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Over the last decade, new technology for business has been changing faster than ever. Internet connectivity, cloud-based services, new financial and sales software and more automated production/distribution solutions have all increased business efficiency.

The speed of change is expected to increase even more during the next decade as technology using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) becomes increasingly available.

Technology is the gamechanger and businesses are having to adapt and change quicker than ever before. Failing to keep up with the new technologies, that will save time and costs, could see some businesses falling behind their competitors. Your management team will have to identify where technical innovation can improve your business and adapt to the new systems. Typical areas where AI and ML can automate and speed up processes include:
  • Business accountingDistribution-and-logistics-with-ISO-9001
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) sales and marketing
  • Human resources
  • Manufacturing supply chains
AI and ML can process huge amounts of data and use algorithms to identify areas of weakness and where improvements can be made.

Customers’ expectations have changed. Speed and efficiency of getting products or services to customers is essential. Improving financial controls and better communication will give your business the best chance of survival in today’s fast-moving environment.

Identifying and implementing these new applications into your business can be achieved by having a recognised management system that provide continual improvement, business analysis and better process monitoring to help increase efficiency and productivity. The ISO 9001 Quality Management System is an internationally recognised standard to help you to plan and continually improve business operations throughout your organisation.

What is ISO 9001 Quality Management System

ISO 9001 certification provides a strategic tool for management to assess risks and identify opportunities for business growth.

The ISO 9001 assessment process requires an external auditor to assess your management systems and processes to identify any weaknesses. This will help your management team to make improvements which may include using new technology to streamline processes and help you achieve ISO 9001 certification.

Benefits of ISO 9001

The ISO 9001 standard demonstrates that your business is customer focussed and is continually striving to improve products and services to meet their requirements.

Risk assessment and gap analysis help to establish the quality management system required to deliver consistent product quality, which is measured, monitored and improved.

New technology can help you to achieve these goals, improve efficiency, productivity and ultimately profit.

Customer retention and acquisition will be easier because they will recognise the advantages of working with an ISO 9001 certified business that can provide reliable production and delivery of their products.

To take the next steps to ISO 9001 certification, call one of our team on 0121 241 2299 or request a quote.

Climate change has moved up the agenda due to recent climatic events and pressure from environmental groups. Even some of the early doubters are concluding that we all need to do more to slow down the continuing increase in global temperatures. It has almost reached panic level as new information is released about global warming and the effect it is having on the planet.

The next UN climate change conference is to be held in Madrid between the 2nd and 13th December 2019 (COP 25) and aims to build on the agreements made in the Paris agreement at COP 24. The UK will host COP 26 in 2020.

The UK leads the world by declaring a climate emergency and the EU parliament recently followed suit, urging all EU countries to commit to zero greenhouse emissions by 2050.

Moves have been made over the last few years to encourage a reduction in the use of fossil fuels and increase the use of renewables. The UK’s low carbon sector now supports over 400,000 jobs.

Despite all these efforts, emissions are not reducing quickly enough and the changeover to renewable energy is too slow.  With global temperatures still rising, it is safe to assume that there will be a greater emphasis on speeding up the changes and legislation that will enable the UK to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

What changes can we expect for businesses

Climate-change-solutions-using-renewable-technologyIt looks increasingly likely that we can expect more directives and legislation from the government aimed at businesses that may have an impact on future finances and profits including:
  • Improve the energy performance of non-domestic buildings if not already done
  • Use more renewable energy
  • Use cleaner more sustainable transport throughout the business and supply chain
  • Encourage the reduction in the number of miles travelled by fossil fuelled cars by employees (bike to work or use public transport)
  • A possible tax on the number of flights taken during a year
  • Supply chain monitoring and more local sourcing
  • Employee engagement and training
  • Consume less and waste less
  • Recycle more.
Many large corporations have recognised the importance of having carbon emissions targets to reduce their environmental impact. Companies such as Unilever base their environmental standards framework on ISO 14001 which provides effective third-party assessments throughout their sites. Where these companies lead, smaller businesses will be expected to follow.

What is ISO 14001?

If you have not already got one, implementing an environmental management system will identify, control and reduce the effects your business operations have on the environment.

ISO 14001 certification is internationally recognised and will provide a framework to develop a climate plan and environment policy for your business.

