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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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  • It's Time to Throw Away the Throw-Away Culture

    18 March 2021

    How the First PPE Manufacturer and Distributor to Sign the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan is Supporting a Circular Economy

    Three hundred and fifty thousand tons of used but still wearable clothing goes to landfill in the UK each year. Clothing waste, worth around £140 million, is a hallmark of the UK's excessive and expensive 'throw-away' culture. As the world's first PPE manufacturer and distributor to become a signatory for the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), Arco is focussing on ways it can adapt its clothing and own label product range to support a circular economy.

    Since joining SCAP in 2017, Arco has absorbed the wisdom of sustainable manufacturing leaders to identify areas it can improve its supply chain. The safety expert has set targets to develop and sustain a 'fibre-to-fibre' model, meaning fabrics are recycled and then incorporated into new pieces of clothing. Arco is committed to transforming the ways it buys, uses and reuses textiles and apparel. Danny Hobson, Arco's Head of Ethics and Sustainability, is spearheading the safety expert's research and strategy so that it can cut carbon, water and waste across its product ranges.

    Danny Hobson has been leading new trials in Arco's Hull and Manchester stores in collaboration with third-party recycling companies, enabling customers who purchased items from the two stores to drop off their worn PPE and workwear. The used products are then collected, assessed, and dissembled for recycling rather than thrown into the UK's mounting landfill. For example, fabrics are ground down to form new items such as housing insulation, turning valuable fibres into new products and minimising the effects on our environment.

    By concentrating on a 'reduce, reuse and recycle' model, Arco's mission is to make its clothing manufacturing as regenerative as possible. However, Danny Hobson's commitment goes beyond Arco's own sustainability vision, as he supports UK-wide business and industry initiatives and projects to drive change on a larger scale. Danny represents Arco in various working groups within Textiles 2030, a new ground-breaking, expert-led initiative from Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). The initiative harnesses the knowledge and expertise of UK leaders in sustainability to accelerate the fashion and textiles industry's move towards circularity and system change in the UK. With an official launch in April 2021, the new voluntary agreement builds on the learning and success of SCAP, of which Arco is a signatory, and aims to engage the majority of UK fashion and textiles organisations in collaborative climate action.

    Arco's Head of Ethics and Sustainability is also helping to develop the Business in the Community's (BITC) Circular Economy campaign, which seeks to tackle the climate emergency by making the Circular Economy a mainstream business priority. By moving towards a model that focuses on retaining value from materials for as long as possible and eliminating waste, responsible businesses can minimise their environmental impact, as well as saving costs. Arco has joined the Circular Workwear panel to discuss ways to 'close the loop' on the clothing manufacturing process and ensure positive supply chain collaboration is agreed upon and adopted.

    Danny Hobson, Head of Ethics and Sustainability at Arco says:

    "We're committed to making a meaningful difference by investing in doing the right thing, learning from early adopters and exploring all the ways we can make a positive impact. Our involvement with WRAP and BITC is a fantastic opportunity to bring our supply chain and procurement expertise to the table and help form the approach the nation takes with tackling the 'waste and replace' problem that, ultimately, we must all address."

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  • Arco Celebrates World Corporate Social Responsibility Day 2021

    01 March 2021

    Arco, the UK's leading safety company, has played a key role in the response to the Covid-19 pandemic. With a core purpose of keeping people safe, the company responded as soon as the pandemic was declared. Within 48 hours, Arco increased its National Distribution Centre shifts to a 24/7 operation to help make sure frontline responders and those working in critical businesses, were properly protected. Arco's product and supply chain specialists worked quickly to source, procure and distribute over 140 million face masks, 18 million gloves, over 50,000 coveralls and 5,000,000 hygiene products to the NHS, ambulance services, other public health bodies, local authorities and critical industries.

    However, the company's commitment to supporting the communities it serves goes further. Through its dedicated Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative and the Arco Community Panel, Arco delivered a programme of charitable support during 2020, with a number of initiatives focused on those needing support as a result of the pandemic. To achieve this, the company created the Arco Coronavirus Grant scheme and invited employees to apply for 40 one off grants of up to £1,000 on behalf of organisations and charities in their local communities. After receiving 44 high quality applications, the Arco Community Panel awarded grants to all 44 and a total of £42,000 was donated to causes including Hull Women's Aid, Dove House Hospice, Kaleb's Wish and Hull Vineyard Trust. In 2021, the Arco Community Panel is preparing to launch its second tranche of Coronavirus Grants, totalling £50,000.

