PPE Regs Update 6th April 2022

Are you aware of the upcoming PPE regs update? The existing PPE regulations are being amended on 6th April 2022, when the Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2022 will come in to force. These regs are commonly known as PPER 2022.

These changes may impact your business, depending on how you engage your workers.

What are the changes to the PPE Regs?

The current regulations places a duty on every employer to provide PPE is provided to employees where required, and to make sure that employees have sufficient information, instruction and training on the use of PPE. who may be exposed to a risk to their health or safety while at work.

PPER 2022 extends these duties to all workers, and defines a “worker” as an individual who has entered into or works under: 

(a) a contract of employment; or

(b) any other contract, whether express or implied and (if it is express) whether oral or in writing, whereby the individual undertakes to do or perform personally any work or services for another party.

Generally, workers who come under definition (b) are those who:

  • carry out casual or irregular work for one or more organisations
  • after 1 month of continuous service, receive holiday pay but not other employment rights such as the minimum period of statutory notice
  • only carry out work if they choose to
  • have a contract or other arrangement to do work or services personally for a reward (the contract doesn’t have to be written) and only have a limited right to send someone else to do the work, for example swapping shifts with someone on a pre-approved list (subcontracting)
  • are not in business for themselves (they do not advertise services directly to customers who can then also book their services directly)

Please note: these changes do not apply to those who have a ‘self-employed’ status.

Hard hat to illustrate article PPE reg update

What do the PPER 2022 changes mean for employers?

Employers with only type (a) workers

No change, continue to comply with the requirements and responsibilities of the existing PPE regs.

Employers with both type (a) and type (b) workers

From 6th April 2022, ensure there is no difference in the way that PPE is provided to workers, whether they are type (a) or type (b). PPE must be provided free of charge, and all workers must use the PPE properly following training and and instruction from the employer.

For employers with only type (b) workers

From 6th April 2022, ensure that your workers are provided with PPE, where your risk assessments show that PPE is needed.

Employers must ensure suitable PPE is:

  • provided free of charge
  • compatible with other PPE and work equipment
  • maintained
  • correctly stored
  • used properly

You will also need to provide training and instruction in its use to all your workers.

Need any support and guidance on the PPE regs update and how they impact you and your workers?

Related Articles

  1. How do you manage PPE in your workplace?
  2. Managing Health and Safety for small businesses
  3. How do I carry out a risk assessment?

Is fatigue a health and safety issue in your workplace

Is fatigue a health and safety issue in your workplace?

Fatigue is an all-too common complaint, but have you ever stopped to consider the effect of fatigue on health and safety in your workplace?

What do you need to know about the effect of fatigue on people at work? And more importantly, how can you manage fatigue at work?

What is fatigue?

We all feel tiredness every day, hopefully right before our bedtime so we can drift off easily into dream-land, but fatigue is something else.

While there is no official definition of what fatigue is, it is useful to recognise that fatigue is a decline in mental and / or physical performance that results from prolonged exertion, sleep loss, disruption of a persons body clock, certain medical conditions or other personal factors.

Fatigue is to-the-bone tiredness, its a state of mental and physical exhaustion, of just not being able to function. We’ve probably all felt it from time to time, and it can be brought on by stressful life events, or relentless ‘busyness’.

In fact we have a tendency to dismiss tiredness and fatigue because it is so common – but did you realised that fatigue is a major health and safety hazard that all employers have to factor in when deciding what they need to do to keep people safe at work?

Who is at risk of fatigue?

Many factors can lead to a person feeling fatigued. Some of the more common factors are:

  • shift work, with disruptive shift patterns
  • performing a task for extended periods of time, or repeatedly performing a tedious task
  • getting less than 7 hours sleep per night
  • untreated sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea or other medical conditions
  • caring for young children or people who need around-the-clock care
  • taking certain medications that interfere with sleep
  • disordered sleep due to personal factors, such as stress, menopause or poor home conditions
Cartoon man exhausted and needing winding up

Is fatigue a safety at work issue?

Tiredness and fatigue are absolutely health and safety issues. Fatigue is a hazard that needs to be considered in your risk assessments when deciding the controls you need to put in place to ensure your people are keeping safe and well at work.

The HSE says that fatigue has been identified as a major root cause in some of the biggest disasters, such as Chernobyl and the Clapham Junction rail crash. They estimate that fatigue costs the UK £115 – £240 million per year in terms of workplace accidents.

Fatigue can have many affects on a person, and can result in things like:

  • lack of attention
  • slower reactions
  • reduced co-ordination
  • decreased awareness
  • underestimation of risk
  • memory lapses or absent mindedness
  • reduced ability to process information

All of these affects can significantly increase the chance of something going wrong, potentially leading to serious accidents or injury.

What can employers do to help workers combat fatigue?

There are many steps employers can take to help workers manage their levels of fatigue at work – whether the fatigue is caused by work factors or by something happening in your workers personal life.

For shift working, the HSE publish a great guide to help you identify fatigue hazards and decide what you can do to reduce the risks associated with it – check out HSG 256 Managing Shift Work

Where a worker has told you about any personal factors such as a health condition that may impact their levels of fatigue and their ability to carry out their usual tasks, see what reasonable adjustments you can make to make sure you are treating the worker fairly, and that they and others in the workplace are protected from risks. Reasonable adjustments might be things like altering a working pattern, allowing people to work from home, introducing a flexible work pattern, etc.

