Principal Contractor working on Construction project

Understanding the CDM Regulations

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 have been designed to help all areas of construction improve their safety. There have been a few revisions of the regulations, but their goals have remained the same, to ensure the safety and welfare of all people who are involved in construction projects (and projects that qualify as construction such as maintenance). Most recently updated in 2015 and hence known as the CDM regulations 2015.

In this piece, we will go over all the regulations to help you best understand how they can be applied to your business and help keep your projects compliant.

 

What the CDM Regulations aim to do

The CDM regulations were created to make sure that no matter the role, anyone involved within a construction project is safe. It places legal duties on those involved with the planning and carrying out of construction type activities.

The regulation should help you to understand:

  • How to sensibly plan the work so the risks involved are managed from start to finish
  • To have the right people for the right job at the right time
  • How to cooperate and coordinate your work with others
  • To get the right information about the risks and how they are being managed
  • How to communicate this information effectively to those who need to know
  • consult and engage with workers about the risks and how they are being managed

HSE has published Legal Series guidance that supports CDM 2015 and explains it in more detail.

The term “Duty holder” is applied to those who have legal duties under CDM – These “Duty holders”, are defined as follows; Clients (commercial and residential), Principal Designers, Designers, Principal Contractors, and contractors

 

Summary of duty holders and their responsibilities:

Commercial clients:

Organisations or individuals for whom a construction project is carried out that is done as part of a business.

Responsible for making sure suitable arrangements for managing a project, including:

  • Other duty holders are appointed as and where appropriate
  • Sufficient time and resources are allocated
  • Relevant information is prepared and provided to other duty holders
  • The principal designer and principal contractor carry out their duties
  • Welfare facilities are provided

Domestic Clients:

People who have construction work carried out in their own home (or the home of a family member) that is not a commercial undertaking.*

In the scope of CDM 2015, the client duties are normally transferred to:

  • The contractor for single contract projects
  • The principal contractor for projects that use more than one contractor

Please note, the domestic client can instead request to have a written agreement with the principal designer to carry out the client duties.

 

Principle designers:

Are to be appointed by the client in projects involving more than one contractor. They can be from an organisation or an individual with sufficient knowledge, experience, and ability to carry out the role.

Responsibilities include planning, managing, monitoring, and coordinating the health and safety during the pre-construction phase of a project, this includes:

  • Identifying, eliminating, and controlling foreseeable risks
  • Ensuring the designers carry out their duties
  • Prepare and provide relevant information to other duty holders
  • Liaise with the principal contractor to help in the planning, management, monitoring and coordination of the construction phase.

Principle contractors:

Appointed by the client to coordinate the construction phase of the contract where it involves more than one contract.

Responsible for the planning, managing and coordination of health & safety in the construction phase of a project, including:

  • Liaising with clients and principal contractors
  • Preparing the construction phase plan
  • Organising cooperation between contractors and coordinating their work.
  • Suitable site inductions are provided
  • Reasonable steps are taken to prevent unauthorised access
  • Workers are consulted and engaged in securing their health and safety
  • Adequate Welfare facilities are provided

 

Designers:

Organisations or individuals who on behalf of an organisation, prepare or modify designs for buildings and or products or systems relating to construction work.

When preparing or modifying designs, the designer must eliminate, reduce, or control foreseeable risks that may arise during these stages:

  • Construction
  • Future maintenance

They must also provide information to other members of the project team to help them plan and carry out their duties safely.

 

Contractors:

Those who carry out the actual construction work, contractors can be an individual or a company.

Will need to plan, manage, and monitor construction work under their control so it is carried out without risks to health and safety, including:

For projects involving more than one contractor, coordinate their activities with others in the project team – in particular, comply with directions given to them by the principal designer or principal contractor.

For single contractor projects, prepare a construction phase plan.

 

Workers:

Those working for or under the control of contractors on a construction site.

Workers must:

  • Be consulted about matters which affect their health, safety and welfare
  • Take care of their own health and safety, and of others who might be affected by their actions
  • Report anything, they see which is likely to endanger either their own or others’ health and safety
  • Cooperate with their employer, fellow workers, contractors and other duty holders

* Organisations or individuals can carry out the role of more than one duty holder, provided they have the skills, knowledge, experience and organisation capability necessary to carry out those roles in a way that secures health and safety.

Rooms and Views logo

R&V Group Case Study

Rooms and Views

Here at SMAS Worksafe, we’re always looking to reach out to our members to make sure they’re getting the support they need and the service they expect. We recently caught up with one of our members to ask about our service and if there was anything we could do to make their life easier. 

Rooms and Views are an award-winning manufacturer of beautiful, high-quality PVC-U windows, doors and conservatories. They have a strong reputation for providing secure, energy-efficient products for new build, commercial, trade and private clients.

A business of just under 100 employees, R&V have two manufacturing facilities in North and South Wales that design, produce and install competitively priced, premium quality windows, doors and conservatories that satisfy strict safety and security standards, environmental requirements, and the exact needs of our clients.

