Case study: M&M Skip Hire Ltd
- No of employees: 50
- Business sector: waste management and recycling
- Business activities: skip hire, bulking council waste, waste transfer and sorting to recover recyclables, composting
- Location: Oxfordshire
- Stakeholders: Directors, managers, employees
Over the last five years, working with an external safety advisor, the company has improved its approach to managing health and safety. This has brought tangible benefits to employees, managers and the company and they continue to work together at reducing health and safety risks.
As the business grew, the Managing Director, Mark Griggs, realised there was an increasing need to deliver better health and safety provision within the business. A near fatal accident and an improvement notice issued relating to workplace transport gave added impetus. Mark and his management team had a good attitude towards health and safety and recognized the need for change, but they were not quite sure what to do first or how to go forward.
What did the company do?
- In 2007 the business appointed a health and safety consultant with waste sector experience to provide specific health and safety advice.
- The first audit carried out identified many issues requiring action.
- Urgent matters were addressed immediately, for instance the reinstatement and improvement of guards on machinery, introduction of a lock off system for the isolation of machinery and implementation of traffic management controls, including one way system.
- The management team having never received any formal health and safety training was put through a suitable one-day training course. Since then they have all attended an IOSH 4 day Managing Safety Course.
- The management team and advisor have continued to work together a programme of continuous health and safety improvements, including:
- Review of risk assessments – few formal risk assessments had been completed. Those which had been done were quite old.
- There were no documented safe systems of work to deal with significant hazards arising from certain tasks, such as changing the trommel on the screener drum.
- A management training matrix was devised and individual training records created. A training plan is now developed annually.
- The site has introduced more rigorous checks for the control of contractors including a permit to work on arrival at the site.
- A noise survey identified high levels at the vibrating finger screen so operatives had to wear hearing protection pending a longer term solution. Use of hearing protection was unpopular. The noise issues have subsequently been engineered out by use of cladding. This has also allowed for a more comfortable working temperature, and separation of workers from dust generated in other processes. The net result has been the working environment being cleaner, safer and healthier as well as improved morale because employees no longer need to wear hearing protection.
- The Fire Risk Assessment was reviewed and site plans and procedures updated. Emergency rules were communicated using Toolbox Talks. There is also an induction procedure now for temporary and new staff covering the health and safety, including a fire orientated walk-round for new workers.
- As a next step in further improvement the company is considering OHSAS:18001 accreditation.
Health and safety benefits
- Reduced health and safety risks as potential hazards are identified and dealt with before they become an issue.
- Reduction in reportable and non-reportable accidents and lost time (e.g. 12 lost time incidents in 2011 compared with 27 in 2004).
- Improved conditions have lead to positive changes in staff morale and attitudes.
- Increased level of worker involvement. The staff can see that their own health and safety is being taken seriously and have become more proactive. There is a lot more interaction, with staff taking health and safety issues on board, actually thinking about the issues and participating in improving the business.
Business and wider benefits
- The M&M management team has more confidence that they have taken sensible precautions to prevent harm to staff and others affected by the business, and can sleep more easily at night.
- The initial trigger for making improvements was to comply with legal obligations, but it the management team have come to realise that these health and safety improvements have also improved worker morale, productivity and business efficiency as a result.
- Instigation of an in-house programme of rolling maintenance has helped plant reliability and reduced reliance on external maintenance providers between more formal servicing.
- The health and safety improvements made have enabled the management team to submit a case to their insurer to limit increases in premiums, and this has saved money over the long term.
- With new confidence in their facility and management systems, the management team bid for additional throughput for their transfer station from nearby local authorities. They passed stringent checks into their health and safety arrangements. This has resulted in additional throughput and profitability for their business.