Some of the general measures that can be taken in all workplaces to reduce the risks associated with fatigue include:

  • planning workloads appropriate to the length and timings of the working day / shift
  • where reasonably practicable, schedule a variety of tasks to be done by the worker during their working day / shift
  • avoid demanding, safety critical tasks at night or towards the end of a long working day
  • limit consecutive work days to a maximum of 5 to 7 days, and allow adequate rest time between working days
  • make sure team members are aware of the risks associated with fatigue, and how to spot it in themselves and others
  • encourage open and honest chat about fatigue levels, and the need to adapt work if needed. Make sure that banter around tiredness being seen as a weakness is discouraged.

So, what’s the key message to take away?

Fatigue in the workplace can contribute significantly to overall safety performance, and is a serious health concern. Be sure to consider both preventing fatigue when designing work patterns and job roles, and to consider fatigue as a hazard when carrying out your risk assessments. Pay extra attention to levels of fatigue in your workers during busy times, and be sure to consider your workers personal circumstances particularly if they come to you with their own concerns.

Want to find out more about the impact of fatigue on the health and safety profile of your workplace, and understand what you can do about it?

Related Articles

  1. How do I carry out a risk assessment?
  2. Managing Health and Safety for small businesses
  3. How do you manage work related stress?

Managing Covid-19 in 2022

Managing Covid-19 risks in 2022

We are all used to managing Covid-19 risks in the workplace now, it has been something we have had to deal with for the last two years. The recent easing of restrictions, and the changes in guidance (again!) in working safely during coronavirus may once again get employers tearing their hair out in frustration. One thing is for certain, Covid-19 is not going away in a hurry, so we need to ensure we control the risks of transmission in the workplace to protect our people.

Are employers managing Covid-19 risks successfully?

The Health and Safety Statistics 2021 released in December 2021 by the HSE gave the first reported numbers for the effects of Covid-19 in the workplace. They numbers report were:

Covid-19 statistics for work related cases 2021

These numbers relate to the very first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, accounting for the period between April 2020 to March 2021.

Of the 93,00 workers who believe they caught Covid-19 at work, around half of those worked in human health and social work activities. No reliable data has been gathered for other industries as the sample sizes were too small (ref https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/coronavirus).

The 645,000 workers who reported a work-related illness caused or made worse by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic include ill-health cases that may not be a Covid-19 infection. From the HSE Technical Report, this number is made up of people who have had any work-related condition made worse, including things like musculoskeletal problems, work-related stress, work-related breathing problems not due to Covid-19. Some examples of how coronavirus pandemic may have made work-related ill-health cases worse are include in the technical report, and include:

  • an existing musculoskeletal condition made work by a change in working conditions, such as working from home at a temporary workstation.
  • a case of stress, depression or anxiety caused or made worse because of the uncertainty in work arising from the pandemic.
  • a new or existing case of asthma that has been made worse by Covid-19 that the worker believes was contracted at work.

These numbers shows that Covid-19 affects not just those who contract Covid-19 as a result of workplace transmission, it also affects people dealing with underlying health conditions, new ways of working, and we have to look to protect the overall wellbeing of our people.

Covid-19 virus

Managing Covid-19 transmission risks in the workplace

Covid-19 will be with us for a long time to come, so we need to make sure that we continue to manage the risks of transmission in the workplace. A key part of this is keeping up with the latest Government guidance on working safely during coronavirus, so make sure you have somebody in your organisation is responsible for this, and for implementing the controls set out in the guidance.

As we (hopefully) move from the pandemic to the endemic phase of Covid-19, we need to keep controls in place to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus. The good news is that the controls are, in the most part, relatively simple. Things you need to keep doing include:

Risk assessment – think about how Covid-19 can be transmitted in your workplace, and put controls in place to minimise the risk of transmission. This means you need to either have a Covid-19 risk assessment in place, or include the risk of transmission of Covid-19 in your general workplace assessments.

Ventilation – good ventilation in the workplace significantly reduces the risk of transmission. Check all your working areas, and ensure you are getting a good flow of air through. If you find any poorly ventilated areas take steps to improve the airflow – you may just need simple steps like making sure you open a window for ten minutes every hour.

Cleaning – continue to identify any touch points in your workplace (eg door handles, light switches) and clean them frequently. Ask all staff and visitors to clean their hands frequently, and provide hand sanitiser.

Cleaning to illustrate article managing covid-19 in 2022

Prevent contact – do not expect or allow people with Covid-19 symptoms to come to your place of work. If staff show signs of Covid-19, ask them to stay at home and to carry out a Covid-19 test. If the result is positive, they must follow the isolation guidance in place at the time. Employers must support their workers if they are required to self-isolate.

Check-in – while it is no longer compulsory to check in to venues, it is good practise to ask your workers, visitors and customers to check in your site. You do not have to turn people away if they refuse, but it can be helpful information to pass on to test and trace if you have an outbreak in your place of work.

Communicate – as with all other health and safety considerations at work, communication is key. Make sure your workers understand the steps you are taking to keep them safe, and be open and responsive to questions and reasonable requests. The last two years have been difficult for everyone, and maintaining strong two-way communication between employers and workers can go a long way to ensure your risk controls are followed and to improve moral in the workplace.

