This month our H&S Advisor, Russell Spurr, alerts us to the latest welding fume update from HSE and their planned inspections commencing in the new year. If you undertake any type of welding process within your business, it’s extremely important that you ensure you’re compliant with the law and have all of the relevant control measures in place.
Then Claudia Williams, our HR Advisor, talks about why employee engagement is extremely important to every business, whatever its size, and how it can increase productivity and profitability – who wouldn’t want to know about that?!
As ever, should you need any support or advice about these or any other health and safety or employment law issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
H&S UPDATE: HSE carrying out cancer-causing weld fume inspections in the new year
In February 2019, HSE issued a safety alert around control expectations for exposure to welding fume. This followed new scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer that exposure to mild steel welding can cause lung cancer and possibly kidney cancer in humans, as well as asthma and other health conditions.
HSE has now revised its guidelines and, for three months from January 2020, HSE inspectors will be visiting businesses across the country to check compliance with the law, concentrating on welding fume in engineering companies.
As an employer you should, therefore, know the risks, plan your work and use the right controls when welding, protecting your workers, including specialist welders and workers who do ‘some’ welding, no matter how small the amount.
The key thing to do is to avoid or reduce exposure to welding fume. In order to help achieve this, the risk controls you should put in place include:
- using alternative cold joining techniques
- welding in a way that produces less fume
- local exhaust ventilation (LEV)
- respiratory protective equipment (RPE) and personal protective equipment (PPE)
- maintaining control measures and good general ventilation
- making sure welders understand the risks and how to use controls
It’s worth noting that fumes with similar risks to welding are also produced by some cutting processes.
As well as controlling exposure, it’s also important to carry out health surveillance and ensure your workers have up-to-date training to make them aware of the risks and how to help themselves.
Full guidance can be found on the HSE website, but if you have any questions regarding these updates or require additional training to ensure your workers are safe, please contact us immediately.
Adapted from public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence.
HR UPDATE: Why employee engagement should be a priority for your business
Whilst organisations have been discussing employee engagement for many years, for most small to medium size businesses, engagement is not generally a key priority… here is why it should be!
Around a decade ago it was identified that the UK had an “employee engagement deficit” in that only one third of UK employees felt engaged. This disengagement was contributing to a severe decline in productivity and it is estimated that the UK potentially loses £60 billion per year due to lack of engagement. In addition, research demonstrates that organisations with higher engagement scores average 18% higher productivity than those with low engagement scores. With these figures in mind, we can see why increasing engagement became a priority for UK leaders.
ACAS defines engagement as ‘having a motivated workforce who display positive behaviour and attitude at work’. Those who are actively engaged will not only perform their job to the best of their ability, but will go above and beyond to contribute to the overall success of the company. Key benefits of increased engagement include:
- greater employee happiness and satisfaction
- reduced absenteeism
- higher retention
- better quality, productivity and customer service
- increased sales and profitability
How can we achieve this?
ACAS say some of the most effective methods to increase engagement are:
- To ensure you have strong business leaders who communicate the organisation’s vision and goals – “a vision that is good for the organisation and that means something to staff” needs to be communicated on an ongoing basis so that your workforce are all working towards the same common goal.
- Ensure line managers support employees and can relate to their staff. It needs to be ensured that “managers are equipped and confident in the skills needed to effectively manage staff and get the best out of them.”
- Speak to your staff and allow employees to have a voice – “your employees know first-hand what works and what doesn’t. If you can harness that knowledge productively, you will get better decision making and more innovation. It’s a fantastic way to start motivating your staff.”
- Make sure that when the business makes promises, it keeps them. This creates a culture of integrity and trust. “Policies on things like quality and diversity have to be seen to work. Are managers practicing what they preach?”
For further information on the benefits of engagement and how to achieve this in your own organisation, please refer to ACAS’ Advisory Booklet, The People Factor.