Stowmarket Culture of Safety Recognized with Gold Medal Award
May 6, 2022 - The safety culture at the company’s Climax Stowmarket molybdenum plant in England recently was recognized for the ninth consecutive year with a Gold Medal from the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) in the industry sector of the society’s Health and Safety Awards.
“Safety is number one throughout our whole operation, and this highlights the fact that safety really is the culture at Stowmarket,” said Marion Hooson, General Manager-Plant Operations. “We really do believe in this. It’s so important for us to make sure our employees go home at the end of the day safely to their families and their loved ones. As long as you get safety right, the rest just falls into place.”
The RoSPA awards are open to companies globally and each year draw about 2,000 entries from 50 countries. They are among the most prestigious safety recognitions in the United Kingdom, Hooson said. The royal society was created more than 100 years ago to promote safety and reduce accidents in both the workplace and society as a whole.
An important component of the awards is that applicants must prove their adopted safety practices are enforced and effective, Hooson said. It is not good enough to have good policies on paper. Applicants must present evidence showing participation by both upper management and front-line workers to ensure the appropriate safety protocols are in place, that they are communicated effectively to all workers, and that they are followed.
Walking the talk
“Anybody can write a policy, and anybody can write a procedure,” Hooson said. “We demonstrate that we really walk the talk. It’s the whole culture of our site. The award is only achievable by the commitment and participation of the entire workforce as part of the site culture. It’s a team effort. It’s not just the managers. It’s absolutely every single person.”
The Stowmarket application included more than 100 pieces of documentation, including reports, photos, training logs and written policies stressing that any employee with a safety concern has the power and obligation to stop work until it is resolved.
One example of employee engagement is the regular discussion of safety procedures at the beginning of each shift in crew meetings called “toolbox talks,” said Diane Colquhoun, Senior Health and Safety Lead. Rosters, agendas and sign-in sheets are used to ensure all workers get the training and information they need to maintain a safe work environment. All of that becomes part of the documentation for the RoSPA award entry.
The emphasis on safety has paid off, Colquhoun said. Stowmarket’s rate of reportable safety incidents based on hours worked is about 20 percent of the national average for the manufacturing sector in the United Kingdom. The site has gone more than 300 days without a reportable safety incident.
Photo: Marion Hooson, left, and Diane Colquhoun are leaders in helping ensure safety is the top priority at the company’s Stowmarket molybdenum plant in the United Kingdom.