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Stuart O'Brien

British Safety Council advises against non-essential office visits

People are being encouraged to go back to their workplaces as part of a government campaign. Its message will be that employers should reassure staff it is safe to return by highlighting measures taken to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

This new initiative comes as most schools in England and Wales reopen, relieving thousands of workers from childcare duties and in the face of the damage being done to city centres as people work from home.

Homeworking is still a popular choice. Between 27 July and 9 August, 39% of the workforce of businesses still trading was working remotely, according to the Office for National Statistics. As well as reduced contact at work, home working reduces potential exposure to the virus while travelling to and from work.

In July, Sir Patrick Vallance, Government Chief Scientific Adviser, made the case that given the spread of the virus is dependent on contact, working from home remains an important option and there was no need to change the advice.  

Lawrence Waterman, Chair of the British Safety Council expressed his concern: “This new campaign [to get people back to the office] should be more about choice – treating workers as responsible adults who should agree with their employers a sensible balance of work in formal workplaces and home.  For some, with limited space, distractions like noise and/or a desire for contact with colleagues that balance may be struck differently. But it should not be for Government to tell employers or workers what arrangements they should make. 

“Government should concentrate on getting track and trace to operate effectively and ensuring that HSE inspects any workplace that is involved in a COVID hot-spot.  Only when the Government does its job of providing PPE to health and care workers, tracing all Covid contacts, making sure workplaces are legally compliant, providing consistent advice to schools, properly funding self-isolation, is it entitled to give advice on home/workplace balance.  

“All this noise and confusion suggests that we need an interim, speedy inquiry to learn the obvious lessons before the risk of a winter second wave.”

Have you claimed your place at the Occupational Safety & health Forum?

February’s Occupational Safety & Health Forum is just around the corner – and you can attend in person or virtually.

As our guest, you can enjoy live industry seminar sessions, a bespoke itinerary of 1-2-1 meetings with innovative suppliers, networking with peers and complimentary lunch & refreshments throughout.

There is no hard sell at the event but it is a great opportunity for you to gather business contacts for future use.

3rd February 2021 – Radisson Blu, London Stansted

It’s entirely free for you to attend and could help you reduce your expenditure by matching you with budget-saving suppliers who match your business requirements.

Live event and virtual attendance options are available – Click here to confirm your free guest pass today.

Data shows workers reluctant to return to offices

The number of workers heading back to the office has increased in fewer than half of the UK’s biggest city and town centres.

That’s according to the latest data from the Centre for Cities High Street Recovery Tracker, which reveals that in central London and Manchester, early August weekday footfall rose by just one percentage point compared to the early July.

While Leeds, Bristol and Nottingham all saw no change and in Birmingham city centre the number of workers has fallen this summer.

It says the persistently low numbers of workers going back into city centres, particularly in big cities, reinforces the concerns for the future of shops, cafes, restaurants and bars that depend on office workers for custom.

Summer has bought better news for businesses in some places. Seaside towns in particular have seen some of the biggest boosts in visitors since the beginning of July with Bournemouth, Blackpool, Southend and Brighton all seeing increases.

But, again, overall footfall in bigger cities is much weaker than in smaller places. Central London’s overall footfall increased by just five percentage points since early July, and Manchester and Leeds’ by 7 percentage points.

On the other hand, footfall in small cities increased by 14 percentage points and medium-sized cities by 18 percentage points over the same period.

But there is some good news: Using mobile phone data, the tracker shows that the Eat Out to Help Out scheme has encouraged more people to visit city and town centres outside of work duties. On average on Monday to Wednesday evenings in early August visitor numbers were 8 percentage points higher than in late July.

But the scheme has been less effective in large cities. In London, the number of city centre visitors on Eat Out to Help Out nights was just 3 percentage points higher than the same nights in late July – one of the lowest increases in the UK. In contrast, average footfall on Eat Out to Help Out nights in small and medium sized city cities was on average 12 percentage points higher than in late July.

Seaside towns appear to have been some of the biggest beneficiaries of the Eat Out To Help Out scheme and the good weather. With a 23 percentage point increase in Monday to Wednesday night visitors, Bournemouth has had the biggest Eat Out To Help Out boom. Meanwhile Southend, Blackpool and Brighton have also benefited.

Centre for Cities’ Chief Executive Andrew Carter said: “Good weather and the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme have helped increase the number of visitors to city and town centres. But a question mark remains over whether the footfall increase that we have seen this summer can be sustained into the autumn without the good weather and Government incentive – particularly with so many people still working from home.

“Shops, restaurants and pubs face an uncertain future while office workers remain at home. So, in the absence of a big increase in people returning to the office, the Government must set out how it will support the people working in city centre retail and hospitality who could well find themselves out of a job by Christmas.”

Safe For Work app enables workforces to report covid-19 symptoms

A new symptom tracking app that gives employers a written record of the daily health status of each employee is now available for download.

The Safe For Work app, developed by London-based Filter, has been designed to give colleagues working together the reassurance that everyone who is at work, is, in fact, safe to work.

