Types of Custom Promotional Merchandise

As a smaller business, you don’t have the unlimited budget of a large corporation when it comes to your custom promotional merchandise, which means you need to look for branded merchandise that is affordable and will work into your budget. Just because you are a smaller company, doesn’t mean you should ignore this amazing branding opportunity.

We have put a list of the top custom promotional merchandise options for the smaller business, that will work into your budget and provide clients with a branded item that they can use, boosting your brand visibility on a daily basis.

The first and probably the most popular of all the custom promotional merchandise that you can buy is T-Shirts. Ensure when you choose to brand t-shirts with your company logo that you choose a good quality garment, such as a polo shirt, which can be worn by men and women. Whether you are getting your team to wear the t-shirts to promote your business wherever they go or you are looking for promotional t-shirts you can give or sell to your clients, never ever compromise on quality.

Another great opportunity for the smaller business is branded pens. Everyone uses pens and they are cheap. You can buy a high volume of pens branded with your logo at a price that works into your budget and you can use them in-house and hand them out to clients, so that your company name is being seen throughout the day every day.

Further you may want to look at coffee mugs. Almost everyone has their own coffee mug at the office and drinks at least one cup of coffee while at work. The benefit of these mugs is that they are branded with your company name and logo, along with any other important information you want to put on them, what this means is every sip of coffee or tea your client takes, your name is seen and remembered, not only by them but the others in the office.

Key chains are another great branding opportunity when looking for affordable custom promotional merchandise. Have some key chains printed with your company name, logo, address and phone number. Clients can use the key chain on their keys and in the event they are lost, hopefully someone has contacted your company or dropped them off. In addition to branding these are a great opportunity to add a bit of added value to your service.

If you have a store, then you definitely want to look at reusable bags that your clients can take away from your store and use time and time again when they do their basic shopping. The great thing with reusable bags is that your clients can use them for anything and at any time and what that means is your company name is being seen by a variety of people every time your client leaves their home with your bag in hand.

If you are on a very tight budget, then take a look at lanyards. Lanyards hang around your neck, with your branding of course, but the benefit is that clients can use them to hang their access card for the office or even their keys to reduce the risk of losing them. They can be used for all types of applications, boosting your brand in the process.

Other options can include the credit card wallet, because these days with the number of credit cards, debit cards and loyalty cards you receive, they cannot all fit into your wallet easily. The credit card wallet can free up your clients purse or wallet, enabling them to keep all their cards in one handy place.

Brandz is a United Kingdom based company specializing in promotional products. This well-established company provides a complete turnkey service from the initial stages through to completion. They provide their customers with an experienced team who focus on helping their customers improve their branding with a range of promotional products to meet their requirements and marketing budget. Brandz offers a twenty four hour service, the highest quality products and affordable prices. Samples are available on request to help their customers identify the best promotional products to choose from based on the extensive range available on their easy to use and secure website.

Nonprofit, Civic and Church Leaders Can Help Us Heal

There is real human suffering happening in our country and around the world, but we all have to step up to help because here’s the reality, we’re all in this thing called life–together. No one is better than anyone else. And, as the adage goes, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Is it just me, or are you tired of the relentless stream of neurosis, disrespect, screaming and shouting that is dividing us on almost any and every level? If there’s an idea or statement made, there seems like there’s going to be someone out there who will take on the issue and as quickly as you can snap your fingers, there’s debate, particularly on social media. Often, these “debates” devolve into online name-calling, trolling, and utter disrespect. I have seen several conversations shut down in nonprofit and church social media groups, which is ridiculous when you think about it, because if people can’t have substantive and productive debates and discussions in these areas, where can they discuss critical social issues?

Here’s my message: We’re better than this.

I believe that nonprofit, civic and religious leaders can play a part in elevating the civil discourse.

Social networking has been great because, in practical ways, it has broken down borders. Connecting with people around the world is easy. For many organizations and groups, social media has brought down marketing and advertising costs considerably, raised awareness and leveraged resources.

But, I think that as we’ve become more “connected,” there’s incredible division. Divisiveness has got to stop.

Church, civic and nonprofit leaders can help our communities heal.

Do you remember the Golden Rule?

The Golden Rule was simple, and I think leaders should remember it each morning as they head to work and ask that their teams adhere to its tenets.

The Golden Rule has a religious origin. It came from the words that Jesus said in the “Sermon on the Mount.” The principles became religious teachings incorporated into the Bible.

Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Those words are so simple–treat others as you would like to be treated.

I think our society is in a precarious place. We are not listening to each other. We are shouting and screaming past each other. We are ignoring each other.

And, here’s the bigger thing for me–many of us are expecting attention and the world to hear us, and we are not giving others the same respect.

This has got to stop.

I think nonprofit, civic and church leaders are in a unique position. Often, because of their position in communities, they are leaders.

