKATA Press Release

As the country heads into lockdown, the UK Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) is urging workers in construction-related industries and trades to make use of the time to upskill or refresh training.

In line with this, UKATA has approved its 200-member companies and individuals to deliver a number of its approved courses by video conferencing software, including Skype, Microsoft Teams and Zoom.

During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, UKATA members are approved to deliver the following courses by video conference:

• Asbestos Awareness
• Asbestos Awareness Refresher
• Duty to Manage – Extension to Asbestos Awareness
• Non-Licensable Refresher (Delegates must complete a Training Needs Analysis prior to the training)

The move to temporary video conference training was approved during a recent emergency UKATA board meeting.

A number of quality control measures have been put in place with members to ensure the training delivered continues to be of a high quality. To support the delivery of courses UKATA is also developing a new bespoke online examination system.

UKATA-approved training providers are audited regularly by UKATA to ensure the training they deliver is of a consistently high standard. They are also authorised to award industry-recognised and respected UKATA certificates following successful completion of training.

To ensure that training can continue to be delivered by members, UKATA has also agreed to grant an extension period to members whose membership process deadlines are approaching.
Craig Evans, Chief Operating Officer of UKATA explained: “These are uncertain times and we have acted swiftly to ensure that workers can access vital asbestos training and that our members can continue to deliver it.

“It’s a distressing time for everyone concerned, particularly self-employed people, but we are urging people to use this enforced downtime to upskill and increase their knowledge and awareness of asbestos.”

Craig added: “The industry is going to have some difficult times ahead, from projects being cancelled to shortage of supplies, inevitably meaning works cannot be carried out, but the country and the industry WILL recover and we must all be ready to hit the ground running when that happens.”

 

To see our virtual course dates and to book, please click here.

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With the regular changes in Employment Law and the removal of Tribunal Fees no longer an obstacle for employees to bring a claim against an employer, there has never been a better time to protect your business.  If you struggle to find the time to stay up to date with Employment Law and make the necessary changes to your staff handbooks and employment contracts, if your managers aren’t trained or confident in how to deal with issues when they arise, or you’re unsure where to turn and are concerned about the cost of legal advice, then Warner Goodman’s Peace of Mind could be the answer you are looking for.

 

About Peace of Mind

Peace of Mind offers employers everything you need to ensure you are compliant with Employment Law and to reduce the risk of having claims brought against you from current and potential employees.  The three main benefits of Peace of Mind include:

  1. Documentation audit – as a new member, your current staff handbook and employment contracts are reviewed, if you have them in place. If none are in place, these are created, and any clauses that are incorrect or missing from existing documentation are amended.
  2. Unlimited advice from a designated Solicitor – all members are allocated a dedicated Solicitor from the Peace of Mind team. You have unlimited access to the team during your year, either over the telephone, email or face to face meetings.
  3. Access to training – two training sessions are hosted each year for members to attend, during which we will present on claims avoidance and discuss Tribunal cases from the last six months.

 

As well as these three main benefits, Peace of Mind members also receive:

  • An annual review of your documents.
  • Regular updates on changes to the law through email newsletters and other seminars and masterclasses.
  • Online Members area with access to Briefing Notes, Template Letters and Checklists.
  • Free initial advice from our other Commercial Services Solicitors.
  • Discounts for your employees across our Private Client, Family, Residential Conveyancing and Personal Injury departments.

 

Additional benefits under Peace of Mind

In addition to Peace of Mind, we can also offer the following services either in-house or through our relationships with other providers:

  • HR support for conducting meetings, preparation of minutes and notes from meetings, including for disciplinaries, grievances etc.
  • Bespoke Employment Law training.
  • Employment Tribunal insurance.
  • Immigration advice.

 

Why join Peace of Mind?

There are several reasons why employers of any size should consider joining Peace of Mind:

  • With access to unlimited advice, you know you can contact the team without worrying about it running up a large legal bill. You are in control of the finances as Peace of Mind is a fixed price for the year, meaning you can also budget accordingly.
  • You can rest assured that your legal documents are compliant and reliable in any situation.
  • You will have policies in place that you can follow that are legally compliant.
  • Having a designated Solicitor allocated to you, you can rest assured that the person you speak to will know you, know your business and know the history to any problems. Our four Solicitors are part of a wider team of 13 people who can assist if your dedicated Solicitor is not available.
  • You will be kept up to date with the regular changes that happen in Employment Law, with tailored advice about implementing any changes needed in your own business.

