Our team of experts have developed a good resource of answers to some common questions asked by our customers. If you have a question on workplace compliance, email us at info@assurityconsulting.co.uk


Assurity Consulting FAQs

    You state that you are an independent business – what do you mean by that?

    As an organisation we are independently owned, only offer impartial advice and management information based around our customers specific compliance needs. Our ethos is to deliver advice that our customers trust, delivered by people who our customers trust.

    We DO NOT, provide any third-party remedial services, such as treatment, cleaning, and removal work (directly or through cross-selling), nor do we endorse or recommend other suppliers. As all our people are directly employed, we can put multi-skilled teams together to support specific customer initiatives/solutions.

    Do you outsource your work to third parties?

    No. With the huge benefit of our own UKAS accredited laboratory, processing over 36,000 air and water samples per year, we are  self-sufficient for all the microbiological work we do – as well as providing complete traceability and control from sampling to analysis. Occasionally we may use very specialist laboratory analysis (i.e. chemical analysis of water and asbestos work) and we do use approved UKAS accredited providers for aspects of this work.

    What are your opening hours?

    Our usual office hours are Monday to Friday, 08:30-17:00, although we have arrangements in place so you can get hold of us as and when you need too.

    What services do you deliver?

    We specialise in operational buildings and compliance management solutions covering air and water quality, Legionella, asbestos, fire, accessibility, environmental management, food and health and safety. We can also support more specific investigations such as independent contractor or service reviews. A full list of independent solutions and advice we offer can be found at https://www.assurityconsulting.co.uk/services

    What services don’t you deliver?

    Being wholly independent we don’t offer any form of remedial work, be it treatment, cleaning, equipment, servicing, or maintenance. That is regardless of service area too, so whether it’s fire, air and water quality, Legionella, asbestos, or access, we only provide compliance management advice, training, and assessments.

    Are your services suitable for small businesses?

    The risk profile of an organisation is not related to its size, so we successfully work with all type of organisations from large multinationals with 100s of buildings to individual tenants in large buildings. All our services are tailored to the customers’ needs and their responsibilities however, so what you get is relevant to you and your legal obligations.

    What accreditations and certifications do you hold?

    It is important to us that we offer the best service and advice possible, and we often get asked “who checks the checker?” In answer to that, a range of people do, as we hold industry leading accreditations and certifications for our work. These include, ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001, UKAS ISO 17020, UKAS ISO 17025, LCA and Primary Authority with the City of London Corporation (health and safety) and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service (fire) and BAFE SP205 for our life safety fire risk assessments. In addition, individual members of the team hold qualifications and certifications relevant to their specialities, (e.g. IOSH, IIRSM, NRAC, IfE, CIEH, IBMS).

    Over the years we have also received a number of awards for our technical and customer service.

    More details on our accreditations, certifications and awards can be found at:

    Where can I find your business policies?

    You can find our business policies here:


    What level of business insurance do you hold?

    As would be expected of any reputable organisation we carry an extensive suite of insurances including Employers Liability, Public Liability and Professional Indemnity insurance.

    What broader opportunities do you get involved in as an organisation with the environment and local community for example?

    Examples of some of the initiatives we operate include:

    • Colleagues support several industry bodies and devote time and effort often in their own time. Examples are volunteers and sponsorship with the IWFM including a number of Special Interest Groups, and contributions to the BCO ESG Research Group.
    • We have several long-term relationships with charity partners such as Springboard, St Catherine’s Hospice, Chestnut Tree House, and Olive Tree Cancer Support, where staff can get involved in “make a difference day” and fundraising.
    • We source suppliers who have a positive impact on the environment and are conscious of how they work sustainably.
    • We undertake an anonymous employee wellbeing survey on an annual basis.
    • We actively invest in our team’s education, supporting several of our employees in gaining industry recognised qualifications to further their personal development and careers with us.
    • We reward employees for their loyalty to our company using our Loyalty Benefit Scheme.
    • We run internal events throughout the year that cover everything from supporting physical and mental wellbeing, to just having some downtime and fun.
    How can I contact you?

    You can contact us, by phone, email or letter and all the information you need is at https://www.assurityconsulting.co.uk/contact-us and the ‘contact us’ button (top right of the website page). We’d be delighted to hear from you.

Assurity Plus 2.0 FAQs

    Do you offer online compliance management?

    Yes, Assurity Plus 2.0 is our online property risk management software. There are lots of different software systems in the marketplace offering a similar service, but few, if any offer the tailorable functionality Assurity Plus 2.0 does. Our aim from the outset was to have compliance software that complemented our consultancy services, so end users could save time managing their compliance, not waste time managing the system.    

    Can you transfer my data from my current property compliance software?

    Yes, and with just a few clicks. We’ve already had several organisations transfer their previous compliance management data over to Assurity Plus 2.0 and benefitting from the increased functionality it offers.

    Do you have an app for your compliance management software?

    Yes, we do, and it is free to download from the App Store and Google Play. With our platform providing real time compliance management information, wherever you have connectivity, the app is just another addition to having all the information you need, when you need it.

    Do you offer a free trial or demo of your software?

    We’d be delighted to provide you with a demo of Assurity Plus 2.0 and all the functionality it offers. Click here to book your demo and see why it is increasingly the first choice for those serious about their compliance management.

    Can you provide references or case studies from other businesses that have used your software?

    Naturally as part of any investment you want to be confident that what you are purchasing will work for you. So, we would be delighted to provide customer references as and when you need them and case studies can be found at:

    30 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin) - Support with workplace compliance

    VIRTUS Data Centres - High quality solutions and services

    How does your software handle data security and privacy?

    Assurity Plus 2.0 is hosted on a highly secure platform and independent monthly penetration tests are carried out on the web services providing Assurity Plus 2.0, to make sure that that it remains secure.

    It also has a very granular security model so that you can finely control who has access to the information held on the system as well as meet your privacy requirements.

    Do you offer training or support for your software?

    The right levels of training and onboarding are fundamental to you getting the most out of your compliance management software. While the system is both intuitive and tailorable, we make it a priority from the out set to provide all who need it with the information they need. Ongoing support from your account manager and their administrator are also just a phone call or email away.

    Do you offer custom plans or packages for larger organisations?

    From single buildings to large portfolios, Assurity Plus 2.0 is already a competitive offer. Depending on your needs and the level of functionality you want for the software, we’d be delighted to tailor the best package for you, your compliance, and your budget.

    How often do you release updates and new features for your software?

    As you would expect we are constantly reviewing and updating the software behind the scenes to make sure it is delivering the best possible experience for all our customers. As much of the reporting on Assurity Plus 2.0 can be tailored by you to provide the information you need when you need it, it also minimises waiting around for the developer to work on your requests.

    I’ve lost my password, who should I contact?

    We can help, just contact your Assurity Consulting account manager or their administrator, and once verified we can get you back online with your compliance management.

Accessibility FAQs

    Do I have to evacuate my member of staff with a disability from the refuge point?

    If you have a member of staff with an impairment that may affect their ability to leave the building in the event of emergency, you must have procedures and methods in place to be able to evacuate. The best starting point for this is to create a Personnel Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) with them.

    During a pre-planned practice drill, if there is risk of the members of staff being put at further injury through the evacuation process then there is no requirement to evacuate them. However, you must have a means of being able to evacuate all persons from your refuge points without further assistance from the fire brigade in a true emergency. Techniques could include assistance from buddies, evacuation chairs, powered stair climbers and firefighting lifts.

    Related services: Accessibility, Fire Safety
    What are 'reasonable' adjustments under The Equality Act 2010?

    Reasonable adjustments must be made for workers with disabilities under The Equality Act 2010 to remove any potential barriers or provide auxiliary aids to assist them in their job role. Reasonableness is determined by the following; 

    • Practicability

    • Effectiveness of measure

    • Cost (availability of financial or other aid)

    • Extent of disruption

    • Extent of the company resources and considering other resources available

    These factors will vary dependent on the nature of the business, location and for each disabled person.  Our access auditor experts are able to offer advice on what would be considered reasonable in your situation. 

    Click here to watch the video on Youtube

    Accessibility - Access Audits

    Related services: Accessibility
    Is my building compliant with the Equality Act 2010?

    Compliant is not the right word to use when referring to disability in the context of the The Equality Act 2010.  The requirement of the act is to not discriminate and not to treat people with disabilities less favourably.

    There is guidance to help do this. However, it is difficult to determine if you comply, as the act is none specific and non-prescriptive. Your level of accessibility will also be constantly changing, as people and the surrounding environment change.  

    The best way to determine your current accessibility is to undertake an access audit or access management review. 

    Related services: Accessibility
    What is the definition of 'disability'?

    Disability is one of a number of ‘protected characteristics’ covered by the Equality Act 2010. Within the Act, disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial (more than minor or trivial) and long-term (typically 12 months or more) negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.

    Where a condition may be progressive or deteriorate over time, they can be classed as a disability, such as sufferers with cancer, HIV or multiple sclerosis for example, meet the disability definition from their day of diagnosis.

