Hilton Foods Group is a meat processing and packing company established in 1994. They are recognised as the largest dedicated packer of red meat in Europe with over 2,500 employees across its six European sites. David Hoey is the Health & Safety Officer for Hilton Foods UK & Ireland and is enthusiastic about the benefits of a good health and safety management system.
Hilton Foods had been managing their safety system with a combination of paper documents and spreadsheets. Their safety record was average for the industry sector – but David and colleagues wanted to be better than average, and to be able to provide more reliable reports, more efficiently, both for internal management, but also for the safety authorities, insurance companies, and for their main customer. Working with paper and spreadsheets produced the results, but David spent the equivalent of a day a week administering safety data, and his team of auditors and administrators were similar frustrated by the time spent on paperwork.
Working with his colleagues, David Hoey looked at the market for web-based health and safety management systems. Some systems provided great support for auditing within the food industry, but didn’t include risk assessments; others included risk assessments, but were much more expensive.
Through extensive research, David and his team made the decision to go with Effective Software for their Health and Safety Management system. “Effective has the functionality we need, is user friendly and very well priced,” explains David. “We liked the fact we can make administrative changes ourselves and don’t require the cost or time involved in a developer”. David also appreciated Effective Software’s modular system. “We could ease it into the business one module at a time which meant there was very little disruption.”
Since 75 per cent of the paperwork David and his team managed related to accident books, near miss reporting and hazard reports, the first module to implement was for Incidents. Effective designed a bespoke screen for Hilton Foods which enabled anyone to report an accident, incident or hazard in around 30 seconds. People can choose whether to report anonymously or to provide their name, which has increased the uptake of reporting. Where the report applies to a technical safety issue or a breakdown, engineers receive an automatic notification and can attend to fix the problem immediately.
As well as improving control over data whilst reducing the amount of time spent collecting and reporting it, other benefits of the Incident module were quickly apparent. Feedback on issues raised is provided each day on a noticeboard, so that people know their reports are read and taken account of. This has encouraged employees to talk more about hazards and solutions with the safety team. The safety culture was improving with a shift from corrective actions to preventative actions, and people were ready to move onto the risk module.
Rather than replicate existing risk assessments, the Hilton Foods team took the opportunity to revise how risk assessments were organised. Instead of assessments for each machine as before, risk assessments have been organised around each process line, so it is clear what the hazards are for each area of the plant. The ability to clone existing risk assessments and adapt them has been particularly useful, and has enabled greater learning between the England and Ireland sites. Effective makes the management and tracking of risk assessment documentation easier, enabling line supervisors and team leaders to get more involved in reviewing and improving risk assessments.
Incident reporting showed that the majority of workplace injuries were as a result of manual handling, so manual handling risk assessments were updated using methods recommended by the HSE, focusing on environmental issues that could be improved to prevent injury.
The audit module was also on the wish list, and is particularly popular as audits can be carried out off-line on a tablet or smart phone and uploaded to the system, rather than having to transfer paper records onto a spreadsheet manually as before. Where a risk assessment requires daily, weekly or monthly checks, audit items are created to prompt individuals to make the checks.
The Contractors module is now also being used by Hilton Foods. Once a supplier is on the approved list, contractor qualifications, insurance, registrations and RAMS are uploaded. When a piece of work is being considered, managers can see with a glance at the traffic light system grid whether a contractor is up-to-date.
Hilton Foods had up to four claims each year in the past, mostly for manual handling injuries. Implementing Effective Software has allowed a greater focus on preventing incidents, and there have been no personal injury claims in the last two years. Reportable injuries have also fallen to below the average for their industry sector, with two reportables two years ago, and just one in the last twelve months. David Hoey reports a directly measurable cost saving “Our insurance premiums have dropped as a result of this – with an overall saving of approximately €110,000 in one year in Ireland alone, with similar benefits in England.”
David has experienced a personal benefit too. “I used to spend about 20 per cent of my time sorting through safety data and producing reports. Now I can do it all in about two hours a week.” He uses the time freed up to engage with employees in the workplace, and to investigate the root cause of accidents. Some of the time saving comes from Effective’s automated reporting. The MD is notified immediately of any serious incidents, and receives monthly tailored reports by email for both sites, enabling comparisons to be made between Ireland and England, and lessons learnt in one to be transferred to the other.
The experience of using Effective to share expertise between the Irish and English sites has been positive, and the intention is to roll out use of Effective across all sites in the Hilton Group, to enable greater sharing of expertise and experience. In this way, lessons learnt from an accident in Poland or Australia could prevent an accident in Ireland or Sweden.
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· Ability to make administrative changes without the cost or time involved in a developer.
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· Increased communication of incident reporting encouraged employees to discuss preventative actions rather than corrective actions.
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· Audits can be carried out off-line on a tablet or smart phone rather than having to transfer paper records onto a spreadsheet manually.
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· Effective allowed a greater focus on preventing incidents, with no personal injury claims in the last two years.
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· Achieving no personal injury claims resulted in an annual insurance premium saving of £85,000 in only one of their sites.
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· David has reduced his time spent on safety administration and reporting from 20% of his weekly workload to approximately 2 hours a week.
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· David uses the time freed up to engage with employees in the workplace, and to investigate the root cause of accidents.
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· Automated reporting allowed the MD and key users to be notified immediately of any serious incidents and receive tailored reports by email for all sites.