It’s available now on the iOS App StoreGoogle Play Store and Web as a progressive web app and is intended to complement a company’s existing health and safety procedures.

Safe For Work allows employers to design a custom bespoke questionnaire for their employees to complete before they attend their place of work, whether that’s an office, shop, factory, warehouse, etc, to check all are well and reporting no symptoms of infectious diseases, such as COVID-19.

Questions could include “do you have a temperature?”, “have you got a new, continuous cough?”, “have you travelled abroad or had close contact with anyone that has travelled in the last 14 days?”.

The app can be used on any mobile device or browser, allowing employees to communicate honestly, clearly and privately about their health so that they don’t inadvertently place colleagues at risk.

The questions posed are Yes/No by default – the results can then be used by management or HR to determine whether the employee is safe to work that day, or if the responses breach the businesses health and safety guidelines.

Filter says the Safe For Work app can be used easily by both employers and employees and can be set up to the individual needs of any company or process.

Oliver Morrison, CEO at Filter, said: “In this unique and challenging time, we wanted, as a solutions led business, to contribute some good. We recognised that the rules and practicalities of ensuring staff are safe for work had changed and aimed to provide an additional support measure to help reassure employers and employees that everyone who is at work is safe to work.

“We’re delighted to have rapidly developed Safe For Work, a convenient symptom reporting tool and have made it available for free to any business or organisation to use.”

For more information visit, https://safeforworkapp.com.

Secure your place at February’s Occupational Safety & Health Forum

There’s a guest pass waiting for you a this February’s Occupational Safety & Health Forum – make sure you register today!

As our guest, you can enjoy live industry seminar sessions, a bespoke itinerary of 1-2-1 meetings with innovative suppliers, networking with peers and complimentary lunch & refreshments throughout.

There is no hard sell at the event but it is a great opportunity for you to gather business contacts for future use.

3rd February 2021 – Radisson Blu, London Stansted

It’s entirely free for you to attend and could help you reduce your expenditure by matching you with budget-saving suppliers who match your business requirements.

Live event and virtual attendance options are available – Click here to confirm your free guest pass today.

5 Minutes With… Alex Wilkins, iHASCO

For the first instalment of our health & safety industry executive interview series, we spoke to Alex Wilkins, Head of Training & Development at iHASCO, about his company, industry opportunities, the challenges posed by COVID-19, new technology and why Stranger Things is better than Succession…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

We are iHASCO – a market leading provider of online Health & Safety, HR, and Compliance eLearning. We make training simple.

Providing over 10,000 organisations across the UK and globally with our training, we have also delivered over 5,500,000 sessions to date!

With approvals from the likes of IOSH, RoSPA, Skills for Care, IIRSM, and accreditation from CPD, we are confident that we offer each and every one of our users the highest quality training available.

What have been the biggest challenges the Health & Safety industry has faced over the past 12 months?

Undoubtedly the COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest challenge. In fact, it’s arguably the biggest challenge over the last century.

It’s up to OSH professionals and employers to ensure that their staff are kept informed on up-to-date guidance and that they understand how to lower the risk of infection whilst at work.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

To break the negative stigma surrounding Health & Safety, which the public often perceive as “a waste of time”. The current climate has given all OSH professionals a chance to prove the importance of the industry.

What is the biggest priority for the Health & Safety industry in 2020?

There have been many, but we think it comes down to three key points: getting people to adhere to COVID-19 guidance, looking after employee’s mental health, and sourcing PPE.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2021?

An increased focus on mental wellbeing in the workplace. Studies suggest that for every £1 a workplace invests in it’s employees mental wellbeing, they see an average of a £4.20 return. Not only is it morally right to invest in employee wellbeing, but it often makes sense from a business perspective!

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

Our eLearning. That’s our goal, at least!

Which person in, or associated with, the Health & Safety industry would you most like to meet?

Geoff McDonald – A global advocate for Mental Wellbeing in the workplace.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Health & Safety sector?

Whilst it can look extremely complicated on the surface, it really isn’t, especially when you get your staff to appreciate its importance and they have an understanding of their duties under current legislation.

You go to the bar at the Occupational Safety & Health Forum – what’s your tipple of choice?

Something that matches our brand values, so it would have to be best cost-effective, user-friendly, and simple! It sounds a bit like an ice-cold beer!

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Having a positive impact on the safety and wellbeing of employees all over the world.

And what’s the most challenging?

Breaking the negative stigma surrounding the health & safety and eLearning industry.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

To always try and make a genuine difference.

Succession or Stranger Things?

Stranger Things, 100%!

Behavioural Safety tops 2020 health & safety buying trends

Behavioural Safety solutions top the list of services the UK’s leading health & safety professionals are sourcing this year.

The findings have been revealed by the Occupational Safety & Health Forum and are based on delegate requirements at the event.

Delegates registering to attend were asked which areas they needed to invest in during 2020 and beyond.

A significant 50% are looking to invest in Behavioural Safety, followed by Stress Management (47.3%) and Occupational Health & Wellbeing Services (44.6%).

Just behind are Wellbeing/Wellness (44.6%) and Risk Management/Assessments (60%).