    Some conditions, such as addiction to non-prescription drugs, are not covered by the definition of disability and other recurring or fluctuating conditions (e.g. arthritis) have special rules in place.

    With qualified National Register of Access Consultants (NRAC) on our team we can help with any questions you may have about the suitability of your access provisions.

    Related services: Accessibility
    What has changed between the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 and the Equality Act 2010?

    Originally, through parts II and III of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 worked to protect people with disabilities from discrimination in areas such as employment and service provision. Since then the DDA Act only applies in Northern Ireland and the Equality Act 2010 now covers the requirements in England, Scotland and Wales.

    You could be considered as discriminating against a disabled person if:

    • You directly treat them less favorably than others

    • Through your policies, procedures and arrangements in place for all, you indirectly put someone with a disability at an unfair disadvantage.

    • Unwanted behaviour creates an offensive environment or violates the dignity of a disabled person

    • You treat a disabled person unfairly because they’ve complained about discrimination or harassment.

    For premises accessibility and inclusivity, you need to consider and make as appropriate, “reasonable adjustments” to ensure the workplace has the right facilities and equipment for any disabled employees or anyone else that may (reasonably) enter the premises or workplace.

    You are not obliged to make any alterations/adjustments, but you should:

    • Be aware of the barriers to access your premises/workplace has and consider what is needed.

    • Consult with any employees with disabilities, as to any adjustments you may need to make on their behalf.

    • Ensure any facilities you have provided (e.g. disabled washrooms and car parking spaces) are fit for purpose.

    • Consider what provisions you need to make for visitors or others who may want/need to access your premises/workplaces

    Our team of qualified National Register of Access Consultants (NRAC) can help with any questions you may have about the suitability of your access provision or provide comprehensive access audits, so you know the options available to you.

    Related services: Accessibility
    Why is it important to have PEEPs (Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans)?

    A PEEP (Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan) is a documented plan for a person who may need assistance or specific arrangements in the event of a building evacuation. A person may require a PEEP if they have any of the following:

    • Mobility impairment
    • Hearing impairment
    • Visual impairment
    • Cognitive impairment
    • Medical conditions or injuries

    A PEEP can be permanent or temporary depending on the circumstances of the individual who requires it. An example of a temporary PEEP would be a plan for an individual with a broken leg or an expectant mother. It is important to note that not all people with an impairment or disability will require assistance in a building evacuation. If a person can leave the building unaided, they are unlikely to require a PEEP.

    A PEEP may involve several different people, for example a colleague who may act as a ‘buddy’ or the building security team. It is vitally important that all persons involved in a PEEP are aware of their responsibilities to ensure that the plan can be carried out efficiently in an emergency.  Having a documented plan in the form of a PEEP will assist with this.

    It is important to have PEEPs in place for anyone in your office/ building to ensure that everyone can safely exit the building in the event of an emergency. As the responsible person, you are responsible for the safe evacuation of all persons on your premises to a place of ultimate safety. It cannot be left to the Fire and Rescue service to assist, so the PEEP must document how to evacuate the individual to a place of ultimate safety, e.g., the assembly point, not just a place of relative safety, e.g., a refuge point within the building.  It is best practice to have a PEEP template available, even if it is not currently required, so it is easily available, if required in the future.

Air Quality FAQs

    Are naturally ventilated buildings heathier than air conditioned buildings?

    Many people like to open windows in their office to let some 'fresh' air into the building. To call the air outside of the building (if you work in a town or city, 'fresh' could be a contradiction in terms. In fact, the air outside the building probably contains more pollutants such as carbon monoxide from vehicular emissions, than the air inside the building. 

    Under the (Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, the employer is obliged to demonstrate that the air inside your building is equal to, if not better than the air outside. Artificial ventilation systems, such as air conditioning are designed to remove the majority of pollutants from the outside air, before it is supplied to the building. In fact, our testing has shown that naturally ventilated buildings are more likely to suffer with heat gain in the summer and high levels of carbon dioxide in the winter, than buildings with artificial ventilation systems.  

    Related services: Indoor Air Quality Management

    Do air conditioning systems spread cold and flu germs?

    The viruses that cause colds and flu require a lot of tender loving case, and the right environment to grow. Air conditioning systems provide very harsh environments where it is impossible for these viruses to survive. 

    Related services: Indoor Air Quality Management

    How often should ventilation systems be cleaned?

    There is no legal frequency at which ventilation systems must be cleaned.

    However, under the Health & Safety at work Act etc 1974, and the Occupiers Liability Act, an employer has a duty of care to make sure that a safe and healthy environment is provided for employees and occupants. Therefore, as an employer or landlord, it is your responsibility to make sure that the air being supplied to the environment meets the requirements as set out in for example the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) regulations 1992 (Regulation 6) and L24 – The Approved Code of Practice attached to the regulations which states “The air which is introduced should, as far as possible, be free of any impurity which is likely to be offensive or cause ill health”.

    Cleaning a ventilation system is a drastic and expensive measure in maintaining a good standard of indoor air quality. Thankfully, ventilation systems in fact rarely require cleaning to make sure of good air quality; therefore, it tends to be more cost effective for employers and landlords to monitor the air being supplied. This can clearly demonstrate the cleanliness of a ventilation system, compliance with regulations, and identify any potential issues which may need attention.

    Related services: Indoor Air Quality Management

    How can carbon dioxide levels affect the productivity of my employees?

    Competitiveness and productivity in the workplace are of paramount importance, with more emphasis on this than ever in the current political climate. Employee performance declines when Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are high and also creates the impression of a stuffy office environment among many workers. With organisations wanting to boost their productivity, understanding how carbon dioxide impacts your employees’ work-life is crucial.

    Occupancy levels can have a major effect on the quality of your office environment. Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels outdoors typically range between 300ppm (parts per million) and 500ppm. In-office areas, this can increase to levels between 700ppm and 1000ppm, depending on the occupant density and the level of fresh air entering the office space. BRE (Building Research Establishment) have identified a correlation between air-tightness and levels of ventilation. Highly airtight buildings are energy efficient but less ventilated and prone to accumulation of air pollutants. Occupants can often complain that they’re too warm, resulting in thermostats being adjusted. However, elevated carbon dioxide levels can often be a result of this. An increased intake of CO2 can actually lead to poor decision-making and thinking processes meaning that people’s mental capacity decreases. Reaction times are also slower, so employees may find it challenging to react properly and swiftly to things, such as a fire evacuation or even simple, everyday tasks. CO2 tends to increase tiredness as well, meaning your employees will not be at their best and find it harder to cope with workloads and stresses. All of this can contribute to a low-productivity environment.

    A recent study showed that individuals working under heavier CO2 concentrations (1400ppm in the study), performed 50% worse in cognitive tasks compared to those working in the low 550ppm scenario. The long term exposure limit (8-hour period) for CO2 has been set at 5000ppm by The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 and in the Health and Safety Executive document EH40 Workplace Exposure Limits. This demonstrates that without regular monitoring in place, your office environment could have a seriously detrimental effect on employee productivity before breaching legal limits.

    Related services: Gas Analysis

    Is it a legal requirement to carry out air quality testing in my workplace?

    Workplace comfort and indoor air quality are important issues for today’s employees, and there is an increasing amount of legislation in these areas that are open to misinterpretation. This has led to much confusion over what needs to be done in order to comply with legislation whilst making sure that safe air and a healthy environment are provided for staff.

    There is currently no legal requirement to have an air quality monitoring regime in place within your workplace. However, there are legal stipulations as to office environment provided to your staff and occupants. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations state that ‘Effective and suitable provision shall be made to ensure that every enclosed workplace is ventilated by a sufficient quantity of fresh or purified air’. Section 6 details that ‘Enclosed workplaces should be sufficiently well ventilated so that stale air, and air which is hot or humid because of the processes or equipment in the workplace, is replaced at a reasonable rate.’ Additionally, ‘The air which is introduced should, as far as possible, be free of any impurity which is likely to be offensive or cause ill health.’

    Section 7 of the Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations states that the ‘temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable’. The HSE have guidelines as to the recommended lower temperature parameters. Conversely, no meaningful figure is given to the upper indoor temperature parameter, only that employers have an obligation to ensure that it is ‘reasonable’.

    The document EH40 contains the list of workplace exposure limits for use with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations. These are the legal limits set by the HSE at which individuals should be exposed to at work, ranging from dust to carbon dioxide.

    So although there is no legal requirement to have an air quality monitoring regime in place, it will provide you with the key evidence needed to demonstrate that you are complying with legislation and making sure that a healthy environment is provided to staff.

    Related services: Indoor Air Quality Management

    What are PM10 and PM2.5s?

    The air we breathe not only consists of oxygen, and other primary gases such as nitrogen and carbon dioxide, but also contains various materials from the surrounding environment; particulates. These are tiny bits of solids, or liquids, suspended in the air and are a complex group of pollutants that vary in size, shape, composition and origin.

    Particulates in the air are naturally picked up in air streams and will vary from dust, debris, and other contaminants. The particulates present will be affected by the type of environment – a rural environment will be very different to an urban one, but also more localised factors such as traffic, construction and manufacturers will have a large effect.

