Link CCTV Systems have once again passed their ISO9001 audit with flying colours. SSAIB is a leading certification body that specialises in certification schemes for the security and fire safety services.

Link CCTV Systems offers CCTV installation and maintenance nationwide. They achieved ISO9001 four years ago and consistently receive outstanding feedback from the SSAIB auditor. Having ISO9001 gives Link CCTV a competitive advantage and allows them to compete and win large contracts.

Link CCTV Systems has been a client of Stepping Stones for Business (SSFB) for over five years. Having provided the ISO9001 consultancy and support for Link to achieve certification to the standard in 2008, SSFB now provides an integrated approach to their business management systems, providing quality, safety and environmental consultancy.

Back to Basics

Manual Handling is one of the most common causes of injury in the workplace. It accounts for over a third of workplace injuries, but sadly, 75% of injuries caused by manual handling are preventable.

Manual handling describes the action of moving an item or person by lifting, lowering, carrying, pushing or pulling. But it’s not just a case of ‘pulling something’ due to the weight of the item, although this can be a cause of injury. Injuries can be caused because of the amount of times you have to pick up or carry an item, the distance you are carrying it, the height you are picking it up from or putting it down at (picking it up from the floor, putting it on a shelf above shoulder level) and any twisting, bending stretching or other awkward posture you may get in whilst doing a task.

What’s the maximum weight someone can lift?

There are general guidelines – or maximum weights – for men and women. If applying these, no man should attempt to lift anything heavier than 25kg and a woman’s maximum limit is 16kg. But it’s important to take into account other factors which can change the maximum safe weight – such as how high an object will need to be lifted or a person’s health.

If lifting above shoulder height (such as stocking high shelves) men should not lift items heavier than 10kg and women, 7kg – but this maximum weight drops yet again for objects that need to be held away from the body – 5kg for men and 3kg for women. Employers should carry out risk assessments for all lifting since the safe limit depends on so many variables such as the individual involved, the height that they will be lifting and the distance they will be required to carry the object. Everyone is a different size and we all differ in body strength, so it never safe to assume that just because one person can lift something everyone can.

How to lift safely:

Plan ahead before lifting

Knowing what you’re doing and where you’re going will prevent you from making awkward movements while holding something heavy. Clear a path, and if lifting something with another person, make sure both of you agree on the plan.

Lift close to your body

You will be a stronger, and more stable lifter if the object is held close to your body rather than at the end of your reach. Make sure you have a firm hold on the object you are lifting, and keep it balanced close to your body.

Feet shoulder width apart

A solid base of support is important while lifting. Holding your feet too close together will be unstable, too far apart will hinder movement. Keep the feet about shoulder width apart and take short steps.

Bend your knees and keep your back straight.

Practice the lifting motion before you lift the object, and think about your motion before you lift. Focus on keeping you spine straight. Raise and lower to the ground by bending your knees.

Tighten your stomach muscles.

Tightening your abdominal muscles will hold your back in a good lifting position and will help prevent excessive force on the spine.

Lift with your legs

Your legs are many times stronger than your back muscles. Again, lower to the ground by bending your knees, not your back. Keeping your eyes focused upwards helps to keep your back straight.

If you’re straining, get help

If an object is too heavy, or awkward in shape, make sure you have someone around who can help you lift.

Take a look at our fact sheet, What’s so Dangerous about Manual Handling? for more information. If you need advice or training in manual handling or moving and handling people, drop us an email or call 0333 321 0131.

The Systems Approach

ISO9004:2009 is the guidance document for ISO9001. It explains the paragraphs of the standard in reasonably plain English and takes the implementation of the standard beyond compliance.

It’s not only an important standard for anyone implementing the ISO9001 quality standard, it also provides some really useful guidance for anyone who just wants to look at their business with fresh eyes and improve performance.

The standard defines eight key quality management principles that are fundamental to the success of any business:

  • Customer focus
  • Leadership
  • Involvement of people
  • Process approach
  • System approach to management
  • Continual improvement
  • Decision making based on facts
  • Mutually beneficial supplier relationships

Each month we take one of the principles and look at the key benefits and how they can be applied in any business.

