Changing Trends in Enterprises, Entrepreneurship, and Employment

Industrial transformation...

Before the industrial revolution, families sustained themselves through farming and other trades and crafts including carpentry, cloth production, and metalwork based upon proximity to sources of materials and supplies. In this context, the term "trade" refers to an occupation. Because such activities could be performed at home, and often augmented farmwork, families flourished in cottage industries. In this system, the family was the enterprise - manufacturing products in a workshop at home. Merchants brought raw materials to homes and would take finished products to markets. Entrepreneurs and agents would "put out" work to these workshops, which were in effect their subcontractors.

Journeymen were craftsmen who had completed apprenticeships, such as in carpentry or metalwork. Journeymen traveled between local communities with the right to charge a fee for a day's work accordingly. Apprentices were new practitioners who entered programs to receive training for their careers while working.

As the industrial revolution progressed, work was transferred from homes to factories when the required machinery became too large or expensive. Production moved from a decentralized to a centralized system, creating employment opportunities for laborers in factories.

Initially the "put in" system was used, where workers were treated as subcontractors within a factory and eventually became employees. Factory working conditions were often harsh. Labor movements were founded to fight for workers' rights, from which today's employment and labor laws have evolved.

As the economy shifted from family to commercial and industrial enterprises, employment opportunities grew. Entrepreneurs provided the innovation to start new enterprises in new or existing markets, with new products and/or services, from which new industries evolved.

Enterprises were established that had an identity in their own right separate from their individual founders and owners. An enterprise is an undertaking for prize or cause. Business entities such as partnerships and joint stock companies emerged over time, and eventually the concept of a corporation was developed - a legal entity that exists separately from its shareholder owners.

Trading took place in marketplaces. In this context, the term "trade" refers to buying and selling. A market is a set of potential buyers (prospects) and/or actual buyers (customers) and potential and/or actual sellers (suppliers) who are motivated to execute transactions. Motivated buyers have the desire, want or need, authority, and resources to demand and purchase a product and/or service. Motivated sellers have the desire, want or need, authority, and inventory to supply and sell a product and/or service. A marketplace is where buyers and sellers can meet to execute transactions. Street marketplaces were common in towns along sidewalks or as squares and covered buildings, and still are popular in many places around the world. Financial transactions were conducted in bourses or exchanges where contracts representing financial instruments were traded by dealers and brokers.

Through improvements in manufacturing techniques, such as production lines and automation, the scale of units produced increased dramatically. Through improvements in energy, transportation, and telecommunications technologies, reach extended into new geographic markets for acquisition of materials and supplies, and delivery of end-products.

Chains of suppliers of raw materials, manufacturers and distributors, merchandisers (wholesalers and retailers), and end-consumer customers emerged over time. Some enterprises decided whether to make or buy materials and supplies on a case by case basis. Others became "vertically integrated" by owning and controlling most or all aspects of their supply and demand chains to make hand-offs between processes more efficient and effective. Tremendous wealth could be generated for entrepreneurs participating in chains that created value through both sales and production activities.

Governance, administrative, and operational disciplines emerged as enterprises became larger, creating the need for managers, supervisors, and staff. As a consequence, executive, administrative, professional, technical, vocational, and clerical jobs were created. As such enterprises became stable sources of employment. The word "firm" was used to describe them - suggesting the notion of steadfastness. This term is still common today, especially for professional services partnerships such as accounting, architectural, consulting, engineering, and law firms, where trust and integrity are important factors.

Through acquisition or merger, enterprises can become "horizontally integrated" - offering the same products and/or services in different markets. Through horizontal integration, enterprises can gain economy of scale and become corporate "giants." The world's largest enterprises have gained scale by doing the same thing in multiple geographic markets around the world, although offerings may differ slightly through varying customer demographics and local practices.

In many industries, such as construction, energy, financial services, and manufacturing, there are a few very large global players that have grown mainly through acquisitions and mergers, and a large number of very small players that serve local markets almost exclusively. Joint ventures are also common that share risk, resources, and expertise.

Not only did the construction industry contribute to the growth of economies by building infrastructure, but it participated in globalization trends through the development of large enterprises, such as Bechtel, Halliburton, Black & Veatch, and CH2M Hill, that have worldwide reach.

Construction activity flourished with the development of residential, commercial, industrial, and corporate real estate. Through the use of prefabricated and modular buildings, the construction and manufacturing industries became interrelated.

Energy production and manufacturing activities globalized, driven by the aerospace and automotive industries, with such enterprises as Royal Dutch Shell, Honeywell, and Ford. The financial services industry has globalized with such enterprises as Barclays, HSBC, and JP Morgan Chase. Globalization was necessary not only to achieve scale, but also to serve global customer enterprises. Global financial services enterprises may be able to better manage risk than those only serving local geographies through their ability to move resources between and within multiple markets.

