News & Updates

Broadcast March 2021

Welcome to this month’s Broadcast. As usual, there’s loads of useful information to help keep you all safe and compliant, including a really useful reminder about monitoring the health and safety in your business; electrical equipment testing – the hows and whys; all you need to know about the extended CJRS as well as the annual wage increases and allowances; and finally, an update from the Training team about the new open courses we’ve got in our calendar…

The importance of monitoring health and safety in your business

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 were introduced to reinforce the Health and Safety Act 1974. They explicitly outline what employers are required to do to manage health and safety. The regulations place a set of duties on employers and employees to maintain a safe and healthy workplace. 

Having a robust health and safety management system in place is key to ensuring the safety of workers and others who maybe affected by the work you undertake. It is equally important to monitor health and safety performance, to ensure legal compliance and that standards are being met. 

Why do we measure Health and Safety performance?  

The main purpose of measuring a company’s health and safety performance is to provide information on the status of the health and safety management system, as well as the progress of policies, procedures and processes used by the company.

You need to be sure that your monitoring adds value and isn’t just a tick-box exercise. Good-quality monitoring will not just identify problems before they cause harm, but will help you understand what caused them and what sort of changes are needed to address them.

If you don’t measure your health and safety performance, you don’t know if you are succeeding or failing. You can’t assess if you’re making improvements or if things are slipping and the workforce is becoming complacent.

Checking that you are managing risks in your organisation is a vital, and sometimes overlooked, step. It will give you the confidence that you are doing enough to keep on top of health and safety and maybe show you how you could do things better in the future.

Types of Monitoring 

There are many different types of monitoring, but they can generally be categorised as either ‘active’ or ‘reactive’

Active Monitoring

You can measure health and safety success through pro-active health and safety activities. Such as:

  • Statutory inspections  Thorough Examinations on lifting equipment, LEV Systems and Compressed Air Systems are all examples of statutory inspections which are a legal requirement.
  • Routine Inspections  Conducting workplace safety inspections can serve a greater purpose than simply meeting a compliance requirement. In fact, work site safety inspections can be a vital part of your injury prevention efforts if done well. They can help identify hazards and risks within the workplace allowing you to implement controls before an incident happens.
  • Work Equipment Inspections  Regular checks on work equipment will identify any defects that can be rectified, such as missing guards or damaged parts.
  • Checking Compliance with Company procedures – Health and safety procedures in the workplace reduce employee illnesses and injuries greatly. These procedures can help you and your employees understand the potential hazards in your work environment. It is important that checks are undertaken to ensure procedure are being followed and are effective.
  • Health surveillance to prevent harm to health  Health surveillance can sometimes be used to help identify where more needs to be done to control risks and where early signs of work-related ill health are detected, employers should take action to prevent further harm and protect employees. It highlights lapses in workplace control measures, therefore providing invaluable feedback to the risk assessment process.

Reactive Monitoring

Additionally, you can measure health and safety through reactive monitoring. Such as:

  • Investigating Incidents – This is important because it allows you to establish the root causes of incidents. Companies can then look at implementing controls to preventing similar or more serious incidents in the future. 
  • Monitoring incidents, cases of ill health and sickness absence records Effective monitoring of incident, sickness absence and workplace health can alert the management to underlying problems that could seriously damage performance or result in accidents and long-term illness.

Are you using the right methods?

Most organisations use performance measures as part of their monitoring. Checking performance against a range of pre-determined measures is one of the most frequently used techniques of monitoring.

Selecting the right measures to use is the critical step. Using the wrong measures will cause a lot of unnecessary and unproductive effort, with little benefit to your organisation.

If you need more information on measuring performance, or anything else covered in this article, contact your designated Advisor or call 01427 678 60 (option 1) or email healthandsafety@skaltd.co.uk and one of the team will be happy to help.

In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment

The Code of Practice, In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment5th Edition was issued Autumn 2020. Reference to testing ‘portable appliances and PAT’ have been removed and now covers all electrical equipment that does not come under any other established electrical safety management process in the workplace such as fixed wiring inspections (EICR). EICR will verify the installation as far as the connection point for equipment (spur). This Code of Practice reinforces the need to include all electrical equipment hand dryers and hair dryers in hotels as an example. I am sure it will still be referred to as PAT for many years.

