North of Scotland-based renewables and timber-processing business GMG Energy has called in risk management and compliance experts to ensure best-practice safety and mechanised production procedures to protect its staff.

The company employees six full-time people at the mill and is in talks with North Highland College about taking on its first apprentice to learn maintenance engineering. All staff have forklift tickets and undergo chainsaw and main saw training.

Business owner Malcolm Morrison said: “Sawmilling remains a high-risk business with a major injury rate that is over two and a half times that of general manufacturing.

“As a small business owner with a growing number of staff, I have been determined from the outset that the working environment at GMG Energy would be as safe as it could possibly be made, and that the welfare of the workforce would have the highest priority.

“With this in mind, I have called on the expertise, experience and deep industry knowledge of NFU Mutual Risk Management Services, which has existing programmes in place aimed at educating staff and reducing risk in what can be a challenging workplace.”

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NFU Mutual Risk Management Services, despatched respected Inverness-based risk management consultant Richard 'Richie' Hart, a well-known former professional footballer who now specialises in providing high levels of guidance on health and safety and business procedures. He instituted a programme in which he visits the site once a month and ensures that all administration and paperwork is up-to-date and compliant, and that all relevant regulations and workplace safeguards are followed.

Richie said: “The risks and incidents involved with sawmilling are well documented. From the very first meeting with GMG Energy, it was evident that Malcolm was fully committed to ensuring that the risks within the business were properly managed and more importantly, that employees were engaged and aligned with driving a positive safety culture.

“The commitment from the business is clear in that, the health and safety of its employees is the number 1 priority. With the support from NFU Risk Management Services and the commitment from the team at GMG Energy, we will continue to work together in ‘raising the bar’.”