Below is a transcript of Christian Harris’ appearance on the Mastering Risk Management Podcast in January 2020.
Anthony Wilson: Well, hello everybody, and a happy new year for 2020. This is the first Mastering Risk Management podcast for the new year. I hope you had a great festive season and your new year has started off well.
Anthony Wilson: Today is episode number 22, and we’re going to talk to a gentleman from the UK. He’s going to give us some insights into his specific area of risk management. So really looking forward to that.
Anthony Wilson: Also, just worth acknowledging, the bushfire crisis here in Australia at the moment, terrible experiences by people all over the nation at the moment, particularly in New South Wales and Victoria, that are affected by these fires. I guess we’re seeing nature at its worst, and risks really being realized and brought to life.
Anthony Wilson: We’re also seeing a good side of people as well in massive amounts of money being donated. And just great human empathy supporting each other and getting each other through difficult times.
Anthony Wilson: I just wanted to acknowledge that and say thank you, especially to the firefighters and all the volunteers that work to help others out. It’s a fantastic effort, and really shows how people can rally around as a community in tough times.
Anthony Wilson: But anyway, on with today’s program. We are talking to Christian Harris. Christian is the founder and owner of a business called Slip Safety. He operates, as I said earlier, in the UK.
Anthony Wilson: Slip Safety, as you can imagine, it’s a business that’s centered around preventing those inevitable slips that can occur on surfaces in some businesses. Particularly retail, which is my background, but shopping centers and public places, the slip hazard is not only real but it’s quite expensive for organizations as well if it’s not managed well.
Anthony Wilson: Christian is the expert in the field. So let’s have a chat with him about his business.
Anthony Wilson: Okay. So welcome Christian to the program and thanks for making time for us today. Maybe before we get into too much detail and too many questions, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Christian H.: Thanks for having me on the show. It’s a pleasure to join you from a glamorous car park in Southampton on the south coast of the UK.
Christian H.: My business is called Slip Safety Services, so hopefully listeners will have an idea of what we do based on the name of the company. But essentially, we are a specialist in floor safety, particularly in the prevention of slipping accidents.
Christian H.: We work with and partner with a number of interested parties such as floor suppliers, insurance companies, brokers, lawyers, facilities management companies, and so on and so forth. And help to deliver services out to their clients and educate their clients and so on and so forth.
Christian H.: Another interesting thing which is fairly unique to us certainly in the UK, is through our partnerships with the insurance, we were able often to get our funding for our work. So a piece of work that might normally cost £5000 to the end customer might only cost £2500 because their insurer will contribute towards the cost.
Anthony Wilson: Right, right. Is your scope the whole of the UK?
Christian H.: Yeah. We operate across the UK. We often get inquiries from all sorts of random places throughout the world too, in part thanks to appearing on shows like this, which obviously go onto the internet and can be heard by anybody around the world.
Christian H.: So we have some different kind of self-help tools and lots of content, educational content that’s applicable to people wherever they are. But in terms of physically doing stuff, it’s primarily the UK.
Christian H.: We have done bits and bobs in other countries, but obviously that’s at a bit of a premium cost, because we’re not necessarily set up to do that. We can go anywhere and do anything, but we need to just then cover our time and travel and all that other stuff.
Anthony Wilson: Sure, sure. No, that’s fair enough. Okay. Well thank you for that background, and we might explore some of the specifics that your company does a little bit later on.
Anthony Wilson: Maybe to start with for the listeners, this is a fairly specialist area of risk management that you work in, but I think it’s good for us to try and cover as broad a range as possible for our listeners. But maybe first just to give us a little bit of background about how you got into the field and what career path led you to where you are today.
Christian H.: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I did French at university and haven’t used my French at all since really. And then I had a couple of entrepreneurial things that I’d done, both before, during and after university.
Christian H.: But I then settled on going into a kind of general management consultancy role, because I felt like that would give me a good grounding in different sectors and how business really worked, and so on and so forth. So I did that for about three years.
Christian H.: Then I got a little bit, I wouldn’t say bored is the right word, but it got a bit monotonous from the perspective of, every single day was the same. And I kind of like having some variety in life on the one hand. On the other hand, I wanted to get involved in a “real business.”
Christian H.: I started doing a bit of research and thinking about what I actually wanted to do. One of the things I was really keen on was making a bit of a difference in the world.
Christian H.: Lots of my friends, I mean, my wife is a lawyer, lots of my friends are lawyers and bankers and private equity and accountants. So there’s nothing wrong with that, that’s great. But actually I really wanted to find something where I could be passionate about what I was doing and feel as if I was making a positive impact on the world on a daily basis.
Christian H.: Came across this niche of slips, trips and falls where there was then and there still is a really big problem in terms of it’s the biggest cause of accidents in most sectors. It’s the biggest cause of insurance claims by volume and value in most sectors.
