by Zoe Drew, Director HCS Safety

As we get into this new year, we’ve had a smashing start by completing one each of all the CITB Site Safety Plus courses (SMSTS / SMSTS Refresher / SSSTS / SSSTS Refresher / Health & Safety Awareness and Director’s Role for H & S). It is a real honour that these 103 people put their trust in us to get them through these challenging qualifications, and a testament to the hard work of our delegates and the tutors (in this case Mr Leon Maidment GradIOSH and Mr David Hilton Tech IOSH) for supporting them all the way.

Last year at HCS Safety we saw 6000 delegates leave our premises with an enhanced knowledge base in this vital subject of Health and Safety, at all levels from basic to degree level. That’s a lot of people who are better equipped and better informed about the hazards they and their colleagues face, not to mention better qualified to move forwards in their careers. Our training calendar for 2019 includes increased capacity for many of our most popular courses, including IOSH Working Safely, IOSH Managing Safely and IOSH Leading Safely, as well as the CITB Site Safety Plus favourites. Alongside these we are proud to provide some new additions in the vital field of Mental Health and Occupational Stress.

We recognise our duty as the South’s favourite safety training provider and consultancy to be there when you need us; so not only can you rely on us to run the courses we advertise, but to offer the best facilities possible in which to run them. If you’ve noticed the scaffolding up on our building, recently, you can see that we are investing in our premises, and despite the uncertainty of the times, we promise we will be here for you come what may.

Take care out there, everyone – and if you need us, you know where we are.


On Saturday 22nd August, a pilot tragically crashed a plane into a main road in Sussex.

The Hawker Hunter jet, piloted by Andy Hill, was taking part in the annual Shoreham air show. During a stunt where the plane makes a loop, the pilot lost control and failed to pull out of the manoeuvre and crashed into the A27, colliding with traffic. 11 men were killed.

Today saw the opening of Andy Hill’s trial for Manslaughter by Gross Negligence, charges he denies.

The court were told how the vintage Hawker Hunter, which was in ‘excellent working order’ had ascended to about 2,800ft (850m) when Hill attempted the manoeuvre- 1,000ft below the required height at the top of the loop.

Tom Hark QC, prosecuting, explained to the court how Mr Hill should not have started his descent, but nevertheless continued the manoeuvre”.

“He did not have the height to pull the aircraft out of its dive, back to level flight at a safe height and, as a result he crashed into the ground… The aircraft disintegrated and that crash caused a massive fireball…The effects of that crash were devastating and eleven people lost their lives as a result.”

Hill survived the crash due to his cockpit becoming separated from the rest of the aircraft and landing in a nearby ditch.

Hill is deemed an experience pilot, serving in the RAF between 1985 and 1994 before becoming a commercial pilot. However, he has been known in the past to take risks, with a previous air show halted due to his dangerous flying.

Display pilots hold a heavy responsibility in ensuring that they plan their displays carefully so that no-one is put at risk.  The prosecution case is that is was Hill’s ‘serious negligence’ that led to the loss of 11 lives on that fateful day.

The trial is expected to last several weeks.


On June 28th 2017, David Duckenfield and Graham Mackrell were formally charged following a formal inquest into the infamous Hillsborough disaster of 1989.

This week the trial opens, where Duckenfield will be tried for Manslaughter by Gross Negligence of 95 men, women and children.  Mackrell, the Safety officer for Sheffield Wednesday at the time, will be tried under breaching section 3 of the health and safety at work act, namely ensuring as far as reasonably practicable that persons other than themselves or employees are not exposed to risks to their health or safety.

The trial is closely monitored by those that have campaigned for justice since the fans were blamed for the tragedy.

The “exceptionally bad failings” of police match commander David Duckenfield were “a substantial cause” of the Hillsborough tragedy, the court was told.

The focus on Mackrell is provided by the Safety certificate and its alleged breaches.

