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News & Updates

Broadcast January 2021

Welcome to this month’s Broadcast, where we have articles from all of our teams, covering Racking, the new HR challenges in 2021, how we’re still delivering training during the pandemic and reducing legionella risk, as well as an update on our Walk to Fork challenge.


H&S UPDATE : Racking – the forgotten danger in the workplace

Racking is used in various forms in many businesses and industries, but is it high on the agenda of safety and compliance, or is it the forgotten risk?

The term ‘racking’ is used to describe any skeletal framework, of fixed or adjustable design, to support loads. 

Racking systems are widely used in Warehousing, Manufacturing, Engineering, Tool and Plant hire as a means of safe storage and space saving for stock items within their premises. 

Racking should only be installed by competent people in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. A programme of installation training is run under SEIRS (Storage Equipment Installers Registration Scheme), which is run by SEMA. Further information can be found at https://www.sema.org.uk/

Does your business use racking and are you aware of the maintenance and inspections required to ensure you are compliant?

All racking systems should be of good mechanical construction, of sound material, adequate strength and installed and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Employers must provide their employees with the correct data to enable them to safely use storage systems to comply with The Workplace, Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992, and The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. This is normally done by the fitting of a load notice on the equipment.

The maximum safe working load and design configuration for any racking installation should be conspicuously displayed. The SWL should be determined by the manufacturer, installer or Inspector (SEMA qualified) and should be adhered to at all times.

Where racking is likely to be struck by lift trucks and other vehicles, it should be protected. Generally, such damage is at the lower levels of the racking – use renewable column guards to minimise the risk of damage from accidental impact. Corner uprights in a run of racking are especially at risk and should be suitably provided with a protective device in a conspicuous colour.

Retrofitting upright protection devices to an existing aisle where they have never been provided can have the effect of reducing the available clearances for fork-lift truck manoeuvres, which can in some circumstances increase the amount of damage caused. Such situations need consideration on a case-by-case basis.

Inspections and maintenance

To ensure that a racking installation continues to be serviceable and safe, the storage equipment should be inspected on a regular basis. The frequency of inspections depends on a variety of factors that are particular to the site concerned and should be determined by a nominated competent Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS) to suit the operating conditions of the business. This will take into account the frequency and method of operation, together with the dimensions of the area where the racking is fixed, the equipment used and personnel involved, all of which could damage the structure.

As soon as a safety problem or damage is observed by any employee, it should immediately be reported to the PRRS. You should have systems in place for reporting damage and defects.

Employees should receive training, information and instruction on the safe operation of the racking system, including the parts affecting their safety and the safety of others.

Visual inspections

The PRRS should ensure that inspections are made at weekly or other regular intervals based on risk assessment. A formal written record should be maintained.

Expert inspections

A technically competent person should carry out inspections at intervals of not more than 12 months. A written report should be submitted to the PRRS with observations and proposals for any action necessary.

A technically competent person might be a trained specialist within an organisation, a specialist from the rack supplier, or an independent qualified rack inspector.

A programme of rack awareness training is run regularly by SEMA to address the issue of visual inspection and a more formal course is run to qualify expert inspectors under the SARI (SEMA approved rack inspector) scheme.

Normal rack inspections will be carried out from ground level unless there are indications of problems at high level that need investigation.

SK Compliance can assist with annual racking inspections by by qualified experts. Call 01427 678 660 (option 5) or email compliance@skaltd.co.uk

SK Training can assist with SEMA Rack Training courses if you would prefer an employee to be trained up for the purpose of performing rack inspections. Call 01427 678 660 (option 3) or email training@skaltd.co.uk

To assist with the weekly checks, the HSE has produced a handy chart – Warehousing and storage: A guide to health and safety HSG76.

CLASSIFICATION OF DAMAGED RACKING

GREEN RISK LEVEL
Status:
Requiring surveillance only

Green level indicates the limit that does not require a reduction in rack carrying capacity or an immediate repair of the system. This would indicate racking components that are considered to be safe and serviceable. Such components should be recorded as suitable for further service until the next management inspection but should be clearly identified for specific re-examination and reassessment at future inspections. Exceeding the green level should be considered damage and causes risk to the racking system.

