Category Archives: Environmental

Government Plans For The Enviroment

The three government bodies that set the environment and energy agenda have given a few clues as to what is set out in the new 2016-2020 Environmental Policy.  The plans are designed to set out key policy objectives for the period 2015-2020 and give an insight into how departmental budget cuts, announced in the 2015 Autumn Statement are likely to be implemented.The Department for Environmental, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) promises to “deliver a strong economy and health environment” through 6 fairly high level objectives.  These include:-

-       Creating a cleaner, healthier environment.

-       A world-class food and farming sector.

-       A thriving rural economy.

-       Better protection against floods.

-       Delivering on time and budget, and

-       Delivering efficiency.

Defra promises a new approach to tackling waste crime by making use of £20 million from a reform of the Landfill Communities Fund.  The details are yet to be released.

Climate Change

The Department of Energy & Climate Change is prioritising energy security, keeping bills low, decarbonisation (focussing on reducing emissions across homes) and building an “energy legacy”.

There are plenty of details on large-scale energy infrastructure projects but less on businesses saving energy.  However, plans to promise to develop a renewed strategy for renewable heat and the government’s response to the recent business energy efficiency consultation was published in the 2016 budget.

Transport

The Department for Transport says it will focus on local air quality and throw all its weight behind the use of ultra-low emission vehicles (especially in cities).  Congestion charging and low emission zones, which ban the most polluting vehicles from entering certain zones will be further promoted.

 

Too busy to get systems in place? Want recognised accreditation to win contracts?

What could Hawksafe do for you?

  • Assist in PQQ’s and gaining accreditations such as CHAS, Construction line and Achilles.
  • Provide you with training ranging from first aid to face-fit and asbestos awareness and food safety.
  • Write job specific RAMS for you.
  • Assist in compliance with regulations such as CDM including as acting as principal designer.
  •  Help you with any risk assessments you need from manual handling to COSHH.
  • Workplace/site assessments and inspections.
  • DSEAR assessments.

We have clients in many sectors including; specialised access, pest control, construction, electrical, heating, transport and logistics through to food manufacturing.

 

 

Injured Staff – Should you allow them back?

If you have a member of staff off work with a injured ankle for a number of weeks, with no broken bones but badly bruised and swollen. Should you allow them to come back to work, if they asked?

Before allowing your member of staff back to work you need to advise them to seek medical opinion on whether it is safe to return. On their return to work the member of staff should present you with a ‘fit’ note that confirms that they are safe to work. This is due to the fact that the employee is still injured and the note may say they should not be considered fit to complete full duties, only light duties. You will then need to carry out a risk assessment for light duties.

Remember, make sure both parties are satisfied and insists the employee signs the documents to show you have not put them at risk. Also, you are not at any obligation to allow the employee back to work too early and only seemed safe to do so.

Flood Action

The Environment Agency suggests there are

260,000 business units employing 3.2 million people which are located in flood areas.

As we are aware the EA is investing heavily in flood defences because of the effects of climate change.  Obviously Cumbria is the evidence of how devastating these floods are.

A case highlighted in the EA’s Flood Action campaign identifies what can happen.  Greencore, which supplies many of the major supermarkets has also been hit by flooding.  More than one meter of water flowed through its premises making this unusable for months.  Fortunately Greencore could operate from another location, however, the impact of the flood was significant and resulted in a multi-million pound insurance claim.

 EA figures identify that in 2013/14 3,200 commercial properties were flooded.

The EA can provide you with a map to see if your premise is at risk.  If you are at risk it would be best to nominate a member of staff to monitor the EA’s flood warnings and keep you ahead of flooding risk.

ISO 14001:2015 Policy Statement

As stated back in September 2015 after the final text of the BS EN IS0 14001:2015 environmental management standard as been launched.

The scope of the standard has not changed by many of the requirements have.

If you are already following systems which are compliant with the 2004 version of the standard, you have up to 3 years to revise your arrangements. However you should start making the move across now beginning with your policy statement. Many of the changes have been to its structure.

Your organisation is required to formalise its commitments to environmental management in policy. This document should set out your objectives and the actions you have in plan to achieve the intended outcomes. Your policy should show how you will continually improve environmental standards within your organisation.

The standard states that your policy MUST include three basic commitments:

  1. To protect the environment
  2. To fulfil the organisation’s compliance obligations
  3. To continually improve the environmental management system to enhance environmental performance.  

A requirement of ISO 14001:2015 is that there must be commitment from the top of the organisation. Therefore the following statement has been included:

“Directors, management and supervisory staff have responsibilities for the implementation of the policy and must ensure that the environmental issues are given adequate consideration in the planning and day-to-day supervision of all work”

If you have any questions or would like us to contact you regarding the ISO 14001:2015 changes or you would like to know more about the accreditation please fill out the contact form below.

Vehicle Tax Changes

The vehicle excise duty (VED) is currently linked to the carbon emissions of your vehicle; the higher your emissions, the higher the tax.  The idea was to encourage manufacturers to produce cars with lower emissions.  Now, the government is concerned that cars are becoming too efficient which means that by 2017, 75% of new cars will not be subject to road tax at all.  There will now be a new banding system for all new cars in 2017.

