Staffie cross Bruno takes a break at Ecology Consultancy.

When we held our learning event series ‘Putting the health back into health and safety’ in November we asked our members to lead the discussion by sharing their experiences. Turns out there’s a lot going on! Want to know how your pet dog, a positive mental health champion, or a safety bus can improve your health and wellbeing?

Canine optimism beats the gloom

You’ve heard of ‘bring your child to work’ schemes, but how about bringing your dog into work with you? Ecology Consultancy’s 40 strong London workforce were finding the winter months long and gloomy, so a few dog-owners came up with the idea of bringing their canine family members to work. They thought it would boost morale and raise everyone’s spirits at the darkest time of the year.  It would also encourage people to get away from their desks, to walk the dogs during the day. 

Staff were consulted to make sure there were no allergies or objections, and the office lease checked to ensure that dogs were allowed on the premises. After getting the green light, some ground rules were set – dogs had to be house trained, well behaved and happy to be around people. Four dogs now take turns to visit the office, where they can usually be found asleep under a desk or ‘helping’ with work. 

Jane Kendall, Head of Support Services, says:

“We are usually out of the office during the summer months, but during the winter these regular visitors generally make all of us happier and keep us entertained.”

The canine staff members are: Lacey, a Cocker Spaniel; black Labrador Henry; Bruno, a Staffie cross; and Hungarian Viszla Huxley.  

For more information about the scheme, contact Jane Kendall at jane@ecologyconsultancy.co.uk

Mental Health Champions improve performance at Jacobs Engineering

Many organisations work hard to put mental health on a parity with physical wellbeing in their organisations. Progressive managers recognise that mentally well staff are more productive and less likely to leave – meaning a healthier bottom line. And clients want to work with companies who take their staff wellbeing seriously. But while things are changing, mental health is still a taboo subject for many. The toughest challenge can be getting staff to open up.

Recognising this, Jacobs Engineering introduced Positive Mental Health Champions in 2016. These volunteers come from across the organisation, to lend an ear to colleagues experiencing a mental health issue. They are trained to spot signs and to intervene effectively, signposting people who are struggling to other resources which might help them, and helping those returning after a period of mental ill health to settle back into work. Champions also work to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental health.      

Jacobs Engineering’s Health and Safety Manager Matthew Beardsworth told CIRAS:

“We have recruited around 1,100 Positive Mental Health Champions worldwide, as part of our wider ‘Mental Health Matters’ programme. We’ve seen a reduction in long term absence, increased use of our Employee Assistance Programme and fewer insurance claims.”

For more information contact Matthew on matthew.beardsworth@jacobs.com

QTS safety bus offers a cost-effective solution

How do you support the welfare of staff effectively - when they are scattered across different sites? The answer is to go to them!  

Since Network Rail discontinued its safety bus, several CIRAS members have deployed their own – amongst them Lanarkshire-based QTS Group Ltd. The QTS ‘safety bus’ has been on the road for three years. Fitted with seating for around eight people, full audio-visual kit and a mini kitchen, it’s perfect for safety briefings, wellbeing sessions and a quick cuppa. The bus has been all over the UK, delivering safety campaigns such as on winter working, welfare sessions, health testing with an onsite nurse, and safety training. It’s even been deployed to the site of a derailment to provide support for staff involved in clear up works. 

QTS’ Occupational Health Manager Carolyn Roberts says:

“Since we started using the bus we have reached approx. 500 staff across the UK. It’s not just QTS people – we also welcome other site contractors to enjoy the benefits of this mobile space. It shows our people that we value them and provides a practical way to have face to face conversations – such as talking about mental wellbeing. 

"We think we’re seeing a great return on our investment. The bus cost £18k to purchase and fit out. To get the kind of coverage and contact we’ve achieved by other means would have cost much more in terms of travel costs and lost production.” 

For more information contact Carolyn Roberts, at Carolyn@qtsgroup.com