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Published: June 24, 2020 | Updated: June 28, 2020

Duty of care more important than ever in the ‘new normal’ says health and safety expert

Stephen Nicholls, Managing Director, Quadrant Safety Ltd.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Stephen Nicholls has seen health and safety on both sides of the shop floor.

For 15 years he worked in manufacturing and heavy industry.

His career started in shop floor engineering before moving to sheet metal, welding, and heavy fabrication of petrochemical and structural steel structures weighing up to 50 tonnes.

Five years ago Stephen diversified into health, safety and sustainability management and in 2019 launched Poole-based Quadrant Safety Ltd.

As a chartered Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (IOSH) health and safety consultant, he knows all about risk.

And these are potentially risky times as businesses return to the ‘new normal.’

Stephen said: “Customers, clients and the public want to feel safe, so duty of care is more relevant than ever to maintain not only customer and staff safety and confidence but an ability to keep trading.

“The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has stated all employers must maintain a duty to keep virus transmission to the lowest level reasonably practicable.

“This is achieved by undertaking risk assessments and implementing controls accordingly to enable them to welcome their staff and customers back and, at the same time, make them feel safe.

“People working from home for extended periods are also still under employer duty of care to have adequate work stations, protecting from musculoskeletal disorders.

“Businesses which don’t implement such measures are at risk of enforcement action from the HSE, which is already taking numerous enquiries from employees who feel at risk.

“Enforcement action by HSE is very impactful to any business which is already struggling.

“It leaves a traceable mark which must be declared to insurance companies and investors or, if requested, clients.

“As well as following the government guidance, safety legislation demands any company which employs five or more people must have risk assessments and policies/procedures recorded in writing, which must be acknowledged by staff.

“Professional advice is recommended to ensure such documents, and the actions following, are suitable, sufficient, and follow legislation correctly.”

Quadrant Safety was one of the first plastic free champions in Poole.

Stephen is qualified with environmental and sustainability management, lowering the carbon footprint and environment impact of a business.

He is also an ISO14001 lead auditor, the international standard for environmental management.

Although just nine months old, Quadrant Safety has secured several retained clients.

The business, which operates from premises at the Romany Works Business Park in Poole,  provides health, safety and sustainability consultancy as well as training and advice.

It is licensed to provide IOSH accredited safety training for workforce and management level and  environmental training.

Quadrant Safety also delivers ad-hoc services, including safety training on client premises, as well as offering an ‘appointed competent H&S person’ service for smaller companies without their own health and safety advisor.

Stephen said: “I have a wealth of hands-on knowledge, aware of what the obstacles faced by managers and staff really are.

“Health and safety can be made simple without being intimidating, which often leads to ignoring vital areas of compliance.

“The key thing is to know when to get professional advice if in doubt and don’t be afraid to ask.

“HSE do not accept ‘I didn’t know’ as an excuse anymore.”