Can-Pack UK is a relative newcomer to the British can manufacturing sector.The Scunthorpe site, which opened in January 2009, is located in a completely refurbished manufacturing facility and equipped with the very latest machinery, but when company records showed a higher number of accidents and incidents last year, HSE Advisor Carol Betts looked into the findings.
“While these figures may have been due to improvements in our reporting system,” she commented, “they encouraged us to look for ways to focus our staff more closely on health and safety.”
The challenge at Scunthorpe is interesting. Can-Pack is headquartered in Poland, but has expanded across Europe, the Middle East, India and North Africa, offering its staff the opportunity to work in key roles in the new locations. As a result, Can-Pack UK has a strong international team drawn from around the world.
The company’s global business language is English, so generally there are no language issues. However, the multinational nature of the workforce in the UK has resulted in various levels of awareness and understanding of health and safety best practice, particularly in technical and regulatory areas.
“In the UK we expect our managers and supervisors to be responsible for the health and safety measures. We realised that it was necessary to give them a common understanding of those responsibilities,” Carol said. “In parallel with this we needed to provide a uniform set of tools and rules enabling the business to operate, taking those responsibilities into account.”
Having become a member of EEF in 2010, Can-Pack had already used the HR & legal and Health & Safety services. It was natural for Carol, with the backing of the board of directors, to discuss her concerns and her vision for the future of health and safety with EEF Business Development Manager Greg Ward.
“Carol shared the challenges the business faced, but was clearly determined to instill not just best practice standards but the right behaviors within the business. It was clear that Carol was not looking for a quick fix solution, but instead wanted to identify the root cause of current cultures,” Greg said. Together, they explored the options and developed a training programme that would take all the issues into account and deliver that vision.
The agreed plan was to begin with two IOSH Managing Safety courses which included elements such as risk assessment, risk management, health and safety law and staff responsibilities, all tailored specifically to the Scunthorpe site. “By holding the courses at Can-Pack we felt we would be able to use real life examples from the site, giving our staff something they could relate to,” Carol said. “We would also be able to take the course at an appropriate pace to overcome any language issues.”
There were inevitably some difficulties with understanding, particularly as the topics could be quite complex and technical. But the course attendees, who were drawn from all parts of the factory and seldom worked together, began helping each other to understand the subjects outlined. “It created a great team spirit,” Carol said, “and one of the interesting pieces of feedback we had from the participants was that they really enjoyed that atmosphere.”
Both courses were open to managers and supervisors, and took place one day a week over a period of four weeks, culminating in a practical risk assessment project and written examination paper.
“The EEF trainers were brilliant,” Carol said. “They were very knowledgeable and knew how to keep the delegates listening. Sometimes health and safety can be a dry subject but they managed to put it across in an easily understandable and enthusiastic manner, which had a big influence on the outcome.”
When EEF subsequently interviewed the delegates, the feedback demonstrated their improved understanding of health & safety. “We did health & safety meetings before,” one reported. “Now we know why.”
For Can-Pack, these courses are not seen as a quick fix but the beginning of a long-term drive to improve health and safety across the organisation. The plan is to continue working with EEF to design an on-going programme to embed good practices and improve on them. “Training often starts and ends at the delivery stage, ”Greg said,“ but Can-Pack understand the benefits of an on-going development cycle. We are now working with line managers to drive positive change and realise return on expectations, and have further stages of culture development agreed for 2013.”
As part of this, Carol is building on the achievements of the Managing Safety course. “Many of our managers went into the course thinking risk assessment was beyond them, but they all coped remarkably well,” she explained. “I shall be running a programme in the new year where they will put into practice the things they identified during their project.”
At a time when many companies are looking to cut back on expenditure, Can-Pack sees this on-going investment in health and safety training as part of a long-term commitment that will ultimately bring both human and financial benefits.
- Staff culture at Scunthorpe is improved and continuing to change
- 100% pass rate achieved by all delegates attending the course
- Acceptance that health & safety is everyone’s responsibility
- Supervisors and managers understand their level of responsibility for ensuring a safe workplace and workforce
- Proactive action from staff to identify health & safety issues
- Wider solution based thinking from staff and openness to sharing suggestions for a safer workplace
- Can-Pack are so proud of their achievements they are considering entering awards in 2013 to promote the importance of Health & Safety management within a diverse workforce
About the company
Can-Pack UK, based in Scunthorpe, manufactures beverage cans predominantly for the alcohol and beer markets in the UK and Europe and is part of the Can-Pack SA group which has manufacturing sites in Poland, Ukraine, Romania, UK, Finland, Russia, Morocco, Dubai and India.
The Scunthorpe site, one of Can-Pack’s newest and most modern plants, has been in operation since 2009 and employs a workforce of over 160.