The food service and hospitality industries have partially globalized, primarily through franchising, but the merchandising industry is still primarily local, although products may be sourced internationally.

As a consequence, industrialized societies have stabilized through enterprises that create employment from jobs that provide steady income streams for food, housing, health, education, transportation, taxes, and disposable income for entertainment and recreation. In effect, these enterprises finance the lower levels of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs for many people.

The need for marketing and sales capabilities grew accordingly and media communications vehicles, such as magazines, newspapers, radio, and television, relied upon advertising revenue to cover their costs. Today, many websites rely upon advertising revenue to cover costs, and there is a gradual shift occurring from physical to electronic media of all forms as mobile devices become more popular.

Industry structure...

Today's economy is structured according to either market-driven or production-driven industries. An industry consists of a group of enterprises that share common activities, products and/or services and/or common methods of distribution.

In the market-driven approach, the economy comprises goods-producing and service-providing industries; in the production-driven approach, the economy comprises product-driven and service-driven industries. Goods-producing industries include: natural resources and mining, construction, and manufacturing; service-providing industries include: wholesale and retail trade, transportation (and warehousing), utilities, information, financial activities, professional and business services, education and health services, leisure and hospitality, and public administration. Product-driven industries comprise enterprises that manage inventories available for sale as primary activities (regardless of whether they transform them or not). Under this approach, the retail, wholesale, and food service industries are product-driven.

"Commerce" is a more general term than "trade," that refers to the buying and selling of commodities, merchandise, and services, and the associated warehousing, distribution, and transportation. Commodities are products that are indistinguishable and interchangeable with other products of the same type because there is little to no value added. Commodities include natural products such as produce, minerals, and oils. Merchandise consists of commodities and manufactured products for retail sale to consumers.

Consumers are users of products and/or services - both individuals and enterprises. Enterprise consumers are either entrepreneurial (in emerging or growth stages) or institutional (in growth or mature stages), and consist of sole proprietors, partnerships, limited liability companies, or corporations. Sole proprietors are natural persons, whereas partnerships, limited liability companies, and corporations are juristic persons, meaning that they are non-human (business) entities having the same status as a natural person for legal purposes. Juristic persons may be considered separate from their partners, members, or shareholders, for legal purposes, although the distinction is not necessarily absolute. Juristic persons may enter into contracts, own assets, incur liabilities, and sue and be sued.

Commercial enterprises are involved in light manufacturing, merchandising, retail, and professional services. They are small to medium sized enterprises, located on Main Street, in shopping centers and malls, and in office parks. Commercial enterprises are typically narrowly held.

Industrial enterprises are involved in heavy and high volume manufacturing and related industries, such as in chemicals and energy. They are medium to large sized enterprises located in dedicated facilities, such as factories and refineries and are typically more widely held.

Corporate enterprises are large service providers in finance, entertainment, health care, and transportation, and include the administrative activities of industrial concerns. Corporate enterprises are typically widely held.

Commercial enterprises are major sources of employment in local communities for entry to mid-level positions. Industrial and corporate enterprises employ both unskilled and skilled employees, and are providers of professional career opportunities.

From a governmental policy perspective, employment provides stability in the economy. An activity that is repetitious provides an opportunity for steady employment, such as food processing and service, and manufacturing in growth industries. Entrepreneurial and sales activities are more prone to uncertainty; in order to promote stability, the compensation of salespeople is incentivised to encourage results on an ongoing basis.

Government policy has also encouraged home ownership, which strengthens stability. For most people, their job provides their largest source of income, and their house is their largest asset; their mortgage and related expenses are a significant component of their monthly compensation. Home value appreciation is a creator of wealth for many families. However, the home as an asset can become a liability if it prevents the owner from relocating to a different geography to pursue new opportunities. In down markets, home values can depreciate to a point lower than the mortgages that finance them - a stressful and sometimes irrecoverable situation.

Challenges for employment in the future...

As industries mature and reposition, restructure, and reengineer as a consequence of changing buyer trends or competition, employment opportunities may erode, and current positions may be eliminated. Reengineering initiatives can lead to a strategic repositioning of an enterprise by changing its activities, pursing different methods of performing the same activity, or streamlining current activities to reduce costs. The application of technology can play a major role by creating jobs in new areas and eliminating them in others. Globalization trends have changed the cost structure of certain activities by outsourcing to providers who offer economy of scale, or to low cost production markets such third-world countries.

The consequence is that job markets have changed dramatically, and that old assumptions for employment have become invalid. The notion of working for one employer for forty plus years is no longer possible because industries, enterprises, and types of employment change quickly.

