WORK SAFETY concept. Chart with keywords and icons on white background. Woman hand writing with a pen

SSIP outside of construction

SSIP (Safety Schemes in Procurement) is often thought of as being used within the construction industry to help contractors to obtain new work and to give them access to working for clients such as Redrow and Taylor Wimpey.

However, SSIP can be used for a host of other industries and could help your business to grow.

So, what are the benefits?

An SSIP assessment is an industry recognised standard for health and safety, so obtaining one for your business shows customers, visitors and employees that your business is taking their health and safety seriously. When going through your assessment we will make sure that your business is of the required standard and can highlight areas for improvement.

These areas can range from having adequate lighting, clear flooring areas, quality welfare facilities, adequate ventilation and many more areas which will help to raise the standard of your business’ health & safety management.

Worksafe Preferred Supplier 

SMAS Worksafe Preferred Supplier now comes as standard and gives your business the ability to upload documents in further areas of compliance such as environmental and quality management and can be beneficial for all industries.

Environmental documents would cover areas such as using environmentally friendly products, disposing of waste correctly, reducing water waste, protecting the environment from the water waste created. Showing customers, potential employees and visitors that you’re taking these areas into consideration and reducing your environmental footprint can help to boost your businesses reputation.

Quality management ensures you’ve put procedures in place to give customers the best possible service, i.e. how are you capturing feedback and what are you doing with the feedback to improve in areas that may be lacking. Reviews and customer feedback are a key part in winning business in a digital age and putting quality management systems in place is an easy way to raise the profile of any business, from hairdressers to schools.

 

To learn more about how SMAS Worksafe can help your business to become SSIP accredited please get in contact with us by email info@smasltd.com or give us a ring on 01752 643959

Tired construction worker wiping forehead at site

Staying safe when working in the sun

Working in construction can mean you’re exposed to the sun for hours on end and if you’re not careful you could end up doing serious damage to your skin. Being exposed to UV light can lead to sunburn in the short term, which whilst painful will pass within a few days or weeks but in the long term being exposed to UV light without protection can lead to conditions such as skin cancer.

Damage to your skin is not the only risk when working in warm conditions. Being exposed to the heat for long durations can also lead to other issues such as dehydration which can lead to feeling unwell or fainting.

Who is most at risk?

Everyone is at risk of sunburn, heat stress or potentially skin cancer in the long term.

Despite that, there are those who are more likely to suffer from the sun than other. Those who have fair skin, freckles, red or fair hair and workers with a large number of moles are more at risk of developing skin conditions from prolonged sun exposure.

Sun cream:

The best and most common way to avoid damaging your skin is to use sun cream. If you’re being exposed to sunlight all day wearing sun cream is the best way to avoid sun burn and in the long term avoid issues such as skin cancer. Make sure you’re using the correct level of protection for your skin and the strength of the UV light on any particular day and ask others to help apply sun to areas such as your back if necessary.

Break in the shade:

In the UK you are legally entitled to an uninterrupted 20-minute break if you work for 6 hours or more per day, we suggest using this time to get some shade to help reduce the risk of damaging your skin. Having a short break or lunch break in the shade is a really easy way to give you skin a rest, especially at lunchtime (1PM-3PM) when the sun’s rays are at their peak.

Drink plenty of water:

Being exposed to warm temperatures and sunlight all day will likely mean your body is going to sweat to keep you cool, this will mean that you’re losing lots of fluid and it is incredibly important to replenish fluid lost. Making sure you’re drinking plenty of water is going to help keep you cool and avoid things such as dehydration.

For more information on how you can stay safe when working in the sun, check out this leaflet from HSE.

Physical injury at work of construction worker

Injury & illness within construction

Injury and illnesses in construction workers are particularly common, the intense physical activity that some workers will go through every day such as heavy lifting, using tools and operating machinery puts a lot of physical strain on the body. On top of that, lots of constructions workers often use or are exposed to chemicals and substances that can also cause issues to the skin or internally if inhaled.

Not only is construction common for injury and illness, but according to HSE, Construction workplace deaths rose to 40 in 2019/20, up from a low of 31 in the previous year.

