Case Study – Changing the mind-set around health and safety reporting

Safety Triangle

Over the past 12 months, we have seen a step change in the frequency and quality of safety reporting, in this case study, we look at how this improvement has been achieved.

At Panton McLeod, our company aim is to run a profitable company, that improves water quality and the environment, where our people love to work.

We believe a company where people love to work is one that can provide meaningful employment, promoting continual personal and professional development in a safe environment.

As a specialist engineering company working in and around potable water treatment and distribution systems, and travelling extensively to serve the whole of the UK and Ireland there is potential for our teams to be exposed to many varied hazards.

These hazards must be managed to ensure the safe environment is maintained.

Countless studies have proven that regular hazard identification and reporting from all areas of the workforce improves the control and prevention of accidents.

And although we are very proud of staff engagement levels, one area where we were finding a disconnect was trying to encourage our teams to submit near-miss reports.

At a recent Health and Safety Best Practice meeting hosted by one of our clients, we were happy to report that we had seen a significant increase in the frequency and quality of these reports.

By talking to other attendees, we realised we were not alone in experiencing this challenge and we were asked to share our main learning points on the journey to achieve this improvement.

Gary Flockhart, SHEQ Manager, explains how the changes were implemented “It was not until we were put on the spot and spent some time explaining the steps taken (as simple as they may seem) to an external audience that we realised how different the system had become over the period.”

“Our goal has always been that within our values-driven culture; that teams submit safety observations because they are empowered to do so, want to improve safety for all stakeholders and are confident in our intentions to use the information appropriately.”

“Therefore, we do not (and have never) set a target for the teams to meet. The fact that reports are submitted because the teams wanted to let us know what they were finding is key.”

“But it wasn’t until we made some very simple changes to the reporting system that reporting levels increased.”

“In 2014 and 2015 we had 24 and 12 near miss reports, during 2016 we made these changes and the number rose to 84 across the full year, by continuing with these changes we have already seen 35 safety observations within the first 10 weeks of 2017, and if this rate continues we could have around 182 by the end of the year.”

“We have identified the following 6 key actions, each of these steps were quick, easy and cost-effective in application.”

Perception – We changed the name of the reporting form from “near miss report” to “safety observation”. This has had the effect of changing the perception of our site teams from making a “formal” report to highlighting any issue that they have seen.
Differentiation – We printed the form on 90g paper in A5 instead of the standard 80g A4. This differentiates the form from all of the other on site paperwork that needs to be completed.
Simplification – We changed the layout of the form so that as much information as possible was filled in using tick boxes. This makes the form simpler and quicker to complete while still collecting the relevant information.
Anonymity – We included a signature block on the bottom but removed the absolute requirement for this to be completed. (However, of the 84 received last year only 2 were unsigned).
Feedback – Wherever possible, we provide feedback on the outcomes that have resulted from the forms submitted to demonstrate that they are a valuable source of information and can have a positive impact on the safety of our employees.
Encouragement – We continue to encourage the submission of the form through briefings and e-mails and highlight the improvements that have been made as a result of them.

Jim Panton gives his thoughts on this initiative, “Over the past 5 years we have built an exceptional team here at Panton McLeod and it is critical to both our success and the performance of our clients. Protecting and developing this team is the most important part of my role as CEO.”

“Gary and the whole team have been brilliant in the way they have managed this transformation, and contributed to making our working practices safer.”

For more information, contact the team on 01896 663 330 or email

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