All Important of Business Card

Graphic Design for Small Businesses and organizations isn’t only offering a product or service and having cash in on it. Once you start a small business, there are several features, which have to have a personal and professional focus. One of those is promoting your brand. There are a few things too, which form the foundation of promoting and one of those is the business card. The principle function of promoting is to attract the target market. When accomplished in the correct way, it can yield wonderful results. Marketing experts and graphic designers, who specialize in graphic design for small businesses, have the knowledge and experience to attract your specific client or buyer through distinct marketing and promotional tactics. A business card (or minute card) should have every piece of information essential for someone to interact and conduct business with your company or organization. There are many styles of cards, and in fact, it is necessary to decide on the appropriate style for your firm. This is why hiring a professional whom specializes in graphic design for small businesses is so important.

The product or service themselves won’t always draw in buyers or clients when shown to individuals in a prepared way. To get to the customers who will use, buy or interact with your company, one of several methods used in promoting is choosing the right business card. A card with the very best graphics, typography and layout that connect emotionally with your perspective client is the key. Every single color and color combination possesses its own meaning. There are many benefits and consequences to the use of color when contemplating the feelings and emotions of the people you’re trying to attract. Which means, a hues participation in the overall design is an essential part in selecting the most appropriate appearance of your business card. Imagine if the colors (or hues) used in your card were actually repelling your target audience you are trying to attract.

The visuals that happen to be loved by people of a distinct audience change by age and gender as well. An example is flowers; if your business makes products that are devoted to girls, then introducing flowers as visual elements (graphics) of your card will most likely attract more buyers. If though, your target is a more mature female audience, the use of flowers could be conceived as contrived and repulse your buyers. Selecting the most appropriate graphics for the business card is about the mindset of the buyer and not the business owner. Let me repeat that so you truly get it. The look, feel and emotions tied to your business card are about the buyer, not you, the business owner. If your buyer connects a personal emotion with the artwork, or possibly a design and style, employed in the card, then almost absolutely that buyer will choose the firm utilizing that artwork, design or style. For this reason alone, it is very important to work with a professional that knows and understands graphic design for small businesses.

Why have a business card in the hands of everyone that works for you? A nicely manufactured card affirms the level professionalism regarding the organization. You need a business card that is designed well with accessibility to information for your customers to make contact with you. It must be styled to create a personal connection with the buyer as well. Your reputation is riding on your business card. The primary function of your business card is to get clients to call you. Your logo should be prominent to let people know who you are the minute they see your card. After this, your business card should clearly provide methods for the client to contact you. This can be a website, a smart phone or email but it is highly recommended to have all three. A marketing expert or graphic designer whom specializes in graphic design for small businesses can help point you in the right direction for the content for your particular niche or market. Business cards with the proper visuals, content and style can help you do this. Are you ready to secure a professionally designed business card right now?

High Performance Teams

How does your team perform? How do you rate it on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is poor and 10 excellent? Is it massively successful constantly delivering way past all expectations? Is it full of positively minded people working together to achieve challenging business goals? Is it autonomous, responding effectively to challenges and opportunities large and small?

If the answer to these questions is “yes”, congratulations, you can score a 10 and don’t need to read any more of this article. In fact, as you are likely to have plenty of time for high yield activities, give me a call to discuss how your team got there.

Sadly, this isn’t the case for most of us. Your team may not be a “10” but I doubt if it’s a “1” either. Hopefully you are somewhere on the path and have the right attitudes, values and approach develop your team into a “10”.

Empowerment is a key ingredient to the high performing team. If your team feels undervalued, lacking in authority and capability, frightened to make the slightest mistake it’s unlikely to be hitting the high notes. Perhaps there are some individuals that show real potential but others are negative and unproductive?

Are you creating the right conditions for success? Does the team have a clear understanding of what is required of them? Have you a vision of what success looks like? Are the goals you have set, or been set, shared and meaningful to all team members? Reward and fear motivation is common in business today. A common example is rewarding success with a bag of money and punishing failure with the sack. The trouble is we get used to this, we need more and more money to get the same level of motivation and become resilient to threats of the sack.

Internal motivation is far more lasting and effective. It needs more work, it needs you to really understand your people and what drives them. If you know this and use personal, meaningful goals your team will self-motivate. If you have linked their personal, meaningful goals to team and company goals you are well on the way to a successful team.

The whole team is raring to go, but have they the capability to execute? Are team members allowed to make decisions? Have you delegated effectively packaging the task with the necessary authority and resources? Effective delegation is important to team success and team growth. It is a wonderful growth tool for teams and individuals. It does, however need certain attitudes and process to succeed.

Flexibility is a good starting point. The way you do a task may not be the way a team member does. They can be innovative and bring unexpectedly good results given the opportunity. It’s worth letting people test out new ideas. Sometimes different is really good, just think of Amazon and Facebook.

How self-confident are you? Enough to release authority and responsibility to team members? Enough to heap praise publicly when they bring success? Lack of self-confidence and micromanagement are the enemy of productivity. Conquer them and you will become an indispensable profit and productivity generator both for yourself and your company.

