Last October we met Jessica May when we took a stand at an exhibition in Bristol. Jessica is the Managing Director for Pillow May Chartered Accountants and Chartered Tax Advisers.

Six months later, and out of the blue Jessica got in touch and we are very happy to now welcome Pillow May as a client.

We are delighted to welcome Common Ground Estate and Property Management as a client. Common Ground can provide a complete property management services for leaseholders, freeholders and developers for apartments blocks and estates.

At Stepping Stones for Business, we are able to offer Common Ground and their clients a tailored service for the their safety and fire risk assessment needs. We both like to offer a flexible, helpful and relevant service, so you could say we are on common ground!

Stepping Stones for Business has Quality and Safety franchise partner opportunities nationwide.  Take a look at our video to find out more.

Many readers will know that we have been sponsoring local swimmer, Harry James, for the past few years. Harry has been achieving some fantastic results this year and has been selected to represent the UK at the Junior Olympics in Australia in January. All the early starts and training are now paying off. Harry flies out to Australia on 20th December. We wish him well and look forward to reporting on his achievements in the New Year.

Safety Legislation Update – October 2012

It is a year since Professor Löfstedt published his review on health and safety reform. Professor Löfstedt, Director of the King’s Centre for Risk Management at King’s College London chaired a committee tasked, by the government, to reduce the burden of unnecessary regulations on businesses, whilst maintaining Britain’s high performance in safety. In general the report concluded that health and safety law in the UK is fit for purpose, however, he identified some legislation that needed to be reviewed and updated. This review followed hot-on-the-heels of Lord Young’s review in 2010 entitled ‘Common Sense, Common Safety’. During 2012 we have seen the impact of their recommendations, with more due over the next couple of years.

Changes that came into force on 1st October 2012

Smoke Free (Signs) Regulations 2012

In July 2007 the Smoke Free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006 came into force. These regulations prohibit smoking in the workplace or public place in enclosed or substantially enclosed areas. This means that virtually all enclosed public places and workplaces became smoke free, including offices, rest rooms, pubs, clubs private members clubs, cafes, restaurants, shopping centres and work transport.

Vehicles

Licensed vehicles such as taxis and minicabs must be smoke-free at all times. Even if the vehicle is being used as a private car and the driver is off duty they cannot smoke in their vehicle.

The legislation covers all company and work vehicles, like delivery vans and lorries, that are used by more than one person. Even if there is only one person in it, and more than one person sometimes uses the vehicle, it has to be smoke-free at all times.

Enforcement

Smoking in smoke-free premises or vehicles is against the law and the perpetrator is liable to a fine, if caught. The person with management responsibility for the premises or vehicle is legally responsible for preventing smoking as well.

Smoke-free law is enforced by local councils and port health authorities, within the areas for which they have responsibilities. The penalties and fines for the smoke-free offences set out in the Health Act 2006 are:

  • smoking in a smoke-free premises or vehicle: a fixed penalty notice of £50 (discounted to £30 if paid within 15 days from the issue of a notice) or a fine by a court not exceeding level 1 on the standard scale (up to £200)
  • failure to display no-smoking signs in smoke-free premises and vehicles as required by the law: a fixed penalty notice of £200 (discounted to £150 if paid within 15 days from the issue of a notice) or a fine by a court not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale (up to £1,000)
  • failing to prevent smoking in a smoke-free premises or vehicle: a fine by a court not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale (up to £2,500)

What’s new?

Signage

The Smoke Free (Signs) Regulations 2007, which supported the Smoke Free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006 has been revoked. The 2007 regulations were very specific on what type of signage must be used and where it must be displayed. The new regulations relax the rules on signage and premises owners are only required to display a legible no smoking symbol somewhere on the premises or vehicle. Unlike the 2007 regulations they no longer need to be displayed at the entrance to buildings and neither do they need to be a specified size and design.

Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012

The Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations, commonly referred to as the Fee For Intervention (FFI). FFIs are only applied when there is a ‘material breach of health and safety law’ which requires an HSE inspector to make a formal intervention through letter, email, and instant visit report or prosecution. The breach could be a lack of machine guarding resulting from a technical breach, such as inadequate risk assessments, lack of policy documents, etc. An inspector’s time will be charged at £124 per hour and will be applied from the beginning of the visit for which that material breach was identified through to the point that the problem is rectified. The costs have the potential to mount-up significantly.

For more information about changes in safety legislation in 2012 and in the future click here for our Safety Legislation Update 2012.

All businesses have stakeholders and as part of any management system or project it is important to identify stakeholders and understand the influence they can have on your business. Often, shareholders are assumed to be the only stakeholder in a business, but in fact stakeholders are any interested party or individual. They may add value to the business, influence direction and affect activities.

Meeting the needs and expectations of interested parties contributes to the overall success of the organisation, and as business opportunities develop in the global market the diversity and impact of the stake holder demands will change. However the needs and expectations of each interested party or stakeholder is different and they can sometimes conflict with each other, and also, their needs can change. The means by which the needs and expectation of interested parties are acted upon can take a wide variety of forms, including collaboration, cooperation, negotiating, outsourcing or terminating an activity.

Stakeholders demand different things, but in return they can bring something to the table.

HOWS Group is running a Health, Safety & Welfare seminar aimed at Owners, Directors and Managers of SMEs, on Tuesday 13th November 2012 from 8.15-09.45am, at The Core Business Centre, Milton Hill, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX13 6AB.

