Making Whisky isn't risky
13 Dec 2016
I have worked at The Scotch Whisky Association for over 23 years
and during this time I have seen a dramatic improvement in health
and safety performance across the industry. So what has led
to this? We have an active Health & Safety Committee, we
produce a large number of health and safety publications. including
a regular Bulletin, run workshops on a range of issues and even
organised a children's health & safety poster competition.
I can't put my finger on one thing in particular, and believe
the improvement stems from a combination of positive changes in
attitude towards health & safety as well as collaborative
work. The Scotch Whisky industry's accident incidence rate
has decreased year on year since 2008 and is consistently better
than the 'all manufacturing' and 'all beverage' manufacturing rate.
But accidents still happen from time to time and our ultimate
aim is zero harm in the workplace. More and more we need to
look at new approaches and one of these, behaviour-based safety, is
seen as part of a natural progression to gain further improvements.
Behaviour-based safety is about everyone's behaviour, not
just the frontline. But this isn't a 'quick fix'.
The SWA has recently been invited to join the Food & Drink
Manufacture Forum which is a partnership between the HSE's Food
Section, key food/drink trade associations, including the SWA, and
the main food industry trade unions. Meetings are held twice
a year to discuss, prioritise and drive forward a range of health
and safety initiatives, with members working together to reduce
injuries and occupational ill health. The revised 'Recipe for
Safety' booklet remains the Forum's core publication and this sets
out priority health and safety issues for the food and drink
industries, gives benchmarks for performance, suggests how the
issues can be tackled and includes a management action plan.
I am delighted that the Association has pledged support for the
Forum's Common Strategy for 2016-2021. The revised five-year
strategy sets out a challenging plan of action to help reduce the
number of accidents and injuries across the sector and focuses on
delivering measurable improvements against occupational health,
musculoskeletal disorders and slips and trips. Strong health
and safety leadership, a focus on continuous improvement and the
sharing of good practice will be required to achieve the
objectives. It is clear that Forum members are all at
different points on their health & safety journey and a
collective approach is therefore needed to improve performance
across the whole sector.
As a first step to delivering the objectives set out in the
Common Strategy, we have issued a short survey to members and
non-members of the Association to understand what steps companies
are taking to manage occupational health in the workplace. The
feedback will help the SWA's Health & Safety Committee develop
an action plan which companies will be encouraged to promote and
implement. We will keep companies updated on progress through
our Health & Safety Bulletin.
A proactive health & safety culture remains our priority -
in the words of one of the children's posters 'Making Whisky Should
Not Be Risky'.
Alison Galbraith is head of industry resources at the Scotch