4-hour online course via Zoom (with a 1-hour break between 2-hour tutor led sessions). Spaces limited to 14 delegates.
Supporting your employee’s awareness of mental health, covering:
– Raising awareness and mental health literacy
If you are interested in attending the above training session please confirm your interest to Kris Kerins on either 01302 341344 or email@example.com
The Department for Education has revised its guidance for the wearing of face masks in secondary schools only. Previously the guidance for all schools was that face masks were not recommended in a school setting. The new guidance is that headteachers have the flexibility to require that masks should now be worn by all pupils (Year 7 and above) in communal areas, when moving about the school, where it is unlikely that social distancing can be enforced.
We would comment as follows:
- The guidance only applies to secondary schools. Primary schools are not included in this update and the advice for those schools remains unchanged.
- The government is not enforcing the mandatory wearing of face masks. The guidance is designed to allow headteachers to make a decision in respect of their individual settings as and when required.
- If you do wish to implement the wearing of face masks, then we would recommend that you do so in the following areas:
– Inside buildings when moving between classrooms and particularly if corridors are likely to be crowded.
– Within dining halls, except when sat at a table to eat. This would mirror the guidance given to the wearing of face masks within cafes etc.
This might allow you to control pinch points within your school where crowding cannot be avoided.
- The use of face masks within classrooms is not recommended, however you may wish to allow this selectively if it would serve to encourage staff or pupils to feel safe within the school setting. We would recommend that this be the exception rather than the rule, however.
- There will be persons for whom the wearing of face masks is not appropriate. These persons should not be included in any plans to wear face masks.
- Where schools are located within areas where local restrictions are in force (these are listed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/local-restrictions-areas-with-an-outbreak-of-coronavirus-covid-19) the wearing of masks will be required in communal spaces when moving around the school, and the discretion of the headteacher will be removed. Again, those persons for whom the wearing of masks is inappropriate should be excluded from this requirement.
We appreciate that the new update will provide confusion and concern for you, your staff, pupils and parents. If you wish to discuss your individual circumstance please do not hesitate to contact us.
When we entered the first stages of lockdown, we were advised to abandon our workplaces and if possible work from home. This resulted in the majority of commercial properties and contract sites being unoccupied with no clear indication as to when they might re-open.
Insurers reacted by providing guidance on the measures necessary to protect and secure premises. For the most part, insurers waived the usual policy clauses that would have resulted in restrictions in policy cover as a result of unoccupancy. Whilst temporary, these waivers were extended through to 5th August, however, from this point on, normal policy terms and conditions apply.
Please contact us if:
- You have had to temporarily close your business or site due to localised lockdown, or indeed any government regulations, for a period that is in excess of 30 days.
- You have not already advised us if of changes you have made to your business or sites during lockdown period.
- You have unfortunately had to cease trading.
- You are a property owner and your tenants are no longer trading and/or it is known they will not return to the premises.
The temporary closure of buildings in an effort to contain coronavirus has unwittingly created conditions that enable another potentially lethal pathogen, in this case, a bacterium to thrive. This threat is legionella pneumophila, a common pathogen in many environments that flourishes in water pipes and cooling towers.
Legionnaires disease is a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria. It is usually transmitted by breathing-in mist or droplets from water containing the bacteria. The mist may come from hot tubs, showers, or air-conditioning units for large buildings.
What you need to do
Companies have an obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees, customers and suppliers. With Legionnaires disease, that means taking reasonable precautions to ensure that the water in a facility, wherever it appears, does not contain harmful levels of Legionella.
Employers should carry out a full risk assessment of their hot and cold water systems and ensure adequate measures are in place to control the risks.
The primary method used to control the risk from Legionella is water temperature control.
Water services should be operated at temperatures that prevent Legionella growth:
- Hot water storage cylinders (calorifiers) should store water at 60°C or higher
- Hot water should be distributed at 50°C or higher (thermostatic mixer valves need to be fitted as close as possible to outlets, where a scald risk is identified).
- Cold water should be stored and distributed below 20°C.
A competent person should routinely check, inspect and clean the system, in accordance with the risk assessment.