Even the methods for finding a job have changed. It's not what you know, or who you know, but who knows you that matters. Finding a job is an individual marketing initiative, and many people do not have experience in promoting products and/or services, let alone themselves. However, if individuals cannot promote themselves, how can they promote anything else? It is essential to launch an individual marketing campaign and to keep it refresh an alive in order to find a job in today's economy.

A marketing campaign for an individual begins in the same way as for an enterprise: by developing a strategy that addresses opportunities, threats, strengths, and weaknesses, and by setting objectives, goals, and specific action-oriented initiatives.

The process starts by an individual understanding the power of their own knowledge and skills - the personal, professional, technical, entrepreneurial, leadership, and management competencies that others will want to know and benefit from.

Effective personal and professional competencies are essential for gaining entry level positions in enterprises, and the initial promotions thereafter. However, the enterpriship competencies in entrepreneurship, leadership, and management disciplines determine long-term success from transforming ideas into value, influencing others to follow direction through influence, and applying resources to activities to gain results in both entrepreneurial and employment activities.

Purchasing And Selling Real Estate In Israel

This article is the first of two that will cover the various aspects of buying real estate in Israel. The first article will provide a general overview of the Israeli real estate system, the major differences between transactions in Israel and the United States, and the most important considerations in such a transaction. The second article will cover special issues when the property is new and being bought from the contractor, and also taxation associated with purchasing and selling property in Israel.

There are two types of property in Israel: privately-owned (private land) and state-owned property administered by the Israel Lands Administration ("Minhal"). Private real property, like in the U.S., is owned by the buyer with title vesting in him. Land is registered in the land registry (Tabu) under the name of the buyer. On the other hand, title to Minhal property does not pass to the purchaser. Instead, the buyer gets a long-term lease to the property which is usually for 49 years with an option for an additional 49 years. Over 80% of the land in Israel is Minhal land, so the buyer should not be deterred from buying it. However, private land is often viewed as preferable. As each type of land involves a slightly different purchase process, one of the first things to check is whether the property is private or Minhal.

Most buyers start the process by obtaining the services of a real estate agent in the area in which the buyer is seeking to buy. An agent's fees are success based and range from 1-2% plus VAT depending on the size of the deal, and your negotiating abilities vis a vis the agent. The fees usually become a legally binding obligation once a legally binding purchase agreement is signed. Agents are required sign the potential customer on a written agent agreement and then add each property they show the buyer to the agreement, asking the buyer to initial next to the property to establish the agent's right to a commission in case the buyer purchases that property. Many agents try to sign you up on many properties without actually showing you them all. This can cause a conflict between you and multiple agents so it is advised only to sign after the agent has physically shown you a property.

After finding a property and negotiating a price with the seller, the actual process of buying the property commences. The process of buying land in Israel is different from that in the U.S. in numerous ways. First, there is no standard escrow process and there are no escrow companies. Second, there is no title insurance. Rather, lawyers play a dominant and indispensable role in the purchase process and are responsible for protecting their client's interests and handling the multifaceted and bureaucratic process from start to finish. Should each party retain its own attorney? Ethical rules of the Israeli bar are more liberal than in California and allow one attorney to represent both buyer and seller, a situation that happens often. However, a foreign buyer is particularly vulnerable and should not rely on the seller's attorney, given the obvious potential for conflict of interest. Attorney fees vary between 0.5-2% of the deal plus VAT, depending greatly on the experience of the attorney and the size of the deal.

After finding a property and negotiating a price with the seller, and at times before retaining an attorney, it is not uncommon for the parties to sign an informal (binding or nonbinding) memorandum of understanding which sets forth the main terms, such as price and date of transfer of possession. The buyer may ask for a small deposit at this stage. Most attorneys caution very strongly against the signature of an MOU as it oftentimes leads to legal disputes as the parties who are not yet advised by an attorney do not realize that such a document will be binding upon them, and they may fail to insert certain critical language to it.

There are a few important issues to take into account prior to signing any document. First, the buyer's should obtain a print out of the title of the property and make sure they are dealing with the true owners. The seller's should be identified by formal identification. Second, given the fluctuation of the $/Shekel exchange rate and the devaluation of the dollar, purchase prices are now negotiated in Shekels. For a U.S. buyer to protect himself against further dollar devaluation, he should either negotiate a floor exchange rate, or have sufficient Shekels on hand to buy the property

Third, as there are no standard inspection processes in Israel, it is absolutely vital that no binding agreement be signed before the buyer have a contractor or architect conduct an inspection of the property to make sure that the property is in proper shape. For example, small cracks in the wall, which may or may not have been intentionally concealed by the seller, may indicate that parts of the property have been illegally built and are sinking. It also advisable to retain a licensed appraiser in order to obtain an appraisal as to the value of the property This is especially true for foreign buyers who are less familiar with property values in Israel. An appraiser is also qualified to give an opinion as to whether the apartment/house was built in accordance with the building permit and local zoning laws and regulations, and also to provide information as to what else may be built in the vicinity of the property in question.

