Respiratory Protective Equipment and Facial Hair

With the recent news that welding fume has been classified as carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) there has been much talk in the workplace about respiratory protective equipment (RPE) and facial hair.

Before we discuss respiratory protection it’s important to remember that any form of personal protective equipment, including RPE, should be a last resort and controls that work collectively should be preferred. For instance, efficient extraction at source will protect all personnel in the workplace while RPE only protects the individual. Assuming adequate control can be achieved with extraction we do not need to provide RPE.

There are various types of RPE but one of the most common types are filtered face masks. These can be reusable or disposable and are relatively inexpensive. Filtered face masks are perfectly adequate for protecting employees from harm due to the inhalation of airborne contaminates, however they rely on forming a good seal between the mask and the users face.

Face fit testing can be carried out to confirm that the RPE is effective in protecting the user.  Unfortunately, employees with facial hair growth may find that it is impossible to form a seal between their face and the face mask. In these cases, the RPE will not protect the individual from exposure to the harmful substance as intended.

What are the options if an employee has a beard but also needs to wear RPE to protect their health?

  1. Explain the issue and ask the employee to attend work clean-shaven. This may be emotive, and employees may refuse. As an employer you have no option other than to protect your employees from harm so you may have to insist that they shave or make alternative arrangements.

Enforcing employees to shave using your company disciplinary procedure may be possible but you should consult your human resources adviser to ensure that you follow the correct procedures.

Be aware that “religion or belief” is one of nine protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 and that employees who have facial hair due to religious reasons may be able to claim that they were discriminated against!

Also consider employees who may have medical reasons why they should not shave. They should be able to provide medical evidence to back this up.

  1. Another option is to remove the employee from exposure by making reasonable adjustments to their work or providing alternative work. This option may not be possible and needs careful consideration. Again, you may need to consult your human resources advisor for guidance on the correct procedures.
  2. Provide air-fed respiratory protection. Air-fed RPE does not rely on a seal between the face and mask and will protect employees with beards from exposure to hazardous substances. This may be an ideal solution, but the main disadvantage is that it can be expensive.

This may be a difficult situation, but it is important to protect your employees. There may be other options open to you. If you need any advice, please contact us and we can discuss in more detail.

By Ainslie Johnson GradIOSHRisk Consultant

Settled Status and Right to Work

It seems like collectively the country has been talking non stop about Brexit since June 2016 and with the 29th March approaching it’s worth highlighting the future requirement for EU citizens to apply for settled status.

If you employ people who are not British but are EU citizens they will need to apply to the EU settlement scheme to continue living in the UK after June 30th 2021. If their application is successful they will either obtain a status of ‘settled’ or ‘pre-settled’, both of which allows them to remain and work in the UK. Pre-settled status is usually given to those without five continuous years of residence in the UK.

The UK has also agreed that Irish citizens can remain permanently and have already agreed deals with Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland that allow their nationals (as they are currently not part of the EU) to apply to the settlement scheme from 30th March 2019 onwards.

There are some exceptions to the above.  Anyone who has Dual citizenship (with one part being British or Irish) or ‘indefinite leave to enter’ and remain in the UK does not need to apply to the settlement scheme.

It is also worth noting that the following scenarios DO NOT exempt a person from having to apply:

  • being born in the UK
  • having moved to the UK before it joined the EU
  • being a family member of someone who does not need to apply
  • being married to a British citizen

If an employee has previously had a criminal conviction they may not receive settled status, however this will be judged on a case-by-case basis and relates to major convictions. If they have been to prison it’s likely that they will need 5 years continuous residence following their release to be granted settled status.

The ability to apply online will go fully live on 30th March 2019 however people can currently apply now during the test phase. Applying during the test phase will come at a cost; £32.50 for under 16’s and £65 to anyone over the age of 16, however this will be refunded once the system opens fully. Application in the test phase can also only be completed using an android phone.

Anyone who is given settled status will usually be eligible to apply for citizenship 12 months after their status is approved.

If you are an employer who relies on EU citizens to make up a part of your work force, it would be useful to remind employees of the need to apply for settled status before the deadline in 2021. Until that point the usual Right to work checks should still be conducted for all employees.

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

Welding Fume

You may have noticed the furore that has been stoked by the recent re-classification of welding fume gases as a known carcinogen and so we thought it might be worth giving you some advice and background information.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) published a monograph in July 2018 in which they discussed recent research into the carcinogenic effect of welding fumes on humans. The paper covered all types of welding and the conclusion, at this point, was that there was now sufficient evidence to confirm that exposure to welding fumes could cause carcinogenic effects. The IARC now classifies welding fumes as a substance “carcinogenic to humans (Group 1)”.

