Posted on 10 July 2012.
More than 5,000 injuries within the UK food and drink manufacturing sector are reported to the Health and Safety Executive each year, representing about a quarter of all the reported injuries in manufacturing. Manual handling and slips and trips are the most common causes of these injuries.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is a safety charity that has been at the heart of accident prevention in the UK and around the world for more than 90 years.
Tom Mullarkey MBE, chief executive of RoSPA.
“Accidents cause loss and suffering to the victims and their loved ones, employers and UK society as a whole,” points out Tom Mullarkey MBE, chief executive of RoSPA. “For this reason, our mission is to save lives and reduce injuries and we do this by promoting safety and the prevention of accidents at work, at leisure, on the road, in the home and through safety education.”
Many of the services offered by RoSPA’s workplace safety department are relevant to firms in the food and drink industry, regardless of whether they are manufacturers, distributors or retailers.
For example, RoSPA’s manual handling training courses, including its new BTEC Manual Handling Trainers (Level 3) course, and risk assessment services have been developed to address one of the major causes of injury in the food and drink sector. Also of particular interest on the training and consultancy front is RoSPA’s forklift truck training and consultancy services on issues such as on-site workplace transport and noise.
Additionally, RoSPA offers a full suite of services to help firms manage occupational road risk, including management solutions like policy reviews, as well as risk assessment and driver training.
RoSPA also offers a wide range of general health and safety training courses that are ideal for occupational safety professionals looking to improve their qualifications or any member of the workforce seeking to increase their knowledge and skills.
“We pride ourselves on being able to respond to the specific needs of our clients and, as such, we can tailor our services to the requirements of any organisation, regardless of their size. In the food and drink sector, our work brings us into contact with multinationals right the way down to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs),” explains Tom Mullarkey.
“When working with SMEs, it’s crucial to remember that they are not just smaller versions of large companies: they face distinct challenges when it comes to health and safety. As well as time constraints, tight budgets mean difficult decisions often have to be taken about how to invest appropriately in health and safety, and the recession has only served to increase these pressures. SMEs, for example, may find it difficult to access specialist help on health and safety, including training.”
He elaborates: “We also know that SMEs tend to have higher accident rates and the effects of injuries and ill health on the business can be particularly acute. Accidents can interrupt business continuity, for example, where the prolonged absence of a key member of staff results in significant lost time. Accidents can affect future orders, limit output and damage workforce morale.”
However, the financial cost of complying with health and safety regulations is different in small and large firms. One report has found that, on a per employee basis, SMEs may be spending nearly six times more than larger firms on risk assessment.
“Efforts to raise health and safety standards in smaller businesses, therefore, should be built around the specific challenges they face and should not be overly burdensome in terms of time or financial costs,” he adds.
Health & Safety Achievements
Another area of RoSPA’s work concerns the recognition of health and safety achievements. Each year, the RoSPA Occupational Health and Safety Awards – the largest and longest running awards programme of its type in the UK – provide recognition to firms that are committed to continuous improvement on accident and ill health prevention. More than 80 food and drink manufacturing firms were successful in the RoSPA Awards 2012.
Sector award winners included Premier Foods of St Albans, which won the Food and Drink Manufacturing sector, and Chivas Brothers – Pernod Ricard of Paisley, winner of the International Dilmun Environmental Award (sponsored by GPIC).
Organic yoghurt maker Yeo Valleyprovides a further illustration of RoSPA’s activity within the food and drink industry. In just seven years, Yeo Valley moved from Level 3 to Level 5 (Diamond – the highest level) in RoSPA’s flagship Quality Safety Audit scheme, which provides an in-depth analysis of the specific factors at the heart of an organisation’s safety performance.
“Working with RoSPA enables firms to gain access to our unrivalled suite of services across all areas of safety, enabling them to not only meet their legal and moral responsibilities when it comes to safety and health, but also to enjoy the very real business benefits of effectively managing this area of work,” Tom Mullarkey comments.
He concludes: “For many SMEs, for example, the structure and formality of a risk assessment provides the only process and quality system they have, which they need to differentiate themselves from the ‘cowboys’. For larger companies, particularly in times of slow growth, effective health and safety management results in cultural cohesion, strong leadership and reduced costs from, for example, fewer vehicle fleet collisions or fewer employee absences through ill health.”
For further information visit www.rospa.com.