ASCL Annual Conference 2022: We are exhibiting

We are pleased to announce that we will be exhibiting at the ASCL Annual Conference from 11 – 12 March 2022 at the ICC in Birmingham, and will be situated at Stand 02.

Date

Friday 11 and Saturday 12 March 2022

Venue

The International Convention Centre (ICC)

Broad St, Birmingham

B1 2EA

Book your place

Further information and booking details can be found on ASCL’s website.

ISBL National Conference 2021: We are exhibiting

Safesmart will be exhibiting at the ISBL National Conference on Thursday 11 and Friday 12 November 2021 at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole, and we will be situated at Stand 16.

Titled ‘SBPs: The architects of solutions – resourcefully leading change‘, this year’s conference will focus on what school business professionals need to consider to guarantee the most effective use of their resources, including personnel, to deliver the greatest opportunities for pupil progress and development.

Date

Thursday 11 and Friday 12 November 2021

Venue

The Hilton Metropole NEC
Pendigo Way
Marston Green
Birmingham
B40 1PP

Book your place

Further information and booking details can be found on ISBL’s website.

Our Christmas Operating Hours

The Safesmart team would like to wish all our customers and their families a very Merry Christmas. After a difficult and challenging 2020, we hope that you all enjoy a happy new year.

For the Christmas holiday period, our office operating hours will be as following:

Closed from: Wednesday 23 December, 5.30 PM
Opening on: Monday 4 January, 9 AM.

During this period, our telephone number will be out-of-hours and all mailboxes will be monitored periodically.

We would once again like to thank our customers for their support during this challenging year.

Best wishes, 
The Safesmart Team

Health & Safety Compliance in the Digital Environment

‘Convergence Culture’

“Ready or not, we are already living in a convergence culture” declared Jenkins (Convergence Culture, 2006) during another period of booming technological advancement – notably the dawn of the smartphone age. In broader culture the term ‘convergence’ had already been borrowed from Biology, adopted in Economics, Mathematics and Computing; generally alluding to a theory that basically describes a phenomenon where some creatures living in the same environment – although unrelated to each other, will eventually morph into a similar structure independently or develop identical traits.

In Telecommunications Policy (1998) several authors describe technological convergence along the aforementioned biological lines: multiple functions/technologies predicted to eventually share the same platform either for necessity or to increase efficiency. Fast-forward more than 20 years and the digital landscape has not failed to live up to lofty predictions, with the modern internet certainly boosting the speed in which progress has occurred.

Currently it has become expected that almost every electronic device serves multiple functions. For example the wristwatch can now receive and make phone calls alongside serving as a digital running and exercise companion – surprisingly the (then lauded) Fitbit was only launched in 2010. However for Q3 of 2018, Apple’s Smartwatch leapfrogged Fitbit for second place in global shipments and market share, achieving a year-over-year growth of 54% compared to Fitbit’s 3.1% shrinkage; an impressive feat for a company merely incorporating a related activity into their ‘smartwatch’ platform – convergence reaping benefits.

Convergence Meets Compliance

Health & safety compliance has also experienced convergence, albeit at a slower pace than larger culture. Any potential advancements in the industry are of course expected to be subject to – and limited by health & safety legislation and regulations; and this is important because legislation (primarily the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974) created the government agency Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and gave them (to be more specific, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions) broad powers in forming prosecutable health & safety regulations.

However the enhanced accessibility of up-to-date and indexed legislation online through the HSE’s information portals has meant that external consultation of health & safety law is in essence no longer needed. Realistically a medium to small company can compose its health & safety policy internally with minimal prior expertise. Along similar lines, the subject of data protection law which was passed as the GDPR in 2018 and the Data Protection Act of 1998 before that (addressed by Whenmouth previously here) has in practice converged with health & safety under the broad umbrella of compliance.

Compliance – or in this context: ‘regulatory compliance’, is simply about an organisation adhering to internal and/or external regulations for which incurred penalties range from a small fine to full-blown prosecution. So for example, a fire risk assessment and GDPR training for the organisation’s Data Protection Officer/s (both which are mandatory under current law) and tangible proof that these activities have been completed (eg. certificates) means that a singular system that logs, stores, and makes this proof immediately accessible trumps alternatively having multiple separate systems for this, especially for convenience and time-efficiency.