AMBER RISK LEVEL
Status:
Hazardous damage requiring action as soon as possible

This would identify an area where the damage was sufficiently severe to warrant remedial work but not so severe as to warrant the immediate offloading of the rack. Once load is removed from a damaged component, the component should not be reloaded until repairs have been carried out. The user should have a method of isolating such racks to ensure that they do not come back into use until the necessary repairs have been carried out and the equipment certified as safe. For example, use dated adhesive labels, which indicate racks that are not to be reloaded until rectified. Any racking with amber risk category damage should be redesignated red risk if remedial work has not been carried out within four weeks of the original designation.

RED RISK LEVEL
Status:
Very serious damage requiring immediate action

These are situations where a critical level of damage is identified which warrants an area of racking being immediately offloaded and isolated from future use until repair work is carried out. Such repair work would usually be by replacement of the damaged component. You should have a method of isolating areas to ensure that they do not come back into use before the repair work is carried out. For example, a particular bay could be offloaded in the presence of the inspector and roped off to prevent further use.


HR UPDATE: As we close the door on the HR challenges of 2020 what can we expect in 2021? 

From an HR perspective 2020 bought us many unprecedented challenges. Constant changes to the Government guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), more recognisably the Furlough Scheme, made it difficult to strategically plan, requiring more of a firefighting approach.  

Having survived 2020; here in 2021 we now find ourselves back in lockdown. We have become more adept at overcoming the practical and logistical problems that lockdown presents; many of us now successfully have employees working remotely, a new concept requiring greater flexibility and understanding, but bringing the reward of continued service whilst securing employee retention.

Brexit

In terms of employment law, our exit from the EU (Brexit) brought us the “non-regression” principle. In basic terms this means that; levels of employment protection which had been a part of UK law as of 31 Dec 2020 (when much of UK employment law was underpinned by EU directives) cannot be lowered in a manner affecting trade or investment between the parties. In addition, the UK and EU agreed that they both shall continue to strive to increase their respective labour and social levels of protection.  

All of the UK employment laws which stemmed from EU law (such as the Working Time Directive) were already (in effect) embedded into UK law by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, which creates the concept of “retained EU law”, so, in the immediate future, UK employment law is unlikely to change and is unaffected by the Agreement. However, since the transition period has ended (31 Dec 2020), the UK does now have greater scope to make changes.   

When interpreting retained EU law, the UK courts will have to follow EU case law in effect on 31 Dec 2020, unless the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal (and equivalent courts in Scotland and Northern Ireland) have given a contrary ruling since then.

GDPR

In particular, the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) sets out a regime in which personal data (such as private and sensitive information about employees) can move around the European Economic Area (EEA) as a single territory without additional protections, such as those which are necessary for transfers outside of the EEA. 

Now that the UK is no longer in the EEA, it is treated as a “third country” under the GDPR regime.  However, EU to UK data transfers (including personnel data) can continue for an interim period of four months (extendable to six months) during which time the EU is expected to issue a formal “adequacy” decision.  This means that the EU is satisfied that UK law is adequate to protect the rights of individual data subjects. During the interim period and once an adequacy decision is in force, UK employers will not need to rush to put in place standard contractual clauses or another transfer tool which is required for other third countries (such as the US).     

So aside from Brexit and ‘more of the same’ regards the fight against COVID-19, what else is on the horizon in the first half of 2021?

January 2021

1st January: New system of immigration came into effect

The Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules, issued by the Home Office, confirms the details of the new points-based system of immigration for foreign nationals who wish to work and live in the UK post-Brexit. The different routes of entry include; the Skilled Worker route (replacing the tier two (general) worker route, the Highly skilled Worker route, the Global Talent, Start-up and Innovator route, Intra-company transfer route, tier five (temporary worker) route and a range of other specialist worker routes. The new rules are being introduced in phases.

(This topic was also covered in the November 2020 Broadcast)

1st January: Freedom of movement for EU nationals in UK came to an end

The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020 ends free movement for European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens, and their family members, in the UK, so that from the end of the Brexit transition period, they will be subject to immigration controls. Under long-standing existing arrangements, Irish citizens can continue to enter, live and work in the UK without permission. The main provisions of the Act will be commenced by regulations.

From 1 July 21 it will be mandatory to hold settled status or pre-settled status.  Apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (settled and pre-settled status) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). The deadline for applications is 30 June 2021.

