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by Naomi Wells, Compliance Assistant

While both are electrical testing, which one do you need? In this article, we will run through the main difference between each test.  

Portable Appliance Testing - From The Socket Onwards

While its official name has changed to Electrical Equipment Testing, we’ll be referring to it as the more commonly used last name, PAT. PAT covers portable electrical appliances, such as kettles, power cables, tower PCs and monitors. In short, it’s everything from the socket onwards. Many issues with safety defects can be found on a visual inspection, but some can only be found during thorough annual inspections.

Electrical Inspection Condition Report - The Electrical MOT

Think of an EICR as an MOT for your electrical installations. Wires, meters, isolators, and lighting might not be something you think about wearing down, but time and use take their toll on everything. EICRs ensure these systems are in good condition and in line with the Electricity at Work Act (1989), keeping things safe for use (and your insurers happy).

What’s the difference? Which do you need?

In short, an EICR covers the electrical system in your building up to the socket, and a PAT covers everything after the socket. 

Both are incredibly valuable services for ensuring that your premises are safe and that your insurance will fully cover you if something goes wrong.

Don't wait until it's too late. Schedule a PAT or EICR test today to ensure your building's electrical systems are safe and compliant.

How do I book or find out more information?
For more information or a no-obligation quote, call Stallard Kane’s Compliance Team on 01427 420 404 or email

Are you looking to take your safety career to the next level? Have you considered obtaining an IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health) qualification? IOSH qualification will improve your knowledge and skills in safety management and open up a wide range of career opportunities. 

Why do an IOSH course?

"Why do this course instead of another?"

IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health) is the world's largest membership body for health and safety professionals. They are a globally recognised chartered body that promotes and leads the highest standards in the industry. IOSH courses give you a robust knowledge of assessing risks and creating a safe and profitable work environment. They also form a strong foundation for further education in health and safety and related fields.

Who can do it, and how?

"If there's a course for every situation, is it right for me?"

With the variety of courses under the IOSH umbrella, there's a course suitable for everyone, from specialised such as IOSH Safety, Health & Environment for Construction Workers, to enable labourers to gain their Green CSCS card to the more general IOSH Managing Safely. They have no formal entry requirements, and due to the multiple ways to take the course, it can work around you– whether it be days in the classroom, a virtual classroom or whenever you've got some spare time to do eLearning.

What courses are available?

"How can SK Training help me?"

SK Training has multiple IOSH courses available within our training network, from IOSH Leading Safely for anyone in leadership or management roles to IOSH Working Safely for workers at all levels.

Our next available open course for IOSH Managing Safely is via zoom from the 14th to the 16th of June.

To find out more information or discuss your training needs, talk to our Training Team by calling 01427 420 405 or email  or

Business owners and decision-makers may ask why they should have an SSIP (Safety Schemes in Procurement) Certificate. Holding an SSIP certificate shows that you meet the current legislation by complying with the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015). 

There are many benefits to having an SSIP certificate; below, are just a few. 

SSIP Certifications Provide Assurance

Holding an SSIP certification ensures that an organisation is committed to and has suitable arrangements to protect the health and safety of its employees, workers, and contractors. This assurance holds significant weight with potential clients looking to work with contractors.

SSIP Certifications Save Client’s Time and Money

When a client is looking for a company to carry out work for them, they will go through a pre-qualifying assessment, of which a percentage is covered in the SSIP assessment, reducing the time and cost needed to carry out this assessment.

SSIP Certifications Save Supplier’s Time and Money

Suppliers will save time on lengthy competitive tender completions and the ability to skip reams of pages on pre-qualification questionnaires by using your SSIP certificate as evidence of your health and safety qualification and professionalism. The SSIP scheme has already saved suppliers £279m.

SSIP Can Increase Your Health and Safety Effectiveness 

Going through the SSIP assessment can find gaps within your systems that you can close and increase your health and safety effectiveness.

The SSIP Certification Can Help Achieve ISO 45001

If you want to achieve ISO 45001 the SSIP is a good starting point as this will cover a lot of the basics that you need to accomplish this.

The SSIP Certificate Can Improve Your Market Visibility 

Holding an SSIP certificate can open up new opportunities for your company, as this would improve your market visibility by being discoverable on the SSIP portal. It will also give your business a competitive edge and win new contracts with customers, including works in the public sector.

So, whether you are a sole trader, have 1,000 employees, or work onsite or offsite, the benefits of having an SSIP certificate outweigh not having it.

