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.

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 3 – Involvement of people

People make a company tick and their full involvement, at all levels, enables their abilities to be used for the benefit of the company.

Applying the ISO9004 principles of people involvement should lead to:

  • People understanding the importance of their contribution and role in the organisation.
  • People identifying constraints to their performance.
  • People accepting ownership of problems and their responsibility for solving them.
  • People evaluating their performance against their personal goals and objectives.
  • People actively seeking opportunities to enhance their competence, knowledge and experience.
  • People freely sharing knowledge and experience.
  • People openly discussing problems and issues.

Key benefits:

  • Motivated, committed and involved people within the organisation.
  • Innovation and creativity in furthering the organisation’s objectives.
  • People being accountable for their own performance.
  • People eager to participate in and contribute to continual improvement.

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.

Harry James - WWHSC

Harry James (SSFB sponsored swimmer) represented Wantage White Horses at the two-day Northsea Open Meet Level 3 in Portsmouth on 8th and 9th October 2011.

Swimming at the Alexandra Park’s 50m Olympic pool, Harry produced five personal bests, winning gold medals for the 50m and 100m backstroke in 30.04secs and 1min 05.20 secs respectively, plus the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke. He also won silver in the 100m freestyle.

Harry James

The health and safety responsibility for agency workers has often fallen into a grey area in the past. Is it the contractor, the agency or the umbrella company that has primary responsibility? The Agency Workers Directive concentrate on employment rights and the law, but health and safety falls within it. Click here to find out more.

First aid cover in the workplace is essential. Employers must provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel in order to provide first aid to employees if they should have an accident or fall ill. A risk assessment will determine what is adequate. This will vary from company to company and will be dependent on the size of the business, the hazards likely to be encountered and the spread of workforce within a building, across a site or in various locations.

First aid facilities

All companies must make arrangements for first aid in the workplace. If you are an employer you are responsible for making sure that your employees receive immediate attention if they are taken ill or injured at work. Accidents and illness can happen at any time and first aid can save lives and prevent minor injuries from becoming major ones. If the general public has access to the workplace or you are dealing with children or disabled people, adequate provisions will need to be made. Arrangements will depend on the particular circumstances in the workplace and first aid needs will need to be assessed.

As a minimum, you must have:

  • a suitably stocked first-aid box*;
  • an appointed person to take charge of first-aid arrangements;
  • information for all employees providing details of first-aid arrangements.

You might decide that you need a first-aider. This is someone who has been trained by an approved organisation and holds a qualification in first aid at work or emergency first aid at work. For low risk environments an Appointed Person is adequate and ensures that someone is familiar with the procedures and can ensure that medical attention is summoned quickly if required.

* Anyone who has looked in a standard first aid kit at work will have pondered the need for numerous triangular bandages and field dressings. New guidance was published at the end of June which lists equipment more suited to today’s working environment. Click here for a list of the new standard requirements for first aid kits.

Record Keeping

It is good practice to record all accidents and near misses in an accident book. Under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) certain injuries, incidents and cases of work-related disease must be reported to the HSE. The current reporting period for injuries resulting in time off work may change next year following the Government’s Common Sense, Common Safety review. At the moment the reporting period is three days.

Keeping records will help identify patterns of accidents and injuries, and will help when completing your risk assessment. Insurance companies may also want to see records if there is a work-related claim. Once completed, documentation should remain confidential.

Click here to obtain the HSE’s copy of A Short Guide for Managers – Health, Safety and Welfare. If you would like some advice on how to ensure that you are complying with the law, just drop us an email on info@ssfb.co.uk or call 0333 321 0131.

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 2 – Leadership

The leaders in an organisation establish unity of purpose and direction. They are key to the success of the company, because it is their values that define the culture. They should also create and maintain an environment in which people can become fully involved in achieving the organisations’ objectives.

Applying the ISO9004 principles of leadership should lead to:

  • Considering the needs of all interested parties including customers, owners, employees, suppliers, financiers, local communities and society as a whole.
  • Establishing a clear vision of the organisation’s future.
  • Setting challenging goals and targets.
  • Creating and sustaining shared values, fairness and ethical role models at all levels of the organisation.
  • Establishing trust and eliminating fear.
  • Providing people with the required resources, training and freedom to act with responsibility and accountability.
  • Inspiring, encouraging and recognising people’s contributions.

Key benefits:

  • People will understand and be motivated towards the organisation’s goals and objectives.
  • Activities are evaluated, aligned and implemented in a unified way.
  • Miscommunication between levels of an organisation will be minimised.

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

Congratulations to Universal Networks who flew through their triennial ISO9001 audit with LRQA. The auditor commented on their focus on continuous improvement and business strategy. No non-conformances were raised.

Ed Hing, Managing Director of Universal Networks said that he was “very pleased with the result. The combined efforts of the team, together with the guidance from SSFB, all contributed to the excellent report”.

It’s not unusual to hear the words ‘I only employ a couple of people so I don’t really have to worry about health and safety do I?’. It’s a fact of life that all businesses, regardless of size, need to manage health and safety in the workplace. It doesn’t have to be onerous and there is plenty of free information available on the Internet. It really is about common sense.