Focus on results don’t strive for perfection. Perfect is no friend of productivity. Set standards that are right for the job and always be mindful of the Pareto principle. 80% of your results are going to come from 20% of activities. This means a lot of the work delegated will contribute relatively little to overall performance. It’s intelligent to accept less than perfect in relatively unimportant areas.

Taking credit for the work of others, not really listening to their ideas or working solo crush team morale and productivity. Some people believe effective leaders must always be in total control. They see this as the way “good bosses” should behave. Many bosses do behave this way but I question if they are good. It’s most certainly not the way a good leader behaves so, if that’s what you want to be I suggest you avoid this behaviour entirely.

Delegation develops employees into effective team members. Risk is inherent but you can balance it against the likely reward in terms of personal and team growth and overall performance. It’s also possible to limit risk by adopting a multi-level delegation process.

Tiffany is a bright, driven girl with her foot on the first rung of the marketing ladder. She is doing a great job creating very successful direct mail campaigns. She is eager for something new and looks like a good candidate for development. You have just the task and would like to delegate it to her. It’s running an event which will be a challenge for her but offers a great development opportunity.

A good first step is to her for an opinion. You might say “I’m thinking of doing things differently and wondered who you think might be able to handle this task, perhaps even you? This gives her the opportunity to express opinions but not feel forced to accept the task.

If Tiffany accepts, consider this approach. The first time the opportunity to run an event comes along you run it, let her watch you do it and ask questions. The second time let Tiffany do it with you assisting and helping out where needed. The third time she runs the event, but this time without your support unless absolutely needed, reporting at regular intervals. Subsequent times she always runs events unaided and only reports in exceptional circumstances.

One seemingly small point is very important for Tiffany’s confidence and status in the team. If she performs well, make the praise loud, long and public. If she needs coaching make it supportive, private and non-judgemental.

I hope this is useful to you and help you build your own high performance team.

Your Business Need A Sales Funnel

It may sound obvious but often a business will forget the fact that the only way to make money is to get customers to buy. And the best way to get customers to buy is to have am effective sales funnel.

A sales funnel is set of steps where you guide a prospect through a series of communications that results in them buying from you.

But what happens after that first sale is made? Existing customers are the people who are most likely to buy from you again.

How Does A Sales Funnel Work?

At the top of the funnel, you offer something for free in return for getting a prospect’s contact information. This could be a report, checklist, video or eBook. Then you begin marketing, following up with emails and other communications to attempt to make a sale.

Throughout your sales funnel process, you should have several offers that complement each other. For instance, before you buy a car, you take it for a free test drive. If you like the car and buy it, the salesman doesn’t just hand you the keys and then vanish. You’re offered extended auto warranties, enhancements like upholstery and wheel options.

After a couple of months the salesperson will contact you to see if you’re happy with your new car, and let you know about a discount or sale going on.In the future, you’ll be contacted with opportunities to trade in your vehicle and the sales process goes on and on.

How Many Levels In The Sales Funnel Process?

As you can see from the example above, there can be many different levels in a sales funnel. A one level funnel is where after a customer buys from you, you move onto the next prospect.

But this a critical error.

It costs 6 to 7 times more to get a new customer than keep an existing one. It makes sense to market to someone who has already purchased one of your products, rather than try to convince new people to buy your services. An existing customer already knows you and your business. If they have received excellent value from you once, they’ll be more prepared to spend money with you again, rather than somebody who has never heard of you.

There is no “ideal number” of sales funnel levels. Each business, product and service is different. Just make sure you are continuously providing your prospects and customers opportunities to improve their lives or solve their problems with future purchases from you.

The Strategies to Empower Your Call Center Business

Running an operationally efficient call center that delivers a high-quality customer experience can be a difficult objective to achieve. Consumers are becoming increasingly know-how and their expectations for quality customer service and support is steadily growing. Most corporations may see a contact center as an added expense but as you weigh things down, you find that a call center is a necessity for your business to thrive. It is quite a task to systematically deliver excellent customer service while cutting down additional costs. This may seem intimidating, but it is definitely possible to transform your contact center into a profit-producing asset. But it is difficult to handle a call center with the upper level of customers’ satisfaction.

Here, I am going to represent some ideas of specific strategies to empower your call center business to get the high level of customer satisfaction which will affect your sales graph positively.

Support social media:

While the phone remains at the heart of customer contact centers. There is an increasing need to effectively manage data from multiple channels thanks to the exponential rise in social networks like Twitter and Facebook. This requires solutions that have both the intelligence and flexibility to adapt changing market and consumer needs.

Social media has empowered consumers to become broadcasters or journalists, so speedy and flexible customer service is critical. A complaint sent via Twitter that is left unanswered could spread internationally overnight.

Empower your employee:

Employees are the main factor of a call center who have to communicate with customers directly. We can say that the employees are the heart of a company. So, enable your employees to make their own recommendations on improvements, after all, they are much closer to the working procedure than senior management.

