Food and drink conference explores ingredients for a safe and healthy future

04 October 2016

Promoting safety and health leadership, combatting shift worker fatigue and instilling a positive culture throughout operations were key themes covered on the opening day of IOSH’s National Food and Drink Manufacturing Health and Safety Conference.

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Delegates are exploring the ‘ingredients for a safe and healthy future’ at this year’s conference, which has been organised by the IOSH Food and Drink Industries Group in conjunction with the Food and Drink Manufacture Health and Safety Forum.

In giving the conference’s keynote address, Philip White, head of the Health and Safety Executive’s operational strategy division, challenged delegates to do their bit to ensure best practice is being shared throughout the industry.

He said: “I think there needs to be a bit more leadership on health and safety in your sectors by businesses, suppliers and trade bodies.

“Reaching SMEs is a real challenge. My challenge to you is what are you doing to reach out and help support smaller businesses or your supply chains?”

Tim Allinson, global supply chain director at high street retailer Jack Wills, shared his personal view on safety and health at distribution centres.

He reflected on serious incidents and how those “bad experiences” had given him the “passion and knowledge of what good looks like” to ensure safe running at his distribution centres.

When discussing some of the key lessons he’s learned after almost 30 years working in warehousing and transportation, Tim said: “It’s about getting the culture where you care for your people. I think that’s what health and safety is all about – going into work and caring for your employees.

“It’s your (occupational safety and health professionals) job to influence. You have to find a balance and listen to the business challenges, but you still have to influence.

“Yes, understand the operational challenges but don’t drop your standards.”

Delegates also heard from Marks & Spencer plc’s retail fire, health and safety manager, Keith Davis.

He detailed how the retailer instils the core values of ‘integrity, innovation, inspiration and in touch’ among its 86,000 employees, and throughout more than 1,200 stores around the world.

Rewarding the fire, health and safety officers who work in its stores has been a successful way of doing this, Keith said.

“We have introduced a recognition scheme and rewards to encourage people to identify and appreciate that this role is adding value on a daily basis,” he said.

Elsewhere, the issue of sleep, fatigue and shift working was highlighted by Dr Paul Jackson, managing director of Clockwork Research Ltd.

He said that companies and employees have a shared responsibility for managing fatigue.

“We need to get people to recognise warning signs and managing fatigue as a team,” Paul said, adding that it was not sufficient to simply ensure shift workers are adhering to work-time regulations.

Among the other presentations on the conference’s opening day was a mock court hearing which showcases the legal implications of an industrial accident, and a presentation detailing the global reach of IOSH’s No Time the Lose occupational cancer campaign.

Delegates will hear from more than 20 speakers during the conference, which is being held at Forest Pines Hotel & Golf Resort in Broughton, North Lincolnshire, on 4-5 October.

The winner of IOSH’s annual International Food and Drink Health and Safety Awards will be announced during the conference. Proceedings can be following on Twitter by using the hashtag #fdconf16.

Image: Philip White, HSE head of operational strategy division, speaking at the event.