    Some particulates are more harmful than others. Generally, the government focuses on PM2.5 and PM10 (the PM translating to particle matter, and the numbers relating to the size of the particles, measured in microns).

    PM10 pollutants often are large enough to get trapped in your nose when inhaled. The largest particles (PM10) get caught through the nasal passage; however, it’s the PM2.5 particles that are more concerning. These are microscopically small which can not only enter your lungs but also into your bloodstream. It’s these particles which can pass through the nerves which connect the nose to the brain. Increased respiratory symptoms, aggravation of asthma, irritation of mucous membranes and bacterial infections are just some of the problems related to particle matter.

Asbestos FAQs

    Do I need an asbestos management survey?

    There is no requirement to have an asbestos survey carried out. Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012 states the duty is to manage asbestos not a duty to survey. However, in order to manage asbestos that may be within your building, you need to know where it is, what type of asbestos it is and importantly, what condition it is in.

    If your building was built before 1999, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s, there is a good chance that some materials used within construction or fit-out contain asbestos. The only way that you can be totally certain of this is by carrying out a management survey which will help you assess, prioritise and manage these materials and allow you to carry out regular assessments to ensure that they remain in good condition.

    You can assume that all unknown or suspect items contain asbestos, but in a larger building, this can quickly become unmanageable.

    A management survey should be carried out by an independent organisation that is not linked to any removal or remediation company so that you can be sure that any recommendations given are made to help you with effective management.

    Related services: Asbestos Surveys
    How can I improve my asbestos management?

    Knowing exactly where you are with your asbestos management is the key to success. This means having accurate and up to date information on all of your asbestos-containing materials (ACM).

    The information you hold about asbestos must be kept up to date and made available to anyone who may work with on it or disturb it. Regular reviews and condition assessments should form an essential part of your strategy, alongside training for all relevant personnel. These are the key requirements and responsibilities of the duty-holder.

    The likelihood is, if you are relying on a survey that is now years old, which has never been supported with the condition assessments, reviews and training, then your management may not be as robust as you think it is. As a starting point for you, you could check any areas that are “not assessed” or that have been excluded in your survey report.

    Related services: Asbestos Management
    Do I have to remove all asbestos from my building?

    Given the dangers that asbestos can pose to human health, it’s logical to assume that the best way to minimise the risks associated with asbestos is to remove all asbestos containing materials (ACMs) from our buildings. There is, however, no legal obligation to do so. Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations requires you to manage your asbestos but doesn’t specifically require you to remove it. Removal of asbestos poses its own risks. Disturbing ACMs increases the risk of asbestos fibres being released into the air which, if breathed in, can lead to severe harm to health many years later. On the other hand, leaving ACMs in place, if they are in good condition, poses no danger to health. T

    his means that removing asbestos needs to be carried out by specialist contractors and depending on the type of ACM may require severe access restrictions to your building to be in place whilst the work is carried out with further specialist air sampling contractors being bought in to make sure that no fibres are present in the air around the removal work. This makes it a costly and time-consuming process. Asbestos waste can also only be accepted by certain waste facilities making it difficult to make sure that even lower risk ACMs can be legally disposed of. You should therefore base your decision to remove or manage your asbestos in situ on a risk assessment that considers the likelihood of your ACMs posing a risk to health in their current state.

    Related services: Asbestos Surveys

    Do I need to provide asbestos awareness and management training for my staff?

    The current Regulations (CAR2012) place a legal duty on employers to provide information, instruction and training to any of their employees who are likely to be exposed to asbestos as part of their work.

    Staff who fall into this category should be aware of what asbestos is, why it is dangerous and the precautions they need to take when working in areas that contain asbestos.

    Staff who are responsible for managing asbestos in your buildings should also be competent to perform this role and understand your policy, procedures and emergency measures.

    Related services: Asbestos Training

    How many types of asbestos could be found in my building?

    There are three main types of asbestos that have previously been used:

    • Chrysotile (known as white asbestos);
    • Asbestos Grunerite (known as brown asbestos); and
    • Crocidolite (known as blue asbestos).

    It is often said that white asbestos is of least risk, due to the fibre shape and blue asbestos is of most risk. You cannot tell what type of asbestos is used from the colour of the finished product. White asbestos is the most common type found today as it was the last type to be banned, and was found in a wide range of products, often as a composite of different materials from cement to plaster and bitumen products.

    There are also three 'lesser' known types of asbestos:

    • Anthrophylite;
    • Tremolite; and
    • Actinolite.

    These were not generally commercially used and can be found as contaminates in other types of asbestos, with tremolite being the most common.

    Related services: Asbestos Management

Environment and Sustainability FAQs

    How do I go about reviewing my environment policy?

    Over the last decade, we have seen sustainability develop from primarily an environmental topic to cover areas as diverse as health and safety, wellbeing, social value, modern slavery and the living wage. The nature of the organisation will dictate how each element interacts, the significance it has and so the profile it presents. Understanding this is fundamental to successfully implementing and delivering on your policy aims.

    Your environmental policy must address the following:

    • Demonstrate commitment by getting it signed, dated and endorsed by senior management.       
    • Include a description of your organisation and the activities which may impact on the environment.
    • Include a commitment to education and training of employees, particularly those responsible.
    • State how progress will be monitored, and environmental performance reviewed.
    • Document realistic, achievable and relevant targets to your organisation's environmental impact.

    A strategic level management review is an ideal step in gaining that understanding. It provides a clear picture of your current position, the information you have/are reporting and so where your resources can be deployed to best effect for your department and your organisation.

    Related services: Environmental Management
    My building could be at risk of flooding, what do I need to do?

    Floods over the past few years have highlighted the urgent need for long-term business continuity planning.

    Flooding also has secondary problems as it can cause travel problems, power cuts and water supply disruption.

    We can carry out a water continuity management review to see where your biggest risks are and help you to minimise the impact to your organisation.

    Related services: Environmental Management
    How can my organisation become ISO 14001 certified?

    ISO 14001 is an internationally recognised environmental management standard that specifies the requirements for an effective Environmental Management System (EMS). The ISO 14001 standard provides a set of standards and guidelines that define the core EMS itself and the auditing procedures necessary for verification. The standard gives guidance on what you need to do structurally but does not define the specific environmental performance goals and the core requirements of an EMS are applicable to organisations of all sizes, types and locations.

    What are the stages involved in becoming certified?

    1. The first step in working towards certification involves carrying out an Environmental Management Review. The review process provides a comprehensive analysis of the environmental performance, issues and impacts related to your business activities. The process involves drawing a list of all those aspects at the site which could have any effect on the environment and identifying any gaps in current environmental management. From here specific environmental aspects of an organisation can be prioritised to set clear objectives and define the scope of the Environmental Management System.
    2. All employees should be provided with training on what ISO 14001 is and why your organisation is looking to become certified.
    3. Once an EMS has been developed and documented, employees will follow procedures, collect records and make improvements to the system. This collection of records will be required during an audit to show that your processes meet the requirements set out for them and that improvements are being made. Different certification bodies will identify a certain length of time in which this needs to be carried out, to make sure that the system is mature enough to show compliance.
    4. Internal audits should be carried out to gain an understanding of how your system is working. This will allow you to find any gaps where processes are perhaps not doing what was planned and allow you to make necessary improvements.
    5. A management review meeting should then be carried out to make sure that processes have adequate resources to be effective and improve.
    6. Finally, when your organisation is fully prepared, the external certification body will audit your organisation in two stages. The initial stage reviews documentation to verify that your organisation is meeting the necessary requirements of the standard and then this will be followed by an on-site audit.

    Related services: Environmental Management


    What is an environmental management system?

    An environmental management system (EMS) helps an organisation achieve environmental objectives through consistent review, evaluation, and improvement of its environmental performance and is based plan, do check, act methodology.  The system consists of policies, processes, procedures and records and document how your organisation meets regulatory requirement by assessing and monitoring interactions with the environment and helping to prevent negative environmental impacts and improve environmental performance.

    Related services: Environmental Management

Fire safety management FAQs

    When should I undertake a Fire Risk Assessment of a newly constructed property?

    Firstly, do you require a Fire Safety Assessment prior to your Fire Risk Assessment? PAS 79-1 Fire Risk Assessment Part 1: Premises other than housing Code of Practice states that Pre-Occupancy Fire Safety Assessments “are carried out if the end user wants to establish that the construction stage of the building has been completed, the fire strategy has been implemented correctly, and the necessary fire safety design measures have been incorporated prior to hand over and subsequent observation”. It further states that “it is important that a Pre-Occupancy Fire Safety Assessment is not confused with a Fire Risk Assessment to which PAS 79 refers”.  

    Next, do you wish to have a Pre-Occupancy Fire Risk Assessment? This can be undertaken once handover has been completed, but before the premises is fully occupied. The purpose of this is to determine the fire life safety control measures you need to have in place prior to occupation. Often seen as a way of formulating a fire safety snagging list that can be rectified to improve life safety measures prior to occupation.

    It is very important to remember that if a Pre-Occupancy Fire Risk Assessment is undertaken a full Fire Risk Assessment must also take place. PAS 79-1 states ‘the FRA should be carried out only when the premises are in normal use’. 