In addition to this, you need to plan what you will do in the event of an outbreak at work. Now that the work from home requirement has been lifted, many people are going back to the workplace. Make sure you and your people know the steps you will take if you get a number of cases reported at work.

What about non-Covid related risks?

Remember that you also continue to have a duty to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of your employees from non-Covid related risks. If people have not been in the workplace for a long time, you may need to think about reminding your workers of your workplace health and safety arrangements and consider carrying out fire drills and practising other emergency arrangements to test that everything still works effectively. Check out the type of risk assessments and health and safety arrangements you may need to consider here.

You will also need to be mindful of the impact on your workers mental wellbeing. Many people have been impacted badly with the effects of the pandemic, from losing loved ones, dealing with long-covid, social isolation and uncertainty. Coming back in to the workplace may be another challenge to an already challenging situation. Take care to support your workers, listen to them, make accommodations (where possible) and help to ease any anxieties people may be feeling by being back at work.

Want to learn more about how you can continue to manage Covid-19 risks in the workplace?

Related Articles:

  1. How do you manage work related stress?
  2. Homeworkers risk assessment
  3. Covid-19 and workers returning to the workplace
Cover image for article how do I carry out a risk assessment

How do I carry out a risk assessment?

“How do I carry out a risk assessment? “

“Can I do it myself, or does a health and safety person need to do the risk assessment?”

“Do I really need a risk assessment?”

These are three questions that I get asked quite frequently. I’ll deal with them in reverse order:

3. Yes, you probably do need a risk assessment. But the good news is it shouldn’t be a challenging exercise, its just a matter of thinking about what you are doing and how you are going to do it safely.

2. Yes, very often you can do the risk assessment yourself. It is preferable for the people who know the work and are familiar with the tasks in hand to carry out risk assessments, rather than somebody who hasn’t got the right experience for an assessment to be suitable and sufficient. Oftentimes risk assessments are carried out by people familiar with the tasks with additional support from a health and safety professional.

1. There is a well established process for carrying out all risk assessments. The actual content of the risk assessment will change depending on the nature of the assessment what is being looked at, but the simple 5 steps to risk assessment holds in all cases. Check out the types of risk assessment you might need here.

Why do I need to carry out a risk assessment?

A simple answer to this question is because the law requires you to! The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 say that we have to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of risks, and reduce those risks so far as is reasonably practicable.

There’s a couple of phrases in the above paragraph that we need to understand:

suitable and sufficient – this means that you need make a proper check to identify and deal with all risks, you need to consult with the people affected, you need to put controls in place to reduce the risk so far as is reasonably practicable. Remember you are only expected to identify foreseeable risks.

so far as is reasonably practicable – in the vast majority of cases, we are required by law to reduce the risk to a level that we are happy to live with, rather than to the absolute lowest level of risk that can be technically achieved. This means when deciding our risk control measures, we need to balance the overall reduction in risk against the time, cost and trouble in putting the risk control measure in place. In reality, if something is mega-expensive to do, causes a huge amount of trouble and the risk reduction after the control is put in place, we can argue that it would not be reasonably practicable to do so. I’ll explore this concept further in a future article, but for now check out the HSE page on this subject.

From a practical sense, we carry out risk assessments so that we can methodically think through a job or situation, and put things in place to keep people safe. When done correctly a risk assessment is a great planning tool, and guides your working methods and procedures. Risk assessments are carried out by everyone in their everyday life, just think about crossing the road – the green cross code is one of the first formal risk assessment that we all learnt as kids.

risk assessment table

What are the five steps to risk assessment?

Before we deep dive into carrying out a risk assessment, we first need to define what we are assessing. I like to think about this as setting the boundary’s of the assessment, specifying what the assessment covers and limiting how far the assessment goes.

The key things to understand and specifiy are:

  • the location where the work is carried out
  • the people who may be affected (workers, contractors, visitors, members of the public, etc.)
  • the equipment used
  • all different activities involved

When you have defined these things, you are ready to start on the risk assessment it itself, buy following the 5 steps to risk assessment approach

Step 1 – Identify the hazardsA hazard is anything that has potential to cause harm. At this stage you don’t rule anything out, you need to consider all hazards no matter how unlikely you think that hazard may cause harm.

Have a look at the physical layout of the work area, the tools, equipment and substances involved, and how routine and non-routine tasks are carried out. Ask the people involved in the work, they are best place to help you identify the hazards.
Step 2 – Identify who might be harmed and howYou need to include anyone who may be affected by the work activities in these considerations, not just your workers. We need to think about how members of the public, contractors or visitors can be harmed.

We also need to think about special classes of people who may need some additional risk control measures. People like new and expectant mothers, young persons and people with underlying / ongoing health conditions who may be at particular risk.

At this stage you can do an initial estimation of the risk levels with the existing controls in place for each of the hazards you identified in step 1.
Step 3 – Evaluate the riskLooking at the risk estimates from step 2, you need to decide which risks are currently acceptable and which ones you need to take steps to reduce the level of risk to people.

When deciding which additional risk control measures, you need to work through the hierarchy of risk controls to see which measures you can use to reduce the level of risk, so far as is reasonably practicable.
Step 4 – Record your findingsYou are required to record the significant findings of your risk assessment.

