Hello & welcome to Issue 9 of the Alchemist.

We hope that 2024 has started safely and healthily for you all!

We have plenty of dates for the diary already!

IOSH Managing Safely (REFRESHER) – 25th January

IOSH Managing Safely – 28th February – 01st March

Legal Update – 15th March

IOSH Leading Safely – 04th April

IOSH Managing Safely (In the CARE sector.) – 17th April-19th April

Mental Health First Aid (Level 2) – 17th May


Our first article looks at the severe implications of taking an old friend such as CIRCULAR SAW for granted, removing the safety devices and using it in a blasé manner.

It is a sobering reminder of the fact that

we should never take our eye off the safety ball.

A garden landscaper has been handed a suspended prison sentence after a worker was killed when a moving circular saw kicked back into his groin.

The labourer, who had been working for Watford-based gardener Mr Fernando Araujo for just two days, was killed in the incident at a house on Harewood, Rickmansworth, on 11 August 2021.

The 31-year-old had been assisting Mr Araujo, 54, with the installation of railway sleepers along the edge of the front garden driveway.

At the time of the incident he was using an angle grinder fitted with a toothed circular saw blade to cut the wooden sleepers.

Prosecuting, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforcement lawyer Jon Mack told St Albans Magistrates’ Court that the use of a toothed saw blade on an angle grinder made it a dangerous machine.

“Causing him to sustain a serious, fatal laceration.”

The guard had also been removed from the grinder as the circular saw blade fitted was larger than the original grinder disc on the power tool.

In addition, the sleeper had been placed in a skip and was not secured whilst being cut. While attempting to cut the sleeper, the tool kicked back under power into the worker’s groin causing him to sustain a serious, fatal laceration.

The sleeper had been placed in a skip and was not secured whilst being cut.An investigation by HSE found that Araujo failed to ensure that work equipment was used only for operations for which, and under conditions for which, it was suitable. Changing from the use of an abrasive wheel through fitting of a circular saw blade meant a dangerous machine was created.

Sentencing, District Judge Margaret Dodd said: “Whatever sentence I pass will not compensate his family for their loss. Nothing can compensate the family for their loss, and the sentence in no way indicates the value of a life.”




Back in September last year, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announced it was carrying out inspections.

Since then more than half of those checks have identified failings.

This is a highly technical, specialist field applying precision engineering – but it can also cause harm to the lungs and skin. HSE says more needs to be done to keep workers safe.

In a bid to improve knowledge in this area, HSE has created an online quiz as part of the ongoing campaign.

The online quiz can test and improve knowledge

The annual statistics on work-related ill health and workplace injuries for 2022/23 show 12,000 people die each year from lung diseases linked to exposure to hazardous substances at work. In addition, 19,000 new cases of breathing and lung problems are thought to have been caused or made worse by work.

The manufacturing industry has a substantially higher rate than average for occupational asthma.

“Our inspections found that there are still far too many businesses which do not have key control measures or health surveillance in place.

“As a result, enforcement action is being taken against these manufacturers.

“The creation of the quiz is a really easy way for people to test their knowledge about how best they should be protecting workers.”




Even when you think that you have heard them all in the world of health and safety you probably have not.

Here is a case in point!!

A company has been fined after shocked onlookers spotted an employee precariously working from height while standing on a pallet raised by a forklift truck at Ramsgate Harbour.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted European Active Projects (EAP) Limited for breaching Work at Height Regulations after one of its workers was spotted on the pallet on 8 July 2022.

The workplace regulator was alerted to the activity after it was reported by a member of the public, who managed to capture the terrifying debacle on video.

The worker was part of a team of three at EAP Limited that were removing work equipment from the deck of a boat in the harbour’s slipway.

As scaffolding had been removed, the workers raised a pallet to the deck with a forklift truck and used it as a mobile platform to remove items from the boat.

One of the workers was then witnessed climbing from the side of the vessel, beneath the guard rails, and onto the pallet with a heavy, motorised pressure washer. The pressure washer was then lowered to the ground.

The HSE investigation found EAP Limited had failed to plan the work at height associated with the refurbishments and repair work being completed on the boat, leaving workers at risk, with no safe method for removing equipment located on the vessel’s deck.

See more such examples at:



Finally, the Government has launched its new WorkWell initiative.

The UK government’s WorkWell scheme is intended to support 60,000 long-term sick or disabled people to start and succeed in work in England. Here we look at its pros and cons, and outlines what makes a successful employee wellbeing strategy.

Launched in November, the government’s WorkWell rehabilitation and return-to-work pilots are designed to foster a healthier and more supportive work environment.

At its heart, the WorkWell scheme aims seamlessly to integrate local employment and health support for individuals with disabilities or health conditions, facilitating their journey to start, stay, and succeed in work.

First Let’s Look at its Advantages

1. Raising awareness.

Any scheme that puts an emphasis on mental health and acknowledges the growing importance of psychological wellbeing in the workplace is a good thing. Access to employee assistance programmes (EAPs), counselling services, stress management workshops and mental health awareness programmes can offer employees valuable resources to cope with the demands of their roles.

This proactive approach not only supports those facing mental health challenges but also fosters a culture of openness and understanding.

2. Promoting work/life balance.

The WorkWell scheme’s focus on the importance of good-quality work for the economic, mental, and physical health and wellbeing of communities is another key benefit.

