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In the spotlight with Peter Dumigan

10 August 2020

This month we put Peter Dumigan in the spotlight to find out about his route into the health and safety sector, career highlights and the impact workwear has on wellbeing.

How did you get into the health and safety industry?

Well almost by accident! I left my previous role in 2008 and joined Snickers Original Limited (as it was then called) in July of that year on a temporary 3 month contract – and I’ve been here ever since!

What do you enjoy most about your job?

For me it has always been a combination of the people I work with, the quality of the brands I represent and the ethos of the company. Despite its overall size and international operations, I immediately felt like part of the “family” when I joined the UK operation, and that is very much the case now too. When I joined the company, there was only the Snickers brand but now there are another 11 brands on top of that, and they are all, without exception, brands to be proud of for their quality and commitment to delivering a better working experience for professionals. And, of course, Hultafors Group, with the backing of owners AB Latour, have huge ambition and passion for growth, as evidenced by the multiple acquisitions, both in Europe and the USA over the last few years. I have worked in a lot of companies through my career, but I can honestly say I have never been happier than I am today.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the health and safety industry in UK?

In my view, the biggest single challenge for H&S professionals continues to be the drive to fully engage all employees in the culture required to sustain a safe and heathy working environment. Everyone needs to see the positive benefits of safe working practices, not just the Health and Safety Manager, to the point that taking unnecessary risks is seen as “just wrong” and potentially anti-social by everyone in the workplace. 

How do you think these challenges can be overcome?

This is a complex and long-term challenge for the industry to overcome. It requires a mix of regulation, education and cultural change, but it can be done. Obvious examples that come to mind would be the wearing of seatbelts or crash helmets, but change has also happened in less obvious areas. The wearing of properly designed work trousers, with kneepad pockets built in, is an example – 20 years ago, most trades people were still wearing old jeans or tracksuit bottoms to work, but nowadays this would be seen as unprofessional by most in the industry. There is no doubt in my mind that this shift, led in the UK by Snickers Workwear, has seen an improvement in the wellbeing of millions of plumbers, electricians, builders and other craftsmen over the years. Premium brands such as those we represent, will always strive to not only make their products as safe as possible, but also attractive to the user through comfort, style and design. This why we say that “our most important safety feature is your usage…It must feel perfect, because protective equipment is useless if it is not used”. Health and Safety Executives have a role to play here in influencing their purchasing colleagues to think, not just about the short term cost of PPE but also the real world effectiveness. After all, any piece of PPE will be an expensive waste of money, if the user decides not to wear it!

What sets the Hultafors Group apart from its competitors?

The most obvious difference between the Hultafors Group and others is the range of premium brands in our portfolio, forming a unique product family for professional craftsmen. Each of our brands contribute with knowledge and insight into the challenges professional users experience every day. In combination with our shared passion to keep professional users at the forefront, we can meet, even exceed expectations and deliver products and services that make the workday safer, easier and more productive. Hultafors Group is represented in all major markets in Europe, with its own sales organisation in key markets, and following further recent acquisitions, is expanding into North America too. Our Mission is to create a better day for professional users so they can excel and thrive, now and in the future. 

What are you most memorable successes at the Hultafors Group in the UK?

The UK business was built on the Snickers Workwear brand, and we all feel proud of the contribution Snickers’ products have made to the working comfort and wellbeing of our wearers over many years. We also feel that we led the way in the UK workwear market towards the recognition of the benefits of appropriate clothing for professionals across many industries. Innovations in ergonomics have been significant, including our two position KneeGuard system which allows kneepads to be adjusted to fit each wearer precisely, for example, or the unique use of D3O shock absorbing material in our kneepads. With the recent addition of our ProtecWork family of protective wear, which combines Snickers Workwear’s renowned ergonomics and fit, with 20 years’ experience of designing and developing heat and flame protective wear for the energy and railway sectors, we have a foundation to build on in these sectors too. 

What are the next products in the pipeline?

The latest products from our brand portfolio include the new Xstream hearing protection ear muffs with Bluetooth and Level Dependent active listening technology, from Hellberg Safety. Xstream connects via Bluetooth to your phone for wireless music streaming and phone calls. Your hearing is protected while you enjoy your favourite music with excellent sound quality, and the built-in speech microphone allows you to make phone calls. Active listening microphones in each earcup ensure excellent directional hearing, offer natural sounds and enables you to hear conversations, warning signals and other important information without compromising protection.

And from our most recent acquisition, Emma, comes the world’s only fully “circular” safety footwear range. By “circular” we mean:

  • Every Emma shoe has its own material passport.

  • The materials in the shoe have been selected for their long useful life.

  • All raw materials are reused.

  • A future application is known for every material.

  • All shoes are individually identified in order to be able to trace them throughout the chain.

All of which means that Emma safety footwear is extremely environmentally sustainable, whilst remaining extremely safe and extremely comfortable, with multiple widths and even orthopaedic options.

What’s your vision for the future of the Hultafors Group in the UK?

I expect our UK business to continue to grow organically as we build sales from our most recent acquisitions, and probably acquire additional brands over time. We will be a broad range supplier of premium PPE across the UK, including in the industrial sector, by providing high quality, sustainable products that are desired and selected by both wearers and specifiers. We will use our experience and insight from across our brands and the markets we operate in, to continue to develop winning products and solutions for professionals in the UK safety industry.

What do you think the medium term future holds for the safety industry globally?

It is a cliché to say that we are living in rapidly changing times but it is nonetheless true. Recent global events have had a seismic effect on the world of work generally and this will inevitably impact on the safety industry in new and various ways – some obvious – eg. how to minimise the risk of infection? and some less obvious – eg. How to mitigate the effect on mental health of isolated working? Another important factor will be the impact of an aging population, at least in the major Western economies, where people are expected to work longer and as their physical abilities decline the work requirement remains the same. The design of work and the workplace environment around this change will become increasingly important.

What health and safety issues are you most passionate about?

From our standpoint in the Hultafors Group, we are most interested in what we can do by design, incorporating effective ergonomic solutions into PPE and even hand tools, to encourage safer working practices, either through removing obstacles to wearing PPE or “building-in” safety to everyday activities. In the end, our goal is to create a better working day for our users, which allows them to enjoy life both in and outside work, now and in the future.

Peter Dumigan is managing director at Hultafors Group UK Limited. For more information, visit www.snickersworkwear.co.uk