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New British Standard in Diversity and Inclusion

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As Britain becomes an ever more diverse society it seems incredible that there are still so many sectors of business and industry that hold on to outdated ideas. 

Highwire is positioned squarely at the heart of two prime examples – engineering and construction. The Highwire directors recognise the real potential of a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Several years ago they took the decision not to sit back and wait for things to change but to become actively involved with the movement for modernisation of employment practices.    

Joining a British Standards Institute committee, on behalf of the Women’s Engineering Society, Highwire Director and Chief Engineer Elizabeth Rickard has worked extensively (alongside her day job!) to promote the cause.

This effort bore real fruit last month with the launch, on 4 May 2017, of British Standard BS 76005 Valuing people through Diversity and Inclusion.

This video was produced by Manchester Business School who, in association with The Fairness at Work Research Centre, hosted the launch of the standard following its publication:

The new standard:

….provides a framework and recommendations for employers, and gives guidance on how companies can look beyond the protected characteristics such gender, race and disability described by the Equality Act 2010.   

Diversity & Inclusion are core to the Highwire business model. As well as being central to the development of BS 76005, Elizabeth Rickard has been actively promoting the standard and its principles.

Recently interviewed by Recruiter.co.uk, Elizabeth said that the key message for recruiters from the new Standard was that they should no longer look at a role and the kind of individual needed to fill it, but at a person’s capacity to do a role.

She continued:

“Employers shouldn’t assume that because a job had always been done or organised in a certain way this should ontinue. We assume that hours and place of work are part of the role, but when we break it down that is often not the case in the modern world.” “For example, through the use of technology, it can be fulfilled in a number of different places in a number of different times if it suits the company and the individual”.

You can read the full article on recruiter.co.uk here

The new British Standard isn’t Elizabeth’s only current work in the field. She has also recently been involved as a judge in the prestigious Women in Construction and Engineering (WICE) Awards which were announced at a gala evening in central London on 24 May. Read the full story here 

If you would like to know more about how the new standard can help benefit your business you can contact Elizabeth here

 

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Highwire judge at WICE Awards 2017

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Highwire are again pleased to be supporting the annual Women in Construction and Engineering (WICE) Awards.

A great night for all at the 2017 Women in Construction and Engineering Awards 

Women represent only 11% of the construction workforce in the UK and most of these jobs are office-based and only 2% work in manual jobs. When it comes to women in engineering only 9 per cent of UK engineering professionals are women, 18 percent in Spain, 26 percent in Sweden and 20 percent in Italy.

According to the Department of Civil & Building Engineering, Loughborough University, UK;

"The construction sector plays an important role in economic growth. However, the sector remains 
male-dominated and women’s growing role as decision-makers and buyers is not reflected by their 
input into construction innovation and creativity."

The aim of the WICE awards is to make Construction and Engineering more enticing to women. To create role models for women considering a career in these sectors, while encouraging companies to employ and train more women in these industries”.

Following a great launch event in 2016, the 2017 awards event held at the Hilton Bankside, London on 24th May were equally successful. Another great event celebrating diversity and inclusivity of women in construction and engineering.

Sponsors of WICE 2017

Judging process

For the 2017 awards, Highwire Finance Director and Senior Engineer, Liz Rickard, joined a panel of almost 60 industry professionals assessing over 150 finalists across 24 award categories.

Judging was carried out over an intense day at the end of April. Following detailed assessments of all finalists during the day, the judges’ decisions were finalised at the evening Judges Dinner. 

Some images from Judging Day

Highwire commitment

Highwire height Safety operates at the heart od a sector where there is recognised potential for significant progress in diversity and inclusion. We are committed to working proactively to encourage, develop and implement best practice to ensure the widest opportunity for all across construction and engineering. 

To find out more about our work in  this area, or to discuss your height safety needs with a company who really cares, do get in touch 

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BSIF Launches its Election Manifesto

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As the 2017 General Election approaches the British Safety Industry Federation is calling on the next Government to ensure that Britain retains its world leading position in occupational safety and health.

The BSIF is committed to the maintenance and continuing improvement of occupational health and safety across the UK

You may have recently seen the 1977 film of Blue Peter’s John Noakes (RIP) climbing Nelson’s Column. It is almost impossible to believe that sort of thing was common practice less than a generation ago!

