TELL US A BIT ABOUT KEYLINE'S HEALTH AND SAFETY APPROACH
Our approach to health and safety is probably quite different to others – we really do involve our colleagues in helping decide what we do and how we should do it. In practice, this means that a lot of ideas end up being put forward from branch level. For us, this makes a lot of sense as it helps to share health and safety responsibility between those most affected by it on a day-to-day basis.
Colleagues working at branch level interact with our customers and suppliers on a daily basis. As such, they have the greatest insight into everyday risks, both in-branch and onsite, and our customers' specific safety requirements. They are empowered to put the necessary steps in place to ensure safe ways of working together and implement change before incidents occur. By delegating responsibility for upholding safety to our colleagues, they’re able to protect those they work with every day and adapt to different requirements and circumstances as they happen.
What’s more, it eliminates any feeling that updated protocols and approaches are being handed down from an ivory tower, by people unaware about their practical implications. Crucially, it also means that everyone at Keyline feels that they have a voice and are responsible for ensuring the safety of themselves, each other and our customers and suppliers.
That’s exactly right, we’re committed to ensuring colleagues feel heard and have ownership, especially when it comes to health and safety. We run regular Regional Safety Forums, as well as National Safety Forums, which enable everyone to feel empowered when it comes to challenging or suggesting health and safety policies. As Regional Operations Managers, Nigel and I help to run these forums and it’s very important that everyone involved feels heard.
Actually, I think it really helps that Keyline’s four Regional Operations Managers are all former Branch Managers, so we have good working knowledge of what it’s like to deal with real life incidents, as well as the challenges and dangers staff, suppliers and customers can potentially face. Additionally, these colleagues understand the important role our branches play in their local communities. To this end, they recognise how essential it is for our staff to positively reinforce this connection through their daily interactions, which can only happen when safety is prioritised.
Yes exactly – for instance, we’ve seen first-hand just how challenging heavy products can be when looking to ensure staff, supplier and customer safety. Of course, heavy products are also the majority of what we sell at Keyline, so it’s absolutely paramount our colleagues know how to handle them safely and mitigate the risk of injuries to protect themselves, our customers and suppliers from accidents.
We also understand how important it is to work proactively. Some injuries, such as ones caused by repetitive strains, might not cause major problems today but can become debilitating over time. That’s why we have a big emphasis on manual handling and equipment training, as well as ensuring assisted lifting devices like forklifts and Bolzonis are readily available. We also refresh training, to ensure all our colleagues stay up-to-date.
TELL US MORE ABOUT THE REGIONAL AND NATIONAL SAFETY FORUMS
We used to run them once a quarter face-to-face but with the ongoing pandemic, we have moved this to a two-hour monthly online meeting. Each Branch Manager nominates a representative to be involved at the Regional Safety Forum, where we discuss any incidents that may have recently occurred locally, as well as any suggestions they have moving forward. Following this, a number of people are nominated to go on to the National Safety Forum.
At the National Safety Forums, we review any accidents or incidents, or lost time injuries that have occurred in the intervening period across the business, so that all of our colleagues across the country are able to learn from each other’s experiences. The essence of the forums is that they offer an opportunity to share best practice on this important issue. The forums help to encourage people to take ownership of their branch’s safety performance and create a sense of pride in protecting and improving it. Ultimately, the more time we spend talking about health and safety, the more chance we have of delivering a safer working culture. To this end, we also have an Operations Board that meets regularly to ensure we’re sharing the learnings through our entire national network.
WHY IS KEYLINE'S HEALTH AND SAFETY APPROACH SO SUCCESSFUL?
I think it all comes back to that openness, not just about safety but about everything. At Keyline, branch colleagues know that they can talk to the regional leadership team about anything. Everyone has a voice within this company and we’re all also quite happy to listen accordingly and to make changes. We’re also not scared to learn from the successes of other branches, particularly when one team is exceeding in a certain area. Ensuring the safety of our staff, suppliers and customers is our number one priority, which we’re happy to adapt the rest of our business around.
HOW DO YOU ENCOURAGE INDIVIDUAL ENGAGEMENT WITH HEALTH AND SAFETY?
It’s about ensuring that people feel confident that if they do speak up and if they do identify a genuine issue, that the company will listen and enact change. Building this confidence doesn’t happen overnight, but emerges from years of developing a proven track record and establishing trust amongst those who work with us. It’s also about creating a culture where health and safety is prioritised, over any other concern. For example, at Keyline, people are happy to speak out about things, even if it means calling out their mates or more senior colleagues. It’s a way of looking at the situation and saying: “you’re not grassing on them, you’re saving them!”
HOW HAVE THINGS CHANGED IN THE LAST YEAR, GIVEN THE COVID-19 CHALLENGES?
Like everyone, COVID has affected the way we do things, but it hasn’t slowed us down. We have had to make some big changes though. Most notably, we’ve had to change the way our branches are laid out to ensure they can comply with social distancing guidelines. It’s all been about keeping colleagues, suppliers and customers safe and ensuring that everyone is properly protected during this difficult time.
We’ve also had to rearrange our offices in a similar vein. As we look forward and begin to emerge out of this period, we’re looking to keep some of the features we developed to help us manage. For example, we will be continuing our call and collect service, which customers have loved. As we begin to reflect on this tumultuous period, it gives me great pride to see how our business was able to adapt to this unprecedented event whilst still prioritising the safety of our colleagues, suppliers and customers.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF INDEPENDENT SCRUTINY WITHIN KEYLINE'S HEALTH AND SAFETY APPROACH?
It’s huge, especially when looking to convey to others outside the business about just how focused we are on this issue. As a company, we have achieved and will maintain accreditations to various safety schemes in procurement. This extensive list of accreditations includes; CHAS Certificate, SMAS Certificate, as well as an Alcumus Safe Contractor Certificate. Additionally, we are really proud that our efforts to manage and improve our health and safety performance and culture has resulted in us winning a gold award from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.
Like Richard says, independent scrutiny is of major importance and the various accreditations we have been awarded over the years are a huge sense of pride for us. Another good example is that we achieved accreditation for FORS Gold status by the Fleet Operators Recognition Scheme, the highest grade achievable under the scheme. The accreditation is only awarded to operators that demonstrate exemplary levels of safety, efficiency and environmental awareness. It’s really satisfying that we’ve once again been recognised for our outstanding efforts across these fields and underlines our commitment to health and safety across all of our operations, but ultimately it gives our customers confidence that we match their own safety expectations and take safety seriously as they would expect!
For more information about Keyline, please visit: www.keyline.co.uk