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.

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.

 

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.

 

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

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.

 

 

By Zoe Drew, Director, HCS Safety

Classroom of course – end of blog.

Only kidding…I’m going to have to flesh out this argument just a bit.

At HCS Safety, some of the subject matter we teach is quite challenging. There might be a bit of law, some chemistry, biology or some practical elements to digest; even a touch of psychology and sociology now and again. A lot of these concepts are the sort where you need to check you’ve understood something, hear real life examples from other people and bounce ideas off classmates and your tutor in order to make sure you’ve really understood something.

There’s something truly satisfying about being in a group of people and all “getting it” when you’ve learned something really new. It’s quite a buzz, and in the world of online isolation, it doesn’t happen all that often. These are fulfilling and empowering moments to value and cherish.

Undertaking a NEBOSH Diploma is a big deal – this is a degree level qualification and you’re going to get it in ONE YEAR, probably while you are working. Being in a separate place of learning is essential. Your mind knows it’s a college day, your family and colleagues also know and they are important to your exam success. You will also be in a group of people who are up against the same challenges as you – and you’ll have actually met them in the flesh. These people will be your support network and may be your friends too soon – nothing creates bonds like being up against a challenge together.

So, if you want to check that you’ve got your times tables correct, maybe online is ok, but when there’s a concept any more complex that that, I’d head for the classroom in a heartbeat.

To find out more about our NEBOSH Diploma Classroom course or any other services from HCS Safety visit our website or call us on 023 80 894695.

All of us at the South’s favourite health and safety consultancy are very proud to announce that we have been awarded accreditation against the Investors in People Standard, demonstrating our commitment to realising the potential of our people.

For those of you who don’t know us, we have been providing health and safety training and consultancy services across the South for nearly 20 years. We serve nearly 400 retained clients and look after over 4000 companies for their safety training. We employ 24 people and are based in Southampton.

Investors in People is the international standard for people management, defining what it takes to lead, support and manage people effectively to achieve sustainable results. Underpinning the Standard is the Investors in People framework, reflecting the latest workplace trends, essential skills and effective structures required to outperform in any industry. Working with clients across the globe, Investors in People enables organisations to benchmark against the best in the business on an international scale.

Paul Devoy, Head of Investors in People, said: “We’d like to congratulate HCS Safety. Investors in People accreditation is the sign of a great employer, and an organisation committed to achieving success by realising the potential of their people. HCS Safety should be extremely proud of their achievement.”

Commenting on the award, HCS Safety’s Director, Zoe Drew said: “It takes a lot of work to gain the accreditation, but it has been one of the most valuable journeys we have taken as a company. Our team is stronger and more committed as a result of our IIP status, meaning that we can offer the best service to our clients. A big thank you to everyone!”

Please contact us for information about what HCS Safety can do for your business.


by Drew Underwood, Senior Consultant, HCS Safety Ltd

This year at our annual forum we were overjoyed to celebrate the achievements of 21 member clients, who had managed to achieve 100% scores on their annual health and safety review.

The annual review is our way of measuring the success of our client’s health and safety management systems and procedures. Review is a vital part of any effective health and safety management system, not to mention a legal requirement and a key component of our membership package. It allows us to keep track of the successes and challenges that clients have faced over the year, and helps us to identify the practical ways that we can help keep employees safe and company leaders on the right side of the law.

A 100% review score represents a company who has committed fully to embracing health and safety as a crucial component of their business, so it is with genuine pleasure that we have been able to give an increasing number of these awards annually. Our advisors get to know every client on both a personal and professional basis at these meetings, so being able to recognise that relationship really feels like a validation of the shared work that we put in.

So once again, a massive congratulations to our 21 Health & Safety Excellence award winners of 2019:

  • A.W. Jeffreys (Southampton) Ltd
  • Able Steel Fabrications Ltd
  • Basingstoke Fire Protection Ltd
  • Bluestone Design and Construction Ltd
  • Corrigenda Ltd
  • Createability
  • Dartmouth General Contractors Ltd
  • Fifth Elevation Ltd
  • Gypsum Plasterers Ltd
  • Hampshire Light Ltd
  • Hazeley Developments
  • Hexley Ltd
  • JW Hill Garden Care Ltd
  • KAMM Civil Engineering Ltd
  • Macintyre Scott & Co. Ltd
  • March End Carpentry
  • Richardson Decorating Contractors Ltd
  • SMR Plant Services Ltd
  • Spirit Solar Ltd
  • Titan Drylining Ltd
  • Vision Scaffolding Solutions Ltd

To find out more about our membership service, please click here.

by Zoe Drew, Director HCS Safety

Sometimes events occur and the effects are very hard to predict. The fatal air accident involving the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft this weekend is such event in more ways than one.

The aircraft was carrying people from 157 people from 32 different nationalities. Each one of them will have family, friends, work colleagues and a wider circle of lives and consequences what will be changed forever as a result of this tragic event.

At the time of writing, China and The Cayman Islands have grounded their Max 8 aircraft. All over the world, fleet managers, mechanical engineers and any decision maker who has recently taken delivery of one of these craft will now have their focus shifted to trying to make the right decision in this challenging situation.

Closer to home, we often talk about the ripple effect in relation to workplace accidents – how a single second event can affect a large number of people in many ways, sometimes forever. This is also true of course for ill health effects. Serious illnesses can have the same far reaching consequences that extend way beyond the sufferer.

In terms of the air crash, 22 of the passengers on board were en route to a UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi. At this time of cliff edges and exponential effects on the climate, only history will be able to tell us what essential changes may have been delayed, cancelled or altered by the effect on this vital conference.

What relationships will be forever altered, what focuses will change, what calls will not be made because priorities will have suddenly shifted?

To understand more about how incidents, accidents and ill health can impact lives and businesses, get in touch with us at HCS Safety to see how we can help prevent these events and minimize the consequences.

A visit to your company to see how we can assist you is free of charge and may just be the best way of finding out what you need to do to manage your workplace risks effectively.

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