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News & Updates

Broadcast April 2021

Welcome to this month’s Broadcast. As May is National Wellbeing Month, we start with an article about the impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health; the health and safety contribution concerns RIDDOR and accident reporting; and finally, we cover the importance of ensuring you have the correct asbestos survey.

We’ve also included recent news stories and details of upcoming training courses.


Mental health and COVID-19 – the impact now and beyond

You will no doubt be aware that mental health and the impact of Covid-19 on mental health continues to be widely reported in HR and Employment Law sectors. Prior to Covid-19, mental health issues were found to be one of the main reasons for long term sickness/absence in the workplace, reiterated to be the case in multiple studies and reports on this aspect of employee management over recent years. Unfortunately, with the Covid-19 pandemic, this has only continued the upward trend and, in many aspects, exacerbated individuals’ cases as well as presenting new challenges for employer’s HR functions. 

The early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic saw the introduction of lockdowns and specific measures which by its very nature reduced or removed important face to face support from family, friends and then much wider, that of the workplace and routine contact with colleagues. Any employee who had a pre-existing mental health condition and had already established coping mechanisms; working within the historically improving frameworks, likely saw their normal routes for help reduce or moved online. From a HR perspective – uncertainty, anxiety and stress are all factors connected to sudden changes with adverse impacts. We found a proportion of employees who previously did not experience or show signs of issues relating to mental health began to display patterns of behaviour – throughout the client base. I believe it is fair to say that we saw an increase of enquiries on how to manage an ever uncertain and changing landscape of the unique mix of Covid-19 and mental health. 

What can employers do?

Employers now face a further problem on this matter, coming out of lockdowns, restrictions being eased and a return to a more ‘normal’ way of working for the large majority. This comes with a backlog of identified and unidentified cases of employees coping with newly developed mental health conditions which have an immediate impact now on a return to working. This can be seen in terms of more employees returning from furlough, working different patterns, or adjusting to different working practices post lockdown. Employers have had to adapt on a purely commercial level and may not necessarily have thought about mental health and the longer impact this can have on achieving long term business goals.

Mental Health First Aiders

This leads us on to what should employers being doing right now and what they should be mindful of going forwards. A number of employers may not feel comfortable in speaking to employees about mental health and this is where you can improve your initial responses. Training, support and courses are available and we can help with the facilitation or arrangements for the same. We have a number of individuals who, for our own workforce, have undertaken mental health training, providing them with improved knowledge and skills to provide initial assistance, which you could implement in your own businesses whilst becoming aware of the increasing need.

If you need Mental Health First Aider training, please contact our Training team on 01427 678 60 (option 3) or email training@skaltd.co.uk and they will be happy to discuss your requirements.

Communication is key

We would suggest communicating regularly, not just email or letter (when face to face meetings are not feasible) but using video call platforms on wellbeing and mental health support. Use the communications to engage with your workforce, encourage them and signpost, where possible, schemes and articles on support or activities to promote mental wellbeing. Building on from the initial response and support with this, employers will need to consider supporting employees to regain an effective work-life balance. The aim is to provide support but also to mitigate against adverse situations and look to reduce potential absences or issues connected to mental health within the Covid-19 pandemic, and the jump to more normal working for most as we come out of these restrictions together; employers and employees alike. 

The legal considerations

Not only do we consider the above steps part of good practice, but there are also wider implications for mental health and management of employees for legislative obligations on employers. An employee who has mental health conditions can be considered disabled, as defined by the Equality Act 2010 (each case to be considered and established on its own basis), and as such they are protected from discrimination during employment. Many of the decisions and choices pertaining to the support of employees with mental health conditions coming out of the Covid-19 restrictions may well fall within some of the reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities. Where a holistic approach is taken to support, further understanding and upskilling by employers to employees within this remit, it can go some way to assist the employer on a lawful path when managing employees within the scope of mental health and Covid-19 impacts. 

If you need more information on anything covered in this article, contact your designated HR Advisor or call 01427 678 60 (option 2) or email hr@skaltd.co.uk and one of the team will be happy to help.


Asbestos Surveys – have you got the right one?

We were recently contacted by a contractor undertaking a refurbishment project at a commercial premises. They had received an asbestos management survey from the client done back in 2018 and wanted to sense check that this report was sufficient for the works they had started. The report showed that the ceiling had been tested and come back negative, but nothing else in the boiler room had been sampled or identified.

Fast forward to our site visit.

I came out with no less than 16 samples from the same boiler room. There are considerable removal works required in that area to the point where I have had to restrict access to the room. This will knock back the heating contractor’s works considerably, in turn costing their client more money. The contractor thought they were compliant because they had a copy of the Asbestos Management Survey and, as such, the works could go ahead. This is not the case.

