Courtley Health & Safety Ltd
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Good Health and Safety is Good Business

Posted on December 31, 2021

Courtley Health and Safety has the same vision and drive as we had when we were established 26 years ago, namely, to add value to companies and to improve their operating procedures and communications.

Our mantra from the start has been ‘Good Health and Safety is Good Business’.

Looking after staff improves quality, productivity and morale and will improve balance sheets and, as such, health and safety should never be a tagged-on afterthought.

I used to be a construction site manager and so a lot of my early consultancy was with construction firms. Today, it’s probably 60% construction and 40% other businesses.

I served an apprenticeship with GlaxoSmithKline which, as one might expect, is very procedurally driven. It taught me a lot about following procedure and how to write ‘method statements’.

To this day it informs everything we do at Courtley.

When I moved into construction, I used to help contractors with their H&S paperwork, coming up with safe systems of work, alongside the necessary and various risk assessments. These contractors would gratefully take them to other sites and use them there. The leap into setting up Courtley, therefore, wasn’t a big one but as you can imagine I still looked before I leaped!

Courtley was started to help contractors improve other people’s perceptions of them and in turn improve them as an outfit. So, in essence Courtley exists to create positive change.

When I turn up at a business, I sometimes feel people’s defences go up – they are expecting censure, but that’s not what we are there for. We are there to identify areas of improvement because breaches in the law mean that the Health and Safety Executive will not hesitate to prosecute. We are not looking for fault but we are looking to help our clients achieve legislative compliance.

Having reams of paperwork with lots of ticks on it doesn’t mean that you are good at health and safety and certainly having future dated paperwork pre-completed is not paying proper consideration to obligations. This is about having something that is a fit for your company and its operations.

For example, a top end restaurant might have thousands of ingredients but all of them are not used for every dish because each is different. Similarly, every company we visit has a different requirement. We look at what they need and we create something to suit their palate. Yes, they all need risk assessment – which is like salt and pepper in cooking – but everything else depends on what is needed to complete the job safely.

A natural extension of this is offering bespoke courses because what might be needed at a construction site is not what is needed at a care home or at a school. It means that we arrive everywhere with an open mind and park any preconceived ideas at the door allowing us to pick up so much more and much more quickly.

Despite stories you might read in the media, from big issues like Grenfell to smaller, but no less important ones like falling from a ladder, we are, as a society, excellent at safety, but less so at health, even if we are among the best places in the world.

We used to be quite happy getting people to 5pm safely, but now we need to get them to 65 and still able to play golf or spend time with the grandchildren. The emphasis on looking after the worker has changed, it’s not just about preventing fingers from being severed, it’s now also about being physically healthy and mentally healthy when people reach retirement.

Again, this requires a bespoke approach. These days we encourage people to bring their authentic selves to work and we have to understand that every individual copes with things like stress or anxiety, for example, in a different way. One size doesn’t fit all. Again, we can help.

Ultimately, health and safety comes down to good leadership. Read any news report about a health and safety case and the HSE inspector will always be quoted as saying something like: “principal contractors have an important role in managing the risks of construction work and providing strong leadership to ensure standards are understood and followed.”

When we first started it was about helping companies put their best face forward and it still is. We have never been anywhere where something doesn’t need improving. If an incident happens in a workplace, our clients are always in a better position today than they were yesterday. The companies that started with us in 1995 are still with us now, because they know we are the critical friend that everyone needs.

By Steve Wallace, CEO

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