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MANAGING COSHH IN A RAPIDLY GROWING BUSINESS

HOW ALCUMUS SYPOL SUPPORTED AB AGRI'S EXPANDING INTERNATIONAL OPERATION

Ab Agri LogoAlcumus Sypol has a long and proven track record of helping food manufacturers become safer, healthier and stronger.  We work with more than 40 companies to manage the unique COSHH challenges associated with food production, including controlling flour dust in bakeries and the safe use of chemicals used to clean heavy machinery.

AB Agri is a unique community of leading agricultural businesses that operate across the entire food supply chain. As the agricultural division of Associated British Foods, its focus is to add value and drive profit for partners all along that chain by improving the sustainability of food production.

“Perhaps most importantly, there is now a consistent and robust way of monitoring our COSHH compliance across all of our sites – this gives the health and safety team at AB Agri far more confidence when reporting on the measures we have in place to protect our staff.”

Jeff Marston, Group Safety and Environment Manager AB Agri

AB AGRI'S COSHH CHALLENGE

This rapidly growing business had historically managed COSHH in-house, using a series of databases and safety data sheets.  However, continued growth and operational expansion meant that this manual process had created a significant backlog of assessments that needed to be written, which was a huge drain on the health and safety team’s resources.

The approach also meant that COSHH assessments were being written from a single risk view, rather than reflecting the actual work processes that were taking place across the business.

With an operation spanning 17 sites across five countries, the team at AB Agri also identified that there was a significant amount of process duplication.  With every COSHH assessment taking an average 60 minutes to write, health and safety managers were spending a huge amount of time updating and reviewing existing assessments. It became increasingly difficult to keep control of a dynamic situation that was impacted by changing legislation, product suppliers and other external factors.

THE ALCUMUS SYPOL SOLUTION

AB Agri knew that they needed a more efficient solution to support their COSHH management strategy.  In June 2017, they chose Alcumus Sypol’s COSHH Management System (CMS) as the best way of providing a robust and scalable solution that would enable them to create and manage COSHH assessments more efficiently across multiple sites.

Jeff Marston, Group Safety and Environment Manager at AB Agri, explains how this worked in practice:

“Having identified Alcumus Sypol CMS as the best option for our business, we worked with their team to implement the system across our multi-national operation. While we had outgrown our existing processes, we had collected a huge amount of valuable data with which we wanted to populate the new system.  However, this would have taken us months to do ourselves so the team at Alcumus Sypol took responsibility for uploading hundreds of existing assessments so that we could hit the ground running.

Alcumus also trained my team on how to use the software, create assessments and structure the system in a way that supported our requirements, both from a group and individual site level.  It was vital that the system was flexible enough to reflect the differing needs of our operation while standardising the way in which COSHH was managed and reported across the business.”

HOW HAS AB AGRI'S COSHH MANAGEMENT IMPROVED?

Alcumus Sypol CMS has helped the health and safety team to improve their management of hazardous substances in a number of ways, according to Jeff.

“Our COSHH assessments can be easily accessed by the health and safety team regardless of where they are based, and they reflect the specific risks that we need to mitigate against at each site.  The fact that all assessments use simple, pictorial style worker sheets also means that we no longer have any issues with training staff, regardless of language barriers.

We now have a system that can scale with the demands of our business.  With almost 2,500 products or substances requiring a COSHH assessment, there is a massive demand on us to ensure compliance.  The CMS system helps us to achieve this more effectively while also reducing the amount of time our staff have to spend inputting information into the system.  It has significantly improved the way we manage COSHH across the business.”

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