What you need to know about FFI

There’s been a lot of discussion about Fee For Intervention recently. So what exactly is it all about?

The Health and Safety Executive’s Fee For Intervention (FFI) scheme was introduced in October 2012, and means that companies who break health and safety laws must pay a fee to cover HSE’s related costs – including for inspection, investigation and taking enforcement action. Since its introduction there has been a degree of debate over the implementation of FFI, and some commenters have suggested that is unfair that HSE acts as ‘police, prosecutor, judge and jury’ under the scheme.

In January the first Triennial Review of HSE, chaired by Martin Temple of the Engineering Employers Federation, reflected the concerns that many stakeholders have regarding FFI, stating that it “has been strongly linked to the need for HSE to fill the gap in its budget created by the reduction in government funding. This leads to an impression that HSE has an income target to achieve and, therefore, suspicion that Inspectors’ decisions about where and who to inspect, and what to do once there, will be based on the potential for raising income, rather than an analysis of the risk. For example, a fear was expressed that FFI would create a perverse incentive for inspectors to inspect established companies with ‘good credit’, to find ‘technical breaches’ and hence earn income.”

However, a report released in June by an independent panel asked to review FFI has noted that there is currently no viable alternative which could meet the aim of shifting the cost of regulating workplace health and safety from the taxpayer to those who break the law.

This review, chaired by Liverpool University professor of public policy Alan Harding, found no evidence that the scheme had influenced the direction of HSE’s enforcement policy. It also stated that while the scheme had not been popular, it had been “embedded effectively and applied consistently”, and that “generally, inspectors and dutyholders continue to work together in improving health and safety management”.

HSE Chair Judith Hackitt has stated that “Both HSE and the government believe it is right that those who fail to meet their legal health and safety obligations should pay our costs, and acceptance of this principle is growing”.

So, what are the implications for businesses?

FFI costs are not covered by workplace insurances and will need to be met from a company’s resources, which could potentially be an issue if budgetary allowance has not been made. Whilst this may be a concern, the priority is for businesses to ‘get their house in order’ and avoid this unnecessary expenditure by ensuring robust compliance with H&S guidelines and regulations, and demonstrating that health and safety is managed, organised and communicated with the same level of importance that is placed on other business management systems. Health and safety management systems should be dynamic, provide for goal setting, planning, and measuring performance, and should evolve to take into account changing business needs.

Over and above this, it is good practice to have a comprehensive protocol in place for handling inspections by the Health and Safety Executive, and to ensure that all staff know what their part in that protocol is.

Amalgamate can assist businesses in adopting and integrating the Health and Safety Executives Plan-Do-Check-Act model HSG65 which provides a framework for achieving and monitoring legislative and regulatory compliance.

For more information, contact us at info@amalgamate-safety.com

Welcome to the team Sharon!

It’s always exciting to bring someone new on board, and this month we’re very pleased to be welcoming Sharon Wooller onto the Amalgamate team.

Sharon is an excellent Health, Safety and Environmental practitioner with a wide range of industry expertise who is very well-regarded by her peers. As well as working with a range of small, medium and large companies, Sharon has been a committee member for IOSH Midlands District and is a registered IOSH Mentor.

Her skills include health and safety management to OHSAS18001, training GAP analysis, design and delivery of bespoke solutions, environmental and energy management to ISO14001 and ISO50001, incident investigation and analysis and due diligence for project and property compliance.

We’re sure that Sharon will be a great asset for Amalgamate, and look forward to working with her over the upcoming months.

How Spending on H&S Saves you Money

A new report by the British Safety Council has provided important evidence regarding how much money businesses can save by investing in Health and Safety.

The literature review looked at research from the UK and Europe conducted over the past 20 years, and considered elements including costs, benefits, and return on investment in occupational safety and health.

The cost of workplace health and safety failures is extraordinary. It has been calculated that the cost of accidents, injuries and ill health to the UK economy in 2016/17 was £15 billion. This report considered whether money spent on health and safety strategies had a demonstrable effect on business savings.