 

“We find that businesses with no HR team in place will naturally want to focus on running their business and will not have time to manage HR as well, until it’s too late and an issue arises and there are no policies or employment contracts in place to fall back on,” comments Sarah Whitemore, Employment Partner.  “That is one reason why we created Peace of Mind; to offer a one stop shop for employers to offer them the support that they need so they can focus on their business.”

 

To find out more about how your business can benefit from Peace of Mind, you can contact Martin Giles on 07973 654447 or email martingiles@warnergoodman.co.uk to discuss your business needs and how Peace of Mind could help you.  Alternatively, you can visit Warner Goodman’s website to find out more.

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By Leon MaidmentHealth and Safety Consultant

 

PASMA (Prefabricated, Access, Suppliers and Manufacturers Association) have been working closely with the HSE for over 30 years ensuring employees are competent to work at height on specialist access equipment.

PASMA have several different courses aimed at different types of equipment, there isn’t a one size fits all course.
The reason for the different courses is a mixture of the requirements of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and British/European Standards.

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 Regulation 5 states; “Every employer shall ensure that no person engages in any activity, including organisation, planning and supervision, in relation to work at height or work equipment for use in such work unless he is competent to do so or, if being trained, is being supervised by a competent person.”

To ensure you are compliant, your employees should attend the following PASMA Course dependant on the equipment they use;

To ensure you are compliant, your employees should attend the following PASMA Course dependant on the equipment they use:
Work at Height Essentials – For employees using work at height equipment.
Low-level Access – For operatives using access equipment below 2.5 Metres (Podiums, Roomates and Low Level Towers).
Towers for Users – Employees constructing 3T & AGR Towers.

A note to site managers- Always check the back of the PASMA Card to see what the operative is competent to erect and use.

 

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As the sun takes a break at the same time as many of us, I find myself feeling as reflective as the puddles outside.
The last few months have been tumultuous but rewarding for us here at HCS Safety.

We have launched a new bespoke internal work management system – mercifully we call it JARVIS for short, I can only fit so many syllables into a day.
Having such a diverse workforce means that change will be met and adopted differently but as we all learn how to work with the new system it is already having its desired effect in terms of looking after our customers in a better way.

There have also been changes in personnel; a new Operations Manager has joined our project as well as a new Consultant Support Specialist. The injection of energy has been well timed as we transition onto JARVIS. Planning our work more efficiently is already leading to more opportunities to develop our team.

Change is constant and as our company continues along its journey it is a good feeling to know that as a unit we can all deal with changeable conditions, and I’m not just talking about the weather.

 

Zoë Drew

Director

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By Drew Underwood, Senior Consultant

This was a question that I was recently asked by a friend of mine who works on site.

The answer… The question isn’t really that simple.

It is often assumed that there is an easy answer to questions like this one, that a number can always be quoted or a diagram can be checked. Whilst it is true that there is plenty of guidance and advice issued by the HSE, trade groups and companies that manufacture equipment. With work at height law, as is often the case, the emphasis is placed on the risk assessment findings of a competent person.

When it comes to work at height, the biggest cause of fatal accidents across the UK workforce, there is a relatively simple hierarchy.

  1. Can I avoid doing that work from height. Is there a different method, a new tool, a change of approach which would allow me to work safely from the ground?
  2. How can I prevent a person from falling? For this a physical barrier is needed. A guardrail, a solid working platform a restraint to allow someone to work from a high place without the risk of a fall happening.
  3. Can I minimise the distance or consequences? If the work does not allow for a barrier to be used, how can I make the fall shorter or the landing softer to lessen the chance of injury?

The question my friend should have been asking, was what is the safest reasonable way of doing the job? What lessens my chance of serious injury while still allowing me to get the work done in a sensible way.

There is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer. Imagine how much your window cleaner would want to charge you if the law required that he built a scaffold to access every 1st floor window. But someone doing the same job on a block of flats? Suddenly the definition of what is reasonable starts to shift.

Whilst my answer may not have been as simple as he was hoping, it was at least more sensible.

If you need any further information on the requirements and the options for safely planning works at height our Work at Height Awareness course is a good place to start.

 

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