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Businesses must do more to prevent damaging and costly spills 08/10/2019

Businesses should be better prepared for spills and ensure they have the correct plan and spill kit in place, says UK’s leading safety experts Arco, as recent findings revealed 7 out of 10 companies do not have the adequate provisions in place to defend against spills and manage them effectively.

Spills pose a real risk to businesses. Not only could they cause significant damage to premises, wildlife and the surrounding environment, they can pose a threat to the safety and health of employees and nearby residents.

Recent figures from Ecospill reveal that over 70% of businesses are not fully prepared for a spill, while the Environment Agency reported that, in 2017, there were 1,827 pollution incidents in the waste and water industry alone – over five incidents each day.

Most health and safety managers think they are doing everything they can to properly control their spill risk, and believe they have the correct plan in place to address spills if they occur. But, what many don’t know is that spill kits and plans may not be comprehensive enough to provide adequate protection.

In many cases, when auditing sites for their spill risk, issues have become apparent, such as:

  1. Faulty assumptions have been made: this can be as simple as thinking small spills aren’t significant, when even a small amount of everyday substance such as milk or orange juice can be toxic to the environment  
  2. Spill kit is in the incorrect location: even if spill kits have been supplied there’s a possibility they might not be located in the correct areas, where risk is highest
  3. Spill plan isn’t right for the business and risk: using a ‘one size fits all’ approach can give false confidence in preparedness and be a waste of resources. Different kits are available for dealing with different types of spills
  4. Lack of training: spills can happen suddenly and be extremely disruptive. If staff aren’t adequately trained it can lead to confusion, panic or spill kits being used incorrectly
  5. Spill kit is poorly maintained: if spill kits have been exposed to the environment, or have drawn in too much moisture, they may be unusable

Without adequate spill control and prevention measures, the effect of a spill on a company’s reputation, including environmental, can be momentous. Companies can lose business as a result of bad publicity or because environmental permits have been revoked. 

Furthermore, the cost to clean a spill, the loss of material and damage to the environment can all be detrimental. Substantial fines can be issued and payments will be required for legal costs and to restore the environment back to its original state before the spill. Civil claims from residents and/or businesses in the affected area can also incur added costs. In 2017, a major water company was fined a record £20,361,140 for polluting fresh water, while a well-known supermarket was faced with costs of over £16 million in fines, health and safety charges, and environmental costs as a result of a petrol spill.

As such, Arco says that businesses must do more to protect from the impact of spills and prevent damage to reputation, environment and life. Plus, if working towards ISO14001, businesses must be able to demonstrate commitment to continual improvement in their environmental performance, an area where spill plans can be of benefit.

Niall Robinson, product and procurement manager at Arco, said: “It is critical that all businesses ensure they have an appropriate and effective spill plan to prevent this serious risk from occurring. The effects of a spill can not only damage a company’s finances and reputation, but can have an overwhelming impact on employees, local peoples and on wildlife, so should not be taken lightly.”

For more information on how your business can address its spill risk and prevent future spill incidents, please visit https://campaigns.arco.co.uk/preventspills

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Free safety advice 01/12/2017

Health and safety company Arco is lobbying for a safer Britain by offering UK businesses free safety advice on how best to create a hazard control programme, which aims to protect workers from exposure to harmful substances.

Under both The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulation 2002 and the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulation 2002, employers have a legal obligation to ensure their workers are kept safe at all times whilst at work. This includes carrying out a sufficient risk assessment, minimising risk of injury to an employee and offering sufficient training, equipment and information to all those who come into contact with or work around dangerous substances or hazards such as poor noise and air quality. 

As an advocate for worker wellbeing, Arco is dedicated to ensuring businesses understand their responsibilities and the steps that need to be taken to best eliminate risks. Arco suggests implementing these four methods: 1) Elimination (or substitution): remove the hazard or substitute hazardous materials or machines with less hazardous ones. 2) Engineering Controls: undertake modifications to plant in order to reduce the source of exposure. 3) Administrative Controls: alter the way the work is done. Change work practices such as standards and operating procedures. 4) Personal Protective Equipment: provide individuals who are exposed to the hazards with equipment which will limit exposure.

Nick Marshall, general manager at Arco, said: “The best way to reduce employee injuries is to instill a level of priority and responsibility from the top level. To ensure employers and industry bosses understand the best ways to protect staff from dangerous working environments, Arco has created a free Expert Guide offering UK businesses advice on best practice when it comes to hazard control.”

