When Pete Matthews became full time Health and Safety Manager for Gunnebo UK three years ago, although the company had a very good safety record, his aims were ambitious.“As a company, we aim to have zero accidents,” he explained.
The business need was twofold.“Firstly, we work for all the major banks, most of the major retail outlets and some industry organisations.Their safety standards are second to none.To maintain our position in the marketplace, we have to continuously improve the way we work, and a major part of that is to ensure our safety systems are the very best they can be.”
The second requirement was to build on the company’s reputation as a good organisation to work for, one that cared for its staff, to involve the workforce in safety improvements and to reduce the number of days lost through sickness.
As a longstanding member of EEF, with a good working relationship, Pete called on the services of EEFs regional team.
EEF consultant David Townsend visited the Wolverhampton site, and worked with Pete to establish a comprehensive overview of the company, a baseline from which improvements could be made.
“When working with our members,” David said, “we will always spend time getting to know the organisation, its activities and processes. I worked with Pete to identify the issues that he needed to address and offered suggestions so that best practice could be achieved in a sensible and practical way.”
David began with an in depth examination of the company’s operations, processes and activities, and continued with a review of the skills, capabilities, knowledge and experience of the existing staff.
“Based on our findings, we decided that the most appropriate approach was to embark on an extensive programme of training,” Pete continued.
EEF trainers worked from the Wolverhampton site’s training facility, delivering a series of standard IOSH courses aimed at providing a base level of knowledge appropriate to the different job responsibilities within the company. All directors attended a Safety for Senior Directors course. All staff with management responsibility were then put through a five day Managing Safely course. Finally all operators including administrative staff attended a one day Working Safely course.
“At the end of this period, everyone in the company had received a solid foundation of training, and gained a relevant IOSH certificate which is recognised throughout the country,” Pete said.
Now, with all staff trained to a good standard throughout the company, Pete is working closely with David to design and refine an on-going programme of training which builds on the foundation which has been put in place. “Going forward,” Pete said, “we now have a plan which will include a mixture of reinforcing what has already been learned with courses tailored to our needs.”
On-going analysis of the company’s safety record, practices and processes have revealed areas for further improvement, such as manual handling for all engineers.
Pete sees the relationship with EEF continuing indefinitely into the future. “Although we are not likely to have a massive turnover of operators there will always be a need for on-going health and safety training, expert advice and knowledge sharing,” he explained, “whether this is driven through new legislation from Europe, a continuation of best practice compliance or improvements on current procedures.”
The company finds it very easy and rewarding to work with EEF. “We have a very relaxed and good relationship with EEF. If we need help at any time we literally pick up the phone, and they get back to us straight away. Something that I personally value is that they are candid and open with us. If there are improvements to be made or changes to help us be more compliant and protected as a business, EEF is straight- talking, open and honest about it.”
Since undertaking the initial training, Gunnebo UK has seen a further reduction in accident rates, and is benefitting from a raised awareness of safety throughout the company. “Our staff now question and report things,” he concluded. “We have a sensible system in place which is not too draconian, that enables people to come forward with suggestions, and they now do exactly that. So it’s working very well.”
Fewer hours lost due to sickness resulting in greater productivity
Improved company-wide safety awareness and appreciation for safety measures
Pro-active staff involvement to improve the workplace and retain good practice as a team effort
- Recognised IOSH accreditation across the entire workforce, improving staff morale
About the company
Gunnebo UK is part of Gunnebo AB of Sweden, a leading provider of security solutions and services. From its base in Wolverhampton, the UK operation sells, installs and services high security equipment including Chubb Safes to blue chip clients that include most of the major banks, retail chains and organisations that require high specification safes and vaults.
Today, Gunnebo security products are manufactured by sister divisions in France, Germany and Indonisia.The UK operation, which employs some 197 staff across two sites in Wolverhampton, is largely sales and service oriented.The nearby warehouse provides a customisation service, and employs ten engineers dedicated to adapting the safes to specific customer requirements.