The Health, Occupational, Welfare & Safety Group (HOWS Group) is a result of the collaboration of three complementary Oxfordshire businesses, bringing together the collective experience of three directors and other industry experts, to provide SMEs with up-to-date health, safety and safety legislation, together with best practices, advice and resources to benefit the health and welfare of their teams and business.

For all businesses to grow they need to pay attention to the Health, Welfare and Safety of staff, and for a busy owner this is yet another area that requires time which is in short supply.  Ignoring it can be an expensive mistake both financially and in team performance, with an estimated cost to industry of £7 billion a year being attributed to getting Health, Welfare and Safety wrong.

For the cost of a coffee and croissant (£5), keep up to date with changes in legislation and topical issues affecting you and your business. Can your business afford to be left in the dark?

If you want to know HOW, join us 4 times a year for a breakfast session with a mix of serious and fun advice, information and guidance for the world of Health, Welfare and Safety all delivered with a practical common sense approach.

The November seminar will cover:

  • Information regarding recent changes to health and safety legislation
  • Advice and resources for people running a business, and the impact on their health
  • Initiatives and developments within the sectors
  • Health screening advice for SME owners
  • A forum for group members to debate any key issues and their impact on the workplace
  • Networking opportunity

For further information, please contact:
Rebecca Russell, Stepping Stones for Business Ltd, 0333 321 0131
Sarah Seaman, Whiteleaf Training Ltd, 01235 828 294
Alyson Fennemore, Manage Health Ltd, 0845 2222 208

About Manage Health Ltd
As independent health advisers backed by over 25 years’ healthcare experience, Manage Health delivers a host of solutions including Occupational Health services and Employee Assistance Programmes.

About Stepping Stones For Business Ltd
Stepping Stones for Business (SSFB) provides quality management and safety consultancy and training. With their head office in rural Oxfordshire, SSFB is a growing company with highly qualified and respected franchisees setting up regional offices throughout the UK.

About Whiteleaf Training Ltd
Whiteleaf Training are an HSE Approved First Aid training provider based in South Oxfordshire, offering a wide range of First Aid training courses including Health and Safety Executive (HSE) approved First Aid at Work courses.

Harry James, our sponsored swimmer, is aiming for the top. Last week he competed at the British Gas ASA National Youth Championships in Sheffield, achieving a personal best in the 100mt breast stroke of 1.07.08 minutes, which has placed him 1st in the South East Region ranking and 7th in the UK.

Harry has been chosen to represent the UK at the Junior Olympics in New South Wales in 2013.  Stepping Stones for Business are really pleased to see him achieving his dreams and are very proud to be his sponsors. A local sportsman and our next generation Olympian!

I remember the year of 1976 very well. It was the year I did my O levels. Air conditioning units were almost unheard of in this country, even in businesses. The air was so still that windows and doors were thrown open to try and create a draught; a national hosepipe ban was introduced; gardens turned brown and domestic water was rationed. Some of us still tut and reminisce, “phew do you remember the year of “76” almost 40 years on!

2012 will be a year to remember too. Monsoon weather with severe flooding; numerous events cancelled; the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrated in torrential rain and the year that Great Britain hosted the Olympics. As I write, the weather is still looking unsettled for the first part of the Olympics, but I live in hope that it will improve.

Heat affects many different types of work activities. The obvious ones are construction and gardening, but indoor occupations, such as kitchen staff and production workers can be affected too.

When I first started work, I was a production manager with Courtaulds. If my memory serves me right (and I have photographs to confirm it), we had blissfully hot summers and winters of heavy snow with arching drifts that you could drive your car under. As a production manager in a clothing factory the summer temperatures were an issue. The machinists sat in long rows with heat-generating sewing machines in front of them, behind them and to either side too. They were surrounded by bundles of fabric and the still air glistened with the fabric dust. Industrial fans helped to circulate the air and the warehouse doors were propped open. The roofs didn’t provide insulation; there was no air-conditioning so the heat was stifling. They would get heat blisters from sweating and the risk of falling asleep at the machine in the afternoon was high; but they were on piece rate, so if they didn’t keep up production, they didn’t ‘earn their money’, (their expected wages). And if they couldn’t work because of injury or ill health, they didn’t get paid.

The only way to keep things going was to allow regular breaks every hour. We provided them with cold drinks and occasionally, ice-lollies.

Although many manufacturing places have now closed and those types of working conditions are less common, they still exist. Increased awareness of the effect of heat and cold on working conditions, good management practice, and better facilities to be able to deal with temperatures has reduced the risks.

For more information, click on our factsheet, health and safety in a heatwave.

There’s something quite satisfying about taking a blank piece of paper and listing what you (or your company) are good at. But we won’t get far at just looking at the positives. Competitors are always hard on our heels and in some cases doing better, so a SWOT analysis is a great way of bringing the team together and looking objectively at how well we are really doing and what could be improved.

I always find it very rewarding when I’m facilitating groups for process improvement, particularly when I bring together two teams, with similar jobs and they share thoughts on issues that are causing problems and ideas on what works for them.

When I was working at the Met Office, I remember bringing together a group of meteorologists from the Edinburgh Office with a group from Bracknell, in the months before the office was moved to Exeter. We were looking at how to improve communication between the departments – now that’s an interesting subject for any company to SWOT! At first the conversation was quite guarded, but it soon became clear as discussions developed, that there was quite a lot of duplication going on in the transfer of information. By the end of the session, the procedure and the communication process had been streamlined.

If you want to find out more about SWOT and how it can help you and your business click on our factsheet, SWOT Analysis for continuous improvement.