Things we’ve taken away from housebuilder magazine’s annual SWOT analysis

You may have noticed that our latest blogs and discussions have been quite heavily focused on the home building industry. You might assume that construction of any type is somewhat of a dicey area to work in, and you’d be one hundred per cent correct, what with all the heavy machinery and working from heights to contend with. It follows then, that the sector has one of the highest accident and fatality rates in the UK (and arguably one of the poorest incident reporting rates). Here at Logincident, we believe that the health, safety and wellbeing of the house building workforce should be at the very core of all business operations and we’re passionate about bringing this to the fore.

With a vested interest in all things home construction, naturally, we’re avid readers of the industry-leading housebuilder magazine. What’s more, at Logincident HQ we were eagerly awaiting the release of their annual SWOT analysis; including the views of an expert panel on the strengths (S), weaknesses (W), opportunities (O) and threats (T) the house building industry currently faces.

We find a little background always helps: As well as having their pulse on fascinating industry insights, market trends, government initiatives and the like, housebuilder place themselves at the heart of the home building industry (unsurprising, given the title!). The magazine was launched seventy years ago and provides quality editorial on all the above plus planning, technical issues, regulations, product innovation and more. The magazine is at the core of their business, and is supported by a super informative, daily updated website.

If you work in the home construction industry, or are perhaps undergoing renovations or extending your home, you’ll be in no way surprised to learn that a recurring theme in the analysis was the exponential rise in building materials coupled with material shortages. On top of that, a post-Brexit Britain exposed a skills shortage that inflicted additional threats to the industry. In a similar way, delays to planning and local government politics surrounding land were touted as the sector’s biggest weakness in 2021.

Underlying demand topped the strengths section. The government’s hugely popular stamp duty holiday that ends in September 2021 has had an undeniably positive correlation with the surge, the initiative saw buyers benefitting from as little as zero stamp duty for properties valued under £500,000.

Net zero and the government’s future home standard are finding their way to the top of many business agendas. As a result, the UK housing market’s equivalent to the space race, to build low carbon and subsequently carbon free homes has begun. Environmental factors were mentioned by the majority of expert panelists when discussing opportunities for the market to better position itself.

So, where did health and safety as well as incident reporting fit into the report? We were a little disappointed to learn that health and safety was only briefly touched upon by the industry bigwigs. The fallout after the utterly tragic Grenfell Tower fire has quite rightly resulted in more stringent fire safety guidance and regulations on cladding used in similar builds but there wasn’t any airtime given to opportunities to improve the health and safety of the workforce or minimizing risk in the home building industry in the final analysis.

Let’s be fair, with the government setting very real targets for offsetting and reducing carbon in home building by as soon as 2023, it’s completely understandable why these factors seemed to eclipse health and safety reporting as opportunities for the industry to grow and improve.

But, we know through our work that digitalised reporting can improve the bottom line of businesses through minimized risk and in turn, a decrease in workplace accidents. Safer working environments mean healthier, happier workers and healthier, happier workers take less time off sick through physical or mental injury, have better morale and are generally more efficient. A win-win don’t you think?

We understand that leaving well-established, traditional methods of health and safety incident reporting behind is a huge step but once the benefits such as streamlined, relevant data are neatly transported into the palm of your hand (or your desktop, tablet, laptop whichever you prefer!) the process will seem a lot less daunting.

Dancing with danger: Why you should always report a near miss

There are a few different schools of thought on what constitutes a ‘near miss’s in the world of workplace incidents but the general consensus is that a near miss is exactly what it sounds like; almost an accident. A close call. Officially, The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines a near miss as “an event not causing harm, but has the potential to cause injury or ill health.”

It’s absolutely crucial for the health, safety and wellbeing of your employees that you instill a sense of responsibility from the top down when it comes to making sure near misses are not ignored. If near misses are treated as major warnings or red flags rather than simple ‘lucky escapes’ to laugh off with colleagues, it’s highly likely that your dangerous occurrence rate will decrease because parameters leading up to the near miss can be properly investigated, and in turn, future risk minimised.

Additionally, it’s vital that you implement a very clear protocol for reporting near misses and in doing so, dangerous situations can be prevented from reoccurring and hazards (we’ll touch more on hazards shortly) that maybe hadn’t been considered before are exposed.

The UK’s government agency responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare estimates that there are around ninety near misses that precede every workplace accident, which is quite an alarming statistic. In plain English, it means that before it happened there were up to ninety opportunities to avoid an incident resulting in an injury of any kind or worse, a fatality.

Tell us again why near misses aren’t worth reporting? Can you imagine if a near miss was reported the first, fifth, even the fortieth time before an accident occurred? What lives plagued with injury could have been lived to the full? How many lives could have potentially been saved? Even if it’s just one, reporting a near miss is worth doing.

It’s nuanced and the two words are often confused but yes, there’s a difference. A hazard is an object or situation that could cause injury or harm to the workforce, the environment or to property. A near miss is an incident that could cause injury or harm to the workforce, the environment or to property. To further explain the similarities but also the differences, imagine someone, let’s call them worker A, is working at a height without a helmet, they slip and almost fall. The obvious hazard in this situation is the not wearing of a helmet. The near miss is that they almost fell while not wearing adequate PPE, but didn’t.

We know that once the near miss has been reported, ideally, a full investigation detailing the date and time, how the near miss happened and what can be done to prevent reoccurrence should take place. In reality, worker A thanks their lucky stars, laughs it off with colleagues, maybe buys a lottery ticket, but does nothing about it in terms of reporting.

The next week, worker B thinks health and safety is lax because they’ve seen some of their colleagues without helmets and doesn’t wear one. While working at a height, they slip and fall, resulting in bad concussion and a broken leg; they cannot work for three months. The business is impacted financially, production slows down and worker B now suffers from depression because they are unable to support their family.

The moral of our little anecdote is that near misses (and hazards) should always be reported. If worker A had access to smart health and safety reporting software and knew how to use it, it’s highly probable that worker B would have worn a helmet and the unstable scaffolding board that caused both workers to slip but one to actually fall would have been replaced.

Is it time to think about how to reduce the number of dangerous occurrences that happen in your workplace? Or, are you looking to overhaul how your company reports hazards, accidents and near misses? What if we told you an app on a smartphone could send data to a bespoke dashboard and generate a report within seconds of an incident taking place, wouldn’t that save a lot of time and money! But most important of all, a smart reporting system can minimise risk in the workplace.

Start your journey into digitalized incident reporting by getting in touch with us, today.