Principle 5 – Systems Approach

Identifying, understanding and managing interrelated processes as a system contributes to the organisation’s effectiveness and efficiency in achieving its objectives

Applying the ISO9004 principles of system approach to management should lead to:

  • Structuring a system to achieve the organisation’s objectives in the most effective and efficient way.
  • Understanding the interdependencies between the processes of the system.
  • Structured approaches that harmonize and integrate processes.
  • Providing a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities necessary for achieving common objectives and thereby reducing cross-functional barriers.
  • Understanding organisational capabilities and establishing resource constraints prior to action.
  • Targeting and defining how specific activities within a system should operate.
  • Continually improving the system through measurement and evaluation.

Key benefits:

  • Integration and alignment of the processes that will best achieve the desired results.
  • Ability to focus effort on the key processes.
  • Providing confidence to interested parties as to the consistency, effectiveness and efficiency of the organisation.


To find out more about the principles of good quality management and how it can help your business drop us an email or call us on 0333 321 0131.

Goring and Streatley villages are having a right Royal celebration to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee over the May bank holiday weekend. Activities include:

  • Water Pageant
  • Junior Olympics
  • Torchlight procession
  • Church and hill top beacons
  • Big lunch street party
  • Carnival procession
  • Open-air concert

A tremendous amount of organisation and co-ordination will be needed to help make the weekend a success. Stepping Stones for Business is proud to be part of the event by being appointed the official safety advisors.

Commenting on her role in the proceedings, Rebecca Russell said: “It’s a great privilege to be involved in the Jubilee Celebrations. Safety plays such an important role in the organisation of this ambitious programme. Forward planning will ensure that all hazards can be identified and managed so that everyone can enjoy an exciting and fun packed weekend.”

To find out more visit the Goring-on-Thames website

News that the government may streamline health and safety law has been welcomed by channel businesses.

Channel companies have welcomed signals that the government is progressing with its investigation into the feasibility of scrapping many health and safety regulations.

UK employment minister Chris Grayling has launched a consultation on health and safety laws which will focus on emphasising the need for people to take responsibility for themselves in a variety of situations. The first changes could be made within a few months.

Rebecca Russell, managing director of specialist quality and safety consultancy Stepping Stones for Business, has today been quoted in this article by CRN, and agrees that current laws can prove burdensome, especially for SMBs and the self-employed. While it remains true that no organisation is risk free when it comes to health and safety, organisational responsibilities must be commensurate with the size of the risk, which will vary according to the type and size of the organisation.

“Currently there are 200 regulations relevant to health and safety,” Russell says. “And my own view is that it is good that they are looking at it.”

Stepping Stones for Business helps organisations navigate their way through what seems at times to be a legal minefield concerning health and safety, as well as providing risk assessments.

Russell says the current laws have sometimes been applied in an unnecessarily heavy-handed way, so – hopefully – a review of the legislation will enable companies to refocus their attention where it matters, both in health and safety terms and on business growth opportunities.

“And it should look at encouraging the people who create the risks to take more responsibility for those risks,” Russell says. “The whole point of health and safety legislation is that it should not stop people enjoying life, or working; it should simply be there to protect them at an appropriate time.”

To read the full article, click here …

This article, by Fleur Doidge, was first published on on 14th December 2011.






ISO9004:2009 is the guidance document for ISO9001. It explains the paragraphs of the standard in reasonably plain English and takes the implementation of the standard beyond compliance. It’s not only an important standard for anyone implementing the ISO9001 quality standard, it also provides some really useful guidance for anyone who just wants to look at their business with fresh eyes and improve performance.

The standard defines eight key quality management principles that are fundamental to the success of any business:

  • Customer focus
  • Leadership
  • Involvement of people
  • Process approach
  • System approach to management
  • Continual improvement
  • Decision making based on facts
  • Mutually beneficial supplier relationships

Each month we take one of the principles and look at the key benefits and how they can be applied in any business.

Principle 4 – Process Approach

A desired result is achieved more efficiently when activities and related resources are managed as a process.