The significant findings will not include trivial risks, but will include the hazards you have identified, how people might be harmed, and the risk control measures in place to prevent harm.

Remember the purpose of the risk assessment is to guide people in keeping the workplace as safe as possible, so the risk assessment needs to be clear and concise, accessible to those who may need it, and easy to understand.

If you have fewer than five employees in your organisation you do not need to record your findings, but it is very useful to do so.
Step 5 – Review the risk assessmentFor the risk assessments to remain relevant, we need to review them periodically. You must always review your risk assessment if anything you have based your assessment on changes – for example if you have new equipment, changed working methods, after an accident or incident, or if new learning comes to light that influences the decisions made when carrying out the original assessment.

If you have no other reason to review your assessment, you must do so periodically to make sure you capture any changes that may have been missed. In most cases it is up to the assessor to determine the intervals between periodic reviews.

We’ve done the risk assessment – what next?

Carrying out a risk assessment is not the end of the process. For the assessment to have value it needs to be communicated to everyone who is affected by it, and the controls identified incorporated into every-day working practices.

Remember the goal of a risk assessment isn’t to have a box ticked, or a nice document filed away somewhere – it is to make sure we can work safely, and reduce the risk of people getting harmed at work to a level that we are happy to tolerate.

Want to talk more about risk assessments and how you can protect your people from harm?

Related Articles

  1. What are RAMS?
  2. The burning facts about fire risk assessments
  3. Managing health and safety for small businesses
image of volunteer to illustrate article protecting the health and safety of volunteers

Protecting the health and safety of volunteers – what you need to know.

Protecting the health and safety of your volunteers is vitally important. Not only do we have a legal duty of care towards volunteers, just as we would any other type of worker, we also have a moral duty of care to protect those individuals who give up their free time to help out when they can.

A recent article in the IOSH Magazine has highlighted the importance of protecting volunteers safety after some recent prosecutions brought about after volunteers have been hurt.

Does health and safety legislation apply to volunteers?

This isn’t a clear-cut yes or no answer, but if we start from a default position of ‘YES’ then you won’t go far wrong.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) and regulations enacted under it applies to your organisation if you have at least one employee. The duties under the act apply to both your organisations employees and anyone who may be affected by your organisations activities – that certainly includes volunteers.

image of health and safety law documentto illustrate article protecting the health and safety of volunteers

If your organisation has no direct employees, the Health and Safety at Work Act may still apply – for example, if your volunteers are in control of a non-domestic premises (eg village hall) or buys-in or controls construction work then health and safety law applies.

If your organisation has no employees and is run solely by volunteers then the Health and Safety at Work Act will not normally apply to you. This means that you are not subject to criminal law in fulfilling your health and safety duties, however you will still have duties under civil law.

Voluntary organisations and individuals who are volunteering have a duty of care under civil law to protect themselves or anyone else who may be affected by their activities. This duty of care, and meeting that duty, largely reflects the requirements of health and safety law. So even if your organisation is not covered by the Health and Safety at Work Act, by complying with it requirements and the requirements of those regulations made under the act, you will – in the vast majority of cases – be discharging your duty of care.

Remember – a breach of the Health and Safety at Work act is a criminal offence, and those that breach the act can be subject to fines and / or imprisonment. Breaching your duty of care is a civil offence, and breaching your duty may result in an injured party suing for damages through the civil courts and may result in you having to pay compensation.

Managing risks to volunteers

image risk spelled out in wooden blocks to illustrate article protecting the health and safety of volunteers

The best way to manage risks to your volunteers is to treat them just like any other employee of any other organisation.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, organisations need to have the following in place:

  • Health and Safety Policy
  • Arrangements for putting your policy into practice
  • Risk assessments, identify all risks to your people and what you need to do to control those risks
  • Emergency plans, such as first aid arrangements, fire plans, accident reporting and investigation, etc
  • Consultation with your employees and / or volunteers to give them opportunity to comment and feedback on your health and safety arrangements
  • Health and safety training, where needed.

All organisations, no matter what their size, are expected to have these in place. If you have 5 or more employees you must have these written down. However it is best practise for organisations to have all these arrangements documented no matter what their size – particularly in the voluntary sector where you may only have one or two employees but a large army of volunteers.

Do I need to report incidents involving volunteers?

Another question with no straightforward yes or no answer! The RIDDOR regs (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrence Regulations 2013) sets out what needs to be reported and what doesn’t, and there is some clear guidance from the HSE:

  • Fatal accidents involving volunteers are always reportable (unless they involve a road traffic accident)
  • Non-fatal incidents involving volunteers are reportable when the accident arises from work-activity, and the volunteer is taken straight from the scene of the incident to hospital for treatment.

Unlike for employees, there is no requirement to report over-7-day injuries to volunteers, as this only applies to employees.

image of person buried under cardboard boxes to illustrate article protecting the health and safety of volunteers

Before deciding if you need to submit a report to the HSE or Local Authority of a serious incident or injury, you will need to check the RIDDOR regs (or talk to your friendly H&S Consultant) to understand if RIDDOR applies in your precise circumstances.

So, what is the key message to take away.

Looking after the health and safety of your volunteers is paramount. People who freely give their time and efforts to help others will need to feel safe and protected while carrying out their activities. Managing health and safety and protecting your volunteers does not need to be an onerous task, and by taking time to put some simple health and safety measures in place you will make sure you protect your people, retain your volunteers, and have a positive impact on the reputation and performance of your voluntary organisation.