The next stage is to retain an attorney to represent you. No transactions in Israel take place without attorneys. The lawyer is responsible for drafting the contract and conducting several aspects of the due diligence. The role of the attorney is vital because there are no other documents that set forth the rights and responsibilities of the parties, no escrow companies and no title insurance to verify title. Remember: other than when buying new property directly from the contractor, there are very few provisions set forth in the law that provide protection to either side beyond what is negotiated and written in the contract.

In preparation for preparing the contract, your attorney will examine title of the property; verify who the owners are and whether the property is owned free and clear of any third party rights or is subject to a mortgage or lien. If the land is Minhal, the attorney will check how many years are left in the current lease and whether a lease payment is due to the State. Usually, the lease payment is paid for the 49 years in advance and thus no monthly or annual fees are due from the purchaser at the time of the sale. However, if the lease is over, or the lease payments were not previously paid for in advance, a monthly or annual lease payment will be due to the State.

One of the issues that the attorney does not check, but which is the responsibility of the buyer is inspection of the property. While the seller is obligated to disclose any defects in the property, he may not. Also, defects may become apparent following the sale. In addition, building code violations such as unauthorized enlargement of the house are common and could result in future municipal lawsuits, demolition orders or payments to the city. As stated above, the best way for the purchaser to minimize these risks is to hire an engineer or architect that will inspect the property before the signing of a binding agreement!

Another very important issue which must be ascertained is whether the property is subject to betterment tax. Betterment tax is levied by the local municipality or regional counsel on properties which have received additional construction rights as a result of a change in the local zoning laws. Thus, if a house has become entitled to construct an additional level, then that is deemed to be a taxable benefit, which is taxed at the high rate of 50% of the value of the benefit. The seller is usually responsible for paying this tax, but if the contract does not address this issue, then the obligation may fall upon the purchaser, who will not be able to transfer the property to his name without settling this debt.

The most important part of the agreement from the standpoint of a purchaser is the part of the contract dealing with the payment schedule and escrow arrangements. The agreement must establish the portion of the purchase price which is paid to the seller at each step of the process, from initial signing of the agreement until the transfer of possession and title.

The amount to be paid at each milestone is negotiable and it is important to understand the various material milestones in the process. Usually, the first milestone is filing a "warning" on the property's title at the land registration office ("tabu") after the contact is signed stating that the property is under sale and cannot be re-sold by the seller. Another milestone involves the removing of any mortgage on the property. If a mortgage exists on the land then the seller is required to bring a letter of intent from his lending bank setting forth the sum required to be paid to the bank in order for it to release the mortgage. In such a case a certain sum is usually paid after the mortgage is removed, or the buyer pays off the mortgage directly to seller's lending bank to release the mortgage.

Another milestone occurs when the buyer providing the seller with all the documents required to transfer title. These documents include certificates from the tax authorities and the local municipality that the seller has paid all debts owed and that there are no building violations. Another crucial document which is required to be furnished by the seller is an irrevocable power of attorney which authorize the purchaser's attorney to sign any document and take any action required in order to transfer the property to the name of the purchaser. This power of attorney is irrevocable, by the terms of Israeli law, because the rights of a third party, the purchaser depends upon its validity. These documents, especially the power of attorney, is released to the purchaser against payment of all or almost all the purchase price to the seller, as the transaction is near the end and the only remaining action is actual transfer of title by the purchaser's attorney, and granting of possession. [not done any more]

With regard to apartments, a few additional point should be mentioned. First, joint buildings (condominiums), buildings containing two or more apartments, involve relationships between tenants. These relationships are covered by building by-laws and address issues such as use of common property, entitlement to use unused building rights, the share of each apartment in building maintenance, and so on. The purchaser should ask the seller for a copy of the by-laws. Many times buildings do not adopt by-laws in which case the statutory by-laws set forth in the Real Estate Law apply. Second, various attachments to the property, such as parking spaces, should be part of the title to the apartment. Third, in addition to arnona, each apartment pays monthly house committee dues. The purchaser should inquire as to the amount of the dues, but unless one is dealing with a building which provides many services (a pool, exercise room, doorman, etc.) these dues are usually fairly nominal.

