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All the latest news and updates from the UK's leading supplier of safety clothing and equipment

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  • Has your Hard Hat expired? Safety Experts urge workers to "Check Your Head Protection"

    14 June 2021

    Arco, Headway and Centurion bring head injury to the forefront of workplace safety for Hard Hat Awareness Week on 14th - 20th June 2021

    Twenty per cent of all fatal and non-fatal injuries in the UK are head-related, yet head protection accounts for only three per cent of personal protective equipment (PPE) purchases. When head protection is acquired, nearly a quarter of workers are unaware that exceeding the expiry date of a hard hat can reduce its protective qualities. Arco, the UK's leading safety company, is joining forces with Headway - the brain injury association, and Centurion, head protection system specialist, to raise awareness of the importance of selecting, wearing and maintaining head protection.

    Any kind of head injury can lead to debilitating and long-term health issues, so ensuring that head protection is worn and cared for correctly is critical in preventing life changing injuries. Helmet shells are designed to be shock absorbent; however, the material properties used to protect workers can also be sensitive to chemical attack. More than half of workers mark or apply decals and labels to their helmet, unknowingly decreasing its durability by compromising the integrity of the material it is made from. To maintain safety standards, workers should remove any unchecked stickers and sanitise and clean their head protection equipment in a safe environment. Additionally, workers should audit their safety helmet or hard hat for signs of wear and tear and make sure it is in date.

    Most manufacturers recommend replacing hard hats every five years regardless of external appearance. However, excessive wear and tear in extreme environments such as exposure to high temperatures, chemicals, or sunlight can significantly shorten the product's life span. When evaluating a time frame for safe usage, workers should conduct risk assessments to consider their unique environment.

    Workers should also consider the daily hazards they face in the workplace. The European Standard for industrial safety helmets is EN 397, which provides shock absorption, penetration resistance and protection against impact. An EN 397 helmet is most suitable for workers on the ground, while those working at height should look for additional protection, opting for an EN 12492 helmet.

    Alex Turgoose, PPE Product and Procurement Manager at Arco, says:

    "We are passionate about raising awareness of the correct use of safety equipment. Head injuries are a major problem in the workplace. When selecting head protection, take it seriously, and consider the impact of incorrect choices."

    Chris Tidy, Technical and Training Specialist at Centurion Safety Products, says:

    "We hope that Hard Hat Awareness Week will initiate a shift in attitudes towards hard hat safety and the wider issue of brain health."

    Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of Headway, says:

    "Brain injury is more common than you think, and its impact can be life-changing for the injured person, their partner, family members and friends. Ensuring your head protection is worn and cared for correctly is key to remaining safe."

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  • Arco Gives Evidence to Public Accounts Committee on PPE Procurement

    25 May 2021

    Thomas Martin, Chairman, of Arco, the UK's leading safety company, appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in Parliament today to give evidence to the inquiry into "Government procurement and supply of personal protective equipment" during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    During the hearing, Thomas Martin highlighted Arco's credentials, its expertise and capability in procuring and distributing PPE that was compliant with the correct safety standards and that was ethically sourced. He outlined the company's frustration in the procurement system set up by the Government at the start of the pandemic, and explained how Arco went on to respond directly to approaches from NHS trusts for critical PPE. Looking forward, Thomas articulated the learnings from the last year and made key recommendations for future pandemic preparedness, urging the Government to uphold the UK's high safety standards.

    Commenting after the session, Thomas Martin said:

    "We were proud to do our part as a constructive partner to the NHS, to central government and to the care system across the UK. We know that the PPE procurement structures have been through an unprecedented level of stress over the past year - for us, this meant frustration at times, and led to otherwise avoidable complications.

    "Throughout, our focus has been on - and remains - supplying the highest quality PPE to support the delivery of the pandemic response, and we hope that our insights into our experiences in doing so can help build a more resilient structure as Covid recedes and we prepare for the next potential pandemic."

    "We understand that DHSC and its partners had to build a new system from scratch and scale it up at pace - but unfortunately doesn't offset the fact that the central PPE supplier portal did not function as intended. We saw situations whereby we knew that we had stock that was needed but received no response to offers and no central guidance about where it should be directed - with incredibly limited and sporadic uptake of those offers we did make."

    "With our track record in supporting public health responses to serious outbreaks (including Ebola, SARS and Foot and Mouth), this was a disorientating and frustrating situation for us. While we were able to offer our support more broadly across the NHS and Social Care systems directly, at a time when there was a clear demand for huge volumes of protective equipment, it seemed unusual that we were not able to provide more support than we did."