So, it’s all new news then? Well, not really. Welding fumes have been classified by the IARC as “possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B)” since 1989. There has always been a requirement to protect workers as far as is reasonably practicable, however until now the HSE has viewed general ventilation as an acceptable form of control until this point. This is the main turning point that you need to get a grip on immediately

The HSE now expect that any welding done indoors will require suitable engineering controls, such as local exhaust extraction (LEV). This extraction will also be required to control exposure to Manganese, typically through some form of filtration. Where LEV alone does not adequately control exposure, maybe because the welding process places the worker between the welding point and the extraction hood, then further respiratory protection will be required. This could be in the form of air-fed or disposable masks. If you decide on disposable masks, then the employees must have been subject to Face Fit Testing to ensure that the mask supplied is suitable for their use.

For outdoor welding, respiratory protection should be worn, again due to the proximity of the employee to the welding fume. This could be simple disposable masks or more complex air-fed solutions depending on duration, the amount of fume generated etc. This is much simpler than indoor welding, however you cannot do nothing.

The HSE has made it clear that “regardless of duration, the HSE will no longer accept any welding undertaken without any suitable exposure controls in place, as there is no known level of safe exposure”.

So, after all of that, what do you need to do? Indoor welding is going to be the more problematic to control and so I would suggest that you consider the following as a starter for ten for indoor welding:


  • Undertake monitoring of your work environment for indoor welding. This will tell you whether your existing controls are actually doing anything, or whether there is a more significant problem that you need to manage.
  • Review your existing controls. If you haven’t got any LEV installed at the moment, take steps to start the process of evaluating what sort of engineered solution might be suitable for you. Don’t guess at this! Make contact with a competent supplier and ask them to come and visit your premises to fully understand what you need.
  • Ensure that RPE is provided and supplied to employees. Make sure that any disposable RPE used is suitable for the user. Be wary of ‘dust masks’ as they typically won’t work for persons with facial hair.

Be warned, though, there is no excuse for simply carrying on as normal “because this is how we’ve always done it”. There is an argument that as of now, employees may be on much firmer ground to make a successful claim that their health has been affected by their work activities as you now know that there’s a problem that you need to manage. Prior to today, such a claim might, arguably, be more difficult to succeed as there wasn’t previously the same level of knowledge about the dangers of the effects of welding fume.

For further information or advice, contact me on 01302 341 344.

By Ian Clayton CMIOSHHealth & Safety Manager

Latest Doncaster Business Insight Survey gains snapshot of local business sentiment.

With national government still debating over future trade laws and DMBC championing local procurement, Doncaster Chamber is keen to know where firms are currently trading so that they can highlight new opportunities and support for doing more business locally and globally.

Firms are also being asked to comment on the Government’s apprenticeship levy and whether they are considering starting to import or export over the next 12 months.

These are just some of the hot topics being covered in the latest Doncaster Business Insight Survey run by the Chamber in association with Business Doncaster and sponsored by ProAktive.

Local firms of all sizes and sectors are invited to take the survey to provide a snapshot of current business sentiment. Their feedback will enable Doncaster Chamber and partners to stay aware of any business challenges and needs so that they can offer the right support, signpost to other providers, and address any concerns at the appropriate level.

“It’s important that we know about the key matters impacting local business, our members and the local economy. With Brexit uncertainty, we are supporting firms to prepare for any outcome; to see opportunities such as increased trade with local and global suppliers and buyers, offer apprenticeships to skill-up their workforce, and make their businesses more robust and sustainable,” says Rebecca Leam, Head of Policy & Communications for Doncaster Chamber.

The previous Doncaster Business Insight Survey in Autumn 2018 showed that the economy is fairly stagnant due to Brexit uncertainty. The Chamber network is therefore holding Government to account to ensure that they don’t lose sight of the crucial issues affecting UK Plc such as competitiveness and productivity that are fundamental to business success and the economy.

The quarterly survey is open for three weeks until Monday 11 March 2019 and the results will be anonymously shared with key stakeholders and influencers including the Doncaster business community, Doncaster Council, British Chambers of Commerce and ultimately national government to make positive change.

For every survey completed by a Doncaster-based business, the Chamber will give £1 to local charity Active Fusion to help every child develop a love for being active by unlocking potential and creating positive habits for life.