Stagnant water aids Legionella growth. Where buildings were not entirely closed down during the lockdown, it may be safe to open if:
- the water system was flushed out at least every three days
- the water temperatures at the taps have been checked and reach at least 55°C (131°F)
- microbiological tests performed during the lockdown showed no significant change in the total number of bacteria.
For buildings that were idle for at least seven days, and especially those where the water pipes and relevant water-reliant systems were turned off for more than a month, the water needs to be tested, and, as necessary, flushed and disinfected.
All things considered, preventing an outbreak of Legionnaires disease is far easier and less expensive for businesses to undertake than preventing the spread of coronavirus. Testing for Legionella and, if necessary, flushing out or disinfecting building water should be a fundamental part of all plans for resuming operations.
By Samantha Geddes Cert CII – Commercial Account Handler
Keeping Customers Safe
The opening up of the economy following the COVID-19 outbreak is being supported by NHS Test and Trace. You need to assist this service by keeping a temporary record of your customers and visitors for 21 days and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed.
Indoor gatherings should only be occurring in groups of up to two households (including support bubbles) while outdoor gatherings should only be occurring in groups of up to two households (or support bubbles), or a group of at most six people from any number of households. It is against the law to gather in groups of more than 30 people, except for the limited circumstances as set out in law. You need to prevent large gatherings or mass events from taking place.
To ensure the safety of your customers you should:
- Calculate the maximum number of customers that can reasonably follow social distancing guidelines at the venue. Upon opening, operate at reduced capacity with extended cleaning periods between each session. This should be kept under review.
- Tables should be spaced to allow for social distancing.
- Reduce the need for customers to queue, but where this is unavoidable, discourage customers from queueing indoors and using outside spaces for queueing where available and safe. A safe space for queueing will be highlighted.
- Provide clear guidance on social distancing and hygiene to people on arrival, for example, signage, visual aids and before arrival, such as by phone, on the website or by email.
- Manage the entry of customers, and the number of customers at a venue, so that all indoor customers are seated with appropriate distancing. Managing entry numbers can be done through online booking.
- Manage outside queues to ensure they do not cause a risk to individuals and protecting queues from traffic by putting up barriers.
- Make customers aware of, and encourage compliance with, limits on gatherings at booking. Indoor gatherings are limited to members of any two households (or support bubbles), while outdoor gatherings are limited to members of any two households (or support bubbles), or a group of at most six people from any number of households.
- Encourage customers to use hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter the venue.
- Remind customers who are accompanied by children that they are responsible for supervising them at all times and should follow social distancing guidelines.
- Look at how people move through the venue and how this can be adjusted to reduce congestion and contact between customers. Introduce a one way system where possible.
- Reduce the volume level of the music played in the venue so that conversation is not difficult, and customers do not need to shout.
- Encourage card payments, contactless preferred.
- Identify workers as designated supervisors for each area to ensure social distancing measures are being adhered to by customers.
- Have clearly designated positions from which employees supervising can provide advice or assistance to customers whilst maintaining social distance.
- Allowing a sufficient break time between sessions in order to appropriately clean the premises and equipment and to prevent waiting in groups.
- Use signage such as ground markings to mark out required social distance to allow controlled flows of people.
- Suspend all children’s parties and group bookings.
- Permit only one parent/carer per child to supervise their child while following social distancing.
- Provide safety information to customers online at the time of booking to prevent the need for large numbers of people to congregate to receive this before each session.
Face coverings are mandatory for visitors when they are inside the venue, children under 11 may be exempt with valid reasoning.
Adults and children over the age of 11 must wear a face covering when entering the venue and throughout their stay.
Face coverings may be removed when eating and drinking at their table, however groups should not mix tables during their stay.
Staff are not required to frequently check visitors for exemptions when not wearing a face covering but should reasonably ask them to abide by the law.
Face coverings do not need to be worn when entering or while inside the play structure.
Cleaning of Soft Play Areas and frames
- High contact surfaces should be cleaned between booked sessions. Particular attention will be paid to areas such as slides, monkey bars, enclosed crawl through ‘tunnels’ or tube slides and handholds.
- Separate sensory rooms must remain closed.
- Ball pits must be closed or physically removed from frames before opening.
