Ensuring all of our workplaces around the world are safe environments in which to conduct our operations has always been a top priority for Skretting and parent company Nutreco. Indeed it is in everyone’s best interest to ensure that health and safety is deeply rooted across the business as it provides the platform for sustainable growth. Conversely, any operations that unwittingly neglect them will significantly heighten the risk of injury, increased costs and reduced profitability.
Effective training is one of the most important tools in establishing a strong culture of health and safety, explains Harm Teunissen, HSE Director at Nutreco.
“Generally speaking, people everywhere take health and safety for granted and that is the inherent risk. If they are not aware day-by-day, hour-by-hour of the potential risks around them then the risk levels increase accordingly. In life, people must show awareness of potentially hazardous situations. The same is true of our factories, which is why we aim to ensure our people are well trained and know exactly what they are doing.
Nutreco is a professional organisation, and being professional requires us to be in control of what we are doing in terms of our operations and our plants. The most productive and sustainable way to achieve that aim is through collaboration and inter-action with our people. As such, awareness is of paramount importance across the company and at all levels – from top management to the factory floor,” says Teunissen.
Overcoming cultural differences
Ways to make workplaces safer and healthier for all Nutreco employees continue to be identified and the reduction in the number of injuries and lost time incidents (LTIs) confirm the business is heading in the right direction. However, for a global company like Nutreco, there is no specific one-size-fits-all when it comes to making our operations safer and healthier places in which to work as there are multiple differences between established and emerging markets. For example, some countries traditionally have a lot of hierarchy in place and lines of communications are often structured differently, which need to be factored in to any solution. From an operational stand-point, though, certain practices such as the manual carrying of large, heavy bags of raw materials are still commonplace in some emerging markets, while long being unacceptable in established operations.
Nutreco has made some good progress in addressing such areas in recent years, which has been helped by the introduction of more mechanisation and implementing better- organised operations. The investment in establishing much more sophisticated plants, including the construction of new facilities, has undeniably heightened this progress, says Teunissen.
“In Ecuador, for example, we are building plants to not only replace current facilities but also to expand our production volume and business in the Latin America region. We have also recently completed a new fish feed plant in Egypt; we are currently building one in Vietnam; and we have plans for one in Nigeria. This shows that we are investing heavily in the practical aspect of growing capacity, but at the same time, there is also a lot of attention being placed on these facilities’ organisational structures – the people – to better coordinate the operational side of these businesses, with a strong focus on the health and safety elements.”
Abiding by the same standards
While the solutions applied to Operating Companies and Business Units can and do differ from those used elsewhere in order to maximise their effectiveness and relevance to each, Nutreco ensures that the same robust standards are applied globally. This is achieved through the regular audit of all operations – a process that identifies any health and safety shortcomings or “non-conformities” and provides an appropriate timescale to rectify each. All non-conformities are monitored through a live reporting system
“These efforts are very much appreciated by all of our auditees because they recognise that we are helping them to improve their operations. In our opinion, health and safety and good operations go hand-in-hand: We don’t want to have waste, we don’t want accidents, we don’t want things to go wrong; instead what we do want is to have optimal professional operations. That includes health and safety,” he says.
Each operation is also subject to a rating programme, where their health and safety compliance is scored and reported. To assist these processes, each operation is organised in such a way that it has an individual responsible for health and safety. There is also a Health & Safety Executive Network, comprising some 20 representative members from across the business globally, which physically meets every year and interacts as much as possible beyond that meeting to address the topics that head the current agenda.
“Safety depends on a number of things. Not least, how things are organised, how people are trained, whether the plant is following the clearly defined standards and
the provision of comprehensive inspections. A combination of the entire package delivers a certain safety level, but awareness is key,” says Teunissen.