Regulation 5 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012) is simply summarised as this:

This regulation requires employers to identify the presence of asbestos and its type and condition before any building, maintenance, demolition, or other work, liable to disturb asbestos, begins. It also sets out the requirement to arrange a survey if existing information on the presence of asbestos in the premises is incomplete or appears unreliable.

Why is this important or relevant to you?

Because the safety of your employees is paramount. Because an asbestos survey finding the ACM in good condition and having it removed in situ is a lot cheaper that the clean-up from disturbing unidentified asbestos. Because exposure cases cost a lot of time and money. Because your reputation for safe, quality work is what gets your foot in the door.

I could go on, trust me on this.

Make sure that the next time you are planning refurbishment, maintenance, installation, or demolition works use the following as a guide:

Current asbestos informationIs it sufficient?Action
No survey in placeNoGet the right survey done
Partial survey in placeNoGet the right survey done
Management survey in placeDepends on worksCheck with your competent advisor
Task-specific refurbishment survey in placeYes, for the task in questionProceed with the works covered by the survey report
Demolition survey in place less than 3 months oldYes, demolition onlyProceed with the works covered by the survey report
Demolition survey in place older than 3 monthsNoHave a new demolition survey done

Be advised, this is a general guide only and not intended to be used as an operational protocol.

We have team of experts ready to assist you on this matter – contact SK Compliance on 01427 678 660 (option 5) or email compliance@skaltd.co.uk and one of the team will be happy to help.


RIDDOR – do we need to report every accident? 

Every employer will have heard of RIDDOR and have some understanding of what RIDDOR means. Briefly, RIDDOR stands for the Reporting of Diseases & Dangerous Occurrences Regulations, and these regulations set out the duties of employers, the self-employed and people in control of work premises (the Responsible Person) to report certain serious workplace accidents, occupational diseases and specified dangerous occurrences (near misses). 

However, just like any set of regulations and guidance, people do tend to interpret them differently. So, just because someone has had an accident at work, do we have to then report this accident to the likes of the HSE?

The simple answer, is no. 

When to report

To have to report to the HSE, accidents have to meet specific criteria. The two most common we come across are that an employee is absent from work for more than 7 days as a result of the accident, or that the employee suffered a fracture.

What we overlook is whether the accident was work-related or not. 

Remember, reporting and recording are two different things. When I reference reporting in this article, I mean submitting a report of the incident to the HSE and when I reference recording, I mean to make a record in your accident book (note: records of accidents must be kept of all of ‘over-three-day injuries’, which are those where a person who is injured at work is incapacitated for more than three consecutive days (over-three-day injuries do not, however, have to be reported to the enforcing authority.)

So, we have our accident book which we use to record accidents and incidents in the workplace, then, depending on the type of incident and how severe the outcome (as per the two common examples above), RIDDOR requires certain incidents to be reported to the enforcing authorities such as the HSE. In this article, I’m not going to go over the ins and outs of RIDDOR – this can be found with helpful resources from the HSE’s website: Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 – RIDDOR – HSE – but I am going to highlight what we actually report to the HSE, specifically, whether the incident was work-related or not. 

Work-related?

When determining if accidents that we suspect would meet the criteria of the regulations need to be reported (or have an initial indication that the criteria is met), we must remember that the requirement is only to report the qualifying accident if it is “work-related” (remember, you’ll still need to record the incident/accident i.e. in your accident book as outlined previously)…

An accident is deemed work-related when it is “out of, or in connection with the work”. As the HSE state themselves, just because an accident happened at work, doesn’t mean the accident is work related – the work activity and/or the site itself has to contribute to the accident. If it doesn’t, then it’s unlikely that the incident will be reportable.

The criteria for determining if the incident is work related is if the following played a “significant role”:

  • the way the work was carried out
  • any machinery, plant, substances or equipment used for the work, or;
  • the condition of the site or premises where the accident happened

Correctly identifying this early on will help you use your time and resources wisely and can prevent unnecessary reporting to the enforcing authorities. If, however, you are unsure, I urge you to contact your dedicated Advisor at Stallard Kane for assistance and guidance where we can help you come to the correct decision. 

There are a plethora of ways accidents happen at work, unfortunately. So, to use a common but straightforward example, let’s look at slips, trips and falls. 

Slips, trips and falls

Slips, trips and falls are common in the workplace, with some resulting in more serious injuries than others. Yes, we can still record an accident as a result of a slip, trip or fall, but again remember that just because someone fell over in your workplace doesn’t automatically make it work related. Two basic scenarios below highlight this:

Scenario 1
An employee is at work and is feeling unwell. They work in a small warehouse picking orders of light goods for customers and think they’re ok to carry on working. The employee has found the order and is taking it to their workstation to box the item up ready for delivery. Whilst walking to their workstation, the employee loses their balance, stumbling and falling to the ground, hitting their head and injuring themselves due to being unwell. The employee is absent from work for the next 2 weeks due to the impact injury to the head. An investigation finds that none of the of the above 3 points are factors in the fall. This would not be reportable as it is not deemed work-related. Again, remember, just because the accident happened in the workplace, it doesn’t mean it’s work related.