Exploring the World of Oil and Gas - Possible Careers

In today's society, news headlines are fixated on the price of oil and gas, as overseas negotiations and an ongoing battle in the Middle East continue to affect the perception of this vital commodity. However, behind the scenes - there are plenty of employees who make decisions, transport the oil, and facilitate business deals for the United States. When looking to learn more about the careers centered on oil and gas, consider the following employment possibilities:

Exploration Manager

Discovering vital oil and gas deposits is a valuable job in this day and age that will only continue to increase in importance as resources become scarcer. An exploration manager leads and operates the expeditions to discover more oil and gas. While evaluating the possibilities and value of a potential site, knowledge of federal, state, and local regulations is a must. A bachelor's degree (and preferably a master's degree) is required in this field. Those with eight to 10 years of experience are most likely chosen for this position. The average yearly salary for this career choice is between $157,665 and $208,954.

Oilwell Pumper

While you are quite familiar with the employee who may pump your gas at a service station, have you ever stopped to think how oil is manufactured? An oilwell pumper is responsible for the daily maintenance and care of oil wells. They operate the injection equipment and oversee oil production - making sure to keep in line with standard operating procedures. This kind of pumper will keep reports and make assessments of the volume and pressure of gas and oil contained inside of a well. A high school diploma or its equivalent is needed for consideration. Zero to two years of experience within the field is suggested, as you should display a familiarity regarding the concepts, practices, and procedures within this particular field. Usually, a supervisor or manager manages their progress and projects. The typical salary for this job is between $35,348 and $57,176.

Pipeline Engineer

A pipeline engineer may work with natural and/or liquid gases - heading projects; working with operations and marketing; selecting pipeline routes; reviewing construction sketches; conducting financial tracking and reporting; and provide technical training to other members of the staff. The ideal candidate for this type of position has five to 15 years of experience in transmission size pipeline engineering, and a bachelor's degree in engineering. Preference is usually given to those with a PE certification. The salary for this job varies. For instance, in Texas - you can expect to earn up to $105,000, which is usually contingent upon the amount of experience you possess.

Gas Supply Manager

As a gas supply manager, you are responsible for getting a hold of the required supplies of gas for various companies. Contract negotiation with acceptable sources become a major part of this job, as well as making sure that all conditions are fulfilled. You will oversee the appropriate transport and storage of these gas supplies. Over time, you will create a working relationship with suppliers. A bachelor's degree is required for this position - coupled with at least 10 years of experience in the field. Experience in a related area is also accepted. The average yearly salary for a gas supply manager is found between $89,001 and $136,754.

Rate Analyst

Energy operational costs are the focus of this particular job, which has employees analyzing the gathering and transporting rates for gas. Having knowledge of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission policies is a must with this career. Most often, an advanced degree within an area of specialty is expected. The majority of rate analysts have four to six years of experience in the field already under their belt. A variety of different tasks are expected of this job position, which typically earns between $61,482 and $78,854.

Electric and Gas Operations Superintendent

As an electric and gas operations superintendent, your responsibility is to oversee the work crews in charge of constructing, maintaining, and repairing systems associated with electricity and gas. A superintendent creates plans and watches over the process of their employees by managing crew supervisors. A bachelor's degree is sometimes required for this position, as well as at least eight years of experience within the field. The job also centers on a variety of various concepts, practices, and procedures. In this particular career path, extensive experience and judgment truly come in handy when planning and setting goals. Of course, a superintendent is expected to lead and guide the work of other employees. The earning potential for this job is between $71,607 and $106,982.

College Courses

To get an idea of the potential college courses associated with a career in oil and gas - you may face Oil & Gas Field Operations, Hydrocarbons, Oil Field Production, Oil Field Processing, intense labs, field experience, and testing on wastewater treatment, crude oil handling, artificial lift systems, and drilling techniques.

Machinery Safety in the European Economic Area and the PUWER Regulations 1998 in the United Kingdom

A new look at safety.

European conformity

The single market is one of the great achievements of our time. This economic space, where goods, services, capital and labour can circulate freely, provides a foundation for prosperity in the European Union as we move towards the 21st century.

Since 1987 more than 20 directives, adopted on the basis of the New Approach and the Global Approach, have progressively come into force. The operation of any innovative system inevitably raises questions.

Background on the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 98

PUWER requires users of work equipment to carry out regular risk assessments which are documented and kept on file. Most importantly, those risk assessments must address each of the Regulations under PUWER.

The regulations require that all provided work equipment is suitable for its intended task and can be used without putting persons at risk.

In general terms, the Regulations require that equipment provided for use at work is:

Suitable for the intended use;

Safe for use, maintained in a safe condition and, in certain circumstances, inspected to ensure this remains the case;

Used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction and training.

