Read the latest news and blogs surrounding access control, time and attendance systems and integrated security solutions with Tensor plc.

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Benefits of Better Health and Safety Standards case study image

Benefits of Better Health and Safety Standards

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, in partnership with a network of Euro Info Centres has launched a new website to provide businesses with good practice information on occupational safety and health at work. The website – – enables businesses to quickly find relevant information on health and safety legislation and includes a special section for SMEs to guide them to sources of advisory services and good practice to ease the compliance process. Statistics released by the Health and Safety Commission in November 2005 show that in 2004/2005 levels of various workplace incidences fell by eight per cent on the previous year but companies must continue to do more to improve health and safety standards in UK work places. Last year in the UK 220 workers were killed and 30,213 workers suffered major injuries whilst a further 120,346 other employee injuries led to their being off work for more than three days. As a result British business lost 35 million working days overall in 2004/05 and the cost is estimated to run into billions of pounds – 2001 figures from the Health and Safety Executive stated that the cost to business was up to GBP2.8bn from workplace injuries. Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, Director of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work said: "If you run a company, especially a small one, you may be misled into thinking that securing safety and health is difficult and costly. In fact it is the other way round as the business cases we have looked into demonstrate that higher safety and health standards lead to higher productivity. This is the message we would like to send to companies across Europe". Maive Rute, the European Commission’s SME Envoy and Director responsible for the Euro Info Centres network confirmed an increasing interest among SMEs in safety and health issues: "Small companies often find it difficult to ‘translate’ and absorb new regulations into their daily operations. By pooling the resources and expertise of Euro Info Centres and the network run by the European Agency, we are better equipped to address their practical needs." The new website offers firms a collection of good practice examples, which they may easily and economically implement in their workplaces. A directory of national sub-sites provides access to safety and health regulations at the national level. In addition the website offers an overview of recent studies into business aspects of occupational safety and health, such as Corporate Social Responsibility, the impact on productivity and economic incentives for safety and health.

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Transport Coping Without Opt Out

The Freight Transport Association says that the prospective cost to UK industry of losing the opt out to the Working Time Directive and restricting working hours to 48 per week will obviously be enormous. However, lessons can be learned from the transport industry, which has been operating the Road Transport Directive since 4 April this year with no opt-out. Despite the undoubted problems and costs, early signs indicate that the transport sector is coping with the problems. Reducing working hours to 48 will clearly impact on the whole of UK industry, including some workers involved in transport, notably van operators and drivers. During the last two years the Freight Transport Association has been engaged in an education and information process aimed at its members and others throughout the transport industry and designed to alleviate, as far as possible, the operational problems coming from reduced hours and the consequent cost increases. The government’s own impact assessment report suggested a loss of productivity of close to ten per cent, coupled with a cost of around £1 billion. FTA negotiations with government resulted in more flexible regulations than had been expected and when combined with a comprehensive programme of training and information, the production of support and advice for record keeping and a general handholding process, much has been possible to help member companies to understand and cope with the problems. Transport has led the way in dealing with the worst effects of the legislation and will provide the most practical and valuable case study of ‘how to live with the WTD’ if the opt-out is finally withdrawn from the UK. Transport operators have already begun to implement the changes necessary for life without the opt-out by installing time and attendance systems, which accurately report employees’ working time. A case in point is Initial City Link who, since installing their Tensor System, have not looked back.

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NHS Working Hours

A recent report in the British Medical Journal has warned that many doctors within the NHS are exhausted. A number of UK hospitals have reviewed shift patterns following the adoption of the EU Working Time Directive, and have found that many junior doctors were regularly working a 91-hour week as a series of night shifts. Recent studies in the US have shown a 36% rise in serious medical errors caused by trainees working between 77 and 81 hours per week, compared to those working around 65 hours per week, with the risks increasing exponentially with each consecutive night shift worked. The British Medical Journal has called for staffing patterns to be reassessed and staff scheduled for only a single or double night shift. It has also suggested that the NHS should follow the example of the aviation industry, which has introduced set sleep periods for crew flying overnight. Dr Simon Eccles, chairman of the British Medical Association’s Junior Doctors’ Committee said that "the problem is not necessarily the Working Time Directive itself, but the way hospitals have responded to it". He also said that although the directive was implemented in order to reduce overall working hours, "moving everyone on to shifts is the only way to deal with the problems thrown up by the directive". The NHS must now review its working practices in order to maximise doctors’ safety and efficiency, and to safeguard the interests of patients. An efficient time and attendance system eliminates the problem of monitoring the work patterns of doctors and so ensures that those employees working difficult shift patterns or very long hours are noticed quickly. This enables changes to be made to work schedules, thus ensuring the safety of patients and doctors alike.

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