Scenario 2
The same employee is now at work on a very hot day and the ventilation in the small warehouse is minimal, with no fresh air or even air conditioning or fans to help cool staff down. The employee is working strenuously, back and forth, picking and boxing items with little time for a rest due to an unrealistic deadline on getting a backlog of orders out for delivery. The employee is rushing back to their workstation and starts to feel unwell, becoming light headed and loses their balance. This causes the employee to stumble and then fall to the ground, hitting their head, and is absent for the next 2 weeks due to the impact injury to the head.

This would be reportable in this scenario – it is quite clear this incident was work-related – with the way the work was being carried out (with regards to the pressure being put on the employee to get the manual work completed within an unrealistic timeframe to complete) playing a factor, coupled with the condition of the site or premises where the accident happened, in that it was a very hot day and there was little ventilation for any cooler air, or even mechanical ventilation in the form of air conditioning, caused the employee to become light headed when performing the works. 

Both scenarios resulted in an employee stumbling and falling at work, but only one is work-related. 

In relation to the accident category of slips, trips and falls, in order to determine whether such accidents are work-related, below are some factors to consider:

  • Contamination of floors – look for any contamination such as leaks, spillages etc.
  • The floor and the work environment – is there any loose or damaged flooring present? Is the condition of the flooring sufficient and is visibility to the required level? E.g. slip resistant flooring, adequate lighting which highlights any slopes or changes in level, obstruction-free walk routes etc.
  • Organisational factors – the work activity, i.e. the way the work was carried out can have a direct impact on accidents. How is the work organized and managed effectively? Are staff caused to rush, cut corners, take unnecessary risks because of the way the work is being carried out due to unrealistic timescales/deadlines? E.g. running through the warehouse to get an order out on time. 
  • Cleaning methods – cleaning method effectiveness, soft surfaces made dry and not left wet, removal of spillages promptly, correct use of substances, not introducing additional slip or trip risks whilst cleaning is being carried out etc.
  • Footwear – is suitable footwear being worn for the environment? E.g. slip-resistant, uncontaminated/defect free footwear, correct size and type etc. 

There are factors to consider with all accidents, regardless of their type, to determine if they are work-related or not. Some will be obvious from the off, but others may not be so obvious so, again, it’s always worth confirming as quickly as possible:

  • the way the work was carried out
  • any machinery, plant, substances or equipment used for the work, or;
  • the condition of the site or premises where the accident happened

If you have any questions about accident reporting, contact your designated advisor or call the Health & Safety team on 01427 678 660 (option 1) or email healthandsafety@skaltd.co.uk and one of the team will be happy to help.


As we gradually return to work, it’s important to ensure your training is up to date. Any government extensions to training certificates (e.g. First Aid) have now expired, so it’s worth taking the time to see when any of yours expire, as well as checking you still have sufficient First Aiders and Fire Wardens, for example, on site at all times, especially if people have left the business or are on furlough.

We have added some open courses to our calendar, which are great for businesses who only have one or two individuals who need training, or can’t have training delivered at their premises. All training is carried out in a Covid-secure manner.

Take a look at the list below and, if there are any courses that you’re interested in, either email training@skaltd.co.uk or click the link to find out more and to book.

COURSEDATELOCATIONCOSTBOOK
Emergency First Aid at WorkWednesday 5 May
8.30am–5.00pm
Gainsborough£95+VAT per personMore info/book
Fire WardenThursday 6 May
9.00am–12.30pm
Gainsborough£75+VAT per personMore info/book
Manual HandlingTuesday 11 May
9.00am–12.00pm
Gainsborough£75+VAT per personMore info/book
Working at HeightTuesday 11 May
1.00pm–4.00pm
Gainsborough£75+VAT per personMore info/book
Emergency First Aid at WorkThursday 10 June
1.00pm–4.00pm
Gainsborough£95+VAT per personMore info/book
IOSH Safety, Health & Environment for Construction Workers (for CSCS card)Tuesday 25 May
9.00am–5.00pm
Gainsborough£110+VAT per personMore info/book
UKATA CAT A Asbestos AwarenessWednesday 26 May
9.00am–1.00pm
Gainsborough£85+VAT per personMore info/book
First Aid at WorkTuesday 1 – Thursday 3 June (3 days)
9.00am–5.00pm
Gainsborough£250+VAT per personMore info/book

Of course, if you’re not able to attend any of the above scheduled courses, we can still help with your training, even during a pandemic – visit our Learning During a Pandemic page to find out more.

To discuss any training requirements, call 01427 678 660 (option 3) or email training@skaltd.co.uk and one of the team will be happy to help