08 January 2013

Following the visit to Turkey in May 2012 by 3 members of IOSH Rural Industries Group (RIG) Committee, as part of IOSH’s New Accession Countries Project  (NAC) and their well-received presentations at the Turkish  ‘OSH in Agriculture’ Conference held in Sanliurfa.

(for more information see Rural Industries Visit Turkey

A group of 15 delegates from the OSH Directorate of the Turkish Ministry of Labour (DGOHS) visited IOSH at the end of November.

Whilst at The Grange in Leicester, they received training in risk assessment from IOSH Lecturer Geoff Hornby.  Geoff also accompanied them (together with IOSH International Officer, Gisela Derrick on a field trip to large-scale salad growers, based on the Fens near Ely, Cambs.  This gave our visitors a practical opportunity to apply their training and discuss the application of EU Directives through regulations in UK.

They were led on a tour of the G’s/Shropshire’s Group greenhouse unit by RIG Chair Kevin Bywater (Health & Safety Manager of G’s/Shropshire Group (UK) Farms). This 3 ha greenhouse unit will produce some 122 million plants for next year’s crop which will be grown on approx 1100 hectares (~ 2720 acres) of the Fens.  10,200 cubic metres of peat are used per year in some 777,000 trays.

The party was split into 3 groups to carry out practical machinery risk assessment exercises based on the automatic tray washing unit, seedling ‘blocking lines’ and transfer machinery , accompanied by Kevin, Geoff and  Alan Plom (RIG Vice Chair).

Turkish Inspectors on Risk Exercise 

Turkish Visitors Inspect Lift Truck

IOSH Turkish Inspectors on Risk Assessment exercise and Inspecting Fork Lift truck operations at G's

During the visit they were also given an overview of G’s Safety Management Systems by Neil Catton, G’s Group H&S Director. (Coincidentally, Neil is also currently Chair of IOSH Food Industries Group).  Of particular interest to our visitors was the successful  methods used by G’s to train and manage the large number of temporary overseas workers employed each year. Effective communication is also vital within G’s as they employ hundreds of people, operating in the agriculture and food industries across the UK, Spain, Czech Republic, USA and Senegal, using over 20 individual languages.

On return to G’s Head Office and main packing factory at Barway, Geoff Hornby took the Group through a review of their risk assessment exercises.  The key 'test' Geoff put to the Turkish inspectors following their risk assessment exercises was "Would you be prepared to let your own child work on these machines?"  The only reason they came up with for not letting them do so was that it was "too cold", so this was an endorsement of G's high standards too!

This session was followed by a presentation from Alan Plom, in which described how common hazards can be dealt with, HSE’s priorities and methods of enforcement, and other ways used to influence farmers.  He also outlined the structure and methods of H&S training for farmers and farm workers in UK.

At the end of their training, the Turkish delegates were awarded IOSH Certificates by IOSH CEO, Rob Strange.

Turkish Inspectors Visit

Group photograph of IOSH Turkish Inspectors Visit to G's

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). Where the content includes discussion and information about UK law or occupational health matters, this should not be regarded as legal or medical advice. Where legal advice is required, a suitably qualified lawyer should be consulted. Where medical advice is required, a suitably qualified medical practitioner should be consulted.