Want to talk about the simple things voluntary organisations can put in place to keep people safe?

Related Articles

  1. Managing Health and Safety
  2. What are Risk Assessments?
  3. Why choose DanumBS as your health and safety consultant?
2020/21 health and safety statistics

2021 Health and Safety Statistics

In December 2021 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released the summary of the 2021 health and safety statistics for the year April 2020 to March 2021. These statistics are of particular interest this year, as they cover the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and allow us to get an idea of how the changes made during the pandemic may have had an effect on health and safety performance at work.

This article looks as some of the headline statistics, and the full report is available on the HSE website.

Where do the statistics come from?

All of the statistics come from self-reports made either under the RIDDOR regs or gathered from the Labour Force Survey.

RIDDOR reports

The RIDDOR regs (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrence Regulations 2013) place an duty on employers to report certain accidents, ill-health cases and dangerous occurrences to the HSE. These reports are used in compiling these statistics.

Labour Force Survey

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) is carried out every year by the Office of National Statistics (ONS). This survey samples a random selection of the UK population and asks a wide range of social and economic questions, including health and safety at work related questions. The responses to the LFS are then used by government and public bodies to influence policy thinking and direct resources. More information can be found about the labour force survey on the ONS website.

2020/21 health and safety statistics workplace injury rates

2020/21 Fatalities

There were a total of 142 work related fatalities in 2020/21. This number is roughly in line with the number of fatalities recorded in recent years, with a general downward trend.

In addition to this, there were 60 members of the public killed as a result of work activities in 2020/21.

2020/21 health and safety statistics showing the number of fatalities by accident type

The most common cause of fatal injury were falls from height, with 35 people killed. This has been the leading cause of work related fatalities for a number of years, and means that 3 people a month are killed from falls.

The second and third causes are struck by a moving vehicle (25 people) and struck by a moving object (17 people).

Note that these numbers do not include people at work killed in a road traffic accident.

2020/21 Work-related injuries

There were 51,211 RIDDOR reportable injuries recorded in 2020/21. This number continues to fall year-on-year although there was a sharper rate of decrease in 2020/21.

2020/21 health and safety statistics RIDDOR reportable injuries

In addition, there were 441,000 self-reported work-related in injuries, as reported in the Labour Force Survey. These break down to 339,000 injuries with up to 7 days absence from work, and 102,000 injuries with over 7 days absence.

2020/21 Work-related ill-health cases

850,000 new work-related ill-health cases were reported in 2020/21. Together with long-standing ill-health cases, this gives a total of 1.7 million workers suffering from work-related ill health.

2020/21 health and safety statistics showing the type of self-reported work related ill-health cases.

The leading cause of working related ill-health continues to be stress, depression and anxiety; this has been the leading cause for a while, with the rate increasing over the last few years. 451,000 workers reported a new case of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2020/21.

Effect of Covid-19 pandemic on health and safety at work

Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the workplace throughout 2020 and 2021, and has no doubt had an impact on health, safety and wellbeing of workers across all sectors of the workforce. It is estimated that 738,000 people were affected by work-related exposure or changes due to the pandemic.

2020/21 health and safety statistics effects of covid-19 pandemic

Identifying the work-related statistics around the effect of Covid-19 is challenging, particularly when the virus is so widely in circulation in the population. The Labour Force Survey asked particular questions to estimate the number of people who believed their Covid-19 case was due to workplace exposure, and those who believed that the pandemic and the precautions we had to take (such as furlough, working from home, social isolation) made their existing work related condition worse.

Of the new and long-standing cases of work-related ill health caused or made worse by the effects of the pandemic, 70% of those cases were related to stress, depression or anxiety.

So, what’s the key message to take away?

While great progress has been made in improving workplace safety, there is still a lot of work to be done. Every one of these statistics represents a person who is affected, with the knock-on effect to their family and friends being immeasurable. As employers, we have a duty of care to protect people from work related injuries and ill-health, and we must continue to make improvements where ever we can.

Want help in preventing your people from becoming part of these statistics?

Related Articles:

  1. Managing health and safety for small businesses
  2. How do you manage work related stress?
  3. What are RAMS?
Title image for article taking care of fire doors

Taking care of fire doors

Fire doors are a vital bit of safety kit in our buildings, but many of us don’t pay them much attention. They are just there, get walked through every day, get bashed about a bit, propped open when they shouldn’t be and generally get neglected. Fire doors should be looked after – they may be our last line of defence against smoke, heat and fire in a burning building. We need to show them a bit of love, so what do you need to know when taking care of fire doors?

What do fire doors do?

It is a legal requirement for all non-domestic properties (eg businesses, commercial premises and public buildings) to have fire doors, but do you know why?

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 places a duty on those responsible for premises to manage fire safety precautions. The responsible person will need to make sure that a fire risk assessment is in place and suitable controls measures put in place. Fire doors form part of that overall protection.

Fire doors are a passive safety measure, they protect you just by being there! But to get the level of protection intended we need to make sure they are used properly, and that we take care of them.