- Roleplay props must also be considered as single-use items and a suitable system must be in place for the handling, cleaning and sanitisation of props to facilitate this. Role play rooms must be cleaned in line with other indoor area frequencies. Role play areas must be restricted to one booked group, to reduce the risk of items being shared between different groups of children.
- Difficult to clean items must be removed making it easier to clean the soft play area. For example, this would cover items such as soft punch bags, plastic balls and other easily removable items.
- Any loose soft play items will either be removed or identified in a way that allows them to be included in the enhanced cleaning schedule. The risk of unidentified and mobile items is that they are missed or not included in an enhanced cleaning schedule. Identifying marks should be used, alongside a check sheet to record that each item has been cleaned. Pay particular attention to the withdrawal of unnecessary play items that children will put in their mouths or around their faces which are a high transmission hazard.
Soft Play Frame Operations
- Before anyone is permitted to enter the soft play frame they should apply hand sanitiser at the point of entry to the play area. These sanitisation points should be adjacent to each separate play area (not just at the entrance to the building), supervised and the application of sanitiser made mandatory.
- A written zero-tolerance policy dealing with non-compliance should be in place. Staff should be trained in the handling of non-compliant persons.
- Where customers are required to queue, clear social distancing floor markings to stop clumping should be in place.
- The capacity of the soft play frame should be calculated to allow for the current guidance on social distancing – this will allow households to socially distance. On the basis of normal play frame capacity calculations which is based on active floor area, capacity/occupancy should be reduced to maximum 40%, based on the total number of users including parents or guardian supervising. This should be monitored when in use as part of the ongoing risk assessment process, to ensure that capacities deliver social distance requirements.
- Capacity management and social distancing should be controlled by:
- Separate entrance and exit points, which will be staffed, to monitor/regulate numbers to no more than the maximum persons allowed to enter the play structure at any one time, with staff using tally counters to help monitor this.
- Control via groups i.e. coloured wrist bands, all-in all-out systems.
- Signage displayed at the entrance to the frame;
- Encouraging parents to accompany children through the frame;
- The natural one-way flow already built into structures (i.e. hard to climb slides);
- Total centre capacity will not exceed the total number of persons allowed within the soft play frame.
The capacity for smaller play areas should be calculated as above. Where there isn’t sufficient space to facilitate social distancing only one household per area will be permitted at any one time.
To aid social distancing and avoid pinch points the following examples may be used:
- Direction arrows or minor alterations to establish a flow system. For example log ramps to be up only and deck climbs and slides to be down only. Floor pads are typically 1.2m square so additional signage can be erected to remind customers to remain two square floor pads apart from others while playing in the structure unless they are from one family group or bubble.
- Risk assessments of pinch points within the frame. Control measures such as temporary closure of confined spaces or areas that encourage users to congregate may be necessary.
- Staggered start times for people entering the play frame.
If you would like any further advice, please call our Health & Safety Team on 01302 341 344.
You may have heard in the business news that the insurance market is hardening. This means that premiums can increase, cover can be restricted and insurers are less inclined to take on new clients; essentially it can become difficult for a business to keep their costs down for those essential insurance covers and unfortunately shopping around for competitive alternative quotes rarely delivers results , so how can premiums be managed – well, Risk Management can play a key role.
We understand that every business needs to manage their bottom line and insurance can be a large expense which is likely to grow over the next year or so. It is therefore important to understand how you can gain the best possible rates and cover from your insurer.
To understand where risk management fits in, it’s worth considering some of the factors that contribute towards insurance premiums. The insurer takes into consideration the inherent risk the business presents together with physical hazards and the amount of risk exposure i.e the likely cost of claims. They then add in their own expenses and this, produces a premium. The underwriting features behind this are much more complex but the insurer is aiming to charge a premium that covers all these elements and delivers a profit. The more that a business claims from an insurer, the tighter their profit margin becomes and so they look to increase the future premium hence the saying ‘those who claim less pay less’.
As we enter a hard market you have little control over the increase in the base rates insurers charge they will also increasingly become more selective as they look to choose the businesses who can deliver the best profit margins. This means it is vital that your business does everything it can to reduce the risk of having a claim, hence improving your risk management. The better the presentation to insurers as to how well you are managing your risk, the better the terms or premiums you will have, even if in these tough times, it is still an increase on previous years.