Increasing efficiency normally results in the reduction of business operating costs; and the emergence of software that has the capacity to incorporate various related activities under the compliance umbrella has been inevitable. Another example: Human Resources programs and Learning Management Systems (LMS) operate at different points along the compliance scale, but the desire to integrate related functions into a singular platform has seen the emergence and growth of software like Smartlog, which both manages compliance-relevant employee data and allocates mandatory e-learning courses to selected members of staff.

The Importance of a Core Competency

In order to successfully sell units, a highly capable product still needs credibility, especially one that has converged. Much like Apple’s branding retaining its credibility in the fitness and health watch market (as mentioned previously) or Samsung’s vast electronics experience massively contributing in their overtaking of Nokia as the market leader for mobile phone unit sales in 2012: a core competency is needed in order to retain any market credibility and successful integrate.

Amidst the integration of health & safety e-learning, risk assessment templates, site management alerts, logs, task allocation & monitoring, and (soon to be) asset management into Smartlog; Safesmart’s core competency lies in a history of fire safety engineering and consultations as well as an active fire risk assessment service that is up and down the country every week. It is a brand that puts fire safety at the top of the compliance pile, with the experience and expertise to back this up.

This is mainly because fire safety remains the heart of workplace health & safety, with 11,141 accidental non-residential fires attended by the Fire and Rescue services in England during 2017/18. These incidents resulted in 12 fatalities and 653 casualties with notably 2,245 (20%) of the fires occurred in offices/call centres, retail and hospitals/medical care; reinforcing both the ethical and legal need for all types of businesses to conduct a thorough fire risk assessment regularly.

Overall fire accident deaths only accounted for 8.3% of the 144 total workplace fatalities in 2017/18, however alongside the devastating personal injuries and losses of life, fire incidents by nature also more often result in copious amounts of property and asset damage of which very few businesses would be able to recover from financially.

Summary

According to HSE (2018) there has been a long-term downward trend in the rate of fatal injury per 100,000 workers since 1989, with the 2017/18 rate around a fifth (1/5) of the 1988/89 figures. So evidently workplace safety has improved over the years; and alongside the technological leaps and bounds in communications during the last couple of decades, improvements are also occurring in the delivery of health & safety compliance management and training, especially in regards to efficiency.

Convergence continues to drive innovations in the digital sphere and larger society, but with seemingly endless possibilities in the amount of different business management functions that can be potentially converged into a single platform, any limit will simply depend on the business and their compliance needs. But objectively some functions are more important than others, especially in relation to the law; which essentially means that across the board there is a one size fits all option.

Bibliography

Bohlin, E. (ed.)(1998) ‘Convergence and new regulatory frameworks: A comparative study of regulatory approaches to Internet telephony’ in ‘Telecommunications Policy Vol.22, Issue 10′. Elsevier

Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture. New York University Press

Forbes (2010) ‘Getting Fitbit’. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/2010/06/11/fitbit-tracker-pedometer-lifestyle-heatlh-lifetracking.html#124362215556 (accessed: 23/05/2019)

IDC (2018) ‘New Product Launches Drive Double-Digit Growth in the Wearables Market, Says IDC’. Available at: https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS44500418 (accessed: 23/05/2019)

Deloitte (-) ‘Regulatory & ethical compliance: Navigating through choppy waters‘ . Available at: https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/audit/articles/regulatory-and-ethical-compliance.html (accessed: 30/05/2019)

GOV.UK (-) ’Fire safety in the workplace’. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/workplace-fire-safety-your-responsibilities/fire-risk-assessments (accessed: 30/05/2019)

GOV.UK (2019) ‘Fire statistics data tables’(Fire 0301 sheet). Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/fire-statistics-data-tables#non-dwelling-fires-attended (accessed: 28/05/2019)

HSE (2018) ‘Workplace fatal injuries in Great Britain 2018’. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/pdf/fatalinjuries.pdf (accessed: 23/05/2019)

GDPR and Schools – The Case for Training Up Teachers

The journey to GDPR implementation has been one heavily influenced by digital technology and our growing capacity to store enormous quantities of information and content. The reality of a massive storage space that can be accessed from pretty much anywhere around the globe is one driven by high-speed internet and headlined by Swiss Army knife level-of-versatile pocket PCs – smartphones and ‘phablets’. On the negative front, quicker access and mass centralised storage has also meant a higher potential for data breaches and leaks in methods – and at scales that physical documents, media, passwords and other locally stored information could never be lost or stolen.