What is Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment (Portable Appliance Testing), and do we need to do it?

Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment (ITEE) or Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is the term used to describe the examination of electrical appliances and equipment to ensure they are safe to use. Most electrical safety defects can be found by visual examination, but some types of defect can only be found by testing.

The answer is always different, as every business is different, and electrical testing frequency is dependent on the size, scale, and type of operations.

This is not so crass an answer as “how long is a piece of string?” but an indication that the unofficial, generally accepted ‘annual PAT rule’ is not always applicable.

In some circumstances, larger and more powerful electrical appliances may require more frequent testing. Others which are truly portable, used by engineers on site and particularly where CDM regulations apply, should be tested on a three-monthly basis.

This is all now further complicated by the fact that many of the appliances supplied to employees by your organisation are now not in one central location (oh how we miss the days of everyone being in the office together)…

Is Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment (Portable Appliance Testing) compulsory?

UK Law requires an employer to ensure that their electrical equipment is maintained in order to prevent injury. It does not say how this should be done or how often. Employers should take a risk-based approach, considering the type of equipment and what it is being used for. If it is used regularly and moved a lot e.g., a floor cleaner or a kettle, testing (along with visual checks) can be an important part of an effective maintenance regime giving employers confidence that they are doing what is necessary to help them meet their legal duties.

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 stipulate that “any electrical equipment that has the potential to cause injury is maintained in a safe condition”. 

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 state that ‘Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is so constructed or adapted as to be suitable for the purpose for which it is used or provided’.

Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require that ‘every employer shall ensure that the workplace equipment, devices and systems are maintained. This includes keeping the equipment, devices and systems in efficient working order and good repair. Where appropriate, the equipment, devices and systems shall be subject to a suitable system of maintenance. 

ITEE/PAT is an ideal solution to show your company is compliant with the above three statements.

What do we do then, about employees who are based at home?

If most of your employees are now based at home, but still using company issued appliances, it’s harder to keep track of the condition of the equipment. As a national company, with engineers working throughout lockdown in a Covid-secure way, we are able to either attend your site on a pre-determined date where your home-based employees arrive with their laptops for a ‘click and collect’ style testing service, or we will visit them at home, testing their appliances and adding them to your main company inventory. 

Should I keep records of electrical appliance tests?

ITEE/PAT test record and labelling is a useful management tool for monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of the maintenance scheme – and to demonstrate that a scheme exists. We issue reports and certificates following every inspection, enabling you to accurately audit your electrical safety procedures. Insurers will accept this type of report to assist with a claim or to value your holdings.

What is the difference between a portable appliance and a fixed appliance?

A portable or movable electric appliance is any item that can be moved, either connected or disconnected from an electrical supply. Portable or movable items generally have a lead (cable) and a plug.

Portable and movable equipment includes:
Electrical equipment that can be easily moved around, such as kettles, vacuum cleaners, floor polishers, portable heaters, fans, desk lamps, some TVs, radios, some small electric cookers, PC projectors, small appliances such as irons, hair dryers and kitchen equipment including food mixers, toasters etc.

Larger items that could be moved (but only rarely), e.g. water chillers, fridges, microwaves, photocopiers, vending machines, washing machines, electric cookers, fax machines, desktop computers, electric beds etc are considered to be movable items.

A fixed appliance is an electrical appliance which is usually connected to the electricity supply via a fused outlet to which the flex is permanently connected. Fixed appliance examples are storage heaters, hand dryers, hob units, ovens, cookers, machine tools.

Fire Safety Procedures – Fire Risk Assessment

Electrical inspections and testing are just a small part of wider fire safety procedures that your business should be implementing. The regularity of ITEE/PAT should be clearly outlined in your Fire Risk Assessment and should form part of your business’s regular safety duties alongside fire alarm testing and drills, visual electronics inspection, fire extinguisher testing and maintenance etc.

