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Author: AnchorHandS

AnchorHandS

I have spent over 30 years of my working life in the fire protection industry, where I qualified as a Health & Safety practitioner, and was integral in the company achieving one of the first accreditations to the international health and safety quality standard OHSAS 18001. During this period I also qualified as an Electrical Appliance Tester. In 2007 I decided to go it alone, in order to provide my skills, knowledge and experience to smaller businesses who cannot afford to employ their own Health & Safety personnel. Accordingly I now provide health & safety services to many types of organisations, specialising in carrying out Fire Risk Assessments, Portable Appliance Testing, installation of Health & Safety Management Systems and providing general Health & Safety Advice. For more information about what services we provide please see our website at www.anchorhands.co.uk Thank you for looking at my profile and please remember our heartfelt tag line: Your Safety in Secure Hands

Getting Paid (My View)

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We’re all in business to help others, provide services or goods, be the best in our field and for many other reasons, but at the end of the day we still have to pay our bills, thus we need to make a profit and to help us do this, we need to get paid.

There is no one solution to getting paid that fits all kind of businesses, however some of the points below, may in part or in combination, create a scenario where we at least have a fighting chance.

Firstly let’s be clear on the mechanics of getting paid, there are four basic ways of receiving monetary remuneration (i.e. we’ll exclude all forms of bartering):

The Cheque: This requires either a leap of faith from the customer or the vendor, in as much as goods / services are handed over in exchange for a cheque that then needs to clear, or the goods / services are withheld until funds are cleared, then the customer has to have the faith that the vendor will fulfil his commitment.

Plastic (including the likes of PayPal): Here payment is instant and the customer has an array of guarantees on top of their statutory rights, however there may be charges associated with this transaction, which can either be passed on to the customer or absorbed by the vendor.

Bank Transfer: With this system the customer can arrange to transfer money directly from their accounts into yours, this is clean and quick, usually doesn’t take long to clear those funds and doesn’t usually attract any charges.

Cash: We all know about cash and is usually used where goods are exchanged directly to the customer, assuming that you haven’t been paid with forged currency, then you know that you have been paid, the only downside is the vendor now needs to make a trip to the bank or buy a bigger mattress.

For most businesses one of the above will be more suitable than the others, or a combination of them (i.e. cash and credit card is common amongst retailers) but this is where the solution of the mechanics of getting paid is down to the business you are running.

Secondly there are three ways of being paid, which again depending on the business you run, will have a preference as to how you make this happen:

Payment in advance: This is where the customers pay for the goods or services prior to getting them, we touched on the cheque earlier, this would be cleared prior to the goods being dispatched, but could also cover services in as much as a retainer could be charged for future events (servicing, professional services etc.)

Payment at point of sale: No matter what the mechanics of payment are, there is an exchange of funds for goods or services at that specific event (mainly used by retail outlets, but can equally be applied to services if required)

Credit: This is where the goods or services are supplied in advance, then payment should follow according to the conditions that have been laid down for payment (this is mainly used where a credit facility is offered to the customer, in order to allow for deferral of the payment and is mainly used in the service industry)

No matter what method of payment you adopt, payment in advance or at point of sale will not give any problems with getting paid, however the main issue is with credit, in that the vendor will always have to trust that the customer will fulfil his part of the agreement and make payment when due.

It’s apparent that the main problem to getting paid is where we allow credit facilities, accordingly this is where we need to put certain processes in place in order to limit our exposure to this problem and prevent the reasons for non-payment.

Let’s be absolutely clear as to what the transaction is and what are the goods or services on offer?

We must make it clear as to what is being offered, a vague reference to “widgets” is not good enough; how big are they, what colour, which model, what is the end product. In other words there can be no argument as to what ends up being supplied, make sure that this is written down and that both parties have access to this.

How much will the goods or service on offer actually be? Saying it’ll cost about £XXX will not do, give a price for the complete service, or break it down into its components or give a price per item (whether this be product or time) whichever way you split the costs, make them clear, including the currency in which you want to be paid.