If you need any help with the above, contact your advisor or SK Health & Safety on 01427 420 402 or email and #oneoftheteam will be happy to help.

In December 2022, The Government released plans to make flexible working the default position for employers and employees. 

This involves the introduction of the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill, the publication of new guidance and a promise of further consultation.

Where do employees and employers stand currently?

In 2014 employees with at least 26 weeks of continuous service were given the legal right to submit a maximum of one request in a 12-month period to change the contractual terms of their employment. 

This could be related to their hours, times and place of work. The employer could then only reject this request should they be able to apply at least one of the eight business reasons for doing so

The eight reasons are"

What changes are being proposed by the new Employment Relations Bill?

The proposed changes are:

In due course, the government also plans to further call for evidence on how ‘informal flexibility’ (where ad hoc flexible working is permitted without formally changing the employment contract) works in practice.

How have these changes been received?

The proposal has mainly received a favourable response to the ‘day one’. However, there is still a minority that believes it will reduce Productivity. 

How can employers benefit from the new Employment Bill?

Employers can benefit in several ways from flexible working, such as:

What are the concerns?

There are also concerns that negotiations to change T&Cs as soon as day one will cause friction between employees and employers. However, the government believes this can be negated by the employer designing job adverts, roles, and the recruitment process to cover flexible working. 

Other concerns for employers may be:

Flexible working should be considered a positive thing. Still, employers need to fully engage in this type of culture for it to work. They may need to invest in their infrastructure, and Managers may need to review employee performance differently. For example, setting clear targets and goals. 

Should you have any concerns or wish to explore how you can be proactive ahead of the likely change, please get in touch with your HR Advisor. 

If you want a truly personalised service, contact us today to discuss your requirements – call 01427 678 660 or email, and #oneoftheteam will be happy to help.

Controlling risks you can see is challenging enough – but what do you do when you can’t see the problem?

Why should you do it? What can it measure?

“But this is how it always is”, “It’s not that noisy”, “We’ve always used these tools?”

Exposure monitoring is a highly useful tool to have on your belt in a variety of workplaces, it can be used to check control measures, reinforce risk assessments, and support you in your statutory duty to protect your employees and the public.

It can be hard to tell the difference between how things have always been and how they should be – especially with things that aren’t visible to the naked eye. Standing next to an industrial piece of equipment will be noisy, but how is it affecting the noise levels in the breakroom next door? And what’s the knock-on effect on your employees’ hearing?

When reviewing air quality, the specific substances used within a workplace need to be carefully managed – from particulate sizes to the COSHH implications of certain substances – and reviewing the effectiveness of LEV systems where they are in use.

Exposure monitoring allows you to put measurable data to these unseen risks we all run into. Our specially trained consultants are able to work with you to measure a multitude of hazards such as noise, dust, fumes, vibration and various substances.

How is it measured?

“Won’t it get in the way?”

In short, it won’t get in the way – as we want to ensure we’re getting the most accurate information for everyday operations. Through the use of personal dosimeters and static monitoring stations, a holistic approach to exposure throughout the business is achieved, as well as minimal operational impact.

How do I book or find out more information?

For more information or a no-obligation quote, call our Compliance Team on 01427 420 404 or email

In 2021 189,000 workers had time off due to back pain alone. What causes work-related back pain and how you can lower costs and improve productivity with simple steps to reduce this risk in your workplace? 

What causes back pain?

While all work-related back injuries can’t be prevented, ignoring job-related risks is a leading factor in developing health issues. The most common causes of work-related back pain are:

Tip. Avoid directly blaming an employee and saying it’s their fault they have a bad back. Work with them to understand why they have not used equipment or failed to use the correct lifting technique. Find alternative methods for carrying out the task. 

Prevention’s better than cure

Being aware of the risks can encourage employees to take steps to reduce the odds of causing an injury. By preventing and managing all musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the workplace, organisations stand to lower costs, improve productivity, gain worker engagement, reduce staff turnover, improve morale, and reduce absence rates.

Manual handling affects every business in some shape or form. Ranging from a manufacturing environment to an office, there is always some aspect of manual handling that is carried out. We can assist with all aspects of manual handling assessments as well as provide training for your staff, to minimise the risk of injury and protect your business.We are here to help – simply contact your designated advisor, or call our Health & Safety team on 01427 420 402 or email 

Getting back pain while working from home? 

