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Andrew Wilkinson

Autumn Talk with Andrew Wilkinson of Secure Safety Solutions

OCTOBER is here, the month the clocks go back, Halloween turns up and it’s dark nights and dark mornings. Yet what is the business landscape like this moth – we talk to business owners every week about their stories.

Today we’re talking to Andrew Wilkinson, director & senior safety consultant, Secure Safety Solutions based in North Swindon.

What’s coming up for your business/organisation in Q4?
We have just taken on a new safety advisor which has proved to be a pivotal point for our business. We are comfortably able to handle any sudden increase in work demand and are in the fortunate position to be able to expand our training offering with the new skills now in the team. Q4 however is going to be a time for investing in the new safety advisor and providing him with the real world experience you can’t learn in books and from case studies. We have always wanted to share the knowledge with the aim to keep more people safe in work, and this has really started the snowball rolling into what we believe will be an avalanche.

This is a month for harvest and Halloween? Are either of these important for you in your business or organisation?
Harvest is an important time for us due to the industries that some of our clients are in. We have farming clients and also ones who support the farming industry such as heavy plant machinery hire companies. These teams see a very sudden increase at this time of year, and this can put pressure on the teams to “get the job done”. We know that this increase in demand can put pressure on teams to work quicker and in some instances not as safe. We make it our priority to ensure we engage with these teams more regular and offer support to the directors.

October represents several awareness months. Are any of these relevant to your business?
There are so many topics being highlighted in October and all are extremely important for us to give thought on how we can support or signpost anyone we know who may be suffering from these issues. One that we focus on from a safety point of view is “Healthy Lung Month”. A very underestimated risk within the workplace predominantly within the construction and manufacturing industry is dust. Dust is not always easy to see or notice around you and even if it is being generated by cutting materials or being kicked up by machinery, because the effects of it are not felt straight away it can lead to complacency. If you were to burn yourself or receive an electric shock, that’s a harsh reminder to be careful or to wear the correct PPE however with dust because there is no such harsh event, it can often be misunderstood and nothing to worry about. This is of course until years of exposure has gone by, and the irreversible lung damage has been caused.

Did you know October 10 was World Mental Health Day – how important is this subject in your business and in your life? Why:
Mental health is just as important to us as physical health, if not more so. Being able to follow safe systems of work, safety guidelines and instructions is all underpinned by the state of your mental health. If an individual suffers from poor mental health this can often lead to distraction related incidents or incidents caused by lack of situational awareness.

On a personal level, a close friend of mine took their own life when we were 18 years old. Seeing the devastating effect, it had on his family and close friends was awful and there’s often a phrase said that “time is a good healer.” This must have been created by someone who has never lost anyone because it’s a myth. You just get used to the pain. In any training sessions that I run, whether it be IOSH managing safely or fire training, I always insist on touching upon mental health and signpost the services that are available and especially when the delegates are a group of men, as sadly suicide still remains the biggest killer to men under 40. Its okay to not be okay and its always good to talk!

What practical activities do you participate in at home or at work to protect your mental health and that of your staff?
One thing I insist that myself and the team do is decompress. Especially after dealing with a high-pressure investigation or maybe if there has been a particularly serious injury we have looked into, I make sure the team and I discuss the incident, how we feel about it and are we happy that we have done all we can to prevent reoccurrence. Closure is important even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time as these occasions can stack up without you noticing and soon start to cause some mental fog. I must say though I sometimes need to be reminded of this myself so it’s great to have people around you who will help you realign your thoughts.

Clocks go back this month which gives us an extra hour in bed. How do you feel about the darker nights etc?
I personally quite like the darker nights; it feels more Christmassy even if we are not supposed to use that word just yet! My thoughts and focus are always with the clients who may be adversely affected by the darker evenings, maybe working on constructions sites or anywhere outside. The seasonal changes are always expected however the additional associated risks can quite often be underestimated.

Have you got any other news you’d like to shout about?
Our new safety advisor has had a lifetime of experience in the hospitality industry and more specifically as a head chef, running his own pubs. Combine this with his newly acquired and continuously improving safety knowledge we are specifically looking for any pubs, clubs, restaurants, social clubs or alike who require safety services for which we can offer a competitive rate. There has never been a better time for these establishments to ensure their premises are safe for customers and colleagues before the Christmas festivities are upon us.

And finally, tell us one thing you love about the autumn/winter months? 
The main thing I love about this time of year is the change in colour we see on the trees. I am a keep drone photographer, albeit extremely amateur, and this time of year gives great contrast to the bright blue skies against the green backdrops we have seen over the last few months. I love a morning mist over a lake and feel very “David Attenborough” when I spot wildlife at that time in the morning as it all seems very exclusive to that moment. Linking back to my comments earlier, this is a great decompressor and is a great mental health aid for me.

You can find out more about Secure Safety Solutions here; www.Securesafetysolutions.co.uk

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