Make clear as to whether or not there may be discounts available, for additional services or for supplying larger quantities, but be specific as to how these discounts will be applied.

Are there any optional extras to be had? This is the point that can be used to upsell, if the products or services can come with “bells and whistles” then say so and how much these variations will cost. By giving this information in advance it will avoid confusion later on, especially when it comes to the value of the final value.

What are the terms of payment for this arrangement, 7 days, 14 days, 28 days or nett monthly, whichever you chose to give your customer make it clear, never say from receipt of invoice as you do not have control on when this is recognised (unless you use registered post etc.) but better from date of invoice. Avoid nett monthly as this could lead to 60 days of credit, which is not good for cash flow.

Make it clear as to how you want to get paid, Cash. Cheque, Plastic or Bank transfer, for example a bank transfer is instant, a cheque will delay payment for a few more days depending on when it is issued and the working arrangements of your bank

The above constitutes an offer or quotation, this does not mean that you proceed, but you should await an instruction of some form that refers directly to this, at this point confirm the instruction giving any additional information, such as confirming attendance dates, delivery dates or specifications.

Once the goods or services have been supplied, then issue your invoice, which must reflect exactly what was in the accepted quotation or any agreed variations to this, make sure it is dated (tax point), when payment is due (payment terms), detailed value of the transaction, how payment should be paid, any references that the customer has asked for (order number) in other words don’t allow any confusion or space for questions.

The problem arises when the above is still not adhered to and payment is not received on time, in which case you should follow these steps:

Chase your payment at a fixed time after the due date (this may depend upon you relationship with the customer) make sure that this is polite, as they may be having problems and an offer of help will be received better than a threat.

If payment is still not received, then chase again at a set time after the first chase, include a copy of the first one, still be polite but request that payment be made without any further delay

At a set point after the second chase, a third chase will be required, again include a copy of the previous two, but insist that as the previous ones have not been actioned, that immediate settlement of the account be made.

If these chases do not have the desired effect, then it’s time to bring in the solicitors, start by getting them to issue a “7 day letter”, receiving a letter from a solicitor usually has the effect of getting a result and is not costly.

If this fails then you will have the right to seek judgement against the debtor, the costs of which will be added to the debt as well as interest on the debt, failure to meet any judgement will allow you to take one of the following actions:

Seek a warrant of execution: whereby you can get bailiffs or the sheriff to seize goods to cover the debt

Get an attachment of earnings: where you can get a sum of money taken from the debtors pay at regular intervals until the debt is cleared

Take out a third party debt order: this will allow the debtors accounts to be frozen until the debt is cleared

Take out a charging order: whereby you are allowed to register a legal charge against any properties owned by the debtor

All of this assumes that the debtor is able to pay, should you believe that this may not be the case, then a judgement call needs to be made as to whether to pursue any action or cut your losses. In addition to the above you could apply for a statutory demand (this really should only be pursued when you know the debtor has sufficient funds, but is deliberately withholding them) whereby after 21 days you could start winding up proceedings, but don’t forget our friends at HMRC and the banks will get first dip into any pot.

The main point of the above is you must have a procedure in place to deal with debtors and stick to it, there is no room for sentiment when you have a mortgage to pay, but the most important thing is make sure that everything is in “black and white”.

 

 

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Accidents & Ill Health; It pays to know the facts

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Each year employee accidents and ill-health cost British employers an estimated £3.9 billion to £7.8 billion, of which £910 million to £3,710 million comes from accidental damage to property and equipment.

