Cougar Automation Ltd
- No. of employees: 41
- Business sector: Information technology
- Business activities: Writing industrial software
- Stakeholders: Directors, employees, customers
- Location: Hampshire and Leeds
Cougar Automation more than halved sickness absence and improved staff retention by putting health and safety at the heart of their business.
Following a management buyout, the directors of Cougar Automation changed the structure of the organisation and refocused the business. The regional director became responsible for health and safety and undertook NEBOSH (National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health) training. The focus was now on improving performance and controlling costs.
What did the company do?
The operations director completed a NEBOSH course and then set about overhauling systems and procedures. He introduced:
- Incident reporting for near misses
- In house training courses
- Stress initiative and awareness programme
- Site and electrical health and safety competence tests, which all employees have to pass before they can go on site.
- Active monitoring of health and safety compliance and performance including monthly inspections and annual audit by insurers
- Substantial reduction in average absence rates from 11.9 days per employee (2002) to 5.2 days per employee (2005)
- Significant savings achieved by bringing health and safety training in-house
- Repeat business from existing clients
- Winning new business because of excellent health and safety management which sets Cougar apart from competitors
- Excellent staff retention – hence reduction in costs of recruitment and training
Health and safety benefits
- Cougar have never had any reportable accidents. Before these new initiatives the potential for accidents was increasing
- A less stressed workforce
- Significant reduction in absence due to illness
'The benefits to our business of revolutionising our health and safety systems and placing it at the heart of what we do are very extensive. We now have higher staff morale and lower sickness. It also significantly helps in retaining existing customers and sets us apart when winning new business, helping the company to expand.'
John Purnell, Regional Director (and Health and Safety Officer)
Cougar have won RoSPA gold awards two years 2004/5 in a row. They were highly commended by Norwich Union in 2005 for excellence in health and safety at work. This has helped raise their profile and sets Cougar apart from competitors. They accredit this success to them sharing a similar attitude to health and safety as large multinationals. As a result, large companies have confidence in Cougar. The costs involved were limited to time and initial training in NEBOSH (approx £1500). This has saved Cougar the cost of employing external training consultants while improving performance.
By bringing health and safety expertise in house, Cougar have reduced their overall overhead costs and produced a system that is user friendly and focussed on the business. It gives the Cougar team the confidence that the directors believe in keeping them healthy and safe and are not just paying lip service to legal requirements.
The benefits include vastly improved morale – employees believe that what they say will be acted upon and investigated. The changes have led to people being empowered to act on health and safety concerns. The ongoing training programmes have raised employee awareness and knowledge of health and safety. They now take responsibility and are accountable for their own and colleagues' actions. The result has been cost savings and improved health and safety which have helped to secure the long term financial viability of the company.
Communication and consultation included:
- Health, safety and welfare staff notice board
- Quarterly health and safety officer and health and safety manager meetings
- Quarterly meeting of employee safety committee
- Health and safety discussion at company-wide two monthly Compass meeting
- Posters around the office particularly on entry and exit doors
- User-friendly and thorough intranet site including all company health and safety documents and many HSE guidance documents
- One-to-one and team meetings
- Internal training
- Competency assessments
- Declaration forms.
'It is a novelty working at Cougar, where health and safety really takes first place. It keeps us safe and secure in our jobs because we really do stand ahead of competitors, it keeps the company both financially and physically healthy.'
James Clarke, Representative of Employee Safety Train to Gain