    "Much has been made of VIP lanes and influence over the past few weeks - all we know is that we had a constructive relationship with commercial contacts across Government, and offered our services as a market leading expert provider. Like many trapped in the system, we attempted to reach out to those holding the levers across Whitehall, but without success. Fast-tracks and Ministerial lanes are as much news to us as to the rest of the UK - we certainly did not benefit from any special arrangements."

    Given its expertise, Arco felt a responsibility to share its experiences of the PPE procurement system during 2020, with a view to contributing to an improved response in any similar situation in the future. Arco published a Position Paper: Personal Protective Equipment and the Government's Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic, which offers insight into its own experiences dealing with Government bodies and other agencies as part of the PPE supply chain. It proposes a 10-point set of recommendations to prevent a repeat of the high-profile issues that were seen during the first wave of the crisis and to ensure the country is better protected in any future pandemic.

    The report recognises that hundreds of millions of pounds has been wasted on poor quality PPE that cannot be used for the intended purpose.

    Arco has also urged Government to consult on requiring PPE suppliers to formally register to supply Category II and III products - which would ensure that a supplier is capable of providing compliant product - while also intensifiying market surveillance by an empowered OPSS to ensure suppliers live up to their paper commitments.

    Thomas Martin further commented:

    "You can do PPE procurement in a cost, effective, safe way. But you must not do it on the cheap. We are disappointed to hear that defective product made it into our PPE ecosystem over the past year - and even more so that it made it into the hands of front-line NHS workers. Government must recognise the gaps in the product safety and surveillance system and move to tackle them before we bed in a culture of low-effort, low-quality provision at a time when we should be focussing on scaling up manufacturing capacity and on-shoring our PPE sector."

    "The UK is well recognised globally for its expertise in this area - we have an opportunity to lead the world in bringing home PPE manufacturing and keep standards high in doing so. We are glad that the National Audit Office (NAO) is looking closely into these failures, and I hope that the PAC and central government will look seriously at the culture that we are allowing to flourish."

    With over 135 years of safety experience, its own UKAS-accredited product assurance lab and a 400,000 sqft National Distribution Centre, Hull-based Arco has been at the forefront of the most significant recent global emergencies, including the response to both SARS and Ebola outbreaks. When the Covid-19 pandemic was declared in the UK, the company played a key role in the response, navigating the global supply chain restrictions that led to an international shortage of certain types of PPE, to provide critical PPE to key industries and the frontline.

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  • UK Safety Expert Arco Donates £10,000 to Domestic Abuse Charity, Refuge

    24 May 2021

    Arco, has donated a further £10,000 to Refuge, England's largest single provider of specialist domestic abuse services, supporting over 7,000 women and children on any given day. The UK's leading safety company's second donation takes its total contribution to Refuge to £15,000 in the last 6 months.

    Whilst Arco's core purpose is to keep people safe at work, it has always recognised its responsibilities to the communities within which it operates. The safety expert is committed to making a meaningful difference by supporting causes that keep communities safer, including those whose work focuses on personal safety, preventing violence, and helping the victims of abuse. Arco fulfils this mission through its compassionate workforce which has demonstrated great dedication to support causes through personal fundraising alongside company-wide partnerships and relationships.

    Arco's Community Panel encourages colleagues to offer guidance on the larger charitable donations it makes, and which areas the company should support. This year Arco has run two "Coronavirus Grant" schemes which invited employees to apply for grants of £1,000 on behalf of organisations and charities in their local communities that required vital funding during the COVID-19 pandemic. Donations from the Coronavirus Grant Schemes now total £106,000. The schemes add to Arco's Community Grants programme, which encourages employees to apply for grants up to £500 for causes close to their hearts, with the grants being reviewed and awarded by Arco's Community Panel each quarter.

    Earlier in the year, one Arco colleague applied for a grant for Refuge, highlighting the incredible work it does to support vulnerable women and children following her experience with the charity. The application led Arco's Community Panel to support Refuge with a £5,000 donation in December 2020. Following the tragic events reported in the press the company has decided to donate a further £10,000. Through publicising our donations, we hope that raises the awareness and is a reminder that anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of age, race, gender, faith or class, and how survivors can bring great change and awareness.

    David Evison, Managing Director of Arco, says:

    "Over the last year or so, the world has experienced a time unlike any other, resulting in each of us having to overcome unfamiliar challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, for those suffering at the hands of an abusive partner, the challenges have been unprecedented. We're grateful for the opportunity to support Refuge, a charity with a purpose that aligns with our own, to keep people safe."