Risk analysis is an important part of the process when achieving the standard and with all the climate change proposals and possible regulations that are coming, you will need to analyse how these will affect your business in the future.

As countries and businesses around the world continue to make these changes throughout their industries and supply chains, companies who can demonstrate they have an audited management system such as ISO 14001 will stay ahead of the changes and provide suppliers and customers with proof that they comply with the latest regulations and best practice.

Some of your customers and suppliers may even insist that you have ISO 14001 certification by a UKAS accredited Certification Body before they will work with you.

If you need a proven internationally recognised management system to help you to manage and improve your environmental performance, call one of our team on 0121 241 2299 or request a quote.
Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) for workers has improved significantly over the last 30 years and fatal injuries are now rare events.

HSE (Health and Safety Executive) report an estimated 84% reduction in the number of fatal injuries since 1974. Non-fatal injuries reported are also continuing a downward trend.

The UK is one of the best performing member states in the EU with rates of fatal injuries lower than other large economic blocks such as France, Germany, Italy and Spain; however, probably due to increased awareness, there has been a rising trend in recent years of stress, depression and anxiety being self-reported. With these conditions accounting for 44% of work-related ill health and 54% of working days lost in 2018/19 in Great Britain, organisations need to continue to monitor their health and safety management.

The only other increasing trend since 1974 is in the number of deaths from mesothelioma, mainly linked to exposure to asbestos prior to 1980. This is because symptoms do not appear until around 20 years after exposure (white asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999).

HSE statistics for fatal injuries

Provisional figures for 2018/19 released by HSE currently show that 147 workers were killed in Great Britain during this period (date source RIDDOR).

Agriculture, forestry and fishing currently have the highest number of reported deaths (32) closely followed by the construction industry (30) with manufacturing next (26).

The cause of most fatal accidents in the workplace is falls from height, followed by struck by moving vehicles.

These figures do not include deaths involving workers involved in road traffic accidents or workers travelling by air or sea and other exclusions that are recorded by other reporting authorities.

Continuing to improve the health of workers

  • There are many factors that have contributed to the general decline in reported workplace accidents in the UK:
  • The statutory obligation to report deaths, injuries and diseases that occur at work
  • Regulations that require employers to implement health and safety standards
  • Prosecution and fines for organisations in breach of regulations
  • Identification of the risks to employees whilst carrying out their work, through risk assessments
  • General awareness that has created a more safety-conscious environment
  • Management systems that provide organisations with a framework to effectively manage their health and safety responsibilities.

21st-century Occupational Health and Safety risks

Accidents and fatalities are well recorded and monitored by HSE. However, new areas for concern have been highlighted that can have an impact on the health of employees and cost employers time and money through worker absence and reduced productivity:
  1. Worker fatigue is estimated to cost the UK between £115 to £240 million each year according to HSE. Shift workers are particularly vulnerable. Night shifts and working long shifts with limited breaks can increase the number of accidents and injuries. Fatigue slows reaction time, reduces coordination and leads to the underestimation of risk, among other things. It has been the root cause of some of the most notorious accidents in recent history such as Herald of Free Enterprise, Chernobyl and Exxon Valdez.
  2. Mental health problems cost the UK economy between 74 billion and 99 billion per year with costs to employers of between 33 billion and 42 billion per year according to the “Thriving at work” report published in 2017. An HSE report in 2019 covering work-related stress, anxiety and depression in Great Britain states that 12.8 million working days were lost with 602,000 workers suffering from the condition. Common causes were tight deadlines, too much responsibility and lack of managerial support.
  3. Work-related violence is treated the same as any other risk related to working in the eyes of the law. In 2017/18 there were 694,000 incidents of violence at work. HSE’s definition of work-related violence is “Any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work”.
  4. Employers have a legal duty to manage the risks that these health and safety issues present. They are responsible for reporting incidents and initiating measures to control and manage the risks.
With regulations and management duties enforced under the Health and Safety at work Act, fines and even imprisonment are handed out by the courts for businesses and individuals who do not comply with the law. The coroner, HSE, police and CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) can all be involved in an investigation into work-related deaths.

Maintaining an effective health and safety management system will provide a framework to help reduce deaths, accidents and poor health for employees and provide a safe environment for them to work. Employers will also benefit by reducing absenteeism and improving productivity.

You can find all the statistics here http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics and elsewhere on the HSE website.

