People before paperwork
The Chicester-based company manufactures convenience foods, prepared salads, and fruit products. Parr says that their belief is in an approach which surpasses systems and paperwork, and instead looks at the human element of the equation.
“Probably the key learning for us has been cultural engagement,” Parr revealed. “We get different levels of management to do regular tours around sites, picking up on practices.”
He was keen to stress that cultural practices have to be led from above. Every member of the operational management team, and above, should have a good understanding of what is happening on the factory floor. This helps with a number of objectives. Firstly, there is no disconnect between what the management team is asking for, and what is actually happening or is even possible in production. Secondly, processes can be improved and assessed while they are in use, instead of upper management simply assuming that everything is being done as asked for. This can have far-reaching implications beyond health and safety, helping with performance and productivity.
Best practice from the start
Parr indicated that the best practices must be stressed right from the very beginning, and then maintained, to ensure that levels of safety stay high.
New recruits should be invited to discuss health and safety, as well as raising any concerns that they may have on entering a new situation. This will help those in potentially hazardous roles such as operatives jobs to avoid the dangers which are well-known by those with more experience. It also means that there are regular sets of fresh eyes looking at the scenarios, meaning that there are more chances to come up with even safer measures to prevent harm from befalling anyone on the site.
An external training provider is brought in to Natures Way Foods in order to ensure that best practices are still being carried out long after training has been completed. They operate by filming people at work during a normal working shift. Then, they bring these people in for a group session in which they review the videos in order to highlight best practice. Again, concerns can be raised on these occasions, as well as reminders for the workforce to put safety first and prevent stupid mistakes.
“We have refreshed our Institution of Occupational Safety & Health training for our managers and taken them through a health and safety culture workshop,” Parr added. “As part of our culture journey in order to measure progress, we run an annual health and safety engagement survey for all staff.”
It sounds like their approach is very detailed, taking in health and safety at every possible step of the way. No one is allowed to forget the training that they have been given, and standards are not allowed to slip. In addition, every possible effort is made to ensure that workers are following best practices which reduce the risk of accidents as far as possible.
Listening to the views of staff members from every level of the organisation is also a key part of the process. They are given every opportunity to voice their concerns and raise new ideas, for the benefit of all. There is a lot that many businesses could learn from this approach.