It’s often assumed that insurance will cover any financial losses. But policies generally fall short when it comes to costs involved in the general day to day running of a business. The shortfall can be startling:
• Uninsured losses are ten times the cost of insurance premiums paid. (Source: HSE)
• Uninsured losses from accidents in smaller firms add up to £315 per employee, per year. (Source: Norwich Union Risk Services)

Other cost implications that are often overlooked include:
• Dealing with the incident – Immediate action means downtime for the injured person and anyone assisting. Time spent administering first aid treatment, a hospital referral or home rest, all result in downtime. Making the area safe and making machinery serviceable are more costs for which the business is accountable.
• Investigation of the incident – Time spent reporting the incident, holding meetings to discuss it and investigating it internally are the first step. Then time spent with an HSE, or Local Authority inspector and external consultants’ fees to assist with the investigation can rapidly accumulate into hidden costs.
• Getting back to business – Rescheduling work, recovering production, repairing damage and cleaning the site are inconveniences which slow production and reduce efficiency. Hiring replacement tools, people and equipment might also be required.
• Business costs – Absentee costs are deceptive. Besides the salary of the injured worker, a combination of replacement staff salaries, lost time, reduced productivity and quality add to escalating costs. Training new or temporary staff, overtime and contract.
• Increased insurance costs – higher premiums following an incident, cost associated with conditions being applied in order to gain cover.

It pays to fulfill your legal obligations with regard to Health & Safety, this way you reduce the chances of having a claim refused and all the additional costs listed above, which will probably include the cost of fulfilling those obligations in the first place. So why pay twice?

For assistance contact us at www.anchorhands.co.uk

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Assessment

Good health and safety at work is important not only in human terms, to help reduce workers’ pain and suffering. It is also a way of ensuring that enterprises are successful and sustainable, and that economies thrive in the long term.
For most enterprises, simple cost benefit analysis will not be necessary or appropriate in this area. Businesses have moral Occupational Health & Safety obligations, as well as legal and financial ones. It is impossible to quantify costs such as suffering in monetary terms.
Nevertheless, there are quantifiable costs and benefits involved in OSH, which businesses should be aware of.

Getting Health & Safety Right!
For enterprises, good Health & Safety helps to:
• enhance ‘brand image’ and ‘brand value’ as a socially responsible business (which may affect investors’ decisions)
• reduce absences and increase the productivity of workers
• increase motivation and the commitment of employees to the business
• reduce business costs, such as insurance premiums, and business disruption
• enable enterprises to meet and exceed customer expectations.

Getting Health & Safety Wrong!

If businesses get Health & Safety wrong, the costs of accidents and ill-health can be substantial.
For the individual, there are the costs of care, loss of earnings etc.
For businesses, disruption, claims for damages, loss of goodwill and loss of confidence in management can sometimes lead to total collapse. For small companies particularly, occupational accidents can have a major financial impact.

So Why Invest in Health & Safety?

Research shows that investing in Health & Safety leads to better company performance.
A good working environment is good business.

All workers have a right to work in places where risks to their health and safety are properly controlled.

Health and safety is about stopping them getting hurt at work or ill through work.

What employers must do for employees

Decide what could harm them in their job and the precautions to stop it. This is part of risk assessment.

In a way they can understand, explain how risks will be controlled and tell them who is responsible for this.

Consult and work with them and their health and safety representatives in protecting everyone from harm in the workplace.

Free of charge, give them the health and safety training they need to do their job.

Free of charge, provide them with any equipment and protective clothing they need, and ensure it is properly looked after.

Provide toilets, washing facilities and drinking water.

Provide adequate first-aid facilities.

Report injuries, diseases and dangerous incidents at work to the HSE

Have insurance that covers them in case they get hurt at work or ill through work.

Display a hard copy or electronic copy of the current insurance certificate where they can easily read it.

Work with any other employers or contractors sharing the workplace or providing employees (such as agency workers), so that everyone’s health and safety is protected.

What employees must do

Follow the training they have received when using any work items the employer has given them.

Take reasonable care of their own and other people’s health and safety.

Co-operate with their employer on health and safety.

Tell someone (their employer, supervisor, or health and safety representative) if they think the work or inadequate precautions are putting anyone’s health and safety at serious risk.
If you would like to discuss how to improve the health and safety of your business then please feel free to contact us via our website www.anchorhands.co.uk

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Why test electrical appliances?

