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The human factor. Thoughts and observations.

The life-blood of any organisation is its people; the success of every system, in every organisation is determined by human factors. We are seeking a deep understanding of these human factors; these are some of our thoughts and observations.

A Safety Culture SeaChange in H2 Group

A Safety Culture SeaChange in H2 Group

Current Safety Challenges in the Forecourt Retail Sector

In today’s forecourt retail sector, it is especially prudent to ensure that operational risk is managed to the highest standard and that a positive safety culture is first established, and then maintained over the long term. Numerous factors have coincided to result in what is currently an extremely challenging forecourt retail environment to effectively manage risk and exposure. Five of these factors are outlined below:

 Ireland is one of the most litigious countries in the EU, with frequency of claims & cost of claims rising year-on-year

  1. Large variation in court judgements result in new precedents and an ever-increasing ‘payment ceiling’ effect
  2. Because of an existing loophole that is not being addressed, claimants can avoid the Injuries Board and claim through private solicitors, thereby dramatically increasing costs for insurers and directly impacting insurance premiums
  3. Preventive safety measures are not sufficiently implemented within retail business operations to support the defence of certain claims
  4. In general, there is a lack of ownership and accountability on the part of the employer, the employee and the customer for their own personal safety and risk awareness

When considering effective management of risk in the forecourt retail sector, it is important to be aware that a) forecourt retail is a hazardous and risky environment, and b) many forecourt retailers are unaware of their legal requirement to manage safety risk in their business. The forecourt retail space is highly dynamic with multiple hazards leading to risk in a number of different areas on a daily basis. Recent research examining the factors that lead to claims in the retail sector across a significant sample demonstrates that slip, trip & fall is responsible for 50.6% of all claims within the sector (both public & employee liability).

Some key risk areas needing to be addressed proactively in the forecourt retail sector include:

  1. Slip, Trip & Fall
  2. Fire and Explosion
  3. Manual Handling
  4. Cuts and Lacerations
  5. Equipment Use (e.g. Combis)
  6. Defamation and Wrongful Arresst

*NOTE: These averaged figures are a representative sample of quantifiable data made available over 5 years and reflect the wider retail market

 © SeaChange Ltd. 2018

The H2 Group Approach to managing Health & Safety risk 

H2 Group was established in 2004 with a mission to own and operate a network of award winning Spar Convenience Stores and Service Stations in Ireland. H2 Group is achieving this by developing new sites and also by improving underperforming retail forecourt operations often tailoring the shops to suit the community concerned. H2 Group has a proven track record in operating and developing petrol filling stations and maximizing sales and profit per site and has won numerous industry awards over the past 10 years. H2 Group has recently been announced as a winner of the Deloitte Best Managed Company Awards.

H2 Group has always been concerned with safety standards for their stakeholders and have placed a significant emphasis on providing a safe place to work and to shop for staff and customers alike. As with most proactive retail operations H2 Group knew that a ‘tick the box’ approach to H&S was not going to work effectively. They understood that to establish a lasting safety culture within the group it would be very important to focus on four core principles:

  1. Connect the Safety Message to Operations through Interactive & Engaging Systems, and Behaviour-based Routines
  2. Upskill Site Management and Front-Line Management on ‘How to Lead Safety Standards in the Forecourt Retail Environment’
  3. Put in place a robust auditing structure that can benchmark the safety culture performance of each individual site within the group and provide a league table of group-wide performance
  4. Continuously refresh, update and provide safety knowledge transfer for current and new staff to ensure  Safety Standards are to the forefront of people’s minds, despite the inevitable churn that is part of any Forecourt Retail business

To make this best-practice vision a reality, H2 Group adopted the proactive and behaviour-based SeaChange approach as they were impressed with the SeaChange philosophy on Health & Safety and their experience and expertise in the field. Ultimately, H2 Group is a grounded and practical organisation that really identified with the common-sense approach to H&S that SeaChange provide.

SeaChange Overview and Philosophy

SeaChange Ltd. was incorporated in 2005 and is a B2B service provider based in Naas, Co. Kildare, Ireland. The innovative business has a wealth of experience and expertise in Organisational Development, Lean Management and Sustainable Risk Management. SeaChange know that simply ‘ticking the H&S box’ will never positively impact accident stats A talented team of 20+ highly qualified staff at SeaChange implement internal Culture Change programmes to help organisations more easily and more consistently meet and exceed standards and they deliver a suite of Behaviour-based (‘staff-friendly’) Risk Management B2B solutions to support the management of operational risk across multiple business sectors.

