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AT Engine Controls goes from audit challenges to 18001 certification

When a health and safety audit revealed AT Engine Controls (ATEC) had a long way to go to achieve best practice, they implemented a programme of process improvements and manager training. To achieve their goal (even without a health and safety manager), the company received support from an EEF health and safety consultant with particular expertise in supporting cultural transformation and safety competence building programmes. The Manchester-based firm not only achieved a dramatic improvement on their audit score, but recently achieved BS OHSAS 18001 certification (the top UK standard for health and safety practices).

“We’ve made a massive improvement since we started back in 2013. We have to thank our health and safety adviser at EEF who put in a lot of work with us to get to where we are now.”
– Beverley Abdulla, HR Business Partner, AT Engine Controls

Overview

When the health and safety officer at ATEC left the organisation, his responsibilities were transferred to the HR department. As a long-time member of EEF (and receiving the organisation’s HR and employment law guidance package), ATEC once again turned to EEF to provide support. Firstly, ATEC upgraded their EEF membership to include health and safety guidance so they would have access to online resources and downloadable templates, twice annual visits from a health and safety expert and a dedicated adviser to call or email with any questions on best practice or compliance.

As ATEC’s HR Business Partner, Beverley Abdulla wanted to know how ATEC stood in terms of their current health and safety practices. She brought in EEF’s Mick Baah, a health and safety consultant, to help.

 

Approach

Mick’s first job was to conduct an audit of ATEC’s safety policies and activities against HSG65 standards. The firm achieved 58%, indicating there was plenty of room for improvement. Based on the gaps identified, Mick helped ATEC develop a roadmap and action plan for improvements.

A key aspect of the roadmap was a culture change amongst the company’s line managers who hadn’t been involved in actively promoting health and safety before. This required EEF to conduct a series of training programmes covering:

  • Risk assessments, including for fire and dangerous substances
  • COSHH
  • Manual handling
  • IOSH managing safely for corporate leadership

“Before health and safety was the responsibility of one person. Now it is a true team effort, with everyone working together to ensure health and safety is managed effectively” Mick explains.

This effort is led by a committee made up of designated safety representatives from across the business, who received specialist training on how to fulfil their role in addition Senior Managers now conduct factory inspections on a monthly basis.

 

Outcome

Three years in ATEC’s score rose to 79% a 20% increase.

“We’ve made a massive improvement in that time,” Beverley says. “We have to thank our health and safety adviser at EEF who put in a lot of work with us to get to where we are now. He not only helped with the gap analysis and supporting us through our changes, but he also did most of the training with our team.”

Not only did the company improve against their own targets, but they were able to receive external validation.

“As a supplier to the MOD, ATEC were often audited by external parties and they consistently got great feedback on their safety approach and performance. So they decided to go try for 18001 certification,” Mick explains.

Recently, the company achieved their certification after an LRQA audit led by their newly appointed Quality Manager, Phil Whittaker, which has already proven beneficial in terms of working with other leading organisations that expect proof that their supply chain has made safety a priority.

Beverley says, “We’ve had customers asking our sales team – do you have 18001? It is just a yes or no answer, so if you don’t have the certification you’re not even considered. Now we can say, ‘yes we do.’”

She says, ““EEF has been massively integral in achieving the 18001 standard.”

The company is so pleased with their progress, they want to share what they’ve learned and celebrate their team’s accomplishments by entering the EEF Future Manufacturing Awards in the Health and Safety category.

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