Christian H.: But yet there’s this kind of unmet need because nobody was really dealing with it, it seemed to me, particularly well. Just became really interested in this, and I’ve been working in this field for the last decade.
Anthony Wilson: Yeah. Right, right. And-
Christian H.: I don’t have a health and safety background, a former health and safety background, or anything like that. But it’s something I’ve obviously learned a hell of a lot as I’ve been going along.
Christian H.: I didn’t know anything about how insurance really worked before. Well, I did a small piece of work in the consultancy around post car accident insurance, so I knew a little bit about the insurance cycle and things like that.
Christian H.: But I’ve now got a much deeper understanding of things like the insurance cycle, which is an interesting thing happening in the UK certainly now and in Ireland and places like that, we’re seeing a hardening market. So our rates are going up and risk management is becoming more and more to the forefront.
Christian H.: So developed a huge amount of understanding around the wider context of risk management, as well obviously as a very, very deep understanding about my core subject.
Anthony Wilson: Yeah. Okay. No, that’s great. And some familiar themes with some of the other guests too. Risk or the related field, risk field that they’re in is not their first sort of port of call. They weren’t sitting in the final years of schooling thinking, “I want to be a risk manager.”
Anthony Wilson: But have had some experience of the world and seen… I guess one of the things that, like myself working in the field, is that the variety and the continual change and continual challenges, and really a lot of satisfaction in getting on top of some of those challenges and helping make a difference. So that sounds-
Christian H.: Absolutely. I can certainly say with 100% accuracy that I didn’t grow up at school wanting to be on my hands and knees scrubbing toilet floors for a living. So yeah, that’s for sure.
Anthony Wilson: I must say at this point too, Christian, that I did spend a lot of my life, working life at least, in Australia’s largest retailer, Woolworths. One of my responsibilities at one point was the management of the public liability claims. So slips, trips and falls is a subject very dear to my heart. So I applaud your efforts in this space. Because as you say, there’s certainly a big demand out there for solutions to this challenge.
Christian H.: So that’s interesting. What did you feel… because I’ve been to some of their stores, I visited Australia a few years ago when my eldest son was about nine months old, and my wife was on maternity leave.
Christian H.: We did about a month touring around some of the sites and visited some stores there. They’re very similar to supermarkets in other countries as well. What did you feel were your key factors that drove accidents or claims in the stores?
Anthony Wilson: Yeah. I think, well, probably the biggest problem was just lack of awareness of staff in a lot of cases and management of those stores, just to be aware of the problem.
Anthony Wilson: That’s not critical of them per se, because there’s always budget restrictions and hours that are a challenge. But I think there was a real awareness challenge in making people aware of just how easy it is for that situation to develop where someone could slip and be seriously hurt.
Anthony Wilson: We really had to think about engaging people’s hearts and minds as it were in the challenge, and talking about what would happen if this was your mother that came in and slipped over, those sort of things.
Anthony Wilson: There was very much an awareness campaign. And there’s certainly all the other things that I expect you will probably talk about a little bit later on as well about special floor surfaces and technology that you can use to assist with the problem.
Anthony Wilson: We were investigating a technology at one stage which was the equivalent I think they use in terrorist attacks now to detect something that’s been on the floor for a period of time immobile. So it will flag an alert that says, hey, this thing’s been on the floor for some period of time.
Anthony Wilson: Now in the terrorist situation they’re looking for a bomb or a bag that’s been abandoned. But in our situation it was a puddle of water, or a grape, or a lettuce leaf, or whatever it was that could potentially present the dramas. Yeah.
Christian H.: Yeah. It’s interesting. One of the most high profile cases of a serious slip in the UK was in a supermarket in 2015 where a gentleman basically slipped over, banged the back of his head, and died a few hours later as a result.
Christian H.: That was interesting obviously because of the severity, but also it was one of the first cases, high prior profile cases to go to trial in the criminal system after we had changed our health and safety sentencing guidelines.
Christian H.: In 2016 the government decided to increase the level of fines, or seek to increase the level of fines to try to… basically before the changes, if my business, which is very small or a large supermarket, we’re charged with the same thing, we’d probably get fined the same amount of money. Which they felt was unfair to other smaller businesses compared to larger ones. So they changed the structure.
Christian H.: This case effectively led to a £400000 fine. That’s quite a lot of money in anyone’s terms. This was a multi-billion turnover business. That was an interesting one. I was involved in that from the perspective of going in actually after the event, which is a bit of an eerie one, going in and doing an assessment, which was part of the legal case.
Anthony Wilson: Yeah. Yeah. That would have been quite challenging. Speaking of that, what are the… this is a field where I think you’d go home at after a day’s work and be very satisfied with what you’ve done, or you’d go home and be a bit frustrated. What are the highs and lows? What are the challenges? What are the things you find most rewarding about what it is you do?