Internationally recognised management system ISO 45001 (OHSAS 18001)

Health-and-Safety-proceduresFor organisations wanting to gain certification to a globally recognised health and safety standard, ISO 45001 certification will help reduce work-related injuries and increase production by minimising downtime.

Having a well-documented management system in place provides a framework that will demonstrate your commitment to the welfare of your employees and customers and help to reduce incidents and injury.

With the manufacturing and construction sectors being in the top 3 for reported workplace deaths, it is not surprising that organisations in these sectors regularly gain ISO 45001 certification to provide a management system that will reduce accidents and deaths in their workplace.

The recent migration of OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001 has moved the standard to a different focus. Where OHSAS 18001 focussed exclusively on risk, ISO 45001 considers risk and opportunity and is process-based as opposed to procedure based. The changes will provide an improved framework to control and manage workplace safety.

The ISO 45001 assessment process

For organisations certified to ISO 45001, regular surveillance visits and audits are carried out to ensure your management system is maintained and is constantly evolving to keep up with the latest risks and regulations.

During an audit, which is carried out by a Certification Body, one of the areas you will be assessed on is document control. By documenting and investigating accidents and monitoring injuries you will be able to identify areas for improvement to prevent injury and ill-health in the future.

Steps can be taken to train employees, provide protective equipment or clothing, control working processes and continually monitor and review feedback on how your preventative measures are working.

The Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle (PDCA) which is the backbone of many ISO management system standards has also been adopted by HSE to: “treat health and safety management as an integral part of good management generally, rather than a stand-alone system”.

One of the main changes in the migration of OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001 encourages top management to take the lead on incorporating the standard into the entire organisation and establish a safety culture throughout all operations of the business. The new format includes Annex SL which helps to implement the standard across multiple ISO management standards.

ISO 45001 migration from OHSAS 18001

The schedule for migration of OHSAS to ISO 45001 is taking place over a three-year period which ends on 12th March 2021. After this date, the OHSAS 18001 standard will be withdrawn.

If you currently have OHSAS 18001 certification and would like to migrate to ISO 45001, or you want to gain ISO 45001 certification for the first time, please call one of our team on 0121 241 2299 or request a quote.
A recent article on the BBC news website highlighted an incident at Eurofins, one of the UK’s largest forensic service providers. In June 2019 a ransomware attack severely affected the lab’s ability to provide their services to the Police. Work had to be suspended for seven weeks resulting in investigations and trials being delayed.

A senior manager at the company commented that cyber-crime could happen to any organisation, warning “It’s a threat to society” and all business sectors are vulnerable.

A cyber-readiness report from Hiscox in 2019 found that a significant majority of the firms surveyed reported that they had experienced one or more cyber-attacks with 61% reporting an attack last year, up from 45% the previous year.

The report also stated that the scale of ransom demands has risen, cyber-crime is now an unavoidable cost of doing business today.

What is Ransomware

Computer-infected-by-ransomware-virusCyber criminals target victims and infect their computers with malicious software. The software locks and encrypts the computer’s data to prevent access to the user. A ransom demand is then made to get your data unlocked. However, there is no guarantee your data will be unlocked after you have paid. More sophisticated criminal gangs target business networks and can cause chaos by encrypting multiple devices at once.

Phishing by hackers is one of the main methods used to gain access to computer networks. Targeting a user with what looks like a legitimate email to get them to open an attachment or click on a link that installs malware on their network and enables hackers to steal usernames and login details. Training for your employees is vital to make them aware of the risks.

Another approach by hackers is trying multiple usernames and password combinations in the hope that one will work so they can gain access to your computer network.

Just as effective is a Denial of Service attack where multiple machines bombard a single host with server requests until the server crashes and leaves your computer network unavailable until a solution can be found.