 The new manifesto calls on the next government to be fully behind their aims and policy built around 4 pillars:

  1. Promoting the image and reputation of safety and health.
  2. Ensuring a good deal for the UK safety industry and workers in a global market.
  3. Enhancing the quality of safety products in the market and user knowledge.
  4. Implementing the Health & Safety Executive’s Helping Great Britain Work Well strategy.

Naturally, Highwire fully endorse the BSIF proposals

If you would like to read the manifesto in full, you can download it here

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CSCS Card Information for the Fall Protection Sector

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Following the withdrawal of the general access CRO cards, construction operatives must hold a skills card.

The new skills cards each covers a single occupation.  Only one qualification will be accepted and mapped to the required occupation.

The occupation name for fall arrest installation is:

Personal Fall Protection – Permanent systems

The accepted qualification is:

Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Accessing Operations and Rigging (Construction) – Pathway 7 – Fall Arrest 

Operatives may no longer be able to work on construction sites from 1st October 2017. The CSCS CRO (Construction Related Operations) Card has been withdrawn. The majority of cards expiring within 12 months. No new cards will be issued.

Operatives requiring replacement cards will now need to be enrolled on the qualification. This will allow them to obtain their skills in training card. This card is valid for 1 year to allow for completion of the NVQ.

Talk to Highwire

Since 2005, Highwire has been aware of the need for formal, nationally approved training and qualification standards in fall arrest.

Over the past 12 years, we have been working actively on the development of the training programme which is now the heart of the new NVQ Diploma. This experience has put us in a unique position in our sector. HIGHWIRE OPERATIVES ARE ALREADY NVQ QUALIFIED AND ASSESSED.

Whether you are looking to ensure your project sites meet the new standards or that your operatives are fully prepared for the new regime, Highwire services and experience can prove invaluable. Please get in touch to discuss your requirements.

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Small business – £1 million+ fines for Health & Safety breaches

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Legal Update

“Company hit with £1 MILLION fine after apprentice died”

“Largest ever fine £2.2m handed to ‘idiotic’ firm after death”

“£3m fine for oil giant as new HSE sentencing guidelines start to bite”

These are all headlines from last year – and the escalating figures are no coincidence. February 2016 saw the introduction of new sentencing guidelines. These have brought a dramatic increase in fines handed out for health and safety offences and corporate manslaughter.

The Health and Safety Executive’s clampdown doesn’t stop with the meteoric rise in financial penalties. Individuals are now more likely to be culpable. There is now a far lower threshold for prison sentences when a director, manager or employee is found guilty.

Everybody’s worst nightmare

A serious or, in worst case, fatal accident at work is obviously deeply distressing for all concerned. The devastating impact for family, friends and colleagues is inevitably accompanied by a loss of trust in the company. Where a tragedy – or even potential tragedy – could have been avoided but for breaches in protective procedures due to consent, connivance or neglect, there have always been financial implications. However, the new ‘Health and Safety Offences, Corporate Manslaughter and Food Safety and Hygiene Offences Definitive Guideline’ lifts these to an entirely different scale.

Fines now link to a company’s turnover. The starting point is dependent on the level of culpability, prior record and harm. In the worst cases, the guidelines make clear this could be up to 100% of the firm’s pre-tax net profit for the year in question. For the largest organisations, this could mean fines in excess of £100 million.

Clearly, health and safety must be at the forefront of the minds of everyone working in construction. With the new guidelines, the HSE has made its position abundantly clear. It is now for the coostruction industry to rise to teh challenge.

Unprecedented fines

Previously, fines for a health and safety offence leading to a fatality had a recommended starting point of £100,000. Now a medium-sized company (with a turnover of £20-50 million) could face a figure upward of £4 million. Even an offence by a smaller company without any death carries the potential for fine in the hundreds of thousands.

Since the new guidelines came into play, there have already been 16 penalties of £1 million or more. This compares to a previous total of just 32 since 1975. At the current rate, there could be 30-40 per year. Prior to February 2016, approximately five individuals a year received immediate or suspended custodial sentences. There have been at least 20 since and not all the offences in these latest cases resulted in injury.  

There is little doubt that one mistake could put a company’s future in jeopardy – and its management in jail.

Protect your employees – and yourself

Fortunately, few firms intentionally put workers at risk to save money or time, but a simple oversight, rushed decision or shortfall in expert knowledge can have the same disastrous consequences.