Rooms and Views logo

        Visit their website:                                              https://www.roomsandviews.co.uk/

"We have SMAS, CHAS and Constructionline Memberships to meet the demands of our clients but out of them all, SMAS Worksafe is far superior in every way, from application to completion."
Simon Dickinson
H&S Manager at R&V

Their wide-ranging experience and commitment to quality, service delivery and reliability has enabled them to enjoy long-term mutually beneficial relationships with many of the UK’s leading house builders and they keep their health & safety standards as high as possible through an SSIP certificate with SMAS Worksafe.

The business uses two types of SMAS Worksafe assessment, one for each of their facilities, Steve Dickinson, Health & Safety Manager at R&V explains why:

We have the standard SMAS for South Wales, but as Buckley is our Head Office and has the group accounts department, I thought it best to take the SMAS Worksafe PQQ Package which includes Health & Safety, Environmental, Quality Management and Finance and Business Standing.”

Our Worksafe PQQ package’s help businesses to go beyond just health & safety. Worksafe PQQ gives you the ability to submit documentation you have in areas such as environmental, quality management, finance and modern slavery. Our team of in-house assessors will also give you environmental and quality management reviews and recommendations so that you can continue to remain compliant and improve your policies. 

Like many businesses, R&V use multiple SSIP providers to meet their client’s requests but have found using SMAS Worksafe easier than other providers;

“We have SMAS, CHAS and Constructionline Membership to meet the demands of our clients but out of them, SMAS Worksafe is far superior in every way, from application to completion. Saving documentation for renewal is a really nice touch and saves us time when our certificate is due to expire.

We’ve been with SMAS Worksafe since 2017 and I’ve been extremely satisfied with the service and help we receive. The portal is really easy to use and if we do ever get stuck we can use the in-house assessors to sort it out, which makes the application extremely time effective and allows us to keep working for our clients.”

See if SMAS Worksafe can help you with your existing clients or to gain more opportunities with other clients with an SSIP assessment.

If you currently require SSIP but are not tied to one provider, you can begin a SMAS Worksafe accreditation here and see for yourself why we’re the UK’s SSIP Scheme of choice. 


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    SMAS Worksafe SSIP Accreditation

    SSIP accreditation: Everything you need to know

    SSIP or Safety Scheme in Procurement is a standard for health & safety that is recognised throughout the United Kingdom. It was created to ensure a reduction in health and safety assessment costs and bureaucracy in the supply chain, by making cross-recognition between member schemes as effective as possible.

    SSIP is now accepted and recognised by thousands of clients across the UK, making the process for vetting contractors a simple process and there is no need to compare different standards of accreditation.

    “Do I need SSIP?”

    SSIP is something that any business across any industry can obtain but it is generally required for contractors in the construction industry.

    The most common reason for businesses obtaining SSIP accreditation is that they work for a client requesting it as a requirement to enter and work on their site. Therefore, contractors who work with these clients are required to become accredited to work.

    Although other industries might not require SSIP, businesses often take out accreditation as a good practice. It reassures business owners that their health & safety policies are of a high standard and any risks are being dealt with or reduced as much as possible. 

    “How do I get SSIP accredited?”

    If you’re required or want to become SSIP accredited, then you will need to find an SSIP Member Scheme that can give you a certificate once you have passed the question set.

    There are 30 registered member schemes and SMAS Worksafe is one of these schemes. We help businesses obtain their SSIP certificates and help support them not just through the process but also with guidance on how they can improve their health & safety going forward.

    Once all the questions have been answered and you’ve uploaded all the required information, one of our assessors will check over all the details and let you know if there are any issues with your submission. Once you have passed all the questions you will then hold an SSIP certificate which is valid for 12-months.

    “What is the SSIP core criteria?”

    To gain SSIP accreditation your business must be able to show that you meet the core criteria. All SSIP member schemes will require this information from you and below you can see a breakdown of what areas you will need to meet.

    1. Health & Safety policy and organisation for Health & Safety
    2. Arrangements
    3. Competent advice – corporate and construction-related
    4. Training and information
    5. Individual qualifications and experience
    6. Monitoring, audit and review
    7. Workforce involvement
    8. Accident reporting and enforcement action; follow up investigation
    9. Sub-contracting /consulting procedures (if applicable)
    10. Risk assessment leading to a safe system of work
    11. Co-operating with others and coordinating your work with that of other contractors
    12. Welfare provision

    Additional Construction Sector Criteria: 

    1. Hazard elimination and risk control (Designers & Principal Designers only)
    2. Principal Designer duties (Principal Designers only)
    3. Supplementary Construction Industry Criteria (alignment with Common Assessment Standard)

    “I already have an SSIP certificate, but I’m being asked for a SMAS?”

    Although SSIP is recognised throughout the UK, some clients may have a preference on what scheme you hold your SSIP certificate with, for example, you might have an SSIP assessment with CHAS or Constructionline but a particular client is asking for one from SMAS Worksafe.

    In this case, your best option is to take out a ‘deem to satisfy’ (DTS) with SMAS Worksafe – this is where instead of going through the full SMAS Worksafe assessment we will view your existing SSIP certificate and grant you a SMAS Worksafe accreditation without the need for a full assessment and for a reduced fee.

