Safety comes first at Baggeridge Brick
Baggeridge Brick’s Rudgwick site in West Sussex is the first UK brick factory to receive OHSAS 18001 certification. The standard rewards the development of an occupational health and safety management system.
Baggeridge has been addressing health and safety work practices as part of the ‘Pledge’ made by members of the British Ceramic Confederation in 2000. The aim is to reduce the number of working days lost due to work-related injury and ill health by 30% by 2010, as well as ensuring each staff member has received relevant training.
John Sandford, Operations and Technical Director at Baggeridge, says, ‘This is a self-assessment system. We wanted to go to the next stage, which is to create an externally validated system.’
He adds, ‘The Rudgwick factory consistently scores the highest in our internal audits. This is down to the involvement of the workforce. We have a health and safety improvement programme and all employees are involved in different aspects of it. That is one of the cornerstones of the system.’
This is echoed by the assessor, Tim Watts, from CICS Ltd, a verification company based in Stoke-on-Trent, UK. He says, ‘The main thing that stands out is that everybody was involved. Improvements cannot just be driven by management. There was good feedback from the factory to the committees.’
Key developments include barrier gates to protect pedestrians from the dryer cars coming in and out, new practices for stacking clamps to reduce the risk of workers falling from a height, physiotherapists on hand to prevent long-term damage caused by manual handling, and City and Guilds accredited health and safety training for all employees.
Watts also commended the computerised plant maintenance system, which monitors all logged equipment. ‘It is a risk-based assessment scheme so that maintenance is planned and efficient, rather than carried out only when there is a breakdown in the process.’
He adds that the brick industry is interwoven – other brick manufacturers may also be implementing these procedures, but the external assessment provides added ‘confidence’ that the practices in place are correct.
Sandford clearly sees the benefit, not just for the wellbeing of Baggeridge staff, but also commercially. ‘We are getting pressure from our customers to have this system in place so we can demonstrate that we are a responsible manufacturer.’