HSE announces strategy for the next 3 years

Quite often you can be left wondering what a HSE inspector will be looking at when or if they decide to visit. Is it equipment they’re going to look at? Will it be my premises? Could they be looking at everything? Well the answer to these questions is “they might do”. One thing we do know, though, is that the HSE’s strategy for the next three years is Occupational Health. This means that its inspectors are now specifically asked to focus on issues within your workplace that might have an effect on your employee’s health. The HSE have billed this as their “Go home healthy” campaign.

According to the HSE:

  • 12,000 workers die each year from lung disease.
  • 9,000,000 working days lost due to musculoskeletal disorders.
  • 12,000,000 working days lost in 2016 due to stress. 

Whilst we cannot tell each and every one of you how to ensure that you won’t fall foul of the dreaded inspector, we can offer some tips to start you off with:

Lung Disease

  • Ensure that you know what chemicals your employees are using and what vapours or dusts they might be exposed to. This could be anything from paint fumes to asbestos fibres. This would normally be done via a COSHH assessment.
  • Think about how you might stop your employees being exposed. The best solution would be to remove the hazard completely, but this might not be practical. Instead, could you substitute a hazardous product for a less hazardous one? If you can’t then you need to control fumes and dusts by mechanical means wherever possible. Local Exhaust Extraction – even on building sites – is now expected by the HSE inspectors. Follow all of this up with Respiratory Protective Equipment for your employees to wear.
  • Train your employees on the risks involved with the work tasks and the controls that you’ve decided to implement.

Musculoskeletal Disorders

  • Avoid manual handling where possible. Can you use mechanical means to transport the goods? Even if it is just a trolley that removes the human lifting element.
  • Assess your work tasks that might involve manual handling with consideration to the Task, Individual, Load and the Environment.
  • Ensure that your employees have received manual handling training.
  • Make sure that you know the weights of objects that might be moved – the HSE guidance is a maximum of 25Kg under normal situations for an adult male and 16Kg for an adult female.

Stress

  • Consider reducing work-related stress by consider the six key factors that can introduce stress in your workplace:
    • Demands – What are the workloads, work patterns and work environments that the employee is exposed to?
    • Control – How much say does the person have in the way that they do their work?
    • Support – Can you provide encouragement, sponsorship and resources to the employee by the organisation, management and colleagues?
    • Relationships – Promote positive working to avoid conflict and deal with unacceptable behaviour promptly.
    • Role – Do your employees actually understand their role within the organisation?
    • Change – Can you communicate organisational change (large or small) within the company?

If you can demonstrate that you’ve considered at least some of the above, you’ll be able to show the HSE Inspector that you’re serious about protecting the health of your employees. If you need advice on any aspect of the above, please don’t hesitate to contact our advisers on 01302 341344.

By Ian Clayton CMIOSH – Health & Safety Manager

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Cyber Crime: a common phrase, often misunderstood and missold.

I hear this term everywhere these days and I have to say, as an insurance broker, it concerns me a great deal. It falls into that catch-all category of insurance terminology, like “All Risks” and “Legal Expenses”, which without very careful explanation can over-promise and under-perform.

It is important to understand that when you consider covering these risks for your business, ‘Cyber’ and ‘Crime’ insurance policies are different. The term “Cyber Crime” refers to some form of computer or IT dependent criminal activity. This could be phishing, spyware, malware, hacking and social engineering. It can be a confusing term when applied to insurance.

  • Crime Insurance covers you for a criminal taking or misappropriating your money, securities or property.
  • Cyber Liability cover you for losses arising from the theft of data, such as employee or customer records.

Unless you discuss what it is you are actually trying to achieve with an insurance professional who fully understands these complex areas, you can still end with a claim falling between the gaps. For instance an employee who bypasses controls, believing a fraudulent request to be genuine, may unknowingly create a loss that standard crime and cyber policies will not cover.

