Implementing successful health and safety initiatives in the manufacturing sector
Advanced Insulation won the Health and Safety Award at the recent Make UK (formally EEF) Future Manufacturing Awards. SHP caught up with Dan Howell, Group QHSE Manager to find out what helped the company stand out for the judges.
Advanced Insulation is a multi-discipline global leader in the provision of safety critical products for the offshore and onshore oil and gas industry. With customers operating in ever more challenging environments, its expertise is focused on developing innovative products and solutions that improve the safety and efficiency of the installation.
In addition to the design, supply, installation and commissioning of its insulation and passive fire protection systems the company also has significant capability in buoyancy and SURF products and insulation jackets. To support its global operations, the company has manufacturing facilities at three sites within the UK and in Brazil, Kazakhstan, South Korea and the UAE.
Speaking after the awards, Simone Gallimore, Manufacturing Industry Lead at AIG UK said: “Boosting health and safety in the workplace leads to significant improvements in employee wellbeing, operational efficiency and reduced spend on insurance and accidents. Manufacturers are leading the way.
“Advanced Insulation justly deserves this award for the fantastic work that they have done to improve their health and safety culture, setting a great example for manufacturers up and down the country.”
Stephen Phipson, CEO at Make UK, the Manufacturers’ Organisation added: “Health and Safety is paramount within the sector so I must congratulate all of the team at Advanced Insulation for the positive steps they have taken along with the priority Health and Safety clearly takes. They are a fantastic example and I hope other manufacturers replicate some of the key steps they’ve taken.”
SHP: What are some of the health and safety challenges which face the organisation, and manufacturing firms in general?
Dan Howell (DH): “The key challenge is to fully engage and involve the workforce in health and safety. A specific challenge we face is the remote nature of our workforce, with many employees working away from our own sites on client facilities around the world. Ensuring all workers are fully involved and captured has not been easy, but it has been key to the success of our health and safety initiative.”
SHP: You have a strong safety record, with no major incidents recorded, how has your safety culture helped to maintain that?
(DH): “Our move towards a world-class safety culture has meant that health and safety has become a key focus at all levels within the organisation. The board of directors and senior management team have given added weight to health and safety risks at a strategic level, and departmental managers have reduced the risk of major incidents in their part of the business through department-led risk reduction plans aimed at reducing or eliminating their significant health and safety risks. The entire workforce have been involved in these initiatives, which has helped ensure all hazards and risks are known and captured.”
SHP: How important do you feel safety is, not only for your staff, but also for the reputation and longevity of the business?
(DH): “Safety is clearly important to the staff in our workplace (as in any workplace!). Coming in every day knowing they have a safe place of work is an important motivational factor.
“Further to this, health and safety is a key focus for our clients, many of whom operate in high risk industries such as oil & gas and nuclear. Demonstration of a positive safety culture backed up by excellent health and safety performance can make the difference between winning and losing work. The reputational damage of a serious incident could seriously impact our business.”
SHP: Congratulations on your recognition at the recent EEF Future Manufacturing Awards. Could you talk about some of the metrics you have in place, which stood out for the judging panel?
(DH): “Some of the metrics from which we’ve seen clear improvements include incident reporting, which saw a 100% increase in the first year our health and safety initiative was launched. The metric which had a large impact on the judging panel is injury rates which reduced by 76% over a four-year period – This reduction in employee injuries is ultimately what the initiative is aiming for, and so has been a key measure of success.
“Furthermore, proactive metrics such as improvements to auditing, and the carrying out of staff surveys, have also provided a clear demonstration of improvements in health and safety performance.”
SHP: It was also noted that the organisation has a ‘clear emphasis’ on leadership. Please explain a little about the structure of the teams and how health and safety is viewed within them.
(DH): “Leadership has played a key part in the improvements. Without full buy-in and commitment from the leadership team it would not have been possible to engage the workforce to the extent we have, and thus would not have seen the related improvements.
“Key members of the senior leadership team formed a safety steering committee, ensuring leaders from different parts of the business share ownership of the business health and safety strategy.
“Senior managers have been given specific training, and processes put in place, to allow them to promote health and safety in their areas and drive improvements.”
SHP: How vital is communication within a business, when it comes to maintaining a strong safety culture? Not only on the messages that are being delivered, but how they are being delivered?
(DH): “Effective communication is vital within a business and is another key challenge we face given the nature of our global workforce.
“A strong and consistent message from the top of the organisation has helped us achieve this. All employees have attended events opened by the Group Managing Director and Director of Operations, who have spoken about the health and safety of the workforce being the top priority for the business, and what it means to them personally.
“In addition to this, improvements have been made to communication channels across the business allowing for full consultation with the workforce at all levels.
SHP: What outcomes have you seen since the business started to implement some of the initiatives which made you stand out from the other contenders. For instance, why is it important to increase the number of near misses being reported?
(DH): “The increase in reporting of all near misses is extremely valuable as it allows full investigation of incidents which have not caused harm but could result in an accident if they were to occur again. These near misses can then be learnt from and actions put in place to prevent further incidents.
“The engagement of the workforce has allowed many initiatives to be led from the shop floor rather than senior management or the health and safety team. This has allowed different areas of focus than if initiatives were solely led from higher levels.”
SHP: Are there any other safety initiatives which you are looking to roll out over the next 12 months?
(DH): “There are always new initiatives being launched as part of the wider health and safety improvement drive. Future initiatives include the creation of a strategy with senior managers to create a culture of full health and safety ownership in their workforce. Also, a focus on health and safety competency is planned.
“An organisation-wide health and safety climate survey (consisting of a series of interviews) will help identify further areas to target and help maintain the drive towards a world-class health and safety culture within Advanced Insulation.”