Rewarding leadership and strategic vision of CEOs who have made a vital contribution to health and safety of their business and to the wider society during 2021. This award recognises how an individual CEO takes an active role in aligning and championing their organisation’s health, safety and wellbeing interests with their internal and external stakeholders.

James Cumming, as well as managing his own company, supports over 150 clients in different sectors, mainly construction as this is his specialist area and background for over 25 years.

As we know, 2021 was challenging for many businesses and James had to step up to provide many of his clients with emotional support as well as technical and safety advice. As the pandemic took hold and affected so many people, more clients were consulting with James to get advice and help (existing and new clients).  Managing Directors were dealing with high levels of unprecedented stress, and often unable to talk about this to any of their staff so James made it a priority to check in with as many clients as possible and particularly his retained clients to check their mental health. Some clients were having to seriously consider closing their businesses due to the impact of COVID-19, yet with regular support and encouragement from James, the majority of them made it through to 2022.  These were well-established, successful businesses, being severely impacted by the pandemic and the Government restrictions.  James made it his business to fulfil his own objective of providing ‘simple safety advice’ and always striving to find solutions to the ever growing problems that clients were faced with, e.g. staff illness, restrictions on travel and work, adapting workplace environments, implementing additional safety procedures (masks) and revising risk assessments and method statements to protect workers and visitors to sites/offices.

James quickly identified that he was needed for much more than just safety support and he was able to rise to the challenge that his clients were presenting him with.  James took the following action:

  1. He sourced and purchased 50,000 COVID test kits to ensure all his clients had access to reliable tests to enable them to keep working, as required for their businesses
  2. He kept up to date with the latest COVID-19 Government Guidance and shared this regularly with clients to support their day to day operations, also providing information on scenarios and how companies were dealing with them to try and establish good practice
  3. He made regular phone calls to clients to check in on them and offer support or just a friendly ear for them to share their issues.  He called companies of all sizes and at all hours; am or pm
  4. He shared information on how companies were adapting their workplaces to support staff, i.e. working from home, zoom calls and one client established a ‘common room’ where children could safely stay whilst their parents worked on a rota (cleaning rooms in between use).
  5. He read up on mental health and shared information on other organisations that could offer further support
  6. He provided COVID-19 risk assessments and reviewed client documentation (often for free) to ensure they worked safely and remained compliant with legislations
  7. He provided a COVID-19 safety pack to business to remind them of their duties, i.e. posters to log into the NHS track and trace system, providing hand sanitizers, use of masks, adapting workplace environments, appointing a COVID-19 officer, dealing with client requests to adapt working procedures and checking team next of kin details
  8. He created a partnership with an HR company to provide specialist advice with particularly sensitive staff issues, including health assessments
  9. He completed site audits remotely, using zoom, to support site managers and check that additional safety procedures were being adhered to.  Some clients requested more frequent audits to ensure new safety measures were being consistently implemented
  10. James provided additional support to operatives and site managers as well as Directors as more conflict was appearing on site as workers argued over issues such as wearing masks and completing regular tests.  James was able to intervene and provide further information on why these requirements were so important
  11. James was able to facilitate meetings with clients and key stakeholders on ‘appropriate measures’ that could or could not be implemented to protect all parties, i.e. building sites that did not want to close as they were behind schedule, but had an outbreak of positive cases
  12. James secured reduced rates from a safety supplier for PPE and face fit training and testing.

In line with our company mission, everyday we strive to provide pragmatic health and safety advice to our clients and be a source of inspiration and a thought leader in the field of health and safety management.  We create value for our clients through all of our activities and constantly look for new and innovative ways that help our clients manage their health and safety agenda.

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