To download Arco’s free expert guide please visit: https://www.arco.co.uk/103/content/downloads/brochure/AT&C-Hazardous-Substances-Brochure.pdf

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Caribbean clean up 01/12/2017

Following the two devastating hurricanes that tore through the Caribbean in September, wrecking thousands of homes in their path, UK safety company Arco is supporting disaster charity Team Rubicon UK, with its biggest relief operation to date, by providing the team with a range of safety products free of charge. 

The charity has so far sent over 60 volunteers to islands across the region where residents are struggling to rebuild communities after the devastating storms in September. In order to assist with the clear up process Arco has donated a wide range of safety equipment including hard hats, boots, high vis, gloves, workwear and cleaning products worth over £10,000. These products will be distributed amongst the volunteers, made up of predominantly military veterans and emergency responders, to directly help those most affected by the hurricanes. 

Neil Jowsey, chief executive of Arco, said: “The whole world was shocked by the devastation caused by the two hurricanes in the Caribbean region and even more so of the images that emerged in the days that followed. It’s never easy to see homes torn apart and families separated, which is why we wanted to help in any way we could. We hope our products offer the volunteers additional support and allow them to help rebuild the islands’ communities.”

To find out more about Team Rubicon, including how to volunteer and donate, please visit: http://www.teamrubiconuk.org/

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Safety is in your hands 29/09/2017

​Arco’s divisional director of quality and technical standards, Neil Hewitt, offers advice to UK cleaning businesses following the European glove protection update to BS EN ISO 374

In February of this year sections of the BS EN ISO 374:2003, the European standard for gloves protecting against dangerous chemicals and micro-organisms, were updated including terminology, markings and test requirements. UK businesses within the cleaning industry that are legally required to provide staff with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves should ensure they are up date to with any legislative changes.

Terminology and performance requirements for chemical risks

One of the most significant changes to the updated EN374 series of standards relates to the terminology and performance requirements for chemical risks, specifically a new classification system. Depending on a glove’s permeation performance, moving forward, chemical protective gloves will now be classified into three Types: A, B and C. 

Type A offers protection to a greater range of chemicals in high risk applications, including cleaning in an industrial and hazardous environment, and Type B offers a similar level of protection to Type A but to a reduced number of chemicals. Type C denotes low chemical protection for less hazardous applications such as domestic or commercial cleaning. 

If the chemical gloves have been approved in accordance with the old EN 374 standards they are still permitted to be sold until April 2019, one year after the new 2016/425 Regulation comes into force.


It’s vital for UK bosses to have a clear understanding of the new iconography and marking types to ensure that their workforce is supplied with products that offer the appropriate levels of protection.

Marking low chemical protection

In the latest revision of the standard, the low chemical beaker symbol, which previously denoted a lower level of protection as permeation testing did not have to be undertaken, has been removed. The only icon now available is the conical flask accompanied by Type A, B or C performance levels.

We, at Arco, are concerned that the removal of the beaker symbol and use of the same conical flask icon across multiple levels of protection may be slightly misleading and cause confusion for our customers, especially in the cleaning industry. The use of different cleaning agents with a variety of chemical levels makes it far more important for cleaners to understand which gloves will offer high protection. We would advise cleaning businesses to ensure they properly read the new markings before purchasing and look out for the ‘Low Chemical’ phrase that will now sit alongside the new icon for Type C products.”


Marking and performance of Type A & B gloves

The updated standard also introduces an increase in the number of test chemicals that can be used to certify a glove, increasing from 12 to 18. Many chemicals added such as formaldehyde, Acetic acid and hydrogen peroxide can be found in a number of different cleaning products from window cleaner and stain remover to multi-surface spray and brick and mortar cleaner. Each test chemical has a corresponding code letter which is displayed under the conical flask icon on the glove. Type A gloves must offer protection against six chemicals from this list with a minimum breakthrough time of 30 minutes. Example marking: 


Type B must protect against a minimum of three chemicals from the list with the same breakthrough time. For both types, additional chemicals can be tested that are not on the list, these can be found in the user information supplied with the gloves. Example marking: 


A list of all test chemicals and their code letterings, plus a full report on the BS EN ISO 374:2003 update is available to read online at www.arco.co.uk/hands

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Protect staff from UV rays 06/07/2017

Safety expert Arco is urging UK businesses to do more to protect their employees against the dangers of the sun this summer, following a recent survey that suggested only 5% of workers receive UV protection from their employers.  

Following the survey, commissioned by Deb, Arco has launched its annual sun protection campaign to educate employers about the danger of UV rays and the steps they can take to protect outdoor workers, including providing appropriate sun cream. 

UV exposure is extremely dangerous to humans and is hard to detect as it isn’t related to temperature, cannot be seen or felt and can easily pass through the cloud; even on a cloudy day, workers still run the risk of damaging their skin. For this reason, it’s important that employers take responsibility when encouraging employees to use protection when the UV Index level, which is available online, reaches three or above. Additionally, UV is carcinogenic (cancerous) to humans, meaning those who work outdoors have a greater risk of developing skin cancer. 