Accompanied by suitable safety measures, e.g. protective devices, markings, and warnings.

If you are an employer or self-employed person and you provide equipment for use at work, or if you have control of the use of equipment, then the Regulations will generally apply to you.

The Regulations cover places where the HSW Act applies - these include factories, offshore installations, offices, shops, hospitals, hotels, places of entertainment etc. PUWER also applies in common parts of shared buildings and temporary places of work such as construction sites. While the regulations cover equipment used by people working from home, they do not apply to domestic work in a private household.

Machinery inspections

Most companies carry out risk assessments for processes that use machinery, unfortunately that doesn't always mean that the correct risk assessments have been carried out on the machinery itself. The PUWER approved code of practice (ACOP) L22 specifically refer to the competence of the person carrying out the assessment or inspection.

Engineers should carry out thorough inspections, focusing on safety critical components that could affect the ability of the equipment being operated safely. You should consider the design and installation of the equipment and bring any problems to your attention. For example, if an item has a non-compliant Safety Related Control Circuit, inadequate guarding or requires CE marking and is not at present, you should check it.

• Risk Assessments -Satisfying the requirements of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations, and will be carried out in accordance with EN 14121-1

• Assessment of electrical systems and safety related control circuitry in accordance with EN13849, EN954-1 or EN62061 as required.

• A Report on compliance of your equipment in respect to each of the sections of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.

• Where non-conformances are identified, we will give detailed help with solutions which reference the Harmonised or other EN Standards.

Competent sign off

When making safety upgrades to machinery, it is important that they are compliant. Whether your upgrades are completed by the Original Equipment Manufacturer, a third party sub-contractor or by your own staff, a competent [person should inspect your equipment and provide certification for physical compliance with the Regulations.

It makes sense to involve experts before upgrades are started as we can advise on the scope and design of those upgrades before money is spent on your machinery. Remember that even if you employ an outside resource to complete the safety improvements, you are legally responsible for inspection before putting that machine back into service.

Incident investigation

The main purpose of investigating incidents is to find the reason why harm was caused to employees, other people or resources such as equipment or facilities. The investigation should not be used to allocate blame, but to identify what went wrong and to prevent a similar incident happening again. Accidents are costly events, besides pain and sufferings there are costs arising from accident, such as human cost, loss of time from work, claim for injury, business disruption and clearers time, therapists time, investigation time, ambulance time, fire brigade, police and other hidden costs such as disruption to family and society.

An expert consultant can provide an independent, third party assessment of the root cause and practical advice on corrective measures to prevent a recurrence and attend meetings and correspond with Authorities on your behalf. They should work for you, to protect your business and your employees.

CE Marking

Background to European Conformity.

To supply products on the market in the European Economic Area (EEA), CE Marking is mandatory.

With the CE marking on a product the manufacturer ensures that the product conforms to the essential requirements of the applicable EC directives.

Most new products placed on the European market must be CE marked. This will include products which are "new" to Europe, second-hand products from outside Europe and which are put into service or placed on the market in Europe for the first time, and existing products which are so substantially modified as to be considered "new".

CE marking is the responsibility of the person who places the product on the market, or puts it into service, for the first time. In law this duty rests with the Responsible Person, which in most cases is either the manufacturer or the manufacturer's authorised (in writing) representative, but can also include those who import non CE marked products into Europe, any user in Europe who makes a product for their own use, and those who modify existing products already in use to such an extent they must be considered "new" products.

CE marking is the final stage of the conformity assessment process as specified in the relevant Directive for the product. The conformity assessment process (sometimes referred to as the CE marking process) is concerned with:

Assessing the risks presented by a product throughout its lifecycle

Meeting safety objectives by design and construction

Taking account of the current best practice to ensure the safety for that product, known as the state of the art

in some cases the supply Directive will require the use of third parties to verify compliance, collecting and retaining information about the design, testing and construction process and the means by which the product complies with the essential requirements of all relevant product safety.

Declaring the product's conformity with all relevant product safety law by means of a document (the Declaration of Conformity), which in most cases must accompany the product down the supply chain to the end user and the preparation and provision of comprehensive product User Instructions, in the language of the end user.

Directives likely to be encountered with your machinery include:

• The Supply of Machinery ( Safety ) Regulations 2008 as amended. SI 1597.

Directive 2006/42/EC applies to machinery, lifting accessories such as slings and chains, and safety components. A machine is defined as "an assembly of linked parts or components, at least one of which moves..."

• The Electrical Equipment ( Safety ) Regulations 1994 as amended. SI 3260.

It applies to all apparatus running on (or generating) an electrical supply in the range 50 - 1000 volts A.C. or between 75 and 1500 volts D.C.

