Sign company Xmo Strata, which specialises in the re-branding and maintenance of signage on petrol forecourts, is adopting a sophisticated approach to root cause analysis as the next stage in its health and safety strategy.

The company, which carries out UK-wide sign installation and maintenance, already has a strong reputation for health and safety – something which is a dominant issue on its website (

But the company is now focused on training staff to get to the root of problems in a systematic, logical way – and to follow-through with clear policies designed to prevent a repeat.

Managing director Steve Martin and operations director Kate Parmentier attended an intensive two-day course on root cause analysis – run by TapRooT, a US company which has developed a specific approach to the subject.

“We have a very comprehensive health and safety programme which benchmarks positively in the industry but root cause analysis is becoming increasingly effective and the TapRooT system is widely respected,” said Parmentier.

The thinking behind root cause analysis will now be used in the investigation of any appropriate incidents reported by the company’s employees.

“It’s sad that there are still people out there whose understanding of health and safety is so limited that they look at our system – which takes around 300 potential incident/hazard spot reports a year from employees – and say ‘look – 300 reports – they’re obviously unsafe’!

“The only way to encourage open and honest reporting is to have a blame-free culture in which it is widely understood that the company is not just paying lip-service to health and safety, but means it. We all make errors, mistakes and poor judgement calls every now and then, because we’re all human – and if people cover these things up because they fear the consequences of reporting them, no one ever learns how to avoid the problem in the future.

“Root cause analysis will help us to analyse the data more effectively, manage it efficiently, get to the nub of a problem quickly, and strategise a solution.”