SMAS Worksafe / Work Wallet annoucement

SMAS partner Health and Safety Platform Work Wallet®

SMAS Worksafe, one of the largest SSIP safety schemes in the UK, has partnered with Work Wallet® to provide its members with their state of the art health and safety app software.

Over 25,000 SMAS Worksafe members are being given the opportunity to use Work Wallet to help improve safety processes and keep operational in today’s working environment.

Work Wallet is used by many construction firms in the UK and in over 20 countries worldwide.

SMAS Worksafe members will gain access to the Essential Health and Safety modules: Audits and Inspections, Incident and Accident Reporting, Job Management and Safety Briefings.

Using Work Wallet will help ensure that SMAS Worksafe members keep on top of health and safety issues on sites including completing HSE inspections, creating and sending safety briefings, creating and sharing job packs, risk assessments, audits, training packs and all other documentation.

SMAS Worksafe members demonstrate their health and safety to clients through a full assessment of their health and safety systems to attain certification which is recognised nationwide by thousands of organisations. With the inclusion of Work Wallet within their membership, keeping on top of their inspections and safety records will be

SMAS Worksafe Logo

easier than ever.

Danny Marinou – Managing Director, SMAS Worksafe, said:

“We are delighted to offer this to our members as a crucial element of our Essentials Membership package. It adds great value and ensures that all their health and safety is stored and accessed in one place with this unique mobile app and online portal.

 

“At this time, when fewer people are in their offices and it’s harder to keep track, this clever mobile app solves many issues at the same time.”

Work Wallet provides an effective and easy to use way to link up data in real-time across any business, ensuring employees and contractors are fully connected, whether they’re working in the office, on the move or on site.

This means that whether staff are working on their own, with colleagues on one site or multiple sites, all their health and safety data can be gathered with one swipe.

Work Wallet CEO Jonny Gray, said:Work Wallet Logo

“We are delighted SMAS has chosen Work Wallet as their preferred health and safety app, Work Wallet has enabled thousands of people across UK businesses to create and record risk assessments, audits, near-misses and improve staff safety whether they’re on or off site.”

SMAS works with thousands of contractors, helping them to meet their health and safety obligations with their unrivalled health and safety assessment and compliance support.

Gray added:

“Work Wallet has also enabled staff to return to safe working environments by introducing Covid guidelines using the app.”

Although the UK is a safer place to work than Germany, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands, with fewer fatalities at work, according to the HSE in their latest stats, Work Wallet is helping businesses to be even safer by ensuring all critical information is available in one place as Work Wallet® delivers an All In One Health and Safety Management System.

 

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

Engineer and construction site manager dealing with blueprints and projects.

Top 10 health & safety risks in construction

There are health & safety risks in any industry but if you work in the construction industry, you’re more likely to face health & safety risks due to the environments you face on a daily basis and the equipment and manual handling that comes with being on a site.

 

But what are the most common areas for health & safety-related dangers in the construction sector? In this article, we will go over the 10 most common areas to help you with spotting risks and preventing hazardous situations in the future.

 

1.     Falling from heights

Construction worker wearing safety harness and safety line working on construction

By far the most common and dangerous risks when working in construction is falling from heights with about 40 fatalities per year. Construction workers are often required to work from a height, but risks are increased dramatically when mobility is restricted, or the correct training isn’t in place. It’s important for site managers to make sure anyone required to work from height has the correct training.

 

2.     Trips and falls

The second most common area for construction-related injuries is slipping or tripping. Working outside in poor weather can easily lead to slipping and therefore having the correct footwear and if possible temporary flooring in bad areas is highly recommended. Tripping is also a big risk if tools, machinery and materials are left lying around they not only are a trip hazard but can increase the severity of anyone who does fall and land on them.

3.     Moving objects/materials

As a project develops sites can become chaotic with materials and vehicles passing through. All of these create potential risks and things you need to be aware of. Having a clear route for vehicles to use can help reduce risks, as can having a well-marked area for lifting.

 

Image of construction worker on construction site, working on site where skyscraper is being built. Manual worker has protective helmet and protective uniform. Image taken with Nikon D800 and professional Nikon lens, developed from RAW in highest resolution. Location: Novi Sad, Serbia, Europe

4.     Manual handling

Another common cause of injury in construction is manual handling. Lifting heavy materials incorrectly can cause both short and long-term injuries which you’ll want to avoid not just for your health but also so you can avoid having to take time off work. Avoiding risks for manual handling related injuries can be easily avoided by using the correct lifting technique and asking for help when a load is particularly heavy.