A focused call center can help a brand realize its goal whether that be higher levels of customer satisfaction, more revenue per customer or driving increases in sales. Establishing the right policies and working practices can empower call center employees to support the brand and the business.

Refining Your Customer Service Strategy:

Your customer care center will work in tandem with your call center software to create synergies in your customer service department. One of the biggest advantages of this software is its ability to collaborate with your customer history. For instance, say you get calls from a long time customer on a monthly basis. Call center software can be set to display “screen pops,” which allow the agent instant information as soon as the call is answered, reducing call times and customer satisfaction. Screen pops can be customized but most commonly will include customer purchase and return data on every inbound call.

It doesn’t matter if you are making inbound or outbound phone calls providing customers and prospective clients with the right answers, faster can really streamline your sales efforts.

Know your customer:

Understanding the demographics of your customers is a key first step toward determining which tools and approaches will best help you achieve your business objectives. For example, tech-savvy customers will likely expect to connect with you through more technical channels, such as online forms, chat sessions, or social media drove community-based solutions. Less tech-savvy customers, on the other hand, may require more traditional, higher-touch solutions, such as phone, fax, or email.

The Cybercrimals

The mindset of an individual who would want to attack the computers and networks owned by others is, without question, criminal. The act of intruding upon another confidential personal or business information requires a pre-meditated and calculated act. Its purpose is to inflict financial or personal harm on others by stealing money, denying the use of their information or to gain illegal access to proprietary plans. The cybercriminal is totally cynical and strives to remain in the shadows.

People who attack the information assets of others are on the prowl for system weaknesses to exploit. The prime targets are unsuspecting individuals or businesses that are vulnerable to the attack modes chosen by cybercriminals. They are deceitful and seek the cloak of anonymity.

The true nature of someone who would access, use and exploit your private information is a mixed bag. His or her character is between that of a person who would enjoy searching through your personal items and an employee who would embezzle money from a corporation.

The focus of crackers and hackers is to use their specialized knowledge to encroach upon the private lives of people and organizations. Electronic thieves seek to take advantage of people who are without information needed to fight back and block them. Cyber criminals are true low-life.

Digital bandits are sociopaths who ply their trade without regard to the harmful effects they have on others and truly lack remorse. What’s particularly unsettling about felonious computer whizzes is that they are usually very intelligent. They are without a conscience and enjoy stealing and hurting others.

Computer crooks can be ranked on a scale from “less skilled” to “expert”. Anyone can download basic cracking software from the Internet. The real pros, however, study their targets over time in stealth mode. The highly skilled cracker plans and analyzes the victim to get the maximum effect.

Preying upon unsuspecting users is among the most disturbing behaviors of the PC and mainframe pirates. Most computer users are unaware of how many threats and vulnerabilities that they face when they power-up their computer or go online. Lawless computer users thrive on the ignorance of others.

So how do you fight those who would breach your personal data with the purpose of stealing or hurting you in a variety of different ways? Presume that the bad guys are trying to break into your system. Use your knowledge and security best practices to block them.

You should:

1. Develop a security mindset
2. Assess your risks
3. Use complex passwords and phrases for your system(s)
4. Identify and eliminate common vulnerabilities
5. Routinely update software patches and fixes
6. Probe and test electronic systems
7. Use appropriate security-related hardware and software (e.g. anti-virus software, firewalls)
8. Lock your computer screen when you leave your work area
9. Encrypt and back up all of your data
10. Practice good cyber hygiene (e.g. avoid clicking on email links and attachments)
11. Avoid maintaining a persistent Internet connection

You can defend against those who would try to harm you using digital technology and the Internet. Obstruct the pathways that are followed by lawless information thieves.

Constitutes Ethical Company

I wanted to explore the meaning behind the word ‘ethical’ in this day and age, and how some companies manage to slip through the net using marketing tactics.

I have recently read articles praising companies who are considered the most ethical – there is a list of these illustrious and successful business ventures of 2013, 2014 etc. – and they are set up as the benchmark for the rest of us. I opened the list in anticipation of seeing estimable companies mentioned, but was horrified to see a number of corporations on the list who are known to create products that compromise health or are involved in deforestation or child labor – to name but a few crimes against humanity.

Even if a company is taking steps to become more ethical, surely they shouldn’t be allowed on such a list until they have some substantial history in ethical practice. These questions immediately came to mind – “who on earth compiles these lists and what is their agenda?” “Are they genuinely ignorant of the practices of these companies, or is profit the only criteria?” Or even worse – “Is ethical practice now being judged by the 80/20 rule?”

So, what is considered an ethical company in this day and age?


Is it all about how a company treats their employees? If the people that work for them are treated well, getting decent salaries and benefits – does that make the company ethical?

If their employees have protective clothing while they are spraying the planet with toxic chemicals – does that make the company ethical because it is looking after its own?