Take the Doncaster Business Insight Survey:

For more information about Doncaster Business Insight and Doncaster Chamber visit:

Have you got your Green Card?!

With 29th March looming and the ever-increasing possibility of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit, it is understandable that people are starting to get concerned about the effects of working and travelling abroad.

When it comes to driving your vehicle abroad, currently all you require is your motor certificate which shows you have insurance cover in the EU. If, however, a ‘no deal’ Brexit is confirmed, from the 29th March you will need to have a Green Card to drive your vehicle in the EU (plus Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland), no matter if you are travelling for business or for leisure purposes. A Green Card is proof that you have the minimum insurance level required by the EU. 

If you were to hire a vehicle abroad, if the hire company is covering you under their insurance a Green Card should not be required however if you were to hire a vehicle in the UK and take this to the EU, you would still need to have a Green Card.

There is an agreement to waive the need for a Green Card in the result of a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit however this has not yet been passed by the European Commission so until then, this will be a necessity otherwise you may be breaking the law.

Your insurers will not automatically be issuing Green Cards but they are available on request, free of charge. Please make sure you request this in plenty of time (at least one month prior to travelling) and if you are going to be abroad over 29th March, you will need to take one with you just in case!

By Rachel Storey Dip CIIAccount Executive

The issue ‘worker status’ gathers pace and continues to evolve

The Taylor report published last year, following wide spread research and consultation, sought to explore the world of work in the modern age and how employment law dovetails with this. Whilst the report gave a balanced view of how we can best improve workers rights whilst not adversely affecting entrepreneurship which is so important to the British economy, it did put forward a number of proposals to the government, on ways in which the law can be clarified and improved to help all those who are part of what has become known as the ‘Gig economy’.

Having considered the Taylor Review’s recommendations, the government have now created ‘the Good Work Plan’, which includes a variety of measures that are to be introduced into law, to improve the rights of those employees who do not have stable employment contracts. This, in addition to the introduction of tighter rules around the tax position for self-employed workers coming into force in 2020, will mean we will see more changes to working practices in order to minimise the risks of employment and tax risks for businesses.

With this backdrop, we have seen the first company to create a new status for their workforce, with Hermes introducing ‘self-employment plus status’ in conjunction with their Union. This provides a choice for drivers, giving them greater rights and benefits, akin to ‘workers’ such as holiday pay, sick pay and national minimum wage pay, subject to contractors signing up to the scheme, which will see them agreeing to follow Hermes own pre-prescribed delivery routes.

There is no question that whilst this move will not trigger any legislative change, it could help form the basis of a more standardised approach to how Gig Economy arrangements are structured.

An additional benefit is the opportunity this may bring in terms of freeing up the time of the courts and tribunals. Recent years have seen high-profile Gig Economy cases take up huge amounts of time and resource, both from the judiciary and internal management teams.

Reducing the number of these cases will only be a positive step, indicative of a healthier worker-employer relationship and freeing up time for the courts to dedicate to more pressing issues.

Definitely watch this space.

By Jodi CoolingOperations Director and HR Consultant



IOSH Leading Safely

Safety Leadership is a vital component of any health & safety process & is critical to the success of any health and safety management programme. Leadership and commitment are essential in ALL aspects of business management – so why should health and safety be any different?

Our IOSH Leading Safely course can help you face the safety leadership challenges on your safety culture improvement journey. 

The known documented benefits of effective safety leadership are:

Business Benefits

  • Improves employee’s safety behaviour
  • Reduce lost time and minor injury frequency rates
  • Create better business continuity, thereby increasing productivity by avoiding incidents, accidents, breakdowns and process failures
  • Reduce insurance premiums costs
  • Improve standing and reputation among suppliers, clients and partners.
  • Leads to better all-round economic performance

Personal Benefits

  • Sharpen your skill-set and make you a more effective leader
  • Create understanding of good practice in health & safety
  • Enable bench-marking of your performance against others
  • Shape your safety and health vision
  • Identify steps to achieve your safety and health objectives

Our practical, focused and informative course provides a useful insight into how to set about managing and leading safety in an effective way.

All delegates will receive instructions to download and access the ‘IOSH for Leaders’ app, which provides a wealth of information and support that delegates can continue to access after the course is completed.

The IOSH Leading Safely course is based on discussion and self-evaluation. The course is centred on the key activities of a diagnostic questionnaire, which helps you identify strengths and weaknesses in your company’s safety management arrangements. A two-part case study allows delegates to discuss major health and safety management issues and find workable solutions for them.

