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How good are your fencing skills?

No, this is not a swashbuckling based question. It relates to the different kinds of barriers which we might call fencing, whether it is permanent or not. And by effective, we mean safe  as well as fulfilling its prime role of access control.

A building contractor here in the UK was recently fined £20,000 after a fence was blown over onto a woman, who sustained serious life changing head injuries.

A simple risk assessment could have revealed that if there was windy weather, the fence would be likely to  blow over and if it did so, it would clearly have the potential to injure someone. By undertaking this simple operation, preventative measures can be made to prevent a fence from being blow over. A further factor in this case, was that the staff who undertook the work were both untrained and inexperienced.

A very high proportion of businesses and events rely heavily on fencing and barriers of many kinds to keep people safe from the hazards associated with work taking place within the boundary or for security reasons.  If this applies to you, do you undertake such a risk assessment and if you do, do you use competent staff, do you keep a check on it and do you keep records?

Such a safe system of work is a relatively basic skill but if you would like assistance or training in health & safety risk assessments and safe systems of work, we are here to help, please call us on 0800 111 4207 or contact us here.

Snakes and Ladders - Working at height health and safety

I was recently a safety advisor at an event build when I had a chat with someone standing on a box to work at height. The guy was most embarrassed that he had forgotten to bring suitable steps. He added though that he had tried to borrow a set from another contractor but had been refused, "on the grounds of health and safety". Not that one again!!!

So let's just put this right. Was the worker trained and competent? Yes. He clearly knew his stuff and it was a regular feature of his work. So he was able to work safely. At least in theory. Was he likely to catch some kind of disease or illness? Mmmm. I don't think so? So that rules out health issues. What it then comes down to then is ignorance and an irrational fear of litigation if something were to go wrong. And if those above diligences were followed, all would be well (up to this point).

So all that remains is the question of, are the steps maintained, inspected and in a good condition? This is where the 'snake' element comes in. No, they were not. They had a seriously deformed bottom tread, which affected the stability of the ladder (it had also thrown the sides (stiles) out of alignment). The only thing they were good for was scrapping. No wonder they did not want anyone to borrow them, it would have revealed their unsafe equipment.


The photograph is that of an extending ladder I once came across which was so badly damaged that it was only held together by ratchet straps.  They presented additional new hazards whereby the ladder would probably be unstable, the user could loose their hold, footing, or catch their hands or feet in the tangle of straps. 

For health and safety consultancy, or training in working at height health and safety, please contact us.

New team member

At TSO, our team is specially engaged for both their skills and their personalities. Their skills must be wide-ranging but relevant, credible and tested. Their personalities must enable them to represent us and our clients to the highest standards. In addition, our associates are equally well covered by professional indemnity and other insuraces.

We are therefore extremely proud to welcome to the team our new Associate, Amy Newhouse

Amy brings to the team heaps of experiences in planning / managing events, health and safety at events and as an experienced personal licence holder. She holds Graduate IOSH status (in health and safety) and has an Honours Degree in Managing Cultural and Major Events. This great combination enables Amy to closely relate her ‘safety advisory’ skills to practical events management and operational situations. In common with other team members, she often helps clients by providing on-the-spot support at Licencing and Safety Advisory Group Meetings. 

We have worked alongside Amy at various events over the years and so is an instantly-established team member.

To see Amy’s ‘pen picture’ you might like to visit our ‘meet the team’ page.


With the rapidly increasing use and prevalence of e-cigarettes throughout society at the moment, employers need to assess the impact, if any, to your workplace if any of your employees bring their e-cigarettes into your place of work.

E-cigarettes are an electronic device that can be used as a substitute for cigarettes. They are used by many people as an aid to cutting down or quitting cigarette use and they work by providing a clear liquid vapour containing nicotine which is inhaled.

Although e-cigarettes contain nicotine, as they do not contain any lit tobacco they are not technically covered by the current smoking ban. The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority (MHRA) has been carrying out some research into them and is due to publish its findings soon alongside its views on reclassifying e-cigarettes as medicines. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has also been asked by the Department of Health to develop public health guidance on the use of smoking cessation products such as e-cigarettes.



Returning to our theme of what give H & S bad press, how about if we turn that around? What can we do to make it relevant and positive?

What a great idea, but it does need some thought – but not much. 

For instance before thinking about, putting a rule or guideline in place, think:-

  • Is this really health, safety or welfare? Or is it something else?
    (If it is something else, don’t cite H. S. & W.)

  • It is health and safety. So is your method for managing the issue proportionate to the level of risk?
    (Don’t waste resources or relationships on trivia but you must invest in the rest)

  • And lastly, is there a system in place to allow people to challenge or contribute to these management of risk systems?
    (Quite often, people at the ‘sharp end’ know more about the experience than management. Listening is a great skill. Everyone can benefit)

For help, support and advice regarding your health and safety, please contact us via our web site or call us on 0800 111 4207. Or learn more about our range of health and safety consultancy services.


effects of stress

How good is your organisation in preventing and dealing with stress? Many organisations in both the publicand private sectors will have policies and systems. But some of them have a very real need to think about whether what they do has a close relationship with their statements of intent.

For example, some organisations have accreditations for investing in people (and the like), with policies, statements about caring for staff, stress training days, sytems for prevention and other grand plans. The reality though, is that some of these organisations are often not as good in putting their declarations into practice as their plans might suggest. This may be due to several reasons; perhaps due to their size, maybe due to lack of experience and awareness or perhaps key people who can make them effective do not want to 'rock the boat'. Where problems exist, they are probably systemic throughout such organisations because good systems can only work in both directions; from 'roots' to the very 'top of the tree'. It is likely that Management are not aware of the realities in many cases. 

