Category Archives: Health and Safety

Homeworkers: Quick Facts

home office

Homeworkers: Quick Facts

Homeworkers are those employed to work at home or in other premises of their own choice other than the workplace of the employer. Homeworking is not a specific job in itself but a method of working which can be relevant to many job roles.

Homeworkers are covered by health and safety law in the same way as any other employed worker, but as this topic describes, there are a range of issues specific to these workers that must be considered in order to keep them safe in their homes.

Some tips

  • Employers should keep in touch with lone workers, including those working from home, and ensure regular contact to make sure they are healthy and safe. Social Isolation
  • Working from home can bring benefits both to the employee in terms of flexibility and to the employer in terms of reduced overhead costs.
  • Siting the home office is an important consideration; segregation is preferred, followed by locking equipment away when not in use. Siting a Home Office
  • Employers are required to assess all significant risks and to make adequate arrangements for managing the risks to homeworkers. Risk Assessments for Homeworking
  • If display screen equipment (DSE) is to be used, employers must ensure that a DSE assessment is carried out with the homeworker and that health and safety requirements are met, including eye tests and the provision of appropriate equipment. Display Screen Equipment
  • Employers must ensure that any substances are assessed and suitably controlled and should provide appropriate personal protective equipment. Hazardous Substances
  • Homeworkers should be trained in the use of any equipment provided, which should be suitable for the job, regularly maintained and appropriately guarded.

Contact us for further information


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

As we face another uncertain Christmas, we think about the Christmases of the past and plan for the holiday safely with loved ones in mind. It is the time of the year when we create happy memories that will last a lifetime.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy new Year!

All the best for 2022!


Fire door inspection regime


Fire door inspection regime

Question We have several properties that are fitted with numerous timber-based fire doors. It has been suggested that we should be inspecting these regularly. Is this the case and how often should this be done as it could have significant resource issues?

Answer A fire door is a complex structure that consists of various elements that must be designed, installed and, very importantly, maintained so as to ensure the fire resistance performance requirements are achieved when required to do so.

Apart from maintaining compartmentation, the other main function of fire doors is to allow access and pedestrian traffic flow. This can lead to deterioration, wear/tear and damage to fittings or door elements due to repeated operation and/or abuse.

Article 17 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (or its equivalent in Scotland and Northern Ireland) requires the responsible person to ensure that the premises and any facilities, equipment or devices are subject to a “suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair”.

BS8214:2016 Timber-based Fire Door Assemblies. Code of Practice makes reference to this requirement while guidance from the Chief Fire Officers Association states that maintenance regimes should include “inspection and testing by a competent person, as necessary at suitable intervals”.

To meet this regulatory requirement, there are various good practice guides that can be followed to inform the responsible person as to frequency of inspections.

For example, BS9999:2017 Fire Safety in the Design, Management and Use of Buildings. Code of Practice recommends that automatic release devices are tested daily and monthly, while fire doors themselves are inspected every six-months.

However, BS8214 and guidance from the Architectural and Specialist Door Manufacturers Association (ASMA) suggest that the frequency of inspection can be determined according to the risk assessment and relative to the frequency of use of the doorway.

In general, frequently used doors (eg less than 80 times in a 24-hour period) could be inspected monthly and high usage doors (eg more than 200 times in a 24-hour period) weekly.

This could have resource implications where numerous doors are involved and as such, other factors could be taken into consideration as part of the assessment including the:

  • criticality of the door in terms of function and life safety or asset protection
  • likelihood of the door being damaged by impact and/or abuse.

Any decisions on the inspection regime should be recorded along with the rationale and kept under review to adapt to any changes in circumstances. It should be remembered that the fire strategy for buildings almost always assumes that fire doors operate as they were designed to, ie why appropriate maintenance is essential.

Contact us for further information.


Published · Updated

Winter’s coming: are you prepared?


Winter’s coming: are you prepared?

This autumn there have already been incidents of severe flooding, hurricanes and even snow. Although, it is tempting to hope that such extreme weather is just a one-off, our changing climate means that we are likely to experience more severe weather, not less.

The Climate Change Committee has warned that “future UK winter weather may be dominated more often by weather patterns associated with wetter, wilder and windier winter weather”. And although bitingly cold winters are not a key part of the predictions, variability is, meaning that businesses would be wise to properly prepare for winter regardless of how cold, or snowy, it might be. The cold, icy conditions experienced during the winter of 2018/19 — which led to temperatures plummeting to -14°C in the Cairngorms in Scotland and bringing some cities to a halt — were estimated to have cost the UK economy £1 million for every day of disruption.

Preparing for winter

To prepare for inclement weather, a winter plan should be put together with an associated risk assessment. This should be carried out well in advance, and revisited and revised throughout the cold period. The winter plan will be part of the suite of contingency plans already in place that outline what could happen in worst-case scenarios, and how these risks are mitigated and managed. For example, how would the business fare if power supplies went down?

Due to the impact of Covid-19 and the resulting lockdown, last year’s winter plan was likely to have been radically different to those preceding it. Some aspects may be still relevant; others may need adapting based on the current and anticipated measures for Winter 2021/22. As part of any planning process, include a review of how the plan fared last year, as well as the year before, so that new approaches can be adopted where processes were less than ideal.