If employees are given the benefit of cheap food and clothing in the form of company discounts, is the company ethical if the food is the end product of compromised ingredients and tortured animals?

If job opportunities and helping the economy is stated as being a valid reason for companies to start business ventures that poison the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat, I have to ask – who benefits?


Or maybe being seen as ethical is all about a brilliant marketing campaign. A campaign which makes the general public feel all warm and fuzzy – full of cute animals, young children or a celebrity or two – or maybe all of the above if the company has unlimited finance to throw at it. We are presented with an emotional roller coaster ride which dulls the senses and convinces people of its sincerity and authenticity, because it’s just so darn pretty!

For example, the food and drink industries are money machines that can employ the most ingenious and brilliant of marketers who are capable of blindsiding the uninformed into believing every word they say. A lot of them churn out addictive products which lack nutrition and create severe health problems through the addition of ingredients which kill brain cells, and generally attack the organs of the body. However, that seems to be acceptable because their marketing campaigns bring people together in happy food and drink related ways, and their packaging is so bright and colorful and the wording so reassuring – natural, farm fresh – got to be true, yes?

It comes to mind that some of the most successful confidence tricksters and serial killers come in a very pleasing physical package. It is because they are good looking that they are able to get close to their victims, but beautiful on the outside doesn’t necessarily mean beautiful on the inside. I think this rule applies to companies and their marketing campaigns as well.

We are surrounded by marketing images which promote ‘beauty’! These images not only corrupt and destroy people’s self-confidence, but they also set the precedence that beauty is best. Therefore, in our subconscious we link beauty to all that is good, and we dismiss all that is not beautiful, according to the current standards set by the media and marketing industry.

I lived in the Algarve, Portugal for a couple of years and while I was there I knew people who had orange trees on their land. They were the sweetest oranges I’d ever tasted in my life, yet none of those oranges would have reached supermarket shelves. The reason why is that they were all ‘ugly’ fruit – they weren’t tampered with in order to make them visually pleasing. I was told by the owner of the orange grove that the ugly fruit were the sweetest, and that is something I think is worth remembering, because it opens our minds and we won’t so easily be seduced by beauty if we know there is a viable alternative.

Charitable Donations

If a cosmetics company donates money to eradicate skin cancer they have to be ethical, right? People will think that they are wonderful and more readily buy their products. However, what if that same company includes ingredients in its products which can cause cancer – aren’t they just creating a market for themselves? It bears thinking about!

If a food or drink company gives donations to schools in the form of IT or sports equipment etc., is it really an altruistic act? They often get returns in the form of advertising on the premises and massive hikes in sales as the word spreads about their good deeds. Not forgetting that they are creating a new generation of people who will be addicted to their products.

Charitable donations also need to be a win/win situation. The people needing help are no lesser beings than the people giving it, just because they don’t have financial wealth. They shouldn’t be exploited in the name of profit.

I think we need to remember that the companies that give lots of money to charity are usually companies that can easily afford it. It doesn’t hurt them at all, in fact it often benefits them – they don’t feel the pinch. There are many companies that give money open-heartedly and genuinely help everyone they touch, and there are those that give money in order to gain goodwill and a rise in sales. It is our job to find out which is which.

So what percentage between donations and damage constitutes ethical by today’s standards? Is it 25%/75% or does it need to be 50%/50%? Who makes these decisions and what is their agenda? It doesn’t seem to be the health and well being of the planet, that’s for sure.


I suggest that before we decide that a company is ethical we look deeply into the face of that company, look into its eyes and see its soul. Remember that a beautiful face is no indicator of a beautiful soul – the eyes are the windows of the soul and by looking deeply into them you will be able to discern whether it’s transparent or deceptive.

My father was a magician, a member of the Inner Magic Circle, and when I was growing up I used to watch him practice. He told me to always watch the hand that seemed to be doing nothing – and that has taught me a valuable life lesson. So when a company or institution of any sort puts forth a spectacular display which draws my attention, I drag my eyes away from where the lights are shining and look into the shadows to see what they are hiding, what is it they don’t want me to see? If after careful scrutiny and research I find there is nothing being hidden, then I deem that company ethical and sit back and enjoy the show!

I am not for one minute telling anyone what to think, or what to do. What I humbly suggest is that everyone looks carefully at the decisions they make, and the companies they support by either using their services or buying their products. Then each of us will know that we aren’t being led by the nose into compromising our own set of values and what we personally believe in.

The bottom line is that if people, animals and the planet are being negatively impacted by a company’s products or services, that company is not ethical – no matter how much they give to charity, or how many heart-warming marketing campaigns they launch. They are shirking their responsibility towards all living things in the name of profit. That is the truth!

I would love to hear your comments and what the word ‘ethical’ means to you personally.

Sue is the Founder of Soulfully Connecting. The idea behind Soulfully Connecting is to demonstrate that there are other ways of living which can heal the earth, the animal kingdom and ourselves. She is passionate about people having freedom of choice, which is only possible when they know about all the options.