In my experience when you actually get down to it, what most clients want cover for is fraud and misappropriation of funds caused by “Social Engineering” which of course muddies the water even further as this often results in the voluntary transfer of funds or data to a third party.

What is Social Engineering?

This is where a criminal obtains money, or confidential information, from unsuspecting and thus cooperative victims. It is now an endemic risk experienced by UK businesses. Perpetrators play on peoples’ emotions and rely on the human tendency to offer assistance when asked or in response to authority figures. Their methods have become increasingly sophisticated, convincing people to bypass security controls or divulge information.

Cover can be purchased to include acts where employees ‘voluntarily’ transfer funds or data, but it is important to note that insurance policies presuppose the existence of internal controls to mitigate loss and therefore insurance is not designed to be a substitute for a lack of such controls. These areas of cover and risk are new and fast moving; unless you speak to a broker who knows this subject inside out you could end up with an insurance policy that is simply not fit for purpose.

However, with a thorough understanding of your business and a little time, a robust safety net can be erected to protect you and your business from these exposures. Please contact us for more information.

By Dane Turner Dip CII – Broking Manager

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Bank Holiday Planning for 2018

It may seem a bit early to be planning for 2018 however, with less than 8 weeks to the New Year (sorry!), it isn’t actually too far away.

For businesses who run their holiday year from 1st April to 31st March to fall in line with the tax year, the dates of the Bank Holidays over Easter may create a slight challenge as Easter straddles March and April.

In 2018, Good Friday will fall on the 30th March, therefore businesses with a holiday year of 1st April to 31st March will receive 9 bank holidays in the 2017-18 year and only 7 for the 2018-19 year.

Employers who provide only the statutory minimum entitlement of 5.6 weeks holiday (28 days), need to ensure that employees still receive their legal entitlement. You may therefore have to think about allowing an extra day of holiday for the 2018-19 holiday year if you have a ’20 days plus 8 bank holidays’ clause in your contract.

A full list of the Bank Holidays is set out below for the United Kingdom and Ireland for 2018.

Dates England & Wales Scotland Northern Ireland Republic of Ireland
1st January 2018
2nd January 2018 √             
19th March 2018
30th March 2018
2nd April 2018
7th May 2018
28th May 2018
4th June 2018
12th July 2018
6th August 2018
27th August 2018
29th October 2018
30th November 2018
25th December 2018
26th December 2018
TOTAL 8 9 10 9

 

If you would like any advice on holiday management for your employees, or on other employment issue, please contact our HR Consultancy Team on 01302 341 344.

By Kris Kerins BSc (Hons) PGC (Tech Mgmt) – Risk Services Adviser

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Your environmental liability: don’t fall short on protection.

An area of risk that many companies overlook is environmental impairment liability.

Regulations exist which impose responsibility for environmental damage. These regulations implement a ‘polluter pays’ principle, meaning that businesses must take precautionary measures to prevent environmental damage and take remedial actions if damage occurs. Failure to comply with regulations and or maintain proper standards can lead to high costs—from initial clean-up fees, remediation costs, fines and penalties to even imprisonment.

Many businesses mistakenly assume that their existing liability policies will also cover any issues that arise with pollution. Traditional public liability policies provide cover for pollution arising out of sudden & accidental occurrences only. There is no cover for any ‘gradual‘ pollution which may have built up over a period of time. This can leave a massive exposure gap. Environmental impairment liability, or environmental insurance, can plug this gap and go even further by offering cover for clean-up costs.

What does it include?

Policies will vary widely based on the insurer. Typical policies can include:

  • Own site clean-up costs
  • Third-party clean-up costs
  • Investigation and defence costs
  • Gradual pollution for third party legal liability during policy period
  • Cover for both new and pre-existing pollution incidents; each may have their own limits of liability, terms and excesses
  • Bio-diversity damage or environmental damage to protected sites or sites of scientific interest
  • Business interruption in the event production needs to stop or there is intervention by a regulator

A policyholder will typically have a duty of mitigation, meaning that it must take all actions to minimise the extent of the damage and prevent it from spreading.