    Related services: Fire safety management

    What does the Fire Safety Act 2021 do?

    In essence, the Fire Safety Act 2021 clarifies the scope of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO), to make it clear that the Responsible Person or Duty Holder must manage and reduce the risk associated with external cladding and fire doors in their building. This is a development which has appeared following the events of Grenfell and fills in gaps left in the RRFSO when it was originally passed. These requirements apply to buildings with two or more domestic premises, regardless of height.

    The Fire and Rescue Service now possess powers of enforcement over those found not to be adhering to these new changes, and notices could be provided to those found to not be complying with the new legislation.

    Responsible Persons are now required to include a new range of areas in the Fire Risk Assessment for these types of buildings. These areas include:

    • External Cladding;
    • Anything mounted on external walls such as windows, balconies and fixings;
    • Common Areas; and
    • Doors between private flats and common areas. 

    The Act has also clarified who the Responsible Person is in terms of managing the risk of a fire in these buildings, and therefore places the onus on them to make sure of the prevention of fires in the future. This also allows for the Fire and Rescue Service to identify accountability when failures to comply with the RRFSO, and now the Fire Safety Act, take place.

    Related services: Fire safety management

    Evacuation: Assembly Points vs Dispersal Systems – the pros and cons of each

    The primary objective of an evacuation plan is to make sure that in the event of a fire, the occupants of a building can reach a ‘place of ultimate safety’ outside the building. This is defined as a place in which there is no immediate or future danger from fire or from the effects of a fire.

    An assembly point is an allocated safe area outside of a building where people are asked to gather after evacuation. This area should be clearly marked with appropriate signage and should be identified both in the fire evacuation plan and on fire evacuation notices. The fire assembly point should provide enough space for all of the building occupants to assemble and should not disrupt or obstruct roads or public right of ways. The assembly point should also be of sufficient distance to make sure that the attending fire-fighting services are not disrupted in their efforts to tackle the building fire. The benefit of using a designated assembly point is that it is easier to make sure everyone is accounted for and to communicate with staff to let them know when it is safe to re-enter the building, or to go home.

    We have found that in a post-COVID world, many members of staff are not familiar with the location of the designated assembly point and instead choose to congregate near the building. Finding a suitable assembly point to provide safe refuge for buildings with large numbers of staff may not always be easy, especially in densely populated areas and cities. Instead, you may consider implementing a ‘dispersal system’.

    With a dispersal system, occupants are told to leave the building either for a set period (20-30 minutes), or until they have been instructed that it is safe to return (via a mass communication system) when the nature of the alarm is determined. A mass communication system is especially important when having to notify occupants that the building is not safe to re-occupy and they need to go home.

    An alternative option is a hybrid of both systems, by organising building occupants into small groups, each one assembling in a different location. If you opt for this method you’ll need to make sure there is a procedure in place to make sure that everyone is accounted for. Communication is key here, whereby your fire marshals are responsible for liaising with each other to check that staff have safely evacuated to the correct location.

    Both methods of evacuation can be effective if implemented correctly, and your decision may even be based on your security arrangements e.g. terrorism response plan. However, the key focus should be on providing suitable training to staff, having the plans well documented, and carrying out regular drills to make sure that staff know where to go and how to check-in and let you know they have safely evacuated the building. 

    Related services: Fire safety management

    Why is fire safety important in the workplace?

    Fire safety in the workplace is primarily the responsibility of the employer. Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO) in England and Wales employers with five or more employees must appoint a responsible person to make sure that fire safety in the workplace is sufficient and carry out a fire risk assessment in that workplace. The Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010 and The Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006 are applied in those areas of the UK.

    The three main reasons why an employer must maintain good standards of fire safety in the workplace are moral, legal and financial.


    There is a moral duty to promote good fire safety in the workplace. By having adequate fire policies and procedures in place an employer is showing they take fire safety seriously. There is also a moral duty as an employer to do all you can to reduce the chance of fire-related fatalities, injuries, and environmental damage.


    From a legal standpoint, by not promoting good fire safety and maintaining good practices in the workplace, as an employer you risk not complying with legal requirements and consequently facing enforcement action or prosecution from the local fire and rescue service authority. Prosecutions can be brought against both the employer and individuals depending on the circumstances. The fire and rescue service has the power to issue notices:

    • An alterations notice can be issued “if it is felt the premises poses a serious risk to occupants, or it could pose a serious risk if a change is made to the premises or the use to which it is put.”
    • An enforcement notice can be issued “if the fire and rescue service find a serious risk that is not being managed, it will say what improvements are needed and by when.”
    • A prohibition notice can be issued “if the fire and rescue authority thinks the fire risk is so great that access to your premises needs to be prohibited or restricted.”


    By having good fire safety practices in the workplace as an employer, you are minimising the possibility of avoidable costs which could include (but are not limited to):

    • Repair costs of damaged buildings or equipment;
    • Costs related to damaging the environment;
    • Costs associated with the fire investigation and legal fees;
    • Costs of false alarms (loss of productivity and potential fines from the fire and rescue services); and
    • Loss of revenue or profit related to a bad business reputation and unmotivated staff.

    Related services: Fire safety management

    How often should fire safety training be provided?

    Fire safety training is key to maintaining a culture of preventing, managing, and handling fire risks. You may need several levels of training within your organisation as those with an increased responsibility e.g. fire wardens, will need more comprehensive training. Those with the ultimate duty of care over everyone in the workplace could also receive more detailed responsible person training. Everyone within the workplace should at minimum, initially receive training on:

    • What to do when a fire is discovered;
    • How to raise the alarm;
    • What to do if you hear the fire alarm;
    • Where the assembly points are located;
    • Who contacts the emergency services;
    • Firefighting policy; and
    • How to know it is safe to re-enter the building.

    Fire safety training is a legal obligation. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires you to provide whatever training is necessary to ensure, as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of your employees. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRFSO) 2005 specifies this further, requiring training at the time when they are first employed, when being exposed to new or increased risks and should be repeated periodically.

    With all new starters initial fire safety training induction should be supplied, refresher training can take the form of a fire drill, which is already required to take place at least annually and should cover all shift patterns. If there are more significant risks or increased responsibilities, then more substantial training will be required.

    Related services: Fire safety management

    What should fire warden training include?

    Having fire wardens in place is not only beneficial in terms of having appointed assists in an evacuation, but also trained fire wardens will have a greater ability to hazard spot, making them an important means to proactively manage fire safety. This in turn can help to promote an enhanced fire safety culture in the workplace. 

    As fire wardens take on more responsibility, they require comprehensive training to ensure that they are well equipped to carry out their duties. Typically, fire warden training will include the following elements:

    • The importance of fire safety and its potential devastating effects;
    • Causes of fire;
    • The physics of fire and smoke spread;
    • Fire prevention;
    • Legislation and legal responsibilities;
    • The financial cost of fire;
    • Fire warden responsibilities both proactive in prompting fire safety and reactive in the event of an evacuation;
    • The means of escape for disabled person and the Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan process (PEEP), as well as their role in checking refuge points to ensure everyone has a means of evacuation;
    • Your specific companies ’emergency procedures and building evacuation procedures’; and
    • Firefighting and extinguisher use, theory training is acceptable.  

    Assurity Consulting offers fire warden training that is tailored to your requirements and uses your building specific policies and procedures. The session is usually delivered in house and combines classroom and practical exercises to make sure that the delegates have a full understanding of their important role as a fire warden.

    Related services: Fire Warden Training

    What are the maintenance requirements and frequencies for electrical vehicle charging units?

    As with all electrical equipment, it is important to make sure that regular maintenance and servicing is carried out in line with the manufacturer’s/ installer’s recommendations. In most cases it is recommended that at least annual maintenance and servicing is carried out by a competent contractor. If the electrical vehicle charging unit/s are being used frequently, then increased maintenance and servicing regimes may need to be adopted.

    In addition to regular maintenance and servicing, PAS 79-1:2020states that electrical vehicle charging units should be subject to periodic inspection and testing, like all other fixed electrical installations. This should take place on your electrical vehicle charging unit/s every 5 years.

    As the electrical vehicle charging unit is likely to have parts that are regularly moved around, this piece of equipment should receive regular portable appliance testing (PAT) in line with your organisations policy for managing electrical equipment. It is suggested that annual PAT is suitable for this type of equipment.

    Most electrical vehicle charging units have an RCD button fitted. This should be tested every 6 months, It is similar to an emergency light flick test. 

    It is good practice to carry out regular visual inspections (daily/weekly – dependent on usage, number of units and potential likelihood of damage) of your electrical vehicle charging unit/s. This will make sure that the unit is in good condition and that it is working correctly, and allow you to identify any potential faults and proactively manage them, before they become an issue.

    All maintenance tasks, tests and visual inspections should be formally documented.

    Related services: Fire Safety Management

    Where should I place fire extinguishers in my building?

    Fire extinguishers play a vital role in any fire protection plan in all environments. They are a first aid response to fire and can help to prevent catastrophic damage to property and loss of life. The siting of fire extinguishers is therefore extremely important.