Christian H.: I would say the biggest challenge that I’ve faced is probably, echoing the points that you made around awareness and budgeting.
Christian H.: The biggest issue I face I suppose is that people either don’t understand the severity of the potential risk associated with somebody having a slip, trip or fall, or they don’t understand the depth of things that you can look at to try and solve the problem. And therefore, they look at it superficially. So budget isn’t allocated, and time isn’t invested, and that’s why these kind of issues perpetuate.
Christian H.: In terms of the highs, I suppose what we do is really about trying to drive measurable outcomes for people. So going in and helping them to really understand and quantify to what extent they’ve got a problem, and then what they can do about it. But then actually saying, well, let’s help you do it. Let’s hold your hand. Let’s work with you over a period of time and track the results.
Christian H.: The best thing for me is when we work with the clients and we see as we have a hotel that was having several slips in their bathtubs a week, now has under 10 a year, or a leisure center operator that was having one insurance claim a week now has one a month. It’s those kinds of things that, those are the highs for us, where we’re actually shown evidence that our work has made a real tangible impact.
Anthony Wilson: That’s fantastic. That’s fantastic. what sort of things are you doing? We spoke about some tech solutions and some floor surfaces. What are the sort of things you’re doing to get those phenomenal results?
Anthony Wilson: I mean, it is, I’m going to say, it’s very satisfying when you see a person or an organization actually get it. And you know from the statistics that 20 people have gone home safe this week, this month, whatever it is, because people are aware and [crosstalk 00:16:18] things.
Anthony Wilson: What are the sorts of things that you help organizations out with, the things that you do that get this wonderful traction?
Christian H.: I think I mentioned that people look at their [inaudible 00:16:32] in a superficial way. So the first thing that we’ve tried to do is to develop a framework so people can understand actually what they really need to consider holistically to try to understand them and solve the problem.
Christian H.: We effectively, the first stage I guess of any interaction with somebody is trying to run through this framework with them so they can understand, okay, how do they fit on all of these factors?
Christian H.: Then we can take appropriate actions to remedy certain things there and track the results and stuff. That’s called CHIMES, C-H-I-M-E-S. I’ll run through what each of them means, and then you’ll kind of understand I guess how it works.
Christian H.: C is for, and this is all about really, why does a slip happen. We focus on slips because trips tends to be more around very basic counseling team or building fabric and things like that. So there’s not much depth to it. It’s just about keeping things tidy.
Anthony Wilson: Yes. Yes.
Christian H.: So C is for contamination. You can’t have a slip without some sort of contamination being present, whether that’s on the floor or on the person’s heel. So that could be water ingress from outside, it could be a spillage, it could be a grate, it could be grease, or it could be dust, or whatever it might be.
Christian H.: So contamination. So to what extent are you able to control the level of contamination on your floor? And ideally obviously eliminate it as much as possible if you can.
Christian H.: H is for heel. You can’t have a slip without somebody’s foot touching the floor clearly. Let’s understand what the heel aspects of this means. In cases where you can control that, in other words, staff, let’s think about how we can do that best. And in cases where you can’t control it, let’s make sure that we plan for the worst case scenario.
Christian H.: We see a lot of someone, a lady flips over, she was wearing high heels. That was stupid of her. She should never have been wearing high heels. It’s her fault she slipped.
Christian H.: Well, hold on a second. Is there a law which bans you from wearing high heels in a supermarket? No. Is it foreseeable that someone’s going to wear heels? High heels? Yes. Well, therefore you should be mitigating the risk as much as you can to cater for that.
Christian H.: I is for individual, so all of the human factors. Now we can all walk on a slippery surface without slipping over, but we do so by changing our gait and changing our balance and spotting a hazard and taking a reactive action, and so on and so forth. Or we can almost slip but self-correct to avoid actually falling over.
Christian H.: So thinking about all of the things that can tie into whether or not the person is able to prevent that accident from happening themselves. Things like signage, distractions, noise. But also from a staff perspective more so, can we get people to be pushing less, pulling less, doing less twisting and turning, all these sorts of things?
Christian H.: M is for maintenance. Principally thinking about the maintenance of the environments and the floor surface in a lot of ways. So a lot of it would be around cleaning.
Christian H.: If we’ve got grease in the kitchen, can we ensure that our, the cleaning regime on that floor is sufficient to remove enough grease such that the floor is not slippery?
Christian H.: Can we ensure that floors are maintained from the perspective of wear? If you go to a church for example, you’ll see an old stone floor probably that’s worn away, and the slip resistance of that area that’s worn is going to be different to another part of the floor. So thinking about how we’re monitoring and maintaining floors over time.
Christian H.: E is for environment. So things like steps and stairs, slopes, lighting, canopies, matting, doorways. This whole kind of piece around the built environment.
