One often runs the risk of sounding clichéd when stating, “our people are our greatest asset”. Remarkably there is no other way of affirming this fact but to emphasise the role that people play in ensuring the success that Astrapak, their shareholders and customers have come to expect and appreciate.
This standard described above is not achieved without the utmost attention to detail and more importantly the leadership of the entire company paving the way and showing their support and commitment to safety.
A safe environment at work is what companies strive for and Astrapak holds the safety of its employees as one its highest priorities throughout their nine manufacturing sites. Astrapak’s Chief Executive Officer, Robin Moore, drives the importance of this from the highest level in the business.
“Three years ago Health and Safety was not a high priority within the company and our average audit scores were well below industry norms,” says Moore. “As part of our turnaround strategy, we made improving our health and safety standards a key priority. Not only is it our fundamental responsibility to protect all our people and our assets, but we knew that it would make a significant difference to – among other things – morale, housekeeping and product quality. It is also an area where assessments can be done objectively and scientifically and importantly benchmarking and comparison is fair and accurate. As a result we have been able to set tough but achievable targets and we have certainly seen a significant improvement over the period. We are proud of what our people have delivered and achieved – but we cannot and will not relax in this area. We are clear about where we can still improve and always mindful of the fact that any lapse can lead to an accident – therefore continuous improvement remains our guiding principle.”
Adhering to two types of audits on an annual basis, Astrapak subscribes to the safety standards and accreditations of the Legal Compliance Audit and the Factory and Industrials (F&I) Audit. Astrapak’s target was to achieve 90% compliance on the Legal Compliance Audit, which is the precursor to the F&I Audit, and the Group on average achieved 88.41%. For the F&I Audit, Astrapak accomplished an average of 90% across the group, achieving their goal for 2014. Ever striving towards higher standards, Astrapak has raised the bar to achieve a 93% score in 2015.
To underpin the company’s commitment to providing safer and better working conditions and practices, summarised and simplified versions of the Health and Safety Act are always available at each of the sites, reminding employees of the joint responsibilities both parties have to uphold safety. Regular hygiene and health surveys are carried out on sites to evaluate cleanliness, lighting, ventilation, air quality and ergonomics in the factories and shortcomings are documented and rectified immediately.
For safety to prominently feature foremost for all staff within the company, operations use visual aids such as posters that become focal points to drive the importance of safety home. With the strategic reduction of factories within Astrapak’s hold from 17 to nine, Astrapak Group SHEQ Manager, Ricky Alli, believes that the imminent roll out of a new concept using Safety Monitors (personnel dedicated to assessing safety in the production units) will go a long way to ensuring that safety aspects are identified and discussed with everyone on the floor all day, every day, and records are kept of both safe and unsafe practices as well as noting near misses.
“Safety is regarded to be as important as anything else that we do. Our audit targets are incentivised by the CEO and CFO and we are doing this to show how important this vital aspect is to the company,” said Alli.
A designated health and safety officer is stationed at each site and the progress on closing the gaps from the audits is communicated every month in a health and safety dashboard and at safety meetings. Astrapak also use reporting through the WCA (Workers Compensation Assistance) – through which they process their injuries claims. This process also provides the Group with statistics on the frequency and nature of injuries sustained.
All health and safety incidents are scored and are discussed at Astrapak’s bi-monthly site meetings, which are chaired by the factory’s General Manager and attended by the Health and Safety Officer and the Health and Safety representatives from the floor. All suggestions and achievements are recognised in order to encourage staff to offer ideas for a safer working environment. Any additional preventative issues that have not been featured in monthly reports are also discussed at these meetings and assist with identifying on-site training and development opportunities.
Despite slightly different accreditation grading in each of the factories, all of the nine manufacturing sites subscribe to the same standards, but the application of the rules might differ slightly. Some carry food grade accreditation, which from a health point of view carries different requirements, as there is a greater emphasis on personal hygiene and personal protective equipment when in the factory.
Astrapak is continuously striving to develop a strong culture of safety and health, which becomes a way of life at Astrapak, knowing that this high standard shows in the end product that is offered to their customers.