In this article we will go through some of the most common injuries and illnesses to look out for and what you can do to help mitigate them, because a serious injury or illness may mean having to take time off work which isn’t something that everyone can afford to do, especially those that are self-employed.

Scaffolding / falling from height:

The first area we are going to cover is the most common cause of serious or even fatal injuries within construction and that’s falling from heights. There was a 27% rise in the number of incidents between 2017 and 2018, going from 89 in 2017 (which was an all-time low) to 113 in 2018, the highest it has been since 2012. The figures were revealed in the NASC 2019 Safety Report, which documents and analyses accident and injury statistics for its full contracting members in the previous calendar year.

2018/2019 Construction Statistics from HSE:

  • 30 fatal injuries to workers and seven to members of the public
  • Average of 36 fatalities to workers and five to members of the public each year over the last five years;
  • 49% of deaths over the same five-year period were due to falls from height

The fatal injury rate (1.31 per 100,000 workers) is three times the All industry rate.

Make sure you’re business or site is doing all it can to put the correct safety procedures in place and that you anyone working at a height or on a scaffold has the appropriate qualifications to mitigate and avoid potential issues.

 

Musculoskeletal injuries:

There were an estimated 42,000 work-related cases of musculoskeletal disorders (new or long-standing) in 2018/19, about three-fifths of all ill health in the construction industry with 2.1% of workers reporting musculoskeletal disorders – almost double the percentage of the average for all areas of work in the same time period.

One of the most common types of injury is lower back pain, most likely due to heavy lifting of materials and machinery which is something that can be reduced by using the correct lifting techniques (see figure below) or asking for help on items that are difficult to carry properly on your own.

 

Correct posture to lift a heavy object safely. Illustration of health care. vector illustration

 

Other common types of musculoskeletal injuries in construction:

  • Carpet Layers’ Knee
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Tendinitis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Raynaud’s Syndrome or White Finger Disease
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Common Causes for Construction Injuries:

  • Pushing, pulling, tugging and sliding
  • Whole Body Vibration
  • Vibration from Hand Tools
  • Repetitive Work
  • Lifting
  • Contact Stress (Tools and Sharp Objects)
  • Forcefulness or Muscle Effort

Some of the injuries list above are harder to avoid than others. Making sure you are using the best protective equipment and supports is one way to help reduce the chances of an injury occurring. Listening to your body and getting help or advice on any issues you’re having as soon as they appear is also highly recommended if you’re experiencing any pain or issues go and see a doctor as spotting the issues earlier may reduce them worsening over time and causing long term damage to your body.

Stress, Depression & Anxiety

According to the HSE’s 2018/19 report, there were an estimated 16,000 work-related cases of stress, depression or anxiety (new or long-standing), which made up a quarter of all ill health in this Sector.

It is incredibly important to make sure that everyone working on your site is comfortable with their working environment. Making sure everyone is treated fairly and respected by their colleagues, feels safe with the machinery they’re using or tasks they have been asked to complete and also making sure they’re not subject to discriminatory behaviour.

Looking out for anyone that may not be acting themselves is something that is hard to do and creating an ‘open door to management’ environment so people can express any feelings of discomfort is something you should aim for. If you do spot anyone showing signs of anxiety or depression it’s worth taking them to one side over a cup of coffee and asking that they’re ok.

Signs of anxiety and depression:

  • loss of interest or no longer finding pleasure in activities or hobbies
  • persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or emptiness
  • feeling hopeless or pessimistic
  • anger, irritability, or restlessness
  • feeling guilty or experiencing feelings of worthlessness or helplessness
  • difficulty controlling worry or fear
  • dread
  • panic

Other common injuries & illnesses:

  • Contact dermatitis: Painters and decorators, carpenters and joiners, and Construction and building trades not elsewhere classified all suffer from more than twice the all-industry rate of contact dermatitis.
  • Occupational asthma: Airborne materials from spray painting, welding, or cutting/grinding metals are among the contributory factors to those suffering from asthma.
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): Commonly caused by exposure to fumes, chemicals and dust and environmental pollution. Smoking is the single most important causative factor.
  • Occupational Cancer: most commonly mesothelioma, a form of cancer that follows the inhalation of asbestos fibres. The extensive use of insulation board containing brown asbestos (amosite) within buildings for fire protection purposes is a common cause found in today’s construction industry.
  • Occupational Deafness – from years of exposure to loud machinery

New MSD Assessment Tool

HSE has also just recently launched a new assessment tool which will allow workers to diagnose any musculoskeletal disorders.