At condition 6 (1), the certificate required the club to agree, prior to an event with the Chief Constable (in this case, Duckenfield), the “methods of admission to be employed in connection with a Specified Activity (including a football match) and … the methods to be used for the segregation of home and visiting supporters.”  This was a particular condition that the club had to agree on in regard to the methods of entry into the stadium- in this case, the amount of turnstiles to be used for admission in to the west stand and north west terraces.  Mackrell is accused of ‘turning a blind eye or neglect of part of his duties as a safety officer.’

Richard Matthews, QC, who is prosecuting, stated “The Safety Certificate was never updated or amended from the date it was granted in 1979 until the day of the disaster” and there was “a recognition by all concerned that the safety certificate was very out of date… Few of those involved with the Safety Certificate appear to have performed their function diligently in this regard.”

The trial is expected to last several months.

How have the events unfolded so far?


by Andy Bishop, Health and Safety Consultant

It’s time’, I announce after dinner, the mutterings have gone on long enough, the constant question now gets an answer.   I prepare the equipment in silent anticipation.  The rest of the gang start pacing, the air of nervous excitement lies heavy in the air, ‘It’s time’ they say to each other with big grins across their faces.

As I clambered through the hatch and located the treasure, I allowed a smile to break across my face.  I blew the dust from the top and prepare to heave the weighty chest from its resting place. It’s been a while since this treasure has seen the light of day, its long-forgotten value has been discussed over every meal recently.  Everyone start to get impatient and the mutterings get louder and more frequent as the days march on and the evenings draw in until I can stand it no longer.

With a final effort the treasure breaks free from its hide and is passed eagerly to the hands stretched above the beaming faces below.  They run off with it ready to open the dusty container and get their hands and eyes on the treasure as colourful bounty spills freely, released at last from its restraints.

I suspect most families go through a similar ritual around this time of year as they retrieve their winter garments from their summer storage in order to ensure that we are all as warm as we can be as the mercury starts to dip. But do we change the way our business operates?

As a business we not only have a moral duty to keep our employees, contractors and visitors warm we also have a legal duty to do what is reasonably practicable to protect the health of our employees whilst at work. It seems strange that whilst we have a minimum temperature of at least 16°Celcius indoors (which can drop to 13°C if the work is arduous) that we don’t have one for outdoor work.  In general, an employer is obliged to give access to adequate warm clothing, suitable for the work activities, regular hot drinks and frequent rest breaks to allow workers to warm up.

It’s no coincidence that as the temperature drops, the incidence of heart attacks increases as our blood is concentrated on the core resulting in an increase in blood pressure and more strain on the heart. If a person’s normal core body temperature of 37°c drops by a mere 2°c hypothermia can set in which prevents the bodies vital organs from working correctly and can ultimately lead to death.

The spread of viral infections like colds and flu increases as does ‘the winter vomiting bug’ norovirus, of course these all exist all year round, but the combination of closed windows and the heating being increased added to us spending more time indoors in close proximity to each other lead to rapid spread.  Viral infections can run laps around the workforce as immune systems are overwhelmed and can’t produce enough of the all-important white blood cells as the blood flow is concentrated around the core.

Control measures for one worker may not fit another, so it is vitally important that health surveillance is completed regularly in order to identify the potential hazards mentioned above.

So, what is the link between brass monkeys and this blog? A ‘brass monkey’ was the name given to a triangular or square tray formed from brass on which to stack one’s cannonballs. As the mercury plummets, the soft metal contracts and the cannon balls are spilled across the decks, therefore, ‘freezing the balls of a brass monkey’.

For information on how we can help you combat the cold with effective control measures from the top, take a look at our IOSH Managing Safely course.


by Ian Ball, HCS Safety Director

18 years ago this October, Zoë and Ian started working together in the health and safety sector.

Early on we had relatively few clients and we often answered “yes we can…” as soon as the words “can you…” were asked by someone.  Often before we knew what they wanted.  We would undertake any work that we thought would help us grow and get noticed.  Zoë joined contractors on a sponsored week which was covered in the local news.  Ian was often asked when he would get a proper job.

