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2021: A Recap

As 2021 draws to an end, we thought it would be good to look back at the key points of the year and then a quick look forwards into 2022.

Obviously we can’t recap 2021 without mentioning the dreaded ‘C’ word. Covid has probably had the biggest impact on how businesses work over the past 20 years. It has forced us to re-evaluate how our businesses function, what our employees work life balance could be, and it has forced us to adapt to split second changes! But there has been some good learning points:

  • Working from home – We would dare to suggest that prior to 2019, most companies probably had the idea that employees had to be in work for them to be productive. If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that employees are equally as productive when working from home. But this isn’t without its challenges:
    • How to onboard new starters and allow them to learn from others?
    • How to maintain your corporate culture when no one is about?
    • How to maintain standards when you can’t see what is going on?

All of these things are challenging – but most companies have successfully readjusted themselves and have adapted to these points.

In terms of health and safety, though, we should remind you that you have the same duty to ensure the safety of remote workers as you do for workers physically sat in your buildings. This is easily achieved with a simple ‘home working questionnaire’ which is very similar to a DSE assessment that you might be familiar with.

  • Mental health – As a nation, we’ve never focussed on mental health and wellbeing as much as we have in the past year. Working from home and the absence from friends and co-workers, has been challenging for most employees and employers. Maintaining the wellbeing of everyone is crucial to business success and we see this continuing throughout 2022. There is no golden-bullet solution: what works for one person might not work for another. But as an employer you should be aware of the issues that your employees face. Mental Health First Aid courses are a great way of raising awareness and giving you some tools to manage your workforce. There is also a new ISO standard, 45003:2021 which can help provide guidance in this area.
  • Technological Change – The methods of addressing challenges presented by COVID might have required some form of alternative technology that you’ve never used before. Video conferencing, for example, has boomed over the past 12 months. In 2018, I daresay that this form of communication was limited to tech-savvy or international companies. It certainly wasn’t something that a small consultancy company in South Yorkshire used. Well, here we are and we’re using video conferencing on a daily basis to communicate with staff and clients – who’d have thought it?!

You might have new equipment in your workplace to accommodate employees that are now working from home. You might be taking this as an opportunity to experiment and look at what is out there. These are exciting times! But just a word of caution: sometimes it’s tempting to just jump in with both feet and not think about the consequences. Risk assessments are your best friend in these situations as they should ask you pertinent questions about what you’re doing and allow you to evaluate the best route to take. Sometimes when you try something new, it doesn’t work out when planned. Being able to demonstrate your thinking could save your bacon!

As we move in 2022, there are further challenges that are on the horizon:

  • The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order will be amended under the Fire Safety Act 2021. The primary purpose of these changes are to clarify:
    • Who is responsible for buildings where there are two or more domestic premises,
    • To establish that duty holders / building owners must manage the risk of fire for the structure and external walls, and for the common parts of the building.
    • To establish that building owners will be held accountable for non compliance.

There are likely to be further changes, however, and they may impact on all buildings and persons involved in fire safety.

  • Natasha’s Law / Food Labelling Guidelines has been implemented and this will continue to roll through businesses which produce prepacked for direct sale food. These items must now be labelled with the name of the food, the full list of ingredients and the allergens emphasised within the list.
  • IET Code of Practice for In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment (5th Edition) has removed the use of the phrases ‘portable’ and ‘appliance’ when considering regular inspections of electrical items. Typically when PAT Testing is undertaken, items such as the air conditioning, security alarms and other items that are hard wired into the installation are missed out. The removal of these phrases are intended to ensure that hard wired items are now included in regular inspection and testing.
  • UKCA Marking in England Scotland and Wales will replace the CE marking applied to applicable products in the UK. There has been a grace period where business can still use CE marking until 1st January 2022, however we are not aware of any intention to extend this date further. For consumers, it will simply mean that you should be aware of the UKCA marking and that it replaces the CE mark as a sign of conformity with relevant standards (including safety).


We expect that 2022 will not be without its drama. Be rest assured, ProAktive will continue to be here to support you and your business.

We hope that the end of 2021 brings you a very merry Christmas and we wish you all the best for the new year!


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