Leading from the front
Sarah Kench, Joint Managing Director at Twinfix, explains how IOSH training has helped drive the company’s safety and health culture
"There’s no way our installers would even consider working at height on a day like this," reveals Sarah Kench of Twinfix, a British manufacturer and installer of roof glazing and canopies. Why is that? On the day of our interview, much of the country has been experiencing extremely windy conditions, causing widespread disruption and damage to buildings.
"It illustrates just how much health and safety is now the norm in the construction sector - simply the fact that our site supervisors now feel empowered enough to halt work in conditions like this today," she continues. "We assessed the weather this morning and knew there were valid reasons to ensure our people weren’t putting themselves at risk out there so we made that call. That’s because Twinfix is a family-run business with values that encourage staff to take their own safety seriously."
"The company’s total commitment to safety within the team has been based around numerous IOSH training courses undertaken throughout the business over the last seven years.
"We’re a manufacturer and installer, so the hazards facing our staff range from potential machinery injuries to manual handling and transportation risks. However, the most hazardous work is usually when canopies are installed - our guys are working at height using scaffolding and cherry-pickers, so we need to make sure the equipment is the best available."
The specific processes that Twinfix has implemented include using drills with extractors to avoid the risks from silica dust. It’s all a far cry from when the company began in the late 1980s when the construction industry lacked even basic safety measures such as site inductions, scaffold towers and even safety boots.
IOSH training has played a key role in the company’s health and safety culture.
"IOSH was initially highly recommended by our OSH consultants when we needed to achieve accreditation for school-based projects," explains Sarah. "Since then, we’ve completed the Managing Safely, Leading Safely and Working Safely courses. We’ve found them pragmatic and easy to apply, which has helped us create a gradual cultural change. Leading Safely seemed like an obvious final step for all of us at senior level because it made us fully appreciate our responsibilities. For example, I always wear my HV jacket on site visits as we believe everyone should 'walk the walk'."
The Twinfix philosophy is about making safety and health relevant to peoples roles - such as understanding the importance of reporting near-misses to ensure that somebody doesn't get injured in the future.
"Once our colleagues understand the point of safety and health, the culture is reinforced, believes Sarah. Lets face it, back in the 80s, safety and health was often viewed as just an annoyance but training products such as those from IOSH have helped change perceptions. And when that happens, its a powerful thing. Nobody has been injured in our business over the last working year, so we’ve done really well so far but there’s obviously no room for complacency. A 0 per cent lost-time accidents ratio is one our Key Performance Indicators.
"So that’s why we’ll continue to use IOSH training - its been effective for our business and has definitely worked. At the end of the day, everyone who works for us needs to return home safe and well. That’s why we remain so committed to safety and health."