April 2021

1 Apr 2021: National Minimum Wage increase to take effect

The rate of the national living wage increases from £8.72 to £8.91. The main (adult) rate of the national minimum wage rises from £8.20 to £8.36 per hour. The rate for workers who are aged at least 18 but under 21 increases from £6.45 to £6.56 per hour, the rate for workers aged 16 to 17 rises from £4.55 to £4.62 per hour, and the apprentice rate rises from £4.15 to £4.30 per hour. The accommodation offset increases from £8.20 to £8.36 per day.

From 1 April 2021, following a reduction in the age threshold for the national living wage, the national living wage rate applies to workers aged 23 and over, and the main (adult) rate applies to workers aged 21 to 22.

Changes to the IR35 (off-payroll payment) Rules

These changes were due to be implemented 1 Apr 20 but were delayed due to the pandemic, the intended date for these changes to take effect is now Apr 21.  If you employ contractors who trade through their own limited company, you will be required to decide if they should be paid through the payroll and have PAYE/National Insurance deducted – the so-called IR35 rules. You can check employment status for tax purposes, (CEST), using the CEST calculator . Note that this change does not affect very small firms (with fewer than 50 staff and a turnover of less than £10.1m). For more information on IR35 please visit Gov.uk.

4 April: Statutory maternity pay and other family related statutory pay rates increase

The Benefit and pension rates 2021/2022 policy paper sets out the proposed increases to the rates of statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay, statutory adoption pay, statutory shared parental pay and statutory parental bereavement pay from £151.20 to £151.97 per week.

6 April: State pension rate

The rates of the single-tier and basic rate state pensions increase from £175.20 to £179.60 per week and from £134.25 to £137.60 per week respectively.

6 April: Statutory sick pay

Proposed increase to the rate of statutory sick pay from £95.85 to £96.35 per week.

6 April: HMRC given power to recover tax from parties other than employer in off-payroll working arrangements

The Income Tax (Pay As You Earn) (Amendment No.3) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1150) provide that where an employer has not deducted income tax under PAYE from payments made to an off-payroll worker, and there is no realistic prospect of recovering the tax from the employer within a reasonable time frame, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) can recover the tax from other parties within the labour supply chain, namely the agency with which the client contracts or the client for whom the work has been undertaken.

Finally, we may see other employment law developments that the government has previously announced but not yet set out a timetable for, which include:

  • Further reforms to exit pay in the public sector
  • Measures to ensure that tips left for workers go to them in full
  • A new right for all workers to request a more predictable contract; and
  • An increase to the length of time required for continuity of employment to be broken

If any of the above changes affect you and you would like further guidance or information, please contact your HR Advisor for support, call 01427 678 660 (option 2) or email hr@skaltd.co.uk


TRAINING UPDATE: Training in a pandemic

As we once again enter lockdown, it is still vitally important to remember to keep your business compliant with the law and ensure your staff training is up to date. Here at Stallard Kane our training department continues to operate, ensuring that we are always available to assist with any training requirements you may have.

In March 2020, when we first went in to lockdown, training was hugely affected and almost stopped completely. Many businesses were forced to close, staff were furloughed and training was cancelled. The industry was in an uncertain position, waiting for clarification from various parties as to whether training was able to continue, and if it did, how it could take place and still adhere to all the new restrictions. 

10 months and two lockdowns later, we and our training partners have adapted all of our training courses to be delivered safely. We also know that employees who are on furlough can still take part in training (providing that this does not result in making money for your organisation) and we believe that all of our courses should be suitable for furloughed employees to attend – but please check with your HR advisor if you are unsure. 

This being said, the safety of your candidates and our trainers remains paramount, so please do ensure that anyone attending a training course is able to travel there safely. For example, if you have rules in place for your staff to avoid using public transport, this would also be applicable to your candidates attending training. 

Most commonly, we use virtual classrooms, rather than physical ones. This means that staff do not all have to be in the same room for training, they just need access to a computer/laptop, camera and microphone to be able to attend. This offers greater flexibility for companies who have staff working from home, or who do not have a large enough training room to meet the social distancing requirements. All virtual courses have the same content as a face-to-face one, the only differences being that we reduce the number of candidates on each course to ensure that suitable candidate engagement is maintained and also increase the number of breaks, being conscious that candidates will be sitting at a screen. 

Throughout this time we have delivered/facilitated over 20 CITB training courses (such as SMSTS, SSSTS, H&S Awareness), as well as many IOSH Managing Safely, IOSH Leading Safely, Manual Handling, UKATA Asbestos Awareness and Risk Assessment training courses. 