Firstly, to rewind: the Data Protection Act of 1984 mainly dealt with how personal data (race, religion, criminal convictions, physical, mental and sexual health, etc.) was handled, purposed to legislate computer bureaus (essentially early IT companies), and pinpointed accountability in the event of data misuse through the introduction of an appointed Data Protection Registrar as well as a Data Protection Tribunal. As IT was fast beginning to play a larger and more integral role in companies, the law was playing catchup – attempting to govern the rising various avenues of potential data misuse.

Because at the time IT services were outsourced pretty much universally, in practice only IT staff were Registrars, and the average business did not see a need – or were mandated to appoint one. However, the introduction of the Data Protection Act of 1998 legislated that a data controller who wishes to process data had to register in a database that was under the control of the UK Information Commissioner’s Office. This act introduced less broad and more detailed offences for data breaches; for example making it a criminal offence to request that someone makes a Subject Access Request in relation to prior cautions or convictions (defined in the legislation as ‘sensitive data’) when attempting to hire or continue to employ them.

Fast-forwarding 20 years, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018 for all members of the EU and the EEA created a denser paper trail for data collection and its use (as well as more accountability). For example each company/ organisation who determines how the data they collect or hold is used is known as a data controller, but whoever processes the data on behalf of the data controller is known as a data processor. The legislation says that the details of this relationship between the two organisations should be readily available upon request, with their controller and processor contract fulfilling several minimum requirements such as committing to a ‘certain level of confidentiality and security’.

Evidently over time, as each data protection regulation has passed more blind spots and loop-holes created mainly by advancements in digital technology have been closed or exposed; however a major problem with GDPR lies in its very name: it is still very general.  A multi-issue bill that covers a truly complex and dynamic environment means that it is genuinely difficult to apply the relevant sections of the law to one’s business or organisation as even the amount of employees as well as the type of data held or processed affects whether certain regulations begin to apply or not.

Schools are a prime example of this legislative nightmare. For instance, companies with fewer than 250 employees are exempt from keeping a record of their processing activities unless their “processing of personal data is a regular activity, poses a threat to individuals’ rights and freedoms, or concerns sensitive data or criminal records” (European Commission, 2018).

Schools hold – and process enormous amounts of personal and sensitive data

As of 2016/17 UK schools have an average of around 16 full-time teachers per school (BESA, 2018) and even when factoring in part-time teachers, administration, site and contractual staff, the 250 employee threshold remains a long way away.

However state education officials and staff are carefully monitored and are held to the highest of standards in regards to a criminal record for example, and therefore their data is collected and held by their school employer as part of the previously mentioned “regular activity”. Therefore according to the law a Data Protection Officer (DPO) must be appointed in this event – even though the employee threshold has not been met. Additionally schools also hold enormous quantities of data about current and past pupils, of which requires even stricter measures of safeguarding under GDPR.

So evidently a school DPO – or DPOs have their hands very full with the two separate sets of data they have to safeguard, which both carry differing levels of required compliance in terms of how it can be processed. Therefore staff GDPR training or awareness courses are of the utmost importance in the education sector – from nurseries to notably universities and colleges, who typically employ more staff members than schools and enroll significantly more students.

Although each organisation sets internal levels (or standards) of compliance on top of mandatory regulations, GDPR training is necessary not just to avoid data misuse or breaches but to show an earnest attempt to comply with the law in the event that one occurs anyway, because ignorance is not a solid defense in court.

‘Smartlog’, Safesmart’s compliance and health & safety training software includes among its 20 training courses a basic GDPR training course as well as a much longer, more extensive course that is purposed for an organisation’s DPO. Up-to-date knowledge and frequent refreshment courses concerning the application of legislation are very helpful in promoting a more professional educational environment where students and teachers’ personal data is handled and stored much more carefully and in accordance with current law.