    Arco also became a core funder to the National Emergencies Trust (NET) with a £250,000 donation, helping the charity respond to citizens' needs when domestic disasters strike. During its recent Coronavirus Appeal, the NET allocated £89million to Community Foundations and other national funding partners across the UK as fairly as possible. As a member of the NET's "Patron's Circle", Arco's support will enable the charity to distribute funds and activate appeals at speed, helping those in urgent need, and allowing it to continue providing support over the next three years should another UK disaster occur.

    Arco's commitment to corporate social responsibility activities is firmly embedded in its culture and purpose, encouraging employees to donate their time and skills to local charities and community projects on two paid volunteering days each year. This year, the business has extended its volunteer days programme for colleagues who have volunteered to support the NHS Covid-19 vaccine team alongside St John's ambulance.

    Each year, the company publishes the Arco in the Community Report, sharing and celebrating CSR initiatives and achievements. A significant example of a long-term partnership is Arco's 11-year association with the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, working closely with the paramedics and YAA team to design bespoke hazard wear, custom fitted flight suits and protective wear. It's one of many partnerships which Arco is committed to supporting, both with financial support, as well as sharing colleague expertise and time.

    David Evison, Managing Director, Arco, said:

    "Whilst our core purpose is to keep people safe at work and ensure they go home safely at the end of the day, we have always recognised our responsibilities to the communities within which we operate. World CSR Day is an opportunity to reflect and celebrate the efforts of our colleagues and the great initiatives they have achieved. Arco is committed to making a meaningful difference by providing support through donating colleagues' time, volunteering and contributing substantial funds through charitable donations, fund matching and sponsorship of partnership agreements.

    "The aim of our work is to do three things: to inspire local young people to achieve their full potential, to enhance local life, making the communities we serve better places to live and finally to align to our purpose, we aim to help keep communities safer. This year I am prouder than ever to share our achievements with other global businesses who have the same commitment to helping others".

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  • Dermatitis is a Growing Risk, says UK Safety Expert Arco

    25 February 2021

    UK safety expert Arco warns dermatitis cases could be on the increase, with employees vulnerable to a life-changing condition. With all of us being encouraged to wash and sanitise our hands more frequently, PPE being worn for longer periods and some employees reluctant to report symptoms unnecessarily, Arco is raising awareness of the dangers of dermatitis in a nationwide campaign

    Occupational skin conditions costs Britain 268,000 working days a year (1). The most common type, occupational dermatitis (2), is an inflammation of the skin caused by external agents such as chemicals and hazardous substances, biological agents, sensitisers or allergens which change the natural balance of the skin or damage its structure. Dermatitis doesn't just affect workers' hands but can occur anywhere on the body, including the face as a result of wearing PPE for longer periods.

    Occupational dermatitis can seriously affect the well-being, quality of life and performance of employees. Absence from work, reduced pay, lower morale and self-esteem and even an unintended change in career can result. Employers, meanwhile, run the risk of bad publicity, reduced productivity, rising costs due to sickness days, increased costs for training and recruitment and, in a worst-case scenario, potential compensation claims.

    With more than 1 in 10 workers suffering from the disease (3), for a 250 strong company, that's 25 members of staff. The average cost to treat an unreported hand health problem is £2,000 (4). In addition, each reported case of dermatitis costs an employer £6,000 on average, excluding compensation, fines and legal fees (5). For 25 employees, this total cost equates to £200,000. While the costs involved with increased claims and insurance are worrying, the highest costs are incurred.

    Darren Williamson, Arco Product & Procurement Manager - Cleaning & Hygiene, said:

    "Too often a lack of employee complaints means employers assume dermatitis is a minor risk. But the truth in the silence is workers can feel embarrassed, have a lack of understanding about the condition or fear they could lose their jobs. Worse still, underreporting means existing statistics merely represent the tip of the iceberg. We must raise awareness of the help available before employees and employers end up paying the ultimate price."