• The Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations 1992 as amended. SI 2372.

The Directive requires that products must not emit unwanted electromagnetic pollution (interference) and must be immune to a normal level of interference.

• The Pressure Equipment Regulations 1999 as amended. SI 2001.

Equipment and assemblies with a maximum allowable pressure greater than 0.5 bar gauge including vessels, piping, safety accessories and pressure accessories.

Safety circuit validation

Only competent persons should carry out assessments of your control systems with reference to EN61508, EN62061, EN 954-1 and EN ISO 13849-1.

The new European Harmonised Standard, EN ISO 13849-1:2008 "Safety of machinery - Safety-related parts of control systems" replaces EN 954-1. Get an expert to assist you in selecting the appropriate standard for compliance of your plant, we firmly believe in cost effective safety, not blindly following trends.

A comprehensive analysis, in accordance with the Validation Plan, enables you to model the structure of your safety related control system based upon the components used and the designated architectures, thereby permitting calculation of the reliability values in detail, including relevant parameters such as the overall component reliability (MTTFd), the average test quality (DCavg) of components and blocks and probable common-cause failures (CCF), to determine Performance Level achieved (PL). This is in turn compared to the Performance Level required (PLr) for the level of risk posed by the machine.

Modified machinery

Many companies no longer have the budgets available to invest in new plant and machinery. This means that for many end users the only alternative is to upgrade or adapt existing plant. It is important however, to remember that modifications to existing machinery might fall under the scope of the new Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC. It is often a case that an existing declaration of conformity is rendered invalid if machinery undergoes a 'significant' change.

The term 'significant' is often misunderstood and can also include the linking of machinery together such as in a production line. One should exercise caution when linking old and new machinery.

Get an expert to give advice in ensuring compliance, especially at the design stage to ensure that a 'significant' change is not undertaken and exclude CE Marking altogether. This will provide a large cost saving to many capital projects.

Buying machinery CE audit

If you are an end user, or thinking of buying new machinery, or machinery first provided for use after January 1st 1995, then you have specific responsibilities in respect to the conformity of that equipment. Regulation 10 of PUWER (HASAWA 1974 Sec 2/2) states:

Every employer shall ensure that an item of work equipment conforms at all times with any essential requirements, other than requirements which, at the time of its being first supplied or put into service in any place in which these regulations apply, did not apply to work equipment of its type.

In plain language, that means it is in breach of the Regulations for you to use equipment if it does not comply. So if the manufacturer does not CE Mark that equipment properly, you could be held responsible if you use it!!

When purchasing or hiring new or second-hand equipment, special care needs to be taken to ensure that any associated risks have been assessed and that you are complying with the law. You should check that any contract deals with health and safety and that there is no misunderstanding about the condition of the machine and its guards or safety measures. The law applies not only to guarding but also to other aspects, which may affect health and safety, such as noise generated by machinery, solvent vapour emission, and protection against fire and explosion.

Key stages in the purchase or acquisition of new equipment will be;

1. Defining a user requirement specification.

2. Pre-delivery CE Inspection

3. Post installation sign off and PUWER inspection

The purchase and acquisition of equipment for use within your organisation should comply with all National and International Regulatory requirements. In order for this provision to be complied with, a competent person should review the machine acquisition protocol existing within your organisation and, with the involvement of key stakeholders, provide a template User Requirement Specification document that covers the common requirements, industry standards, and organisational standards that apply to Equipment intended for use within European facilities.

It should be read together with the relevant organisational Machine Specification.

This practice will assist in ensuring equipment supplied shall comply with the statutory national, local, legal regulatory requirements, and internal Standards applicable to the equipment type, operating environment and operating site.

Systems Audits

It is important that any consultant communicates effectively to define the level of reduction of risk to the business that is required and how this is to be achieved. The legislation continually changes and new Standards are published with alarming regularity. It is possible that some of the remedial works is no longer compliant. We need to determine the company's viewpoint of "compliant" and "safe" as they are not mutually dependent and there is no infinite pot of capital. This will define the "agreed adequate level of safety" in the business.

Following this process you can audit your HSE & Q Policy and procedure in respect to machinery and its use.

These are necessary to build up a picture of existing health and safety management controls and to determine their suitability. The audit procedure is designed to scrutinise policies, procedures and day-to-day activities from a which a comprehensive report is produced which compares 'what is' against 'what should be', again with practical suggestions for improvement.

Health and Safety Audits are best carried out by an external pair of eyes as nothing is overlooked.

An important part of an audit service is a "gap analysis" regarding competence of employees. You should look at your training records and systems to determine if improvements can be made that will have a positive effect on the behavioural safety of the safe use of your machines.


