Don’t delay! Apply for Settled Status today, or at least encourage your European workers to do so.

Assuming that the UK leaves the European Union at some point in the future (which is looking more and more likely), EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who currently live and work in the UK will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme in order to continue to do so.

Whilst the current deadline is 30th June 2021, there is no reason to delay and every reason to encourage any affected staff and new recruits to apply straight away. Provided they have 5 years continuous residence in the UK, most should achieve Settled Status. Those with less than 5 years residency are likely to be granted Pre-Settled Status and switch to full Settled Status after 5 years.

Talk to your employees who fall into this category and ensure they understand how the Scheme works. They will need proof of identity (passport of ID card) and proof of their permanent address (bank statement/utility bill). The service is free of charge and most people can complete the process in a few minutes via a mobile phone app or on the direct.gov website. Generally, whilst decisions are made on a case by case basis, they are made quite quickly. Where criminal convictions are declared these decisions will take a bit longer.

Going forward it is likely that EU citizens will be subject to the same regime as non-EU citizens requiring them to obtain permission to enter and remain through some form of a skills-based immigration system. So, if you want to retain your employees fuss-free, it’s worthwhile making sure they are applying now to remain.

By Angela StancerHR Manager and Consultant

 

 

 

 

HSE to carry out focussed welding inspections in 2020

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) sent out letters confirming that the fabrication and engineering sectors will be subjected to unannounced inspections between January and March 2020.

The inspections will focus on welding fume and required control measures and will examine two main areas:

  • Internal Welding Operations
  • External welding operations

Inspectors will be examining the required control measures in place including Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) and Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV).

Regardless of duration, the HSE will no longer accept any welding undertaken without any suitable exposure control measures in place, as there is no known level of safe exposure.

 

What do you need to do?

Implement appropriate controls including looking at how you control fumes, as all indoor welding activities will require suitable engineering controls, such as local exhaust ventilation (LEV) and extraction.

Where these alone cannot control the exposure adequately, additional controls should be implemented, such as the use of Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) to protect the welder from residual fume.

If welding is done outside, controls will also be needed. RPE should be provided and employees should understand why these controls are in place and how to use the equipment safely. All equipment must also be suitable for the task at hand.

 

Welding Hierarchy of Control:

  1. Elimination

Redesign the job or eliminate a substance so that the hazard is removed.

  • Design the job so there is less hot work, e.g. Using CAD/3D design techniques.
  • Buy in raw materials with edge profiles already cut.
  • ensure surface coatings are removed prior to welding

 

  1. Substitution

Replace the metal or welding technique with a less hazardous one.

  • Use a welding technique that produces less fume.
  • For arc welding use the lowest current and voltage applicable.
  • Optimise your shielding gas.

 

  1. Engineering controls

Use work equipment or other measures to reduce exposure.

  • Use suitable local exhaust ventilation (LEV) to remove the fume at source.
  • Use a turntable to enable welding in a position where the fume rises away from the face (in addition to LEV).

 

  1. Management and administrative controls

These are all about identifying and implementing the procedures you need to reduce exposure.

  • Introduce a dedicated area for welding.
  • Control access to working area.
  • Minimise the work carried out in enclosed or confined spaces.
  • Implement a maintenance and test regime for LEV systems.

 

  1. Personal protective equipment

Masks, eye protections, gloves etc.

  • Wear a battery powered respirator with a welding visor or helmet if the fume cannot be controlled in other ways.
  • Ensure other workers in the area are not exposed to the fume.
  • Where respirators are being used ensure that they are properly fitted, used and maintained.

 

Welding RPE


Where you cannot solely rely on LEV, or when welding outdoors where there is no LEV, you must provide suitable RPE. This can be in the form of a powered air respirator or a supplied air respirator which combines respiratory, eye and face protection, with an APF of at least 20.

For work not expected to exceed one hour, a FFP3 tight-fitting disposable mask or re-usable half-mask with a P3 filter may be adequate to protect against particulates if the wearer is clean shaven, but these particulate filters will not protect workers from welding gases contained in the fume. Note tight-fitting RPE can become uncomfortable to wear, leading to workers loosening or removing the RPE therefore if welding exceeds 1 hour then a powered respirator is recommended.

RPE must be suitable for each wearer. Face fit testing for devices with a tight-fitting face seal will ensure the equipment selected is suitable for each worker.