They key function of a fire door is to:

  • slow down the spread of fire within a building
  • slow down the spread of smoke, heat and fire onto escape routes
  • protect particularly vulnerable areas of the building, eg server rooms or storage rooms containing combustible materials
  • create compartments within the building, and provide a minimum of 30 minutes resistance to fire in a compartmentalised area

What are common faults with fire doors?

Fire doors need to form a barrier between different areas of a building. To do that, they need to be of sound construction, form a good seal in the frame and be used in an appropriate manner – ie not propped open (often with a fire extinguisher!).

Common faults to look out for on fire doors are:

  1. If seals are fitted (often not found on older fire doors) they can be damaged, installed incorrectly or not filling the gaps.
  2. no mandatory signage identifying the fire door
  3. excessive gaps between the door and the frame
  4. unsuitable or damaged hinges
  5. damage to the door itself

What do I need to do to take care of fire doors?

Your fire risk assessment will determine what controls you need to put in place to manage fire protection in your premises. One of those controls should be to regularly inspect your fire doors. This will allow you to spot any defects quickly and get them rectified so that you can rely on the protection in the event of a fire.

When deciding how often to check the fire doors, you need to pay particular attention to those doors on high traffic routes and those most likely to suffer damage. You can carry out regular checks yourself (on a weekly or monthly basis, for example) but you must periodically have the fire doors inspection by a trained and competent person. Again, your fire risk assessment will guide you on the frequency of a fire door inspection, but I suggest it is done at least annually, or more frequently if needed.

What do I need to look at when checking fire doors?

  1. Check the gaps around the top and sides of the door are less than 4mm when closed.

2. Check the door has a working door closure system, and closes correctly

3. Check that intumescent seals (if fitted) are intact with no sign of damage

4. Check the door has 3 hinges, and they are in a good state of repair.

5. Check any vision panels are free from damage.

6. Check the door furniture allows the door to close firmly into the frame.

7. Check the door has correctly fitted mandatory signage.

Remember – your fire doors will only protect you if you show them a little love!!

If you need any further help in taking care of your fire doors or managing fire safety in your premises, then please get in touch.

This article was published as part of Fire Door Safety Week 2021

Related articles:

  1. Burning facts about fire risk assessments
  2. Managing health and safety for small business.

What are RAMS?

What are RAMS in the world of Health and Safety?

If we were in the land of Clarkson’s Farm (anyone watched it? I love Wayne Rooney and Leonardo DiCaprio) then we would know that RAMS look like this:

Ram to illustrate the article What are RAMS?

When talking health and safety, RAMS stands for Risk Assessments and Method Statements.

Risk assessments and method statements are two separate process that, when used together, form a basis for your safe systems of work. They are used together widely when managing health and safety, particularly in high hazard industries like Construction.

But even if you don’t work in construction, you have more than likely used RAMS – just ask the Green Cross Code Man.

So, what are risk assessments and method statements?

What is a Risk Assessment?

A risk assessment, simply put, is a methodical way of identifying what might go wrong when carrying out a task or activity. We use them to foresee how people might get hurt and what we can do to protect them and keep them safe from harm.

We are required by law to carry out risk assessments for our activities, and if our business has 5 or more employees then it is a legal requirement to make a record of your risk assessments. These requirements are set out in the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

There are many different types of risk assessment covering a huge range of work activities, tasks and situations. The basic method for carrying out these risk assessments always stay the same. The five steps to risk assessment are:

  1. Identify the hazards
  2. Estimate the risk by understanding who might be harmed, the likelihood of harm and the potential consequences
  3. Evaluate the risk and, where needed, put additional controls in place to reduce the risk to an acceptable level
  4. Record the significant findings of the assessment
  5. Review your assessment periodically or if anything the risk assessment is based on changes.

What are Method Statements?

Method Statements are typically used in high hazard industries (e.g. Construction) and gives us the step-by-step instructions for completing a job safely. There is no legal requirement to provide method statements, but they can play a significant role in ensuring we provide a safe system of work.

A method statement is usually accompanied by the risk assessment for the task or activity it covers. The risk assessment tells you what the risks are and the controls to be used to reduce the risk to an acceptable level. The method statement gives you instructions on how to carry out the work, with each step set out sequentially detailing exactly what needs to be done. The method statement will refer to the risk assessment and will include the steps needed to make sure the controls detailed in the risk assessment are put in place.

Method statements usually contain the following details:

  • Project details – including key contact information for people in control of the works
  • Description of the specific work the method statement covers
  • Date and duration of work
  • Step-by-step instructions for carrying out the works
  • PPE requirements
  • Management arrangements
  • Monitoring requirements
  • First aid provision
  • Welfare provision
  • Emergency procedures

Method statements are much more detailed than risk assessments; where a risk assessment tells us what we need to work safely a method statement will tell us how to do it.

What does this have to do with the Green Cross Code Man?

We all have experience of working with RAMS, even if you don’t realise it. One of the first forms of risk assessments and method statements we learn as a kid is the Green Cross Code. We learn the systematic way to identify the hazards (moving vehicles), assess the risks (is the vehicle speeding towards us) and put controls in place to reduce the risk (find a safe space to cross). We also learn the step-by-step method statement that we need to cross the road. We are taught to Think, Stop, Look and listen, Wait, Look and listen again, arrive alive.

Picture of the Green Cross Code Man to illustrate the article What are RAMS?

