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February 4, 2015

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Global strategy: leaving safety’s mark on the world

In 2014, Fraser Allan’s risk management consultancy helped Worldmark develop its global HSE strategy. Starting in China and moving onto Mexico, he reflects on how the IOSH-accredited training to disseminate good safety practice is the first step in raising safety standards.

It was back in June 2012 when Brian Hunter, global quality manager at Worldmark Ltd, called me to ask if CBES Ltd (part of the City Refrigeration Holdings Group) could develop his business’s global HSE strategy.

Worldmark is a global manufacturer and distributor of leading edge labels, die-cuts, display windows and lens products. It is best known for providing high quality products to companies such as Dell, Amazon, Sony, Intel, Microsoft, Nokia, HP and De-Walt, among others. A truly global operation, it has over 18,700 employees, scattered across 44 offices, 12 manufacturing sites and five design centres, which are located in 15 countries.

From the outset, we decided to develop the strategy through CBES’s risk management consultancy, Total Risk Solutions. It was imperative that global compliance with HSE was in accordance with a robust set of standards and that these were embedded in the strategy.

The UK health and safety legislative framework was chosen as the benchmark for the health and safety education programme. This was done for two reasons: UK operations were further ahead than the rest of the business units. Second, it is widely recognised that the UK has a robust and pragmatic approach to managing health and safety, particularly via goal setting legislation, hazard identification and risk management.

There was one caveat, however. While the UK had been used as the benchmark for key standards around risk assessment, work equipment, hazardous substances, fire, noise and RPE/PPE, we agreed with Worldmark that regional and/or local requirements should take precedent if they exceeded UK standards.

Once the policy and strategy had been adopted, Total Risk Solutions ran an IOSH directing safely session for the company directors. At the same time, it made sure that the training incorporated the global strategy, together with its key standards and objectives.

The next step was to run the training at Worldmark’s international locations to ensure that a consistent approach was adopted globally. As a precursor, a webex that explained the strategy was recorded and circulated via its academy. This enabled the business’s employees to access online training.

The company’s senior management had the foresight and vision to recognise that regional and local managers needed to have a sound grounding in managing risk if the strategy was to be successfully implemented.

Taking this into account, Total Risk Solutions approached IOSH to accredit the training programme.

However, despite having the support of the largest global health and safety institute, there was obviously some apprehension. Not only was Total Risk Solutions developing and delivering training for an international market but it was also targeting very different audiences, each with its own unique safety cultures.

As a result, the course was carefully planned to ensure its practical application remained to the fore and focused on how to identify risk and implement proportionate and effective controls. In April 2014, Total Risk Solutions rolled out the training in Worldmark’s Chinese operations before moving on to Mexico the following month.

In China, training was centred on four cities – Suzhou, Chongqing, Shenzhen and Tainjin, with 44 delegates attending. Drawn from management and senior supervisor positions, their job roles ranged from production managers, quality managers, materials engineers, HR and manufacturing managers.

Most spoke English fairly well and all had a strong grasp of the written word. For my part, it meant speaking clearly and slowly and avoiding using any jargon and/or terminology that could cause confusion. If I saw that a delegate was looking puzzled, I stopped and explained the point again and described it in a different way.

This allowed me to critically review delivery. For example, after the first day, I reviewed how it had gone and reflected on how I would deliver the second day of training. This was to ensure that I could describe health and safety risks and controls, and that they could be clearly understood. Hazard and risk can be ambiguous when teaching candidates in the UK so describing this to delegates with English as a second language requires a careful use of language, together with visual aids and group discussion. It is also important to use examples and to listen as a teacher.

You constantly need to remind yourself to speak slowly. This is quite easy to begin with. Even so, one naturally begins to quicken ones speech without realising, so it’s important to constantly monitor delegates’ facial expressions and body language to make sure they are fully engaged and understand the course content.

Worldmark places a strong onus on quality and so I likened the approach of delivering good safety management to that of delivering a quality product. Minimising accidents reduces costs and understanding causes of accidents, near misses and risks is akin to identifying defects and minimising waste. It really is just good business sense.

After each exercise, I asked a selection of four-five managers/supervisors to take the class through how they would approach a task, for example, hazard identification, risk control measures, responsibilities and timescales. This enabled me to see whether the managers/supervisors had grasped the concepts and also helped them to feel engaged in the course. On reflection, I really felt that they had fully bought into the training and were going to use what they had learnt to make their workplaces safer and consequently drive the business forward.

Later on, I explained hazards and risks as they relate to noise, and explained exposure levels and time exposure. From the feedback, they all seemed to grasp the concept of doubling noise level and the halving of time exposure.

At the end, all 44 managers/supervisors sat the IOSH managing safety in Worldmark course, with everyone successfully passing. Reflecting on the positive results, the fact that we had translated both the three exercises and the examination paper in both English and Mandarin was instrumental in facilitating the learning and contributed significantly to the high pass rate.

In May 2014, we took the training to Mexico where managers had to inspect an area of an industrial plant as part of a group exercise. From this, Total Risk Solutions drafted a report to identify how the business in Mexico could outline shortfalls and ensure it facilitated the delivery of consistent global health and safety standards.

To find out more about the global HSE strategy, contact Fraser Allan at: [email protected] /

Fraser Allan is director of risk & compliance at CBES Ltd and past chair of the West of Scotland IOSH branch

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