5.     Noise

Something that can be easily forgotten about but can have serious long-term implications is being exposed to loud noises, most commonly through the use of machinery. Being exposed to loud noise without the correct protection can lead to reduced hearing or complete deafness. SMAS Worksafe are partnered with Workscreen UK which offers our members an online hearing test so you can get checked.

 

6.     Vibrations

Another risk that comes with using machinery is vibrations and the long-term impact that can have. Prolonged use of power tools and ground working equipment can lead to Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome, or ‘Blue-finger’ as it is commonly referred too but it can be prevented with effective risk assessments and use of the correct PPE.

 

Young construction worker using a jackhammer.

 

7.     Respiratory diseases

Another common health & safety risk when working on site is the dust produced during tasks such as drilling and sawing, as well as using chemical products that are required to complete a certain task. Wearing the correct PPE will greatly reduce the risk of inhaling dust and chemicals which could cause long-term illnesses such as pulmonary issues, silicosis and asthma.

8.     Asbestos

Following on from respiratory diseases is asbestos. Over half a million homes in the UK still have asbestos despite the substance being banned in housing in 1999. Removing asbestos can be extremely harmful and damaging if not done correctly and it is therefore imperative that anyone dealing with it has suitable training. SMAS Worksafe are partners with UKATA who offer a range of asbestos training courses depending on what level of training you require.

9.     Electrocutions

Electrocutions were responsible for 5% of all construction-related deaths in 2019 with many of those due to the worker not holding the correct level of training required to carry out the work. It is therefore extremely important that only those with the required level of training carry out electrical work.

10.  Collapsing environment / Trapped

Collapsing environments such as trenches can leave workers seriously injured and in some rare cases may cause fatality, although they are few and far between with about 14% of all fatal construction injuries falling under this category. Making sure that risk assessments are complete will help to minimise the chances of a collapsing environment.

 

How to minimise risks on site:

  • Make sure there is always at least one person on site who has up to date first aid training.
  • Make sure that any risk has been risk-assessed and it has been checked over by more than one person.
  • Regularly check that all persons working on any site have the relevant health & safety training as well as the correct qualifications.
  • Make sure your site has the correct signage required
  • Keep tools and equipment well maintained.
  • Have frequent health & safety meetings to keep on top of the ever-changing environment.

 

Foreman control loading Containers box from Cargo freight ship for import export, foreman control Industrial Container Cargo freight ship

Short staffed? Let us manage your Supply Chain Management

If your business is feeling the impact of Covid-19 and has left you having to reduce your workforce, managing a  compliant and healthy supply chain could be an area that is overlooked or not fully understood.

Why not put your supply chain in the hands of our experts at SMAS Worksafe? We will make sure your supply chain stays compliant throughout and we will also send you monthly compliance reports so you can see the status of all your contractors SSIP certificates, additional information such as Environmental, Quality and Financial and also when they will need to be renewed.

Benefits of Supply Chain Management:

Managing a supply chain can be hard work which is why we offer you a no cost solution. Our in-house team will manage your supply chain so you can have the confidence of knowing that it’s taken care of.

Slip-ups in the supply chain can have lots of negative impacts on sites as well as cost your company time and money. If something is done incorrectly or to a poor standard, or perhaps a sub-contractor goes bust you will have to delay any work being done and find a replacement which is a hassle you don’t need.

Why SMAS?  

SMAS’s main function is to help businesses obtain their SSIP Certificate. SSIP is the standard for health & safety throughout the UK so you will know that the contractors working on your sites are passed by us to a nationally accepted and recognised standard.

You will also have access to the SMAS Portal which will allow you to pick and choose from all of our members. We are now offering and encouraging our members access to further areas of compliance such as environmental and quality management in our standard assessment which means when you’re looking for contractors you will be able to see if they have submitted information on their levels of compliance beyond just health & safety.

Choose your standard

We will also let you choose a minimum standard of assessment, so you have complete control of who is allowed access to work on your sites.

We offer 3 stages of compliance:

  • SSIP only – the contractor only has an SSIP certificate and no further levels of compliance.
  • SSIP and Self-certified additional information- the contractor has their SSIP assessment  but has also completed additional information via a self-upload.
  • SSIP and Reviewed – the contractor has their SSIP accreditation and SMAS have checked over the additional information and reviewed the documents.