You should have an RPE management programme which includes:

  • suitable face-fit testing
  • a stock of spare parts for example, batteries and filters
  • clean storage of RPE when not in use
  • compatibility with other personal protective equipment (PPE) you have provided for the task, for example a welding visor

 

For further advice on this topic or any other area of health and safety management, please get in touch with our H&S Team on 01302 341 344.

By Ken Stevens CMIOSH – Risk Services Manager

 

12 Days of Insurance

With the holiday season well and truly in swing, make sure your business is prepared with a helping hand from ProAktive!

12 Lights are flickering
It is compulsory that every business must carry out an Electrical Inspection (IEE) for commercial premises at least every 5 years. The inspection is an associated test to check whether the electrical installation is in a satisfactory condition for continued service.

11 Employees shaking
As the temperature drops, if you are considering use of any portable heaters you must ensure that your property damage policy permits these within the premise.

10 Cars colliding
During the festive period roads are more congested, car parks are busier and the roads may be icy. Ensure that all your company’s motor vehicles are insured adequately. Statistically, driving in icy weather conditions increases breaking distance by 10%.

9 Pipes are leaking
Does your office have ‘down time’ over the Christmas period? Prevent your pipes from freezing or bursting while your property is closed. Either set your thermostat system to a minimum of 12 degrees for the full 24 hours or turn off all water supplies from the mains and drain all standing water.

8 People falling

Whether working on site and finishing the new roof, putting the star on the very top of your office Christmas tree or adding some fancy icicles to the frames of your house, make sure the ladder is secure and on a flat surface to prevent any slips or falls.

7 Planes are landing
Heading away for some Christmas sun or coming home to spread the cheer? Business or personal travel insurance should be at the top of your Christmas list!

6 Windscreens cracking
Cold weather can cause cracks in your windscreen or the smaller chips you currently have may worsen during this period. Remain observant and get any small cracks repaired immediately. For any motor claims do make sure you are equipped for the freezing temperatures. Don’t forget your blanket, shovel and breakdown kit.

5 Stolen things
Be extra vigilant at this time of year. Make sure all tools and equipment are removed from the back of your vans. All personal belongings and jewellery should be kept in safes, if specified to, or when away from the home or overnight.

4 Freezers breaking
Christmas time may be your highest peak with stock levels. Would your company survive the Christmas rush if you lost all the fridge and freezer contents? If not, add deterioration of stock to your policy now.

3 Trees collapsing
With the weather being unpredictable during the winter periods, between the heavy snow to the blustery winds, trees can become unstable at the roots. Often the tree is not covered on your insurance, but the damage it has causes will be picked up under your insurance. Check your policy today.

2 Fires burning
While we all love to decorate the office full of Christmas lights and sparkle, carefully read all manufacturer’s manuals as incorrect use can cause a fire to break out. Make sure all plugs are out and turned off at the socket out of business hours.

And a massive office party!!!
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at ProAktive!

 

By Beth Johnson Cert CII Trainee Commercial Account Handler

 

Vehicle thefts – what types of theft are covered?

In recent months we here have seen a rise in thefts around vehicles, from tools in vans overnight, to valuables on the car seat, to the vehicles themselves. As the cold closes in and the nights last longer, the opportunities for thefts rise. People naturally assume that their motor policies will cover them for these thefts, but policies often won’t respond for a variety of reasons:

Keys in the car

No one likes getting into a cold vehicle first thing in the morning; it may be very tempting to turn the keys in the engine and run the car for five minutes to warm it up while you pop back inside to finish your first coffee of the day.

However – your motor policy will include an exclusion for theft of any vehicle when the keys are in the vehicle whilst unattended. If you leave your car running to warm up, an opportunistic thief will likely take that chance and drive off with your vehicle and insurers won’t look to cover this. That five minutes to avoid the cold can cost you a lot more.

Tools in the van

Studies in 2017 suggested that 4 out of 5 contractors would leave their tools in their vans overnight, which means 4 out of 5 vans are a potential profitable target for thieves. Insurance policies will normally exclude theft from vehicles overnight unless the vehicle is in a garage or secure compound, if not exclude it completely. Leaving tools in vans overnight means you are running the risk of paying for new ones yourself.

If possible, tools should be removed from vehicles overnight. If you are a contractor working on site there will normally be cover for tools left in a secure area of the contract site. Where possible we would always advise to try to keep as many tools as possible on the contract site, as contract works insurance may be less onerous.

