Southampton based Health and Safety Training and Consultancy company, HCS Safety Ltd, are proud to have signed the official Armed Forces Covenant in a pledge to support Armed Forces personnel and veterans.

The Government-backed scheme was established to encourage businesses to recognise the value that serving personnel, veterans and military families contribute to the country, not just during their military careers but also once they return to civilian life.

Over the years HCS Safety Ltd have developed a great working relationship with the Armed Forces Community. We have recruited a number of former service personnel into key roles within the company. With each branch of the UK Armed Forces represented amongst our staff and regular freelance tutors we find ourselves well placed to serve the needs and demands of the Armed Forces community and offer a helping hand to those personnel about to transition to civilian life.

As well as our accreditations with the UKs leading H&S governing bodies we also offer the service leaver the chance to use Individual Resettlement Grants, Standard Learning Credits and ELCAS funding (Provider ID 3286) to enhance their career prospects and employability with courses from NEBOSH, IOSH and the CITB amongst others.

L-R: Joe (USMC), Hilly (RN), WO2 Brodie RE, Bish (Army, RE)

This week we welcome Warrant Officer Class 2 (Quarter Master Sergeant Instructor) Kev Brodie to HCS Safety as he nears the end of his full career with the Royal Engineers. Kev is joining us for two weeks where he will be shadowing our advisors as they go about their daily tasks. This will furnish Kev with valuable work place experience across all aspects of Health and Safety.

HCS Safety Directors Ian and Zoe signing the pledge


This is the third evolution of our military work experience programme with two former participants gaining employment with HCS Safety.

Paul welcoming WO2 Brodie to HCS Safety


Paul Cook, Operations Manager at HCS Safety said, ‘The Armed Forces do a fantastic job and often don’t get the appreciation they rightfully deserve, that’s why HCS Safety are proud to recognise the value of both serving personnel and veterans.’


If you would like any further information check out our website HCS Safety

If you would like to discuss potential work experience opportunities or training drop us a line to or give us a call 02380894695

Bish talking to the Junior Ranks

As part of our commitment to support the Armed Forces Community, one of our consultants recently delivered a Mental Health and Resilience training session to all ranks of 26 Engineer Regiment based in Tidworth.

  By Andy Bishop, Health and Safety Consultant

There would be no safety without danger, no danger without a sense of safety.  Safety is all about taking reasonable precautions, and it’s almost common sense… but it seems that the Health and Safety People across the world forgot to tell the songwriters and performers who regularly wax lyrical about their blatant disregard for Health and Safety.

Roy Orbison had clearly never heard of a Fire Risk Assessment when he sang about how ‘Love Hurts’ apparently its ‘like a stove, burns you when its hot’! May I suggest allowing some cooling off time before attempting to touch it, or perhaps a pair of nice chromium leather heat resistant gloves and apron combo when handling it.

I know that pop-stars do ‘a lot of good work for charidee mate’ and for that I applaud them; but what were Mick Jagger and David Bowie thinking of when they encouraged the whole world to start ‘Dancing in the Street’? Now I’m not going to be a killjoy, but any dancing in the street can only take place after suitable segregation has been provided to prevent the dancers from being squashed by the lorries!  And whilst we’re on the subject of traffic, don’t get me started on Ed Sheeran who encourages driving at ridiculous speed on country roads singing along to the hits of Elton John (Castle on the Hill).

Starship set about building cities on rock n roll.  I’ve looked everywhere and I can’t find any information on the compressive strengths or bearing capacity of rock n roll. Quite clearly a breach of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations. Whilst we are on the subject of structural stability, did Paul Weller give any consideration to the stability of existing structures when The Style Council sang about walls coming tumbling down? I think not.

Back in the 80s Mark Knopfler informed us all of a really dangerous work place that he knew about (and kept secret) in his song Industrial Disease.  Even the Mother Superior was at it in the Sound of Music when she instructed everyone to ‘Climb every Mountain and ford every stream’ with no cold weather gear, crampons or waterproofs in sight.  I doubt very much if she had any safety boats on standby with a competent crew either. Whilst we are up high I wonder if Led Zeppelin were aware of the requirements of the Work at Height Regulations when they sold the ‘stairway to heaven’?  I can’t see any mention of suitable guard rails or fall prevention in the lyrics.

