The Fortec Distribution Network, one of the UK’s most innovative pallet networks, has carried out a total overhaul of its Health & Safety procedures to instil a “Safety First” culture at its national Hub.
It follows a £3 million expansion of the Hub and investment in safety and security systems including 126 high-resolution CCTV cameras, LED lighting, marked pedestrian zones, safety flooring, truck park surfacing and multi-lingual signs around the site.
The radical shake-up is designed to give everyone, from boardroom to warehouse shop-floor, ownership and to encourage them to take responsibility for both their own and others’ safety and to speak up if they have any concerns about working practices.
Near-miss reporting stations have been positioned throughout the Watford Gap site to allow team members to submit feedback anonymously if they wish. To further encourage people to speak up, two members of the warehouse team have been trained as Safety Champions.
Instilling the new culture has been achieved in the past year following a systematic and strategic programme of training, communications and engagement with staff, with an inter-departmental group ensuring cross-company buy-in to the vision.
The entire accident reporting process was overhauled to remove a ‘tick box culture’ and replace it with a pro-active approach where accidents and near-misses are scrutinised for opportunities to make the working environment safer, and action taken.
Every task in the Hub has been fully reviewed in the past 12 months from a Health & Safety angle, a full site risk assessment was carried out and gas and fire safety procedures reviewed.
A Continuous Improvement Process (CIP) was developed that includes a progress tracker incorporating data for all elements of the business and progress reported through a bi-monthly newsletter called ‘At Your Convenience’ that was posted up in toilets and emailed to all staff.
Stuart White, General Manager Operations, Fortec Distribution Network, commented: “We want to get everyone on board because otherwise, you don’t get change. People are our number one priority: we want them to be safe on our site and we want them to speak up.
“Honest feedback is vital because when we hear about near-misses it gives more information about how we can best avoid accidents happening in future. Everyone needs to take responsibility for their own safety and that of their colleagues’.”
Fortec has invested heavily in training, with all the team leaders, supervisors and the Day Manager and Night Manager completing the IOSH Managing Safety course and courses in Managing Forklift Operations Safely and Accident Investigation Training.
The network has also established its own forklift truck training for new and existing recruits. Two members of staff have been supported by the business to qualify as Association of Industrial Truck Trainers (AITT) instructors and so far, they have trained around 60 new recruits.
The standard three-day course has been replaced at Fortec with a minimum of four weeks of training, two shadowing our trainer on the day shift, then two shadowing our night shift trainer.