The migration, which took the mineral tiles business nine months when it can take a couple of years, took place when some corners of the safety industry are changing as well as during a period of unprecedented change for the business.
Now approved internationally to BS EN ISO 45001:2018 (certificate number 517640) for the manufacture, storage and distribution of ceiling tiles and panels for use in suspended ceiling systems, certification is a feather in the cap for the production facility at Team Valley in Gateshead.
While some processes under the former OHSAS 18001 certification remain the same, such as risk assessments, the new standard has focused on a greatly enhanced participative, collaborative and inclusive approach to Health and Safety management.
At a time when it has seen substantial investment in employees and new equipment on the horizon, Armstrong chose to shift some of their focus from the low-severity, high-frequency slip-and-trip type risks toward high-severity, low-frequency risks such as machine isolation, which if not recognised could result in fatal or life-changing injuries.
The company is also planning the roll-out of a pilot scheme where they created teams of people ranging from shop floor workers to senior management for dedicated areas such as working in confined spaces, emergency preparedness and vehicle and pedestrian movements. They are expected to meet six times a month.
The increased focus on high-severity, low-frequency risks was also reinforced with reminders to shop floor workers that their ideas on how operations could be improved from a safety perspective were now even more critical.
Organisational context exercises were held to determine internal and external risks and opportunities for the business regarding Brexit, in-house investment, and new products and equipment, while a new audit process helped identify “drift” in areas where Health and Safety performance might show concerns before accidents and injuries occurred.
Audited independently by the BSI, the Team Valley site, which now employs more than 100 people, achieved a migration score of 92%.
Armstrong’s EHS manager Ken Mudd said: “We saw ISO 45001 as an opportunity to undertake a critical review of how we had been operating before, what was working well, and what we can include given our new approach and direction for Health and Safety. I think it is a fantastic achievement, especially for the plant to have done so in the space of nine months. It is testament to all the people here and their active engagement in safe operations.”