    With the right skincare programme in place, the risks of dermatitis can be reduced or eliminated. Arco skincare experts offer a specialist onsite assessment and skin analysis programme and then help build bespoke programmes to reduce symptoms and develop training and awareness programmes to help change behaviour and ensure compliance.

    For more information on skincare assessments, PPE products and training from the Arco team, visit: preventing dermatitis in the workplace.

    Sources

    1. The Health & Occupation Research Network (THOR) GP Scheme 2011-2013)
    2. EPIDERM/HSE: Work Related Skin Disease in Great Britain 2014
    3. Luckhaupt et. Al; American Journal of Industrial Medicine 56:623-634 (2013)
    4. Journal of Environmental Medicine, Thyssen J.P. et al; Contact Dermatitis 2010; 75-87
    5. Diepgen T.L. et al; Contact Dermatitis 2013; 69: 88-106, from potential fines and Health & Safety Executive (HSE) fees for intervention. The HSE now charges £157 per hour to investigate an incident on site6 and the average cost of a health and safety related prosecution in 2018/19 was £150,000 per conviction.
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  • Leading Safety Company Arco Supports Public Accounts Committee Report on PPE Procurement

    18 February 2021

    Arco, the UK's leading safety company, has welcomed the report published by the Public Accounts Committee - COVID-19: Government procurement and supply of Personal Protective Equipment - that looked into the Government's response to the demand for PPE during the Covid Pandemic and sets out recommendations on how to address key issues.

    With a responsibility to capture and share its experiences during 2020, Arco published a Position Paper: Personal Protective Equipment and the Government's Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Arco's report 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.

    Arco was pleased to see that the recommendations in Public Accounts Committee Report support its own recommendations. Most critical of these are:

    • The inadequacy of the Covid-19 pandemic PPE stockpile and the need to improve managing and distribution of fully compliant stock
    • The failures of the procurement portal at sifting credible and genuine offers of PPE from reputable suppliers, from those offered by dubious sources and the need to improve this for future emergencies and pandemics.
    • The need for a plan to show how the Government will use the PPE that has been procured during the pandemic, stock allocation and the handling of unused stock
    • And finally, a recommendation that the Government sets out plans to incentivise NHS Supply Chain and trusts to buy PPE manufactured in the UK.

    The report also recognises that hundreds of millions of pounds has been wasted on poor quality PPE which cannot be used for the intended purpose and recommends analysis and reporting of the extent of this failing. Arco would urge that this is taken further to ensure this cannot happen again and recommends that the Government should consult on whether PPE suppliers should be formally registered to be allowed to supply Category II and III products. Registration would ensure that a supplier is capable of providing compliant product, while market surveillance by an empowered OPSS would ensure suppliers live up to these commitments.

    Emma Hardy MP cited Arco's Position Paper in a Westminster Hall debate on the National Audit Office (NAO) report into procurement during the Covid-19 pandemic, sharing details of the report and its recommendations. Following the session, Emma Hardy sent a letter to the Cabinet Office parliamentary secretary, Julia Lopez MP, urging the Government to give the Arco report and its findings proper consideration.

    In response, Julia Lopez MP wrote:

    "We very much welcome the feedback that Arco has provided. My officials have sent a comprehensive response to the letter from Arco and will be following up with a meeting to follow up directly with Arco to ensure that their thoughts have been taken onboard. I would like to take the opportunity to reassure you of the great strides we have made to take us to this point, including already undertaking a number of the recommendations that Arco have proposed in their paper".

    Thomas Martin, Chairman of Arco said:

    "From the outset, we were both disappointed with the inadequacies of the procurement system and deeply concerned by some of the unnecessary mistakes made across the UK through a lack of experience of procuring the PPE needed. This is something the Government has acknowledged, and has been reflected in media coverage, through the National Audit Report, and now through the findings and recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee.

    "We are pleased that many of the conclusions made by the Public Accounts Committee support those Arco reached when we commissioned our position paper last summer, to look at the lessons that need to be learned from the pandemic.

    "As an established safety business that has provided critical support in the international SARS, Swine Flu and Ebola crises, we feel it's our duty to report on our experiences and to support the Government in continuing to help deal with the pandemic by sharing our expertise. We are grateful for the invitation we have received from the Minister to build on the dialogue with the Department of Health and Social Care, and look forward to contributing our resources to ensure that the Committee's recommendations are acted upon so the nation can be better prepared for future emergencies. The UK leads the world in health and safety and we are committed to ensuring that the leading role we play in keeping people safe is not compromised."