With the stakes so high, it is more critical than ever that companies can relieve that pressure with complete faith in the specialists. At Highwire, we not only provide exactly the right height safety equipment for the specific site and project but take all relevant precautions at every stage, from design and installation to maintenance and user training.

Our team has an in-depth understanding of our products and the industry, legislative requirements and up-to-date best practice – but crucially we don’t work in isolation. The new guidelines call for accountability at board level. It is important that those who are ultimately responsible within an organisation are actively engaged with the measures put in place. Only with input from both sides can the solution be carefully tailored to the individual circumstances, and factors such as budget be taken into consideration without any compromise on safety.

Don’t take risks with safety – contact Highwire today – 0161 612 7633 

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Fall Arrest Anchors on Test – Looks: Similar – Performance: see for yourself!

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Poorly designed fall arrest systems are dangerous – and can be deadly!

Take a look at this video from 3M testing 2 similar-looking fall arrests that behave very differently when they are asked to do their job!

Whether you are looking to test and certify your existing fall arrest systems or specify a new installation, talk to Highwire – the fall arrest specialists

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Your operatives access to construction sites is at risk

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The CSCS CRO Card is being withdrawn

Your operatives may no longer be able to work on construction sites from 1st October 2017. The CSCS CRO (Construction Related Operations) Card is being withdrawn with the majority of cards expiring within the next 12 months. No new cards will be issued after 31st March 2017.

It will be replaced with a skills card which is based on formal qualification (NVQ Level 2 or higher) and on-site assessed competence. For more information visit

http://www.citb.co.uk/cards-testing/construction-skills-certificate-scheme-cscs/cscs-card-cro-card-changes/

Under the CSCS CRO card scheme no formal skills qualification was required, simply a CITB Health, Safety and Environment test which could be taken online by anyone. This was ideal for the 100s of construction site skills where there was no formal qualification. However, the scheme also allowed people with no skills or experience to access construction sites. This is one reason why it was decided the scheme was no longer fit for purpose and in need of replacement.

New scheme demands formal qualification and practical assessment

A major difference with the new scheme is that cards will only be issued with enrolment for assessment of operative competence which must be carried out by an approved assessor.

The requirement for a formal competency assessment can be a big hurdle for trades and skills where there is nothing in place now. Potentially, there can be significant costs for anyone undertaking training and assessment. The National Apprentice Scheme, supported by the new apprenticeship levy on large firms, will offer training vouchers, but only for approved training programmes. While other programmes may be developed that meet the requirements of the new system, the costs of non-approved training and assessment must be borne 100% by the trainee and/or their employer.

Qualification for Fall Arrest Operatives

The relevant qualification accepted by CSCS for fall arrest installation operatives is the

Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Accessing Operations and Rigging (Construction) – Pathway 7 – Fall Arrest.

For your operatives who do not already hold this qualification, the first step will be to enrol them with a ProQual approved assessor. You can find one readily with an internet search for approved assessor. This will enable your operatives to obtain an “in training” CSCS card, which will be valid for 12 months. On successful completion of the NVQ, operatives can apply for the full skilled labour card.

Highwire has been actively involved in the development of this programme since 2005. If you have any questions about the training do get in touch.

CSCS cards are required on all major UK construction sites. They are already individually electronically verified, and by 2020 this will include biometric identification.

These are major changes to the way work can be carried out
on UK construction sites. You should be aware of the
new regime when organising planned works.

If you are a  specialist subcontractor enrol your operatives in good time to avoid them being turned away from construction site work.

If your project involves height safety/fall-arrest contact Highwire for the latest information on the new changes

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Is your site ready for the new operatives qualification regime?

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The Construction Skills Certification Scheme CRO Cards are being phased out. No new cards will be issued after 31st March 2017. All cards issued since 31st October 2015 expire on 30th September 2017.

CRO cards are being replaced by a regime of skills cards which are only available to operatives who can show they have a qualification that is on the national framework AND have demonstrated technical and practical competence in their skill to an OFQAL approved assessor during on-site observation. Each card will only be valid for a single skill.

Are your sites ready to work under the new regime?

The existing CSCS  scheme has been adopted by most major construction groups as a platform for higher levels of skill, health and safety on UK construction sites. The new regime is significantly more rigorous and supports a better demonstration of skills competence. The principle of no card – no site access is set to get even more widely adopted.