The nature of your business will determine where you should focus time and possibly money to improve your risk profile. For example, for business in perceived high risk environments such as manufacturing and construction, it is vital that the focus is on employee safety, whether this is training or better PPE and of course it is essential that your insurers are aware of the investment that has been made.
Whatever your industry, good risk management will be an important element of your business and that can have a positive impact on your insurance costs. For more information on how we can help with Risk Management, please contact Rachel Storey on 07823 880202.
By now, you will have read about the devastating explosion in Lebanon. Whilst the investigation is still ongoing into the causes of the incident, it is thought that inadequate chemical storage has played a role in the disaster.
This is probably, therefore, a good time to look at the way you are storing chemicals and ensure you are doing everything you should to prevent anything like this happening in your business.
So, let’s look at the basics.
Dedicated chemical store
All chemicals should be stored in a dedicated area and access to the chemical store should be restricted to authorised personnel only. The store should be well organised, well-lit and well ventilated with a chemical resistant floor that is easy to clean.
Incompatible materials should not be stored together, for example flammable substances should be stored in a separate area to oxidising chemicals. Areas for each type of substance should be designated with clear signage displayed.
Chemicals and containers should be stored in bunded areas to collect any spills. These should be sited away from vehicle routes, walkways and ignition sources, where possible.
The amount of chemicals stored should be minimised as much as possible and emergency procedures should be developed that are suitable for the chemicals and amounts stored.
Spill kits and suitable fire extinguishing equipment should be located nearby and there should be adequate arrangements for the removal of waste.
Regular checks should be made of the chemical stores to ensure they remain in good condition and that they are being kept clean and tidy.
Training and supervision
Safe work procedures should be in place for the storage and use of chemicals and all employees should have received training in these. Supervisors should be on hand to ensure these procedures are being followed.
Training provided should include:
- emergency procedures
- safe handling procedures
- good record keeping
- how to use RPE and check that it is working
- how to clean up spills correctly
- what to do if something goes wrong
If you would like any assistance with your chemical storage, please contact our Health and Safety Team on 01302 341 344.
By Rachel Cuff CMIOSH – Risk Consultant
The latest chapter in this year’s Covid-19 nightmare continues with employers now having to deal with the ever-changing landscape of foreign travel and quarantine rules and the subsequent impact this is having on employees and the business.
The Government is asking employers to be understanding in situations where employees are being asked to self-isolate on return from countries outside of the ‘travel-corridors’, however for many businesses this will be an added pressure in what are already challenging trading conditions.
Where employees can work from home it may be possible to accommodate remote working for the 14 days after their return from holiday, but what if that’s not possible?
Statutory Sick Pay does not extend to employees required to quarantine under these circumstances. So, unless employees are suffering symptoms themselves, live with someone with symptoms or have been notified by contact tracing that they have been in contact with a confirmed case, then SSP is not an option.
Where your employee has annual leave left for the year you can ask them to use this (insisting is probably not an option as you won’t have the required notice!). If they have used up leave days or don’t have enough annual leave to use, you should try to be flexible and offer some unpaid leave.
In circumstances where an employee was travelling abroad for business purposes, and quarantine is brought in, we recommend you pay them as normal on their return, even if they cannot carry out their role from home.
It would be useful to communicate with employees as soon as possible, how you intend to deal with this situation so that they have complete clarity on your stance.
- Recommend that they keep an eye on FCO guidance which is being updated as things change and reiterate that FCO guidance will drive travel insurance implications.
- If they are planning to travel to a country where quarantine is required on return, ask them to let you know in advance (please note that any travel against FCO advice will mean that their travel insurance will not operate).
- Ensure they are aware that they if guidance changes whilst they are on holiday and they are required to quarantine they should report absence in the normal way.
- Set out whether they will be paid during quarantine and if not whether they will be able to take outstanding holidays or whether absence will be unpaid leave.
Whilst some employers may be considering cancelling leave to prevent staff travelling abroad, this is not ideal, and you should talk to us if this is something you are thinking about. It will be unpopular with your staff and could land you with legal challenges and claims for compensation of cancellation costs.