By Andy Bishop, Health and Safety Consultant

‘What do you mean you didn’t bring it with you!’ screamed the angry Corporal who had just asked me to show him an important piece of kit from my rucksack, ‘It was on your kit list.’ He muttered something about the skill set of junior soldiers then pointed out a hut on top of a nearby hill, ‘Go and read what it says on the front door.’
‘AND HURRY UP!’ he yelled as I started to trudge towards the hill, carrying a 25kg rucksack and a 5kg rifle, I’m sure I muttered something about my perception of his parentage as I was on my way.

As I approached the door to the range hut I could see a bright red sign that read ‘Hut 5b, for access call the range warden’, I noted down the instruction and the range wardens telephone number in my notebook and set off back down the hill, my kit rattling and shaking as I bounded back towards the angry Corporal. ‘Well, what did it say?’ he demanded, I reached into my pocket and read the instruction complete with telephone number from my notebook, confident in the knowledge that my punishment was over, ‘Incorrect’ he replied with a knowing look in his eye, ‘Off you go again!’ he instructed.

As I stomped up the hill again, the straps of my rucksack cutting into my shoulders and the rifle getting heavier with every step, I pondered what I could have got wrong? I probably copied one of the numbers down wrongly. I arrived at the door and looked, and checked and wrote it all down again, I even made a sketch map of the door and drew the sign on it. Confident that I had the numbers in the right order, I set off back down the hill at breakneck speed. As I marched back towards the Corporal, he announced ‘You had better not read out the same as last time’, ‘Turn around and get back up there!’ he barked, ‘This time go to the FRONT door!’ It hadn’t occurred to me that the small hut atop this hill would have two doors. As I arrived, I went straight to the other side, and true enough there was another door there. I looked for a similar sign to the door that I had previously visited but none were there, all that greeted me was some spray-painted graffiti.
I turned and headed back down the hill, wondering what would happen next. I tentatively approached the Corporal anticipating another run up the hill and recited the only legible statement amongst the painted nonsense –


‘Good Lad’ he praised me ‘Find out who said that and tell me when we get back into camp.’

It has been cited to Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America. That phrase stuck with throughout my military career, and now as a Health and Safety Professional it still resonates strongly in everything that I do.

It is so simple, by failing to prepare for what life throws at us, when it happens, invariably failure is an outcome. Unfortunately, failures in relation to the Health, Safety and Welfare of our work force can be incredibly costly both in financial terms and ultimately in terms of life.

Planning of tasks and work activities is a fundamental part of any Safety Management System as illustrated by the ‘Plan, Do, Check, Act’ model recommended by the Health and Safety Executive guidance document HSG65 – Managing for Health and Safety.

As part of our Membership Service scheme, HCS Safety can help you with your safety management system and help you prepare for your success.

Andy Bishop, Health & Safety Consultant

I watched the Red Arrows a couple of weeks ago when they performed at the finale of Cowes Week, they were, as ever amazing.  There is something quintessentially British about watching those 9 red aircraft perform death defying feats of precision formation flying and aerobatics in the skies above our green and pleasant land.

The best display I’ve ever seen was one that I forgot was happening.  The scheduled flypast had been cancelled and I was gutted. Then a few days later I was sitting in my lounge watching football when the unmistakable roar of five Hawk trainer jet aircraft made me jump out of my seat and rush outside.  The five ship Enid team were executing a perfect steep banked turn as they ran in to the target area to perform the ‘Goose’ right over my house! They were so low I swear that Red 3 winked at me as he saw me leaping about in my garden like a giddy schoolboy!

I remember watching them training over the skies in Cyprus and going through the rigorous selection process that every one of the Reds must go through before they get issued with the world-famous Red Overalls.  They truly are the best of the best, pushing the very limits of human performance with split second reaction times and nerves of steel.