Christian H.: But also I suppose where a floor is situated. So a floor in Manchester, let’s say an external floor in Manchester on a pavement, versus an external floor in Mauritius. They can have different environmental factors at play in terms of rain and humidity and so on and so forth.
Christian H.: S, the final one is S, which is the surface. Again, for a slip, okay, you need a foot, you need a surface. Can we understand to what extent our floor is slip resistant or not?
Christian H.: Lots of people say to me, “The floor was wet, it’s bound to be slippery.” “Well, hold on a second. Let’s take a step back here. Do you not accept that some surfaces are more slippery than others?” “Well yeah, of course.” “Okay. Well in that case, let’s just dig into this in a bit more depth.”
Christian H.: Can we choose the right floor? Can we choose the right floor for different environments? Et cetera, et cetera.
Christian H.: That model, that CHIMES model is a way of just getting people to stop looking at it superficially, and start getting into a bit more depth. Then depending on how people score I suppose on each of those factors, it might be that actually the best control measure is install some entrance matting, or it might be put in place some anti-slip footwear, or it could be rip up and replace your floor, or any number of things. But until we’ve actually looked at it holistically and in more depth, it’s very hard to know exactly which way to go.
Christian H.: That’s the kind of framework that we use. In terms of what we physically do as a company, we obviously help people with all of that stuff. We get involved in quantifying as much of that as we can.
Christian H.: Then we focus primarily on three of those six things, which is the surface, the floor surface, how it’s looked after and cleaned and maintained and the contamination on it. So much of our work is around helping people to specify the right flooring, specify the right [inaudible 00:23:00], and ensure that contamination doesn’t build up such that a slip would occur.
Anthony Wilson: Yeah. No, that’s great. That sounds like a really good model and framework to be looking at the challenge, and easy to understand for somebody. So if you’re trying to enlist local management, local teams in a site, to get on board with the journey, that’s a really good framework to be able to explain the complexity.
Christian H.: Yeah. I’ve spent far too many hours trying to play with words to come up with a good acronym. I’m pleased that it seems to have been successful.
Anthony Wilson: Yeah, yeah. Well, it’s certainly, I mean, half the battle with these things is people I think instinctively think, well, of course I know what a slip is.
Anthony Wilson: But when you sit down and help them with some of the science about the slip resistance and the conditions and even temperatures and humidities and all these contributing factors, it’s quite a lot more complicated than most people think.
Anthony Wilson: I think when you sit down and explain it to them, they appreciate the role that they can play in it, and how they can help achieve the right outcomes as well.
Christian H.: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It was interesting that you felt that your biggest challenge was a cultural one. I’m having a conversation with one of the supermarkets here and they would say the same.
Christian H.: I suppose my challenge back to that is, if you think about it, that individual is a key component in this, both in terms of does a person slip or not, but also what are individuals doing on a day-by-day basis to try to mitigate the risk?
Anthony Wilson: Absolutely.
Christian H.: What we try to do as much as we can is systemize and put in place processes and fail safes so that you as a client are not necessarily having to rely on your team following every single process the correct way every single day. Because you’re fallible. I’m fallible. We all make mistakes.
Christian H.: The more you can do around reducing the reliance on an individual to remember that they have to check that floor every 30 minutes. Because if the floor is sufficiently slip resistant that even if it’s wet it actually presents a very low risk, it means you don’t have to be checking it as thoroughly for example.
Christian H.: Because every time you’re getting a human involved, you’re obviously introducing a risk of it not being done properly and therefore that’s when these kind of systems can fall down.
Anthony Wilson: Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely.
Anthony Wilson: I do remember on one of my trips to the US, I caught up with a supermarket chain over there that had just introduced some technology that was GPS based and was effectively a tool to, you still need the human to put the old mark one eyeball on the floor and check that it was clear. But the technology actually drove them to do that behavior and plot the course that they actually took around the store in this particular case, and map that out.
Anthony Wilson: Particularly useful obviously if litigation subsequently arose because there’d been an incident, that you could show the judge that you’d done everything physically possible. Someone had been in the area. The floor was checked. All of those sort of things.
Anthony Wilson: So yeah, it’s a continual challenge I guess. If there is, as you say, if there’s a human in the loop, it does make it harder. But even nowadays some of those technology solutions can help address that as well.
Christian H.: Yeah. And you’re quite right, there’s two sides to this really. We focus a lot on trying to make a building safer to prevent accidents from happening.
Christian H.: Because obviously… I mean, I would never say to people we’re going to eliminate your accidents, but theoretically if you could eliminate your accidents, then it stands to reason that you wouldn’t have any claims either.
Christian H.: But there is the other aspect, which is being able to, as you say, evidence that you’ve taken, proactive steps you’ve taken. I mean here in here in the UK, the testers are doing things that are reasonable. Is it reasonable that you [inaudible 00:27:46] why? Being able to evidence that you’ve done that is very helpful in the event of a claim.
