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News and Updates

All the latest news and updates from the UK's leading supplier of safety clothing and equipment

  • Training for Confined Space Working - Are You Fully Compliant?

    15 July 2021

    Brian Grunes, Arco Professional Safety Services Confined Space training expert offers guidance on the risks of confined space working and the upcoming changes to the City & Guilds training accreditation.

    Q. What kind of working situation could pose a confined space risk?

    The existence of confined spaces in some workplaces can be reasonably easy to identify and understand. Tanks, vessels, sewers among others are known to be confined spaces to people working in those environments; however, the existence of confined spaces in commercial or non-industrial premises are less well known. Service ducts, lofts and void spaces, plant rooms or poorly ventilated rooms can be confined spaces too and often found in commercial buildings, hospitals, universities and residential dwellings. Some confined spaces will also develop during construction, or when work activities such as welding or cleaning is being carried out. These spaces are just as hazardous and demonstrate that systems of safe working must be in place in every environment.

    Q. What are the dangers of working in confined spaces?

    A significant number of people are killed or seriously injured working in confined spaces in the UK each year. Specified risks include: serious injury due to fire or explosion; loss of consciousness arising from increased body temperature; loss of consciousness or asphyxiation arising from gas, fume, vapour, or lack of oxygen; drowning from an increase in the level of a liquid and asphyxiation arising from a free-flowing solid or being unable to reach a respirable environment. These risks occur across a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, utilities, maritime, construction, offshore and agriculture. Those at risk include workers in the confined space itself and those who may have to try to rescue them when things go wrong. Despite legislation and health and safety measures, confined space working poses a very high risk and it's important to ensure that the right people have the correct skills and capabilities for the roles they undertake. Training is just one part of ensuring the safety of people working in confined spaces.

    Q. What should you consider when preparing to undertake confined space working?

    Once you have identified that work will be undertaken in a confined space it is important that the right controls are put in place. The Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) L1010 Safe Working in Confined Spaces provides details on the relevant provisions that must be considered. This includes an initial assessment as to whether the work required could be completed without the need to enter the confined space. If that is not possible, then taking the necessary precautions for safe working in a confined space, which will include training, supervision, ensuring safe access and egress, testing and monitoring the atmosphere before and during the procedure, having a reliable communications system in place and suitable equipment for the job. In the event of an accident you would need to show you have followed the code or complied with the law in some other way otherwise a court will find you at fault.

    Q. What kind of training is needed for confined space working and who needs it?

    Confined space training is essential for those managing or supervising confined space teams as well as those working in confined spaces and for rescue and recovery teams. Confined space training options range from Confined Space Awareness training, through Low, Medium and High-Risk courses, plus Rescue Management and training covering the selection and maintenance of equipment involved in safe confined space working, such as gas monitors, breathing apparatus and personal protective equipment. If the risks are assessed to be too high or the job too complex for in-house teams, you should consider outsourcing jobs to confined space services experts.

    The confined space courses offered by Arco Safety Services are mapped against a range of National Occupational Standards (NOS) used by a range of Awarding Organisations (AOs) to produce assessment criteria for the level of qualification required. The main AO that we use for confined space is City & Guilds, who offer a suite of associated qualifications.

    Q. There's been some updates to the City & Guilds accreditations - could you explain what these are?

    Following the changes made in 2020 to the National Occupational Standards (NOS) for Confined Spaces, City & Guilds reviewed their Confined Space qualifications and announced a new suite that became available earlier this year. The new 6160 suite of qualifications replace the existing 6150 ones which will continue to be available until 31st December.

    Q. I've only just completed my City & Guilds 6150 (or: My City and Guilds 6150 Qualification is still valid for a year), do I need to complete the new qualification immediately?

    These new qualifications are available now, with the existing qualifications (6150) being available until 31st December 2021. For anyone holding a current 6150 qualification, it will remain valid for three years from its completion so there's no need to undertake the new 6160 qualification until it's due to expire.

    Q. Where are your training facilities?

    Training can be delivered at our national specialist training facilities or at customer's premises, utilising either their facility (based on a set criteria) or one of our mobile confined space units. Arco Professional Safety Services currently has four specialist Safety Centres located at Enfield (South), Stafford (Midlands), Warrington (North West) and the newly-opened Linlithgow (Scotland). These centres are purpose-built facilities that have been specially designed to simulate real life hazards in a controlled environment.