The new scheme is likely to be beneficial to site operators wanting to maintain high levels of competence and Health & Safety on their sites.

The fall-arrest experience

Do any of your sites have people working at height?  Although the new scheme is only now been rolled out, Highwire has been working on developing and implementing the principles of the scheme since 2005. Highwire is currently unique in the fall arrest sector in that our operatives are Level 2 NVQ qualified and competence-assessed.

Our experience can help you make the most of the new regime on your site  – call us to discuss your needs.

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New qualification regime for construction site operatives

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As announced recently, despite the looming Brexit, it is business as usual for height access and fall arrest safety standards in the UK

The same cannot be said regarding the qualification requirements for construction site operatives!

Over recent years there have been increasing concerns as to whether individuals working on construction sites have the required training and qualifications for the type of work they carry out.

The existing Construction Related Occupation (CRO) card (in place since 2005) is operated by the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS). The CRO card programme has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. The introduction of the CRO ‘Labourer’ card in 2014 saw the number of cards being issued jump from around 3000 per month to over 12000 per month.

With cards being available to anyone passing the straightforward CITB Heath, Safety and Environment test online, questions have been raised as to whether the CRO cards effectively demonstrate that holders have the required training and qualification for the work they are carrying out.   The conclusion was that CRO cards do not meet this requirement.

The new system

With the CRO card recognised as no longer fit for purpose, the CSCS has consulted with industry to determine the best way to address this issue.

October 2015 saw the start of the introduction of new measures which are paving the way for the withdrawal of the CRO card. Now, in 2017 the impact is really starting to be felt.

No new CRO cards will be issued after 31st March 2017 and any cards issued since 1 October 2015 will expire on 30 September 2017 with no option to renew.

In future, every construction site operative will be required to have a card showing that they hold
a nationally recognised qualification and/or formally assessed experience and demonstrated
skills for the occupation being undertaken. Cards will be occupation-specific.

Potentially, there can be significant costs for anyone undertaking formal training and assessment. To address this, the National Apprentice Scheme, supported by the new apprenticeship levy on large firms, will offer training vouchers, but only for approved training programmes. While other programmes may be developed that meet the requirements of the new system, the costs of non-approved training and assessment must be borne 100% by the trainee and/or their employer. Clearly, training and assessment which attracts funding will be in demand!

The impact for Fall Arrest

The CRO card scheme covered 100s of construction site occupations for which there were no nationally recognised qualification – including fall arrest. With the new scheme, national qualifications or formally assessed skills capability are mandatory.

For Fall Arrest, there is currently only one recognised qualification:

The ProQual L2 NVQ Diploma in Accessing Operations and Rigging (Construction) Pathway 7 Fall Arrest.

Approved competency assessors are also the only people approved to undertake skills/competence assessment

This effectively means that any prospective new fall arrest operatives must enrol with an approved assessor. This will enable them to obtain “in training” CSCS card valid for 12 months. On successful completion of the NVQ operatives can apply for the full skilled labour card.

Without this card, operatives will not be able to work on fall arrest tasks.

Talk to Highwire

Since 2005, Highwire has been aware of the need for formal, nationally approved training and qualification standards in fall arrest.

Over the past 12 years, we have been working actively on the development of the training programme which is now the heart of the new ProQual L2 NVQ Diploma. This experience has put us in a unique position in our sector. HIGHWIRE OPERATIVES ARE ALREADY NVQ QUALIFIED AND ASSESSED.

Whether you are looking to ensure your project sites meet the new standards or that your operatives are fully prepared for the new regime, Highwire services and experience can prove invaluable. Please get in touch to discuss your requirements.

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Business as usual for height safety standards following BREXIT vote

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There has been a good deal of speculation as to what will happen to a range of safety standards originating from Europe following last June’s vote.

We have now started to see indications that just because the UK is leaving the Single Market and Customs Union doesn’t mean a free for all on the standards front. This is particularly important in the world of height safety where retaining and developing the highest standards for both working practices and equipment is critical to maintaining a safe working environment for everyone involved.

A recent BSI committee meeting at the end of January has released this press statement confirming that European-based Safety Standards will remain at the heart of good business practice in the UK.

Highwire Ltd has been at the forefront of developing the highest levels of safety, training and inclusion across the Height Safety sector, as well as the wider construction industry.

If you have any questions about the potential impact of BREXIT on your height safety obligations, do get in touch

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