The study confirmed that investing in occupational health and safety can reduce sickness absence and injury rates, increase productivity and improve staff morale -for example almost two thirds of workers said they would work harder for an employer who invested in their health.

Studies included in the review proved that businesses can obtain a significant return on investment in H&S, with some showing returns many times their original investment. One study showed that a £16,000 investment to tackle back injuries resulted in £192,000 of savings due to reduced sickness absence, better productivity and lower insurance premiums.

The Chief Executive of the British Safety Council, Alex Botha, commented:

“At a time when the latest GDP figures show the country slowly returning to economic health, we know that making workers ill and injured hurts all of us.

What this literature review tells us loud and clear is that getting health and safety right makes good business sense and can save organisations money.”

Resources for Safer Travel

Many of us now frequently travel for work – sometimes to a city a couple of hours away, sometimes to more far-flung destinations such as Asia and the Middle East. So, how do we ensure that we’re keeping risks low while we’re away?

There’s a range of factors to consider, including how far afield you’re travelling, what transport you’ll be using, and where you’ll be staying, but in any case it’s worth doing a bit of research before you go, and using some of the many useful websites out there to help you plan to stay safe. For today, let’s talk about travel outside the UK.

As soon as you know you’ll be heading overseas, it’d be a good idea to check out these two websites: the UK Government’s foreign travel advice page – which has heaps of useful and up-to-date country-specific information on safety and security, local laws and customs, entry requirements, and even natural disasters!; and NaTHNaC – which provides detailed health information including prevalent illnesses and required or recommended immunisations.

There are a number of websites now that offer advice on personal safety while travelling, including guidance on fire safety in hotels, personal safety advice tailored to women travelling alone, and information on different types of cons and scam artists that seek to part you from your possessions. To get current information on things to watch out for (as well as great ways to spend your downtime), you can take a look at the Lonely Planet forum for the country or city you’re visiting.

Make sure that while you’re away you’re not completely dependent on the internet for help, as internet access won’t necessarily always be available. It’s a good idea to have the local emergency services numbers stored in your phone (you may not remember them when under pressure) and leave copies of your travel documents and credit card details with a trusted person back home in case of theft or loss.

With a bit of research and forethought you can reduce the chances of an unpleasant experience while away, so you can concentrate on the important things – like getting your work done quickly so you can go check out the sights!

Constructing Better Health

We’re very proud to say that we have recently been accredited with CBH, who are doing great work to improve standards in Health and Safety within the Construction industry.

It is well known that the construction industry has a worryingly high rate of workplace injuries, but what is less recognised is the high incidence of work-related illnesses. Respiratory diseases, musculo-skeletal issues, and skin problems are all far too common within the industry.

CBH is working with employers and Occupational Health service providers like ourselves to raise the standards in ongoing health surveillance, health testing, and treatment of employees, to ensure better health, reduced absence, and higher productivity.

The CBH accreditation confirms that we have met their rigorous industry standards for management of workplace health and providing Occupational Health services to the specific requirements of the construction industry.

By being involved, we will be part of a process that centralises the collection of work-related health data to ensure the future improvement of workforce health based on reliable data and the provision of a benchmark for the industry.

Construction employers can be assured that we provide a ‘best practice’ service that is consistent and of high quality, and which takes into account the varied needs of different roles within the construction industry.

We look forward to being a part of this valuable new initiative.



A call to action on Fire Safety

The sad events at the Glasgow School of Art serve as a reminder of how devastating fire can be. Through the sterling work of the team of firefighters, nobody was injured, but sadly this is not always the case.

People are often surprised by how incredibly quickly a fire can take hold and escalate, leaving little time for escape.

A thorough and well-practised evacuation plan, that includes provision for visitors, people with disabilities, and other people who may need assistance, is absolutely essential.

Too often, companies have a fire safety plan that sits in a folder, fulfilling legal requirements, but staff members remain unfamiliar with it.

