To ensure its health and safety standards keep up with company growth, ABP called in EFSIS, the food industry's top independent inspection service.
"We needed to make sure our health and safety systems were keeping up with the growth of our business," Richard Dilworth, group health and safety advisor at ABP said. "For us, the big benefit of the EFSIS Health and Safety service was that, it helped push health and safety to the fore. As we've progressed, the systems required by the standard have become an inherent part of the way we work."
EFSIS proved invaluable at ABP's newest plant in Doncaster, which opened in November 2004. From a very small start, the plant was soon achieving outputs of 1,000 tonnes a week, with over 600 people working on the site. Dilworth said: "The focus was on getting it running. You have to get production up to satisfy your customers." Going through an EFSIS Health and Safety audit helped ABP get the plant's standards up to speed quickly, despite the constraints of setting up a new plant with large numbers of staff new to the industry. "If we'd not done the EFSIS audit, it would have taken much longer," he said.
Dilworth believed that EFSIS' insistence on compliance with all aspects of the standard was a major advantage. With a compliance audit everything is looked at, including display screens, which may not seem like a big issue in a food plant. A points system can allow things to be overlooked. Dr James Gibson, who is a chartered safety and health practitioner and the EFSIS inspector who has been working with ABP, said: "One of the big selling points of the EFSIS Health and Safety standard is that all the other standards are numerical, but this one is compliance-based.
"If you get an 85%, it could be the 15% that kills someone. Working on a compliance basis gives a much more objective test. It's much more black and white," he said.
EFSIS decided to offer a Health and Safety service after looking at what food industry clients needed, EFSIS food director, Carole Payne said. "It's a terribly complicated subject with over 400 pieces of UK legislation to observe and severe penalties if you get it wrong. The object of the exercise is to avoid health and safety problems, but if something does go wrong the EFSIS Health and Safety service has the potential to be very useful to show that you've taken all reasonable steps to ensure safety," she said.
The EFSIS Health and Safety certification demonstrated to customers, insurers and the Health and Safety Executive inspectorate that the business was committed to Health and Safety, she added.