    It’s also worth noting that if you are a contractor working for several clients asking for varied SSIP assessments, do some research into full and DTS pricing. For example, if you hold a full assessment with CHAS but require SMAS Worksafe for a client it might be cheaper to take a full assessment with SMAS Worksafe and then DTS with CHAS.

    Benefits of having your SSIP accreditation with SMAS Worksafe

    SMAS Worksafe are always trying to give their members the most from their SSIP assessments. We don’t want your yearly assessment to be the only time we touch bases with you and instead offer you year-round support and benefits.

    SMAS Worksafe leads the way for customer service, all our expert assessors are based in-house and on the phones all day to help support you through your assessments should you need it. Lots of member schemes often outsource their assessors which can lead to the phone not being answered when you need it and inconsistent standards when going through your application.

    We also lead the way in turnaround times, we can turn around your SSIP assessment in as little as 1 day. This allows you to get back on-site as soon as possible. Depending on your membership with SMAS Worksafe you may also have access to all these member benefits.

    • 10% off Tradepoint
    • 15% off all iHASCO courses
    • A Work Wallet subscription
    • Mid-year review
    • Year-round access to our expert in-house assessors

    To learn more about SMAS Worksafe’s member options, please view our pricing and packaging page.

    top view hand shake of engineer and building contractor on table / SMAS Worksafe

    How do contractors win clients?

    Being a contractor can be tough, you rely on others to bring you work and without clients to supply you with a more consistent flow of work. Life can be tough but with clients, you have the platform for limitless opportunities.

    But how do you get the clients?

    In this article we will be going over some of the thing’s businesses successful with clients do and how you can go about winning clients and tender for your business.

    Networking:

    Client and contractor shaking hands following tender agreement / SMAS Worksafe

    One of the best ways for businesses to meet contractors and swap details is by going to networking events, such as Construction Connects which is hosted by SMAS Worksafe. Events such as this will allow you to turn up and meet contractors who have current or upcoming projects in your area.

    You can also identify your own potential clients. You can search for upcoming projects in your area and reach out directly to them to arrange a meeting. Make sure you consider the size of the project and whether it is appropriate for your business.

    Once you have identified the client, reach out to them outlining your services and work capacity, the project you’re looking for might not be right for either party but now the relationship has been formed there is potential for them to contact you regarding other projects. Your willingness to reach out to them shows them you’re keen and the fact you have reached out to them may save them the hassle of trying to source a contractor later.

    If your business employs subcontractors, you can also use them to find out about potential work or clients that may require contractors by asking them. Use them to get you in touch with clients and to keep you posted about opportunities that might be coming up.

    Referrals:

    Another way in which your business can win contracts from clients is via referral. You may be invited to contract bidding processes from clients you already have a network with. Those clients may also have partners or members that require contractors on other jobs and can extend tender invitations to you.

    Building lots of strong relationships in your industry is the best way for your business to go to the next level and continue to win client deals. Working with a client and meeting or exceeding their expectations is the first step, you need to make sure that you’re building up credibility with the people you’re working with so that they feel confident in recommending you to others.

    Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals either, requesting a referral might be the best way to earn one. It might be something that a client hadn’t considered, or they might simply have not gotten around to asking businesses and putting yourself forward will put your business in pole position.

    The more extensive your list of clients and contacts is and the better your reputation the more likely you are to obtain referrals. However, the most important aspect of gaining referrals is making sure that your business reflects high standards of safety and quality within the industry.

    Of course, there is little value in building a referral network for your contractor business if your actual work does not reflect the high standards of quality and safety that clients expect within the industry. Clients are unlikely to recommend a business that is doing a poor job and risk damaging their own reputation. A commitment to standards of excellence is essential for developing a robust referral network that can help you get more contracts. Having a relevant and up-to-date health and safety accreditation like SSIP is a major asset, not only does it demonstrate your dedication to high standards, but it may also be a prequalification to work for the client.

    Make yourself visible

    The next way to win contracts with big clients is by letting them come to you. Most major clients will

    have project management teams that are looking out for the best contractors in their area to come and work on their projects, this means that on occasions they will be going out of their way to look for contractors.

    Digital marketing growth to win clients / SMAS Worksafe

    Your business can make the most of this by doing two things well:

    1. Making sure that your business shows up in the right areas – create a good digital profile that explains exactly what your business can do.
    2. Build up a reputable name with your existing clients and use review platforms such as Feefo and Trustpilot to boost your digital profile.

    Stretch your businesses digital platform across as many channels as possible, use a mixture of website, web ads and social media to help cover as much area as possible. This not only helps clients to find you but will help smaller businesses to look bigger and more professional.

    The messaging across these platforms should be consistent and display your businesses work, values, qualities, certificates and accreditations along with any awards you have won or been nominated for.

    Creating case studies is also a great way to show off work you’ve done to clients, creating profiles about jobs you’ve done with feedback or quotes from the customers. These could be in video or written form.

    You can also explore digital marketing strategies; this could involve hiring someone to oversee the businesses digital presence or outsourcing it to an agency. This will allow someone to manage and develop social media, display advertising and search engine optimisation. Doing this will direct a flow of client traffic to your website and show off your business – it’s great to have a good website but if you’re not bringing traffic to your site then it is ultimately a wasted effort.