Sometimes insurers may look into providing cover when requested. Often this will require some additional security such as slam locks or locked tool boxes fitted to the fabric of the van. However you must tell your insurer if you will be doing this, otherwise cover will be excluded as standard.

Keep it out of sight!

We also see thieves taking opportunities when items are left on view in cars. From money in handbags to laptops thrown on the back seat, at night or in broad daylight. If they can see it they’ll likely break in and take it. Again, insurers won’t look to cover this if you’ve not taken reasonable precautions to safeguard your property.

If you do need to pop into the shops and can’t take your valuables with you, keep them locked out of sight either in the glove box or in the boot. Policies will often stipulate that cover will apply where they have been kept away, but if thieves can’t see anything worth taking they simply aren’t likely to break in.

By Sam Harby Dip CII Commercial Account Handler

The importance of fire risk assessments

A fire risk assessment must always be carried out for the premises that your business operates in. This is a legal requirement that comes under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This, along with your fire evacuation plan, forms the foundations of your business’ fire safety.

What is a fire risk assessment?

In simple terms a fire risk assessment is an assessment of your premises, the activities that take place on there and the likelihood that a fire could start and cause harm to those in or around the premises. It will include the possible sources of ignition, fuel, current firefighting provision and the ability of those inside to escape from their workplace safely. Once this has been done, it will, if done correctly, highlight what improvements are required to your current fire safety procedures.

Fire risk assessments are often overlooked by businesses, leading to employees being put under unnecessary risk because they are unaware of the danger and hazards surrounding fire safety and what they should do in the event of a fire.

Rule number 1.

It must be reviewed regularly. It is recommended that the review is carried out every twelve months from the date of the original assessment, with a full, brand new assessment being carried out every five years. If the layout, purpose of the building or if the nature of the occupants has changed substantially, a new assessment would also be required. This is because changes to the fabric or use of the building can alter any fire safety measures currently in place.

Rule Number 2.

You must keep a written record of your fire risk assessment if your business has 5 or more people. We would always recommend having a written fire risk assessment no matter how many employees you have. There are a couple of exceptions in which a fire risk assessment MUST be written down, even if there are less than five people. These are if the premises requires a licence or if the fire brigade have instructed you to do so following a visit.

Rule Number 3.

The Fire Risk Assessment MUST record the main findings and any actions that are required following the inspection and assessment. The first part of the fire risk assessment is the review itself, and this will assess the fire safety of the premises against a number of specific points. The second part takes the form of a list of recommendations. It is vitally important to act upon the recommendations you are given for your building because this is ultimately what will keep you, your employees and your business safe.

If you do not have a fire risk assessment carried out for your building or don’t follow any recommendations made and put these into place, the penalty could be severe fines or in extreme cases of negligence, a custodial sentence.

Is your business safe?

If you would like further advice, please contact our Health and Safety Team on 01302 341 344.

 

By Aaron MoxamRisk Services Assistant

Are you really covered for flood?

As the dark nights draw in and the golf clubs are stored away for winter, we are already feeling the cold and getting used to the rainy days. Many of us will remember the floods in June 2007 which caused huge problems and hard work for businesses across the region and were of course very costly for insurers, but are you prepared in case it happens again?

Our Broking Director, Beverley Brown, has worked extremely closely with insurers to explain where work on flood defences has been carried out in order to improve the offering of flood cover by insurers, particularly in Sheffield’s Lower Don Valley. Following this work, Insurers are more willing to accept risks in areas which previously suffered flood losses, usually with a higher excess, although unfortunately that is not necessarily the case for everyone, particularly for businesses still seen to be in ‘black’ flood zones. These zones used by insurers do not only refer to flooding from the rivers but also surface water flooding which we are seeing more often due to the heavy downpours we are experiencing.

For those with flood cover, you may assume that in the case of an actual flood, insurers will automatically pay your claim. You do however have to be aware of several conditions you must comply with or exclusions to be aware of if you do require a policy to respond and I strongly recommend you check or ask your broker for advice.

A couple of examples that are included in most of the standard property or combined policies are as follows:

If you have a lot of stock stored at one of your premises there is usually a condition called ‘Stillage Condition’ which requires the business to raise stock a certain height off the ground.

Another example is that many standard property policies exclude damage by flood to fences, gates and possibly most importantly, moveable items in the open. There may be others that are relevant to your business and it is important to make sure you know what you are covered for.