Applying the ISO9004 principles of people involvement should lead to:

  • Systematically defining the activities necessary to obtain desired result.
  • Establishing clear responsibility and accountability for managing key objectives.
  • Analysing and measuring of the capability of key activities.
  • Identifying the interfaces of key activities within and between the functions of the organisation.
  • Focusing on the factors such as resources, methods and materials that will improve key activities in the origination.
  • Evaluating risks, consequences and impacts of activities on customers, suppliers and other interested parties.

Key benefits:

  • Lower costs and shorter cycle times through effective use of resources.
  • Improved, consistent and predictable results.
  • Focused and prioritised improvement opportunities.

To find out more about the principles of good quality management and how it can help your business drop us an email or call us on 0333 321 0131.


In November 2010 we experienced the earliest widespread fall of snow in the UK since 1993. Despite dire warnings about an early winter, this year has been surprisingly mild in the south of the country. However, after two years of winter chaos, planning is essential for what could be another bad winter.

Last year, ‘health and safety’ once more became the excuse for virtually every decision and a lot of misinformation was perpetuated. As a result, a lot of good information is now available to help people manage their responsibilities. Here are some FAQs:

Is it true that I can be sued if I clear the snow from outside my premises and someone falls?

There is no law stopping you from clearing snow and ice from the pavements outside your home or from public spaces. The important thing is to do it carefully, and to remember that people walking on snow and ice have a responsibility to be careful too. The government has published a snow code, the details of which can be found at:

The main points to note are:

  • Clear the snow or ice early in the day
  • Use salt or sand – not hot water
  • Pay extra attention to steps or steep pathways
  • Take care where you are moving the snow to
  • Offer to clear your neighbours’ path if they are elderly or disabled

What do I need to do if I have to drive in snowy conditions?

Driving in severe winter weather can be challenging. If you drive for work, even if it’s your own car, you have a responsibility to make sure it is safe to drive and it’s worth keeping on top of things routinely.  Before you leave check:

  • Tyres – make sure they are inflated correctly and that you have a minimum of 3 mm tread
  • Battery – it will run down quicker than in warmer weather, so make sure you do regular long journeys to top it up, or put it on trickle-charge
  • Engine – even with modern cars, depress the clutch when starting to reduce the drag on the engine and help preserve the battery
  • Screen wash – keep the screen wash topped-up and use a recommended concentrate to prevent it freezing
  • Fuel – keep your tank topped up. If you get stuck in snow and need to keep the engine ticking over to keep warm, make sure that snow isn’t blocking the exhaust, as noxious fumes can leak into the vehicle
  • Windows – clear all snow and ice from the windscreen, lights and number plate before driving. Do not use hot water as it could crack the glass, re-freeze or create an ice patch on the ground
  • Locks – squirt some WD-40 on the locks to prevent them freezing up
  • Emergency snow kit – pack a warm coat, hat, gloves, sturdy boots and blanket. Take some food, chocolate, biscuits, water and a hot drink if you can, and always carry a fully charged mobile, some old bits of carpet or some cat litter to put under the tyres and a shovel to clear the snow.

For more information take a look at the AA website:

As an employer what can I do if I think that staff are using the snow as an excuse not to come in to work?

This is where H&S and HR law overlap. From a H&S perspective you need to risk assess the situation in the same way as you would any other function. Employers have a duty of care to their employees and are potentially liable if they put pressure on their staff to travel by car or foot when conditions are dangerous. If authorities are telling people to stay at home unless their journey is essential then it is wise to look at alternative arrangements, such as working from home during the immediate emergency. As weather and transport links improve so that staff could get to work, then clear and consistent policies need to be communicated to staff. Options could be: taking a day’s leave as part of the holiday entitlement, deduction of salary or unpaid leave, and if you really feel that a member of staff is swinging the lead, then you may need to threaten disciplinary procedures.

Once again, Q Associates has achieved an outstanding report following their ISO9001 audit with NQA their certification body.

The auditor commented that there is a ‘good system of control’ and made ‘a positive recommendation for continued registration’.

