When it comes to looking after its staff and other road users Acumen Distribution puts Health & Safety at the top of its agenda. The fast growing logistics company is successfully working with Labyrinth Logistics Consulting's Support Division, which is helping Acumen deliver bottom-line benefits by ensuring it does not incur avoidable expenditure arising from legal costs or staff absenteeism through injury.
Following a serious accident, from which they were exonerated, Acumen Distribution decided to take a different approach to Health & Safety issues by appointing Labyrinth to advise them.
“I have been in the logistics industry since 1989 and have worked in many operational and project roles so I know the 'nitty gritty' of what can go wrong in transport, for example when loading a vehicle”, said Ruth Waring, Managing Director of Labyrinth. “Many H&S consultants know a great deal about legionella and asbestos but few about runaway trailers or the risk of bulging curtains.”
According to figures supplied by the Health & Safety Executive, over the last five years 60 employees have been killed in the haulage and distribution industry and over 5000 seriously injured. A further 23,000 people have suffered injuries which have necessitated them being off work for more than three days. These figures do not take account of work related ill health from e.g. bad backs or stress. Fines of up to £20,000 can be imposed for breaches of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 in addition to unlimited fines and imprisonment if cases are heard in higher courts.
With Labyrinth Logistics Consulting's guidance, Acumen Distribution has completely revised its risk assessments strategy and introduced a new H&S management system and comprehensive drivers' handbook. It has rewritten its H&S policy and provided training for all staff and drivers on the new system.
To kick off the new procedures, Ruth provided comprehensive training, including background information, for all the supervisory staff on H&S legislation. Personnel from Labyrinth now visit Acumen's sites every 6 months to review procedures as part of an agreed audit schedule. Annual risk assessments are also carried out as part of these visits.
Labyrinth has also introduced a new form of short, sharp shock audit – the “virtual accident”, which takes the form of a realistic accident scenario. Acumen's on-site staff are required to come up with all the documents they would need in the event of a real accident, from risk assessments to training records and maintenance logs.
“Using an outside consultant has helped us to mature our approach to Health & Safety, and Ruth provides a lot more than legal updates”, said Chris Doughty, Managing Director of Acumen Distribution. “We need to focus on our core business and therefore I would recommend this approach to other companies. I believe having a serious accident could cost us ten times what we pay Labyrinth, so it's a sound investment– and more importantly we are saving lives along the way.”