Advantages of operating to a global health and safety standard

Posted on 13 Jul 2018 by The Manufacturer

Since March, manufacturers have had the opportunity to become certified to the world’s first globally recognised health and safety standard. EEF's Ian Cooke explains the benefits.

health and safety standard - stock imageThis new health and safety standard reinforces a number of well-known concepts, such as leadership, continuous improvement and stakeholder management, and for health and safety.

It presents an opportunity for businesses to be more strategic, including the requirement to look at the wider health and safety implications of the supply chain, such as procurement, outsourcing and contractors.

For global businesses it provides a framework to manage health and safety consistently across international borders and ensure that it is managed and measured consistently.

For small and medium-size businesses it brings them into line with international approaches to risk management, giving them an edge when competing for global contracts.

Operating internationally is nothing new for many manufacturers. Some even have the structures in place to operate a multinational approach to health and safety management, but few have put the standards and structures in place for it to be a truly multinational function.

This article first appeared in the July/August issue of The Manufacturer magazine. To subscribe, please click here.

The challenges and benefits

Through our work with international organisations tackling standardising health and safety management, we have recognised common challenges and the great benefits that are obtained from overcoming them.

These include:

  • Embracing different organisational cultures and different local cultures, and working with them – not against them
  • Taking account of the legal and regulatory requirements of each country, and ensuring your legal register is comprehensive and fit for purpose
  • Standardising expectations, processes and practices across borders. How you do this will vary, but company-wide training and communication programmes are likely to form the backbone
  • Taking into account the practicalities of cross-border training in terms of time and resources – looking for efficiencies and cost-effective solutions
  • Considering cultural differences and sensitivities. For example, the use of images, language and terminology – you may need to change common terms in one country to accommodate another – ‘manual handling’ becomes ‘lifting and carrying’.

The Fujitsu way

An example of this was EEF’s work with Fujitsu, a globally recognised technology equipment and service provider.

Fujitsu, which employs 150,000 people across 33 countries (including 14,000 in the UK and Ireland), found that while they had an overarching value for workplace safety, the approach wasn’t consistent across all their regions and sites.

This resulted in:

  • Different health and safety professionals taking different approaches to safety and training
  • Not all sites certified to a particular industry safety standard and different standards required different behaviour
  • The emphasis on health and safety varying among sites

Using ISO45001 to provide an ideal framework for a top-down approach, we ensured health and safety managers and staff were given encouragement and support in achieving the same high safety expectations across the board.

As a result of this approach, Fujitsu and EEF have devised an innovative workforce-wide cultural programme that embraces the ‘Fujitsu Way’ – a common direction for all employees of the Fujitsu Group, which has safety as a core component.

With the most stringent laws globally as its baseline and ISO 45001 as the framework, the organisation will now be united and legally compliant, with established global expectations and consistent standards, processes and procedures.

Click here to read more about Fujitsu’s journey.