Case study: Springfields Fuels

Springfields Fuels, a nuclear fuel fabrication facility, ensures everyone on site is involved when making decisions about their employees health and wellbeing. Their partnership approach has resulted in joint working groups, joint accident investigations, and several other effective initiatives because they recognise that everyone has a part to play in managing health and safety.

The challenge

With over 1400 employees and contractors on site, and health and safety issues ranging from stress to developing a strong behavioural safety culture, Springfields Fuels had to develop methods of involvement that tackled both technical and behavioural obstacles.

Getting the workforce on board

A behavioural safety programme, originally led by managers, has now been devolved to the shopfloor. Workers organise and present workshops on different safety issues for their colleagues to maintain focus and reaffirm commitment. They staged external events, like driving skills courses, which were specially designed to reinforce safety principles such as pre-job briefs, risk assessments, and peer checks. The target is for over 90% of employees to be involved in such a workshop every year. It is a culture that makes it easy for people to have their ideas adopted.

At one time, this sort of initiative might have been met with resistance but we've found that this new safety culture has been widely accepted. It's very important that people don't feel they are being criticised or think that they will be disciplined if they have an accident at work. Our willingness to work together in partnership to overcome both technical and behavioural obstacles has been a key to our success.
Derek McMillan, SFL's Site Behavioural Safety Co-ordinator

How is the workforce involved in the joint health and safety partnership?

  • Springfields Fuels formed a joint working group made up of unions and non-union employee health and safety representatives, human resources, management and occupational health advisers. Their aim was to look at the impact of a new shiftworking system on workers health and wellbeing. A questionnaire was produced by the group and sent to all shiftworkers, and this was backed up by good communication with them and members of the group. By involving the workers themselves, they came to a conclusion that satisfied everyone.
  • Regular "Safety in Partnership" meetings involve a cross-section of employees, including contractors. Participants are encouraged to bring along examples of good practice so they can be shared with the whole site.
  • Health and safety representatives are actively involved in incident and accident investigations. Following all minor accidents, a small group of that section's workers look at what lessons can be learned using an accident awareness form. The form asks for views on causes and, if appropriate, remedial action. Any actions from this group are tracked by one of the Safety Improvement Teams in that area. Membership of these teams is open to anyone with an interest in local safety issues.
  • Some workers have attended external workshops that train them to become "workplace listeners" so they will pick up on the first signs of stress and steer people to help.

Benefits so far

20 November 2007 marked 285 days without a "lost-time injury" - a huge milestone for Springfields Fuels safety performance, and their best this century. They have also seen a significant increase in near-miss reporting on site. Local near-miss newsletters are produced and feedback is given on all near-miss incidents reported.

Keep improving

To mark this major milestone of 285 days without a "lost-time injury", employees held a "safety stand-down" day when they looked at local safety issues to avoid complacency and to refocus.

The thing that sets us apart from the rest is our partnership approach and the involvement of everyone on site to ensure that health and safety remains our number one priority. This has given us the confidence to introduce initiatives such as workplace listeners.

Our approach is to involve everyone working in partnership so that all employees and contractors own, enforce and live behavioural health and safety 24/7. This provides us with a strong culture where everyone owns and is responsible for safety on site.

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