Similarly dealing with absence due to quarantine via your disciplinary process may be possible in theory but a court may be sympathetic to an employee who is simply following government advice, particularly if it changed whilst they were on holiday.
So, keep calm, carry on and talk to us if you have any queries. We’ll update you if things change.
By Angela Stancer ACII – HR Manager
The “new normal” has seen many companies re-organise to facilitate homeworking by their employees. This unfortunately has given cyber criminals an opportunity to take advantage of the new situation & we are seeing a dramatic rise in cyber crime as a result. How can businesses protect themselves & their employees from criminals focused on attacking IT networks & infrastructures that now have to support many more people working from home?
There are 12 things businesses can do to enhance security for remote workers.
- Password complexity & management. A system needs to be in place to ensure rules exist & are followed. Use a mixture of capitals & lower case, numbers & special characters with a minimum number of digits – at least 8. The National Cyber Security Centre recommends using 3 random words. for example, pencilchairfilm, – pencil2chairfilm! would be even better. NEVER use date or place of birth, names of partners, children or pets, or 12345 or 000000 – these are still very common & easily guessed by criminals.
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA). Having 2 forms of identification is a simple & effective way to increase security. This can be achieved by password then a randomly generated code sent by text message or via an app.
- User Privileges. Individuals should only have access to the systems, functions & software that they need to do their job. More secure areas should be restricted. Allowing blanket access can leave the entire network open to cyber criminals, should they gain entry via a user’s account.
- Virtual Private Networks (VPN). A VPN extends a private network across a public network to allow users to exchange data as if their devices were in a private network. This gives data the benefit of the private network’s security including password protection & encryption.
- Use of own equipment. Allowing users to access your business network from their own devices can introduce security issues – an employee’s laptop, even if not infected with a virus, could have out of date security or anti-virus software. Businesses should supply employees with standard-build equipment with security in place to protect business information.
- Anti-virus software updates. These can be an irritation to users as they take time, but employees should be made aware that updates are to be actioned as soon as they are available, as they will include the latest security improvements.
- Quick reference Guides. If there are many home workers there may be uncertainty about accessing the network remotely or unfamiliarity with different systems. The production of brief “How to” user guides will reduce the number of queries to the IT helpdesk or other reference point & could even reduce the likelihood of a security issue.
- Training staff to recognize phishing emails is essential – in particular, check the email address, grammar & spelling, is it addressed to you as an individual or a generic “Dear Customer”? Is it imposing an unreasonable payment deadline or something outside normal business practice? Be aware of emails selling supposed coronavirus cures or maps detailing virus outbreaks. Staff need to be vigilant & not click on any links in emails.
- Removable Media. There should be a policy that no removable media is used as memory sticks & SD cards can introduce viruses.
- Public Places. There are 3 things to bear in mind. Security – never leave devices unattended in a public place. Data – be aware of surroundings – can someone see what’s on your screen or watch your key stokes? Wi-fi – networks without passwords (or a password displayed on the wall) should not be used as they are easily accessed by criminals.
- Methods to encode information so that only authorized parties can access it may not stop an attack, but it does make data useless to the cyber criminal
- Reporting security Issues. Time is of the essence when reporting a security issue, whether it’s a lost phone, stolen laptop, security breach or clicking on a suspicious link in an email. Being able to assess a situation quickly & organise a response will limit losses & speed up the recovery process.
By Beverley Brown FCII MBA – Broking Director & Chartered Insurance Broker.
Claims notification is part and parcel of an active insurance policy; however, does it matter when the claim is notified and does it make a difference to how the claim plays out? Let’s take a look at a motor example and see how this operates in practice.
Early notification after an accident has occurred is essential. The sooner an insurer is notified, the quicker they can assist with the claim and get the vehicle back on the road or replaced.
For example, if the insured driver hits the rear of a stationary third-party vehicle at traffic lights and moderate damage is caused, as well as the third-party driver suffering whiplash, the cost of the claim, if notified on day one, is estimated at £5,000. This is compared to £11,500 if notification occurs on day 15 and if a client waits until 30 days to notify insurers of a claim, the original figure quadruples to an estimated £20,000.