    Fire extinguishers must be always available for immediate use. They should be permanently mounted on suitable brackets; floor stands or in extinguisher cabinets. They must be sited in visible places so that they can be easily seen by those following escape routes; this could be near to corridors, room exits, lobbies, stairwells, and landings. They are often also located near fire alarm call points so that someone can raise the alarm and use the extinguisher should a fire obstruct their safe escape from the building.

    You must also consider suitable instructional signage. This signage will ensure that if someone is going to use an extinguisher, that they are aware of the type of fire that the extinguisher is suitable for and how they should use it.

    Typically, we would find carbon dioxide and water fire extinguishers in office workplaces, however if you have more complex systems (for example a laboratory or a kitchen) in your building, you may consider other types of fire extinguishers. Specialist extinguishers such as wet chemical and powder extinguishers must be sited within easy reach of the specific hazard, for example a deep fat fryer.

    In conclusion, the minimum number of fire extinguishers provided should be one water and one carbon dioxide for every 200 meters of floor area, positioned close to any high-risk areas, in line of sight with an exit and positioned adjacent to fire alarm call points.

    Related services: Fire Safety Management

    I have had a Fire Safety Certificate carried out for my premises in the past, is it still valid, and do I still need to have a fire risk assessment completed?

    Under the Fire Precautions Act 1971, the Fire Brigade or Local Authority would inspect certain types of premises and issue a Fire Safety Certificate. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RR(FS)O) came into force on 1st October 2006. It simplified and reformed several pieces of previous fire safety related legislations. As part of this reform, the need to have Fire Safety Certificates was repealed. The Fire Safety Certificates that were created, are no longer valid and no longer have any legal status. However, they are still a very useful source of information.  

    Yes, a Fire Risk Assessment still needs to be carried out for your premises. The current legislation, the RR(F)SO), stipulated under Article 9 that it is a legal requirement for all non-domestic premises to have a Fire Risk Assessment performed by a competent person to identify, manage and reduce the risk of fire. It is recommended that any old Fire Safety Certificates are kept, as they may contain useful information such as how a building fire would be tackled and may hold information to assist in the creation of a Fire Risk Assessment.

    The historic approach of compiling Fire Safety Certificates was a reactive way of managing fire safety and considering how a building fire would be tackled. In comparison, the modern approach of conducting Fire Risk Assessments is a proactive way of managing fire safety and reducing the chance of a fire occurring in the first place.

    Related services: Fire Risk Assessments 

    What can I do to make sure of a quick and safe evacuation for staff with a disability in my building?

    It is the responsibility of the appointed responsible person, under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, for the building to provide a fire risk assessment that includes reference to any vulnerable persons on site.

    The responsible person should also have a separate emergency evacuation plan for all people likely to be in the premises. This should include any persons who require assistance in the form of a personal emergency evacuation plan (PEEP). This type of evacuation plan should be specific to the individual and provide a suitable plan for the safe evacuation of this persons whilst not relying upon the intervention of the Fire and Rescue Service to make it work. You should have a PEEP template available, even if not currently applicable, should this situation change, or a person were to visit your building which this would apply to.

    There may be individuals with visual or hearing impairments for which the common sounders or audible alarm systems may not be a sufficient means of raising the alarm. In this circumstance further aids such as personal trembler alarms for visual impairments or flashing beacons for hearing impairments may be required. 

    A buddy system is also an effective means of raising the alarm and aiding with evacuation in which another member of staff is allocated the task of helping the vulnerable individual. Tactile/braille signs may also be used so long as the person can easily locate the signage to read the braille, though these are less common.

    Personnel with mobility impairments may require further assistance for safe evacuation and temporary PEEPs may need to be implemented for staff with non-permanent impairments, such as a person with a broken leg, or expectant mothers for example. Evacuation lifts that will remain in operation once the fire alarm has been raised are a common means, as are evacuation chairs.

    Refuge points are also popular in buildings whereby the individual can wait safely in a fire protected area (up to 30-minute protection) which offer a temporary place of relative safety for the individual to await assistance. Again, the support of a buddy system will be the best way to achieve safe evacuation.

    It is important to note that a refuge point is NOT a place where a vulnerable person should be left to be rescued by the Fire & Rescue service as it is their duty to preserve life and property. The fire risk assessment/emergency evacuation plan should be sufficient enough for ALL people to be safely evacuated from the premises.

    Related services: Fire Safety 

    What is a fire strategy and should I have one?

    A fire strategy is a document that sets the basis for fire safety control measures from the design of a building. It demonstrates compliance with Building Regulations, covering means of fire detection, warning and escape, the internal fire spread (linings and structure), the external fire spread as well as accessibility and facilities provided for the fire service. Typically, a fire strategy will be produced at the design stage in conjunction with architectural plans and is required as part of a building control submission. The document will also provide details of occupancy levels permitted within the building against the provision of horizontal and vertical means of escape and levels of compartmentation.

    The requirement for a fire strategy is not only applicable to new-builds, but they can also be produced for existing buildings. These are often known as ‘retrospective fire strategies’. Fire strategies of this kind are often carried out in accordance with PAS 911. This document provides guidance on the recommended process to follow and provides guidance on property protection, environmental factors, the safety of life and business continuity.

    A fire strategy document forms an essential basis on which to conduct the Fire Risk Assessment. This will allow the ‘responsible person’ to plan, manage and co-ordinate the appropriate fire safety precautions to minimise the risk of fire and ensure the safety of occupants.

    Fire strategies can only be produced by qualified and competent fire engineers. Further detail can be found on The Institute of Fire Engineers (IFE) website under ‘find a UK fire engineer’ directory.

    Related services: Fire Safety

    How often should fire evacuation drills be carried out?

    The guidance states that fire drills should be carried out at least annually to make sure that all occupants are aware of building evacuation procedures. However, should you have staff within the building working of a night, you will need to carry out fire drills to make sure that all shift patterns are covered at least annually.

    For example, if the 4th floor worked on night shift patterns of 06:00-12:00 and 12:00-06:00, then more frequent fire drills will need to be carried out to capture the staff working in each shift at least annually. A fire drill during the day will also need to be carried out (at least annually) to capture staff working in normal core working hours.

    Related services: Fire Safety Management

    Do I have to review my fire risk assessment and how often?

    The Health and Safety at Work Act section 2(3) and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 article 9, both require employers with 5 or more employees to provide a written risk assessment for significant risks and review them those risks.

    The responsible person for the premises (the individual identified as having control over part or all of the premises) must regularly review and keep it up to date.

    Your fire risk assessment must be reviewed if:

    • It may no longer be valid.
    • There have been changes made to the area/s under your control e.g. structural changes, new installations.
    • You have had a fire or near miss.
    • Findings from a fire evacuation drill identify the need for a change.

    There has been a change to the type of work being done on the premises that may affect areas under your control e.g. introduced a manufacturing process to an office environment.

    Changes to the types of persons employed, you are now employing workers with disabilities or young workers e.g. introduced staff covered under the equality act.

    Your independent fire risk assessor would advise a review date. It is good practice to fully review a Fire Risk Assessment every two years if this has not needed to be done in the interim.

    Related services: Fire Safety

    How do I review my fire risk assessment?

    The first step to reviewing your fire risk assessment is to look at your current document and think about these questions: 

    • Is it still applicable to my organisation? 

    • Am I doing anything different that could have changed the fire risk of my building since the document was produced?

    • Have the occupancy levels or building layout changed?

    • What are my fire management inspections, checks and maintenance works telling me?

    • Are there any aspects of your current arrangements you would like to change?

    If any changes have occurred, you need to satisfy yourself that either they do not materially affect your current fire management, or if they do, what effect they have. 

    We offer our customers a full fire risk assessment review, which provides them with an independent view of what actions they need to take to comply with legislation and reduce the chance, and impact, of any fires that may occur.

    Related services: Fire Safety
    As a responsible person, how do I manage fire safety within the workplace?

    Effective management alongside appropriate staff training is fundamental in fire safety.

    The responsible person’s duty is not only ensuring that a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment is implemented, but also that there are adequate fire safety measures in place. Examples of this include having suitable evacuation procedures, control measures for those more likely to be at risk in the event of a fire, to maintaining fire detection and alarm systems as well as fire fighting equipment i.e. fire extinguishers, sprinklers, suppression systems etc.

    The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO) imposes extensive duties which can only be effectively discharged by means of a comprehensive fire safety management system. This should include arrangements for planning, organising, control, monitoring and review of your fire systems in place.

    As the responsible person, it is your duty to ensure that all employees have undergone sufficient training. All staff members, including temporary/part-time, contractors and visitors must be familiar with the actions to be taken in the event of a fire or if the fire alarm were to sound. This can be done through inductions, training courses and fire evacuation drills. It is important that individuals are aware of their part to play, should it be calling the fire services, assisting others to evacuate, making sure all those in their area have safely evacuated, managing the assembly point, to making sure no-one re-enters the property until it is safe to do so.  Delegation of roles is key to managing fire safety. 