The first few years were quite tough, working from when we got up until we had done everything that we could think of for that day.  We worked from our respective homes, the smallest bedroom, or the back room, with Zoë graduating to the garage (with heating) when she moved house.  We tried to speak to each other each day to see how the other was doing, but often only saw one another once per week to catch up.

Training was carried out by Zoë using the local village hall or sports venue. Carting everything she needed there; food, drink, crockery and training aids, and then packing them all away at the end of the training session after washing up etc.

A few years went by and our client base started to grow, most of whom we still know very well today.  We realised that we had two of most things – printers, scanners, fax machines etc.  Training was becoming a bit tedious for Zoë with all the side work that went into the training day.  I did use to offer to help if I was around…

We decided to look for premises.

18 months later we finally moved into Chevron Business Park.  This was 2000 sq ft over two floors.  One floor was a training room and breakout area, the other floor was for staff – Zoë and Ian.  We bought the building on a mortgage and things were very tight after we moved in, only two of us and money was so tight that we didn’t use the heating system, choosing to share a fan heater under the desk.

One thing we didn’t share was the task of the accounts for the company.  Ian always thought that it was such a drudge dreary job that he couldn’t ask Zoë to participate, there are limits.  When the company finally broke free of excel and started using Sage, that was it.  Game over, far too complicated to get involved.  When Sage started to complain that too many errors were being made, Sara joined the company.  Then there were three of us.

With a dedicated training room that could be left set up, we started to increase our training days.  The site visits to construction sites also increased and we took on other staff to cover this work.  With the increase in staff we then found out what it was like to be an employer; with one person who was due to start turning down the position the day before they were due to start.  This was after we had bought the car, mobile ‘phone, laptop and mobile printer (remember those, what a headache it was at getting them to print).

A few years went by and our staff level was increasing.  We had a few office refurbishments in order to accommodate all the staff, but the day came when we had to have more space, so we took the ground floor over of the office next door.  We were a few yards apart, but it may as well have been a mile.  Even though we had one printer for all to use so we still saw each other at those times, it felt as if there were two different companies.  We had to move to bigger premises.

18 months later we moved to where we are today, occupying two floors in a building with three.  It took a long time as we needed to find premises with ample parking spaces for all of our clients attending training courses.  At Holbury we managed to pack cars in tighter than the ferries crossing the Solent.  The floors we took over needed a total makeover, we stripped everything back to basics and fitted it out.  Three classrooms, a large welcoming breakout area for delegates and a staff area that we could all fit into comfortably.  Plus, we had a kitchen with a cooker.  We could now indulge in Friday Fry-ups without going to a takeaway.

We still continued to grow and we had by now diversified away from construction activities to include boatbuilding, manufacturing, leisure, estates, insurance, nail bars, and the European Weather Centre!  Our staff were undertaking and passing the top NEBSOH course in health and safety – The Diploma, so we needed to ensure that their new skills were utilised fully.

After we had been at Millbrook Road West for three years, Zoë and Ian realised that space was getting tight, and that an additional classroom would be helpful to cover training course expansion.  The tenant on the ground floor moved out, and once again we went in and stripped everything out to put in the best that we could afford.  Our administration staff moved to the ground floor, but we were determined to try to make sure that staff still mixed in with each other and had regular conversations.

Each year in March we have a Membership Annual Forum. For quite a few years we have hired the Concorde Club at Eastleigh, a lovely friendly venue.  Unfortunately this year we found out that we had outgrown it, and hence next year we will be at the Hilton Ageas Bowl in the ballroom.  Plenty of space and parking there.

For almost a year now an Operations Manager has been gradually taking over areas that were covered by the Directors, leaving them more time to find new clients and engage with existing ones.  The building is about to have new windows, more space for cars to park, and a new bespoke CRM software package so that our training delegates and clients can be served better.

We couldn’t have achieved all this without tremendous support from all our staff.