The selection process for the Red Arrows takes longer that the display season lasts.  Before they are even considered for the role they must have amassed 1500hrs flying time, at least one operational tour and be regularly assessed as above average flyers.  Only three pilots are replaced every year and their tour of duty as a Red lasts three years.  The Team Leader must have completed a flying tour to be considered and undergoes the same assessment process as the remaining members of the team.  One of the most important aspects of this is team cohesion, if their character doesn’t fit the team, they won’t get in, it’s a s simple as that.

For me the Red Arrows epitomise the word team, they seem to magically know what each other is doing and they can focus on seemingly impossible situations at a rapid rate. They are also cool characters, if you have ever been lucky enough to meet them after a sortie, it’s amazing just how cool they are, they climb out of the cockpit and saunter over to the reception area like you and I would walk to the front door of the supermarket after pulling off a skilled reverse parking manoeuvre in the car park.

The reason they can do this is because they operate in their peak performance zone.  They have arrived there following years of intensive training and months of rehearsals for each display that only lasts for fifteen minutes.

Can you imagine the carnage that would result if they didn’t go through all those hours of training and preparation? It really doesn’t bear thinking about.

Within our own workforces we should treat each employee the same as a Red Arrows pilot, we might not expose them to the same levels of performance requirement, but we will expose them to work related stresses if not positively managed.  We need to give them the correct skills to develop in their field and regularly assess and monitor the demands that we place on them.  They should have a clearly defined job role that lets everyone know exactly what is always expected of them. We should foster good working relationships between all our staff and treat all team members with respect.  If people don’t understand something or are worried by anything at all we must have the means to offer encouragement and support.

To learn more about managing stress within your workforce, why not book onto our new Mental Health Awareness- Preventing and Managing Occupational Stress course.

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Andy Bishop, Health & Safety Consultant

Following on from last week’s blog, where I relayed the traumatic loss (blatant theft) of my mobile phone, I decided to write about my after-action review (I’ve been reading a lot about cycles and continuous improvement models recently) and what I could have done differently and will definitely do differently in the future.

The first thing I should have done before I went to the car wash was a risk assessment.  A simple process that we all do with everything in life often subconsciously.  As an example, if you are reading this at your desk and near a window, have a quick look outside.  What is the weather like? Now, take a look at what you are wearing.  Does it match the weather conditions and the days tasks? If so, well done, you have completed a successful risk assessment.  It really is that simple.

Risk assessments and the requirement for them often strikes fear into the hearts of the most hardened characters.  As demonstrated above, everything we do is based on our assessment of risk.  So why the fear?

The HSE define risk as the chance – High or Low – that someone could be harmed by a hazard.  The definition of a hazard according them, is anything that could cause harm.  Electricity, an open drawer, working from a ladder and so on. In short anything with the potential to hurt someone. Or in a financial sense, for a loss to occur…

…like my mobile phone getting stolen from the car wash.

Retrospectively, here is what I should have done in three easy steps.

Step 1. Identify the hazards.

Step 2. Decide who might be harmed and how.

Step 3. Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions.

Hazard – Someone Stealing my phone

Who is at risk – I am, I won’t have my phone and will have to replace it – double loss.

Definitely High Risk – Don’t wash the car. I won’t be using that car wash any more, and I won’t be leaving my phone or anything valuable in the car ever again.

Risk assessment completed, control measures applied.

In the world of work, all employers have a legal duty to control the risks that their workers are exposed to and to reduce the risk to an acceptable level, and this is where the fear strikes.  With risk assessment comes paperwork, with paperwork comes ownership and responsibility and with that comes liability and the potential for litigation.

Risk Assessments are not about creating reams of paperwork and covering everything that could possibly go wrong at whatever level, its about creating sensible solutions to the most significant risks – the ones that are most likely and which will cause the most harm.

Still overwhelmed by it all?  Why not give us a call and come and attend one of our Risk Assessment training courses, we will teach you how to complete a risk assessment and how to apply it to your work.

Risk Assessment Made Easy

Andy Bishop, Health and Safety Consultant

I was recently the victim of a theft. I placed a sleek and shiny mobile phone safely in the car glovebox when I dropped it off for its monthly clean. I assumed, wrongly, that it would still be there after I had my car washed. I searched my house, I checked the laundry, I went to the office to see if I had inadvertently left it on my desk, I hadn’t, I resigned myself to life without the phone.

