Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Training transforms Brunner Mond chemical plant
Article Type: Notes and news From: Industrial and Commercial Training, Volume 40, Issue 3.
A bulk-chemical manufacturing plant that used to have a higher than average accident rate has operated without a single lost-time injury (LTI) for more than a million hours for the first time in ten years following a training initiative. The achievement gives the Brunner Mond plant in Northwich, Cheshire, one of the best safety records in the UK chemical industry.
In 2001, the plant’s accident rate was at such a level that almost every employee could expect to be the victim of some type of LTI in his or her working life. Now the firm has been highly commended for the training in the UK National Training Awards.
The company, which makes a million tonnes a year of raw materials for the glass, food, pharmaceutical and detergent industries, improved its safety record by changing employee behaviour. It focused on eliminating unsafe acts and promoting safe behaviours through a program known as Susa (safe and unsafe acts).
Fraser Ramsay, Brunner Mond manufacturing manager, who championed the initiative, said: “It is important that all employees understand the principles of behavioral safety, recognize and believe that all accidents are avoidable and do not just walk past when they see unsafe acts being carried out”.
The Susa initiative required three trainers to lead by example and 25 per cent of the workforce to train as observers to recognize unsafe behaviour, to help others to recognize it and to praise safe behaviour without embarrassment. Senior managers were charged with ending the “blame” culture and encouraging the open reporting of accidents.
Brunner Mond also designed and delivered safe-behaviour workshops to all 450 employees and a large number of contractors. As a result, there has been a step-change in compliance with key safety regulations, and far more near-misses are being reported.
Susa has permeated outside the workplace. One woman has regular Susa discussions with her two sons. And the managing director applied Susa principles to a recent skiing holiday, asking himself the question: “What is the worst thing that could happen here?”. He bought a safety helmet after 20 years of skiing without one.
Fraser Ramsay continued: “Since we started the Susa program, manufacturing output has increased, business profits have doubled and our quality-assurance audit reports have shown significant improvement. This indicates that safety excellence does indeed go hand in hand with business excellence”.