You will be able to choose one of the above options for contractors to obtain in order to be on your sites, so you have complete control.

What areas we cover

We offer supply chain management not only to the construction industry but also to the education and care sector

  • Education: We support schools, further education establishments and higher education institutions. It is vital that these organisations are able to manage any significant risks in the sector for suppliers, pupils and members of staff. Our assessment takes a sensible approach to ensuring that organisations in Education are able to manage any risks.
  • Care: Our Care experts understand this sector inside and out and we provide a specific assessment to ensure that the pain points, struggles and responsibilities applicable to those common activities you undertake are addressed and any risks are managed.

 

If you’d like to learn more please click here or give Trish Meyer a call on 01752 697370 ext 393404.

Waste site

Managing Environmental Risks

Is your business aware of its impact on the environment and the potential penalties for getting it wrong? 

When it comes to protecting your business, making sure your activities aren’t causing environmental harm is incredibly important as a breach of environmental law could have a profound effect on your business’s success.

What exactly does the term ‘environment’ mean?

When considering the environment, most people think of trees, rivers and animals, when in fact it encompasses most things around us, even other people.

ISO 14001:2015 defines the environment as ‘’The surroundings in which an organisation operates, including air, water, land, natural resources, flora, fauna, humans and their interrelationships’’, and these surroundings can extend from within the organisation to the local, regional and global system.

Environmental law covers all of the above aspects, so when considering what impact the organisation’s activities have on the environment it’s worth keeping in mind that these are not just direct, such as where we directly dispose of our waste, but also indirect, such as where our suppliers gain their materials.

What are the potential penalties and additional costs? 

Most breaches of environmental law are criminal offences and carry penalties of a fine and/or imprisonment. For cases tried in the Magistrates’ Court, the maximum penalty is a fine of up to £50,000 and/or six months’ imprisonment, whilst cases tried in the Crown Court could incur an unlimited fine and/or two years imprisonment.

When considering the costs of environmental accidents, it is highly important to consider direct and indirect costs, as well as the insured and uninsured costs.

Direct costs are measurable and arise from an accident and / or any claim for liability in the civil or criminal courts.

These include elements such as:

  • Repairs or replacement of damaged equipment and buildings;
  • Remediation,
  • Product loss or damage,
  • Loss of production,
  • Public and/or product liability,
  • Fines,
  • Legal fees and
  • Increases in insurance premiums.

Indirect costs may also be incurred as a result of an incident, but do not generally actually involve the payment of money. As these costs are largely immeasurable, they can be difficult to account for. In certain circumstances, they may be extremely high.

These include elements such as:

  • Business interruption,
  • Loss of orders,
  • Cost of time spent on investigations and
  • Loss of corporate image.

Not only does your business need to consider direct or indirect costs, but if your insurance will cover them. Uninsured costs usually include all indirect costs, as well as those relating to a loss of production as a result of many types of incident. Insurances may also be voided where it can be shown that the business had not taken adequate precautions to prevent the incident. Uninsured losses can be many times greater than insured losses.

What harm might your business cause the environment? 

There are 000’s of different ways businesses can cause adverse effects on the environment. These can extend locally, regionally or even on a global scale. When considering how your business affects the environment, there are a few elements you should consider.

To learn more about each area of environmental risk and the potential damage they could cause your business, check out the toggles below. 

There are many ways your business can affect the air quality on a local, regional and global scale. The contaminates of air are elements such as:

 

·       Vehicle emissions,

·       Dust,

·       Fumes,

·       Smoke,

·       Odours,

·       Fibres (i.e. wood, asbestos) etc.

 

By considering your activities and how they may release contaminates into the air, you are reducing the risk of enforcement and the associated costs.

 

In 2006 a hazardous waste company from the north west released toxic fumes into the air that left four members of staff needing medical treatment along with several members of the public reporting side effects.

 

The company had inadequate emergency plans and breached the conditions of their waste management license by accepting waste they were not permitted to hold and then stored it with another chemical substance. This resulted in a joint prosecution by the HSE and the Environment Agency which resulted in a £101,000 fine as a result of the eight charges brought against them, along with paying a further £65,000 in costs.

These types of breaches can be avoided by having the proper procedures in place and ensuring they are rigorously followed. (full story can be found here: Bootle Company Fined)

Some of the most common causes of environmental issues relating to land are:

 

·       Hazardous waste, 

·       Chemicals,  

·       Deforestation,  

·       Leachate (i.e. from waste skips etc.)