So maybe it is a proper job after all.


by Andy Bishop, Health and Safety Consultant

A few weeks ago, I travelled to Brighton to deposit my youngest daughter and all her associated belongings into her Halls of residence at University.  In strict adherence to the law stated by one Patrick O’Murphy, her flat was on the top floor of the four available and the lift had decided that it would be best if it didn’t exert itself on moving in day!

I completed a dynamic Manual Handling Assessment and introduced a number of control measures to ensure my state of health was the same at the end of the job as it was at the start, they involved utilising the power invested in my appearance.  With my bushy grey beard and baldy head it’s easy to be mistaken for a frail old man! As well as looking good, my beard, like Gandalfs has magical powers!  It has other benefits, it allows to continue using a comb, I can still look in the shampoo aisle in Boots (other suppliers of hair care products are available) and it keeps my chin warm in winter.

In short, I love my beard! As I go about my business, I meet other bearded men and we often share a ‘nod of respect’ as the first feelings of ‘beard envy’ arise.  As the great Bard, William Shakespeare once remarked ‘He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man.’ It gives my colleagues a handy point of reference if they need to describe me ‘Oh you mean Andy, big bloke, baldy head, grey beard’ I hear them remark!

I first started dabbling with full facial topiary about six years ago after I left the Army.  In the military all males ‘must’ be clean shaven below the top lip! Soldiers are permitted to wear a moustache but never a ‘full set’ (beard, moustache and side whiskers). Sailors in Her Majesties Royal Navy are however permitted to wear a full set and can be ordered to shave it off if it is not full enough! On operations in Iraq, shaving was compulsory every day, on operations in Afghanistan, this was relaxed to three days and sometimes up to a week.  The reason for this is the weapons that the enemy had in their arsenal, the Iraqis quite famously had possession of chemical and biological weaponry, the Taliban did not.  The basic Personal Protective Equipment provided to protect soldiers in a chemical environment is the standard issue respirator, a full-face mask with particulate and vapour filters that relies on a close seal to the face to be effective in filtering out what ever nasties those pesky enemies put in the air.

I’m lucky these days to be in a situation where I can choose to wear ‘a full set’ without fear of disciplinary action and extra weekend guard duties or similar summary punishments for not being clean shaven every day of the week.

However, if my boss decides, following risk assessment that RPE is required and they choose to provide me with a close-fitting respirator or face mask to protect my health, then I shall have no option but to shave off my beloved beard and put my chubby babyface on display to all and sundry.

I can guarantee that I would be less than enthused by this, but as I am not practicing a religion that requires me to wear a beard and I don’t have a valid medical reason to wear one, then I’m afraid that I will have to comply with their wishes.

They could look to source me a hooded powered respirator that doesn’t rely on a close seal, but they are really expensive to procure, store and maintain, I’m pretty sure that I’d be dusting off the old Wilkinson Sword (endorsement enquiries welcome) and putting the boar bristled shaving brush into action around my chiselled jaw.

All employers know that they must, as far as is reasonably practicable, protect the health of all of their employees.

This general duty is reciprocated by the employee’s duty to cooperate with the employer, particularly on arrangements that are made to protect the employee in question.

So, when the day comes that I am supplied with respiratory protective equipment that relies on a close seal to my face, I shall wearily trudge to the bathroom and succumb to the prospect of a cold, unadorned, silky smooth chin.

 ‘…Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, and thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, And enterprises of great pitch and moment

With this regard their currents turn awry and lose the name of action’

Click here for more information on Face Fit Testing.


by Andy Bishop, Health and Safety Consultant

I had a long day yesterday; roadworks and traffic jams meant my schedule slipped a little.  I was reminded by my smart phone every time I was nearly late with an annoying little ‘ping’ and a notification on the dashboard but thanks to the wonders of the satnav and its route planning ability I made each appointment!  Every hour or so my watch vibrated violently against my wrist to tell me to move as I was starting to resemble a three toed sloth (in case you didn’t know a three toed sloth is a large hairy ape like creature that hangs upside down in trees and takes about three months to do anything!)  I typed a few emails and sent a few messages, each time my laptop or my phone guessed the correct recipient after just a few letters, it even stopped me from sending one email as I’d mentioned an attachment and subsequently forgot to attach it.

