Incidents and accidents
‘A high profile incident or accident can be critical for a business’: In coversation with Bryan Lawrie, Arco
Health and safety failings in the workplace can have detrimental consequences for the reputation of a business.
Between 2016/17, there was 609,000 self-reported non-fatal injuries to workers and 137 workers were killed at work during this time. Fatalities and injuries can have a serious impact to a company’s reputation, impacting the industry’s ability to build trust with the company as well as business productivity and output. SHP spoke to Bryan Lawrie, Sales and Marketing Director at Arco to find out more.
In business, reputation plays a huge part in the success of a company. How detrimental can a high-profile incident or accident be to an organisation’s reputation?
Bryan Lawrie (BL): “For many companies, a high profile incident or accident can be critical for the business. In some cases companies are not able to recover from the reputational damage and the business may subsequently go bust. This very much depends on who’s at fault and how the company handles the aftermath, both internally and externally.
“Some of the effects experienced by companies following an incident include media grilling, negative public opinion, financial penalties, unwanted attention from pressure groups, disastrous sales, reduced profits and a negative profile for potential clients. Obviously the best way for companies to avoid these situations is to ensure they have a robust health and safety process in place and that their workers are protected, but it’s also beneficial for organisations to have a crisis communications plan in place if an accident does occur.
“Ensuring safety is embedded into a company’s culture rather than being perceived as a ‘tick box exercise’ is a positive way of improving overall attitudes to the issue. There’s sound evidence to show that health and safety should start at the top of the business. Business leaders, owners and managers need to demonstrate their commitment to keeping their workforce safe, making a positive impact on attitudes and inspiring workers to be healthy and safe. Having a workforce that isn’t motivated to take health and safety seriously could lead to more incidents.”
Do you feel that some organisations overlook the importance of the role of health & safety practitioners when it comes to maintaining reputation?
Bryan Lawrie (BL): “Health and safety is such a critical topic in almost all industries, it would be extremely hard for an organisation to simply overlook the importance of compliance, from both a reputational point of view and also a moral one.
“More often than not, health and safety is now being placed at the top of the boardroom agenda, so professional practitioners are increasingly being seen to add real value to the business. However, I do feel that companies can often just focus on the immediate financial implications rather than the long term reputational effect; even though this will have a detrimental effect on profit. By working with health and safety practitioners, employers can reduce the chance of an accident occurring, therefore, maintaining reputation. Practitioners should be valued all year round, not just following an accident.”
It’s not just the most serious incidents that can have an effect. What kind of an impact can non-fatal injuries have on the morale and productivity of a workforce?
Bryan Lawrie (BL): “We have seen a downward trend in non-fatal injuries to workers over the last few years, which is always encouraging to hear. The use of PPE and the awareness surrounding its importance has clearly had a positive affect to injury rate, however, we would obviously like to see this figure continue to reduce. It’s also important that employers maintain their awareness of day to day risks and pass these onto their workforce to be seen to promote a safe working environment, this includes offering training and ensuring worker’s PPE is in good working condition. This will go a long way to increase employees’ productivity and keep morale high; if employees feel that their employer is investing both time and money into their wellbeing, it will have a positive effect on their attitude whilst at work.
“It’s also vital that employers show their workforce that they take non-fatal injuries seriously and are committed to keeping employees safe – again, this will go a long way ensuring morale remains high.”
How many incidents and accidents have, in part, been caused by workers not wearing the correct PPE?
Bryan Lawrie (BL): “It’s difficult to say how many incidents were due to misuse of PPE without having access to the findings, however, it’s important to note that although PPE is there to protect workers, it should be seen as the last line of defence. Health and safety processes should be in place to engineer out any risks. However, when PPE is needed it’s important that the products provided are fit for purpose, meet the standards required and are high quality.”
How can Arco help minimise the risk to employees by ensuring that practitioners are aware of what clothing and equipment their staff should be wearing?
Bryan Lawrie (BL): “We are able to recommend and advise our customers on any specialist equipment and regulatory requirements. We can also offer training for specialist equipment including Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE), including Face Fit Testing, as well as other kit used in hazardous environment such as confined spaces and working at height.
“What’s more, we can ensure that all equipment and clothing we supply is completely compliant and meets all regulations.”
If an injury should occur to a member of staff or a member of the public, what steps should an organisation take to minimise damage to its reputation and maintain public trust?
Bryan Lawrie (BL):“Firstly they need to determine the cause of injury and the circumstances surrounding the accident. If the Health and Safety Executive is involved in any investigation, then the business should fully comply with the requirements of the inspectors. When the investigation has concluded, whether an internal investigation or one involving the HSE, it’s important to notify staff and customers of the results and the actions you are going to take to prevent this from happening again.
“It goes without saying that any responsible employer will work with the person affected and their family to ensure they have the help needed to make a full recovery and, where possible, are able to return to work.”