An approved system demonstrates your legal responsibility in regard to the use of safety-related products, systems or services, wherever you are in the supply chain. Assessment and/or certification to IEC 61508 is either a pre-requisite or it can offer a significant advantage over the competition.

The assessment of the process plant will cover the relevant hardware and software lifecycle and how it is applied. The majority of the work entails detailed examination of the relevant documentary evidence and can therefore be conducted off site.

On completion of the full assessment, you should compile a detailed report, which provides the supporting evidence to enable the wording of the certificate to be framed accurately and appropriately.

Prefinished Hardwood Flooring: Solid and Engineered

Selecting new hardwood flooring for your home can be an alarming and unexpected time consuming task. With the never ending selection of hardwood flooring materials available today with as many locations, each offering discounts, advantages and recommendations over competing rivals, home or business owners are often left in a cloud of confusion with difficulty in making a formidable decision. Far too many times, frustrated home and business owners throw up their hands in surrender, giving in to uneducated sales presentations, purchasing the lowest priced wood flooring material to bring closure to a very un-eventual process. Unfortunately, purchasing hardwood flooring material based on price eventually results in floors once installed, with surprising negative consequences in less time than expected.

To date, there are two types of pre-finished hardwood flooring materials available, solid and engineered, available in a wide spectrum of colors and finishes. Where each type of wood flooring material is similar in durability, however there remains a significant difference in composition and pricing per square foot that remains a determining factor often over-looked by price conscious, weary purchasers.

Solid pre-finished hardwood flooring is as the name implies, "solid" wood with un-limited species to choose from. With thicknesses of 5/16" to ¾" typical, solid wood flooring is fabricated in tongue and groove configuration locking all members together in a "no-glue" fashion. Tongue and groove solid pre-finished wood flooring is typically nailed in with specialized tools, however may be "free-floated" over appropriate underlayment to allow for contraction and expansion during temperature changes. Three- quarter inch (3/4") tongue and groove solid flooring is not recommended for below grade installations, such as basements, due to adverse effect on the wood when installed over existing concrete surfaces. Buckling, cupping and seam separation are common indications of solid wood flooring installed in improper locations or in an incorrect manner.

Associated costs per square foot for solid hardwood flooring are as expected considerably higher due to solid wood composition. With typical costs per square for material only starting or exceeding $4-$5 per square foot, ¾" solid hardwood flooring should be installed by qualified and experienced flooring installers for best results. Home or business owner installation is not recommended due to the complexity of installation and specialized tools required. Of noticeable cost per square foot concerns, home or business owners should take note of professional installation raising the cost of solid wood flooring exceeding $10-$12 per square foot, however the results far out-weigh the additional cost of the original investment. Solid hardwood floors have a life expectancy of 50 years or more when properly installed with the possibility to change finishing colors by re-sanding, keeping abreast with the latest in interior designs.

Engineered pre-finished wood flooring is rapidly becoming the most popular selection of hardwood flooring beyond the conventional means of floor covering, carpet. Constructed from 3-10 layers of wood, typically 5, the layers of engineered flooring are oriented in opposite directions glued under extreme pressure for endurance. The term, "engineered" has long been associated with stigmas of poorly constructed or "cheap" flooring upon initial introduction; however has little or nothing to do with the composition of pre-finished hardwood flooring material other than a manufacturing process used in the production of this superior flooring material.

Of the five types of hardwood flooring material available, engineered pre-finished wood flooring has gained recognition and notoriety for value and affordable pricing. Similar to pre-finished solid hardwood flooring material, engineered wood flooring material is installed in a tongue and groove manner however offers options in installation over solid pre-finished wood flooring, increasing consumer awareness two-fold.

Nailed, glued, glue less or floating, pre-finished engineered flooring is both "eco-friendly" and "user-friendly". With latest in installation design technology, engineered pre-finished hardwood floors offer "click and lock" design with no glue, nails or special tools required. The simple "click and lock" technology allows home and business owners to self- install pre-finished floors in their home or place of business saving hundreds of dollars in professional installation costs. With novice experience, a home or business owner can install a pre-finished hardwood floor over s week-end with dramatic results in overall room appearance.

Ranging in pricing and depending on grade selected, engineered pre-finished flooring is available starting at $3.50 per square foot, home or business owner installed. Subsequent selections of better quality grades (thickness of material) and finishes will increase overall costs per square foot accordingly.

Taking all choices, styles and colors into consideration when selecting a flooring material, the eventual outcome will produce a hardwood floor that is beautiful, long lasting, tested by time and performance. While the debate may continue for many years yet to come a home or business owner can be assured of one remaining factor, a superior floor that is solid and engineered.