    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.

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  • Safety Expert Arco's Waverley Street HQ to be Demolished to Drive £355m A63 Upgrade Forward

    12 February 2021

    The demolition will support Hull's roadwork transformation, but the UK's Leading Safety Company won't be leaving its roots behind

    Demolition of Safety Expert Arco's longstanding Waverley Street Head Office is now underway to support the A63 Castle Street improvement scheme. The £355m upgrade, designed to relieve traffic congestion for around 47,000 daily road-users facing congestion, delays and long queues, is the largest the city has ever seen. The transformation of one of the busiest sections of the A63 is designed to make Hull's roads safer and cut journey times for businesses, residents, commuters and tourists. Once the project is complete, new roads and junctions will improve access to the port and connections between the city centre and the tourist and recreational areas at the docks.

    Highways England first published its plan to expand the A63 in 2010 when the preferred route was announced, however, Arco always made it clear that the proposals severely restricted access to its office, store and facilities for HGV deliveries, colleagues and visitors. At the same time, Highways England was tasked with finding a good location for a suitably sized production compound as close as possible to the Mytongate junction. This is required to build the 400m long underpass, which is a key part of the scheme. Arco's site on Waverley Street was identified as the ideal location and Arco, Hull City Council and Highways England worked tirelessly to find a solution. As a result, Arco's Head Office of the last 60 years was purchased by Hull City Council to push the scheme forward.

    The decision made by Arco, Hull City Council and Highways England over the last three years concentrated on securing the best possible outcome for the long-term future of Hull.

    The site is now owned by Hull City Council and leased to Highways England for the duration of the scheme. Balfour Beatty, who are Highways England's principal contractor will be responsible for coordination of the demolition work, and local firm Expotrack have been appointed to demolish the building, a process which is expected to take approximately 6 weeks.

    However, the demolition won't remove Arco from its roots. With longstanding ties to Hull since its first shop opened on Queen Street in 1893, the family business is relocating back to Hull's Fruit Market area with a new £16m headquarters.

    Arco's new HQ will be the largest office build in Hull in over 50 years. Once complete, around 600 colleagues will relocate to the five-storey complex. The building work also marks a major milestone in the £80m rejuvenation of the waterfront Fruit Market area, which is being transformed in one of the North of England's most significant urban regeneration projects.

    The UK's leading supplier of safety equipment continue to demonstrate their commitment to investing in Hull, having recently completed a £30m extension to their National Distribution Centre (NDC) on the A63. In preparation to leave its Waverley street site, the expert in safety has already moved its retail store to Liverpool Street and its Hose Division to new £2m purpose-built facility near the Hull-based NDC.

    David Evison, Managing Director of Arco, said:

    "We're pleased to be able to support a project that will bring so many benefits to Hull. The A63 development will be safer, alleviate congestion and improve access between the city centre and the docks. Our new head office will support the regeneration of Hull's Fruit Market, ensuring the city remains vibrant and commercially successful, whilst creating a great working environment for our colleagues.

    This is yet another demonstration of our commitment to the city and is part of a significant investment plan to support the growth of our business, which includes the recent extension of our Distribution Centre and investment in digital capability."

    Councillor Hale from Hull City Council, said:

    "There are many benefits to the scheme for people who live and work in Hull; relieving congestion, access to the port and road safety. We're happy that the site chosen allows the regenerated area around the Bonus Arena to remain untouched."

    James Leeming, Senior Project Manager from Highways England, said:

    "I'm delighted that for this part of the project we've found a solution that supports the regeneration of the fruit market and preserves Arco's well-established ties to Hull.

    The Castle Street scheme will usher in an exciting new era for Hull, creating a much better connection between the city centre and the retail and docks area. These improvements will make life considerably easier for road users and pedestrians."

    Will Neaves, Balfour Beatty Project Director, said:

    "Since early 2020, we have been working with Arco to finalise the demolition of its remaining headquarters in Hull, and to progress Highways England's A63 Castle Street project, which, on completion will help improve access between Hull City Centre and the retail and docks area.

    We are pleased to have reached this milestone with Arco and Highways England and are proud to support a project that will shape the future of Hull."

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