SeaChange solutions include SAAS applications, lean risk management systems, interactive & visual tools, consultancy reports and training/certification applied to increase client performance in the areas of Safety Culture, Behaviour-Based Health & Safety, Risk Management, Safety Leadership Development, and H&S Compliance with applicable legislation. SeaChange have a 98% client retention rate in over 10 years of trading and have supported their client base in reducing accident rates by 50%, Claim Cost by 40% and Insurance Costs by 10% (averages based on representative cross-sectoral samples).

The SeaChange–H2 Group Synergy: Bespoke Safety Culture Programme Roll-out

After meeting with H2 Group and discussing their vision and gathering key information, SeaChange designed a bespoke rollout based on client requirements. The bespoke deliverable ensured that:

  • H2 Group Safety Standards were established and communicated effectively to staff
  • Site and Area managers were certified to lead safety in this sector
  • Each site received on-going support and auditing to benchmark performance and ensure continuous improvement

The SeaChange Programme designed for H2 Group is outlined below:

  1. Site-Specific Risk Assessments: a SeaChange expert conducted site-specific risk assessments to identify good practices, effective behaviours and corrective actions so that each site has a road-map for improvement aligned to their own site.
  2. Job Safety Awareness (JSA™) Creation: As 75% of people learn best through visuals as opposed to text, SeaChange created an interactive ‘H2 Group-specific’ JSA™ Pack of Visual Risk Assessments and Safety SOPs to connect operations to safety standards in their local areas.
  3. Manager Training and Certification: SeaChange experts trained and certified all site managers and areas managers on how to effectively lead behaviour-based safety on site through the SeaChange system tools, routines and supports.
  4. On-Going Support for Continuous Improvement: each site was set up on the SeaChange Client Portal so that SeaChange could remotely monitor performance on a site by site basis. SeaChange also provide a support visit and an annual audit per site to effectively benchmark each site on their safety culture standing and performance.

SeaChange work closely with H2 Group Operations Manager Gillian Morris who is very proactive when it comes to risk management and is engaged in ensuring that practical solutions take precedence and that common sense can grow – this is critical for combatting human error.

“The SeaChange System has increased staff risk awareness, H&S standards and staff training on best practice safety management across our large group. The visual risk assessments, proactive safety management tools and client portal has ensured we have a robust risk management system and partnership going forward and most importantly, we have connected risk awareness to safer behaviours at the operator level” Gillian Morris, Operations Manager, H2 Group.

Safety Culture Initiative Results 

H2 Group has fully committed to partnering with SeaChange to grow their safety culture over the past 2 years and have managed to increase awareness and safety best practice across the group. Tangible results groupwide to date include:

  • Increased Safety Compliance
  • Increased Corrective Safety Actions
  • Increased Staff Awareness and Safe Behaviours
  • Improved Manager Safety Leadership
  • Increased Safety Audit Scores
  • Reduced Accidents / Incidents

“The H2 Group has made a significant improvement in its awareness, understanding and management of H&S standards since we began working with them in 2016. H2 Group management at HQ and at site-level have really bought into the Risk Management Programme and are leading the charge on H&S best practice. New risk management systems always take time to evolve and become part of the culture and daily staff behaviours, but we are seeing this take hold within the H2 Group, and the results are reflective of this.”. Dr. Paul Cummins, Managing Director SeaChange Ltd.

“The SeaChange partnership is a ‘One-Stop Shop’ for all of our H&S needs. The interactive and visual system plus SeaChange’s expert audits and account management has led our group to experience reduced accidents, claims and insurance premium rates across our group of petrol forecourt retail stores. We recently received a significant reduction in our insurance premium rates based on our performance in the SeaChange SABRE™ Annual Audit which positions and benchmarks how good Safety Culture is on site” Sean Heaphy, Managing Director, H2 Group.

In conclusion H2 Group has moved to a proactive place by investing in safety culture systems and consultancy through SeaChange. H2 group is always focused on continuous improvement from an operations perspective and adopt innovative solutions that lead to real change. Safety culture is a moving feast, and the evolution is never-ending but H2 Group is leading the way in the petrol forecourt retail space and are reaping the rewards as a result in terms of increased staff awareness, reduced accidents and managed claims/ insurance premium rates.


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