Valerie Foster, Author at Chris Mee Group | CMSE


Hi All,

Following on from Karen’s article about Competency vs behavioural interviews, we wanted to pop on the give you some info on the STAR method.

You may or may not have come across the STAR method previously but if not, let me give you a brief overview.

The STAR method is a structured manner of responding to a behavioural based interview question by discussing the following;

S – Specific situation.

Example: Sales revenue was falling.

T – Task.

Example: My goal was to generate new incentives, to result in a minimum 10% increase in sales.

A – Action.

Example: I arranged an event for clients who had not renewed advertising contracts.

R – Result.

Example: We re-signed contracts with 10 previous clients for advertising packages, which increased our sales by 15% over the same period the previous year.


  • Practice using the STAR Method on common behavioural interviewing questions.
  • Follow all parts of the STAR method in sequence.
  • Focus on You. Explain what specific steps you took and what your particular contribution was.
  • Be specific at all times. Don’t generalise or amalgamate several events; give a detailed accounting of one specific occasion/event.
  • Be honest. Don’t exaggerate or hide any part of your example.
  • eliminate any examples that do not paint you in a positive manner, but remember that some negative examples can be used to highlight your strengths in the face of adversity.

CMSE Recruitment specialises in the recruitment and placement of safety personnel across Environmental, Pharma, Medical Device, Fire Safety, Construction, Process Engineering and more. 

If you’re interested in having a confidential chat about your career progression in EHS, contract or permanent roles please contact the CMSE Recruitment team at 0818 315 415 or [email protected] 

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Risk Assessments – What are they and Who needs one?

What is a Risk Assessment?

A Risk Assessment is where an employer writes down any hazards or risks which could cause harm to people in the workplace and what control measures can be done or precautions could be taken to prevent harm. The overall aim of Risk Assessment is to reduce the risk of injury and illness associated with work.


A Risk Assessment comprises of three steps;

Step 1 is identifying hazards

Step 2 is the assessment of risks

Step 3 is putting control measures in place.


What’s a Hazard?
A hazard is anything with the potential to cause harm in terms of human injury or ill health, including;
·         work materials,
·         equipment,
·         work methods or practices,
·         poor work design
·         exposure to harmful agents such as chemicals, noise or vibration.
What’s a Risk?
A risk is the likelihood that somebody will be harmed by the hazard and how serious the harm might be.
The number of people at risk from the hazard should also be considered when you think of Risk.

Under Section 19 of the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, every employer is required to identify hazards in their workplace. In addition, the employer must assess the risk from identified hazards and have a written risk assessment of the risks as they apply to persons exposed to them in the workplace.

The HSA outlines that Risk Assessments must:

  • Address significant hazards and risks
  • Apply to all aspects of the work including lone work, shift work and work away from the main workplace
  • Cover routine and non-routine operations including maintenance and breakdowns


CMSE Consultancy undertake many different types of risk assessments across many sectors from general workplace assessments and task risk assessment to specialist areas such as ergonomic, chemical agents, fire, machinery, confined space and ATEX.

Risk assessments are conducted in conjunction and consultation with your onsite representatives to ensure the quality and validity of the risk assessment as well as raising health and safety awareness with your personnel.

Your CMSE Consultant can provide risk assessments systems, formats and templates for use at your organisation. Site specific training programmes can also be developed and delivered to meet your organisations requirements.

Do you have a question about the Risk Assessments?


The Importance Of Record Management: Start 2021 Off On The Right Foot

Record management is an essential element when it comes to training your employees. Having accurate & efficient record management assists in making your learning management system audit compliant. Defining record management can be vast but capturing and maintaining a foundation for an organisation is crucial. Teams rely on information and data to help them work effectively and to build the knowledge for themselves and the organisation as a whole. Security and GDPR compliance also come into play regarding record management for your LMS. Organisations must ensure the storage of documentation, certification and attendance of employees is secure and easily accessible to platform administration. 

The SAFEWARE Team have compiled a list of benefits of keeping your record management in toe for 2021. 


Transport of Dangerous Goods

December 17th 2020
Written by Collette Dunne, Safety Consultant with CMSE Consultancy. 


It might be time to do a review of goods coming and going from your site. Is anything classified as a dangerous good? 

Do you know, transporting dangerous goods, isn’t just the transport on a truck or in a van, but also includes the role of:

  • consignor
  • packer
  • filler
  • loader/unloader and
  • consignee.

Furthermore, the people involved in these activities have legal responsibilities.

What are dangerous goods?

As well as national legislation on the carriage of dangerous goods, we also have the ADR.  ADR is an agreement between United Nations countries to harmonise transport conditions for dangerous goods, to prevent accidents and reduce risks.  It’s updated every two years and specifies how to classify dangerous goods and also the requirements for their transport.  Dangerous goods are classified into:

Class 1: Explosive

Class 2.1: Flammable Gas, 2.2. Non Flammable, Non Toxic Gas, 2.3 Toxic Gas.

Class 3: Flammable Liquid

Class 4.1: Flammable Solid, 4.2 Spontaneously Combustible Substance, 4.3 Substance which emits flammable gas in contact with water.

Class 5.1: Oxidising Substance, 5.2 Organic Peroxide.

Class 6.1: Toxic Substance, 6.2 Infectious Substance

Class 7: Radioactive Material

Class 8: Corrosive Substance

Class 9: Miscellaneous Dangerous Substances.

How will I know if our goods are dangerous goods?

There are a number of things you can do initially.