Over the next few months we will look at the basic safety requirements for any business regardless of the size. This month we take a look at providing the right workplace facilities.

Welfare facilities

For your employees’ well being you need to provide:

  • toilets and hand basins, with soap and towels or a hand-dryer
  • drinking water
  • a place to store clothing (and somewhere to change if special clothing is worn for work)
  • somewhere to rest and eat meals

Health issues

To have a healthy working environment, make sure there is:

  • good ventilation – a supply of fresh, clean air drawn from outside or a ventilation system
  • a reasonable working temperature (usually at least 16°C, or 13°C for strenuous work, unless other laws require lower temperatures)
  • lighting suitable for the work being carried out
  • enough room space and suitable workstations and seating
  • a clean workplace with appropriate waste containers

Safety issues

To keep your workplace safe you must:

  • properly maintain your premises and work equipment
  • keep floors and traffic routes free from obstruction
  • have windows that can be opened and also cleaned safely
  • make sure that any transparent (e.g. glass) doors or walls are protected or made of safety material

Some work environments, e.g. construction; manufacturing, etc need greater controls. Click here to obtain the HSE’s copy of A Short Guide for Managers – Health, Safety and Welfare. If you would like some advice about how to ensure you are complying with the law drop us an email on info@ssfb.co.uk or call 0333 321 0131.

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

Over the next few months we shall look at each of the principles and how they can be applied in any business and the key benefits

Principle 1 – Customer Focus

All businesses depend on their customers and need to understand current and future customer needs. They should meet customer requirements and strive to exceed their expectations.

Applying the principles of customer focus should lead to one or more of the following activities being carried out:

  • Researching and understanding customer needs and expectations.
  • Ensuring that the objectives of the organisation are linked to customer needs and expectations.
  • Communicating customer needs and expectations throughout the organisation.
  • Measuring customer satisfaction and acting on the results.
  • Systematically managing customer relationships.
  • Ensuring a balanced approach between satisfied customers and other interested parties (e.g. owners, employees, suppliers, financiers, local communities and society as a whole).

Key benefits:

  • Increased revenue and market share obtained through flexible and fast responses to market opportunities.
  • Increased effectiveness in the use of the organisations’ resources to enhance customer satisfaction.
  • Improved customer loyalty leading to repeat business.

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

It comes as no surprise that sitting at a desk all day isn’t good for our bodies. Whilst most of us are aware of the muscular-skeletal problems associated with desk-based jobs, and the need for good posture, many of us are not aware of just how many problems can be caused by the sedentary lifestyle associated with spending so many hours a day at our desks, often not even breaking to eat our lunch. Be warned, you may decide to adopt a new approach to your workday once you realise the full implications of sitting down for so much of your life!

Deep Vein Thrombosis: Most of us are familiar with the condition DVT, commonly dubbed “economy class syndrome.” However, a recent study in New Zealand found that 34% of 62 people admitted to hospital suffering DVT had been sitting at their desk for long periods, compared to only 21% who had recently taken a flight.

Obesity: Surprise, surprise – sitting at your desk all day contributes to obesity. When sitting for extended periods your body starts to slow, fewer calories are burnt and fewer fat burning enzymes move through your body. This leads to slowed metabolism, reduced energy levels and weight gain. Those of us who don’t get up and walk around every hour or so gain two to three pounds a year.  That’s approximately 1 and a half to 2 stone over 10 years!

Increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and bowl cancer: Most of us accept that a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of heart disease, but did you know that sitting for prolonged periods of time can increase your chances of developing diabetes by as much as 7%? Sitting all day can result in increased blood sugar and insulin resistance. What’s more, increased blood sugar and insulin resistance are both linked to the development of bowel cancer.

Tummy Bugs: A few years ago, scientists working on behalf of ‘Which?’ discovered that some computer keyboards had 150 times the acceptable limit of bacteria and five times the amount found on a toilet seat.  Which? claimed that many office workers come down with a stomach bug dubbed ‘qwerty tummy’!

Cosmetic Issues: It’s unfortunate, but sitting down all day doesn’t help our appearance. While sitting, hamstring muscles and hip flexors are permanently shortened and buttock muscles stretched but not engaged, causing your bottom to ‘spread’! As for our skin, things don’t look too rosy, frowning or squinting at a screen means that you will end up with frown lines around eyes and furrowing on your forehead; looking down at a document or screen for extended periods can cause neck creases and saggy jowls,  whilst the problem of dehydration exacerbated by the dry atmosphere can leave skin looking somewhat lacklustre!

The Solution:  Of course, none of the above are necessary evils. A few simple measures can help combat the risk associated with desk-based jobs.

  • Stand up and sit down a few times every hour and take the stairs rather than the lift to keep your bottom toned.
  • Boost your fluid intake. Try to drink seven glasses of fluid a day. Why not keep a bottle of water on your desk and top it up each time you make a cup of tea or coffee.
  • Wipe your keyboard and mouse daily using an alcohol based wipe to reduce the levels of bacteria.
  • Try to focus on something else about 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
  • Get up and walk around every hour. Make a point of taking lunch away from your desk and, if possible, go for a stroll in the fresh air at lunchtime. This will reduce the risk of DVT, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and bowel cancer. It will also lift your mood!