This month our H&S Advisor, Matt Ellis, talks about how to ensure public firework displays run smoothly by using proper planning. Much of the advice translates to smaller family and friend events too, so it’s well worth a read.
Then Darci Vivian, our newest HR Advisor, discusses Brexit and its impact on the workplace. Much is unknown about what will happen after Brexit, but she talks about what we are pretty certain won’t change and also the all-important EU Settlement Scheme – relevant for anyone who currently employs workers from within the EU (and what to do if you’re planning on employing any new workers after Brexit).
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: Stay safe this Bonfire Night
It’s the time of year again when people come together to enjoy firework displays throughout the country. Whilst the use of fireworks can be deemed dangerous, displays with responsible, yet straightforward, planning can remain safe.
Many sports clubs, schools or parish councils tend to put on local displays. When organising such an event, proper planning is extremely important. The following points provide some tips and guidance which, if followed, will help ensure everyone involved will have a safe and enjoyable time.
Before the event:
- Consider who will be responsible for lighting the fireworks. This is important as you need to ensure that delegated person(s) are competent for the category of fireworks being used. For example, fireworks in categories 1, 2 and 3 can be operated by anyone. However, category 4 fireworks can only be operated by professional firework display operators – in untrained hands, they can be extremely dangerous.
- The next consideration is the site where the display will commence. Make sure there is enough space for safe siting of spectators – far enough away from the bonfire and where fireworks may land. Also, check, during daylight hours, for any overhead obstructions and what the forecasted weather will be. If high winds are forecast/present, this will affect how the display is operated and the location of spectators.
- What if something goes wrong? You should ensure someone is given the responsibility of calling the emergency services, and that they remain available throughout the event. In the event of an emergency it needs to be clear who this person is – this is especially important if you have a professional firework display operator on site.
- Ensure that access to the site remains free for any emergency service vehicles that may need to attend the site. Parking arrangements should be clear and not provide any obstructions.
- Fireworks can be expensive, and naturally, people want to grab a bargain where they can. However, don’t cut corners when getting fireworks – ensure you get them from a reliable supplier.
- The fireworks need to be stored in the correct manner. Not doing so is an obvious fire risk. The supplier should be able to advise on storage, however, if not, ask your Local Authority.
- Check with your insurer that you have sufficient cover in your insurance policy to run such a display in the first place!
- Give consideration as to whether the event is big enough to warrant stewards/marshals. This could simply be an existing member(s) of staff acting as a point of contact for spectators in the event of an emergency, however it is important to ensure that they are fully aware of what is expected of them on the night and that the spectators can visually identify them.
On the day of the event:
- Double check the event site. As we all well know, the weather conditions change. So, on the day you need to ensure the site is still suitable. If the wind direction has changed, ensure this does not potentially affect the safety of spectators or structures.
- The area where fireworks will fall must be off limits to everyone who isn’t part of the display team. This area should be segregated from spectators where possible, however, continual monitoring of the area to make sure no one has gained access should be an ongoing control measure throughout the event.
- Monitoring what spectators bring on site is important. They should be discouraged from bringing their own alcohol, but, most importantly, they shouldn’t be allowed any of their own fireworks.
- The relighting of fireworks should never be attempted. Any that fail to go off should be kept well clear off.
If the site is to also have a bonfire, you should do the following:
- Double check the structure of the bonfire before lighting. Whilst doing this, double check the area and the structure for animals or small children. We know all too well how they are prone to venturing off.
- The use of petrol or paraffin should be prohibited when lighting the bonfire.
- The person responsible for lighting the fire should be wearing appropriate clothing. The same applies to any helpers. Appropriate clothing would consist of substantial outer garments made of wool or other low-flammable material. These people should also know what to do in the event of burn injuries or clothing catching fire.
The morning after:
- The site needs to be cleared and carefully checked.
- The fireworks must be disposed of in a safe and correct manner.
- The fireworks should never be burnt in a confined space.
…and ensure continuous reviews and improvements to your health and safety management systems.
Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence.
HR UPDATE: Brexit and the EU Settlement Scheme – what it means in the workplace
The UK made the decision to leave the EU, but the uncertainty of when and how the UK are going to leave has left employers raising questions on what this will mean for them and how they can prepare.
What has been made clear is the right of free movement for UK nationals and EEA nationals coming to an end, and eventually a new skills-based migration system will be coming into place. This will particularly affect industries employing a high percentage of EU nationals such as food manufacturing, retail and healthcare. Leaving the EU may impact the workplace in further ways such as:
- using any services and goods provided by other members of the EU
- supply chain arrangements
- haulage and borders arrangements
- employing EU residents.
Specific changes the workplace will experience depends on how the UK leaves and what type of relationship remains between the two.
Many employment laws in the UK, such as rights to national minimum wage, rights to request flexible working and rights to statutory redundancy, do not stem from the EU, so Brexit will have no impact on these.
Some UK employment laws covering areas such as TUPE and annual leave currently stem from EU directives and have been written into UK law under the provisions of the EU Withdrawal Act. Therefore, there will be no immediate changes on the day the UK leaves the EU affecting current employment law. Any future changes regarding these areas are to be decided by the UK government and Parliament.
EU Settlement Scheme
In a recent article, Personnel Today said ‘Government statistics show that more than 1.8 million applications have been received for the EU Settlement Scheme, and 1.5 million of these have been granted status up to the end of September 2019’.
The EU Settlement Scheme has been introduced because after Brexit the UK will no longer be an EU country. The scheme processes the applications of EU citizens who currently live in the UK, enabling them to remain in the UK with either pre-settled or settled status. Pre-settled status will usually apply to EU citizens who do not have five years of continuous residency at the time of applying – those who have been given pre-settled status can then apply for settled status once they have five years of continuous residency. EU citizens will usually get settled status if they have lived in the UK for five years continuously.
Whilst there is no legal requirement for employers to communicate the EU Settlement Scheme, it may be in the employers’ best interest to provide communication to EU staff considering their valuable contribution to many workplaces.
Employers must be mindful not to discriminate against EU citizens during the EU Settlement Scheme process. Discrimination claims could arise in the event of job role promotions, offers of employment, or during a redundancy consultation period if EU employees believe they have been treated less favourably due to the employer knowing their settlement status. Therefore, it is advised that employers do not directly ask EU employees of their settlement status and to ensure they are treated fairly in their employment. To remain compliant, the current ‘right to work’ checks apply until the end of 2020.
EU citizens who move to the UK following Brexit, will have to apply for a temporary UK immigration status which will be valid for three years from its granted date. From January 2021, EU citizens will be provided with a digital status which is going to be needed for right to work checks.
Overall, now is a good time from a HR compliance perspective for employers to ensure relevant recruitment policies and processes are compliant with the correct ‘right to work’ checks, and do not discriminate against EU citizens.