Pendennis and their health and safety Olympics

12 Aug

At the end of last week I took the rather long journey to the beautiful south coast of Cornwall to pay a visit to a company who were holding an event that was, I think, unprecedented: a day of safety games, or, as I like to think of it, the Health and Safety Olympics.

The company was Pendennis Worldclass Superyachts. Now, some of the yachts they build are absolutely amazing. The night before I arrived they launched the world’s largest luxury sailing catamaran, Hemisphere. And building and refitting yachts carries with it a wide range of hazards.  

Each of the games followed the core topics of the British Safety Council’s level 1 award, which is very broad, so everything from chemicals to PPE; manual handling to workforce consultation. Each of the games was developed by one of the managers or supervisors who had lately taken a level 2 qualification with the consultancy Risk and Safety Plus, who helped coordinate much of the day’s action.

Around 200 members of staff who work for the company took part in the day’s events. The employees worked their way around each of the game. They included an inventive take on snakes and ladders to help understand the legal aspects of health and safety; target practice on the fire extinguisher firing range; darts to aid comprehension of COSHH; even a home-made dummy to practice what to do should the worst happen and someone have a serious accident.

The response from the supervisors and employees was great; no one had a bad word to say about it; the feedback was fantastic. Marga, who works in administration, said to me: “It’s very well set out, well thought of; it’s excellent and fun. I’ve learnt an awful lot.”

Now, I had a great day, probably partly due to the fact that being from Derby – which is about as far away from the sea as you can get in this country– I’ve never been to a working dock before. The scale alone is staggering. But more than this it was fantastic to see a company taking an innovative approach to teaching everyone about health and safety.

The premise was simple, and on the surface may seem slightly trivial, but the result was powerful. It opened up the lines of communication about health and safety between each supervisor and the workers in their teams. Health and safety became something that everyone participated in at all levels of the business; that everyone had something to contribute to and began to own, rather than it owning them, so to speak. In short, they took control and were empowered. And had fun along the way.

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