Environmental impairment liability policies change from insurer to insurer. By working with ProAktive, you can be rest assured that your policy fits your business’ needs and keeps you compliant with the latest, most stringent regulations. We will work with you to help gauge your risks and make sure your business stays up and running, all while minimising its negative environmental impact. Call us on 01302 341 344 or 0114 243 9914 to discuss.

 

 

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Workers’ Rights, but who is a Worker?

In today’s modern workplace, where organisational boundaries are fluid and using a wide variety of labour is the norm, the status of our ‘workers’ is coming under greater scrutiny.

What do we mean by ‘status’ and why is this important?

In a straightforward example, where an employee works for an employer under a contract of employment, their employment status is that of an ‘employee’. Employees have a number of rights under the Employment Rights Act, of which most of us will be familiar with and which tend to be captured in the contract of employment.

We also understand the concept of a ‘self-employed’ worker where an individual or company sets up on their own and provides a service. However, there is also a ‘worker’ status, which describes someone (often an individual) who ‘works for’ a company with the following criteria:

  • Limited right to send someone else to do the work
  • Have to turn up, or engage in work, even if they don’t want to
  • They aren’t completing the work as part of their own limited company

When someone is deemed to be a “worker”, they acquire rights such as the right to be paid national minimum wage, as well as the right to be paid for holidays and receive statutory sick pay to cover periods of sickness.

This topic – often called the ‘gig economy’ – has wide reaching implications and has seen much media attention recently, in connection with cases such as Deliveroo delivery drivers and Uber taxi drivers, with cases continuing to be brought and most recently  affecting the foster care sector.

Recent case

Sarah Anderson is used by Hampshire County Council as a Foster Carer and has worked on their behalf for the last 4 years. Currently she does not have the rights as a “worker” and therefore not entitled to holiday pay amongst other benefits. Sarah is about to bring an employment tribunal case where she will fight to have foster carers reclassified allowing them access to the same benefits as workers, a position that the council refutes.

This has come about after a group of former and current foster carers voted in Westminster to join the Independent Union of Great Britain in a bid to receive increased employment rights back in September. The outcome of a tribunal headed by Sarah could lead to thousands of similar claims by foster carers all over the country.

It is clear that correctly categorising ‘a worker’, and therefore ensuring compliance with the law, is becoming increasingly important. With the release of the Taylor report earlier in the year, which focused on the Gig economy, the government and tribunal services are likely to see more and more cases like Sarah’s as people start to question their current employment situation.

If you would like to talk about your workforce and their employment rights or about any other HR issue contact us on 01302 341 344.

By Kris Kerins BSc (Hons) PGC (Tech Mgmt) – Risk Services Adviser

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Directors’ Liabilities – The Buck Stops Here!

Congratulations, you’re a company Director! Once the euphoria has died down it may dawn on you that being a company Director carries a whole burden of new responsibility.

And now the buck might stop with you!

Oh, no need to worry, you say. I’m a Director of a Limited Liability Company so I’m safe. If only it were that simple!

Increasingly Directors are finding themselves at the wrong end of the courtroom as individuals are pursued for their actions or indeed inactivity. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible for the corporate entity to protect the individual. Your personal assets are at risk as company directors are faced with legal bills and compensation awards that they have to fund themselves from their own assets.

So who can claim against a Director? Potentially, anyone! 

Employment related claims against directors are an explosive area of potential liability. The two most common types of claims are brought for wrongful dismissal and discrimination.

Outsiders can also make claims. Competitors, creditors, the regulatory agencies, such as the Health and Safety Executive and any other person affected by corporate conduct can bring claims for a whole raft of issues.

Surprisingly, shareholders can make claims against directors should they be able to demonstrate that the directors’ actions have had a negative impact on their investment.