I listened to Chris Evans on Radio 2 discussing how the administrators and programmers behind Siri, the apple voice activated system, had starting programming it to only respond to a request that ‘asked politely’ as parents were blaming Siri for their children’s lack of manners! I mean, just what is the correct etiquette when conversing with a computer!

I eventually got in from work and after my car had parked itself, I wandered into the house and as I walked through the hall, a soothing electronic voice asked me if I would like to listen to some music as she/he  (I’m not sure how computers fit into the whole gender thing)  had prepared a play list for me based on my preferences and my recent listening history.

As the very well-chosen play list sparked in to action, I spoke to the lights and set the ‘ambience’ to my preferred level commensurate with my mood as identified by an app on my phone.  She who must be obeyed was running late so to while away the time I started to prepare some food. I took some meat from the freezer and chucked it into the microwave, which enquired as to my intentions then set about defrosting the meaty goodness as I busied myself asking a computerised voice for recipe suggestions (the multitude of recipe books were just too far away – and if I’m honest I’ve forgotten how they work!).  I began preparing the meal, receiving voice prompts and reminders at the key stages throughout the project (yes – cooking is a project that must be suitably managed throughout).

In case you hadn’t noticed, I really take advantage of the ‘internet of things.’  I do love a good gadget, I have literally got one for every application in my life, I talk to the lights in my house, my car virtually drives itself, I generally just have to be there.

It seems that I’m not the only one though. I watch the news regularly and every couple of weeks there seems to be a new robot that is threatening to take the place of people. I read through trade journals and publications to keep abreast of new innovations and the latest safety related invention.

It worries me slightly that so called ‘wearable technology’ and ‘AI systems’ are being introduced to protect people.  I have seen hard hats with sensors and haptic alarms that start buzzing when you enter a ‘danger zone’. I have seen Hi Visibility clothing that does the same but adds strips of highly visible LED lights when you wander too close to the edge of the giant hole in the ground.  I have even seen a system that you can attach to a high-speed circular saw that will sense when anything ‘fleshy’ gets near it and stop it in a very abrupt fashion. The video demonstration makes good use of a sausage to replicate the operator’s errant appendage.  It works, however, the catastrophic damage to the machine means that a whole new machine is required, still easier than replacing a severed hand though.

I spent some time working in the high hazard industry of explosives manufacture where we used robots to handle the highly volatile pellets as they moved around the production from process to process.  Every now and again, there would be a glitch and a hiccup in the system and the robot would go rogue and start dropping highly sensitive explosives around the place.  Part of my role when this occurred was to go into the room and make it safe for the engineers to come in and calm the robot down and show it the error of its ways by giving it a new programme to work with.

These robots were introduced to remove people from the danger areas and to increase efficiency and productivity, great results all around, especially for the extra six ‘robot babysitters’ that were employed as a result.

The reason I am worried about the onset of artificial intelligence and replacing humans with robots are twofold.  The first issue I can see is the growth in reliance on this technology to keep the work force safe. It’s all very well equipping all workers on site with a sensor or an alarm which warns them of the hole in the ground, or the heavy machinery in close proximity – but aside from buzzing like an angry bee – they don’t physically stop or prevent you from exposure to the danger. The second worry is the likely adoption of more and more absurd inventions like the ‘hi vis coat’ that lights up when its dark.  By the increasing use of these technologies we run the risk of forgetting the basics of harm prevention.

If you want some proof of this, observe anyone who normally drives an automatic when they jump into a car equipped with a manual gearbox, I guarantee that they will stall the engine at some point in the journey!

For advice on choosing robots or hi vis jackets with haptic alarms and LED strip lighting, I’m afraid you will have to look somewhere else.