    Sourcing through SMAS Worksafe

    Networking is a great way to win clients, but you may be able to obtain clients through the SMAS Worksafe portal.

    Our clients can search for contractors using the SMAS Worksafe portal and reach out to them. All our members are visible to clients on the portal but those with further areas of compliance may gain an advantage over those with just health & safety as clients can see that the contractor is not just SSIP accredited but environmental management and quality management systems are in place.

    All our members can upload documents relating to further areas of compliance for free however they will not be checked against IEMA or IRCA standards unless you have an Essential or Complete membership.

    Further areas of compliance supported by SMAS Worksafe:SMAS PS_Service_Wheel

    • Environmental management
    • Quality management
    • Anti-bribery and corruption
    • Modern slavery
    • Finance and business
    Hazardous signs - Red beach flag

    Safety signs in the workplace

    Safety signs will be present in every working environment to give anyone who enters the best information about the risks and to help keep the working environment as safe as possible. 

    There are 4 distinct types of signs you should look out for and in this article we will go through them so you know what to look out for and what action’s you will need to take. 

    Prohibitory signs are put in pace to stop behaviours that might increase or cause danger in the workplace, such as smoking.

    Features:
    1. Circular shape
    2. Black pictogram with White background. Located inside red circle with diagonal strike through the centre. (Red part of the sign must take up at least 35% of total area).Prohibitory sign examples

    Warning signs are used to highlight risks or dangers in the workplace, such as flammable material.  

    Features:
    1. Triangular shape
    2. Black pictogram on a yellow background with black edging. (Yellow part of the sign must take up at least 50% of total area).

    Warning signs / workplace signing

    Mandatory signs are put in place to highlight acts that must be abided by, such as wearing eye protection.

    Features:
    1. Circular shape
    2. White pictogram on blue background. (Blue part of the sign must take up at least 50% of total area).

    Mandatory sign examples

    Emergency escape or first aid signs are there to help you navigate a workplace to find safety via an exit or to locate a first aid box.

    Features:
    1. Rectangular or square shape
    2. White pictogram on a green background (the green part of the sign must take up at least 50% of total area).

    Emergency exit and first aid signs.

    The Regulations implement European Council Directive 92/58/EEC on minimum requirements for the provision of safety signs at work state that employers are to provide safety signs where other methods, properly considered, cannot deal satisfactorily with certain risks and where the use of a sign can further reduce that risk. Safety signs are not to be used as a substitute for other methods of control and should be used on top of controlling methods.

    The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (the Management Regulations) states that employers must consider the results of the risk assessment that has been created – the assessment will need to identify the hazards and risks, then state the control measures that have been put in place. Safety signs can then be used to highlight risks further and give employers more information. If the risk is not significant there may be no need to provide a sign.

    An example for when risks might be small but a sign is still necessary would be if there was the use of flammable chemicals, you can make sure that safety equipment is worn and flammable materials are reduced but the risks may still be present to workers and therefore the use of a sign helps to highlight the dangers.

    Although these regulations do not require safety signs to be used where there is no significant risk to health and safety, certain fire safety signs may have to be displayed under separate legal provisions. If you have any doubts check this with your enforcing authority for fire safety.

    An accident waiting to happen. An industrial worker using a cell phone in a warehouse.

    Understanding behavioural safety hazards

    Your businesses health and safety procedures are the driving force behind reducing risks within your business’s day to day tasks, but behavioural safety hazards are something that you should be aware of and reinforcing with your workforce.

    Behavioural safety hazards can be caused by new rules or precautions that workers feel are unnecessary and therefore do not feel the need to carry out, or because a workforce or organisation become careless with their safety procedures and culture.

    Causes of behavioural safety risks 

    Woman on a ladder reaching for a box out of reach

    Normally behavioural risks are caused by habits or the unwillingness to adapt to an updated system or procedure, for example, someone who has worked with certain machinery for 10 or more years without accident may not see the benefit of using the latest technology to protect themselves and are in a habit built up over those 10 years to carry out the task in a certain manner.

    This doesn’t usually mean the worker is purposely being disobedient but more likely there is stubbornness or ignorance to change.

    “I’ve never had issues doing it this way so why do I need to change?”

    Something along the lines of the above statement is often true when you’re looking to change a policy or introduce new steps in your health and safety procedure. These habitual procedures are even more difficult to introduce when the task one is carrying out becomes either more difficult or longer to complete due to the changes. For example, someone who has previously not been required to wear gloves is now asked to wear protective gloves, but they impede his ability to complete the task due to the bigger size and lack of movement.

    When implementing a change in equipment or procedures you should make sure you sell it to your workforce. Most of the updated equipment’s marketing will be around the benefits of it, how it works and what risks it will reduce and/or stop. This should be relayed to those who will be required to use it going forward so they can see why you’re making the changes.

    An accident waiting to happen. An industrial worker using a cell phone in a warehouse.

    Changing the behavioural habits

    Managing behavioural risks are a challenge that all businesses face and changing existing procedures can be extremely difficult.

    Often these behaviours become habits and they can be extremely difficult to change, but here are a few steps your business can take to reduce bad habits creeping into the workplace.