The good news is that it is possible for the company to buy insurance to cover the Directors or Officers of a business that provides protection for legal defence costs and compensation awards.  This type of policy is relatively inexpensive and if arranged properly can cover all of the issues identified earlier. It’s not even classed as a benefit in kind so there are no additional tax implications. Importantly, it’s vital that all activities are fully disclosed and the correct limits of indemnity are purchased. It’s also important that all the relevant extensions are activated to ensure that you benefit from the widest possible cover.

For more detail about this type of cover, contact ProAktive today who can offer you peace of mind.

By Beverley Brown FCII MBABroking Director

Chartered Insurance Broker

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All work and no play could land HGV drivers in trouble

Driving is something that we all take for granted. Without a vehicle, how would we cope? Well, according to RoSPA, driving for work is the most dangerous activity that most employees will undertake at any point in their working day. You are statistically much more likely to be killed behind the wheel than on a building site.

For some time now, operators of HGV vehicles, such as lorries, have been strictly controlled. After all, their vehicles are large, heavy and their impact can be catastrophic. In order to control the risks posed by these larger vehicles, the DVSA have already implemented steps to monitor the competency of drivers by requiring that all HGV drivers hold a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) which requires 35 hours of training over a five year period. 

The next focus for the DVSA is adherence to driver hours, and particularly rest breaks. RoSPA estimate that 40% of sleep related accidents are committed in commercial vehicles. This also equates to 1 in 5 of all accidents and up to a quarter of all serious and fatal crashes. Drivers of HGVs, under domestic rules, are typically permitted to be on the road for no more than 10 hours per day, and they can only do that twice a week. The driver must take regular breaks throughout his working days. All of this is recorded on the vehicle’s tachograph.

Currently, the DVSA can only issue commercial vehicle operators with fines for offences committed on the day and those which are ongoing, such as tachograph manipulation. Under newly announced plans the DVSA will give their traffic examiners new powers to issue on the spot fines for up to five previous offences committed in the last 28 days. It doesn’t matter if these rules took place in GB or elsewhere. These fines are likely to be £300 per offence. This means that those that have consistently broken the rules can expect a fine of up to £1500 per stop.

Whilst the dates for tachograph infringements has not been announced, from 1st November, fines are now being given to deter drivers from not resting properly. Lorry, bus and coach drivers must take a 45 hour rest break at least every fortnight. If, for example, a driver takes their full break in the cab of their lorry in a lay-by, or parks their vehicle in places where it causes a problem, then they can also expect a £300 on the spot fine.

According to the DVSA, spending breaks in the cab can contribute to drivers not properly resting, expose drivers to poor living conditions and cause problems for local residents where lorries have been parked illegally or inappropriately. DVSA traffic examiners have been instructed to target lay-bys and residential areas particularly.

Clearly the DVSA are wanting to take more effective action. You should be taking appropriate steps now to ensure that your drivers are adhering to the rules and do not expose themselves, or you, to any enforcement action. Educating drivers is the key. They work for you and so they must work how you want them to. The repetition of having drivers sign non-conformances is not going to be enough to instigate change. You need to communicate the rules, monitor adherence and take disciplinary action as appropriate.

If you need any further advice, or if you’re considering verifying your safety performance by obtaining an accreditation, please give our health and safety consultants a call on 01302 341 344.

By Ian Clayton CMIOSH DGSA – Health and Safety Manager & Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner

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Health & Safety Training Courses From ProAktive

As you may already know, we offer a variety of health and safety training courses at ProAktive. We hold them at our Doncaster office and can also arrange the course to be held at your own venue or premises, depending on delegate numbers.

What do we offer?

The IOSH Managing Safely 4 day training course is a widely recognised accredited course for managers and supervisors and is suitable across a broad range of sectors and industries. It is designed to give managers all they need to know to help them handle health and safety in their workplace at a practical level.

The IOSH Managing Safely 1 day refresher course is for delegates who have already completed the full Managing Safely course. Not only will delegates get to refresh their knowledge on the key parts of the full Managing Safely course, there’s also a much greater emphasis on monitoring, auditing and reviewing, developed through two practical case studies.