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Electricity

This is a question that we get asked a lot of times and there are several parts to the answer, so let’s look at this stage by stage.

Firstly there’s the humanitarian issue, do we want to put our staff, ourselves or the public in danger? Off course we don’t, but that’s exactly what we are doing if we do not maintain all equipment in a safe manner. According to some HSE statistics 1% of all industrial accidents are as a result of electrocution from faulty or badly maintained electrical equipment, however this 1% of accidents represents 6% of total fatalities.

Secondly there’s a business continuity issue, whilst all equipment will be out of service for a very short moment (during testing) this is minute compared to the same piece of kit electrocuting someone. At this point your production will be stopped whilst HSE and police investigate the circumstances, your man power will have been reduced (the member of staff being off sick or even killed) the piece of kit will probably need to be repaired or replaced, all this is costing the company time.

Thirdly we have an intellectual issue, having had an incident it’s almost certain that you will have a negative effect on morale within your work force, as they will feel that they are not valued enough to look after. In addition to this your professional image to your existing and potential customers will also be affected, how many of them want to be associated with a company that is careless or just doesn’t care?

Next we have the cost to the company, yes there is a cost involved in having the equipment tested and with this you get what you pay for. To test an electrical appliance properly in accordance with IET code of practice, 4th edition takes between 4 and 6 minutes (so if anyone tells you he can test more 120 in a day, then beware) If you take the cost of the testing and put it against the items we have already covered then the alternative costs involved would be; court costs in being sued for negligence or even prosecuted for corporate manslaughter, loss of production, sick pay, reduced production from remaining staff, replacement or repair of the piece of kit, HSE costs, loss of revenue and you will still need to pay for your appliances to be tested.

If by now you’re getting really depressed about this, then buckle up because there’s more. According to fire brigade statistics 26% of fires, on commercial premises, are caused by faulty electrical equipment, this means there is a potential for one in four businesses to be the victim of fire as a result. The consequences of a fire on your premises are potentially far more serious than previously explained; more injuries, more fatalities, greater loss of continuity, removal from the market place (whether this is temporary or permanent), greater costs or even total loss of your business.

“This may all be inconvenient, but our insurance will pay to get us back on our feet” check your small print, because you may find that by not carrying out your best endeavors to prevent these incidents, that you have invalidated your insurance, there may also be a clause that states you must comply with all of your legal duties.

Which brings us to the last point, “why do I need to test my electrical equipment” because it’s your legal duty, under various health and safety legislation, it is your responsibility to maintain all equipment in a safe manner and the best way to do this is employ a regime of regular inspections and testing.

We hope that we have been able to answer the question and demonstrate that having your appliances tested is not a cost, but an investment in your company’s future prosperity. Should you have further questions about this subject or any other health and safety issues, then please do not hesitate to contact us at info@anchorhands.co.uk

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Get your H&S in order

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Man system 2

As a new calendar year approaches, it’s time to get your Health & Safety in order. All businesses, companies and organisations will benefit from having a simple yet robust system in place to assess, control and monitor their health and safety issues. If you employ 5 or more people (employ does not necessarily mean pay, volunteers count as employed) then you are legally bound to produce a written health and safety policy, with the necessary procedures in place to make it happen, that said there is no reason why you shouldn’t have the same even if you employ less than 5 people.

If you own or operate premises then you must carry out a fire risk assessment of those premises, again if you employ 5 or more people then this assessment must be formally written. A fire risk assessment will drive out any necessary actions to make the premises in which you work, safe from fire. This will include housekeeping, training and maintenance items such as servicing of extinguishers and testing of electrical appliances.

In both cases above, it is essential that once produced these documents are reviewed whenever there are any changes, which affect either the building or your work practices, or at least annually.

It may be that you already have procedures in place that might benefit from being given a review by a third party, or you might like to have an independent eye check that your systems are being operated correctly, either way now is the time to make sure that your health and safety is given the attention it needs to ensure that everyone you are responsible for, is kept safe.

For more information or advice please contact us via www.anchorhands.co.uk

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