    Q. What are the training options at the moment, given current restrictions due to Covid-19?

    Continuing to provide practical skills is essential in critical and high-risk industries and so Arco Professional Safety Services has adapted operations at its training centres to provide attendees with a safe learning environment and the reassurance they need to join safety critical training programmes. This includes new precautions, such as pre-start COVID questionnaires, non-contact body temperature checks, staggered break times to minimise unnecessary people movement and mixing and the use of larger rooms equipped with enclosure screens to ensure adequate social distancing. Arco Professional Safety Services has also launched a number of video conference options including a Confined Space Working Awareness half-day course and blended learning options, mixing online theory with practical learning.

    Q. Do you offer any other kind of assistance for confined space working or emergencies?

    Our services team provide confined space practical advice and service delivery in the areas of supervision, rescue, inspection, surveying & mapping, and cleaning & maintenance. Arco Professional Safety Services also provides 24/7 dedicated standby rescue teams and specialist confined space rescue consultants who are highly experienced in confined spaces safety and provide both 'entry' and 'non-entry' rescue solutions to businesses.

    For more information on Arco's Professional Safety Services Confined Spaces services, please visit


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  • Safety Expert Arco Crowned "Supreme Champions" at Family Business Awards

    07 July 2021

    Arco, the UK's leading supplier of safety products and services, has been crowned with the ultimate accolade "Supreme Family Business of the Year 2021" at this year's Family Business of the Year Awards. As well as taking home the national title, the expert in safety was hailed Yorkshire Family Business of the Year.

    Organised by Family Business United ("FBU"), the virtual awards recognise entrepreneurship, innovation, spirit of family business and community impact.

    Chosen for all it has achieved over its five generations of family ownership, Arco was commended for its commitment to the Health and Safety industry, its people, its strong values and its core purpose; keeping people safe at work. Judges also recognised the company's investment efforts to future-proof the business for generations to come.

    David Evison, Managing Director of Arco, described the investments made over the last 12 months:

    "In 2020, we unveiled a £30m extension to our National Distribution Centre, expanding our logistical capabilities for customers and continuing Arco's commitment to invest in the growing city of Hull. With longstanding ties to Hull since we opened our first shop on Queen Street in 1893, we have also invested in a new purpose-built Industrial Hose facility and £15m state-of-the-art headquarters to ensure the city remains vibrant and commercially successful.

    Our other recent investments include improved digital capabilities and two new purpose-built Safety Centres with specialist facilities where our experts offer real-world training alongside classroom learning to support those working in the most high-risk environments."

    Thomas Martin, Chairman of Arco, says:

    "Everything we do is about understanding how we can be a force for good. Our business growth is driven by the desire to make a positive impact: the more we grow, the more we can help preserve the UK's safety standards. We are absolutely delighted that our people have been recognised for the phenomenal things they do for society, and we are honoured to receive two awards that champion family business. Thank you FBU for the recognition, and for reminding those in government and in business of the importance of the family business sector and the contribution it makes."

    As Doug Ryan, Wealth Management Director at Mattioli Woods, sponsors of the Supreme Champion Award, says:

    "Arco is a multi-generational family firm that has real purpose underpinning everything they do. Family values are firmly embodied in the business and have helped guide them successfully for over 135 years to become a world class business."

    "Arco stood out as worthy overall winners this year. As we all know, people are at the heart of any business and they are the lifeblood of Arco. Their family values define their reason for being and are truly embodied within the heart of the organisation, the people in the Arco workforce. These values have been upheld during the pandemic, the business has stepped up to help communities the length and breadth of the country and over the past few years there has been continued investment to help future-proof the business for generations to come. Arco are worthy winners of this award and all the accolades it sends their way," concludes Doug.

    Ben Fowler, Managing Director of Western Pension Solutions, sponsors of the Yorkshire award and judge adds:

    "Arco is a business that is driven by the why and not the what and the how. They have made significant investment in the governance of both the family and the business and always strive to do their best with growth coming from their desire to make a positive impact on society, something they have been doing since 1884. This is an incredible family business and a great ambassador for the sector, not just in Yorkshire, but across the whole of the UK and beyond."

    As Paul Andrews, founder of FBU and organisers of the awards concludes:

    "Family businesses are the engine room of the UK economy and these awards celebrate their contribution. There can only be one winner and Arco are a fantastic business, great ambassadors for the sector and deserving winners of the 2021 Supreme Champions Family Business of the Year title."