Some areas that could be addressed as part of winter planning are outlined below.

Preventive maintenance

Bad weather and high winds can expose any building flaws, especially in areas such as roofs or windows. Before winter comes, carry out a condition survey to identify any potential problems, and prioritise them for repair.

Similarly, regularly inspect heating systems and any other plant required for emergencies, such as back-up generators. Proactive maintenance and regular inspections will help reduce the chance of failure when these bits of kit are most needed. Consider setting additional “winter” KPIs to help track and monitor those tasks that need to be given higher priority during this time.

Proper ventilation will also be crucial this winter to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. Options such as opening windows may become less appealing as it turns colder, and so mechanical ventilation will be relied upon. Again, preventive maintenance will help ensure that all systems are functioning well.

Slips and trips

Snow and ice are two obvious winter problems that can be a hindrance to any business. Make sure that supplies of grit are fully stocked, and that weather warnings are regularly checked so that the grit is used when needed. Staff employed to spread grit need proper personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as a map of where to grit, and priority areas. Keep records of where and when gritting takes place and fully train staff. Also ensure that any gritting is carried out in a Covid secure manner, for example, by providing individual PPE.

Do not forget inside the building too — staff bringing snow and ice in on their shoes can create slippery surfaces, so consider adding extra mats at the front doors to help keep the building clean and to absorb any extra wetness.

Remember that slips and trips are not just isolated to times when snow falls. Darker mornings and evenings can cause more accidents, as can autumnal leaf fall. As part of maintenance checks, ensure external lighting is adequate and that entrances and pathways are kept clear of leaf litter and debris.

Staff working outdoors

As part of the maintenance team there might be people who are regularly working outdoors. Although minimum working temperatures do not apply for these workers, there is, however, still a duty of care to ensure that people are not working in unsafe conditions. This could mean that managers need to look at rotas to avoid staff working outside in the cold for long periods of time, as well as making sure there are adequate facilities for people to warm up and take a break. The availability of facilities is especially critical if breaks need to be staggered due to Covid-19, or if the usual facilities have changed. Additional PPE to account for the weather can also be appropriate — for example, having good waterproofs.

Managing sickness

Along with bad weather comes the dreaded winter flu. This year, seasonal flu may also coincide with another wave of Covid-19 infections meaning that managing sickness will be more important than ever. Health and Safety representative and managers can play an important, if not visible, role in reducing the impact of staff illness spreading. For example, by stocking up on soap and alcohol gels and working to promote “hands, face, space” messaging and other good behaviours to reduce the spread infections.

Winter doesn’t always mean catching a cold. For some, it can also bring about the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as well as a propensity for less exercise and a change in diet. The impact that Covid-19 has had on mental health is well documented, and the onset of winter can make any pre-existing condition worse. Keep this in mind; perhaps renew or re-launch any wellness campaigns or promote any mental health support that is offered by the business.

In short, plan ahead. Make sure that a winter plan is in place, any maintenance is carried out and that the business is ready should the worst happen. If bad weather does strike, then remember to review how it went afterwards and implement any changes that might be necessary.

Contact us for further information or advice.


Published · Updated

Toolbox Talk: Slips, Trips and Falls

Toolbox Talk: Slips, Trips and Falls

Toolbox Talk: Slips, Trips and Falls

Why have this talk? Every year many accidents resulting in injuries occur through slips, trips, and falls. Most of these slips, trips and falls that occur are easily preventable with a little consideration and care.

What will this talk cover? The causes and prevention of slips, trips, and falls.

What causes slips, trips and falls?

  • The most common reason for injuries from falls is poor housekeeping, ie mess. Items lying about will trip someone up if not put away in a safe place.
  • Where oils and grease are used, spills will create a slip hazard if not immediately cleaned up.
  • General debris from building works can quickly accumulate and form a tripping hazard.
  • Trailing cables are another frequent cause of tripping.
  • Mud left on equipment surfaces or ladder rungs will represent a slipping hazard for the next person.
  • Reduced levels of natural light, for example during winter afternoons, can easily increase the tripping hazards if adequate access lighting is not provided. Tools, equipment, and materials that are visible in full daylight will be harder to spot in reduced lighting.

How to prevent slips, trips and falls

  • Clear up waste materials as you create them. Lightweight waste should be bagged or bundled, and all sharp objects removed, eg nails from waste timber.
  • Do not leave tools, equipment or unused materials lying about on the floor.
  • If you are using substances which could spill, ensure that you have a means of effectively clearing up any spillage.
  • As far as possible, cables for work equipment should be secured above head height. If cables must be routed at floor level, try to avoid crossing pedestrian walkways and use fluorescent or warning tape to highlight potential trip hazards at floor level.
  • If the workplace is muddy, scrape off mud from footwear before using access equipment or walking anywhere that may be a danger to others.
  • Be aware of the increased risks of tripping as the level natural light fades; use additional lighting and ensure that all tools, equipment, and materials are stored in a safe location.

Questions for employees

  • What can you do in your job to reduce slip, trip, or fall hazards?
  • How can you manage the risk from trip hazards at floor level?
  • What is the correct procedure for clearing up a spilt liquid?
  • How can you improve workplace lighting as the sun sets?

Do you have any questions for me?

If you require further advice, please contact us.