Nigel Bryson's experience from GMB covers a number of examples demonstrating that promoting workforce participation in the development of preventative solutions can significantly improve health and safety standards. As well as these examples, the GMB has also published case studies of where Safety Representatives have made improvements in their workplace. The March 2002 edition of Safety Reps in Action had around 200 examples.
Case Studies include:
Nestle’s, York: 60% reduction in slip and trip accidents in 3 years; 40% reduction in manual handling in 2 years. The site employed around 2,000 and is a complex confectionery product manufacturing unit. In 2011 the company emplyed around 600 workers and slip and trip accidents are around a tenth of what they were when the initiative started.
Transco: Introduction of a 2 day risk assessment course provided by GMB health and safety specialists and tutors during 1998. By 2003, Transco had saved £4.5 million by this initiative. During this 6 year period, accidents cut by 85%.
GKN Wheels: Accidents reduced by 38% in 2 years following the introduction of a joint course provided by GMB tutors. In 1999 the intitiative won GKN's Global Safety Award and significant accident reductions were maintained. The health and safety manager who worked with the GMB on the initiative went to an American division of GKN and used the union materials and course methods. Here he achieved similar improvements in the non-union manufacturing business on the back of this successful GMB joint initiative.
William Baird Needle Guard: In 1998 the clothing company William Baird and the GMB discussed how to reduce needle-in-finger injuries in sewing machinists. Whilst most of these accidents usually result in first aid injuries and are not RIDDOR reportable, claims were costing around £120,000 per annum. A small team was established at the site with the worst record – which included 2 GMB machinists - and they were asked to design a guard that everybody could work with.
This was successful and the GMB launched a campaign with the Company to promote the guard within the industry. Within 18 months claims in Bairdwear were reduced to £40,000. Where the guards had been fitted, there was not one reported first aid injury where the machine was under power. With lobbying from Alan Jones of William Baird, the HSE and GMB the CEN Standard for Industrial Sewing Machines was amended to incorporate the encapsulating guard principle. This was adopted as the new standard and is one of the examples the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work put into a collection of case studies across Europe.
Millennium Inorganic Chemicals: In 1990 the company adopted its emissions that year as 100%. By 1999 they were emitting 3% of the 1990 figure. As well as new equipment, they established Health, Safety and Environment committees on site. The Safety Representatives also agreed to deal with environmental issues. During the late 1990s, BeSafe Behavioural safety was introduced with the Representatives’ agreement. Accidents were reduced significantly as a result.
Bird’s Eye Wall’s, Grimsby: Using a BeSafe behavioural safety initiative, GMB stewards were asked to develop the scheme within an agreed managerial system. In 1994 the site had one of the worst accident records of the Company’s European operation. They cut their accidents by 86% in 4 years and became one of the safest.