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  • Has your Hard Hat expired? Safety Experts urge workers to "Check Your Head Protection"

    14 June 2021

    Arco, Headway and Centurion bring head injury to the forefront of workplace safety for Hard Hat Awareness Week on 14th - 20th June 2021

    Twenty per cent of all fatal and non-fatal injuries in the UK are head-related, yet head protection accounts for only three per cent of personal protective equipment (PPE) purchases. When head protection is acquired, nearly a quarter of workers are unaware that exceeding the expiry date of a hard hat can reduce its protective qualities. Arco, the UK's leading safety company, is joining forces with Headway - the brain injury association, and Centurion, head protection system specialist, to raise awareness of the importance of selecting, wearing and maintaining head protection.

    Any kind of head injury can lead to debilitating and long-term health issues, so ensuring that head protection is worn and cared for correctly is critical in preventing life changing injuries. Helmet shells are designed to be shock absorbent; however, the material properties used to protect workers can also be sensitive to chemical attack. More than half of workers mark or apply decals and labels to their helmet, unknowingly decreasing its durability by compromising the integrity of the material it is made from. To maintain safety standards, workers should remove any unchecked stickers and sanitise and clean their head protection equipment in a safe environment. Additionally, workers should audit their safety helmet or hard hat for signs of wear and tear and make sure it is in date.

    Most manufacturers recommend replacing hard hats every five years regardless of external appearance. However, excessive wear and tear in extreme environments such as exposure to high temperatures, chemicals, or sunlight can significantly shorten the product's life span. When evaluating a time frame for safe usage, workers should conduct risk assessments to consider their unique environment.

    Workers should also consider the daily hazards they face in the workplace. The European Standard for industrial safety helmets is EN 397, which provides shock absorption, penetration resistance and protection against impact. An EN 397 helmet is most suitable for workers on the ground, while those working at height should look for additional protection, opting for an EN 12492 helmet.

    Alex Turgoose, PPE Product and Procurement Manager at Arco, says:

    "We are passionate about raising awareness of the correct use of safety equipment. Head injuries are a major problem in the workplace. When selecting head protection, take it seriously, and consider the impact of incorrect choices."

    Chris Tidy, Technical and Training Specialist at Centurion Safety Products, says:

    "We hope that Hard Hat Awareness Week will initiate a shift in attitudes towards hard hat safety and the wider issue of brain health."

    Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of Headway, says:

    "Brain injury is more common than you think, and its impact can be life-changing for the injured person, their partner, family members and friends. Ensuring your head protection is worn and cared for correctly is key to remaining safe."

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  • Arco Gives Evidence to Public Accounts Committee on PPE Procurement

    25 May 2021

    Thomas Martin, Chairman, of Arco, the UK's leading safety company, appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in Parliament today to give evidence to the inquiry into "Government procurement and supply of personal protective equipment" during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    During the hearing, Thomas Martin highlighted Arco's credentials, its expertise and capability in procuring and distributing PPE that was compliant with the correct safety standards and that was ethically sourced. He outlined the company's frustration in the procurement system set up by the Government at the start of the pandemic, and explained how Arco went on to respond directly to approaches from NHS trusts for critical PPE. Looking forward, Thomas articulated the learnings from the last year and made key recommendations for future pandemic preparedness, urging the Government to uphold the UK's high safety standards.

    Commenting after the session, Thomas Martin said:

    "We were proud to do our part as a constructive partner to the NHS, to central government and to the care system across the UK. We know that the PPE procurement structures have been through an unprecedented level of stress over the past year - for us, this meant frustration at times, and led to otherwise avoidable complications.

    "Throughout, our focus has been on - and remains - supplying the highest quality PPE to support the delivery of the pandemic response, and we hope that our insights into our experiences in doing so can help build a more resilient structure as Covid recedes and we prepare for the next potential pandemic."

    "We understand that DHSC and its partners had to build a new system from scratch and scale it up at pace - but unfortunately doesn't offset the fact that the central PPE supplier portal did not function as intended. We saw situations whereby we knew that we had stock that was needed but received no response to offers and no central guidance about where it should be directed - with incredibly limited and sporadic uptake of those offers we did make."

    "With our track record in supporting public health responses to serious outbreaks (including Ebola, SARS and Foot and Mouth), this was a disorientating and frustrating situation for us. While we were able to offer our support more broadly across the NHS and Social Care systems directly, at a time when there was a clear demand for huge volumes of protective equipment, it seemed unusual that we were not able to provide more support than we did."

    "Much has been made of VIP lanes and influence over the past few weeks - all we know is that we had a constructive relationship with commercial contacts across Government, and offered our services as a market leading expert provider. Like many trapped in the system, we attempted to reach out to those holding the levers across Whitehall, but without success. Fast-tracks and Ministerial lanes are as much news to us as to the rest of the UK - we certainly did not benefit from any special arrangements."