    Pro-active management, such as frequent inspections and checks of the workplace, demonstrates good fire safety control. Early identification of fire doors being propped open, defects in fire fighting equipment, or regular storage of combustibles within fire escape routes will also reduce the risk of fire and/or fire spread within the workplace.

    It is important that all current policies and procedures in place are regularly reviewed to meet any changes in circumstances but also to implement improvements.

    Related services: Fire Safety

    What fire safety training should be provided for staff?

    It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that their staff have had adequate training in order to ensure they know what they need to do in the event of a fire. Training should be provided on the first day of the induction stage with further training given throughout the length of employment to ensure that knowledge is refreshed and the information is correct. This is outlined in the British Standard BS9999:2017 Annex Q. Refresher training should be at least annually but if there is a higher turnover of staff or the risk of fire is more significant this frequency should be increased.

    The level of training required should be dependant on the occupant's roles and responsibility. For example, a fire safety officer and fire warden would require more training than general office staff as they have greater fire responsibilities in the event of an evacuation. Fire evacuation drill’s training may potentially be considered sufficient refresher training for general office staff and fire wardens depending on the risk profile.       

    Things to include in fire awareness training should include the following: 

    • What to do when a fire is discovered
    • How to raise the alarm
    • What to do if you hear the fire alarm
    • Where the assembly points are located
    • Who contacts the emergency services
    • Firefighting policy
    • How to know it is safe to re-enter the building

    Related services: Fire Safety

Food Safety FAQs

    What is acrylamide and what do I need to do to comply with the regulations?

    Acrylamide is a chemical substance produced from cooking (baking, frying, grilling, roasting and toasting) starchy foods at high temperatures (above 120°C). Foods which acrylamide can be found in include chips, crisps, cakes, biscuits and cereals. There are concerns that acrylamide in the diet causes cancer in humans and therefore the amount of acrylamide in our diets needs to be reduced as a precaution. The management of acrylamide needs to be documented within your food safety management system to demonstrate the risk from this substance has been considered and is being managed.

    Related services: Food Safety Management

    How can I manage the risk from allergens whilst maintain a busy kitchen?

    Some food businesses chose to document control measures within their Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), whilst others chose to have a separate policy – either is acceptable. You need to make sure accurate information is available on request if a customer raises an allergen query relating to any of the 14 allergens relating to your menu. With regard to practical allergen management in the kitchen, this needs to reflect the documented controls and should be practical and achievable to keep the food safe from delivery to service.

    Related services: Food Safety Management

    I am expecting a visit from environmental health to look at our kitchen, what do I need to do?

    To effectively manage your food safety and catering, it needs to be considered from the supplier and facilities perspective, because even if your catering is contracted out, it is ultimately you who is responsible.

    Yes, your contract caterer is performing audits of their systems and performance, but how are you satisfying yourself of their effectiveness? When the local authority visit they are going to want to know that what is in place is safe and being well managed, shouldn’t you be auditing for that too?

    We have the expertise to assess these areas. Our range of services will challenge where you are, and highlight any gaps in your management. We can also support you during visits from Environmental Health Practitioners.

    Related services: Food Safety Management
    I have a large food preparation facility, can you advise me on how I make sure it’s safe?

    Where you are providing food services, high standards of hygiene in the preparation and delivery of that food is of paramount importance. A food safety audit would provide the ideal grounding to challenge your current position and provide an action plan to get on track.

    Related services: Food Safety Management

Health and Safety FAQs

    Is it a legal requirement to carry out a stress risk assessment?

    Yes. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) clearly states that “employers have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it”.

    There are six main areas of work design which can affect stress levels. These should be managed properly and include:

    • Demands
    • Control
    • Support
    • Relationships
    • Role
    • Change

    Employers should assess the risks in these areas to manage stress in the workplace. If a business has fewer than five employees then this does not need to be written down, though it is useful to do this. If a business has five or more employees, then this risk assessment must be written down by law.

    Related services: Health and Safety

    Is it law to have to display a health and safety law poster?

    Yes, unless you’ve provided all your workers with the equivalent leaflet. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advice is: 

    “Employers are required, by law, to either display the HSE-approved law poster or to provide each of their workers with the equivalent leaflet”

    The previous 1999 poster was updated in 2009 and the approved version should be placed in a prominent position in each workplace. The poster is available for purchase in A2 and A3 size, as well as for offshore installations, Northern Ireland and in Welsh.

    The “equivalent leaflet” or pocket card is free to order from the HSE.

    The regulations that apply are the Health and Safety Information for Employees Regulations (HSIER) 1989.

    Related services: Health and Safety
    Do I need a health and safety policy and does it need to be signed?

    The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (Section 2(3)) states “It shall be the duty of every employer to prepare and as often as may be appropriate revise a written statement of his general policy with respect to the health and safety at work of his employees and the organisation and arrangements for the time being in force for carrying out that policy, and to bring the statement and any revision of it to the notice of all of his employees.”

    However, if you have fewer than five employees, you do not need to have your health and safety policy written down.

    There is no formal requirement to sign a policy, but as the purpose of the document is to demonstrate management from the top, most organisations do. The example policies on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also have boxes for signature.

    It is far more important that the policy and arrangements are shared and implemented (for which top drive is usually needed). You can have a beautifully documented and signed policy, however, if it isn’t shared and implemented it, means little legally or organisationally.

    Managing Health and Safety

    Related services: Health and Safety
    What is the situation regarding the provision of alcohol and licensing requirements?

    Relevant legislation that relates to alcohol would include the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974 and for example the Transport and Works Act 1992. It is also available for the HSE guidance covering alcohol-related issues i.e. Don't mix it: A guide for employers on alcohol at work (INDG240). Historic research by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has "estimated that up to 40% of accidents at work involved, or are related to alcohol use" (ibe Briefing 44 December 2014). So even though work parties have come under the spotlight as a potential issue, alcohol in the workplace is a much broader issue.

    While there is no formal legal requirement for specific alcohol policy, many organisations have introduced them as part of HR and/or health and safety. These policies are often broadened to include drugs too. So whether you provide free alcohol routinely in the office for your staff or just at "special occasions" it should be this policy that identifies and directs what is acceptable - both employer and employee have a responsibility in the eyes of the law too. If you are looking to sell alcohol or provide 'licensable activities' from a particular venue then they need a Premises Licence, a Licence Holder and a Designated Premises Supervisor. Applications are made through the local council, licensable activities include:

    • Selling alcohol
    • Serving hot food and drinks between 11pm and 5am
    • Theatrical performance
    • Showing a film
    • Indoor sporting event
    • Boxing or wrestling (indoor or outdoor)
    • Live music
    • Recorded music
    • Dance
    • Facilities for making music
    • Dancing facilities

    You still need a license even if the activities are for charity. 

    With decades of collective experience, specialist teams and competent individuals, and 1,000's of risk assessments completed every year across the UK, you can be assured that we have the necessary skills and ability to ensure your assessments are both suitable and sufficient. 

    Related services: Health and Safety
    What are display screen equipment assessments and when do I need to review them?

    Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSD) are the most common cause of occupational ill health in the UK, affecting over 500,000 people in 2015/16 according to Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

    “Work activities that present a risk of WRMSD range from lifting heavy loads and assembly-line work through to using display screen equipment. Back injuries are most commonly associated with lifting and handling activities, upper limb disorders with repetitive tasks and display screen use”

    Display screen equipment risk assessment (also known as a workstation assessment) has been a requirement since 1992 through the Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Regulations. The Regulations are designed to protect “people who habitually use DSE for the purposes of an employer’s undertaking as a significant part of their normal work.”

    Covering aspects including screen, keyboard, mouse, chair, desk, environment and software, the assessment should consider the users set up. Where appropriate, simple adjustments could make them more comfortable and the equipment easier to use. Length of time working at the screen and the type of work being undertaken are other factors to consider.

    Employers need to identify how they are going to comply with the regulations as well as the means with which they will assess and implement any adjustments required.

    Assessments should be reviewed periodically (depending on the company policy), or where there is a reason to suspect that the existing is no longer valid or there has been a significant change in the matters to which it relates; and where as a result of any such review changes to an assessment are required.

    Related services: Health and Safety
    I want to benchmark my work environment health and safety performance, what do I need to do?

    A whole science of its own, health and safety is a fundamental part of all business activities, or at least should be.

    Dependent on the nature of your business, the list of activities you undertake and the impact they have will vary. Breaking down these activities is the key to understanding how they support the business.

    We offer an array of solutions from strategic, high-level policy issues to specific operational controls, covering reviews, risk assessments and training, as well as documentation and policy development or support that can all help you to achieve your aims.

    Related services: Health and Safety
    Do I need to do a risk assessment for washing up liquid used in an office?

    Where you have chemicals or substances that can be harmful to health, there is a requirement under the COSHH Regulations to carry out a risk assessment and ensure that there is suitable access to the Material Safety Data Sheet that corresponds to the products in question. Whilst substances such as washing up liquid or dishwasher tablets are considered to be harmful to health if used inappropriately, e.g. when ingested, in their normal use these domestic products are designed to be safe for use with no additional protection therefore we would consider it disproportionate to carry out a risk assessment for such items when used in a setting where there are no vulnerable persons such as young children.