The new musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) tool is an all-in-one digital solution for the well renowned MAC tool. They have designed the tool to simplify the process of completing each assessment by including a logical step by step approach, saving your assessors time in populating and interpreting the results manually.

The tool is available to both employers and safety representatives so they’re able to assess the risks posed by lifting, carrying and team manual handling activities. The assessor can then understand, interpret and categorise the level of risk, and implement the appropriate control measures.

To learn more about the tool please visit the HSE article by clicking here.

builder checking plans of home extension

Are you ready to return to site?

Following the government’s announcement on Sunday that people are able to go to work if they feel safe, lots of businesses and workers have made the return to work this week. Some construction and house building sites began to reopen as early as late April but following Sunday’s announcement the numbers of those returning to work has increased.

Is your SSIP certificate in date?

If you are working for some of the larger house building companies such as Redrow, Taylor Wimpey and Midas you will need to hold a valid SSIP certificate. If you were working for them prior to the pandemic, we are now facing it is worth checking that your certificate is in date as you will need one to work on their sites, especially following Covid-19 as health & safety is at the front of everyone’s minds.

New to working for house building companies?

If you are new to working with some of the companies above, you may not have heard of SSIP. To learn all about SSIP and how it can help your business please click here.

In short, SSIP is an industry-standard of health and safety that contractors ask their subcontractors to obtain before they’re able to work on their sites. This ensures that the businesses they hire are following all the correct health & safety procedures and can give them peace of mind that the work being done on their sites is safe.

You can start an assessment with SMAS Worksafe for free clicking the button below. We offer a fast turnaround, free support from our in house assessors and flat-rate pricing so you can get your certificate as simply and easily as possible and get on with working.

Business people negotiating a contract. Human hands working with documents at desk and signing contract.

Are you overpaying for your business insurance?

COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on the UK economy and with few sectors escaping its reach; work for most has ground to a halt.

At a time like this, with potentially more time available than normal but also with cost pressures, it does present an opportunity to review your insurances through our partnership with Premierline.

Why?

We understand that your typical business activities may have been restricted or you may have diversified until social distancing lockdown measures are lifted. However, it’s still important to have business insurance in place to ensure your risks are managed and assets protected.

For instance, premiums for Employers Liability and Public Liability policies are typically calculated on estimated wagerolls, payments to sub-contractors and also annual turnover. These may now need to be revised to reflect your current circumstances and business activities.

There is no better time to ensure your insurance is tailored to your business needs.  An insurance broker can provide valuable advice in relation to your insurance and make sure that your estimates are a true reflection of your business.

What do I need to do?

SMAS Worksafe are proud to partner with Premierline Business Insurance Broker who will work with you to review your current coverage and also to ensure that it remains fit for purpose once you properly return to work.

SMAS Members taking out a new policy through Premierline may also be entitled to an exclusive discount* on a tradesman insurance policy from selected insurers.

Premierline will be making contact with you if your insurances are due for renewal but if you want to talk to them now, to see how Premierline can get you the right cover at the right price, please email the dedicated SMAS team on SMAS@premierline.co.uk!

*terms and conditions apply

SSIP Stumbling blocks Pikto

SSIP – How to get it done smoothly

If you’re working with clients who require SSIP accreditation then you may have stumbled across some of these issues yourself, if you’re new to SSIP but are required to have one to work on a particular site or just to simply show your businesses health and safety compliance – we have a few things you may want to consider before you start which will help you with the process.

Here is a list of the most common issues people find when they apply for a SMAS SSIP accreditation and how you can make sure they don’t delay you in gaining your certificate.

