Xmo Strata Newsletter – August 2015

Xmo Strata Newsletter – August 2015

New Video

The company has produced a new video in recent weeks, with a health and safety focus.  It addresses fitting a spreader, given that the company are aware of failings on oil company sites.

The video was filmed at Corley Services on the M6 near Coventry thanks to the generosity of Welcome Break.

The Spreader video has been integrated with interactive questions on the XmoHub training website.

John Mitchell:  a postscript

No Xmo Strata employee will need reminding that earlier in the year the company lost a highly valued, long serving employee – John Mitchell – to cancer.

As the Mitchell family know all too well the death of a loved one is enough to cope with; no one needs financial pressures on top the bereavement.

For that reason, the company takes out an insurance policy on all employees who visit a site at least once a year as part of their work.

And as a consequence of that, John’s widow, Marilyn, received £30,000 after his untimely death.

“Obviously no amount of money compensates for bereavement,” said Managing Director Steve Martin.

“But the awful thing about losing a loved one is the appalling pressure of practical issues which can crowd-in on the bereaved.  It can seem cruel, and relentless, and you have to cope with this – and make important decisions – when you may be at the lowest point of your life.

“It’s not just the funeral, it’s dealing with the estate and restructuring the family’s finances if the person who dies was a bread-winner.

“It doesn’t matter how bereft you are, the brutal reality of life is that these things do have to be faced and dealt with.

“A lump sum payment at this really difficult time doesn’t make all that go away, but it can just help to make practical issues easier to deal with.  That’s why we do it.”

John’s son, Steve, who is one of Xmo Strata’s lead sign engineers, says that his mother regarded the payment as important and of great practical help.

Steve said he remembered being told about the policy and receiving details but had forgotten all about it.   Steve Martin was able to tell him soon after his father’s death that Marilyn would receive the money.

“John died too young and that’s always more difficult to deal with,” said Steve Martin.

“Friends, relatives and colleagues want to reach-out to the bereaved and offer comfort, but nothing you can do or say really touches the pain and the sense of loss.

“Certainly there’s nothing that we at the company could do to help Marilyn cope with that; the nature of bereavement is that you just have to experience it.  It’s something we all go through, sooner or later, and it isn’t a choice.

“The only things an employer can really do are practical, which is why we took out this policy.  It isn’t much, at a time like that, but it’s something.”

Editor’s note:  it is important that employees know and understand the importance of practical benefits available to them, and the Mitchell’s story helps to emphasise the value of the insurance policy.   We are deeply indebted to the family for permitting us to write about it in the newsletter.


Xmo Strata is making a serious investment in its online training hub for employees.

It is accessible on PCs, tablets and smart phones and in line with user feedback, the company are also working on making the current XmoCrew procedure more user friendly, including the implementation of larger tablets and buttons by the end of October.

“We currently have about a dozen training courses – most of them focused on behavioural safety,” said Managing Director Steve Martin.  “We also have the Gas Monitoring course that has now been taken by most employees and accredited subcontractors.  But the plan is to have more than 30 coming into the system in the next 12 months.”

The hub – which is found at www.xmohub.com – has a discussion board where users can ask and answer questions.  Access is strictly controlled to avoid online piracy and users have a login and password – but anyone who clearly intends to use the system to promote or achieve improved health and safety will be given access.

Staff Changes

Peter Barker

Emily Wilson

Operations Manager Peter Barker will be spending some time seconded to different parts of the business to improve his understanding of it at every level.

Project Coordinator Emily Wilson will take-over Peter’s office-based operational responsibilities – as well as Job Planning – for the rest of this year.

Operations Coordinator Steve Lamont will be engaged in field-based SHEQ coaching, with a brief to support both site teams and office staff, to enhance health and safety, quality and efficiency.

He’ll be joined in that role by SHEQ Auditor Lawrence Allen, who joined the company at the end of July.

Hazard Spot

How much of a risk is it if the cable ties attaching a banner stick out at eye level, and ‘toddler level’?

Not much, you’re thinking, right?

Well – read this story, about eye damage caused to a toddler in a Calvin Klein store, and – perhaps – think again!


Anything protruding from a structure at eye-level – particularly at eye-level to toddlers – has the potential to cause eye damage which may be permanent.  It’s a risk which is being increasingly recognised.

Sign EngineerCrew trained, experienced and equipped to install and maintain signage. Steve Mitchell knew that when he spotted cable ties fixing a banner which hadn’t been cut.  They can clearly be seen in the pictures he took on the spot sticking straight out from the banner.

Steve saw the ties at a filling station in Beaconsfield and provided an instant solution by cutting them to length himself, there and then.

“It took Steve moments to solve the problem – at no cost to the client – but it was his experience and know-how which enabled him to identify the hazard,” said Director Kate Parmentier.

Yet ANOTHER injury from a falling sign

We’ve spent a lot of time talking in the newsletter about the deaths and injuries which have been caused in recent years by incorrectly fitted signs falling on passers by – and on July 8 it happened again, this time in Bedford.

The HSEThe Health and Safety Executive (HSE) - The body responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare, and for research into occupational risks in England and Wales and Scotland. became involved when a 60 year old woman was taken to hospital by paramedics after being injured in the incident, on the town’s high street.

“Once again we have no idea what caused this, but it serves to remind us that we have a clear responsibility to do everything in our power to ensure that signs will not fall down once we’ve installed them,” said Managing Director Steve Martin.

“It’s why we’ve issued crews with damp meters, so they can check that wooden substrates to which some signs are fixed aren’t rotten, and it’s why we’ve insisted that – at the very least – rudimentary checks are undertaken to ensure that a substrate is sound.  No, our sign engineers aren’t structural engineers – but if a substrate is clearly rotten, or is wobbling or just not fixed correctly, that may be apparent just with the application of common sense and a few very simple checks.”

Posterior before visage!

Project Coordinator Rachel Francis, who works in the Marden head office, completed the Cancer Research Race for Life in July … but only decided to ask for donations after she’d completed it!

“I know, I know,” she said after the race.  “But actually quite a few people recognised it was for a good cause and came up with donations even if I did go about it a bit, erm, backwards, shall we say!!”

The 5km race took place in Maidstone’s Mote Park and Rachel – who raised £145 for Cancer Research – admitted to a few aches and pains afterwards!

… and talking of cancer…

Xmo Strata crews are out and about in all weathers as part of the job – and that means that the company encourages awareness of the risks of skin cancer.

The sun doesn’t have to be that bright to cause sunburn and crews are advised to use suncream whenever they are exposed to the sun for any length of time.

The company supported an IOSHInstitute of Occupational Safety and Health. campaign on the topic – more details at  http://www.notimetolose.org.uk/

Welcome to the world!

Sign EngineerCrew trained, experienced and equipped to install and maintain signage.’s mate Tom Slater and his wife Catherine had a baby girl at 3.45 am on May 19.   Annabella weighed-in at 9lb 1oz and is doing well at home in Rochester. Managing Director Steve Martin says he hopes to welcome Annabella to the team as first female sign engineerCrew trained, experienced and equipped to install and maintain signage. in 18 years’ time(!)

Three year contract with Quant Service.

In May the company signed a three-year contract covering sign and canopy maintenance on all company operated Esso/Tesco Alliance filling stations in the UK.

The contract covers signware and canopy maintenance

Quant Service Local Business Unit Manager Sean Pointon said:  “Xmo Strata has given us ten years of consistently high service and safety, so I am delighted that they have won a contract renewal.”

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