Darren Williamson, product & procurement management at Arco, said: “Sun safety is an incredibly vital subject as it’s often an afterthought, or entirely forgotten. It’s imperative for employers to remember that UV protection isn’t just for sunny days, but instead when the UV Index is above level three. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the World, with six people dying each day in the UK as a result of it. We believe sun protection is one of the most important items of PPE, which is why we supply and promote Deb Stoko’s entire Sun Protect range.”

To find out the daily UV level visit www.metoffice.gov.uk or for more information about Arco’s Sun Protection campaign please visit www.arco.co.uk/sunsafety

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Eliminate occupational skin disease 03/04/2017

Occupational skin disease is one of the major health issues currently facing a number of different industries; affecting up to 40% of workers.

Occupational skin disease causes a multitude of painful symptoms such as swelling, cracked skin, blisters, flaking or scaling skin and itchy hands, as well as causing small areas of the skin to thicken, eventually forming rough growths which may become cancerous. While not contagious, if left untreated it can also spread to other parts of the body causing further discomfort. 

Arco recommends implementing a three-step skin care programme to help establish cleaning and hygiene best practice: 

• Protect - Apply protection cream prior to each work period or after washing hands; reapply at least every three hours.

• Cleanse: Wash hands regularly to avoid prolonged contact with contaminants and prevent them becoming ingrained in the skin. Ensure any soap is rinsed off and dry hands thoroughly.

• Restore: Apply restore cream after working, either at the end of a shift or prior to a long break ensuring all parts of the hands are covered.

To ensure both employers and employees fully understand what is legally required from them (under the Control of Substance Hazardous to Health Regulations, 2002); Arco has created a package of support material, free of charge and downloadable from www.arco.co.uk/skincare. It includes a guide to combating occupational skin disease, a skin care at work training video, plus separate guides directed at managers and employees.

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The height of safety 07/04/2017

Falls from height are the single biggest cause of workplace deaths and one of the main causes of major injury within the workplace. Stuart Alcock, site services manager at Total Access (UK), explains how workers who are cleaning at height can stay safe

Working at height remains one of the most common causes of fatalities and major injuries, accounting for nearly three in ten fatal injuries to workers (RIDDOR). Within the cleaning industry, between two and seven window cleaners are killed every year with an additional 20 to 30 suffering major injuries as a result of falls from ladders. Employers are bound by law under the Work at Height Regulations 2005 to eliminate or reduce the risks when working at height and ensure that any person working at height is trained and competent to do so. Employers are also required to ensure the correct type of equipment is utilised for working at height activities.  

Alongside safety, fit and comfort ought to be prioritised. Wearers want improved comfort without the loss of movement, particularly if wearing PPE for a long period of time. Conversely, PPE can only protect the worker if they are competent in its use, aware of why they must use it, and are properly trained. 

For those working at height, experienced instructors from Total Access can simulate realistic working environments at their site in Staffordshire. They can provide advice on the correct equipment to use, and how to use it, together with practical training which can be taken back to real life situations.  

Abseil cleaning

Total Access (UK) has experience in carrying out high level cleaning using industrial rope access - known to many as abseil cleaning. The Site Services team has worked with the planes at RAF Museum Cosford conducting a week long rope access clean and inspection of different aircrafts in the National Cold War Exhibition. The crew embarked on cleaning over 20 aircrafts, using a combination of filtered vacuum and dry microfibre cloths to remove all bulk and residual dust. Among the planes being cleaned was the English Electric Lightening; an iconic British supersonic fighter aircraft of the Cold War era and a Short Brothers Belfast – planes with a wing span up to 158ft. No small feat. 

Previously, Total Access secured a contract to clean London’s Big Ben, meaning the team had the opportunity to abseil down the landmark’s clock face to clean, inspect and repair. This process of maintenance takes place every 5-6 years and requires specialist equipment and care due to the fragile structure and glazing of the glass. 

Total Access also had a three-year cleaning and maintenance contract for Portsmouth's iconic Spinnaker Tower, which offers panoramic views of the South Coast, Portsmouth Harbour and the Isle of Wight. Total Access mounted the tower using Industrial Rope Access ensuring the team of technicians could work safely without invading the space or disrupting the enjoyment of the tourists and visitors. 

When completing huge structures such as Big Ben or Spinnaker Tower, cleaning technicians utilise specialist access equipment – ropes, harnesses, and karabiners. Weather conditions also need to be taken into account, particularly when working on outdoor constructions. Employers must be wary that equipment exposed to outdoor conditions may begin to deteriorate, resulting in a dangerous situation for the user. Access equipment should be inspected at suitable intervals appropriate to the environment and use.