Workforce H&S Qualifications

Q10

  • If they are undertaking a trade (i.e. Carpentry & Joinery; Brickwork; Electrical etc.), providing a sample of the trade qualifications will reduce the need to provide them later.
  • If you are undertaking a low-risk trade (i.e. Cleaning; Painting & decorating etc.) be sure to include the relevant H&S training (i.e. Manual Handling; COSHH Awareness; Working at Height etc. as appropriate). – Be sure to provide H&S training and its within a reasonable time frame (i.e. 3-5 years).
  • Additional training relevant to your trade (i.e. If you are using MEWPS or Mobile access towers, that a sample of the appropriate qualifications/training are provided (PASMA / IPAF).

H&S Policy & H&S Policy Statement

Q1 / 1A

  • The company name must match what is on your application and Companies House (if relevant – i.e. Limited; LLP company).
  • The statement must be signed (either digitally or physically) and dated within the last 12 months.
  • Legislations must be in date and correct.
  • If your organisation has 5 or more personnel (directly employed + Labour Only individuals), a full policy will be required.

H&S Training and information

Q7

  • A training matrix or record should include a list of personnel along with their relevant training/qualifications.
  • Any personnel not included on the matrix should be noted as to why they are not included (i.e. office-based; administration staff etc.).
  • Listing the appropriate CSCS / CPCS / NPORS etc. details (if held) (card numbers, expiry dates etc.) can assist in reducing the amount of information requested by an assessor at a later stage.
  • A training matrix should also reflect the numbers on the application at the time of submission.

Method Statements

Q5

  • Be sure to include a sequence of works that defines how the individual tasks are undertaken.
  • They should be site-specific, trade relevant and in the correct company name as well as dated within the last 12 months.
  • Be mindful of references to legislation to ensure they are in date and correct. This includes any pictograms that may be out of date, such as those covered within CHIP Regulations.

COSHH Assessments

Q6

  • Ensure the COSHH assessments contain the in-date CLP regulation symbols instead of the outdated CHIP regulation symbols.
  • Be sure you are aware of substances that may surround your trade, for example, silica dust and wood dust for electricians. Just because you may not be using paints, solvents etc. doesn’t mean that COSHH doesn’t apply to your organisation.
  • Ensure the COSHH assessments are relevant to your trade and are dated within the last 12 months.

If you have any further question, please give us a call on 01752 697370 and ask to speak to one of our in-house assessors. They will take a look at your application and give you free help and advice on the stages you need to take in order to pass and gain your accreditation.

 

Preferred Supplier: 

If you’re looking to take your businesses compliance beyond health and safety. We offer a preferred supplier package which allows you to show off your compliance in other areas such as anti-bribery and corruption and environmental issues.

 

 

Why Preferred Supplier?

Showing off your businesses compliance in other areas could help you to win more business. When clients are searching the SMAS Portal they will be able to see businesses with Preferred Supplier and are more likely to use them for work other someone who only holds an SSIP certificate.

Standard construction safety equipment in control room, Construction and Safety Concept.

What is SSIP and how it can benefit you?

Safety Schemes in Procurement (SSIP) is an umbrella organisation that was created to make sure there is a mutual understanding and recognition between different health and safety schemes so that there is uniformity amongst companies and the standard of their health and safety.

What this means:

SSIP has streamlined the process from buyers, suppliers and companies by providing an automatic prequalification for contracts within each sector. Gaining an SSIP certificate through SMAS will enable you to show high levels of health and safety management and is a simple way to prove that your company takes health and safety very seriously.

It’s also beneficial when recruiting top talent for your company. Obtaining an SSIP certificate is a great and simple way to show potential employees that you have a commitment to assuring their safety, making you a much more attractive proposition.

How we can help:

Here at SMAS Worksafe, we are passionate about helping your company to gain it’s SSIP certificate as easily and quickly as possible – we pride ourselves on our high levels of customer service with 95% of our members returning every year, a flat-rate pricing structure and most importantly, helping you gain SSIP accreditation within 3-5 days.