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, thousands of people worked either partly or fully from home. Now that number has grown significantly. If your workers are now working from home, they may be noticing new aches and pains that they did not experience at the office. That’s because even though it isn’t mandated, many companies follow an ANSI-HFS standard in the design of their computer workstations, furnishing the office with ergonomic furniture and accessories.

So, what can you do? 

Spend as much time as you can working in a neutral posture – a comfortable body position where no body part is awkwardly bent or twisted. Follow these tips to make your home office more ergonomically designed. The more you can work in a neutral posture, and the more you can move around, the less the chance of any injury.

Lighten the load

So, what can you do to educate your staff and lower the risk in your workplace?

Encourage staff to adopt good practices and report any issues as soon as possible. 

We are here to help – simply contact your designated advisor, call our Health & Safety team on 01427 420 402 or email 

Stress can affect us both mentally and physically. If left untreated, it can even be life-threatening, which is why it is so important to be able to recognise stress and look after yourself by managing these feelings.

So, what is stress and what can cause it?

Stress is defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain resulting from an adverse or demanding circumstance”.

Stress is something that I am sure we’re all familiar with, it is the body’s reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure. In small doses, it can be useful and motivational. However, too much stress or prolonged exposure to stress can affect your wellbeing and eventually cause burnout.

Stress should never be seen as a weakness as everyone experiences stress differently, and we all have our own tolerance levels for stress. It is generally caused when we feel we don’t have the resources to handle the challenges we face. However, the thing with stress is that, generally, once the thing causing the stress is no longer a problem, the feeling of stress passes.

Stress isn’t always caused by negative events, but even positive life events can leave us feeling lost and out of control of the situation and therefore stressed.

Some examples of causes of stress are:

How do I know I’m stressed?

Stress manifests itself differently for everyone, and the below graphic shows examples of how stress can show up. You may experience many of these symptoms or just a couple. You may not even realise you’re displaying some of these symptoms and only become aware when someone else mentions them.

What can I do about it?

If some of these symptoms sound pretty familiar to you, there are various ways to manage stress, both now and in the future. Managing stress is hard, and what works for you won’t necessarily be the same for someone else, but some good starting points are:

A healthy diet

Get enough sleep

Regular exercise

Relaxation techniques

Keep a journal

Say no to things you don’t want to do

Take up a hobby

Talk to someone

What if that doesn’t work?

A certain level of stress is normal. However, if none of these tips is working and you feel as though it is unmanageable, talk to your GP or another healthcare professional. They will be able to help.

How can I support my employees?

In 2020/21, stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 50% of all work-related ill health cases.

Stress within your team, in general, may include increased staff turnover, decreased performance, increased sickness absence etc., so it is important to take a holistic view when looking for signs of stress. Being proactive and looking after the well-being of your team can improve performance, reduce sick days and presenteeism, improve colleague relationships and generally lead to a happier workforce.

Being able to recognise the signs of stress in your employees will allow you to act early and hopefully reduce the impact of the pressure they are feeling having a Wellbeing team within your business, made up of both mental health first aiders and wellbeing champions will enable you to provide support to your employees so that fewer people are reaching crisis point.

Mental Health First Aiders

Having Mental Health First Aiders within your business would provide an alternative outlet for your staff to express their issues to someone who may not be their direct line manager – this often puts staff at ease when discussing sensitive matters.

The 2-day course covers many mental health issues that may become apparent in the workplace. It focuses on how to deal with someone at a crisis point, how to communicate with them and then how to signpost them to local and national support agencies.

Wellbeing Champions

This 1-day course trains employees to be wellbeing advocates in the workplace. They gain the knowledge and practical tools to promote mental, physical, social and financial wellbeing whilst driving engagement.

To find out more information or discuss your training needs, talk to our Training Team by calling 01427 420 405 or email  or 

You as an employer must provide safety signs if there is a significant risk that can’t be avoided or controlled in any other way, such as through safe systems of work.

There is no need to provide safety signs if they don’t help reduce the risk or if the risk isn’t significant. You should put the appropriate sign in place to warn of danger and make sure that staff are aware of their meaning. To meet your duties, damaged or missing signs should be replaced immediately. 

What are the different types of signs and what do you need to know about them?

Why are signs needed?

Signs and labels help you to meet health and safety requirements, and educate, protect, or inform individuals. In a diverse workplace, a sign breaks down language and understanding barriers so that everyone gets the same safety message. Safety signs are not a substitute for other means of controlling risk.