Cyber-crime protection with ISO 27001 certification

ISO 27001 is an internationally recognised Information Security Management System (ISMS). Certification to ISO 27001 will provide a framework to help you to manage the risks, train your employees, monitor and control your system networks and continually improve your management system. The ISO 27001 certification process will keep all your information assets secure by setting up a framework which would include:
  • Risk assessments covering where your data is stored and identifying any vulnerabilities
  • Training your employees to spot suspicious emails and warning them against opening attachments and links from unknown senders. This is very often the method used by cyber-criminals to spread malware.
  • Improving system security including firewalls, network management, anti-virus protection, access control, asset management, software installation, patch management, password management, back-ups and audits are some of the measures in the framework
  • Process for responding to a cyber-attack to mitigate the damage and repair the system to get you back up and running as soon as possible
  • Reporting, monitoring and logging activities to continually improve your system and keep up to date with the latest requirements.
The ISO 27001 ISMS covers more than just loss through cyber-attack. It also includes data loss or damage caused by natural disasters, theft and mismanagement.

Cyber-crime can have other devastating effects on your business. Legal regulations may have been breached and claims for compensation will have to be dealt with if sensitive information about your customers or suppliers gets into the wrong hands.

The ensuing adverse publicity and damage to your reputation will need to be managed to minimise the effect on your business.

You may have to bring in experts to fix the breach of your computer systems and consider how you will cover any financial losses.

Implementing ISO 27001 will provide a framework for identifying cyber risks to your business and establish processes needed to protect your information assets.
To find out more about the benefits of ISO 27001 ISMS, call one of our team on 0121 241 2299 or request a quote.
Breakdown-vehicle-recovering-a-car-to-PAS-43-standardsVehicle operators providing roadside recovery and repair services on roads throughout the UK must demonstrate that they have taken suitable precautions to protect their roadside workers.

Statistics from HSE show that working roadside can be a dangerous job. Though exact figures are not available because many road traffic incidents (RTIs) are not reported to HSE, there are several deaths from this work activity every year.

Suitable precautions include:
  • Training for technicians
  • Risk assessments
  • High visibility protective clothing for operators working in all weather conditions
  • Maintenance of vehicles and premises used by the operator.

PAS 43 standard

The PAS 43 standard for the safe working of vehicle breakdown and recovery operators was sponsored by SURVIVE, a partnership between the UK government, the Police Service, motoring service organisations and the motoring industry.

PAS 43:2018 is a management system that helps improve the safety of vehicle breakdown and recovery operators and their customers when they are attending an incident.

PAS 43 certification also demonstrates to authorities and organisations who purchase breakdown, recovery and removal services, that the company tendering for the business has achieved a recognised standard. A database is maintained on the SURVIVE website to enable organisations to check certificates are current and verify for themselves the validity of a recovery operators’ certification. All the operators listed on the database have been certified by a UKAS accredited Certification Body to ensure they meet the relevant procedures and training to a recognised standard. http://www.survivegroup.org/pages/publications/pas-43-database

Police, Highways Authority and motoring organisations will often require operators to be PAS 43 certified before they can tender for work with these organisations.

NHSS 17 and 17 B

National Highways Sector Schemes (NHSS) are quality management systems for organisations involved in activities relating to the UK road network such as landscaping, road surfacing and traffic management.

NHSS 17 and 17 B specifically cover vehicle recovery at highway construction sites and controlled roads for Highways England. The standard has recently been revised to fall in line with the ISO 9001:2015 revision and PAS 43: 2018 to allow easier integration using the ANNEX SL format.

Safe working practices for roadside operators

Training for your technicians needs to be regularly reviewed. As an employer it is your responsibility to provide suitable health and safety training that they need to carry out their work. Changes to highways, new technology and safety equipment is constantly evolving, for example:
  • The introduction of smart motorways means that operators may have to recover a vehicle that is in a live lane on a smart motorway with no hard shoulder. New procedures need to be followed with lane closures and reduction of speed limits coordinated by Highways England. Traffic officers or the Police may also be needed to support the recovery and keep your technicians safe
  • Protective workwear and equipment should be regularly inspected, maintained and renewed. Clothing must comply with EN20471 Class 3 and be suitable for use in all weather conditions. Damaged clothing or soiled high visibility workwear will lose their Hi-Vis properties if not maintained regularly
  • A proposal has recently been moved for debate through Westminster to change the amber warning lights to red on recovery vehicles and to discuss whether smart motorways are currently safe enough for roadside recovery.
Implementing a recognised standard such as PAS 43 and/or NHSS 17 and 17B will provide a management system to help you to monitor your procedures and safety standards to keep you up to date with the latest legislation and keep your technicians and their customers safe when carrying out roadside recovery.
To keep your recovery technicians safe on the UK road network call us or get a PAS 43 quote.