Examples of what can trigger stress can include; no-option changes of location with no apparent or real lack of concern and support by Management,  bad planning of working systems, changes to the working environment, serious illnesses, mental illnesses, unrealistic working hours .... but the list in reality can include just about anything. 

Here is a short article I have copied from RoSPA web site. I am sure they won't mind us supporting their cause.

Stress in the Workplace

More than one in four workers are affected by work-related stress in the European Union. 1

People's mental and physical health can be adversely affected by aspects of their working environment, which produce feelings of anxiety and sometimes acute distress. Factors such as long hours, workload, uncertain expectations and very significantly, lack of control over work tasks, can lead to intense feelings of being unable to cope with such pressures and if prolonged this can lead to short as well as longer term damage to physical as well as mental health.

But like many other kinds of contemporary health and safety issue (e.g. noise, manual handling injury and even noise induced hearing loss) the causes of stress in individuals are not wholly occupational in origin but are affected also by what is happening to them outside work (marriage problems, bereavement, money worries and so on). Also, like many other occupational health issues (e.g. respiratory sensitisation) there is a wide range of individual susceptibility to stress and its short, medium and long-term effects.

The government reports that nearly one in three of Europe's workers, more than 40million people, report that they are affected by stress at work.

So what can be done?

  • Firstly and most important, please remember we are all human beings. Let us create positive attitudes, involve people in change and factors which directly to how they work or think about work. That would be a good start from which the rest might follow.
  • Next; How efficient and effective are your arrangements? Like any health, safety and welfare system, the law demands that you check it for effectiveness and improve it where gaps are found. Duties of care not followed can result in significant compensation awards. Moral good sense is to think about and take care of fellow human beings. A happy and healthy workforce has been proved time and time again to provide BOTH better quality and improved production.


TSO can assist with policies, audits, management of health and safety at work, training and lots more. 


"It's not easy being green" - Kermit The Frog

In his song, Kermit sang about it not being easy being green but about half way through, changed his mind and decided how wonderful it is.

Have you thought, as we did, about colours and how they relate to your company? 

Our considerations (in choosing green) were the images associated with it. Green is the colour officially used for safe conditions - emergency exit routes, first aid and so-on. It is also associated with 'no pressure', positive environmental matters and reliability. This are our reasons for going for green. 

I have just read some other attributes we had not thought about which also apply to us;  growth (we are certainly growing), restoration (we help businesses recover from adverse circumstances), sanctuary (yes, that too - we help to provide a safe place of work), good judgement, stability..... and the list goes on.

So Kermie, green is great after all!

Working at Height – What can go wrong!!!!

Following an accident at a school, a prosecution was brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) against the schools’ management, after their inspectors identified serious safety failings.

The school has now been fined after a PE equipment manager suffered multiple fractures when he fell nine metres from a climbing wall.  The staff member broke a forearm and elbow, fractured two vertebrae and bit through his tongue.

Magistrates heard that the staff member, who looked after resources and equipment in the PE department, had gradually got more involved in helping out with student lessons and had learned the basics of climbing a rigged wall and belaying techniques.

He was working his way up the wall to rig it for a lesson by threading the rope through anchor points. A colleague on the ground was belaying to provide added rope when needed, but minimising the amount of loose rope, which means a slip would only mean a drop of a short distance for the climber.

Signs of the times


The reasons for site rules can be many.

It has long been my experience, that rather than people accepting responsibility, it is easier for them to hide behind other people, rather the to take ownership of issues.

Or perhaps if I am being kind, a lack of understanding of why rules are in place and not explaining the reasons very well.

And such is the ‘scapegoat’, or should I say, the ‘misunderstanding’ of what health, safety, welfare (etc) is really about.

Here is a recent one, cited by the HSE. What was the true reason? We can only guess.

True risk management - use your opportunities


You can measure opportunity with the same yardstick that measures the risk involved. They go together. – Earl Nightingale


We look to remove risks from work activities - that is the law after all. But all of life's necessities involve risk. Even to stay in bed involves risk. Making a cup of tea involves risk. So let's embrace risks, manage them and live!

The important thing is to confront hazards and the attached risks by use of care and control. My hobbies (amongst many) have involved mountaineering, pot holing and do still include scuba diving. My party-piece is fire breathing. In fact, the very well trained, experienced and equipped mountaineer above is me. I hasten to add that I have passed that peak, in more senses than one.

The important questions to ask yourself, in relation to any risks are; how to approach them and what suitable and sufficient systems you might need to put into place?   The skills to acheive acceptable answers are often quite low (if your risk levels are low) and always relate to having competences in assessing and actively managing the risks. The rest can be easy and hopefully, fun.

The same goes for running a business or organising an event. You need to identify what the potentials are for harm and then put into place a series of controls, check, improvements etc.

Do you want help to achieve true risk management and thereby improve your opportunities? You don't need to climb a mountain or learn to breathe fire but you can ask for us assistance to make you competent to manage your hazards, risks and perhaps open up some new opporunities.

Putting School Health and Safety First!

Two of the most important pieces of legislation affecting educational establishments across the UK are the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The standards that are set in these documents are there ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees and others who may be affected by a school or other educational establishments work activity.  People such as staff, pupils, parents and members of the public. 


There are many other pieces of legislation that are no less important for you and your school to consider and manage, we have listed a selection of them below and this list is by no means exhaustive;

  • Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005
  • Equality Act 2010
  • Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981
  • Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992
  • Working at Height Regulations 2005
  • Electricity at Work regulations 1989
  • Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2012
  • And many more...