 

Making sure your business has adequate procedures in place to reduce the likelihood of land pollution occurring is a key element to mitigating the risk of receiving hefty enforcement and the associated costs incurred, especially when it comes to remediation costs of putting the land back to its original state.

 

Back in 2013 a scrap metal company had been delivering large quantities of waste to a third party for disposal. The third party were licensed to take agricultural waste for deposit over agricultural land it owned, however the nearly 4000 tonnes of contaminated waste soil was revealed to include plastics, metals and household waste.

 

Norwich Crown Court fined the company £3600 after finding it guilty of allowing contaminated waste materials to be illegally deposited on the land. The court also ordered the company to pay full prosecution costs of £4718.

 

The documentation accompanying the waste was also found to be incorrect as it only identified soil waste and not the above waste types. In imposing the level of the fine, the court noted that the defendant’s actions were not primarily financially motivated and that there were other mitigating circumstances to consider, resulting in a lower level of fine than may otherwise have been applicable. (full story can be found here: Waste – Breach of Duty of Care)

 

Water pollution can be one of the costliest pollutions to rectify due to the extensive remediation costs as well as the pure size of the potential problems caused. A spill into a freshwater sewer left unchecked has the potential to pollute an entire eco system living in rivers, lakes, oceans etc.

 

Some of the most common pollutants to water are:

 

  • Sewage (may contain solids such as wood, plastic waste, textiles etc.).
  • Hazardous chemicals.
  • Unauthorised discharges from manufacturing facilities.
  • Construction site run off.

 

It is highly important to not only have the procedures in place for preventing discharge into water courses, but also what to do in the event of a spill or contamination, such as having appropriate emergency plans in place.

 

In 2017, a Leeds-based house building company was sentenced after it was found to be discharging contaminated run-off into a water course from a Huddersfield construction site. The effects that the discharges were having on the water quality in the watercourse were registered up to 3 kilometres downstream. The company were fined £120,000 for illegally polluting a watercourse and were ordered to pay an additional £8,706.71 in legal costs as well as a £120 victim surcharge. (full story can be found here: Watercourse Pollution).

 

Noise is an issue most companies identify as a health and safety issue for their workforce, but noise becomes an environmental issue when considering who or what it affects when it is being emitted outside of the workplace. Some of the causes of noise pollution are:

 

 

  • Construction Noise (such as drilling, sawing etc.)
  • Vehicles (Plant, delivery vehicles etc.)
  • Manufacturing Processes (such as assembly lines etc.)

 

 

By considering noise as an environmental as well as a health & safety issue your organisation is not only protecting the health and wellbeing of your workforce, but also reducing the likelihood of prosecution should the noise affect the surrounding environment.

 

After numerous complaints from locals and interventions from the local council, a Bangor based construction company were sentenced in 2014 for causing noise nuisance from a building site. It was reported that they were breaking the imposed conditions set by the council that the construction work be limited between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm on Saturday. Yet residents, some with young children, have been disturbed by noise through weekends, early in the morning and late at night. The noise was caused from sources such as nail guns, saws, generators, skip collections at inappropriate times and forklifts continuously using reversing bleepers straight into residents living rooms.

 

The company were ordered to pay £6,000 for the four charges of breaching the relevant legislation and were also ordered to pay costs of £3,511.48 to the council as well as a £120 victim surcharge. (full story can be found here: Noise Pollution).

How we conduct business not only affects the local or regional wildlife, but also affects wildlife on a global scale. The UK is home to many protected species and adversely affecting their habitats can come at a great cost.

 

The most common causes of impact to fauna are:

 

  • Waste(leading to death in animals or habitat being destroyed)
  • Deforestation (due to high demand for materials etc.)
  • Noise(causing forced evictions of animals)

 

A civil engineering company were sentenced in 2018 for illegally dumping more than 5,000 tonnes of construction waste into two land hollows in Herefordshire. The dumping of waste was compounded by the fact that the site was a habitat for great-crested newts, a European protected species. According to the Environment Agency, the actions of the company resulted in the disturbance, injury and killing of some of the newt population.

 

Great-crested newts are the largest species of newt in the UK and are protected by UK law, meaning to disturb or damage them or their nesting sites is punishable by unlimited fines and up to six months in prison. The company were ordered to pay £50,000 in fines and a further £50,000 towards prosecution costs. (full story can be found here: Protected Species).