Vehicles registered after April 2017 will remain directly linked to CO2 emissions.  At the moment cars with 0-130g/km of COpay no road tax in the first year but from April 2017 cars with 110-130g/km of COwill be charged £160 in the first year.  After that there will be no longer 13 bands linked to COemissions as there will be just three ratings for road tax:-

  • Zero emission cars will be free,
  • Cars costing over £40,000 will be charged at a standard rate of £140 plus a £310 premium,
  • For everything else there will be a flat rate of £140.

For hybrids, especially the expensive vehicles which attract very little or no road tax, the VED rate provides an incentive for these vehicles, but if you are buying a new vehicle in two years’ time you will be charged £140 VED. 

These new rates only apply to cars registered on or after 1 April 2017 until then the existing system will remain in situ and you will have time to purchase a new vehicle before the changes kick in.

 

This is taken from our Environmental newsletter for September. Hawksafe clients will find this delivered straight to their inbox. If you  would like to find out more about our services and expertise, please do get in touch.

Energy Saving Opportunities

To comply with the European Directive, the government is introducing Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) which is going to be introduced in 2015. This is the next tool in the government’s armoury to get businesses to take their energy use seriously. The scheme is currently being developed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change to meet the EU Efficiency Directive.

Compliance with the scheme will be a legal requirement, however, it will only apply to businesses with more than 250 staff, sales of over £50 million a year and an annual balance sheet in excess of £43 million.

ESOS demands that an audit is completed which must:

  • Review the total energy use and relative energy intensity for buildings, industrial processes and transport
  • Identify the most significant energy consumption (up to 90%)
  • Identify cost-effective energy efficiency recommendations for taking action to reduce energy consumption
  • Report to the Environment Agency

The main objective is to help businesses see where savings can be made. The audit will cover:

  • The type of lighting used
  • How heating or cooling systems are managed
  • Level of insulation in the premises, and
  • How equipment and machinery is currently used

Assessments have to be carried out by an approved ESOS assessor and be suitably qualified and hold a certain level of professional expertise.

If ESOS applies to your business you will have until the 5 December 2015 to complete your audit and report the findings to the EA. This process has to be completed every 4 years after the initial audit.

Turning Waste into Useful Resources

The Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA) has undertaken research into resource management, finding that those who turn waste into useful resources can save up to £5000, while 70% of those who used the services of sustainability professionals were able to make a saving in excess of £10,000 per annum.

Although there is no obligation to use external consultants, IEMA’s research shows that the cost of external advice should be offset by the savings.

There is a free tool available online that can be used to determine how much your business is taking resource efficiency seriously and what further action you could be taken. The Resource Action Maturity Planner consists of nine multiple choice questions, and is available here.

Remember, it is generally more effective to plan and introduce new ideas gradually rather than all at once.

If you would like to speak to us about how you can make savings through better management of your resources, contact us. Also, you might want to take a look at our article on the Waste Hierarchy.

Lux Levels

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Over-lighting your office spaces, warehouses or factory floors is a common and costly issue. Turning off or reducing lighting is one of the cheapest and easiest ways of cutting your energy costs.

You will need to check the light levels in your workspace, which can be done by using a Lux Meter. You can pick one of these up for about £20, then by using a Lux Level Chart and Lux Meter, you can take readings in different areas of your business.

To get the most accurate data, hold the Lux Meter at waist height and use it at four or five different points in each area.

Light levels should match those recommended by the HSE. According to the guidance, corridors, stores and warehouses need a lux level of around 100. General lighting in offices, meeting rooms and kitchens requires a figure of 500. For certain activities such as quality control, watch-making or electronics the lux level should be between 1000 and 1500.

You should soon be able to see if you could deal with lower lighting by reducing the bulb power level.

This information is taken from our monthly Environmental newsletter, sent to all Hawksafe clients, via email. This month’s newsletter also covers current issues relating to these topics:

  • Solar Energy Systems
  • Draining Charges
  • Data Submission

Carbon Reduction – WED 2014

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Today is World Environment Day! What better time to look at how your business can support the environment and make sure you adhere to government guidelines on environmental issues? Contact us if you would like any help with how this can apply to you.

Happy World Environment Day, from everyone at Hawksafe!

The Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC) is a system that imposes charges on a business based on how much energy it uses. On April 2014 the scheme entered into its second phase with another lot of changes to its rules. The latest one is emission conversion factors which measure the amount of pollution your business produces and the cost of allowances that it will have to buy for every tonne of carbon it emits.

In the first phase the rates stayed constant for the whole period but from Phase 2 they will change year on year.

Unless the use of electricity is reduced, compliance with CRC is probably going to become more expensive.

In Phase 1 the rate was £12 per tonne of CO2 whilst in Phase 2 you will have a choice to buy your allowances in a forecast sale at a low rate at the beginning of the compliance year or ‘buy to comply’ sale in arrears after the compliance year has ended. For example if you used 1,000,000 kWh per year it would have cost £6,492 in allowance costs during Phase 1, in Phase 2 these costs will rise to £7,872.

New rates if you buy allowances in the forecast sale will be £15.60 per tonne of CO2 whereas to ‘buy to comply’ sale it will be slightly higher at £16.40 per tonne of CO2.

This information is taken from our monthly Environmental Advice newsletter, sent to all Hawksafe clients, via email. This month’s newsletter also covers current issues relating to these topics:

  • Managing Ill Health Problems
  • RIDDOR
  • Cycle Facilities
  • Flooding – Repair & Renewal Grant
  • Water Protection