% of delegates at the Occupational Safety & Health Forum sourcing certain products & solutions (Top 10):

Behavioural Safety 50
Stress Management 47.3
Occupational Health & Wellbeing Services 44.6
Wellbeing/Wellness 44.6
Risk Management/Assessments 40.5
Compliance 39.2
Training Courses 39.2
Incident Reporting 35.1
Contractor Management 33.8
Lone Worker Safety & Equipment 32.4

To find out more about the Occupational Safety & Health Forum, visit https://oshforum.co.uk.

Image by Oli Hale from Pixabay 

Do you specialise in Risk Management? We want to hear from you!

Each month on Health & Safety Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the security market – and in September we’ll be focussing on Back To Work Risk Management solutions in the wake of COVID-19.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help health & safety buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a supplier of Back To Work Risk Management solutions and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Charlotte Humphreys on c.humphreys@forumevents.co.uk.

Here’s our full features list:

September –  Back to Work Risk Management/Assessments 

October – Stress Management

November – Occupational Health & Wellbeing Services

December – Health & Safety Software

January – First Aid Supplies

February – Behavioural Safety

March – Training Courses

April – Incident Reporting

May – Contractor Management

June – Site Safety

July – Lone Worker Safety & Equipment

August – Fire Safety Management

Image by Silviu Costin Iancu from Pixabay 

5 Minutes With… Craig Lydiate, Eighty20 Risk Systems

For the latest instalment of our health & safety industry executive interview series we spoke to Craig Lydiate (pictured), Managing Director at Eighty20 Risk Systems, about his company, industry opportunities, challenges, new technology and the best TV box sets…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

Eighty20 Risk Systems is a web-based H&S Software supplier, providing our award winning E20 platform to all sectors of the economy, from manufacturing and construction firms to housing groups and charitable bodies.

What have been the biggest challenges the Health & Safety industry has faced over the past 12 months?

At the risk of being obvious, clearly COVID-19 has caused seismic changes to all parts of the economy and supply chain and I suspect will remain so for at least 24 months.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

When the budget is tight it becomes all the more important to focus on where value is either added or lost. We are called Eighty20 for a reason, it has been the driving rationale of the business to ensure clients focus on what matters (the 20) and not waste time on the irrelevant (the 80). Helping clients remain focussed on the correct things remains a key focus, now maybe more than ever.

What is the biggest priority for the Health & Safety industry in 2020?

To understand something that the industry has grappled with for a long time, with varying degrees of success; that is to realise this is a people business. Without involvement and engagement then H&S will remain a marginalised profession. There have been huge shifts in the past decade, but it needs to be grasped now as a matter of priority.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2021?

In line with the above comments, then the realisation that the whole person comes to work and that the mental health of employees is probably just as important as their physical well-being. In fact, the phrase “Well-Being” is one we would like to see gain far more traction than “Health and Safety”. We may be getting better year on year with the Safety part, but we remain unconvinced that the Health part is keeping up. We think more Well-Being focussed initiatives will come to the fore. In difficult times it becomes far more important to retain valuable staff, not less so.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this coming year?

More use of mobile tech to monitor, on a personal level the general workday of the people we employ. This might sound “big brother”, but is not intended to: rather a more accurate picture of the realistic general risk exposure of our people, from work hours, locations and distances, in addition to the obvious COVID potentials.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

“Can you remember what your original plans were for 2020?”

Which person in, or associated with, the Health & Safety industry would you most like to meet?

Probably Ken Woodward – I have been citing his case and situation for a very long time and would like to hear comments from his own mouth.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Health & Safety sector?

How much more work there is to be done to give the sector the same corporate clout as other functions such as manufacturing, sales and HR. Don’t get me wrong, I think the sector has brought the current situation upon itself by not being a mainstream function for many commercial enterprises for far too long. We see this changing, but it needs to do so much faster.

You go to the bar at the Occupational Safety & Health Forum – what’s your tipple of choice?

A nice robust new world red wine. Always!

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Working with clients who initially begrudge the initial spend on H&S and by the end of the engagement they think of you as having added huge value to the business. Quite simply, nothing like it!

And what’s the most challenging?

Making traditional industries change how they view risk (and not simply saying they do) and understand that Return on Investment does not only apply to the marketing budget!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

An American senior manager when I reported out of the States once said: “Don’t sweat the small stuff… and never forget it’s all small stuff”. I don’t always succeed, but do try to apply this mantra.

Succession or Stranger Things?

Succession… all day.

Attend the Occupational Safety & Health Forum in person or virtually!

Have you confirmed your guest pass to our hybrid Occupational Safety & Health Forum?

As our guest, you can enjoy live industry seminar sessions, a bespoke itinerary of 1-2-1 meetings with innovative suppliers, networking with peers and complimentary lunch & refreshments throughout.

There is no hard sell at the event but it is a great opportunity for you to gather business contacts for future use.

3rd February 2021 – Radisson Blu, London Stansted

It’s entirely free for you to attend and could help you reduce your expenditure by matching you with budget-saving suppliers who match your business requirements.

Live event and virtual attendance options are available – Click here to confirm your free guest pass today.