Christian H.: If you have company A which has a hundred accidents in a supermarket, but they’ve got no evidence of ever going through any sort of rigorous analysis of the root causes. They’ve not done any slip testing. They’ve not done any training, X, Y and Z, they’re not tracking what they’re doing, versus company B that still has a hundred accidents.
Christian H.: When it comes to the defense claims, company B, if they’ve got evidence of this, evidence of that, evidence of the other thing, they’re going to be in a much stronger position to defend a claim.
Christian H.: So yes, that’s still not great, because you’re still having accidents. But the cost to the business ramps up when you start having the claim costs added into the costs of dealing with accidents.
Christian H.: And particularly in the context of, as I said, a hardening insurance market where insurers are now looking to put up rates and try and actually make some profit for once on the casualty lines. Then if you’ve got the bad claims experience, you’re going to end up paying a lot more.
Anthony Wilson: Yeah. I think you’re right. That’s a really good point. There’s going to be a time where organizations potentially become uninsurable because their record’s so bad. And most importantly, they don’t appear to be doing anything about it.
Anthony Wilson: I guess it probably leads me to another question just around, how do you keep the business engaged on the journey? I mean, you mentioned some of the challenges. You’ve given a nice framework. Hopefully people get excited about that and understand, hey, I can actually make a difference.
Anthony Wilson: How do you keep them on board and how do you keep them understanding what value they get from this effort that they put in to reduce the risk of a slip? What sort of techniques are you using to keep people engaged? Particularly when you’re talking about 12 months down the track, or you’re coming around for the second round or whatever it is. How do you get that engagement?
Christian H.: Yeah. That’s a really good question actually. One of the really interesting things about what we do is that because of the kind of depth that we go into, we end up engaging with all sorts of people in a company, from potentially the CEO, but certainly the risk director or insurance director or safety director, all the way down to the janitor and everything in between. So we get quite a good perspective to what extent people are buying into this or not.
Christian H.: My experience is that people, 99.9% of people in whatever job they’re doing, in whatever country they are, and whatever sector want to do a good job. Where issues happen, it’s because they’re not given the tools and the support and so on and so forth to do that.
Christian H.: What we’ve tried to do is really keep that engagement going and keep that feedback loop going. Because if you can see there’s a success that’s coming through in terms of reduction of accident numbers, let’s make sure that good news is sent all the way down to the cleaning staff.
Christian H.: And actually they’re getting a pat on the back and some praise for actually their contribution towards that. Because if they hear nothing about it, they’ll probably slip back into old habits, excuse the pun.
Christian H.: That is not an easy thing to do, particularly when you’re speaking with larger clients, as you’ll know. Because the person who has the budget for cleaning and the person who has the budget for construction, and the person who has the budget for insurance, and the person that has the budget for cleanse, they’re all probably in different departments. They probably don’t speak to each other, and they probably don’t see each other’s numbers.
Christian H.: One of the key things is really trying to draw this together. Normally through somebody like an [SD 00:32:12], because they will be able to see all of this one way, shape or form.
Christian H.: I’m trying to just keep this kind of continual loop of information and hopefully good news going so that people will actually keep engaged with the process and keep on and keep doing it.
Christian H.: The other thing that we do is, we’ll go in, typically with clients what we do is we’ll go in every say six months to do some planned preventative maintenance work. Which will include slip testing the floor again and again and again.
Christian H.: Therefore, you’ve at least got that data being kept current as well. So if any issues are being flagged up, we’ll see them within a few months, and therefore we can take steps to address it as well.
Christian H.: We’re trying to add value by introducing some data, introducing a fresh pair of eyes, trying to keep that communication loop going. Does that make sense?
Anthony Wilson: Yeah, yeah. It does. I think you’ve touched on a really interesting point there, Christian. To a layman, probably a lot of people would say, what’s the value of data in something like a slips area or something like that?
Anthony Wilson: But I think it just rings true that organizations probably have more data than they can ever really deal with. There’s a hue and cry when you say, well, why don’t you try and quantify exactly what the risk is?
Anthony Wilson: Slips is certainly one area where there’s a stack of data in most organizations if you just look for it. You don’t need to do too much more. You just need to take the time to sit down and quantify it.
Anthony Wilson: Whilst it sounds a bit mercenary now, I don’t mean it to be, but at the end of the day can put up a very good argument for getting this stuff right based on the financials alone. Let alone what you might do to your mother or your father or your sister who comes shopping in a store if you don’t get this right. There’s a really good strong argument for a lot of these risk areas at the moment to get smarter on the use of data.
Christian H.: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. I think the key thing with data though is actually data is worthless on its own. The value is being able to draw the data together and understand it and produce insightful information that people can use.