Once you’ve gone through our online process and shown your company to meet the required health and safety levels you will be given accreditation giving you benefits such as:

  • You can reduce the cost and burden of H&S bureaucracy across your industry
  • Attained a certificate recognised by thousands of companies’ nationwide
  • Becoming more appealing to buyers and workers.

Preferred Supplier:

Preferred supplier has been created by SMAS Worksafe to help you stand out from other companies and show that you are operating at a higher level of compliance by providing information on other areas such as environment, anti-bribery, corruption and modern slavery issues.

If areas such as environmental management are new to you, you’re not alone. Many UK businesses are now being requested to fulfil new requirements – we recognise this and have a team of experts on hand to help you through the process, allowing you to save time and get back to work as soon as possible. To find out more about how Preferred Supplier can help your business, click here.

 

Deem to Satisfy:

We understand that getting SSIP can be a hassle and certain buyers may request a SMAS Certificate to work on their sites. This is where our deem to satisfy option comes in, if you already hold an SSIP accreditation and want to work for companies like Redrow – who require SMAS accreditation, we will accept your previous certificate and do a quick change over so you can get on-site and start earning without any hassle. All the information can be found here.

Work Health & Safety Board

Hints and tips for your health and safety assessment

Don’t let remote working stop your business from recording and updating it’s health & safety systems. With technology at our disposal, it’s becoming easier to document, record and sign information. Remember to ask your competent health and safety consultant for advice and templates if you have one. Alternately you can use the HSE website that has an abundance of free resources to help with some of the areas below so you can complete your SMAS accreditation as quickly as possible.

H&S Policy

When the senior person is reviewing the company health and safety policy, an electronic signature is just as suitable as a hand-signed signature. This saves time and resources by mitigating the printing of documents and scanning.

If an organisation has employees and labour personnel that equate to five personnel or more, a full health and safety policy would be required. This includes the statement of intent, responsibilities and arrangements sections.

Monitoring

Monitoring and communication can be done through electronic means, monitoring of equipment such as DSE or equipment checks on a tablet, laptop or phone can be an effective tool; with an electronic signature as proof when conducted or taking a photo on your phone is an alternative means.

Training Plan

Recording your training can be done in numerous ways such as a training plan on an excel sheet, a CPD Plan or recording it on your Google calendar for refresher training; ensure you take a print screen for your submission if you are using the latter option. This demonstrates that the company understands the employee’s needs when recording training.

Training

Training arrangements is a dynamic process; it is hard when personnel are away on jobs or holiday. Organisations can provide health and safety training booking confirmation by a competent health and safety consultant or training establishment. This demonstrates that your organisation has processes in place for continuous personnel development.

Communication

When communicating health and safety information with your workforce, record those who were at the meeting. The senior person can then electronically sign off all those who were present.  This method is also useful when recording employees and subcontractors who are not available, by emailing the documentation and asking for their e signature as confirmation also ensures personnel understood the content. An alternative means of communications could be emails submitted to personnel on health and safety matters, this can also be provided as evidence if working away from the office.

If you have any questions on the assessment process, please don’t hesitate to ask for guidance on your assessment prior to submission. The SMAS assessors are happy to discuss your assessment, providing guidance as necessary to understand how your company operates and therefore be legally compliant.

Go beyond Health & Safety

SMAS also offer more than just health and safety accreditation. They also offer a Preferred Supplier package which gives your business recognition for some of the practices you may already have in place, such as environmental and anti-bribery & corruption.

This will show contractors your business takes these areas seriously and could help in making you rise above other companies when they’re looking for subcontractors to work on their sites.

Portrait of confident construction worker in protective workwear standing arms crossed at site

Why choose SMAS Worksafe as your SSIP Scheme

What choosing SMAS Worksafe as your SSIP Scheme can do for your business and the benefits that come with choosing us over other accreditation companies.

 

Quick Turnaround:

Our assessments are completed online and most of our applications are approved within 3 days – meaning you don’t have to waste time going though mounds of paperwork and can worry about the most important thing, which is getting you on site and earning money.

We also save up to 40% of your application so that when it comes to renewal, you can save even more time and not have to worry about going through the whole process again and again.

