Keeping workplaces safe is about much more than just rules and regulations, according to Paul Cummins, chief executive at Seachange.
The Kildare company, set up 15 years ago by his parents Ger and Tempy, combines technology with behavioural science to help companies maintain safe standards for staff and customers.
“My parents set up Seachange because my father Ger was frustrated with how the traditional ‘box-ticking’ approach to health and safety really had very little impact on organisational culture,” Cummins said.
“Compliance is really important, but having a safety statement that gathers dust on a shelf will have absolutely no impact on the realities of health and safety, be it the shop floor, the hotel floor or the factory floor. That’s where the risk is. It is about people and their behaviour.”
Seachange has developed a suite of digital products designed to help companies identify and manage health and safety risks ranging from on-site accidents to wrongful arrest.
Its Visual Risk system uses visual learning to support safety awareness training. Caygo is designed to improve housekeeping standards and manage the risk of ‘slip, trip and fall’ accidents in high-footfall sectors, such as retail and hospitality. The Safety Culture Footprint system, meanwhile, helps pharmaceutical companies and other manufacturers to improve their safety culture.
“In the corporate sector, health and safety risks tend to depend on what the company does and the machinery, equipment or processes they have,” Cummins said.
“In high-footfall sectors, you can split the main risk factors between employee liability and public liability.
“On the employee side, manual handling is one of the biggest risks. On the public liability side, it’s ‘slip, trip and fall’ accidents and wrongful arrest.”
Seachange works with clients, including Aldi, CBRE and SK Biotek, across 1,200 sites in the Irish market.
“Our focus is really on ensuring that staff are engaged in the safety process,” Cummins said.
“You find that the staff in a lot of companies have this perception that health and safety is a bit over the top, that it’s too much and it gets in the way of them doing their job.
“We try to get around those attitudes and take more of a bottom-up approach, engaging staff with monthly meetings, KPIs and rewards.”
Seachange launched its newest safety programme, Ready Steady Go, in March in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We knew as soon as the pandemic hit that we had to take immediate action,” Cummins said.
“We got everyone together, explained our plan of action and shifted our entire focus to the development of Covid-19 solutions.”
Seachange is now working with clients around the country to prepare for, and implement, the government’s Return to Work Safely Protocol.
“Our schedule is full right through to the end of July. We’re going out to client sites to do Covid-19 risk assessments, making sure they’re compliant with the protocol,” Cummins said.
“We’ve created a certified Covid-19 safety champion training course, which essentially ticks the requirement for a lead worker representative.
“We’ve put together a Covid-19 rapid response programme, so that companies know how to respond if they have a suspected Covid-19 case on-site and we’ve also adapted our software to help them train staff on things like cleaning procedures and tracking and reporting.
“We’ve actually never been busier and that’s because health and safety, probably for the first time in human history, is now completely related to a company’s ability to reopen and trade.”
Seachange employs 25 people in Naas and is a client company of Enterprise Ireland, the state agency.