If you want friendly, practical advice or training from a real flesh and blood experienced Health and Safety professional then come and see what HCS Safety have to offer.


by Andy Bishop, Health and Safety Consultant


It’s a quarter before work starts.  Everyone starts arriving, general office chit chat is happening, coffees are being made while laptops are woken from their slumber or the working tools of the day are prepared.  The conversation ranges from the latest illness from the duty ‘sick note’ to the happenings on Coronation Farm, to the sporting prowess of the company fitness freak.

We spend, on average, more waking time a day with our colleagues than we do with our families and loved ones. We get to know each other quite well.  We know everyone’s foibles and idiosyncrasies, we know what makes each other tick, we are fully aware of the strengths and (more often) weaknesses of our colleagues. It’s only natural then that after a while, our work colleagues become our friends, people that we can confide in, people that we trust and people that we look to for support when things aren’t going quite right.

Now, it’s no secret that over 25% of the adult population suffer with poor mental health at any given time during their working life.  How big is the work force? If 25% aren’t ‘firing on all cylinders’ the company output will suffer, and instead of exponential growth (I learned all about that in an Ed Sheeran song), it will start to go into exponential decline and that can only be a bad thing (I watched the Ewan MacGregor film – Rogue Trader and learnt about that).

As well as the decline in output and the effect on the bottom line, this may well have a negative effect on the workforce.  Stress, absenteeism, presenteeism – when people who should be working are sitting, silently, suffering, staring – instead of producing the goods, will be where the exponential growth is happening.

Do you know who might be suffering within your team? If not, why not? All you have to do is ask, it really is that simple.

Ask ‘How are you today?’, invariably ‘Fine thank you’ will be the response.

And then the conversation ends.

‘Time to change’ are running a campaign to coincide with World Mental Health day on Wednesday 10 October 2018 called ‘Ask twice’.  The campaign centres around a chap and his mate out rambling in the woods.  One of the pair questions ‘How are you?’ a muffled reply of ‘Fine’ is heard as the camera pans out and the other guy is pinned beneath a giant log, unable to move.




The log symbolises the crippling weight of a poor mental health condition and the ‘Fine when we’re not’ tag line alludes to the stigma attached with talking about a mental health issue.

So how can we do it, how can we broach the subject?

The first stage has got to lie with education – educating the workforce to spot the warning signs in themselves and others.  Educating line managers and supervision staff in how to spot the signs in their teams – and more importantly how to ask the question ‘How are you today?’

If the reply ‘Fine’ comes back, chances are they’re probably not.

‘Are you really ok? I’ve noticed you’ve not been yourself recently? Let’s have a brew and a chat…’

Don’t ask once and leave it at that, if you’ve spotted the signs, ask twice! If there really is nothing wrong, you’ve just had a nice chat with your mate/colleague/employee.  If there is something wrong, well, you might have just helped to save a life.

For more information about the #asktwice campaign and the Time To Change organisation, please visit their website at

For information about educating your work force, doing your bit to break the stigma and raising awareness of mental health issues please get in touch with HCS Safety–  we have a wide range of courses and services on offer to help you look after your most important assets – your people!


Andy Bishop, Health and Safety Consultant

For those of you that know me, you will understand that I suffer with a degrading and sometimes embarrassing condition – I am a Southampton FC fan. I follow the team passionately and attend as many games as I can (I didn’t renew my season ticket, this was a shrewd investment on my part), I was there when we scored two goals in the same game at West Brom last season. I am an eternal optimist and every week I put my money where my mouth is and place a bet on the mighty reds to win (gamble responsibly, when the fun stops, Stop! etc). When the odds are around 10/1 I see that as a worthy bet with a good chance of getting back ten times as much money as I outlay.

Now, if I were to tell you of simple change to make in your business that would result in a similar return of £9.98 return for every £1 invested, I reckon I’d have your attention. Its all to do with the mental health and wellbeing of our staff.
Currently in the UK we spend approx. £33 – 42Billion per annum with half of this cost as a result of ‘presenteeism’ – when an individual is less productive due to poor mental health and the additional costs that sickness absence and staff turnover create.