This is very much an interactive course where participation is expected and encouraged.

If you would like to know more about our range of health and safety training courses, please contact me on 01302 341 344.

By Ken Stevens CMIOSH – Risk Services Manager

Product Recall

Do you need Product Recall Insurance?

Product Recall Insurance covers expenses associated with recalling a product from the market. It provides protection in the event any of your products pose an imminent threat of bodily injury or property damage.

Why would a product need to be recalled? 

  • Manufacturing errors such as the omission of a component or product
  • Contamination of the product during manufacture
  • Errors in the design, packaging or storage of the products

Who requires this cover?

Product Recall insurance is typically purchased by the automotive, food and beverage, medical and pharmaceutical industries but the need for the cover in other areas is growing

What does the policy cover?

  • Notifying customers of the problems and the recall
  • Transportation costs in respect of the return of the products
  • Additional costs incurred in respect of storage of the returned product
  • The cost of the destruction or disposal of the products
  • Additional staffing costs associated with the recall
  • Costs incurred by third parties such as wholesalers and retailers involved in the recall

Which industry has the most claims?

Research conducted by insurer Allianz in 2017 found that automotive companies are the most likely to make claims under product recall policies, followed by food & drink and domestic appliance manufacturers; this is not surprising given the obvious risk to consumers posed by such products if defective. Perhaps more surprising is the finding by Allianz that the average cost of a product recall claim was €12.4m in the automotive industry and €7.9m in the food industry.

If you think you may have a Product Recall exposure or you would like further information, please speak to your usual contact at ProAktive.

By Lauren Quincey ACII, Chartered Insurance Broker

Corporate Account Handler



Worldwide Products Risks

With the impending Brexit date (29th March 2019) nearly upon us, one consequence could be that companies become less likely to trade in Europe and more likely to look further afield.  One option could be to source products from China and the Far East.  When products are bought in bulk from China for wholesale or retail in the UK it is imperative that your insurer knows what type of product is being imported and in what quantity.

When goods manufactured in Europe are imported, it is usually the case that a clear chain can be followed back to the manufacturer so that, should issues arise with a product, the liability can be passed back up the chain.  When goods come from China this could prove to be more difficult; it can be problematic to identify the original manufacturer of the product, & even if the supplier is identified, Chinese manufacturers rarely purchase products liability insurance. The legal framework in China also makes it more difficult for your insurers to pursue a recovery should a claim occur.  In this instance your insurers will take the view that you are effectively the manufacturer of the product and charge a higher premium to reflect their lack of recovery potential.

The Insurance Act 2015 now means that a policyholder has a duty to provide a “fair presentation of the risk” to insurers.  Therefore, when discussing your risk with a broker you should always provide as much information as possible regarding which products are imported, where they are imported from and how much of your turnover relates to each product.  Only then can insurers assess the risk fully and charge the appropriate premium.   If a claim occurs & an insurer feels that they have not been given the full information about the origin of the products, to the extent that they might not have taken on the risk in the first place, the insurer could avoid the insurance contract or refuse to pay a claim.

So, should you think about importing any products from the Far East please pick up the phone and talk to your broker about how to best protect yourself.

By Peter RyderAccount Executive


Is your business Brexit ready?

Currently the UK is bracing itself for a ‘No Deal’ Brexit on 29th March 2019, and we realise this may affect every business in the country in very different ways & to many varying degrees.

In fact it could have already affected you, as many businesses have experienced changes to the labour market and the fluctuating rate of the pound for many months. This in turn could have had a knock- on effect as the cost and availability of your supplies and goods may have changed. 

The uncertainty surrounding border controls are in the press constantly and again this may have an impact on your supply chain directly or indirectly.

With this in mind ProAktive is talking to businesses to ensure their insurance programmes are ‘Brexit ready’, specifically discussing your business interruption cover to ensure your indemnity period is sufficient to enable your business to run as effectively as possible following a loss. If your key supplier is outside the UK post 29th March 2019 how long will it take your business to be up and running to the same level as it was prior to your loss?

With all this uncertainty it would be easy to be concerned over the path we will be going down over the next few months.  But be assured that the UK insurance market will remain, post Brexit,  a world leading, global centre of expertise that provides vital cover and investment and that ProAktive is here to assist you in your own Brexit plans.

If you’d like to speak to ProAktive about your insurances please call our office on 01302 341344 or 0114 243 9914.  

By Laura Scott FCIIChartered Insurance Broker & Commercial Account Handler