The IOSH Working Safely 1 day course is for people at any level, in any sector, that need a grounding in health and safety. Ideal for introducing staff to why health and safety is important, Working safely shows how everyone can make a difference to their own well-being and that of others through everyday behaviours. Fun and interactive, the course focuses on best practice rather than legislation.

For more information including costs, dates and times, please click here and you can also contact Ann Granter on 01302 341 344 to speak to us about any of our training courses and to book a place.

 

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HSE Fee for Intervention: A Summary

The Fee for Intervention Scheme (FFI) has been running since October 2012 and still shows no sign of letting up when it comes to fining companies.  The scheme means that a fee is payable to the HSE if:

  • A person is contravening or has contravened health and safety laws
  • An inspector is of the opinion that the person is or has done so, and notifies the person in writing of that opinion.

Put simply it means that if an inspector finds a material breach of your business, then you will be required to pay a fee. Currently rates are at £129 per hour, however it isn’t just the time spent on site which you will be billed for. Your fee may include the inspector’s time:

  • at your business or workplace
  • preparing reports
  • getting specialist advice
  • talking to you or your workers after the visit

The fee can vary depending on:

  • the length of the original visit
  • the time the inspector spent helping you put things right
  • the time it took the inspector to investigate your case
  • any time the inspector or HSE spend on taking action against you and your company

Currently the average fines across all sectors are coming out between £650 and £750 however in the extraction, services and water or waste management industries this average rises to between £800 and £970.

How common are they?

Between the years of 2013/2014 the HSE conducted 23,472 pro-active investigations into UK businesses. Of those investigations about 32% led to a material breach being discovered and a further 15.9% of all inspections led to enforcement action. Therefore almost half of all investigations led to fines and further punishment.

Currently businesses in the manufacturing and construction arenas are the most likely to receive a FFI, and in August 2015 alone these industries were dealt with fines totalling £750,000 and £591,000 respectively.

The amounts are likely to be even higher today as in 2016 the fees increased by 4%, way above the national inflation rise.

To talk to our team about managing your health & safety risks in your business, contact us on 01302 341 344.

By Ian Clayton CMIOSH – Health & Safety Manager

 

 

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Time for a re-think on terrorism?

Insurers of property, machinery, stock and the like in the UK do not provide cover for damage caused by acts of terrorism. This is perhaps not surprising. Insurers have taken the view that losses from terrorism could be so substantial as to threaten their financial stability.

In many countries losses caused by terrorism may be compensated by the government. This is not so in the UK. The risk is yours and yours alone. The attitude of the UK government stems from the days when IRA terrorism was at its worst. The government of the day took the view that it didn’t really want to give the IRA an incentive to bomb major targets in the knowledge that it would be the government who would foot the bill.

As a result of this attitude, the government and insurers  got together to form ‘Pool Re’. Pool Re is an insurer, funded by insurers, who operate in the UK and ultimately are “reinsured” by the government. Its sole purpose is to provide terrorism cover in the UK and indeed it has done so successfully for many years now. Your business may choose to buy bespoke terrorism cover that can cover liability too.

Many of our clients already buy Pool Re. Certainly those who own key assets in major cities do and banks often insist on cover before lending on a property. But if you don’t have cover, is it time for a re-think?

We used to think of terrorism in terms of IRA bombs. In recent times the threat has evolved from ISIS or ISIS inspired individuals. Whilst acts of terrorism are extremely rare they are on the increase and of course the consequences of an attack can be substantial. Rather than leave your assets exposed perhaps it is time to buy cover? Premiums reflect risk and so locations within major cities and major attractions and events will attract higher premiums than those ‘in the sticks’. Sadly the problem is not a short term issue; David Cameroon spoke recently about the problem being with us for a generation.

Help is at hand. Just ask.

By Ian Laycock – Group CEO

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