For those without flood cover, it is difficult to obtain cover without moving to a lower rated insurer which could mean your whole portfolio may suffer. However, it is important to ask your insurer if they will consider cover with a much higher excess, as in some circumstances it is possible to purchase separate insurance cover for the flood excess you have accepted. Otherwise, risk management within your business is important and consideration of which floor your server room or electrical items are stored, for example, can help limit the impact of any damage.

To speak to us about flood cover for your business, you can call 01302 341 344 or 0114 243 9914.

By Rachel Storey Dip CIIAccount Executive

Employment Legislation Updates for early 2020

With the end of the year fast approaching, we felt it was a good time to look forward into 2020 and what changes we can expect.   

Employment Contract Law 

From the 6th of April 2020, changes to the law relating to employment contracts will require Employers to provide greater detail in worker’s Contracts of Employment and to issue them earlier in the process. 

Currently, a statement of terms and conditions’ concerning employment details should be issued within 8 weeks of an employee’s start date.  From April 2020, you will need to issue contracts from day one of employment, regardless of the length of the contract and to all workers, not just employees. 

From April 2020, you will need to include: 

  • Details of any benefits 
  • Details of training requirements 
  • Details of paid leave and statutory leave 
  • Sickness Absence Terms 
  • Pay terms 

Break in Continuity of Services  

At the moment, a gap of one week or more is sufficient to break continuity of service (except for various situations where legislation dictates that continuity is preserved for a longer period such as redundancy and incapacity dismissals). The government has committed to increasing the gap requiredto break continuity of service, to four weeks, making it easier for employees with irregular working patterns to accumulate continuity of service. 

Holiday entitlement  

Under the Working Time Regulations, workers with irregular hours have their entitlement calculated  using a 12-week average. However, from 6th April 2020, holiday entitlement should be calculated based on the last 52 weeks (or the total number of weeks worked so far).  

Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act 

A further change is expected from April 2020 – the introduction of Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act.  This will give all employed parents a day one right to 2 weeks leave if they lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy.  Employed parents will also be able to claim pay for this period, subject to them meeting the eligibility criteria.   

Employers should start to consider these changes now and make the necessary changes to policies and procedures. 

If you would like further advice in any area of HR, please contact our HR Consultancy Team on 01302 341 344.

 

By Louise Turner Dip Mgmt (Open) Assoc CIPD HR Business Partner

Back to the Future – Electric Vehicles

With the rise in fuel prices and the negative environmental impact associated with traditional fuels, such as petrol and diesel, electric cars are certainly a responsible choice for the environment.

The UK Government has committed to reducing emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050, under the Climate Change Act. And, according to the independent Committee on Climate Change, a switch to alternatively-powered vehicles could play a major part in helping the UK meet these targets.

As an incentive, the government is offering plug-in grants of up to £3,500 to help drivers purchase brand new low-emission vehicles. The 2017 car tax band overhaul means electric vehicles (EVs) under £40,000 are also the only new cars exempt from paying road tax.

However, there are a number of implications you should be aware of in terms of the practicalities of insuring EVs.

  1. Not all insurance companies offer electric car insurance and you may have to switch insurance providers.
  2. You may find that as electric cars are quite new, they are still classed as specialised. This means they have specialised parts, which can be expensive and require specialised mechanics to repair them if they break. Unfortunately, this is something that may increase your insurance premium.
  3. There is an increased risk of collisions, as electric engines make little to no noise, so pedestrians and other road users may not hear the cars approach.
  4. Another issue is the battery, are these owned or leased from the manufacturers? A few manufacturers initially only sold their new electric vehicles with the option of leasing the car’s batteries. This gave the peace of mind that, if the car’s battery were to drop below 75% of its original capacity, the manufacturer would replace it for free. However, it also significantly increases complexity around insurance. For example, if you were involved in a collision and the car’s battery is damaged, it is unclear whether the driver or the manufacturer would be responsible for replacing it.
  5. There are also issues around charging EVs, as the cars need to be plugged in with cables for long periods, often from roadside charging points. In this case, the driver owes a duty of care to members of the public that could trip and injure themselves on the charging cable. Some policies may not cover this as standard.

Vehicle technology is ever improving, there is already news of wireless induction charging. Once the vehicle technology becomes more mainstream, maintenance, parts and insurance are likely to decrease.