    Take a no-tolerance stand

    The easiest and arguably the most effective way to stop behavioural risks from entering your workplace is to make sure you have a no-tolerance stance on your health & safety procedures. This simply means that all of your workforce are aware that if they’re found to be breaking rules or taking shortcuts they will be removed from the environment. This not only will help you to weed out anyone who might be starting to set a more relaxed culture, but it also reinforces to other employees that the matter is serious.

    Sell the change to your staff

    As mentioned previously, make sure your staff are aware of the reasons behind the changes in procedure or equipment. Make sure they’re aware of why you’re implementing the changes and are aware of the risks that come with not following the rules. This can often be done by using examples of instances where accidents have happened or showing them some worst-case scenarios of what has happened within other businesses. Also highlighted that the changes are being made for not just the safety of them individually but also their colleagues.

    Often people are more willing to change if they know that it’s more than just themselves being put at risk, the thought of causing injury to a colleague is often more powerful than injuring themselves.

    Create a safety-first culture

    Creating a culture within your workplace will take time but once the culture is in place you will find it’s much easier to manage changes in the long term. Often people will push the boundaries with what they can get away with and if they know the repercussions of their actions is nothing more than a stern word, then they’re far more likely to push those boundaries.

    Taking a no tolerance stamp on health & safety will help to reduce people pushing those boundaries and if you can get employees to buy into the changes with your sales pitch then what you can create is a self-regulating workforce who will report or at least have words with those that are dropping their safety standards. Once this culture has been created your task becomes much easier, the safety standards are now being pushed from within teams and not from a head at the top of the business.

    A step-by-step guide to improving behavioural safety:

    Group training on behavioural safety

    • Review your current processes and/or equipment and decide on the areas you want to improve. Consider using previous accident, incident and near-miss reports to help you identify areas of improvement.
    • Once you’ve reviewed your procedures, select 1 or 2 key areas that can be improved. A complete overhaul of all procedures will be tougher for employees to follow and digest.
    • Begin developing your communication strategy. How are you going to present the changes to your employees? Can you use examples from your business?
    • Implement your changes with a few initiatives such as:
    1. Colleague observation studies
    2. Regular inspects from senior management
    3. Regular bite-sized training or refresher classes
    4. Reward those who excel with positive feedback and reinforcement
    5. Include behavioural risks within your risk assessments
    • Monitor the changes and make improvements and changes where necessary. Be open with your employees and ask for their feedback.
    This pain is getting worser by the hour

    Managing occupational risks

    Occupational risks occur when someone’s job leads them to greater risks. For example, a Landscaper or gardener that spends lots of time outdoors will have a greater risk of issues caused by direct sunlight.

    Like many occupational risks they are hard to avoid, a landscaper’s job requires them to work outside and therefore trying to reduce the risks through less exposure would ultimately impact their job and cost them money.

    Types of hazards:

    All jobs come with risks to employees, although some may seem more obvious and dangerous than others. Jobs that may be seen as having no risks,  such as working in an office still hold risks for an employee’s mental and physical health and should be considered when you’re setting up a workstation and working environment.

    Common types of occupational risks:Businesswoman having back pain / occupational risks

    • Biological: Often causes by viruses, bacteria, insects or animals.
    • Chemical: Caused by the use or exposure to substances
    • Physical: Environmental factors that can cause damage to a worker; heights, noise, radiation etc.
    • Safety: The creation of unsafe working environment; exposed wires or moving vehicles
    • Ergonomic: Physical factors that can result in musculoskeletal injuries; poor workstation setup
    • Psychological: Hazards that can cause an employee to suffer from mental health issues; stress, sexual harassment, violence etc.

     

    Managing hazards in the workplace:

    Failing to protect your employee’s wellbeing could lead you to face financial and/or custodial penalties. Therefore, it is vital that you make sure you do your utmost to manage all workplace hazards.

    Here are some of the steps you should take to help identify and reduce occupational risks:

    Work Injury / Occupational risks

    • Carry out an appropriate risk assessment: if you are struggling with all the risks it may be worth asking employees and or other businesses like yours to help you.
    • Introduce the control measures: once you have identified the risks to your staff you will need to implement the measures to reduce the risks. This could be avoiding the use of ladders to stop falls or be to supply workers with PPE if they’re working with dust or fumes.
    • Train your employees: All employees should have at least level 1 health and safety training or office safety training. You will also need to have specific training if the workplace requires it. For example, how to deal with asbestos.

     

    The Regulations:

    While there isn’t a specific legal requirement, much of what is considered to be health regulations are covered in other employment laws. Most of the occupational health and safety regulations are covered in the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. However, as there is such a variety of hazards it is important that businesses include their own risks assessment for hazards or risks that are unique to their industry.

    For example, for those who are often exposed to chemicals that could lead to dermatitis, The HSE published a leaflet on preventing contact dermatitis and urticaria (another skin disease) at work, which includes reference to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations.

    For all cases, you should try and prevent the issues rather than cure it once it has happened. Occupational health regulations often highlight the importance of carrying out a thorough risk assessment and addressing any potential risks in advance to avoid workplace illness and injury.