Christian H.: We see a lot of, not in my field, but around, you see a lot of, “One in three people say this, and 20% of companies do that, and blah, blah, blah.”
Christian H.: I think people are a little bit blinded to pure statistics and data nowadays, particularly with things like graphics as [aware 00:35:03] And so on and so forth. Actually it’s about drawing back together and say, okay, well XYZ, therefore ABC.
Christian H.: That’s where I think having the relationships with the insurers and people like that can be really helpful. Because they can bring their insights of what’s worked in other sectors or with other clients as well. And they can obviously help from the perspective of the overall cost of risk, [inaudible 00:35:36] claims defensibility and so on and so forth. So bringing people under a bit of a broader tent certainly helps with that.
Anthony Wilson: Yeah. Sorry, go on.
Christian H.: Go ahead. I was going to say in terms of when we… if we’re talking to somebody with one site, then actually the process that we would go through is fairly straight forward.
Christian H.: It’s, okay, let’s have a chat. Let’s go through this CHIMES methodology. Then we’d probably go and do a site visit. Do some testing quantification, produce a report with recommendations, and then blah, blah, blah.
Christian H.: If you’re speaking to somebody with a thousand sites, that becomes more challenging, because you’re not going to go and visit every single site most likely because there’s obviously a cost associated to doing that.
Christian H.: Then it’s about drawing some of this data together. So accident data, claims data, but even things like formatting of buildings, flooring types, cleaning models. There’s all sorts of things as you say, it’ll exist, that actually people probably hadn’t thought to draw all together.
Christian H.: You can probably find in those thousand sites, in my experience tends to be with most things in life, the 80/20 rule applies. Therefore you’ve probably got 80% of your problems in 200 sites. Even that might be a bit too big to bite off in one go.
Christian H.: So let’s see if there’s commonality between these sites. You’d probably find you’ve got four types of sites or something, and that’s all right. Let’s tackle one of them and make it sort of pragmatic and achievable. That’s the value of data and information. But drawing it into insights to then make an impact.
Anthony Wilson: Yeah. I think that’s absolutely right. Your point about working with insurers is a really important one. There’s still, we come across it quite a bit in our consulting business, my business partner continually says, “You’re not out there buying insurance. You’re actually selling risk.”
Anthony Wilson: So the more data you can take, and the more of a story you can paint from that data, particularly in that scenario of multi-site operations, you know, 1000, 2000, whatever sites, you’ve got to be able to sell the insurers, the processes and the systems and the controls that you have. And here’s the data to backup what we do. Because they can’t get to a thousand sites, and neither can you with any sort of economy.
Anthony Wilson: I think that’s a really good point. That the insurers, if you work with them closely and take them on your journey and show them that you’re proactive about this stuff, you become an attractive risk. That’s really important.
Christian H.: Yeah. We work with Axa, who I guess are in Australia-
Anthony Wilson: Yes, yes. Absolutely.
Christian H.: Yeah. They’ve been using over the last couple of years the phrase from payer to partner, which I really like. You know, trying to get away from, we’re here to pay all your claims, to actually, we’re here to work with you and help you and so on and so forth.
Christian H.: My experience with insurers is that they want to defend the claims, but they’re not given the ammunition to do so. They would rather be working with clients where they’ve got a deep understanding and a partnership approach, because they’re making… they can have less of their own risk. Because the last thing you want if you’re an underwriter is to quote £100 for something because you expect there to be no claims, and then you get £5 million of claims arising out of the blue.
Anthony Wilson: Absolutely. Yeah.
Christian H.: I think it is, as you say, it’s about going on a journey with them. I think that’s where it’s really important to, if you are using a broker, because we obviously have that [inaudible 00:39:46] to really get to grips with that, with the broker as well.
Christian H.: Because what you then don’t want to be doing is chopping and changing insurer every year, because you can’t go on a journey, you are going to be… your risk is going to become commoditized and very sensitive to any increases in accident numbers or claims values because you haven’t got that ongoing relationship.
Anthony Wilson: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. What I guess, just a picture for the listeners, as to what are the biggest challenges facing industry and your profession particularly at the moment? What sort of things are on the horizon that you need to continually address, or you can see coming for instance?
Christian H.: Yeah. Well, I think there’s a few. I’ve actually just, I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m just in the process of doing a bit of a thought leadership white paper on some of the risks, also the trends, sorry, that managers of operational risk and safety need to be aware of.
Christian H.: That would include things like, the hot topic at the moment, the climate emergency. That is going to have an effect in all sorts of ways that you probably wouldn’t think of on slips, trips and falls.
Christian H.: So just for one example, well two examples, the other day I went to… I’ve got two kids under five. I went to my local playground by the train station where I live, and there was a sign up saying, “Caution. The pathways in this playground are likely to become slippery over the winter.” Underneath it said, “Because of environmental reasons, we’re no longer going to be gritting these pathways.”