The Dangers Of Overhead Power Lines Best Practices

Every year people at work are killed or seriously injured when they come into contact with live overhead electricity power lines.

If a machine, scaffold tube, ladder, or even a jet of water touches or gets too close to an overhead wire, then electricity will be conducted to earth. This can cause a fire or explosion and electric shock and burn injuries to anyone touching the machine or equipment. An overhead wire does not need to be touched to cause serious injury or death as electricity can jump, or arc, across small gaps.

One of the biggest problems is that people simply do not notice overhead lines when they are tired, rushing or cutting corners. They can be difficult to spot, eg in foggy or dull conditions, when they blend into the surroundings at the edge of woodland, or when they are running parallel to, or under, other lines. Always assume that a power line is live unless and until the owner of the line has confirmed that it is dead. This guidance is for people who may be planning to work near overhead lines

where there is a risk of contact with the wires, and describes the steps you should take to prevent contact with them. It is primarily aimed at employers and employees who are supervising or in control of work near live overhead lines, but it will also be useful for those who are carrying out the work.

Types of overhead power lines

Most overhead lines have wires supported on metal towers/pylons or wooden poles – they are often called ‘transmission lines’ or ‘distribution lines’. Most high-voltage overhead lines, ie greater than 1000 V (1000 V = 1 kV) have wires that are bare and insulate but some have wires with a light plastic covering or coating. All high-voltage lines should be treated as though they are uninsulated. While many low-voltage overhead lines (ie less than 1 kV) have bare insulate wires, some have wires covered with insulating material. However, this insulation can sometimes be in poor condition or, with some older lines, it may not act as effective insulation; in these cases you should treat the line in the same way as an insulate line. If in any doubt, you should take a precautionary approach and consult the owner of the line.

There is a legal minimum height for overhead lines which varies according to the voltage carried. Generally, the higher the voltage, the higher the wires will need to be above ground. Equipment such as transformers and fuses attached to wooden poles and other types of supports will often be below these heights. There are also recommended minimum clearances published by the Energy Networks Association.

What does the law require?

The law requires that work may be carried out in close proximity to live overhead lines only when there is no alternative and only when the risks are acceptable and can be properly controlled. You should use this guidance to prepare a risk assessment that is specific to the site. Businesses and employees who work near to an overhead line must manage the risks. Overhead line owners have a duty to minimize the risks from their lines and, when consulted, advise others on how to control the risks. The line owner will usually be an electricity company, known as a transmission or distribution network operator, but could also be another type of organization, eg Network Rail, or a local owner, eg the operator of a caravan park.

Preventing overhead line contact

Good management, planning and consultation with interested parties before and during any work close to overhead lines will reduce the risk of accidents. This applies whatever type of work is being planned or undertaken, even if the work is temporary or of short duration. You should manage the risks if you intend to work within a distance of 10 m, measured at ground level horizontally from below the nearest wire.

Remove the risk, the most effective way to prevent contact with overhead lines is by not carrying out work where there is a risk of contact with, or close approach to, the wires. Avoiding danger from overhead power lines. If you cannot avoid working near an overhead line and there is a risk of contact or close approach to the wires, you should consult its owner to find out if the line can be permanently diverted away from the work area or replaced with underground cables. This will often be inappropriate for infrequent, short-duration or transitory work. If this cannot be done and there remains a risk of contact or close approach to the wires, find out if the overhead line can be temporarily switched off while the work is being done. The owner of the line will need time to consider and act upon these types of requests and may levy a charge for any work done.

Risk control

If the overhead line cannot be diverted or switched off, and there is no alternative to carrying out the work near it, you will need to think about how the work can be done safely. If it cannot be done safely, it should not be done at all. Your site-specific risk assessment will inform the decision. Things to consider as part of your risk assessment include:

the voltage and height above ground of the wires. Their height should be measured by a suitably trained person using non-contact measuring devices;
the nature of the work and whether it will be carried out close to or underneath the overhead line, including whether access is needed underneath the wires;
the size and reach of any machinery or equipment to be used near the overhead line;
the safe clearance distance needed between the wires and the machinery or equipment and any structures being erected. If in any doubt, the overhead line’s owner will be able to advise you on safe clearance distances;the site conditions, undulating terrain may affect stability of plant etc;
the competence, supervision and training of people working at the site.

If the line can only be switched off for short periods, schedule the passage of tall plant and, as far as is possible, other work around the line for those times. Do not store or stack items so close to overhead lines that the safety clearances can be infringed by people standing on them.

Working near but not underneath overhead lines – the use of barriers. Where there will be no work or passage of machinery or equipment under the line, you can reduce the risk of accidental contact by erecting ground-level barriers to establish a safety zone to keep people and machinery away from the wires. This area should not be used to store materials or machinery. Suitable barriers can be constructed out of large steel drums filled with rubble, concrete blocks, wire fence earthed at both ends, or earth banks marked with posts.