     

    SMAS Worksafe and SSIP:

    Managing occupational risks can be hard, which is where an SSIP accreditation from SMAS Worksafe can help your business. A health and safety accreditation from SMAS Worksafe will help your business to identify all risks to your workforce and give you action plans on how you can make your business safer going forward.

    To learn more about how SMAS Worksafe can help your business with an SSIP certificate, visit our SSIP accreditation page.

    Concept of risk management control circle

    Understanding RAMS: Risk Assessment Method Statements

    In the United Kingdom, it is an employer’s requirement to protect your employees, and others who come into your workplace from harm and therefore using RAMS (risk assessment method statements) is a great way to identify and reduce incidents occurring.

    Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the minimum requirement

    Risk management process

    for employers is to:

    • identify what could cause injury or illness in your business (hazards)
    • decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously (the risk)
    • take action to eliminate the hazard, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk

    There are multiple steps to reducing risks in your workplace and assessing the risks is just one part of the overall control and mitigation process.

    For most small, low-risk businesses the steps you need to take are straightforward and are explained below.

     

    Taking steps to reduce risks.

    Risk management is a step-by-step process for controlling health and safety risks caused by hazards in the workplace.

    You can do it yourself or appoint a competent person to help you.

    • Identify hazards
    • Assess the risks
    • Control the risks
    • Record your findings
    • Review the controls

     

    Identify hazards

    Look around your workplace and think about what may cause harm (these are called hazards).

    Think about:

    • how people work and how plants and equipment are used
    • what chemicals and substances are used
    • what safe or unsafe work practices exist
    • the general state of your premises

    Use your accident and ill-health records to help you to identify risks that might occur in the future. If there is a history or a trend of injuries within a workplace then use that information to stop or reduce the risks of them going forward. Take account of non-routine operations, such as maintenance, cleaning or changes in production cycles.

    Think about hazards to health, such as manual handling, use of chemicals and causes of work-related stress.

    For each hazard, think about how employees, contractors, visitors or members of the public might be harmed.

    Talk to workers

    Involve your employees, as an employer you might not have a deep understanding of all the day to day tasks other people are doing and therefore what risks they face. Asking them for input will only help you create a more complete risk assessment.

     

    Vulnerable workers

    Some workers might have specific requirements, for example, young workers, migrant workers, new or expectant mothers and people with disabilities. You should think about the requirements for all of your workforce and as mentioned previously, if you’re unsure ask them for input.

     

    Assess the risks

    Once you have identified the hazards, decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how serious

    Construction site safety notices on wooden fence

    it could be. This is assessing the level of risk.

    The key factors:

    • Who might be harmed and how
    • What you’re already doing to control the risks
    • What further action you need to take to control the risks
    • Who needs to carry out the action
    • When the action is needed by
    • Control the risks
    • Look at what you’re already doing, and the controls you already have in place.

     

    Things you should ask yourself:

    • Can I get rid of the hazard altogether?
    • If not, how can I control the risks so that harm is unlikely?
    • If you need further controls, consider:
    • redesigning the job
    • replacing the materials, machinery or process
    • organising your work to reduce exposure to the materials, machinery or process
    • identifying and implementing practical measures needed to work safely
    • providing personal protective equipment and making sure workers wear it

    Once you have considered all the risks your next task is to put the controlling measures you have identified in place. You’re not expected to eliminate all risks, but you need to do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm. This means balancing the level of risk against the measures needed to control the real risk in terms of money, time or trouble.

    You can find more detailed guidance on controls relevant to your business and our in-house assessment team will also give you suggestions on anything they feel is missing.

    Record your findings

    If you employ 5 or more people, you must record your significant findings, these include.

    • the hazards (things that may cause harm)
    • who might be harmed and how
    • what you are doing to control the risks
    • To help you, we have a risk assessment template and examples. Do not rely purely on paperwork as your main priority should be to control the risks in practice.

     

    Review your controlling measures

    Once the controlling measures have been put in place you must review them to make sure they are working as you would have hoped. You should also review them if any of the following scenarios could take place:

    • they may no longer be effective
    • there are changes in the workplace that could lead to new risks such as changes to staff, a process, the substances or equipment used
    • also consider a review if your workers have spotted any problems or there have been any accidents or near misses.

    Update your risk assessment record with any changes you make.

     

    Templates and examples

    Here are some example scenarios from the HSE as to whether having a risk assessment would apply to your business or job role, especially for those who are self-employed. You can also find templates for work specific risk assessments on the HSE website.

    Accountant – I am a self-employed accountant and I am proposing to take on a work placement student, will the law apply to me?

    Yes, you will have duties as an employer and will need to take steps to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of your employees.

     

    Employer – I am an employer, will this affect the way in which I manage sub-contractors?

    No, as an employer you have duties under health and safety law to satisfy yourself that the contractor you choose can do the job safely and without risks to health. The proposed changes will not alter the duties you as an employer have to contractors.

     

    Hairdresser – I’m a self-employed hairdresser, does the law apply to me?

    If you use bleaching agents or similar chemicals then yes, the law will apply to you. If you are simply washing and cutting hair, then health and safety law will no longer apply.

     

    Dressmaker – I work at home altering garments and making soft furnishings, does the law apply to me?