When we are young and learning the green cross code, we get taught to break the complicated, risky and scary task down into an easy to follow step-by-step process. That what RAMS do for us in the workplace, they take high hazard, complicated, risky jobs and break them down in to simple to follow steps with all the things we need to do to stay safe set out and integrated into the job.

So, the next time you are asked ‘What are RAMS?’ you’ll be able to point people in the direction of the green cross code!

Do you need any help in preparing your RAMS?

Related Posts

  1. Managing Health and Safety for small businesses
  2. Homeworker risk assessment – looking after your homeworkers health and safety
  3. Burning facts about Fire Risk Assessment

Burning facts about Fire Risk Assessment

Fires have a devastating effect on businesses, with even small fires leading to huge consequences. As well as the immediate effects of fire (injury or fatality, damage to premises and work equipment), the recovery from fire can be extremely challenging. Even with insurance in place, some businesses will never recover from the loss of production, potential loss of documentation and client data and damage to their reputation.

Making sure your business is protected from fire is not only a legal requirement, but a fundamental of health and safety management. Nobody wants to see everything they have worked for go up in smoke!

When do I need a Fire Risk Assessment?

If you have any non-domestic premises, then you are required by law to carry out a fire risk assessment. Non-domestic premises include all workplaces and commercial premises, all premises the public have access to and common areas of multi-occupied residential buildings.

In England and Wales the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO) requires that every business undertakes a fire risk assessment, and that if there are 5 or more employees a record of the risk assessment must be made.

The RRFSO does not set out how often you need to carry out a fire risk assessment, but it does say you need to review it periodically. It is usual to review your fire risk assessment annually, or sooner if any of the following circumstances apply:

  • Changes to the structure of the building or premises
  • Major changes to the function or purpose of any part of your premises
  • Any new hazardous substances are introduced to your premises
  • Following any fire related accident or incident
  • If you see any damage or faults with fire safety equipment
  • Changes to the number of people on the premises (increase or decrease)
  • If you take on new employees with any disabilities that may have an impact on their ability to evacuate independently in the event of a fire

Who is responsible for carrying out a Fire Risk Assessment?

There are two distinct duties here:

  1. Responsible person – the person defined in legislation as being responsible for ensuring a fire risk assessment is carried out and that fire precautions are adequate

2. Fire risk assessor – person who has the competence to carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment.

The responsible person can also be the fire risk assessor, providing they are competent to carry out the assessment, but it is more usual for the responsible person to appoint an assessor either from within their own organisation or an external consultant.

What does a Fire Risk Assessment cover?

 Fire Hazard – a source, situation or act that has potential to result in a fire

Fire Risk – the combination of the likelihood of a fire and the consequences (fatalities, injuries or damage) likely to be caused by the fire.

There are 9 steps to Fire Risk Assessment – it sounds a lot, but it is relatively straightforward. These steps are:

Information about the premises, occupants, and the processes – details of the physical structure and layout of the premises, occupancy levels, details of any occupants with any disabilities that may make them more vulnerable in an evacuation, details of what works and processes are carried out on the premises and details of any previous fires on those premises or others of similar nature.

Identification of fire hazards and means for their elimination or control – identify sources of ignition (such as electrical faults, cooking, hot work, malicious ignition), unsafe conditions (such as poor housekeeping leading to increased fire loading) and unsafe acts that could lead to the development of a fire.

Assessment of the likelihood of fire – a determination of the overall likelihood of fire in the current circumstances, usually given as high, medium, or low.

Assessment of fire protection measures – look at the physical measures in place to mitigate the consequences of fire such as fire detection and warnings, means of escape, signs, emergency lighting, firefighting equipment, structural design to limit the spread of fire and any other appropriate measures.

Assessment of fire safety management – the policies and procedures in place to prevent the occurrence of fire and identify special responsibilities in the event of a fire. This includes arrangements for training and fire drills, use of firefighting equipment, liaison with fire and rescue services, routine inspections of the premises and fire precautions, testing and maintenance of fire protection systems, and sharing information with other stakeholders (e.g. in the case of shared premises).

Assessment of consequences of fire – consider the number of people that can be injured, and the likely extent of their injuries, usually given as slight harm, moderate harm or extreme harm.

Assessment of consequences of fire – consider the number of people that can be injured, and the likely extent of their injuries, usually given as slight harm, moderate harm or extreme harm.

Assessment of fire risk – a combination of the likelihood of fire and its potential consequences from earlier steps. An example of a risk matrix is given in the table below.


Consequences of Fire

Likelihood of Fire

Slight Harm

Moderate Harm

Extreme Harm


Trivial Risk

Tolerable Risk

Moderate Risk


Tolerable Risk

Moderate Risk

Substantial Risk


Moderate Risk

Substantial Risk

Intolerable Risk

Action plan – detail all actions needed to reduce and / or maintain the risk at a tolerable or trivial level. It should address physical measures and managerial issues that need to be addressed, and the urgency with which each action should be carried out.

Periodic review of fire risk assessment – set a date by which the next periodic review should be carried out, if not reviewed before because of a change in circumstances in which the original FRA was based. Any actions plans from previous FRA’s need to be reviewed at the same time.

Fire safety management

Your fire risk assessment is a living document, having it nicely written up and tucked away in a filing cabinet does not protect your people and your premises. You need to make sure the precautions, arrangements and actions detailed in the FRA are in place and remain effective. Your insurers and local Fire and Rescue Service may want to see evidence of your risk assessment and its implementation to make sure you are doing all you can to keep your people safe.