However, sometimes it isn’t possible to deliver a training course virtually, for example courses such as Emergency First Aid at Work, Abrasive Wheels or Plant training, to name a few. Or it may be that a company doesn’t have the facilities available for a virtual course, or just personal preference is to have a face-to-face training course. This isn’t a problem either! Open courses are still running and we can also deliver training at a client’s site, providing they are covid-secure so as to ensure the safety of your staff and our trainer.   

For a classroom to be covid secure, it must have:

  • Desks spaced a minimum of 2m apart to maintain social distancing
  • An area at the front of the room for the trainer to present in
  • Separate equipment for each individual – no sharing
  • Good ventilation
  • Reduced candidate numbers
  • Masks worn when moving around on site – they are optional when seated for the training
  • Hand sanitizer available and to be used regularly

This may seem like a long list of requirements, but safety is our top priority and we want to ensure that candidates all feel comfortable when attending our courses. Here is some feedback from one of our candidates who attended a face-to-face Emergency First Aid at Work course:

I did just want to pass on my thanks to you and Guy for the way the session was organised and run, with the consideration which Guy had clearly put into being able to run a face-to-face course during COVID, as well as the content of the course itself… We all came away feeling that it had been an extremely useful course to go on.”

If you have any training requirements, please get in touch with our training team who would be happy to help. Call 01427 678 660 (option 3) or email training@skaltd.co.uk


COMPLIANCE UPDATE: Legionella during lockdown

Another year, another lockdown. But please don’t worry, SK Compliance are still performing all their safety critical services during this time in line with government advice and covid-secure procedures.

If your business has had to close again, you must remember to take certain precautions to ensure the risk of legionella bacteria building up within your water system is minimised. Legionnaire’s disease is a type of pneumonia caused by the bacteria legionella pneumophila, and is spread when tiny droplets of infected water are inhaled. Showers, splashing taps, spray hoses all have the potential to become contaminated and must be cleaned regularly. Stagnation of water systems is a key cause of the proliferation of these bacteria. 

Remember, if you have water on your site there is a risk you need to manage accordingly. 

If you are able to take the following measures, depending on local and personal circumstances, try to follow the steps below:

  1. Flush all outlets at least once per week, and for long enough to ensure fresh water is drawn into the whole system (two to five minutes is ideal)
  2. If you have a thermometer, ensure cold water at outlets is below 20oC within 2 minutes. Ensure hot water outlets reach a minimum of 50°C within 1 minute
  3. Minimize the amount of stored water on site. This could be draining cold water tanks or calorifiers (if you cannot keep water heating devices on at their optimum temperature)

Essential steps should be taken before re-opening your business to the public, to avoid any risk to both staff and visitors. 

If you require any further guidance or assistance, please get in touch. We can carry out a Legionella Risk Assessment for your property, giving you assistance with drawing up a Written Control Scheme, taking samples as necessary and advising you on the best course of action for your property. Call our Compliance Team on 01427 678 660 (option 5) or email compliance@skaltd.co.uk.


Back in December, 35 members of our team took on the Walk to Fork challenge, which involved us accruing miles together by either walking, running or cycling around the virtual Indochinese Peninsula from Ho Chi Minh City to Mong Cai, covering a distance of 3,305 miles.

As well as helping to improve our team’s wellbeing by working together and getting some exercise, our aim was to raise £1200 to be divided equally between three of our local schools to help families most in need of help during the Christmas break, and provide them with food parcels.

We actually raised £1204 via our GoFundMe page (https://uk.gofundme.com/f/walk-to-fork), so we would just like to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated or sent words of encouragement.

One of the recipients of the money was The Gainsborough Parish Church C of E Primary School, who have sent the following message:

Just thought I would give you an update on how we have spent / are spending the money raised from Walk to Fork.

I can confirm that we safely received the £344.37 into our account, thank you.

The majority of this money has been, and is still being, used to provide those families who are not eligible for Free school meals, but are struggling because both parents or the main earning parent have been put on furlough. Unfortunately, the amount of families that are struggling is on the increase as the pandemic continues to affect people’s jobs and livelihoods.

We used the money to purchase supermarket vouchers to cover the Christmas period and now we are using any remaining funds to provide food hampers on a weekly basis to those families that are currently not able to receive help from the government.

The school  governors and staff send our sincere thanks to you all at Stallard Kane to have made it possible to be able to go above and beyond with helping our families at this very tough time.