    No, health and safety law will not apply to you.

     

    Photographer – I take photographs of weddings and special occasions for clients which means that sometimes they visit my studio to discuss arrangements; does the law apply to me?

    No, health and safety law will not apply to you.

     

    Artist – I produce cards, gifts and pictures for sale at markets and fairs, does the law apply to me?

    No, health and safety law will not apply to you.

     

    Baker – I run a cake business from home, does the law apply to me?

    No, health and safety law will not apply to you.

     

    Office work – I work in an office at home, does the law apply to me?

    It doesn’t depend on whether you’re at home; it is the work activity that matters. So, if you’re working on a client’s accounts, the law will no longer apply. If you’re writing a manual, which someone will use to operate machinery, then the law will still apply.

     

    Advice – I am a health and safety consultant and visit clients to give advice, does the law apply to me?

    Yes, your clients will act on your advice and this affects how other people do their job.

     

    Landlords – I let rooms and properties to tenants; does the law apply to me?

    Yes, you have specific responsibilities under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations

     

    For the full Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 use the link below.

    https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1999/3242/contents/made

    Danger asbestos - sign outside a derelict building

    Managing Asbestos Risks

    Keeping your team safe from asbestos risks

    Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibre that was once used in most construction projects in the UK as insulation or a roofing or flooring material. Projects could range from housing, office blocks, factories, schools, hospitals or even shipbuilding.

    It was completely banned from being used in the UK in 1999 due to health concerns, but buildings that were constructed before the ban came in may still contain it, which can pose a risk to your team. As an extremely dangerous carcinogen, you require a licence to work around asbestos.

    Take a look at our guidance on how you can keep your team safe from the risks of working around asbestos.

    Why is asbestos so dangerous?

    Asbestos is made up of many fibres that can be released into the air if damaged or disturbed. If these fibres are inhaled, they won’t cause immediate damage but can lead to serious health complications in the long run.

    Asbestos removal / SMAS Worksafe

    These are some of the health complications that can arise from inhaling the fibres.

    Mesothelioma

    Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and the lining of the lower intestine.

    The sole cause of Mesothelioma is asbestos exposure, and by the time it has been diagnosed, it could lead to a fatality.

    Lung cancer

    Exposure can also lead to lung cancer, which manifests itself in the same way as lung cancers caused by smoking.

    Asbestos-related lung cancers are just as prevalent as Mesotheliomas.

    Asbestosis

    After being exposed to asbestos over several years, scarring can appear on the lungs due to a condition known as Asbestosis.

    The condition can lead to progressive shortness of breath, and in particularly bad cases, can even be fatal.

    Thickening of the pleural lining

    Pleural thickening is when the lining of the lung thickens and swells due to asbestos exposure. If the lung lining becomes too thick or swollen, the lung can become squeezed, leading to shortness of breath and discomfort in the chest.

    Protecting your team from exposure

    As an employer, you have a duty of care to your team to keep them safe whilst at work. If you suspect a building site may have asbestos, you should take the following steps to protect your team from the dangers of exposure.

    Identify asbestos as a risk      

    Chrysotile asbestos fiber close up.

    If you are working on a site that was built before the year 2000, there is the risk that asbestos may be present.

    If you are working on non-residential premises, the owner of the building has a duty of care to provide you with any information on asbestos in the building and the condition it is in.

    If no information is available, you should have the building surveyed, and any samples you suspect as being asbestos should be analysed.

    Perform a risk assessment

    A risk assessment will help you decide whether or not it is safe to carry out building or maintenance work on a site that may house asbestos. In your risk assessment, you should identify if asbestos is a risk, and who may be affected.

    You should use the results of your risk assessment to decide if the work is safe to carry out, or if you need to have the asbestos removed.

    Do you need a licenced contractor?

    Working around asbestos can be safe as long as it isn’t damaged or disturbed. If there is damage to the substance, or your work can’t be carried out without disturbing it, you may need to arrange for a licenced contractor to come and remove it before you carry out any work.

    You can find licenced asbestos contractors through the HSE, Checkatrade or TrustATrader. If you are interested in acquiring an asbestos licence, visit the HSE website.

    Provide PPE

    If a member of your team is going to a site where there may be asbestos, but not where they will be disturbing it, it is still prudent to provide them with facial PPE that protects their breathing.

    Take a look at the importance of respiratory protection and some of the equipment you can use in this free guide from Premierline.

    Did you know?

    Asbestos-related diseases kill approximately 5,000 people a year in the UK. This is more than the number of deaths on UK roads.

    Contractor insurance with Premierline

    At Premierline, we are passionate about helping you protect the business that you have built. This is why we offer a bespoke service to assess your business needs to make sure that you are covered should the worst happen.

    Our business advisors will work with some of the UK’s most well-known insurance providers to find a quote that provides the cover that your business needs. Get in touch to speak with one of our trained insurance experts to discuss your contractor insurance requirements.

    the close-up shot of blue color hazardous dangerous chemical barrels.

    How to ensure that your business is COSHH compliant

    Last updated in 2002, the control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH) helps business to identify and reduce the risks to their workforce when dealing potentially dangerous substances.