    Charly Meehan, Refuge's Head of Corporate Partnerships, says:

    "Domestic abuse is a life or death issue. We are still working around the clock to ensure we can provide both immediate and long-term support for women and children who need us and may be experiencing long-term complex effects of lockdown. We couldn't have done this without supporters like Arco. Thank you for your commitment to our mission: changing society so that no-one has to live in fear of violence or abuse."

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  • High Praise for Arco's £30m National Distribution Centre Extension

    17 May 2021

    The UK's leading safety company, Arco, has been highly commended by SHD Logistics in their "New Facility Award". Following a £30 million investment to extend its National Distribution Centre (NDC), Arco has supplied PPE to the NHS, front line responders and critical industries throughout the pandemic.

    The scale of its response to the COVID-19 crisis has been facilitated by its NDC extension which has trebled Arco's storage capacity with an additional area of 220,000 square feet in size and standing at an impressive 22 metres high. The investment will ensure that Arco can future proof its commitment to customers through improved logistical and storage capabilities and meet its ambitious growth plans.

    Arco reviewed its supply chain strategy to ensure it could meet its customers' evolving service requirements and have the capacity to meet demand. Cost and service analysis led to the extension of the existing NDC to increase pallet storage capacity, and a £22m investment was approved for the build and £8m for the internal fit-out. The build of Arco's new extension, known as NDC2, began in March 2018. The extension supported £4m worth of investment in 2016 to Arco's original facility which doubled the number of packing benches alongside software and conveyor system updates. The resulting increase in picking and packing capability improved the throughput capacity and enhanced Arco's capabilities to meet next day deliveries.

    Now completed, the NDC and extension have a combined floor space of 400,000 square feet. The extension can hold 40,000 pallets and is the company's main storage facility with bespoke racking commissioned to accommodate larger products. To easily and efficiently manage product movement between the two buildings, Arco introduced a new replenishment conveyor system. Today, 2.7km of conveyor carry products around the building.

    To support Arco's sustainability vision, natural daylight illuminates the facility and daylight harvesting LED lights activate when needed, limiting electricity usage.

    Planned Go Live and COVID-19

    To deliver a seamless transition and mitigate risks of day-to-day operations and customer service, the transition to the new building was planned to take a phased approach, with stock being transferred from the third party providers by June 2020.

    However, on March 11th 2020, the World Health Organisation declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic, 12 days later the UK went into lockdown. Arco responded quickly, with the new facility providing immediate capacity, becoming involved in the procurement, stocking and distribution of over 140m face masks, 18m gloves, over 0.5m coveralls and 0.5m hygiene products, including hand sanitiser.

    Arco became a key supplier to the NHS, ambulance services, local authorities, other public health bodies and critical industries such as food supply. The logistics team doubled the size of the nightshift, moving from 24/5 to 24/7 operation. This was achieved within 48 hours under strict control measures: social distancing, increased cleaning regimes and 30-minute gaps between shifts to reduce exposure and contact. In the first 12 months of its NDC expansion being operational, Arco has delivered 52,194 pallets and just under 2 million parcels across the UK and Ireland.

    The teams involved in the operations were recognised earlier in the year by Safety and Health Practitioner for their COVID response and work to raise safety standards across the UK. Arco was awarded SHP's prestigious "Most Influential Team in Health and Safety" award.

    Arco is delighted to have its National Distribution Centre praised by SHD Logistics, achieving Second Place in the highly competitive "New Facility" award category.

    Neil Griffiths, Divisional Director of Logistics, said:

    "To have our logistical, supply chain and distribution expertise validated by such a credible body is wonderful. We're incredibly proud of what we've achieved over the last 14 months. Our NDC extension and the expert team have enabled us to make a significant contribution to support the UK supply chain with critical safety equipment throughout the pandemic. Our thanks to SHD Logistics for recognising us in the New Facility award category and highly commending the work we do to keep people safe."

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  • Arco Shares How Its Suite of Mental Health Training Courses Can 'Change Lives and Save Lives'

    08 April 2021

    On hearing the phrase "you saved my life" I became instantly dedicated to improving my knowledge around the wellbeing and mental health of people.

    Mark Nixon, Senior Health, Safety and Wellbeing Consultant and Trainer at Arco Professional Safety Services, Shares Three Key Areas of Focus for Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace.

    I have been a passionate Occupational Health and Safety Professional since 1995, but something changed five years ago. I was fortunate enough to be able to prevent a young individual from committing suicide. On hearing the phrase "you saved my life", I made a commitment to improving my knowledge around the wellbeing and mental health of the people I work with every day and the employees in my clients' organisations. I now deliver Arco Professional Safety Services suite of courses to clients and instruct the MHFA Two Day Adult Mental Health First Aid course. The feedback for these courses is breathtakingly positive; quite simply, the courses change lives and save lives.

