World Day for Safety and Health at Work

By Paul Fears | 28 April 2021

For the World Day for Safety and Health at Work we talked with Denis Elkins, our HSE & Quality Assurance Manager about his role at Bunting.

Denis Elkins on the Bunting-Berkhamsted shop floor

“Ultimately, my responsibility is to ensure that all our employees return home in good health after a safe day at work.  Of course, this is very much a team effort and I work closely with senior management, as well as every employee in the company.

Bunting is a member of the British safety council and in 2020 gained reaccreditation for ISO 45001 [Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Management].  Personally, I am a member of the IIRSM (Institute of Risk and Safety Management).  We also have trained First Aiders with IOSH management qualifications on both sites.

As a manufacturing company, our employees face many potential hazards.  The nature of our daily working environment puts people near machinery, vehicles, and chemicals.  Also, as a company whose business is based on magnets, we have the added risks associated with handling high-strength, permanent rare earth magnets.

Educating employees about potential risks and preventative actions is the cornerstone of a successful health and safety policy.  This training never stops and we all learn together as we continuously assess our working practices and make improvements.

Our Health and Safety committee works across both sites [Redditch and Berkhamsted] and includes employees from both the office and shop floor.  We meet on a monthly basis, reviewing any issues and identifying ways to implement improvements.  The details are reported back to the senior management team.  Also, we display the number of days lost through accident on each site.”

Daily Focus on Health and Safety

“On a daily basis, ensuring all our employees remain healthy and safe starts as soon as they walk onto site.  On the manufacturing side, we each day starts with a toolbox talk when we check for any issues and their jobs for the day.

At the same time, we review everyone’s PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), ensuring everyone has appropriate kit including safety glasses, safety boots, gloves, ear defenders, and any specific job-related equipment.  Safety checks are conducted on the fork lifts and cranes prior to use for the first time that day.

There are also daily checks on any environmentally issues, extraction, heating, etc, as well as fire doors and fire point checks.  Examinations of the First Aid kits identify any used items needing replacement and the onsite defibrillators are tested.

Throughout the day, every employee, from management to the storeman, check that all employees are correctly wearing safety equipment.  We believe that self-policing ensures maximum compliance.  As we are working in a manufacturing environment, noise is a key issue with welding, fabrication, cranes and other engineering driven sounds.  Subsequently, noise levels get checked regularly.

The Covid-19 pandemic has introduced a new challenge.  We have limited the numbers of employees on site as well as visitors.  Any person on either site must maintain a distance of at least 2 meters and wear a face mask where appropriate.

Back in May 2020, we had to adapt to the pandemic restrictions to undergo a two-day audit for Quality (ISO9001:2015) whilst also gaining first time accreditation for Environment (ISO14001:2015) and Health and Safety (ISO45001:2018).  The audit was conducted remotely by the global certification body NQA, whilst I was based at home.  It was challenging, but we made it work.

Denis Elkins in the middle of the two-day remote audit

There are also specific health and safety issues related to each site.

At our heavy-manufacturing site in Redditch, where we build our magnetic separators, metal detectors, electrostatic separators and eddy current separators, we have both wet and powder paint booths along with large mechanical assemblies and heavy welding.  Here we continually assess hazards such as trips, falls, burns and inhaling noxious gasses.

Our Berkhamsted facility, which focuses on our magnets, magnet assemblies and magnetiser portfolio, is very different.  Handling in the large stores area is a key focus area, especially with high racking and the potential of falling objects.  Some of our magnet assemblies are tiny which may cause eye strain for our assemblers.  Also, our magnet chargers and magnetisers are potentially dangerous as they use high currents and so there are shock risks.”

Working Together for Health and Safety

“I have worked in health and safety for most of my career and have seen an evolution in the thinking and regulations.  The best way to operate in the safest and healthiest manner is through your employees.  Everyone has a responsibility and by working together we can continuously make the improvements needed to keep all our employees safe and well. The World Day for Safety and Health at Work is a great way to focus attention on the importance of health and safety for any successful business.”

Magnet and Magnet Assembly Design

Bunting designs and manufactures a wide range of magnet setters, magnetisers, magnetising fixtures, magnets and magnetic assemblies. Many are bespoke for specific applications.  For further information, please contact us via:

Phone: +44 (0) 1442 875081

Email: sales.berkhamsted@buntingmagnetics.com

Via the Bunting-Berkhamsted website for specialist magnets, magnetic assemblies and magnetising equipment

Via Bunting-eMagnets for online purchase of Magnets and Magnetic Technology

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