There’s no need to provide safety signs if they don’t help reduce the risk or if it isn’t significant, although certain fire safety signs may have to be displayed under a separate legal provision.

When and where to use signs?

Your risk assessments should pinpoint where you need to place signage. The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 make it clear that safety signs are not a substitute for other means of controlling risks. They are to warn of any remaining significant risks or to instruct employees on the measures they should take in relation to these risks. 

Don’t overuse signage as it starts to lose its effectiveness. Be clear and concise in the visual messages you are portraying. 

These 4 important safety signs can be broken into categories: Prohibition, Warning, Mandatory and Emergency.

The four basic signs

  1. The prohibition symbols give information about dangerous behaviour such as “No Smoking”. It is round-shaped with a black pictogram on a white background or red edging with a red diagonal line.
  2. warning sign tells you to be careful, to take precautions and warns about hazards. It’s triangular in shape, with a black pictogram on a yellow background and with black edging, e.g. wet floor.
  3. mandatory sign tells you about a specific behaviour or action. It’s always round in shape with a white pictogram on a blue background, e.g. PPE.
  4. Emergency signs depict areas of safety such as fire exits. They are rectangular or square in shape with a white pictogram on a green background.

Are there others?

The two other types of signage to understand are:

If you have visually impaired staff, you may need to provide alternative ways to communicate, such as audible instructions during a fire evacuation. 

What is the colour of safety?

Red is a Safety Colour and must be used for any:

Yellow (or amber) signs are warning signs, meaning to be careful, take precautions or examine:

Blue safety signs mean that a sign is mandatory, and that specific behaviour or action should be carried out:

Green is a safety colour and must be used for:

White is NOT a safety colour but is used:

Black is NOT a safety colour but is used:

Need some new or replacement signs and not sure where to start? We provide a wide range of safety signage, from bespoke branded plaques too easy to fit self-adhesive signs and labels for all your needs. We can help you assess your signage and provide you with a quote for updating it.
To find out more information call our Compliance Team on 01427 420 404 or email

Good practice

Make sure signs are visible and not faded and replace damaged signage immediately. Although most safety signs are self-explanatory, employees (particularly new, young, or inexperienced ones) may be unfamiliar with them. It’s important that the meaning of any sign is clearly explained, and that employees are aware of the consequences of not following the warning or instruction given by the sign. 

If you need help on any health and safety matter, contact your designated Stallard Kane Health & Safety Advisor or, if you don’t currently use our Health & Safety services, call 01427 420 402 or email and one of the team will be happy to help.

ACAS has recently published updated guidance for employers about when and how to suspend an employee, so we have taken this opportunity to provide you with a recap on this topic.

What is suspension?

Suspension is when you, as an employer, tell an employee to stop undertaking their work for you. This is a temporary measure, and this step entails that the employee must stop working and go home, away from the workplace, usually on full pay pending the results of an investigation. 

Suspension can also include conditions imposed on the employee, for example, to refrain from having any contact with your other employees, clients, customers, suppliers and contractors. The rationale for this is that something is sufficiently serious, for your company to look to protect the individual employee, other employees, the process or your business.

Considerations with suspension

There are numerous factors involved in making the correct decision to suspend or to refrain from suspending the employee. We would always advise caution when considering this step and would encourage you to contact your dedicated HR Advisor to help with the assessment to enable you to make a reasonable and proportionate decision. 

Suspension does not mean there is wrongdoing on behalf of the employee in question. In fact, the suspension letter we would assist you with (if appropriate to suspend in the circumstances) confirms this as we would state: ‘Suspension is standard procedure in matters of this nature and does not indicate guilt in any way. Suspension does not constitute disciplinary action. Disciplinary action will not necessarily result.’

Impact on the employee

When considering suspension, we would also need to consider that it would potentially be upsetting and stressful for the employee in question, so this really does need to be a step when there are no other options. 

We do not want to impact any employee’s mental health inadvertently so even if suspension is required, support must be also considered by you as the employer. This is because historically stigma can be attached or perceived by some people and confidentiality is key here for the employee involved. At this particular stage, we would need to keep an open mind as the allegations could have been made by another with malicious intent or the employee may have not committed any wrongdoing in any event. 

When is suspension appropriate?

Before suspending, you will need to be satisfied that other options are not viable or safe. Other options can be to direct the employee works from home or another work location (if appropriate or applicable), you could look to different shift patterns or departments from where the allegations have been raised. Any of these options are purely temporary in nature whilst taking this step. 

