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How getting the right safety signs helped Country Style Foods to grow safely

By Kevin Rowe 2 months ago No comments

One of the biggest challenges of growing your business is making sure that your approach to on-site safety evolves accordingly. Health and safety policies need to be reactive enough to respond to changing circumstances - something that the COVID-19 pandemic has underlined.

Over at Country Style Foods, this is a principle that is strongly understood across the whole organisation. A modern craft bakery company that works closely with leading retailers and food service operators, Country Style’s founders, the Wood family, have been involved in the flour milling and bakery trades for more than 150 years. Since 1960, the business has grown from a single bread shop to several large industrial sites, specialising in high-volume production of quality baked goods.

This has created a dynamic challenge for Dougie Hornsby, Country Style’s environment, health and safety (EHS) coordinator, who has helped the business to maintain a secure and safe working environment for its ever-growing number of staff, even as the company’s site structure and activities grow ever more complex.

In this guest post, Dougie explains how this has been achieved through the use of safety signs and other bespoke solutions from SafetyBuyer - and how these same principles are also seeing the company safely through the current pandemic...

How safety needs change over time

As EHS coordinator at Country Style, my responsibilities are wide-ranging: carrying out site inspections, dealing with accidents and investigations, managing external surveys for dust, air, noise, legionella etc, and generally coordinating safety on site.

Currently, our premises consist of three separate factories, dedicated to rustic rolls, doughnuts and pastry products, and artisan breads respectively.

This rapid growth from a small unit to spreading across such a large area has made the management of on-site health and safety much more complex than it used to be; what’s more, in the last few years, Country Style’s sites have also undergone a major investment programme, installing automated machinery to reduce manual handling issues, with further plans to install additional automation in future.

As such, it’s become more important than ever to not only revamp and expand our health and safety policies accordingly, but also to ensure that we embrace the right communication tools so everyone on site is kept properly in the loop about how we’re working to keep them all safe.

What are the key priorities of your health and safety policy?

At Country Style, our key priorities are the safety of staff and visitors at all times, whether they are manning the production lines, interacting with machinery or using workplace transport.

This is achieved not only through investing in the right health and safety gear, but also through a large-scale training programme for our expanding workforce, providing guidance on all required aspects of scissor lift and fork lift truck usage, as well as engineering and plant room safety.

It’s also been vital to make sure everyone, from workers to guests, can feel included and informed about what’s going on at the site, with important communications displayed prominently and staff feeling they are part of a team where everyone is included in the key decision-making processes.

How has purchasing the right safety products helped to achieve your goals?

We’ve been working closely with SafetyBuyer to procure a broad range of safety solutions for our various workplace challenges, from safety signs and information boards to first aid kits, anti-slip floor safety products, marking paints, barriers and much more. In many cases, these have been custom-designed by SafetyBuyer to include our own messaging and branding.

The signage and safety boards in particular have proven vital in assisting staff with staying safe. Prior to having these, there was no real communication to staff, with nowhere to provide important safety news, but now we’re able to provide clear, bright and eye-catching reminders of key safety messages that are highly visible to all.

The site signage we have on the main entrance gates are a great example of this, giving a clear demonstration of our commitment to safety from the very first moment you arrive on the site. It tells everyone straight away that we are thinking of your safety and want you to do so too!

Being able to design anything virtually from scratch has been the most helpful thing, as it’s allowed us to bring the safety communication system - including notice boards and staff suggestions boards - at Country Style up to the same level as corporate businesses. We’ve turned something old and tired into something professional, eye-catching and useful.

How has COVID-19 changed your approach to site safety?

As with every business, the coronavirus pandemic has brought about major changes for Country Style Foods, in that we have had to design and install physical barriers in the factory due to the production lines being so close together.

Our production floors are very heavily staffed, due to all of our baked goods being handmade, and our staff work in close proximity. In order to follow government guidelines, we have introduced signage throughout all sites, with some signage being custom-designed with SafetyBuyer.

We have also manufactured mobile social distancing boards that can be moved around the site, as we produce many different products in each facility. We have had to increase hygiene and training massively in order to ensure everyone is able to carry on working safely despite the exceptional conditions.

How important is good communication in keeping your workers safe?

With the work we’ve done with SafetyBuyer, safety-related communication has been massively improved, and this has made a huge difference for us.

The appreciation shown by our staff that we are serious about health and safety has been significant, and they like the fact we are including them in the decisions we make about their wellbeing.

Staff from all levels of the company are now invited to our health and safety meetings and work forums, where workers are encouraged to talk about how they feel and provide suggestions. We can then feed back to them about what actions we’re going to take and when, using the site safety boards and internal newsletters.

If staff can see that you are serious about safety and willing to take action to achieve it, they can feel safer and, in turn, work safer.

Big thanks to Dougie and Country Style Foods for sharing these insights with the SafetyBuyer blog! To find out more about Country Style, visit www.countrystyle.co.uk.

If you are looking to invest in visual communication tools for your site, check out our full range of safety signs and custom site boards, which can be tailored or designed from scratch to meet the specific needs of your business.

To find out more, get in touch with us on 0800 043 0161, or email us at sales@safetybuyer.com.