Christian H.: So some sort of driver around an environmental policy is increasing the risk of somebody slipping over in inclement weather.
Christian H.: Within leisure facilities here and in manufacturing as well, we have these kind of blue over shoes, single use plastic blue over shoes. People are now trending away from those. But that’s going to introduce risk from a slip perspective.
Christian H.: Because if you’re in a leisure center allowing people to wear their shoes that they’d been wearing outside and inside into the changing room, that’s going to traffic in dirt, which is going to produce a layer of contamination on the surface. Then if you don’t maintain that surface very well, that’s going to become slippery and so on and so forth.
Christian H.: So a couple of small things there driven by these huge massive trends that the people maybe wouldn’t have thought of.
Christian H.: Another one, which I think is really interesting, and I think applies across the whole world, is demographics. People don’t often think about this.
Christian H.: If you look at demographics driven primarily by the baby boomer generation, what we’re seeing is an increasingly aging population. But also the advances in health care and general wellbeing mean that people are active for longer in life.
Christian H.: So you’re going to have a greater proportion of people in their 60s and 70s who are going to shopping centers, going to gyms, going to hotels, going out to eat. But equally working, and could be working stacking shelves or in manufacturing or whatever it might be.
Christian H.: So people are being more active later in life. But it’s without question that if you suffer an injury, which is let’s say a break, in your 60s, that’s going to be a much more serious injury, and it’s going to take much longer to recover from than if you’re in your 20s or 30s.
Christian H.: So there’s a bit of a ticking time bomb here, which I’m not sure people have necessarily understood that in this attritional accident in claims world likes slips and trips, manual handling, the things like that, I think we’re going to start to see a big increase over the next few years in volumes just because of the pure demographics.
Anthony Wilson: Yeah. And along with those volume increases, the severity’s going to go up as well, isn’t it?
Christian H.: Yeah, exactly. There’s a few others as well. Things like the rise, I would call it the rise of procurement. We talked about budgets right at the start. The more power that procurement has within an organization, the more that things get squeezed.
Christian H.: Actually one of the best defenses as we’ve talked about for the people slipping is actually cleaning and maintaining your floors properly. If you’re cutting your cleaning hours right back to the bone, I can think of an example here in the UK where one of the supermarket groups used to have a janitor present throughout the day. So if there’s any spillages, janitor to aisle six. That’ll be dealt with. That’s been cut and now they’re reliant on the in-store colleagues to do that. And actually, I don’t think that’s going to work.
Christian H.: You’ve cut probably, I don’t know what it would be, £10-15000 pounds a year of cost by getting rid of your janitor. But one additional accident will cost you just as much as that, and you’re much more likely to have accidents.
Christian H.: Procurement are very hard nosed and very much data driven and so on and so forth. But they don’t often understand some of this more holistic intricacies around risk management, or even customer experience, the importance of cleanliness, so on and so forth.
Christian H.: So there’s a few there. We’ve talked about the hardening insurance market, that’s making a big change as well. I think another one is just simply the demands on people’s time as well. People have more and more to do, and less and less time in which to do it. And therefore things can sometimes fall between the cracks.
Christian H.: So all of these things are, I suppose you can look at them as challenges from the perspective of, as an end customer. But they’re opportunities for the likes of you and I that are in the risk management world trying to provide solutions to try and short circuit some of these challenges.
Anthony Wilson: Yeah, absolutely. No, that’s well said. Just a final one if I could, Christian, the podcast hopefully reaches a broad church of people either in risk management, or interested in getting into risk management, or just curious about risk management, and a proportion of young people as well. I guess they’d be keen to hear from you about your three tips for success. You’re obviously running a successful business, you’re making a difference to people’s lives in less accidents and less injuries.
Anthony Wilson: What three tips would you give people thinking about getting into risk management broadly, or into your own field of expertise? What sort of things should they think about?
Christian H.: Good question. Certainly from an insurance perspective and from a health and safety perspective, I’ve seen over the last few years more and more younger people getting involved, and more dynamic people getting involved shall we say, which I think is fantastic.
Christian H.: Because the last thing you want is lots of… I heard a good expression once, it was pale, male and stale. There’s lots of people like that being involved in trying to lead an industry.
Christian H.: I mean, I would say risk management is a great career choice because I think you’re going to get a huge diversity of opportunities and insights, and opportunity to profoundly improve your business and the lives of people that interact with it. So I think it’s a great sector or field to get into.
Christian H.: In terms of tips, I guess I would probably say… we talked about this before. I think I would say, try to get a broad understanding before then specializing. I mean, I didn’t necessarily do this, but I did it from the perspective of I had a broad understanding about business through my consultancy. Then I kind of niched a bit more.