To discuss this service, and more, 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.

An update on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Further to Rishi Sunak’s budget and our update regarding resultant changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme earlier this month, here is a reminder of the key positive changes that were announced regarding the Furlough scheme:  

  1. The Scheme has been extended until 30 September 2021.
  2. For periods starting on or after 1 May 2021, you can claim for employees who were employed on 2 March 2021, as long as you have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 2 March 2021, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee. You do not need to have previously claimed for an employee before the 2 March 2021 to claim for periods starting on or after 1 May 2021.
  3. From 1 July 2021, the level of grant will be reduced, and you will be asked to contribute towards the cost of your furloughed employees’ wages. To be eligible for the grant you must continue to pay your furloughed employees 80% of their wages, up to a cap of £2,500 per month for the time they spend on furlough.

The table below shows the level of government contribution available in the coming months, the required employer contribution and the amount that the employee receives per month where the employee is furloughed 100% of the time.

Wage caps are proportional to the hours not worked.

Government contribution: wages
for hours not worked
80% up to £2,50080% up to £2,50070% up to £2,187.5060% up to £1,87560% up to £1,875
Employer contribution: employer
National Insurance contributions and pension contributions
Employer contribution wages for hours not workedNoNo10% up to £312.5020% up to £62520% up to £625
For hours not worked employee receives80% up to £2,500 per month80% up to £2,500 per month80% up to £2,500 per month80% up to £2,500 per month80% up to £2,500 per month

In other news…

As you may be aware it was announced in November 2020 that from April 2021, the National Living Wage would rise to £8.91 and be extended to 23 and 24 year olds. Previously this only applied to people 25 years of age or older. All other National Minimum Wage rates will also increase. The new rates are: 

These rates apply from 1 April 2021.

Category of workerHourly rate
Aged 23 and above (national living wage)£8.91
Aged 21 to 22 inclusive£8.36
Aged 18 to 20 inclusive£6.56
Apprentices aged under 19£4.30

There has also been increase in family friendly payments listed below, they are: 

  • Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
  • paternity or adoption pay
  • qualifying week
  • average weekly earnings
  • leave period

These rates apply from 4 April 2021.

Type of payment or recovery2021 to 2022 rate
Statutory Maternity Pay (SAP) – weekly rate for first 6 weeks90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings
SAP – weekly rate for remaining weeks£151.97 or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower
Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) – weekly rate£151.97 or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower
Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) – weekly rate for first 6 weeks90% of employee’s average weekly earnings
SAP – weekly rate for remaining weeks£151.97 or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower
Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) – weekly rate£151.97 or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower
Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (SPBP) – weekly rate£151.97 or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower
SMP, SPP, ShPP, SAP or SPBP – proportion of your payments you can recover from HMRC92% if your total Class 1 National Insurance (both employee and employer contributions) is above £45,000 for the previous tax year.
103% if your total Class 1 National Insurance for the previous tax year is £45,000 or lower.

A final change I wish to make you aware of is the increase to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) – with effect from 5 April 2021 the rate will increase to £96.35 per week.

If you have any questions about these changes, please contact your advisor or call 01427 678 660 (option 2) or email hr@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.

Emergency First Aid at WorkWednesday 5 May
Gainsborough£95+VAT per personMore info/book
Fire WardenThursday 6 May
Gainsborough£75+VAT per personMore info/book
Manual HandlingTuesday 11 May
Gainsborough£75+VAT per personMore info/book
Working at HeightTuesday 11 May
Gainsborough£75+VAT per personMore info/book
IOSH Managing SafelyTuesdays 13, 20 & 27 May (3 days)
Gainsborough£475+VAT per personMore info/book
IOSH Safety, Health & Environment for Construction Workers (for CSCS card)Tuesday 25 May
Gainsborough£110+VAT per personMore info/book
UKATA CAT A Asbestos AwarenessWednesday 26 May
Gainsborough£85+VAT per personMore info/book
First Aid at Work (St John’s)Tuesday 1 – Thursday 3 June (3 days)
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