The Government spend between £24-£27Billion in providing benefits, costs to the NHS and the subsequent drop in tax revenue as a result of a shrinking workforce and we all know how crucial that kind of money is when it comes to the UK!

More than both those combined is the cost to the economy which is placed at between £74-£99Billion a year!
In my opinion, the cost in terms of the personal impact on the lives of all those involved, family, friends, colleagues, supervisors and managers is far more worrying than the financial losses.

As employers, there is a legal and a moral duty to look after the mental health of our workforce. As we all know the Health and Safety at Work Act places duties on employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of our workforce.

The HSE have developed a set of six Management Standards and a toolkit to be used in assessing how well stress is managed within your workforce. The management standards focus on those areas which cause the most stress, they are:
• Demands
• Relationships
• Role
• Control
• Management of Change
• Support

By completing an assessment of these areas within your workforce you will be better placed to reap the benefits. By having a happy workforce, we will have a more productive work force and will be better placed to reap the rewards of the £9.98 return per £1 invested in training.

For information and guidance on applying the management standards to your workforce book onto the Mental Health Awareness – Managing Occupational Stress course run at our training centre in Southampton.

For further information on the facts and figures in this blog please see ‘Thriving at Work – The Stevenson/Farmer Review of Mental Health and Employers’.


Andy Bishop, Health and Safety Consultant

If you follow sports in the UK you will no doubt have heard of the ‘Power of Marginal Gains’ when it comes to increasing elite level sports performance.

It first became a buzzword following the cycling successes of 2012, straight off the back of the first British athlete winning the Tour de France, the British Cycling teams at the Olympics blew their competitors away with Gold after Gold after Gold both on the track and the road.

This was masterminded by Sir Dave Brailsford who was then the Performance Director for British Cycling.  The theory of marginal gains is a simple one. If you take everything that contributes to the athlete’s performance and increase its efficiency or its effect by 1% and then add all of the 1% gains together, the overall performance or output is increased by the totals of those percentages added together. This has been brought to the fore again by Geraint Thomas’ superb Tour de France win and Simon Yates conquering La Vuelta a España.

The marginal gains employed in these fantastic victories range from the floors of the mechanic’s trucks being painted white and kept spotlessly clean (if a mechanic drops something, due to the contrasting colours, he can instantly see it and carry on); to the athletes being provided with the same bedding and air conditioners in their hotel rooms at every location so that their night time routine remains consistent.

In the world of Health and Safety compliance, the basics, when done well, can have the exact same effect on a business output as they do with high performing athletes.

Take Risk Assessment as an example – often these are generic and passed from task to task with just a change of heading.

The operatives are shown the completed document and asked to sign the back of it to agree that they will work in accordance with it and off they go to complete the task the same way that they have always done it.

They start to do the job and realise that they need an item of equipment or material that isn’t there, they then spend the next period of time looking for that essential item (Did you know that once concentration and momentum on a task is broken it takes an average of 23 minutes to regain it!)

If we apply Sir Dave’s teachings to our Risk Assessment process, we can soon notice marginal gains creeping in and our efficiency and (more importantly in my opinion) our Health and Safety performance improve.

The best person to assess the risks of the job is the person doing it.  By consulting with the workforce and adapting their processes to fit, we stand a better chance of them adhering to the safe system of work that we supply them.

If we conduct a specific RA for every job that we do, and make it site and location specific, we can ensure that we get the right equipment and materials to the right place at the right time and eliminate the regular 23 minute concentration breaks- you only need to do this twice and you’ve gained nearly an hour of productivity.  Do this across 4 tasks involving two people and you’ve saved a whole day’s work. Saving a whole day’s work in financial terms might mean a cost saving and a positive effect on your bottom line, but it will also mean that your deadlines, milestones, targets and programs don’t suffer or slip, resulting in pressure, stress and potential contra charges for lost time.

Winning all around I reckon!

Have a look at our website and see if HCS Safety can assist you in your own marginal gains.


Why not try: Risk Assessment Courses