    Mental distress across the nation is at an all-time high compared to pre-pandemic levels. As individuals face grief, forced isolation, an economic slump and unfamiliar ways of working, we can help organisations make the decisions that will strengthen, rather than harm, an already vulnerable workforce. Beyond the human cost, better mental health support in the workplace can save UK businesses up to £8 billion per year. There are three key areas that demand organisations' attention to support and improve mental health and wellbeing in the workplace: the business, the managers and the individuals.

    The Business

    The 'Hierarchy of Controls' is an approach to risk reduction that has become entrenched in the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) sector. It aims to provide a consistent structure for managing safety, ensuring effective control measures are put in place to eliminate or reduce workplace hazards. However, mental wellbeing is one of the only areas of health and safety where the 'hierarchy of control' does not apply. At Arco Professional Safety Services, we have developed an alternative hierarchy that better suits the aims, problems and solutions in this critical area. Key principles include:

    • Prevention is better than cure. Recovery takes far longer than prevention and the costs to individuals' livelihoods and businesses are far greater
    • Failing to maintain health and wellbeing increases the likelihood of poorer mental health
    • Enhancing and maintaining overall health and wellbeing increases the likelihood of better mental health

    The Managers

    How much stress a team faces is dependent on factors such as resource availability, workload, corporate culture and the strength of their support system. Managers are ideally placed to help handle employee stress as they have a greater understanding of the people in their team, their roles and the stress risk factors. In as little as one day, we can help managers acquire the knowledge and confidence to manage mental wellbeing proactively. We recommend a ten-point action plan that can help managers support their teams more effectively. Key actions include:

    • Carry out Stress Risk Assessments based on the Health & Safety Executive's (HSE) Stress Management Standards (HSG218) to establish and resolve the causes of stress in the workplace and use the HSE's 'Talking Toolkit' to engage with individuals about the topic and make reasonable adjustments
    • For non-work-related stress, managers can use a coaching approach (ask rather than tell) to help employees identify what is causing their stress, why it's stressful to them, how they can tackle it and where they can go for help and support
    • Managers can encourage employees to complete a Wellness Action Plan (WAP), which can be used to promote wellness in already healthy employees and help those suffering or returning from a mental ill-health absence

    The Individuals

    There are many ways for individuals to manage stress, from guided breathing to decrease stress hormones and lower blood pressure, to understanding the importance of positive psychology. We teach recognised models such as PERMA as part of our mental health training courses to help achieve positive mental wellbeing. PERMA can help increase wellbeing by encouraging individuals to focus on living meaningfully, establishing supportive relationships, accomplishing goals and being fully engaged with life. Another key aspect of positive psychology is resilience, defined as the ability to cope with and recover from adversity.

    Individual resilience will differ from person to person and throughout a person's lifetime. It is not a fixed trait; it can be taught and developed over time with experience. Dr Lucy Hone, researcher and resilience expert, outlines three key traits of resilient people:

    • Resilient people understand that bad things happen to everyone
      Every life will come with ups and downs and understanding this is critical to a balanced response to fortune and tragedy
    • Resilient people can focus their attention skilfully
      Being able to view a situation 'as-it-is but not worse than it is,' is a vital skill for resilience and mental wellbeing. In addition to the things that may not be going so well, individuals can focus their attention on extracting the positives, otherwise termed as 'benefit finding'. We recommend individuals ask themselves, 'what has gone well today and what is still right with me, others and the world?'
    • Resilient people ask if what they are doing is 'helping or harming?'
      We encourage individuals to identify their unhelpful thoughts, self-talk and behaviours and choose more helpful, realistic and empowering alternatives

    Ultimately, mental health is not only a major issue in the workplace, but a major opportunity to take stock and ensure we are doing everything we can to protect the wellbeing of our colleagues. Five years ago, a near-tragedy cemented my belief that with the right support in place, positive mental health and wellbeing can be achieved and sustained.

    Mark Nixon is a Senior Health, Safety and Wellbeing Consultant and Trainer at Arco Professional Safety Services. Arco Professional Safety Services offers specialist courses including Mental Health First Aid, Mental Wellbeing Awareness and Stress and Mental Wellbeing for Managers. Its highly experienced trainers can help build bespoke programmes to meet client needs, whether that means delivering training on the client's site or at one of its national safety centres. The expert in safety can also provide training online via its specialist video conference service developed during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure businesses can continue training while maintaining social distancing.

    For more information on the mental health and wellbeing training courses available, visit the dedicated course finder at Arco Professional Safety Services.

    Alternatively, to contact Arco Professional Safety Services call 0330 390 0822 or email

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