    Related services: Health and Safety Risk Assessments

    How are ladders allowed to be used in the workplace?

    There are a lot of work activities that involve being able to reach higher than most people can manage from ground level e.g. changing light bulbs or reaching items stored on high shelves. The first consideration should always be towards eliminating the need to work from height (keeping all regularly used items on lower shelves in a store room ) but when this isn’t possible, ladders provide the safest means of your staff being able to do these activities and are therefore a useful aid to have in the workplace.

    It is important, however, that ladders are kept in good condition and used safely. Staff should have some level of training in how to use a ladder safely and carry out pre-user checks, but this needs to be proportional to the risk of the tasks they are involved in. A basic ladder safety poster could be sufficient in a stationary cupboard with a three rung stepladder, whereas maintenance staff accessing roof areas should have more formal training. Ladders should only be used for short duration work.

    Related services: Health and Safety Training

    How do I know I’m getting the best possible service from my contractors?

    Ensuring that your contractors are doing a good job is not just satisfying a Service Level Agreement (SLA), but making sure what they are actually delivering is right for your organisation.

    With everything from total facilities management (TFM) style contracts in place to a specialist “on call” providers, it remains your responsibility from a duty holder perspective to ensure you have the right levels of compliance, understanding and roles and responsibilities in place.

    We offer a range of tailored assessments, backed, where needed, with testing and examination work, to help you identify the work being undertaken and how valuable it really is.

Legionella management FAQs

    Is Legionella bacteria classed as a pollutant in the UK?

    No, it’s not a pollutant as a biological pollutant would need to have been created through human influence on the quality of water systems. For example, effluent from farm waste into a river would be a biological pollutant. Legionella is naturally occurring in all water systems, as in it has occurred through evolution and not through man-made influence.

    Legionella would not be a pollutant as it occurs naturally in water, however, it can be a hazard in building water systems if not effectively controlled. It would all depend on the frame of reference for the question. The frame of reference would need to consider where the water comes from, what has happened to it, where it is going and most importantly who is asking the question, and why and what they would reasonably expect.

    Once the frame of reference is known, they will need to ask if Legionella is a contaminant. This will also depend on the other factors of the frame of reference but the answer is likely to be ‘no’ if Legionella is detected at expected levels. So in river water, it is unlikely that Legionella in very low numbers will be considered a contaminant but in highly purified water for use in a nebuliser, it would likely be considered a contaminant.

    If it is a contaminant then it is a special subset of contaminants – a pollutant. A pollutant is something that is likely to have some form of undesirable effect or do some form of harm. Some frames of reference will only look at artificial pollutants, but pollutants can equally be naturally occurring. But again the frame of reference is important when doing this ‘pollutant’ risk assessment – undesired effects or harm to whom or to what (the wider environment, localised plants and animals, a person)?

    So if the frame of reference is water from a mains water provider going into a building with Legionella bacteria multiplying in the system to moderate levels and being discharged to a foul sewer, and, if the individual carrying out the risk assessment is the Environment Agency, the answer is most likely no. They expect Legionella to be present in the water and as it is on its way to the treatment plant it is unlikely to have undesirable effects or do harm in this frame of reference.

    If the frame of reference is moderate levels of Legionella in water used in a hospital nebuliser by patients with breathing difficulties and the risk assessor is Public Health England, then I believe the answer is likely to be yes. The Legionella bacteria are not expected to be there at these levels, so it is a contaminant. The clear causal link between the contaminant and potential harm to the patients would by definition make it a pollutant within the frame of reference of the patient.

    My tenants have detected Legionella bacteria. Will this affect my system, as a landlord?

    Possibly. You should investigate as to where this detection has originated from and how this has occurred. Are your tenants carrying out the required maintenance tasks on their water services? Do they have an adequate turnover of their outlets and/or showers? To provide the reassurance that your water services will not be affected in the future, non-return valves or water metres can be installed at the point to which the tenants’ water services spur off the landlord’s riser. This will prevent any back-flow into your domestic water services.

    Although it is the tenant's responsibility to carry out the required planned preventative maintenance tasks on their water services, such as flushing, landlords’ cannot always be certain that these are being carried out. Installing non-return valves will give you the confidence that any contamination present will not enter the rest of the building’s water services.

    Further to this, you, as a landlord, are in a position to request documented evidence from your tenants of the monitoring records carried out on their water services.

    Related services: Legionella Management
    What are the maintenance tasks needed for thermostatic mixing valves (TMV) in regards to Legionella?

    Thermostatic mixing valves (TMVs) should only be installed as a preventative to scalding to those susceptible, for example in healthcare premises or for vulnerable individuals. TMVs blend hot and cold water, so there is a potential increased risk of Legionella proliferation as temperatures typically range between 37°C and 46°C in pipework before the valve.

    To help manage this risk, TMVs should be sited as close as possible to the point of use and flushed regularly. TMVs should also be inspected on an annual basis as a functionality check, with any strainers cleaned to remove scale, debris, etc. that may be present. A drop test, if applicable, should be carried out also.

    It is important to obtain temperatures of both the hot and cold water which supplies the TMVs, to confirm that water is being supplied at the correct temperature. This can be achieved by temperature testing nearby outlets (on the same hot and cold water system), installing test points on the pipework, or alternatively, you can use a touch probe. It must be noted, that correct training should be given when using a touch probe, as there are numerous variables to take into account (e.g. whether the pipework has been painted).

    Related services: Legionella Management
    Is it a legal requirement to sample for Legionella from my hot and cold water services?

    No, unless there is evidence that control measures are not being consistently achieved, it has been recommended in your Legionella risk assessment or it forms part of a more integrated performance review/audit.

    A microbiological monitoring regime should be implemented if:

    • The control measures for your hot and cold water services, such as temperature or chemical treatment levels, are consistently recorded out of the site-specific parameters. A thorough review of the system and treatment regimes should be carried out, and necessary action should be made. For example, increasing the frequency of testing to provide early warning of loss of control, which could then be reviewed again once control has been regained.

    • There is a high risk of host susceptibility of legionellosis within the building e.g. healthcare facilities or care homes.

    • There has been a suspected or identified outbreak of legionellosis.

    • It has been recommended within your Legionella risk assessment. Your Legionella risk assessment will determine the risk of your domestic water services, and depending on the findings, a recommendation to implement a sampling regime may be made.

    Where microbiological monitoring for Legionella is considered appropriate in hot and cold water systems, sampling should be carried out in accordance with BS 7592 Sampling for Legionella organisms in water and related materials. The complexity of the system will need to be taken into account to determine the appropriate number of samples to take and where to take them from.

    To ensure the sample is representative of each water system and not just of the water downstream of a fitting or valve, samples should be taken from separate outlets to obtain a true hot or cold water temperature and sample rather than from mixer taps, or thermostatic mixing valves (TMV). Samples should be clearly labelled with their source location and whether they were collected pre-flushing or post-flushing.

    It is important to remember that, as part of an integrated performance review/audit a sampling regime for your water services demonstrates a pro-active approach to the management of Legionella risk.

    Related services: Legionella Management
    What is the requirement for Legionella risk assessments?

    Legionnaires' disease The control of legionella bacteria in water systems, Approved Code of Practice and guidance on regulations (L8) 2013 sets the current requirements for Legionella management including risk assessment.

    L8 applies “to the control of Legionella bacteria, in any undertaking involving a work activity managed by you or on your behalf. It applies to premises controlled in connection with a trade, business or other undertakings where water is used or stored; and where there is a means of creating and transmitting water droplets (aerosols) which may be inhaled”.

    We offer Legionella risk assessments, accredited through UKAS, together with award-winning management systems, written schemes, training and support. Our own in-house laboratory, our sampling and testing are also UKAS accredited, providing you with complete peace of mind.

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    When do I need to review my Legionella risk assessment?

    Your Legionella risk assessment and management system should be designed to demonstrate your, effective ongoing compliance.

    Legionnaires' disease The control of Legionella bacteria in water systems, Approved Code of Practice and guidance on regulations (L8) 2013, sets out clear guidance on when a review of your risk assessment is needed. This states:

    “The record of the assessment is a living document that must be reviewed to ensure it remains up-to-date. Arrange to review the assessment regularly and specifically whenever there is a reason to suspect it is no longer valid. An indication of when to review the assessment and what to consider should be recorded. This may result from for example:

    (a) changes to the water system or its use;

    (b) changes to the use of the building in which the water system is installed;

    (c) the availability of new information about risks or control measures;

    (d) the results of checks indicating that control measures are no longer effective;

    (e) changes to key personnel;

    (f) a case of Legionnaires’ disease/legionellosis associated with the system.”

    With over 30 years of award-winning experience in supporting organisation in successfully managing Legionella, we can help ensure your management is both realistic and compliant to your needs.

    Independent Legionella Management
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    As a landlord, with tenanted floors, are temperature checks of the water services necessary?