So, what’s the key message to take away?

Every business that has premises needs a fire risk assessment, and if that business employs five or more people then the risk assessment must be documented. You need to make sure the measures and controls identified to minimise the risk and consequences of fire are in place, and that defined responsibilities in the event of fire are assigned and understood. If you have any significant changes to your building, your people or what you do there, then you will need to review your fire risk assessment to assess the impact of the changes and take actions if needed.

Got any questions about Fire Risk Assessments?

Working at Height

Working at height can be a risky business! With 29 fatalities associated with working at height recorded in 2019/2020, it was the biggest cause of fatalities in the workplace in that year. And while work at height is not the biggest cause of non-fatal RIDDOR reportable incidents, the injuries that result from a fall from height are often life changing.

Employers a have a duty to protect their workers from harm in the workplace, and what you need to do to is set out in the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

What is work at height?

Work at height means any work in any place where, if precautions were not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury.

You are working at height if you:

  • work above ground / floor level,
  • could fall from an edge, through an opening or fragile surface,
  • could fall from ground level into an opening in a floor or hole in the ground.

What do I need to do to comply with the Work at Height Regs?

The purpose of the Regs is to make sure that the risks when working at height are removed or reduced as far as possible. They are not there to prevent people working at height, but to make sure that they do it safely. These are five steps to make sure you comply with the Work at Height regulations:

  1. Make sure that you identify tasks where people are working at height, and that they are properly planned and organised.
  2. Assess the risks involved with work at height and make sure appropriate work equipment is selected and used.
  3. Make sure that everyone working at height understand the risks and the measures in place to protect them. They also need to know how to use the equipment, and what checks to make to spot any problems or defects before or during use.
  4. Ensure the risk of working on or near fragile surfaces are identified and managed.
  5. Have systems in place to make sure any equipment used for work at height is properly inspected and maintained.

How to keep safe when working at height

The HSE guidance has a great flowchart that guides you through the decision process for deciding if you should work from height, and if you are what measures you need to consider putting in place.

The key steps in the guidance are:

Step 1:    Avoid work at height wherever reasonably practicable. Reasonably practicable is a key phrase here, it means when the time, trouble, cost and physical difficulty of avoiding working at height does not far outweigh the benefit of carrying out the work at height.

Step 2: Prevent falls by using an existing place of work that is safe, or the right type of equipment to access the work area. When decided what equipment and protective measure you put in place, prioritise collective protection over personal protection.

Collective protection – does not require the person working at height to be effective, for example putting permanent or temporary guard rails in place.

Personal protection – requires the individual to act to be effective, e.g. using a safety harness.


Step 3: Minimise the distance and consequences of a fall by using the right equipment when the risk cannot be eliminated.

The regs do not ask you to go overboard with safety precautions, but to take a common sense approach to considering work at height and how you control the risks.

What do you need to think about when you are working at height?

So you’ve done your risk assessment, planned the work, got the equipment in place and people are aware of what they are doing and how…….now you’re ready to go!

But you need to keep and eye on things while you are doing the job. Things to look out for might be:

  • Weather conditions – wind, rain, hail and snow can all pose a problem when working outside, even more so if you are working at height. If weather conditions are bad or deteriorate to a point where the job is unsafe then stop work. Make sure you check any ladders, scaffolds etc before use again.
  • Alongside your formal inspection regimes, make sure people know to have a quick check of all work at height equipment and job areas before each use.
  • While working at height, prevent materials or equipment from falling, and if you can’t then put an exclusion zone in place so that items that fall cannot harm anyone below.
  • Store any materials or objects safely so that they won’t cause harm or damage if they fall or collapse.

And possibly the most important thing to remember – make sure you have emergency rescue plans in place before work at height starts. The wrong time to try to come up with a plan is in the middle of a crisis!

Can I use ladders at work?

Since the introduction of the Work at Height Regs, there has been a myth doing the rounds that all work from ladders is banned. The HSE even have a section on their website to address this myth, but it still seems to keep doing the rounds.

The answer to ‘Can I used ladders at work?’ is YES – as long as it is appropriate for the task at hand.

Ladders and stepladders can be the most sensible and practical solutions for working at height. If the work is of short duration and low risk, there are no other options available, and it is not reasonably practicable (remember the time, trouble, cost and difficulty) to do the work any other way then ladders and stepladders are the way to go.

Another common myth is that you need to be formally ‘qualified’ to use a ladder. There is not a requirement for a qualification to work from a ladder, the person does need to be competent and trained though and often on-the-job training and supervision is all that is needed.

A note about stepladders – another myth is that you need to maintain three points of contact by always using both feet and one hand when using a stepladder. If you need both hands to carry out a task, you can maintain three points of contact by using your knees or chest to help with stability.

So, what is the key message to take away?

Falls from height are a major factor in fatalities and injuries in the workplace, so the risks associated with working at height need to be eliminated or minimised. Guidance sets out a hierarchy of control that you need to think about when planning work at height, from avoiding it all together, preventing falls, and minimising the consequences of any fall. Any work at height needs to be properly planned, supervised and the people trained and competent to do the tasks at hand.

Got any questions about managing the risks of working at height?