Q Associates achieved the ISO9002 quality standard in 1996 and employed Rebecca Russell, founder of Stepping Stones for Business Ltd, on a consultancy basis in 2002 to help them achieve the ISO9001 standard. Rebecca continues to provide quality consultancy and acts as Q Associates’ ‘competent person’ for safety advice through monthly visits to the company.

Jane Sampson, Operations and Business Systems Manager for Q Associates commented: ‘Rebecca keeps us on track with scheduled audits for both ISO9001 and safety. Having regular visits and a second pair of eyes ensures that our quality and safety systems are up-to-date and reflect our current working practices.’

Q Associates is an award winning independent provider of integrated IT infrastructure and data management solutions. They specialise in the design, deployment and management of enterprise computing environments and have extensive experience working within the commercial, public and academic sectors. In partnership with their suppliers, their aim is to deliver maximum value through IT excellence.

Goode International, a marketing agency and long standing client of Stepping Stones for Business (SSFB), has announced its merger with T&T Advertising, part of Clifton Cowley Group, with the new agency branded Goode Communications.

Goode International’s founder and former managing director, Philip Joisce, will take the role of non-executive director at the new agency, with Tom Wood, Ventures Director at Clifton Cowley Group, taking the role of Managing Director.

“With this merger, we are bringing together a highly experienced marketing team with a great heritage in delivering creative and innovative integrated marketing campaigns and specialist communication services,” said Tom Wood, Managing Director of Goode.

“Our integrated thinking across brand development, reputation management and audience engagement, together with our marketing technology strengths, is a potent offering for organisations looking to expand their marketing activity in new directions.” 

Wood also commented on the quality of Goode’s procedures, implemented by Rebecca Russell at SSFB, and how much they helped to speed up due diligence for the merger.

Goode Communications will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Clifton Cowley Group, one of the fastest growing innovation hubs in the UK, which provides technology solutions, intellectual property, finance and marketing services to entrepreneurs, SMEs and global leaders.

The agency will provide creative marketing solutions across emerging technologies and multiple delivery platforms to B2B and B2C organisations, with the combined agency currently supporting organisations across technology, FMCG, education and professional services sectors. Services include strategic marketing, PR, brand development, lead generation, media buying, creative, digital and augmented reality solutions.

Stress Management has never been more relevant than it is today. According to recent research by the Insurance Company AXA, stress levels have doubled in four years and the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development has stated that more than one in three employers said time-off through stress has increased.

A little bit of pressure can:

  • Increase productivity
  • Improve performancebe motivating

However, too much pressure or prolonged pressure can lead to stress, which is both unhealthy for the mind and the body. It can cause symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Lack of appetite

In November 2010 the Mental Health Foundation conducted research to find out the most common causes of stress. When provided with a definition of stress and list of its symptoms, half of all respondents revealed that they feel stressed at least once a week, with one in five (21%) feeling stressed every day. Money-related issues, such as debt or being unable to pay for essentials like food or rent, were given as the main cause of stress for 28% of Britons – the biggest single cause. Work-related issues, such as the threat of redundancies or having too much work to do, were the second most common cause (27%) and reflect recent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) research, with stress now being cited as the biggest cause of workplace absenteeism.

With this is mind, it is essential that managers become adept at recognising the signs of stress and manage the work environment well to help reduce stress. Staff too, need to identify their own stressors, learn how to manage them and see how their behaviour may impact on the stress of their colleagues. The HSE published the Management Standards for Work Related Stress a number of years ago. The standards cover six key areas of work design which target the primary sources of stress at work:

  • Demands – this includes issues such as workload, work patterns and the work environment.
  • Control – how much say the person has in the way they do their work.
  • Support – this includes the encouragement of sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues.
  • Relationships – this includes promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour.
  • Role – whether people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that they do not have conflicting roles.
  • Change – how organisational change (large and small) is managed and communicated within the organisation.

For more information about work related stress management visit the HSE website where information about stress management and a wide range of resources, tools and links are available. At SSFB, we work with a number of occupational health professionals and stress management trainers to provide an integrated approach to health and safety management. For more information about how we can help your business drop us an email or call us on 0333 321 0131.