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Awakening a health and safety culture at Hone-All Precision

EEF helps family engineering business develop and implement a new health and safety management system and achieve recognition as an exemplar of best practice.

“I believe the attitude and culture has changed throughout Hone-All. Much of that is down to the way Mike at EEF presented to my staff at every level, making sure the language was understandable and hit home hard. There has been a true awakening of awareness to health and safety across the business. I believe this is why we’ve maintained  our good safety  record at a time when we’ve been growing the business.”

Andrea Rodney, Director.

Overview

As a family owned and managed engineering business, Hone-All has always striven for excellence, and has long been recognised for its quality and lean manufacturing achievements. Safety is seen as an integral part of this, however it was not until general manager Lisa Mills was taking part in an EEF Health, Safety, Climate and Environment briefing and invited EEF consultant Mike Prince to visit the factory to see what they were doing from the health and safety perspective, that the company realised they could do more to raise the H&S standards to the same high level of excellence as other areas of the business.

“We had a simple health and safety policy in place, ran risk assessments and induction schemes, and did everything we could to keep our employees safe,” explained director, Andrea Rodney, “but we hadn’t understood the amount of written documentation, policies and procedures that we needed, to be fully compliant. The moment Mike showed us this, we were quite shocked.”

Following this revelation, they decided to address the issue in the way they always tackled business issues – with thoroughness and energy.

The challenge, as they saw it, was to implement a world class health and safety management system, one that would meet all legislative requirements, and yet would be practical enough for everyone to use on a daily basis. “We are a small business,” Andrea said. “At that time we had 25 employees, so the system would need to work within those constraints, and satisfy all the requirements of HSE.”

Having worked closely with EEF over a number of years improving the HR side of the business, Andrea and Lisa approached EEF for help. For them, it was a logical choice based on experience. “The advice and support we received from EEF on HR issues has always been impeccable, and that gave us the confidence to go to them for health and safety too.”

Approach

EEF consultant and health and safety expert, Mike Prince visited the Hone-All facility in Leighton Buzzard again, and conducted a gap analysis on health and safety practices – reviewing the company’s current documentation, processes and practices, and identifying the areas that needed to be strengthened. From this he submitted a detailed proposal.

“We are great believers in our ISO9000 system,” Andrea said. “It’s not just a pretty certificate on our wall, it helps us run our business and improve it. We wanted exactly the same for our H&S system.” As a result, they decided to work with EEF to develop a H&S management system in line with OHSAS 18001.

The first tasks in the process were to write a practical and comprehensive health and safety manual for the company, and to carry out an audit of the shop floor to identify training requirements, and changes and improvements that had to be made.

These activities went hand in hand, and resulted in the development of a manual and health and safety system that had the buy in and involvement of every member of staff. “What we wanted to achieve was a bottom up and not a top down system,” Mike explained. “Andrea and Lisa wanted this to be a Hone-All management system, and not one imposed by management or by a consultant.”

EEF’s in-depth knowledge of health and safety compliance and best practice was the foundation upon which this was built. Every member of staff took part in a one-day IOSH Working Safely course. “This gave them the tools to identify the hazards they encountered in their workplace,” Mike said. “Writing the manual was something that evolved from this.”

He began by providing a generic framework for the manual. Turning this into a company manual was a matter of engaging the workforce and listening to them. “Everyone in the business had ideas,” Mike explained. “We considered everything they contributed. However, by this point my input was purely technical guidance. Lisa and her colleagues developed and wrote the manual while I checked it and pointed them in the right direction.”

In parallel with this, the company made significant investments in improving safety equipment on the shop floor and Mike developed a health and safety management system that was designed to be self managing. It was, of course, compliant with legal requirements for updating information, risk assessments and so on. “But Hone-All didn’t want a system that would become a hungry horse,” Mike said. “I gave it a nice front-end so that everything could be found and done within three clicks, designed around the average user’s web experience.”

Since implementing the new system, Hone-All has been inspected by HSE and commended for its proactive approach and high standards and practices. Similarly, the company’s insurance assessor commented that it was the best managed business he had visited, and would be recommending that the insurance provider fights much harder for the company’s business at renewal time.

“I believe the attitude and culture has changed throughout Hone-All,” Andrea said. “And much of that is down to the way Mike presented to my staff at every level, making sure the language was understandable and hit home hard enough for them to understand their own responsibilities as well as understanding ours. There has been a true awakening of awareness to health and safety across the business. And I believe this is why we’ve maintained our good safety record at a time when we’ve been growing the business and taking on heavier work.”

“It was clear throughout,” Mike concluded, “that the directors sincerely believed that their staff are their business. Without their commitment from the top, we could not have achieved what we did.”

Results

  • All staff were involved in developing the new health and safety processes, engendering a better health and safety culture across the company
  • Hone-All’s safety record - always good – has improved.
  • Staff levels have risen by 40% but the minor accident rate has only increased by 11%.
  • Following a recent HSE inspection, the business was hailed as exemplary
  • Following a visit the company’s insurer, the agent would be ‘seriously recommending that they fight very hard to keep our business’

About the company

Hone-All  Precision Ltd is a supplier of deep hole boring, deep hole drilling, CNC gundrilling, CNC honing, and CNC turning. The company offers a full range of services into some of the largest industry sectors that include aerospace, automotive, oil & gas, medical and others, to individuals who may be rebuilding a classic car and where parts are unavailable.

There is a proud family business culture which emphasises approachability, teamwork, communication and co-operation and an open door policy on management, business strategy and for sharing best practice.

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