    Given its expertise, Arco felt a responsibility to share its experiences of the PPE procurement system during 2020, with a view to contributing to an improved response in any similar situation in the future. Arco published a Position Paper: Personal Protective Equipment and the Government's Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic, which offers insight into its own experiences dealing with Government bodies and other agencies as part of the PPE supply chain. It proposes a 10-point set of recommendations to prevent a repeat of the high-profile issues that were seen during the first wave of the crisis and to ensure the country is better protected in any future pandemic.

    The report recognises that hundreds of millions of pounds has been wasted on poor quality PPE that cannot be used for the intended purpose.

    Arco has also urged Government to consult on requiring PPE suppliers to formally register to supply Category II and III products - which would ensure that a supplier is capable of providing compliant product - while also intensifiying market surveillance by an empowered OPSS to ensure suppliers live up to their paper commitments.

    Thomas Martin further commented:

    "You can do PPE procurement in a cost, effective, safe way. But you must not do it on the cheap. We are disappointed to hear that defective product made it into our PPE ecosystem over the past year - and even more so that it made it into the hands of front-line NHS workers. Government must recognise the gaps in the product safety and surveillance system and move to tackle them before we bed in a culture of low-effort, low-quality provision at a time when we should be focussing on scaling up manufacturing capacity and on-shoring our PPE sector."

    "The UK is well recognised globally for its expertise in this area - we have an opportunity to lead the world in bringing home PPE manufacturing and keep standards high in doing so. We are glad that the National Audit Office (NAO) is looking closely into these failures, and I hope that the PAC and central government will look seriously at the culture that we are allowing to flourish."

    With over 135 years of safety experience, its own UKAS-accredited product assurance lab and a 400,000 sqft National Distribution Centre, Hull-based Arco has been at the forefront of the most significant recent global emergencies, including the response to both SARS and Ebola outbreaks. When the Covid-19 pandemic was declared in the UK, the company played a key role in the response, navigating the global supply chain restrictions that led to an international shortage of certain types of PPE, to provide critical PPE to key industries and the frontline.

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  • UK Safety Expert Arco Donates £10,000 to Domestic Abuse Charity, Refuge

    24 May 2021

    Arco, has donated a further £10,000 to Refuge, England's largest single provider of specialist domestic abuse services, supporting over 7,000 women and children on any given day. The UK's leading safety company's second donation takes its total contribution to Refuge to £15,000 in the last 6 months.

    Whilst Arco's core purpose is to keep people safe at work, it has always recognised its responsibilities to the communities within which it operates. The safety expert is committed to making a meaningful difference by supporting causes that keep communities safer, including those whose work focuses on personal safety, preventing violence, and helping the victims of abuse. Arco fulfils this mission through its compassionate workforce which has demonstrated great dedication to support causes through personal fundraising alongside company-wide partnerships and relationships.

    Arco's Community Panel encourages colleagues to offer guidance on the larger charitable donations it makes, and which areas the company should support. This year Arco has run two "Coronavirus Grant" schemes which invited employees to apply for grants of £1,000 on behalf of organisations and charities in their local communities that required vital funding during the COVID-19 pandemic. Donations from the Coronavirus Grant Schemes now total £106,000. The schemes add to Arco's Community Grants programme, which encourages employees to apply for grants up to £500 for causes close to their hearts, with the grants being reviewed and awarded by Arco's Community Panel each quarter.

    Earlier in the year, one Arco colleague applied for a grant for Refuge, highlighting the incredible work it does to support vulnerable women and children following her experience with the charity. The application led Arco's Community Panel to support Refuge with a £5,000 donation in December 2020. Following the tragic events reported in the press the company has decided to donate a further £10,000. Through publicising our donations, we hope that raises the awareness and is a reminder that anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of age, race, gender, faith or class, and how survivors can bring great change and awareness.

    David Evison, Managing Director of Arco, says:

    "Over the last year or so, the world has experienced a time unlike any other, resulting in each of us having to overcome unfamiliar challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, for those suffering at the hands of an abusive partner, the challenges have been unprecedented. We're grateful for the opportunity to support Refuge, a charity with a purpose that aligns with our own, to keep people safe."

    Charly Meehan, Refuge's Head of Corporate Partnerships, says:

    "Domestic abuse is a life or death issue. We are still working around the clock to ensure we can provide both immediate and long-term support for women and children who need us and may be experiencing long-term complex effects of lockdown. We couldn't have done this without supporters like Arco. Thank you for your commitment to our mission: changing society so that no-one has to live in fear of violence or abuse."

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