Shropshire health and safety consultancy celebrates milestone year

A business which helps construction companies keep their workforces safe is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Founder Jackie Horsewood, front, with directors Becki Shenton and Laura Mort, and other members of staff Mark Roberts, Vicki Brown, Jarmila Camier and Emma Hinkley
Founder Jackie Horsewood, front, with directors Becki Shenton and Laura Mort, and other members of staff Mark Roberts, Vicki Brown, Jarmila Camier and Emma Hinkley

Wenlock Health & Safety, based in Jackfield Tile Museum in Ironbridge, has assisted almost 1,000 customers over the two decades.

The company was set up by Jackie Horsewood who had worked in construction for most of her life.

"Taking on the role of health and safety manager for a local contractor for eight years made me realise that, at the time, smaller contractors didn’t have easy access to health and safety assistance at an affordable level. This was around the time legislation was starting to make positive progress, so pragmatic, proportionate and personal guidance was and is still needed by contractors who can’t afford the required level of in-house expertise," she said.

"The business grew very quickly mainly because, being based in Telford where construction was and still is abundant, there was a large number of the smaller contractors requiring help.

"From the first six months of Wenlock Heath & Safety consisting of purely myself working from home, the company grew to a staff of seven within three years and most recently moved premises to increase the space required for training facilities.

"Through the 20 years, over 900 customers have engaged us both on a subscription basis and for ad hoc work; typically, our services range from the establishment of tailored health and safety systems and assisting with the writing of risk assessments, to site inspections and the training of both management and site workers."

Unlike the 2008/9 economic downturn, Jackie said the Covid pandemic has had minimal impact on the construction industry.

"In fact, in some sections of the industry workloads have gone through the roof – in housebuilding as a result of the relaxation of stamp duty, and in domestic markets where people were using money and time normally used for holidays to carry out those long-overdue improvements to their properties," she said.

"After the initial nationwide lockdown, the Government allowed construction to carry on provided the mandatory precautions were put into place, easily achievable as a high percentage of construction is carried out in open environments.

"The area where Covid has impacted the company the most is training. For a long period of time clients were nervous about face-to-face courses and, as we moved through 2021, the number of applicants remained low and, in addition, the company needing to reduce the number of delegates per course to keep within Covid restrictions.

"However, in general, our workload remained stable and we therefore look forward to a brighter future as people’s faith in safety in the workplace, finance, and business consistency is restored."

Over the last five years the company has undergone a few changes. On reaching retirement age, Jackie took a back seat three years ago and the company is now run by two other directors, her daughter Becki Shenton and Laura Mort.

"The company is still going strong after 20 years because we have always reacted quickly to changes in the market and legislation; therefore, at this particularly fluid time where there will continue to be significant changes across all industries, it is difficult to predict our workload over the next five years. However, judging by past experience, the workload will continue to steadily increase and we will continue to adapt to the needs of both our customers and a continually developing industry," she said.

The company will be officially celebrating its anniversary on April 15.

"We have some loyal customers who have been with us for 18 to 20 years and we would like to sincerely thank them for sticking with us through everything those years have thrown at us all. We’d also like to thank every member of our invaluable staff for contributing their in-depth expertise and commitment to the company and its clients over the years," Jackie added.

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