From moving to a new office in Manchester to developing its own software platform, the past 12 months have been all about building a solid foundation for health and safety compliance consultancy, OHS. Now, company directors Andy Fowler and Aaron Dodd are preparing to meet soaring demand as people return to their normal working environment and duty holders try to stay abreast of emerging risks.

Commercial buildings may well have lain empty for much of the past year as remote working has become the norm. But the health and safety risks from things like asbestos and legionella will be keeping facilities managers and duty holders on their toes.  

Much like coronavirus itself, the dangerous bacteria and substances we often find in offices, schools, hospitals and industrial sites doesn’t take time off, and as such, making properties safe and compliant is a perennial challenge.  

In fact, COVID-19 has created many new compliance risks that will have to be carefully managed as people start tentatively returning to their place of work.  

The risk of legionella, for example, will naturally have increased in areas where building water systems have been inactive.   

Fortunately, compliance consultancy OHS is on hand to help duty holders keep fully abreast of any emerging risks, as well as up to date with their statutory obligations.  

The Manchester-based health and safety business has had quite an interesting year itself, with industry professional Andy Fowler having taken over as Managing Director in early 2020.  

Together with Director Aaron Dodd, who joined OHS last November, the company has been innovating across all areas to ensure it can continue to support its growing UK customer base.  

Andy says: “Historically, OHS was one of the biggest health and safety consultancies in the country and the challenge of taking that on and into a new direction just stood out to me as a real opportunity.  

“In 2020, we arranged the deal to bring me into the business and acquire shares.” 

In the time since his appointment, Andy has been busy moving OHS into a new office in Eccles, Manchester, complete with a purpose-built laboratory for asbestos sample analysis.  

The new lab has meant the company has been able to gain the UKAS ISO1725 accreditation for asbestos testing and analysis as well as the ISO1720 certification for asbestos surveying and inspection.  

Aaron adds: “Because we now can do the accredited surveys and the accredited analysis, we can keep everything in house rather than relying on outsourcing to others.” 

Such a full-service offering has enabled innovation across other parts of the business too. 

OHS recently collaborated with software developer Shine Vision to create a bespoke software platform that allows for much greater transparency and visibility of the risk assessment and data collection process.  

“Our big emphasis is on the transparency of the information that we collect,” says Andy.  

“Working in partnership with Shine, we’ve created compliance software that gives the duty holder transparency from the moment we set foot on site to undertake the inspection right through until they get our recommendation at the other end. 

“To provide that integrity and transparency with the data is really important for us.” 

Having proprietary software is also something that sets OHS apart from its competitors.  

Aaron explains: “Because it’s our software that we’ve developed with Shine, if we want to make a change, we can adapt quickly. We’re masters of our own destiny in that sense.” 

From opening the new office and lab to achieving industry accreditation and developing its own software, OHS is now well-positioned to capitalize on rising demand for its services as people begin to return en masse to public and commercial buildings post-COVID.  

Already the firm has seen a real upturn in enquiries with the pipeline for this year looking strong.  

“We’re slightly ahead of our expectations,” says Andy. “And of course, a lot of the chatter in our industry is that, as people get back into their normal working environments, the year ahead should be very, very positive.”  

Andy and Aaron’s strategy for the busy upcoming period is to bed in around 20 new staff to service an influx of customers, as well as implement the new software platform across all health, safety and environmental compliance functions.  

“After that, we’re going to start taking a very strategic look at what other services we can be offering to our customers to make sure they’re getting that 360-degree risk management,” says Andy.  

Aaron adds: “We have everything we need to go out and achieve what we’ve always wanted to achieve.  

“It’s now about getting the right people on board to be able to deliver it.”  

Key takeaways: 

  • OHS is an independent health and safety company, which consults, assesses, and manages compliance risks for duty holders and facilities managers across the UK 
  • Widely used from the 1950s through to the 1980s as a building material, asbestos can cause life threatening diseases and is currently the biggest occupational killer in the UK 
  • If you are thinking about bringing your team back to the office in the coming weeks, or want to know/learn more about running a business, head over to the UMi platform: https://www.weareumi.co.uk/webapp/running-a-business/building-a-great-business/
Richard Dawson
Article by Richard Dawson
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