Bibliography

Legislation.gov.uk (-) ‘Data Protection Act 1984 (repealed 1.3.2000)’. Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1984/35/contents/enacted (accessed: 21/02/2019)

Law Society of Scotland (2017) ‘GDPR – Do you need a data protection officer?’. Available at: https://www.lawscot.org.uk/news-and-events/news/gdpr-data-protection-officers/ (accessed: 21/02/2019)

Legislation.gov.uk (-) ‘Data Protection Act 1998’. Available at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/29/contents/enacted (accessed: 21/02/2019)

European Commission ‘Rules for business and organisations’. Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/law-topic/data-protection/reform/rules-business-and-organisations_en (accessed: 21/02/2019)

GOV.UK (2018) ‘National Statistics: School workforce in England: November 2017’. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/school-workforce-in-england-november-2017 (accessed: 21/02/2019)

BESA (-) ‘Key UK education statistics’. Available at: https://www.besa.org.uk/key-uk-education-statistics/ (accessed: 21/02/2019)

Does my business need to be compliant?

One of the first questions a business should ask in order to both a) abide with current law, as well as b) to keep employees aware of, and equipped against the variety of hazards that are often present in a work environment. Then after this it gets really complicated.

“What does the law say regarding _?”

“What mandatory information does my staff need to know regarding health and safety?”

“What is the best procedure in the event of an accident or incident at work?”

“How do we as a business best handle personal conflict between employees at work?”

Different workplaces present different challenges

Next, different parameters also have to be considered: which industry is your business in? And how many workers do you have? (The amount of employees affects what parts of the legislation begin to apply to your business).

Workforce Issues

And most, if not all of the time, compliance is simply a step towards safeguarding your employees and keeping a hazard-free work environment. For example RIDDOR reported 14 fatal work-related injuries in 2017/18 and according to the Labour Force Survey there were also over 600,000 non-fatal injuries to workers in the same period. Estimates also count around 13,000 deaths a year linked to past exposure of toxins at work – primarily chemicals or dust.

The general well-being of employees also affects productivity. For example HSE reports that in 2017/18 25.8 million working days were lost due to work-related ill health, as well as 15.4 million working days lost due to work-related mental health issues.

With your workforce’s physical and mental health to be considered in the day-to-day running of both small and large businesses alike, an in-depth understanding of your overall work environment in relation to the complex relationships individuals in an organisation might have to both each other and their physical environment is crucial to running a business successfully.

Therefore compliance becomes more than just abiding with the law, but using the knowledge and expertise of professionals in order to create a comfortable work environment for stakeholders in your business – unsurprisingly, positivity and professionalism can be sensed by your customers, especially if employees are confident in their own well-being and safety whilst at work.


Compliance training and relating procedures can be a timely process

Making the decision

Compliance of the law is therefore just another building block to a healthy work environment, but understanding one’s own specific needs is very time consuming. For example, between 2015/16 and 2017/2018 the education industry suffered the highest rates of stress, depression or anxiety at 2100 people per 100,000 (2.1%) when compared to average all industry rate of 1.3%; and additionally the causes of these issues range from the workload amount to workplace violence/threats or bullying.

Clearly nuance and care is needed in determining what best fits and works for your company, but thankfully there are specialist and knowledgeable advisors who can help you figure out your specific needs so you can take the next steps.

Who are we?

Safesmart is primarily a provider of an online management and compliance software called Smartlog, but we also offer consultancy on health and safety for small, medium and large businesses alike. Different industries have differing concerns and needs, ranging from an extensive risk assessment for a construction firm to booking a legionnaire awareness course for a small local pool for example; and budgets differ from company to company.

However Safesmart is tailored with this in mind; enabling a growing business to manage your premises, compliance, accident/incident reporting, and many more, on one portable and versatile platform – Smartlog. We are very affordable – competitively so, and ever-improving our customer’s capabilities within our software enabling them to have a dedicated health and safety compliance database and program, giving them less to worry about.

You can find out more here: https://safesmart.co.uk/

Sources:

HSE (2018) ‘Work related stress depression or anxiety statistics in Great Britain, 2018’. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress.pdf (accessed 06/02/2019)

HSE (2018) ‘Work-related ill health and occupational disease in Great Britain’. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/ (accessed 06/02/2019)

HSE (2018) ‘LFS – Labour Force Survey – Self-reported work-related ill health and workplace injuries: Index of LFS tables’. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/lfs/index.htm#allillinj (accessed 06/02/2019)

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