Spurred on by a rerun of Inspector Morse, I conducted a thorough investigation which revealed, beyond any reasonable doubt (in my mind) that the person charged with vacuum cleaning my car interior felt that he needed my phone more than me and so helped himself to it.

I went to the car wash and confronted the foreman who denied all knowledge and even though I presented my anecdotal evidence to him, he persisted with his innocence. The police were informed, a crime number was issued and due to the lack of concrete evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that one of the car washers now has a shiny new phone at my expense, it was left at that.

The criminal in this case is protected under the ‘presumption of innocence’, which requires me to prove that he stole my phone, and for that, I needed hard evidence and not assumptions. Innocent until proven guilty.

In Health and Safety law the requirement for the burden of proof is reversed.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act an organisation is automatically regarded as having failed to ensure the health and safety of employees or others if an accident has occurred.

If this isn’t enough, a further section of the Health and Safety at Work Act makes it clear (once its translated from regulatory legalese) that it shall be for the accused to prove … ‘that it was not practicable or not reasonably practicable to do more than was in fact done to satisfy the duty or requirement, or that there was no better practicable means than was in fact used to satisfy the duty or requirement’.

If health and safety law were applied to my mobile phone theft, then I (the victim of the crime) become the accused because I didn’t do everything practicable or, reasonably practicable to stop my phone being stolen. I could have slipped it into my pocket or I could have locked the glovebox, or I could have even washed my car myself and not provided the temptation in the first place.

I could have argued that I had my car washed there many times before and never had anything stolen, so why should I go to the extra trouble, after all, I’ve been doing it that way for years! ‘You’re asking for trouble with that attitude!’ remarked my mate when I told him of my loss.

If cases of petty burglary and theft were tried in the same way as an accident or incident at work, I’m pretty confident that our belongings would not get stolen anymore!
The world of Health and Safety Law can often be difficult to understand and interpret. We are often guilty until proved innocent or in some cases less guilty.

Here at HCS Safety we have a whole team of experienced individuals to keep you on the right side of the law and more importantly, you and your employees safe. If you would like to see what we can do for you and your team or just contact us for a chat, please follow this link to our Membership Services.

 by Zoe Kneller, Director HCS Safety

Well I’m sure many of us have heard about Apple’s current valuation of $1 trillion. I happened to see it on my iPhone as I was scrolling through the news while accompanied by the pod cast that I’d downloaded from iTunes that very morning.  I’d love to say that I’m writing this on my iMac, while checking the time on my I-watch but that would be fibbing…

I wonder if Steve Jobs and chums ever imagined their growth would get them to where they are today – when Ian and I first started HCS Safety 18 years ago it was with fairly modest ambitions. We will not be valued at $1 trillion any time soon, but we do look with some pride (and a bit of exhaustion sometimes) over how far we have come.

Earlier this year we held our 8th Annual Members Forum at the Concorde Club. It was a joy to see so many of the South’s companies attending and a true pleasure to present some well-deserved safety awards for members who had scored most highly in their annual audits. The record turnout did cause a little bit of a car park squeeze, so this coming year, on 14th March 2019, we will be using a rather larger venue.

We’re  proud to announce that the 9th HCS Safety Annual Members Forum will be held in the ballroom of the Hilton at the Ageas Bowl. At this event we will be taking the stage once more to take our members through updates, insights and essential knowledge they need to be up to date on safety matters. There will be awards for the highest achievers in this challenging area of business management and we will of course be taxing our new venue’s catering department too.

The event is for companies who are part of our Membership Service – currently we have 380 Membership Service clients and we’re looking forward to seeing as many of them as possible at this prestigious new venue. To find out more about what the Membership Service can offer your business – Click Here. We’d love to see you there too!

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While we have been dreaming of football coming home, over on the other side of the world, some incredible people have shown us what can be achieved when we are called upon to operate at the very peak of our abilities. The Thai footballers were saved, successfully in a daring, and doubtless terrifying cave rescue operation. They really did come home.

So, when does stress cross the line between the good stuff that brings out the best in us to the negative pressure that causes short and long-term damage to individuals and businesses? And how, as employers and managers do we prevent and manage this part of our legal duty to ensure the health (both physical and mental) of our employees?