    This depends on the nature of the water services you have throughout the building, and where the water is supplied from. As a landlord, you have a duty of care to your tenants within the building, and to provide your tenants with wholesome water in accordance with Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 1999. Contract agreements and relationships between tenants and landlords differ across portfolios. Some landlords prefer to take responsibility for all hot and cold water services throughout a building and therefore will be the responsible person for the maintenance of the water services regarding Legionella management. Where tenants add services (i.e. showers), these will typically fall under their responsibility to manage them unless specifically agreed with the landlord to be incorporated into their scheme of management.

    If there are cold water storage tanks, under the landlord responsibility, but the outlets are within the tenant demise, it is the landlords’ duty to inspect, maintain and temperature check the stored water. Further to this, the landlord should be carrying out monthly temperature checks of sentinel outlets (nearest and furthest from the water source), as a minimum, to demonstrate that the water is being supplied at recommended temperatures. This should also be carried out if the landlords’ central hot water systems are supplying tenanted areas.

    As tenants, it is their responsibility to maintain the water services within their demise as detailed in ‘Legionnaires’ disease - The control of legionella bacteria in the water system, (L8)’. Tenants should have a suitable and sufficient Legionella risk assessment for any water services they have installed in addition to the landlord systems. A written scheme should be implemented on site, detailing all necessary control measures required for effective legionella management.

    It is important to note that the general maintenance and cleanliness of the tenants’ systems and outlets can impact on the entire building system, so it is extremely important to ensure that appropriate regimes are in place.

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Noise management FAQs

    How do I know if the hearing protection I have purchased is sufficient?

    The easiest way to establish whether your hearing protection is sufficient is to look at the ‘single number rating’ (SNR). This information will be available on the hearing protection box. This method is suitable for general industrial and occupational noise sources. If the noise is dominated by single frequencies or the noise is very loud ‘peak’ noise, such as a gunshot, a different assessment method must be used.

    The single number rating is the amount that the noise levels at the ear will be reduced by. You need to know the C-weighted noise level for this calculation. Earplugs with an SNR of 25 will bring noise levels of 100dB down to 75dB at the ear. However, the HSE advises that you also take into account “real world factors” by adding on 4dB to your final number. This will allow for factors such as poor fit to be taken into account and give you a more realistic estimation of the suitability of your hearing protection.

    Noise levels at the ear must be brought down to below 85dB. Ideally, you should aim for between 75-80dB. All hearing protection should carry the CE mark which means it will satisfy the relevant part of BS EN 352 (Hearing Protectors. Safety Requirements and Testing). 

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    How do I know if I need a noise risk assessment?

    You are required to have a risk assessment by law if the daily ‘personal noise exposure’ of any of your employees, or people carrying out work on your behalf, is 80dB (A-weighted) or above. ‘Personal noise exposure’ is a specific calculation that is required by the regulations, and it takes into account the actual noise levels as well as the amount of time your workers are exposed to the noise each day or each week.

    If your work is in an industry that is typically noisy, such as construction, engineering, transport, general manufacture, food production or music and entertainment you will normally exceed the 80dB exposure value and you will, therefore, require a noise risk assessment. You will also usually require a noise risk assessment if your building contains a back-up power generator that is tested regularly, or if you are responsible for grounds maintenance using noisy equipment such as chainsaws and mowers.

    The HSE advises that if the noise level that your workers are exposed to is similar to the sound of a crowded restaurant, busy street or vacuum cleaner then it is likely to be around 80dB. A normal conversation will be possible but the noise will be intrusive. If the conditions are like this for 6 to 8 hours a day you will need a noise risk assessment. For a noise that is any louder, or if you have to shout to hold a conversation with someone nearby, you will need a noise risk assessment even if people are exposed for only very short periods during the day.

    In addition to the A-weighted noise level (which is the type of noise that applies to most industries), you will also require a risk assessment if the peak sound pressure your employees are exposed to is 135dB (C-weighted) or above. Peak exposures are common in some manufacturing industries, as well as people who work with firearms and fireworks.

    If you are not sure whether you need a noise risk assessment, you should err on the side of caution, and carry one out.

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    Am I responsible for carrying out a noise risk assessment for my building?

    If you are the person, or employer, in overall control of a building or a project, then yes, you are responsible for making sure that the noise risks are assessed and that the information on noise is made available to all affected employers.

    You have a responsibility to work with your contractor, or any other employer who is affected by the noise, to make sure that any identified noise control measures are carried out. This includes identifying areas where hearing protection must be worn, and ensuring appropriate signage and information is in place. You also have a responsibility to provide instruction and training to your contractors in relation to the specific work they are doing for you. However, health surveillance (hearing tests) need only be provided by the direct employer of the workers affected.

    Similarly, if you have mobile workers that may be exposed to noise at premises outside of your control, you do still have a responsibility to assess the risks and put any necessary control measures in place.

    Employers need to communicate with each other to ensure that they are all meeting their obligations to protect workers’ hearing. You should never assume that someone else has already assessed the risks.

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    How often should I review my noise risk assessment?

    It is a legal requirement to review your risk assessment regularly, as well as to review it sooner if you suspect it may no longer be valid or if there has been a significant change in the work being carried out. As with all risk assessments, your noise risk assessment should be reviewed on at least a two-yearly basis, even if it appears nothing has changed in your workplace. 

    If circumstances change in your workplace, such as new work processes, newly introduced noise control measures or new shift patterns, or if new machinery is purchased, you should review your noise risk assessment to ensure that your employees still have suitable protection. Your risk assessment should also be reviewed if you become aware of new noise-control techniques, or if control measures that were not originally practicable become more achievable (for example due to better technologies or reduced costs).

    If you carry out health surveillance (hearing tests) on your employees and the results indicate that hearing damage is occurring, the risk assessment must be reviewed as you will need to improve your control measures.

    Related service: Noise Risk Assessment


    What does ‘SNR’ mean?

    The ‘SNR’, or ‘single number rating’ is one of the ways in which the effectiveness of hearing protection is measured.

    The single number rating is essentially how many decibels the noise level at the ear will be reduced by. It is calculated using the measured C-weighted noise level. For example, hearing protection with an SNR rating of 30 will reduce the noise levels by 30dB.

    This does not take into account “real world factors” and as such the HSE recommend that 4dB is added on to ensure that employees are given adequate protection.

    Related service: Noise Risk Assessment 


    What is a ‘positive noise purchasing policy’?

    A ‘positive noise purchasing policy’ is a written policy which confirms that you will take noise levels into account when purchasing new plant or machinery. Noise levels are available for all new machinery and should be compared when you purchase new equipment.

    Where it is deemed necessary to purchase machinery which increases the noise exposure to your employees the HSE advises that a record is kept of the reasoning behind this decision. 

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Water Quality FAQs

    How often should I be carrying out temperature tests for my domestic water outlets?

    The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommend that temperature testing of sentinel domestic outlets (those closest and furthest from the water supply and representative of the system as a whole) should take place on a monthly basis, and all outlets in a building should be tested on an annual basis. This is to make sure that cold water temperatures are operating below 20°C within two minutes of flushing and all hot water services achieve between 50ºC and 60°C within one minute of flushing. This task must be recorded also stating the location, date and the name of the person carrying out the checks.

    However, in some instances carrying out temperature tests of a greater number of outlets in a building more regularly may also be needed, as for example water temperatures can change significantly due to seasonal variation. Where cold water temperatures might be 10ºC in the winter months, mains water is often supplied above 20ºC during the summer. These temperatures can provide an ideal environment in which Legionella can multiply; putting yourself and occupants at risk.

    You can manage this risk by understanding the water temperatures in your building throughout the year; this will enable you to take suitable actions and precautions. For example, Legionella grow best in water that is stagnant, and more frequent temperature testing of all outlets can identify where stagnant water may be sitting and gaining heat within a system. Using this information, you can implement a flushing regime of low usage outlets to increase water turnover and minimise the risk of Legionella infection; even during the summer months. 

    Related services: Water Quality and Hygiene Management

    Legionella Management

    What are the legal requirements for drinking water in buildings?

    Under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) regulations 1992, each employer has a duty for “an adequate supply” of “wholesome” drinking water for their employees (Regulation 22). The strict guidelines for what constitute wholesome drinking water are set by the Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 2018 and the Water Supply (Water Quality) (Scotland) Regulations 2010. These detail what, if any are the permissible levels of chemicals and micro-organisms in water intended for drinking. This includes indicator bacteria, such as coliforms, that might suggest other more harmful bacteria such as salmonella may be present in the water too.

    Achieving compliance comes down to following the guidelines and regulations to make sure the cleanliness of outlets and water systems. Cleaning procedures should comply with manufacturers specifications and be reviewed to make sure they are effective. It is important for those responsible to be aware of hygiene standards and sanitising procedures to prevent the growth of bacteria and maintain a wholesome supply of water.

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    Is bottled water better than tap water?

    By its very nature, bottled water will contain more bacteria (albeit harmless) than tap water (in the UK) as it has undergone less treatment. The UK has some of the best quality mains water in the UK. Under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, the employer must demonstrate that the water they provide for drinking purposes is "wholesome". By wholesome the regulations mean that the water should not contain certain micro-organisms or chemicals nor should it have any unpleasant taste, odour, colour or turbidity. 

    Related services: Water Quality and Hygiene Management