Supporting the manufacturing processes of tomorrow

Alcumus Sypol’s COSHH management system helps to reduce risk at the pioneering Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre

With some of the world’s leading brands on its books including Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, Boeing and Airbus, the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) specialises in carrying out world class research to enable manufacturers to introduce advanced techniques, machinery, technologies and processes.

Research and development

With over 400 highly qualified engineers and researchers from around the globe situated on the South Yorkshire Advanced Manufacturing Park, the AMRC puts health and safety at the top of its priority list, particularly COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health). Because of the potentially harmful substances handled by employees on a daily basis and the high-risk nature of the research and development sector, Health and Safety Manager, Steve Davies, says ensuring staff are protected by the processes in place is crucial: “COSHH assessments need to offer staff sufficient protection to reduce the risk of injury and work related ill health. The AMRC was growing out of the previous COSHH assessment system we had in place, so we required something to completely transform our processes while assuring legal compliance.”

Steve added: “The work we do at AMRC is outstanding; we help create some of the world’s leading technologies that not only enhance industry, but everyday life. We’ve also grown in size significantly since the centre was founded back in 2001, so we need to ensure our health and safety processes can keep up with our demands.”

To ensure AMRC is both protecting staff welfare and remains legally compliant, the UK’s leading compliance and risk management software business, Alcumus, was tasked to assist in overhauling the AMRC’s current (in house) COSHH procedures by introducing its COSHH Management System (CMS).

Detailed assessments

“As the AMRC has grown and our research became more sophisticated and challenging, we needed to adopt a more comprehensive system that would allow us to complete more detailed assessments; accommodating the very nature of the work with new and innovative substances we do here at the AMRC.” said Steve

“We were in need of a sophisticated service that would permit us to create more specific assessments. We found Alcumus’ CMS was the perfect solution, providing instant access to a database of over 750,000 COSHH assessments.” Steve added: “When I decided to update our COSHH system, I knew Alcumus was a company I wanted to work with. I had seen CMS in practice when I worked at UK Coal in 2014 and was impressed with what was provided. I put the contract out to tender, with many companies offering similar COSHH services. Ultimately, however, Alcumus’ software and consultancy solution ticked all of the boxes and I felt they could deliver the best service.”

As well as providing access to thousands of COSHH assessments, Alcumus was also able to offer assistance with producing substance data sheets. These contain vital information on handling, storing and emergency measures assisting with the creation of initial detailed COSHH assessments. This is vital for research and development organisations such as the AMRC, which often work with new or prototype substances, chemicals and products that haven’t been used before and, therefore, don’t yet have the relevant safety data. With the implementation of the new Alcumus CMS system, the AMRC can create specific data sheets, using the substance’s chemical make-up to deliver far more accurate COSHH assessments.

Added benefits

As well as being safe in the knowledge that it’s consistently compliant, exposure levels are reduced and staff are protected, AMRC is experiencing a financial benefit of implementing CMS in terms of time saving. With the help of Alcumus’ database of COSHH assessment forms, the AMRC’s COSHH assessors have saved hundreds of hours that they would have spent writing COSHH assessments from scratch. Steve commented: “On average, up to an hour is saved per assessment, saving us thousands of pounds per year. This frees up staff time, allowing them to focus on the research at hand rather than the paperwork, while ensuring that a representative COSHH assessment has been created.”

Steve added: “It’s not just the time saved per assessment that’s improved; we now have a better understanding of the level of risk as the assessments are far more concise and accurate. We now experience a far more varied and accurate response, with a range of assessments being placed across the three classifications; low, medium and high.”

Additionally, with the calibre of clients the AMRC has and the commercially sensitive projects the teams work on, there is a high level of client confidentially that needs to be managed correctly. The new system provides AMRC with an auditable system for managing IP, ensuring all clients’ projects are fully protected.

Monya Merrison, Director of Alcumus Sypol, commented: “It’s great to work with such an interesting client, whose COSHH needs are integral to the business. AMRC is a perfect example of how an integrated system can have such a positive effect on a business, including time management, compliance and even client relationships.”

“Creating COSHH assessments can be a challenging and timely process. Unless you’re an expert in this field, it’s not something that’s thought of as essential, however, this isn’t the case. Staff wellbeing should be a priority for all businesses, especially in a high risk environment.  This is why it’s encouraging to see companies such as AMRC take control of their COSHH needs and understand how implementing a cohesive system can help improve many aspects of a business, not just legal compliance.”


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