Cleaning technicians are obligated to undergo a thorough Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) training programme to ensure competence towards health and safety. With Total Access, each operative also undergoes a Working at Height Medical, First Aid Training, and Roof Top Safety Training – with regular refresher courses. Although, as discussed, employers are required by law to ensure risks are eliminated or reduced for their staff when working at height, employees also have general legal duties to take reasonable care of themselves and others who may be affected by their actions. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), advises that this includes: reporting any safety hazard to their employer, and using equipment and safety devices supplied to them properly and in accordance with training. 

Total Access (UK) is owned by Arco

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A partnership made at the top of The O2 21/02/2017

When it comes to the responsibility of keeping people safe at work and protecting business reputation, working with a trusted safety partner, who can provide expert advice and guidance, is critical.

Safety company Arco is said to have the country’s largest dedicated team of NEBOSH qualified experts who are able to provide customers with both practical advice and guidance, as well as a range of quality safety products and training services to keep people safe. When the world’s biggest-selling entertainment venue, the O2, needed a safety partner they could trust, they chose Arco.  

As well as supplying safety solutions to those who work in and around the O2, Arco’s critical role also included the design of bespoke solutions for keeping visitors to the 'Up at the O2' experience safe, as they conquer the summit of London. This provided Arco with a unique set of challenges with 380m of flexible fabric walkway, changeable weather conditions and urban mountaineers of all ages, sizes and ability wanting to enjoy this unique experience, safely. 

Arco’s designers developed a climb shoe that provides comfort, grip and durability, a safety harness that is simple to operate, strong and durable and a climb suit for all weathers.

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Wipes protect against Weil’s disease 25/11/2016

Arco has launched its first range of specialised hand wipes, designed to protect employees from Weil’s disease, which is debilitating or fatal in 10% of cases. 

The wipes work by killing Leptospira bacteria, which causes Leptospirosis that can develop into Weil’s disease. Present in animal urine, particularly rodents, those most at risk are those working in agricultural, construction and waste disposal industries as their working environments may come into contact with rat populations, wastelands and sewage. Those in close contact with animals, such as farmers, veterinary staff and pest control workers are also at risk of contracting Leptospirosis.

Arco Safe Hands wipes are specially formulated to kill dangerous bacteria and are a convenient way for employees to disinfect their hands. By simply rubbing their hands with the wipes to also physically remove dirt, Arco’s safety experts advise that employees not only disinfect themselves from harmful Leptospira bacteria, but also from a range of other bacteria and viruses (including Pseudomonas, E-Coli, Straphyloccus, Enterococcus and H1N1).

Darren Williamson, product & procurement manager from Arco, said: “Whilst rare, Weil’s disease is a very real risk that employees need to be aware of. Any workers that are potentially at risk should take care to wipe hands before eating, drinking, or using equipment close to the face. It’s also a good idea to use the formulated wipes as soon as possible after handling contaminated clothing, avoid inadvertently touching their face before using a wipe, and covering any cuts with a waterproof dressing.”

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Arco unveils bigger catalogue 07/11/2016

Arco has launched its latest Big Book catalogue, featuring one of the largest ranges of safety equipment, workwear and workplace safety products.

With over 20,000 own brand and leading named brand products, including 561 new solutions, this year the Arco Big Book is bigger than ever spanning 1,000 pages.

Due to popular demand Arco has introduced Arco Essentials Contractor Workwear, offering value without compromising on quality. The range provides bulk-packed garments; including fleeces, sweatshirts, polo shirts and T-shirts, supplying workforces with uniforms and workwear packaged in sets of 5 or 10 pieces to make on site distribution easier to manage.

New products for 2016/17 include the award-winning Women’s Hazardwear, which is said to be the industry’s first comprehensive range of Hi-Vis hazardwear designed and tailored for women – in yellow and GORT orange. 

New additions to its eyewear range include Arco Skarn Safety Spectacles. The sporty framed spectacles are completely metal free and lightweight, increasing comfort for the wearer.

The catalogue also launches two new products that are available exclusively through Arco, The Sundstrom 900 / 905 is a new adaptable respiratory protection solution that enables the user to customise the half mask to their requirements, either by moving the filter to the back to reduce the weight and profile, or to combine it with a powered or airline system. Also, the uvex sportsline safety trainer offers enhanced protection, comfort and style and is suitable for light industry such as warehousing, logistics, automotive, aerospace and tradesmen.

Get your copy of the Arco Big Book 2016/17 at www.arco.co.uk/catrequest

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