Viewing post categorized under: Ensure Compliance



The most common injuries at work come from slips, trips and falls according to the Health and Safety Executive. These injuries “cost employers over £512m per year”. It is clearly an owners or employer’s responsibility to reduce the risk to visitors and staff so what do you need to know?

Design

Correct design of surfaces and the working environment can be a big factor in mitigating and managing risks for the long term. Make sure that when new build or refurbishment is planned that creating low risk environments is one of the top priorities of the designers a long with functional and aesthetic design requirements.

Falls Risk Assessment

You may not have the luxury of managing an environment that is designed with risk reduction in mind, so identifying the risks in your work space is the next key step. The outcome will be to demonstrate that you are doing enough to prevent harm.

Consider what risks in your environment may lead to slip or trip injuries, and decide what suitable and effective control measures will prevent these types of accidents. Concentrate on the real risks – those that are most likely to cause harm. Think about how accidents might happen and who might be harmed.

This can be done by:

  1. Asking your employees what they think the hazards are, often they notice things that are not obvious to more casual observers and they may have some ideas on how to control the risks;
  2. Using the hazard-spotting checklist and slips and trips mapping tool (see below) to help you identify problem areas
  3. Put control measures into practice

The main causes of slips, trips and falls in the workplace are:

  • uneven floor surfaces
  • unsuitable floor coverings
  • wet floors (leaks, cleaning or spillages)
  • changes in levels
  • trailing cables
  • poor lighting
  • poor housekeeping

Follow this easy 5-step Falls Risk Assessment process (recommended by the Health and Safety Executive) to take control of slips trips and falls

  1. Look for slip and trip hazards around the workplace, including floor coverings and their condition, uneven floors, trailing cables and areas that are sometimes slippery due to spillages. Don’t forget to include any outdoor areas, remembering that weather conditions may be a factor.
  2. Decide who might be harmed and how. Who comes into the workplace? Are they at risk? Are some groups more at risk than others?
  3. Consider the risks. Are there already measures in place to deal with the risks? Are floor coverings suitable for the area and the work carried out there? What cleaning and maintenance systems are in place? Are regular inspections carried out? Are employees instructed to keep traffic routes clear?
  4. Record your findings if you have five or more employees.
  5. Regularly review the assessment. If any significant changes take place, make sure that precautions are still adequate to deal with the risks.

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Public Contracts Regulations 2015 currently apply in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – these regulations state that any public procurement activities over a given value must be advertised in the European Union’s Official Journal (OJEU). This value is estimated based on the total amount payable, excluding VAT, but including any potential options or renewals as specified in the procurement documents. New financial thresholds have been confirmed by the European Commission which apply to public procurement from the 1st January 2016 until the end of 2017. These thresholds apply to all EU member states regardless of whether they have introduced the European legislation or not, including Scotland.

We’ve summarised the new threshold values in the table below, with the outdated thresholds in brackets.

Supply, services and
design contracts
Works contracts Social and other
specific services
Public Central Government £106,047 (£111,676) £4,104,394 (£4,322,012) £589,148 (N/A)
Other contracting authorities £164,176 (£172,514) £4,104,394 (£4,322,012) £589,148 (N/A)
Small lots £62,842 (£66,672) £785,530 (£833,400) N/A
Utility authorities £328,352 (£345,028) £4,104,394 (£4,322,012) £785,530 (N/A)
Defence and security authorities £328,352 (£345,028) £4,104,394 (£4,322,012) £785,530 (N/A)

Although the threshold values have risen when calculated in Euros, conversion rates actually result in a reduction in threshold value when the contract value is estimated in Sterling. European procurement directives must be designed to comply with the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement (GPA). The GPA defines these financial thresholds in a specialised type of asset established by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) known as Special Drawing Rights (SDR), rather than in Euros. The value of the SDR varies over time and is dependent on the relative values of a number of major global currencies including the Euro and Sterling.

This means that UK contracts valued close to the threshold level are much more likely to require publication in the OJEU when calculated in Sterling, so both suppliers and buyers in the UK can expect more competition from European organisations. Your organisation needs to be aware of these changes and the possible impact they may have on your future procurement strategy.
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As most of you know COSHH is the implementation of a key bit of health and safety legislation and ordinarily as soon as we hear those words “health and safety” our hearts start to sink. Don’t despair, as well as complying with important legislation designed to improve safety in the workplace, implementing and adhering to COSHH can have some surprising benefits for your cleaning operations.

  1. COSHH improves efficiency: Implementing regulations can sometimes bring a sense of order to processes where before these may have been lacking. Investing the time to evaluate how to comply with the regulations, naturally leads to an evaluation of practices that can present opportunities for overall improvements. Although there may be additional actions required to comply with the law, these can often be outweighed by a broader evaluation of best practice and the discovery of new, more efficient ways of doing things that haven’t been looked at before. A safer workforce is often a healthier workforce, and raising awareness of health and safety can often lead to lower levels of ill health and consequently more productivity.
  1. COSHH saves you money: Strange as it might seem, as there are always extra things to do to comply with regulations, complying with COSHH in cleaning operations can often save money. This is a result of the re-evaluation of current working practices and a heightened understanding of the correct amount of cleaning products to use, especially those that are hazardous. Regular reminders of compliance practice to cleaning teams can also contain messages about the correct dosages to use for effective cleaning and the responsibility to focus and monitor this.
  1. COSHH builds happier teams: If communicated the right way, focusing on COSHH can give teams a real uplift. It demonstrates that their employer takes their health and safety seriously and instils a greater sense of responsibility within them to look after their work environment, their colleagues and the users of the facilities they look after. Overall this can improve morale and enhance their sense of purpose beyond just doing a great cleaning job.
  1. COSHH reduces risks: Demonstrable adherence to good practice and regulations reduces risks overall. The workplace can often be tidier and more efficient through the correct handling of hazardous materials. This in turn can lead to measurable reduced risks in the workplace. This can be used to save costs by reducing insurance premiums and other risk management costs.
  1. COSHH can give you a better reputation for corporate responsibility among customers and communities: Focusing on managing hazards including hazardous substances and reducing their overall usage levels can lead to reduced waste and less impact on the environment. It offers the opportunity to switch to greener products. This responsible approach can contribute significantly to overall sustainability targets.

So perhaps the phrase is “every cloud has a silver lining”. If something must be done, like complying with COSHH, there are welcome opportunities to turn this obligation into a really positive experience with measurable constructive outcomes for all.
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