Ensuring that fire safety plans are communicated to employees, fully understood, and actively integrated into working practices, requires a pro-active approach. But the benefits are clear.

Staff members who are well-trained in fire safety strategies, who have been shown how to use fire extinguishers (and, crucially, know when it is appropriate to try to tackle a fire themselves), who ensure that escape routes are kept unobstructed, and who know by heart the procedures to follow, can make the difference between a small incident, and a potentially tragic event.

If anything good can come from the damage to such an iconic site, hopefully it will be this: to remind and encourage people to take real action to ensure that similar dangers are reduced in their own environments. Maybe a few lives will even be saved.

Consultation on replacement of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007

The proposed Regulations will meet the requirements of Directive 92/57/EEC on the implementation of minimum safety and health requirements at temporary or mobile construction sites, apart from certain requirements which are implemented by the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The proposals support the strategic objectives of improved co-ordination, better value for money, improved efficiency and use of technological changes in Construction 2025, the Government’s industrial strategy for construction.

The main proposed changes are to:

  • make the Regulations easier to understand;
  • Replace the CDM co-ordinator role with the principal designer;
  • Replace the ACOP with targeted guidance;
  • Replace the detailed and prescriptive requirements for individual and corporate competence with a more generic requirement; and
  • Align notification requirements with the Directive and apply the Regulations to domestic clients but in a proportionate way.

The proposals will be of interest to clients of construction work (including householders as clients), designers, principal contractors, contractors, sub-contractors including the self-employed, CDM co-ordinators, safety representatives and anyone else with an interest in construction projects.

Design Safety

A study commissioned by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) demonstrated that safety should be designed into a construction project from the start, and not considered as an afterthought, and digital design tools can have an impact in achieving this.

Jane White, research and information services manager at IOSH, said: “Construction, as we all know, is one of our more dangerous industries. Therefore, with safety as a top consideration in the design phase, the number and severity of accidents that take place could be substantially reduced.

The research highlights the opportunities and challenges of seeing safety issues earlier in the process using digital design models. If safety was a top consideration for everyone at this early stage, then we could potentially see positive change in health and safety within construction.”

Dr Wei Zhou and Professor Jennifer Whyte, from University of Reading, and Associate Professor Rafael Sacks, from Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, brought together designers, builders, industry partners and construction management graduates. It allowed them to look at how builders and designers can interact effectively, with the aid of a virtual reality tool, to design safe construction processes.

Professor Jennifer Whyte said: “Employers need to consider their use of digital building information models (BIM) and the impact they can have on safety practices on a building site. “More needs to be understood about how digital tools, such as BIM, can be developed to foster mindful practices, and active decision making about safety issues.”

The IOSH-commissioned research highlights important issues around the use of digital building design models, and their potential impacts on safety, at a time when BIM is beginning to take off in the industry.

Jane White added: “The study also highlights the role digital models of design may play in the communication of construction design management (CDM) safety knowledge to designers. And with amendments to CDM regulations likely in 2014, things could be set to change, so knowledge is key.”

Courtesy of IOSH

Guidance spells out new rules on asbestos

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released new guidance on working with asbestos, which includes new rules on notifying non-licensed work.

The guidance reflects the changes introduced by last year’s Control of Asbestos regulations.

In particular, it says that notifiable non-licensed work (NNLW) can only be notified online, although work can then proceed without the need to wait for permission. It adds that a large project should be notified just once, although it says any decision on whether or not the work in question is NNLW should be made by someone who has been  suitably trained.

The new L143 guidance also combines what was previously contained in the old L143 guidance with L127 (The management of asbestos in non-domestic properties).

Kären Clayton, director of HSE’s long latency  health risks division, said: “The two ACOPs  have been updated and brought together   to help employers find the information they  need quickly and easily and understand how to protect their workers from the dangers of working with asbestos. The revised ACOP also provides better clarity on identifying dutyholders for non-domestic premises and the things they must do to comply with the ‘duty to manage’ asbestos.”

Click here for more information.