  • Read the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for goods being transported off your site – you should have these readily available. Go to Section 14: Transport Information.  If this section is populated, then you are transporting a dangerous good and you are a Consignor.  It’s important to have the most recent revision of the safety data sheet as information may change and something that wasn’t classified before, may now be classified and vice versa.  Different dangerous goods have different requirements for example, the type of packaging you can use, the maximum weight or volume per package and what other products they can be transported with. 
  • If you don’t have an SDS for your products, an expert can assess them to determine if they are dangerous goods based on their properties.
  • Review materials being delivered to your site. Look at the labels on the outside.  Do they have a diamond shaped, coloured pictogram and a number?  If yes, they may dangerous goods.  If you accept, unload or move them again off-site, then you are involved in the transport of dangerous goods.  All vehicles involved in the carriage of dangerous goods should have orange plates displayed.

Common misunderstandings

  • Our chemical waste is collected by a registered company so the ADR/Regulations don’t apply to us.

Waste is not exempt.  Chemical and other waste can be classified as dangerous goods.  If you are delegating some responsibilities to your waste provider, you should have a Contract of Carriage in place.  You can delegate some responsibilities but not all.

  • We get chemicals delivered through a chemical supplier so they probably look after it.

If you are accepting, unloading or loading then you are involved in their transport.  You might even have requirements around the transport of empty containers, depending on what material was last in them.

  • We only transport very small quantities so the they don’t apply to us.

Even a single package of dangerous goods might fall under the Regulations but you must check.  There are different requirements for limited or excepted quantities with specific conditions.

Why should you learn more?

The cost of a mistake could be huge.  Consider what could happen if you don’t follow the ADR, package something incorrectly, load it with a material that it’s incompatible with or if there was a road accident and no-one knew there was a dangerous good on-board.  You have a moral, financial and legal responsibility to comply. 

So what do I need to do?

  • You may be required to appoint a Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor (DGSA).   There are a few exceptions to the rule. It’s a good idea to get professional advice to confirm whether you are exempt or not.  The function of the DGSA is monitor and advise on compliance and prepare an annual report. 
  • Confirm who in the organisation is involved in transport activities. These workers may require function specific training.
  • Talk to your carriers to confirm that their drivers are competent. Drivers must complete ADR training relevant to the different classifications and the types of packaging (packages, IBCs, drums, tanks).  It’s up to you to inform your carrier of what is to be transported. 

If you would like a review of your activities or other DGSA support, please contact the CMSE Consultancy Team

Chat to us instantly by clicking the chat box in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. Alternatively, you can click here to email [email protected]


Importance of Safety Leadership in the time of COVID-19

Leadership in COVID-19 time is more important than ever!

While it was unusual to attend the Health and Safety Review Conference online this year, we certainly agreed strongly with the central theme of the event this year – safety leadership is more important than ever.  The event theme focused on the challenges of working during the current pandemic and how it is essential for leaders within an organisation to maintain a positive safety culture. These are indeed strange times for many organisations. Many employees continue to work under infection prevention regimes, while many others work from home, physically isolated from the normal workplace environment and their colleagues. We should not forget people in certain more affected sectors who are concerned about their future as employers face continuing commercial uncertainty.

During the conference Neil Lenehan, HSQE Manager for Irish Water, delivered a presentation on implementing an effective H&S strategy, and provided an insight into the Irish Water journey in safety and the importance of vision, strategy and leadership during the COVID-19 era. Irish Water’s ‘Work Safe Home Safe’ framework is based on 5 key pillars to building a safety culture within an organisation:

  1. Leadership and safety culture
  2. Safe workplaces
  3. Safe ways of working
  4. Safe delivery partners
  5. Health and wellbeing

These pillars facilitated the organisation to navigate through their COVID-19 journey and the obstacles of the new homeworking situation. When Neil was asked by a participant how an organisation can ensure people will continue to be motivated when working from home, he outlined how an employee’s mental health as the leading concern. He recommended engagement with workers through increased social contact, and not just to discuss work but to simply ask your employees “how are you?”.  

This simple message certainly resonated with us in relation to our own team, who like many have effectively been working from home since early March. While large organisations can have teams, plans and programmes to address safety, mental health and well being for employees, it is key for leaders at all levels, and in organisations and teams of all sizes, to do the small, simple things that will make a difference. This can be as simple as a regular call from a team lead to have a chat and see how things are going and listen to the employee’s concerns. Across organisations there will be a wide range of home circumstances in which employees find themselves. Homeworking for a prolonged period can lead to a sense of isolation or loneliness in employees. There is mounting evidence that there is a drop in the mental and physical health of employees as a whole from prolonged home working.

A duty of care of exists on employers to ensure their employees’ ‘place of work’ is safe and suitable. A good approach to monitoring an employees’ health and safety at home is through a homeworking assessment. The assessment considers both the working environment and work equipment. It examines posture and behaviours to mitigate musculoskeletal discomfort and strain. Employees appreciate the assessments, and it is a clear statement that an employer wants to ensure employees are comfortable and well setup for working at home.

Leadership is about setting people up for success. Employees need the physical tools for effective and productive home working, but they also need an environment that is supportive, where leaders display empathy and where there are supports available when required. Engaging with employees, ensuring that the remote working situation is not negatively impacting their health and wellbeing is a proactive and positive step in the duty of care for employees – it will reap due reward.

During these uncertain times, communication, engagement, and visual commitment in safety leadership is more important than ever. We are working with employers to provide support for their employees in this COVID-19 era and you would like to talk about safety leadership, homeworking assessments or ergonomic programmes please contact the CMSE Consultancy team.

Chat to us instantly by clicking the chat box in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. Alternatively, you can click here to email [email protected]

You may also be interested in:

  • TOP 3 COVID-19 FAQs Read More
  • Chemical Agents Risk Assessments Read More
  • The Ergonomic Hazard of Prolonged Postures Read More
  • Machinery Safety Update from Aisling Hegarty, Health & Safety Consultant Read More