 

Flat Rate Pricing:

All of our packages follow a simple flat-rate pricing structure with no hidden costs, so you know exactly how much you’re paying and won’t be bitten with any further cost throughout your membership.

To see a list of all our prices please click here

 

In House Assessors:

If you do become stuck with any of the stages of your application, we have a team of expert in house assessors that will be happy to guide you through your application, so you aren’t left struggling.

Our team are based in the UK and are available to chat to Monday – Friday to help make everything as easy to understand as possible.

 

Work With Our Clients:

We also give our members opportunities to work with some of the leading construction companies such as Taylor Wimpey and Redrow, who will require you to hold an SSIP certificate from SMAS Worksafe.

You will also become visible to our clients in the client portal, which gives construction companies such as Redrow the chance to look at contractors and their levels of compliance. They can then reach out to those that they would like to hire.

We also run a preferred supplier package that allows contractors to show they take other areas of compliance, like environmental and modern slavery seriously, putting you ahead of anyone that doesn’t show compliance in these areas.

 

Discounts:

When you become a SMAS Worksafe member you’re entitled to discounts as a little thank you from you to us. We offer discounts from Premierline Insurance as well as offering a fuel card which will give you discounts every time you fill up from a host of the UK’s most common supermarket and petrol stations.

We are always looking to add more discounts for our members so make sure you keep an eye out for anything that may be coming in the future.

 

Read Our Reviews:

If you don’t believe in everything above, please see our Trustpilot reviews and decide for yourself!

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Man suffering from working stress

Health is safety

With the current situation regarding coronavirus in the UK, health and safety is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. It is looking ever more likely that people will eventually be forced into self-isolation for at least 2 to 3 weeks as we have seen already across Europe, which is going to make it much harder for you to check your staff are happy and safe, which will be increasingly important not just physically, but also mentally.

Lone workers are those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision, for example:

  • ·      Delivery drivers, health workers or engineers
  • ·      Security staff or cleaners
  • ·      In warehouses or petrol stations
  • ·      At home

Risks:

There are always going to be greater risks with lone workers as they don’t have anyone to assist should something go wrong and for most of the cases above, risk assessments would have likely been put in place to help with their health and safety. For example, one of the most common areas of lone workers at risk is van or delivery drivers, due to the road risks and the fact they are on their own.

Another may be violence. Is someone being asked to work in a violent area with expensive equipment which may cause them to be robbed? All of these areas should be thought about and part of the risk assessment that you as an employer will need to do.

Mental Health: 

Another area that employers will need to consider is the mental health of their workers. If the UK is forced to self-isolate, then there will be people who will be forced into an environment which they may not feel comfortable with.

Working from home may be an attractive idea to some, but if you are suffering from mental health issues having to work alone at home may make you feel vulnerable and not having a normal routine may lead a person to suffer from anxiety. They may also not have the power or access to do certain aspects of their job which could also lead to stress.

With no one around to see rising levels of anxiety or stress, it will be incredibly hard for anyone to know how they’re feeling and help. They will also not able to leave their new working environment and take a break if the government encouraging everyone to stay indoors, which could make matters worse.

The employer’s role: 

Lone working is something that many people across the world do and there are plenty of measures that are in place already, such as risk assessments for drivers, that enable people to work on their own safely.

However, with the spread of Coronavirus looking to have an impact on the whole of the country, health has never been more important. Both the physical and mental health of your workers is going to be important if we are put into self-isolation and it’s partly your responsibility as an employer to make sure that all your staff feel safe and comfortable in what they’re being asked to do and that you are open and approachable so they are not left feeling vulnerable.

As an employer here are a few things you can do to make sure all your staff are ok:

  • ·      Have daily contact with all your staff, checking in on them at least once per day
  • ·      Make sure all employees have all the required training to work from home
  • ·      Do you best to make sure they can function as normally as possible, being unable to complete necessary tasks due to equipment could lead to stress.
  • ·      If someone is struggling with mental health, see what help is available.
  • For all the latest Coronavirus updates around health and safety, click here. For SMAS Worksafe updates please use the below sources. 

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