Christian H.: I think you need to understand so many… to be an effective manager of risk, you’ve got to understand pretty much every single aspect of a business to varying degrees. So I think trying to get that broad understanding will really serve you well in terms of then being able to grab the bull by the horns and achieve some good outcomes from business. I think that’s the first thing.
Christian H.: Certainly here in the UK I would advise people, we’ve got like an association of insurance and risk managers called AMIC, and they I know do a lot of really good events. I’m speaking at an event in a few weeks for example targeted at the those people. So I think from a professional development perspective, I’d certainly recommend people get involved in associations and things like that.
Christian H.: I suppose just generally, I would always advise people to find something that they enjoy doing, and so make sure that you enjoy this. I always remember vividly my last few months doing my consultancy job, and perhaps I shouldn’t say this because the managing director of the consultancy business, I stayed in touch with him. He actually is one of the investors and directors of my business. [inaudible 00:50:09].
Christian H.: But I remember vividly getting in the lift in the morning and my heart sinking, because I just knew that I didn’t really want to be doing this in the long run. Whereas now every day I’m excited and engaged.
Christian H.: I think really try to experience as I say lots of different things. If this is what you set your heart onto, it’s a great place to be, because as I say, it can make a big impact. But try and find an area that really excites you and motivates you and gets you pumped and jumping out of bed every morning keen to make an impact. I think that’s really important. Because you only have one life, so try and enjoy it.
Anthony Wilson: Absolutely. Absolutely. Great advice. Thank you, Christian. Listen, I guess just to finish up, how do people get in touch with you if they want to reach out, contact you?
Christian H.: Yeah. I’m very active on LinkedIn. If you were to search Christian Harris Slip Safety, I would come up there. I do pretty much a post every day with some sort of educational contents and the odd funny thing as well. So that’s a good way of getting in touch.
Christian H.: In terms of the websites, it is www.slipsafety.co.uk. So there you can see what we do and lots of articles and videos and so on and so forth.
Christian H.: Something that people might be interested in is we’ve developed a online scorecard, which is a diagnostic tool. It takes you five to 10 minutes if that to run through it. It’ll ask you about 40 yes/no questions all focusing in on the six areas of CHIMES.
Christian H.: Then it’ll give you a bespoke report based on the answers that you’ve given, which gives you a score versus best practice, as well as some areas that you can look at to improve. So yeah, it’ll say, “Right, contamination, based on what you’ve said, you score X percent. Here are six things you can do to try and improve your score.”
Christian H.: So that’s probably a good starting point for people if they’re interested to go on this journey of trying to look at this issue a bit more holistically. That’s a really good starting point to say, well, look, here’s where we are now, and here’s some of the ways we might be able to improve. Then obviously if they wanted some further help and guidance with that, then they can certainly reach out to us.
Anthony Wilson: Fantastic. Well Christian, that has been a great chat. I really appreciate you making the time, especially given your wandering around the UK at the moment. It’s really appreciated.
Anthony Wilson: I really appreciate your thoughts and those insights and make sure that people listening, if you have a query in this space, Christian’s got the knowledge and certainly I think could point you in the right direction.
Anthony Wilson: So Christian, once again, thank you very much for your time. Appreciate it very much.
Christian H.: Thank you.
Anthony Wilson: Thanks, Christian.
Anthony Wilson: Well I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Christian Harris of Slip Safety. Some great insight there as to the challenges and opportunities that getting this stuff right presents for businesses.
Anthony Wilson: If you’re in an organization where you’re exposed to this particular hazard, hopefully you’ve learned something from the discussion today, and I’m sure Christian would be more than happy to assist as needed.
Anthony Wilson: You can follow him on LinkedIn. Just look up christian Harris, easy to find on LinkedIn. Send him a connection request and get in touch. His website is www.slipsafety.co.uk, so you can get in touch with Christian that way as well.
Anthony Wilson: Hopefully you enjoyed today’s episode of the podcast. Just a reminder that my new book is out and about in the market, that’s called The Uncertainty Effect: An Introduction to Risk Management. Had some great sales already from my website, so you can buy directly from my website, and if you’d like the book signed or a dedication made in the front of it, I can do that for you. That’s www.proximityriskassurance.com.au.
Anthony Wilson: Or if you’d prefer, you can order the book on Amazon. Everybody I think knows how to get to Amazon. So yeah, it’s available on Amazon as well. We’re working in the process of getting a Kindle edition up and running shortly as well.
Anthony Wilson: So feel free, grab hold of the book, have a read, let me know what you think. That’d be great as well.
Anthony Wilson: Also, as always, any ideas or thoughts on subjects you’d like to talk about or hear about on the podcast would be great. Any people that you think would be good to hear from please let me know and we’ll do our best to see if we can get them on the program as well.
Anthony Wilson: So thanks always for listening. Anthony Wilson here with the Mastering Risk Management podcast. Talk to you again soon. Cheers.