Flexible working arrangements can enhance employees’ ability to manage their personal and professional responsibilities effectively and enhance work/life balance. This flexibility not only improves job satisfaction but also contributes to reduced burnout and higher levels of engagement.

3. Upskilling.

Career development opportunities are often integrated into the WorkWell scheme, providing employees with avenues for growth and skill enhancement. This, in turn, boosts morale and job satisfaction, as employees feel invested in and valued by their employers.

4. Strengthening teams.

Employee engagement is further fostered through social activities and team-building events facilitated by the WorkWell scheme.

Building a sense of community within the workplace can lead to improved collaboration, communication, and camaraderie among team members. This supportive work culture not only enhances job satisfaction but also contributes to increased productivity and innovation.

5. Building healthy working environments.

In addition, the WorkWellscheme’s comprehensive approach to wellbeing extends beyond the individual to include a focus on a healthy work environment.

Initiatives targeting workplace safety, ergonomics, and stress reduction contribute to a positive organisational culture. Employees benefit from a sense of security, reduced workplace hazards, and an overall improved atmosphere, which collectively enhance their job satisfaction and commitment to the organisation.

But there are limitations…

However, while the WorkWell strategy does aim to enhance workplace wellbeing, it is essential to acknowledge its inherent limitations that organisations may encounter during implementation.

To my mind, these are:

1. Implementation bias.

Organisations may inadvertently prioritise certain components of the WorkWell strategy over others, leading to an uneven distribution of resources and efforts.

A one-size-fits-all approach risks not sufficiently addressing the diverse challenges that employees in various sectors face.

For example, a company might focus extensively on physical fitness initiatives while neglecting mental health support. This bias can result in an incomplete approach to employee wellbeing, leaving certain aspects unaddressed and impacting the overall effectiveness of the programme.

2. ‘One-size-fits-all’ approaches are limited.

The WorkWell strategy may also face challenges in adapting to the unique needs of different industries and workplaces. A one-size-fits-all approach risks not sufficiently addressing the diverse challenges that employees in various sectors face.

Therefore, organisations should be mindful of the need for customisation and flexibility when implementing the WorkWell strategy across different work settings.

3. Workplaces are changing constantly.

The WorkWell scheme may also struggle to adapt to rapidly changing work environments, as its strategies may become outdated in the face of emerging workplace trends

The success of the programme hinges on the commitment of employers, and in instances where management lacks dedication or resources, the desired impact on employee wellbeing may be limited.

Given all this, it is clear that adopting the WorkWell scheme, or indeed any comprehensive employee wellbeing initiative, requires a thoughtful and strategic approach from employers.

Fostering a wellbeing culture.

Here, then, is my advice for employers on implementing such programmes and fostering a workplace culture that prioritises employees’ health.

1. Demonstrate leadership commitment.

Leaders should actively support and participate in the WorkWell scheme, conveying the message that employee health is a top organisational priority.

2. Tailor wellbeing strategies to your workforce.

Recognise the diversity within your workforce and tailor wellbeing programmes accordingly. Consult with your workforce and ascertain what they consider to be priorities for improving wellbeing within the workplace.

Consider the unique needs of your employees to ensure that initiatives are relevant and accessible to all. Partnering with employee wellbeing specialists can assist with this, helping you create the right programme for your employees, whatever their challenges and preferences.

Communicate the goals and benefits of schemes like WorkWell to employees and involve them in evaluating their effectiveness.

3. Be proactive around communication and awareness.

Communicate the goals and benefits of schemes like WorkWell to employees and involve them in evaluating their effectiveness. Raise awareness about the available resources and encourage participation through various communication channels. Transparent communication fosters trust and encourages employees to actively engage in wellbeing activities.

4. Encourage flexible work arrangements.

Offering options such as remote work, flexible hours, or compressed work weeks allows employees to better manage their personal and professional commitments, contributing to overall wellbeing.

5. Prioritise mental health support.

Implement counselling services, stress management workshops, line manager training and destigmatise conversations around mental health. Creating a supportive environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health promotes a culture of empathy and understanding.

6. Invest in professional development opportunities.

Training sessions, mentorship programmes, and continuous learning opportunities not only enhance employees’ skills but also demonstrate a commitment to their long-term growth and success.

7. Encourage physical activity.

Organise fitness programmes, encourage walking meetings, and provide facilities that promote an active lifestyle.

8. Seek employee feedback.

Seek employee input and involvement in the development and improvement of wellbeing programmes. Adopt a ‘You said, we did’ approach. Within this, solicit feedback through surveys, focus groups, or suggestion boxes to ensure that initiatives are aligned with employees’ needs.

9. Recognise and reward.

Celebrate those who actively participate in wellbeing activities. This will positively reinforce the importance of employee health and motivate others to engage.

10. Evaluate and adjust.

Ensure that any strategy is revisited and evaluated for its efficacy to prevent any well-meaning initiatives from becoming outdated and ineffective.

Regularly assess the effectiveness of workplace wellbeing strategies and the WorkWell scheme. Collect data on participation rates, employee feedback, and outcomes. Use this information to make informed adjustments and improvements over time.

11. Consider the legal and ethical ramifications.

Ensure that any wellbeing initiatives comply with legal and ethical standards. Protect employee privacy and be transparent about the purpose and use of any health-related data collected as part of the programme.

Adopting the WorkWell scheme or any employee wellbeing initiative requires a holistic and employee-centric approach.

Only by fostering a culture that prioritises health can employers create a workplace where employees thrive, leading to increased productivity, job satisfaction, and organisational success.