Behavioral Safety Program Glemsford: safer and more productive workplace

In a typical English landscape, just an hour’s drive North of London, in Glemsford, the Philips Avent feeding bottle manufacturing site is situated. Thousands of feeding bottles a day are produced and packaged.

There are numerous reasons to visit this plant. Ours was to learn about the ‘Glemsford approach to behavioral safety’ and see if this approach can be applied in the wide variety of Philips workplaces all over the world.

Launch behavioral safety program

The 600+ employees, from highest management to shop floor, have been engaged in a behavioral safety program that helped decrease the incident rate substantially. About three years ago Kevin Ranson, the safety manager, and Lisa Bruton, warehouse manager, decided to launch a change program under the slogan: “Nothing is so urgent and important that it cannot be done in a safe way.”

Program execution: higher safety awareness among whole site population

Pairs of observers take 20 minutes time to observe one or a (group of) employees. By asking questions about the tasks at hand the observers lead the observed into a conversation about behavior and safety. The observers need no knowledge of the work at hand. The observed person(s) will tell the observers about the correct way to do the task. Deviations can be discussed as well as the relevance for safety. The result of the safety talk may be a proposal for improvement (Kaizen) made by the observed person to his group leader.

Higher safety awareness is the main objective. The observers write a simple observation report that is collected by the safety officer. Each week new pairs of observers – management included – are formed by a lottery plus an assignment of work to be observed.

The success of the program lies in everyone’s commitment to it. The biggest challenge for Kevin and Lisa was exactly that: make sure the whole site population – that was until now mainly focused on production numbers – is willing to give real attention to safety. The result was: not only a safer, but also a more productive workplace and that is because safe behavior also leads to increased quality and more efficiency.

The Behavior Based Safety team, part of Environment, Health & Safety, one of the key areas of Philips Engineering Solutions, unanimously concluded that the Glemsford behavioral safety approach is very useful to adapt into a Philips approach.