If steel drums are used, highlight them by painting them with, for example, red and white horizontal stripes.
If a wire fence is used, put red and white flags on the fence wire.
Make sure the barriers can be seen at night, perhaps by using white or fluorescent paint or attaching reflective strips.

Avoiding danger from overhead power lines

The safety zone should extend 6 m horizontally from the nearest wire on either side of the overhead line. You may need to increase this width on the advice of the line owner or to allow for the possibility of a jib or other moving part encroaching into the safety zone. It may be possible to reduce the width of the safety zone but you will need to make sure that there is no possibility of encroachment into the safe clearance distances in your risk assessment.

Where plant such as a crane is operating in the area, additional high-level indication should be erected to warn the operators. A line of colored plastic flags or ‘bunting’ mounted 3-6 m above ground level over the barriers is suitable. Take care when erecting bunting and flags to avoid contact or approach near the wires. Passing underneath overhead lines, if equipment or machinery capable of breaching the safety clearance distance has to pass underneath the overhead line, you will need to create a passageway through the barriers, In this situation:

keep the number of passageways to a minimum;
define the route of the passageway using fences and erect goalposts at each end to act as gateways using a rigid, non-conducting material, eg timber or plastic pipe, for the goalposts, highlighted with, for example, red and white stripes;
if the passageway is too wide to be spanned by a rigid non-conducting goalpost, you may have to use tensioned steel wire, earthed at each end, or plastic ropes with bunting attached. These should be positioned further away from the overhead line to prevent them being stretched and the safety clearances being reduced by plant moving towards the line;
ensure the surface of the passageway is leveled, formed-up and well maintained to prevent undue tilting or bouncing of the equipment;
put warning notices at either side of the passageway, on or near the goalposts and on approaches to the crossing giving the crossbar clearance height and instructing drivers to lower jibs, booms, tipper bodies etc and to keep below this height while crossing;
you may need to illuminate the notices and crossbar at night, or in poor weather conditions, to make sure they are visible;
make sure that the barriers and goalposts are maintained.

Avoiding danger from overhead power lines

On a construction site, the use of goalpost-controlled crossing points will generally apply to all plant movements under the overhead line. Working underneath overhead lines. Where work has to be carried out close to or underneath overhead lines, eg road works, pipe laying, grass cutting, farming, and erection of structures, and there is no risk of accidental contact or safe clearance distances being breached, no further precautionary measures are required. However, your risk assessment must take into account any situations that could lead to danger from the overhead wires. For example, consider whether someone may need to stand on top of a machine or scaffold platform and lift a long item above their head, or if the combined height of a load on a low lorry breaches the safe clearance distance. If this type of situation could exist, you will need to take precautionary measures.

If you cannot avoid transitory or short-duration, ground-level work where there is a risk of contact from, for example, the upward movement of cranes or tipper trailers or people carrying tools and equipment, you should carefully assess the risks and precautionary measures. Find out if the overhead line can be switched off for the duration of the work. If this cannot be done:

refer to the Energy Networks Association (ENA) publication Look Out Look Up! A Guide to the Safe Use of Mechanical Plant in the Vicinity of Electricity Overhead Lines.2 This advises establishing exclusion zones around the line and any other equipment that may be fitted to the pole or pylon. The minimum extent of these zones varies according to the voltage of the line, as follows:
– low-voltage line – 1 m;
– 11 kV and 33 kV lines – 3 m;
– 132 kV line – 6 m;
– 275 kV and 400 kV lines – 7 m;
under no circumstances must any part of plant or equipment such as ladders, poles and hand tools be able to encroach within these zones. Allow for uncertainty in measuring the distances and for the possibility of unexpected movement of the equipment due, for example, to wind conditions;
carry long objects horizontally and close to the ground and position vehicles so that no part can reach into the exclusion zone, even when fully extended. Machinery such as cranes and excavators should be modified by adding physical restraints to prevent them reaching into the exclusion zone. Note that insulating guards and/or proximity warning devices fitted to the plant without other safety precautions are not adequate protection on their own;
make sure that workers, including any contractors, understand the risks and are provided with instructions about the risk prevention measures;
arrange for the work to be directly supervised by someone who is familiar with the risks and can make sure that the required safety precautions are observed;
if you are in any doubt about the use of exclusion zones or how to interpret the ENA document, you should consult the owner of the overhead line.

Where buildings or structures are to be erected close to or underneath an overhead line, the risk of contact is increased because of the higher likelihood of safety clearances being breached. This applies to the erection of permanent structures and temporary ones such as polytunnels, tents, marquees, flagpoles, rugby posts, telescopic aerials etc. In many respects these temporary structures pose a higher risk because the work frequently involves manipulating long conducting objects by hand.