Suspension then is usually only going to be appropriate when there are no other options to protect the employee, other employees from harm or to persevere evidence/an investigation or protect your business from serious harm.

What needs to be present is a serious risk to at least one of these aspects above. The combination of no other options together with a serious risk then indicates suspension may be necessary. Please note that if an immediate decision based on the above is not to suspend, it does not mean that as an employer you are unable to suspend the employee at a later point in the process, should further issues arise during the investigation procedure. 

If you believe that you have a situation or scenario which may involve the need to suspend or you have any questions about this topic, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be able to assist with the review and applicable process with you. 

If you want a truly personalised service, contact us today to discuss your requirements – call 01427 678 660 or email, and #oneoftheteam will be happy to help.

Many employers operate Drug and Alcohol policies detailing what is acceptable within the workplace when it comes to alcohol and drugs, and the implications of being under the influence of either substance during working hours. Such policies generally cover an organisation’s right to perform random drug or alcohol tests and may also include reference to what help or support a Company may offer to those who have openly declared an issue with substance abuse.   

Despite having standardised policies in place, many employers fail to consider the real implications of conducting drug or alcohol tests at work. Whilst there are many valid reasons for conducting such tests (including an employer’s duty to protect their employees from a health and safety point of view) it is important to be aware of the practicalities and implications of conducting tests at work.  

Consider if testing is absolutely necessary

Before conducting tests, employers should consider if this is absolutely necessary. Tests can be intrusive, and employees may feel uncomfortable being asked to undergo a test, especially if it involves providing a urine or blood sample. Whilst most employees will appreciate the underlying reasons for conducting such tests, some may feel the process is overly intrusive, especially if it is not totally necessary. 

Before conducting tests, employers should ensure there is adequate reason for doing so. As per guidance by the HSE, there may be a case for screening, particularly in certain jobs (for example employees who make safety-critical decisions like drivers, pilots and some machinery operators).


Whilst there are various drug testing kits on the market which vary in price (based on how easy they are to use, their accuracy or the quantity ordered), employers must ensure that testing kits are in line with required standards and that tests are administered by adequately trained personnel. Failure to meet said standards may lead to results being contaminated, inaccurate and therefore contestable in any formal disciplinary action. 

Alternatively, you may opt to have an external professional body attend the workplace to carry out testing. However, this can cost considerably more, especially for those who require regular testing. 


Any alcohol or drug test, whether conducted in-house or private, is not 100% guaranteed for accuracy. Errors do occur whilst samples are taken, stored, tested and processed, and such errors can lead to incorrect results. Employers must bare this in mind when handling positive test results.  

What to do upon receipt of a positive test result

In the event an employee who is not under the influence of substances receives a positive result, this can have a negative impact on the employment relationship. 

With this in mind, upon receipt of any positive result, employers need to ensure that strict policies are adhered to with a view to investigating the underlying reasons for the said result, prior to commencing formal disciplinary action. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as instant dismissal, even with something seemingly as conclusive as a positive drugs/alcohol test result.

During investigation, the Company should determine if the employee can provide any valid explanation for their positive result.  The employer should gather all relevant facts and information before considering an invite to disciplinary. 

If the employee provides an explanation, this must be investigated in full. Such investigations may involve seeking consent to access an employee’s medical records, especially if the employee claims that prescribed medication may have affected their results. Ignoring any possible explanation without a full investigation could lead to unfair dismissal, and a possible pending claim. Keep in mind that professional drugs/alcohol screening providers will generally establish whether the employee is taking any medication which may affect their result, before testing takes place. 

Once investigations are complete and the employee has been given the opportunity to present an explanation, the Company should decide if formal disciplinary action is appropriate. A positive drugs/alcohol test, with no explanation or valid mitigation, is normally deemed gross misconduct, with a range of sanctions from no further action to potential summary dismissal. 

In Summary

Employers should decide on an individual basis if drug or alcohol testing is necessary or if it is in the Company’s best interest to conduct such screenings. In the event screening is deemed necessary, it is recommended that employers source a reputable and trustworthy provider to support with testing, and ensure that upon receipt of a positive test, detailed investigations and procedures are followed.   

Consult with your HR Advisor or seek professional advice before considering any potential dismissal. talk to us today to discuss your requirements – call 01427 678 660 or email and #oneoftheteam will be happy to help.