Stress at work and the mental health issues that surround it are so often seen a mystery area, a dark art or a hazy zone of guess work and speculation – but it does not need to be this way. There is good, solid guidance out there that will show us how to deal with the difficulties that we face, and to help us place ourselves and those we manage on the right place on the Yerkes Dodson stress/performance curve (yes – this is where research and science meets proper management standards).

To find out more about the relationship between stress and performance, and to find out exactly what the law requires us to do, we need to get educated. The knowledge is out there and its simpler than you might think.

HCS Safety’s new training course – Mental Health Awareness – Preventing and Managing Occupational Stress will help you to do just that. You can book onto a course at our Southampton training centre, or we can provide training and guidance in your own workplace anywhere in the UK.

The HSE have released their figures on fatal work-related injuries for the 2017/2018.

The latest stats show that 144 people were killed at work during the 2017/18 period- an increase of nearly 10 from last year’s 135.  The figures show that work-related fatalities in the UK are not in decline: the figure of 144 is in line with the 147 fatalities in 2015–16, and 142 in 2014–15.

Around a third of the people killed were self-employed, which was more than twice than those who were directly employed by a company.  The figures also show that older workers are disproportionately vulnerable at work, with 55 fatalities among the over 60’s making up 40% of the total, while this group represents only 10% of the workforce.

Work at height has regained its position as the most common cause of work-related deaths in the UK with 35 fatalities, compared to 25 in 2016-17 when it dropped to second place to fatalities resulting from being struck by a moving vehicle (31 last year, falling to 26 in 2017-18).

The agriculture (29) and waste and recycling (12) sectors are also confirmed as the UK’s most dangerous workplaces in this year’s HSE provisional figures for fatal injuries at work in 2017–18, with a fatality rate running at, respectively, 18 and 16 times the all-industry average.

The construction sector, with 38 deaths compared to 30 in the preceding year, had a fatality rate of four times the all-industry average, slightly lower than the rate of fatalities in the mining and quarrying sector, at five times the all-industry average.

In addition,100 members of the public died in 2017–18 as a result of work-related activities- eight more than the 92 who lost their lives in the preceding year. Of the 100 deaths,  51 were killed on railways, and a further 16 occurred in the health and social work sector.

These figures exclude suicides on the railways, and the deaths of patients or service users.

The data covers deaths reported to the HSE, local authorities and the Office of Rail and Road that are judged to be reportable under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurences Regulations (RIDDOR).


If you run your own business you will know that it is a world of many ups and downs. The hard parts are when the work starts to take up the weekends and evenings and emails come on holiday with us, causing us to miss time with our family or friends. Or when we might be awake into the small hours worrying about just how we are going to solve that latest problem, and never quite switching off.

But the good times do make up for it. There is such a feeling of satisfaction when things go well. When your company pulls off a great project that you can be truly proud of, when an employee realises their full potential and when we reach those oh so important financial milestones. The thrill of this is deeply addictive. How many of us would ever want to say good bye to that?

A story has appeared just this week about an individual who has been banned from being a company director. Why? Because he put people at risk and tried to get around the consequences. Michael Allen liquidated his company (Allen and Hunt Construction Engineers) and set up a new business to avoid paying a fine after one of his workers was seriously injured. He has been banned from promoting, forming or managing a company for six years without the permission of the court.

This reckless disregard for others is fortunately rare, but there is, on a far larger scale, a worrying lack of knowledge and understanding out there. Regularly, we meet Directors who don’t really know what their duty of care entails, may not understand what negligence actually means and are largely in the dark about how to go about solving their problems in a structured way. We like the ones who are brave enough to admit it!

The positive side of this issue is that it is relatively simple to fix. Short, straightforward training is available to help – and it’s aimed at a level that will suit those who are approaching this area for the first time. Its heart-warming to see Directors face up to the gaps in their knowledge and enjoy the understanding that comes with attending either IOSH Leading Safely or the CITB Director’s Role course just for one day. Ignorance is no defence, so it’s better to face the gaps in our knowledge and start filling them as soon as possible.