Not only can prompt claims notification assist with ensuring claims costs and experience against policy records are contained, by gathering information from a policyholder first hand, the insurer is best placed to make enquiries, offer the third party to use their approved repairer network and act on the customers’ behalf if liability is contested.
Now, it’s all very well telling people to notify claims early and collect the relevant information at the scene, however being involved in a motor accident is not the easiest of things at the best of times and at worse it can be quite harrowing. To then expect a driver to find a pen and paper and start taking detailed information can be seen as being unrealistic.
To help with this exact situation, ProAktive have developed a motor claims app to help ease the process. No pen and paper is required (just a smart phone) and the app then guides you through a process on what information is needed and, if possible, allows the collection of photographic evidence as well. Once finished all this information is pulled together in a pdf report that is then emailed through to the ProAktive claims team who will then liaise with you regarding the reporting of the incident to insurers.
The app not only speeds up the process of reporting but also allows the collection of all the relevant information that will be required to help assist with the claim. The app is available free of charge to any ProAktive client so should you be interested in taking a look, just ask any staff member of ProAktive for further information.
In summary – the sooner an accident is reported, the lower the claim cost, the better the result!
By Peter Ryder ACII – Chartered Insurance Broker
We’re at a point in time where there is a recognition that whilst the laws applicable to your business haven’t changed, the way that you are required to implement controls to comply with these regulations has almost certainly changed. There are also situations within your business that might have resulted in radical change – working from home for example. As Bob Dylan sang in 1964, “The Times, They Are A-Changin’” and I think they will continue to do so for quite some time.
Change can be challenging for you as business owners and managers and scary for your employees. So how do we manage these periods of change and get through these tough times? Well, this is the technique that I like to use when I’m faced with these situations and I thought that I’d share it with you.
The main point is to recognise that employees and organisations fundamentally don’t like to change their ways. We are all like this – it’s natural! We all like the things that we know, as we know how to do them well and we can do them in our sleep. It does not require any effort, or even hard work. This is our natural resting point, our comfort zone. But things cannot stay the same forever. We need them to change. We need, therefore, to understand our employee’s typical response and to deal with this. The typical response will essentially be to move through four stages: shock, uncertainty, a turning point, and moving forwards.
The shock stage is entirely understandable: “what do you mean I need to change what I do?”. The common consequence is that employees retreat into their shell and refuse to do anything different, or anything at all. If you can get them past this stage then uncertainty kicks in: “well okay, but I have no idea how to do this”. At this point efficiency and output will dip as employees struggle to get the hang of the new process or situation. Persevere though because after a while you’ll hit the turning point: “oh this actually isn’t that bad after all! I get it!”. Solutions will start to present themselves and things will start to get better. Efficiencies and output will start to return to normal, or better. We then ‘move forwards’ and the change becomes the new normal.
So, what’s the key? Communication, communication, communication! We’ve all been there before haven’t we? Our boss has said, “we’re going to do this from tomorrow, so get ready!” Err, what’s going to happen tomorrow? Why are we doing this? What’s the point? What do I have to do? Here’s a new plan for you to think about:
- Speak to your employees honestly about the situation. Explain why there is a need for change and get their thoughts on what they see as the issues that might be encountered.
- Ask your employees for their help. They’re the experts in what they do, after all they do the work and you pay them good money to do so. Use their knowledge and experience! If the situation needs to change, what suggestions have they got that could help? They might have got some fantastic ideas that you might never have considered.
- Make them feel part of the process. No one likes to be told what to do. By listening to your employees and getting them involved, they will start to take ownership of the change. If they feel like it belongs to them, they become invested in the process and are more likely to want to see it succeed.
- Get regular feedback. It’s unlikely that you’ll get the perfect answer from the very start. Things might need to be tweaked all throughout the process. Keep asking for any suggestions for improvement and any obstacles that are being encountered.
- Provide regular updates. Tell everyone how things are going. Share successes and any lessons that have been learned.
If you are in this situation and you cannot see a way forwards, then please don’t hesitate to contact us. We would love to help out and can even provide specialist training courses such as IOSH’s Leading Safely course, which talks in more detail about these concepts.
By Ian Clayton CMIOSH – Health & Safety Manager