     

    The law states that an employer must control substances that are hazardous to the workforce’s health, as an employer you should:GHS icon set - COSHH

    ·      find out what the health hazards are

    ·      decide how to prevent harm to health (risk assessment)

    ·      provide control measures to reduce harm to health

    ·      make sure they are used

    ·      keep all control measures in good working order

    ·      provide information, instruction and training for employees and others

    ·      provide monitoring and health surveillance in appropriate cases

    ·      plan for emergencies.

     

    It’s very common for businesses to either use substances, or products thatcontain a mixture of substances. There may also be processes in place that create hazardous substances which could cause harm to employees, contractors and other people.

     

    Sometimes substances are easily recognised as harmful. Common substances such as paint, bleach or dust from natural materials may also be harmful.

    Most substances that are hazardous to health are covered by COSHH however some will need their own risk assessments, substances include:

    ·      chemicalsHazardous Chemicals storage Locker with various Containers Inside

    ·      products containing chemicals

    ·      fumes

    ·      dusts

    ·      vapours

    ·      mists

    ·      nanotechnology

    ·      gases and asphyxiating gases and

    ·      biological agents (germs). If the packaging has any of the hazard symbols, then it is classed as a hazardous substance.

    ·      germs that cause diseases such as leptospirosis or legionnaires disease and germs used in laboratories.

     

    Areas not covered by COSHH are:

    ·      Lead

    ·      Asbestos

    ·      Radioactive substances

     

    Self-employed:

    If you’re self-employed COSHH regulations will still apply to your business as it not only covers employees but anyone who may be affected by the substances you’re using. Not all parts of COSHH regulations will apply, those about monitoring and health surveillance will not apply to your business.

     

    What do you need to do?

    The first thing you will need to consider when doing your COSHH is:

    ·      What do you do that involves hazardous substances?

    ·      How can these cause harm?

    ·      How can you reduce the risk of harm occurring?

    You should also do as much as you can to stop any exposure by identifying and stopping it at source, for example:

    ·      Can you avoid using a hazardous substance or use a safer process – preventing exposure, e.g using water-based rather than solvent-based products, applying by brush rather than spraying?

    ·      Can you substitute it for something safer – e.g swap an irritant cleaning product for something milder, or using a vacuum cleaner rather than a brush?

    ·      Can you use a safer form, e.g can you use a solid rather than liquid to avoid splashes or a waxy solid instead of a dry powder to avoid dust?

    If you’re struggling to think of risks that might apply to your business, you can always ask employees or if you attend trade meetings as them for ideas.

    In some cases, you won’t be able to prevent the exposure to certain substances and therefore you will need to start planning on how you can control it.

    The HSE states that “Control is adequate when the risk of harm is ‘as low as is reasonably practicable’.” This means:

    ·      All control measures are in good working order.

    ·      Exposures are below the Workplace Exposure Limit, where one exists.

    ·      Exposure to substances that cause cancer, asthma or genetic damage is reduced to as low a level as possible.

     

    Switching up your substances

    If a substance you currently use is causing issues, then you might be able to reduce or mitigate the risks by changing it. For example

    ·      substituting a powder for a liquid

    ·      removing the need to weigh out powders by buying it pre-packed.

    Below are six steps to practical, well thought out decisions about substance substitution.

    1.     Decide whether the substance or process is a hazard. Does storing, using or disposing a substance cause significant risks or exposure?

    2.     Look for and identify any alternatives.

    3.     Run the same checks against the alternatives as you have your current substance. (Storing, using and disposing).

    4.     Decide whether substituting the substance will reduce risks.

    5.     Introduce the substitute.

    6.     Assess how it is working.

    For more information about the effect of substances you use visit the HSE REACH web pages. You can also ask supplies or trade associates about what substitutions can be made and look for advice from other businesses in your industry.

     

    Other considerations:

     

    Exposure limits: How are you being exposed (skin, breathing etc) and what are the exposure limits on the substances being used?

     

    Chemical safety data sheets: Use the safety data sheets for chemicals you’re using to help with your risk assessment.

     

    Control measures: Consider using a wide variety of control measures, these could be ways of working, control equipment or worker behaviour. 

     

    Permits: Some tasks may require experts and therefore using a permit to work will help identify who will be carrying out the work and when it will be completed.

     

    PPE: Employers and responsible for the supply of the correct PPE, so make sure your employers have the correct equipment for any given exposure.

     

    Monitoring: You may need to put monitoring systems in place to show compliance with a WEL (Workplace Exposure Limit) or BMGV (Biological Monitoring Guidance Value) or when you need to show that control equipment or personal protective equipment is working well enough.

     

    Health Surveillance: Monitoring the health of your employees to make sure they are not falling ill or unwell from work. This is not to be confused with general health screening could involve a scheduled annual check-up on, for example: lung function and skin conditions.

     

    Training: Providing appropriate training for those who will be subject to exposure of the hazardous substances. This involves anyone who may be involved in cleaning and maintenance.

     

    Emergencies: Make sure your business has a plan for accidents, incidents, and emergencies. This includes equipment, people, training, procedures and arrangements of any waste created.

     

    For more information on COSHH and everything we have gone over, visit HSE.