Avoiding danger from overhead power lines. The overhead line owner will be able to advise on the separation between the line and structures, for example buildings using published standards such as ENA Technical Specification 43-8 Overhead Line Clearances.1 However, you will need to take precautions during the erection of the structure. Consider erecting a horizontal barrier of timber or other insulating material beneath the overhead line to form a roof over the construction area – in some cases an earthed, steel net could be used. This should be carried out only with the agreement of the overhead line owner, who may need to switch off the line temporarily for the barrier to be erected and dismantled safely.

Ideally, work should not take place close to or under an overhead line during darkness or poor visibility conditions. Dazzle from portable or vehicle lighting can obscure rather than show up power lines. Sometimes, work needs to be carried out near uninsulated low-voltage overhead wires, or near wires covered with a material that does not provide effective insulation, connected to a building. Examples of such work are window cleaning, external painting or short-term construction work. If it is not possible to re-route or have the supply turned off, the line’s owner, eg the distribution network operator, may be able to fit temporary insulating shrouds to the wires, for which a charge may be levied. People, plant and materials still need to be kept away from the lines.

Emergency procedures

If someone or something comes into contact with an overhead line, it is important that everyone involved knows what action to take to reduce the risk of anyone sustaining an electric shock or burn injuries. Key points are:

never touch the overhead line’s wires;
assume that the wires are live, even if they are not arcing or sparking, or if they
otherwise appear to be dead;
remember that, even if lines are dead, they may be switched back on either automatically after a few seconds or remotely after a few minutes or even hours if the line’s owner is not aware that their line has been damaged:
if you can, call the emergency services. Give them your location, tell them what has happened and that electricity wires are involved, and ask them to contact the line’s owner:
if you are in contact with, or close to, a damaged wire, move away as quickly as possible and stay away until the line’s owner advises that the situation has been made safe:
if you are in a vehicle that has touched a wire, either stay in the vehicle or, if you need to get out, jump out of it as far as you can. Do not touch the vehicle while standing on the ground. Do not return to the vehicle until it has been confirmed that it is safe to do so;

Avoiding danger from overhead power lines, be aware that if a live wire is touching the ground the area around it may be live. Keep a safe distance away from the wire or anything else it may be touching and keep others away.

Best Expense Management Solution By Thinking Outside The Box

This is how not to handle expense management in your business. Whilst a substantial part of managing expenses can be compartmentalized into how people make claims, and how those claims are processed, there are times when you’d benefit from thinking outside the box.

To illustrate the point, I’m going to look at telephones, the way your business uses them, and the way changing that can be part of an expense management strategy. Many years ago, in another life, I asked a senior manager how much he spent on line rental and calls for the fax machines in his business. He didn’t know, and asked his secretary to being in the relevant invoices.

She appeared carrying two large ring binders. Looking at them, he asked her for just the fax machine invoices. She pointed at the binders. “Those are the fax machine invoices,” she said.

He had no idea at the scale of the costs involved, and we immediately set about reducing them. And there’s the lesson: Show me any cost you’re not controlling, and I’ll show you an unnecessary expense.

Of course, fax machines are consigned to history with quill pens and carbon paper, but let’s stick with telephones; we still use those. Here are some areas in which you might be spending too much for mobiles, (and here’s the important part) without being aware of it.

1. Data roaming: Set up a company policy that it should be turned off except for short periods to allow emails to be delivered or sent, rather than being on 24/7. Data roaming charges can be high, and can mount significantly if you have a large number of employees travelling

2. Use one company: Don’t have a series of providers. Restricting services to just one allows you to negotiate better deals for new handsets and connectivity

3. Go for VOIP: For office phones there are lots of ways to use the internet to make calls, giving the traditional desktop phone a new lease of life. VOIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol, and means there’s no need to have a traditional phone contract, so long as you have good broadband connectivity. Providers of phone systems like this will usually deal with you on a rolling monthly contract, and their systems are extremely, so you can add or subtract handsets almost at will.

4. Be careful with perks. If employees are able to use company phones for personal use (and we’re back to mobiles here), then that permission should be restricted. OK, make short personal calls, but talking for hours to an aunt in Australia, or streaming a box set to a hotel room in Berlin could soon set you back a considerable – and unwelcome – amount.

5. Don’t leave legacies. When an employee leaves the company, make sure to cancel or transfer their part of the phone number, and don’t toss the handset into the back of a drawer. Re-use it, or send it for recycling _ once you’ve cleared any company data from it.

More than just number reduction

Consider the benefits that come alongside mobile phone use, and blurring the distinction between company and private life. When you’ve automated your expenses by implementing a solution based on business expense management software using an app, everyone’s going to need a phone so they can use your system.

Allowing an employee to make personal calls, to that agreed cost limit, might have a payback in loyalty. It might mean they’re more amenable to taking a work-related call out of hours, as part of a bit of give and take – but make sure that you track the benefit so that all the necessary tax is paid. There’s no future in saving money by cheating the taxman.

Applying this kind of thinking to all aspects of your business can make a significant difference to your bottom line, and be a useful ally to your business expense management software.