In short, the best things about electric cars are low running costs, ease of driving and the clean conscience that comes from going green.

On the down side, they are expensive to buy, and longer-term reliability is unproven. They also have a comparatively limited range – and even using a rapid or fast charger takes a lot longer than filling up with fuel.

Drivers simply need to be aware that there are some major differences to traditional motor policies when researching insurance for electric vehicles and understand that EV insurance policies are still evolving.

If in doubt, it is always worth speaking to ProAktive to make sure your EV insurance policy will provide you with effective cover.

By Samantha Geddes Cert CIICommercial Account Handler

 

 

Cyber Crime – can one policy cover me for everything?

Cyber Crime is on the rise and encompasses all manner of incidents from theft of data through to denial of service attacks and even loss of money through socially engineered means. All these incidents can be very serious to a business, however which should you be most worried about and can one policy provide cover for everything?

The three main areas of risk you need to consider are cyber, data and crime.  Each company is different and so certain threats can be more serious to one business than to another.

1. If you are a business that is wholly dependant on your systems to work or sell goods through your website, then any interruption due to a cyber-attack or crypto blocking virus (one that locks you out of your system) could be very serious as you would be unable to trade and so may see a loss in profits.

2. If you are a business that has a lot of data, then a breach (be it maliciously or innocently) can cause you to face financial penalties or see a loss in reputation.  This again could ultimately lead to a loss in profits.

3. If you are a business that sends large payments on a regular basis then being caught out by a phishing email or a fake president scam (being tricked into innocently sending money to a criminal) could be disastrous and could lead to a large financial loss.

The good news is all three of these risks can be covered by insurance but only the first two would be picked up under a cyber and data policy.  The third risk would be covered via a crime policy.  Just because a crime is committed via cyber means does not mean that it would automatically be picked up under a cyber and data policy.

If you are unsure what your main risks are, or would like to talk further about policy covers, please contact ProAktive.

By Peter Ryder ACIIAccount Executive

 

Safe Systems of Work

Many companies have risk assessments covering their work activities. It is a legal requirement to do so and it’s the first port of call when an incident occurs, but is it enough? Even if your employees have read the risk assessments and have signed to say they have understood, will you be deemed to have done enough if further action is taken as a result of the incident?

The answer is not clear cut and that is because risk assessments are complex documents and can sometimes be overwhelming, especially for employees.

What can you do?

What we are seeing in abundance recently is the reliance upon safe systems of work in both criminal prosecutions and personal injury claims. A large percentage of accidents occur due to lack of or failure in systems of work.

What is a safe system of work?

A system of work is a set of procedures according to which work must be carried out. Employees should be involved in the process of creating the safe system of work and they should set out in detail, the correct method for carrying out an activity. This can then be documented and used as part of the training procedure for employees undertaking this activity. Without a set method for carrying out a task safely and a recognised procedure in place to deal with non-routine processes, the threat of mistakes being made is high.

Why is it important to develop safe systems of work?

Safe systems of work ensure that all the steps necessary for safe working have been anticipated and implemented and are designed to reduce human error. They prevent situations where workers attempt to cut corners, rush through a task or take unnecessary risks, reducing the likelihood of accidents occurring.

For employers, devising safe systems of work, and providing training to ensure they are carried out effectively, will not only help to prevent accidents occurring in the first place but will help to defend prosecutions should accidents occur by providing evidence of the steps taken to ensure safe practices. With fines having increased 450% since the introduction of new sentencing guidelines in 2016, taking the time to proactively strengthen your safety systems is crucial, and developing safe systems of work is a key part of this.

Are safe systems of work required by law?

Whilst there is no specific requirement for documented safe systems of work to be implemented there are areas in all health and safety legislation that would be difficult to adhere to without them.

Under Section 2(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act (HSWA) 1974, employers must, ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’, provide and maintain systems of work that are practical, safe and without risks to health.

Many regulations made under the HSWA require that workers are given appropriate information and instruction on how to work safely.

Employees also have a legal duty under the HSWA to take reasonable care of their own health and safety and co-operate with their employer by following any safe systems of work that are in place.

In prosecutions by the HSE, there is a phrase that is used time and time again: ‘Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in the safe system of working.

Are yours in place?

If you would like some further advice please contact the health and safety team on 01302 341 344.

By Rachel Cuff CMIOSHRisk Consultant