Solihull-based Whale Tankers – one of Europe’s largest manufacturers of liquid waste vacuum tankers and jetting equipment – has received further recognition for its commitment to the field of occupational health and safety and risk management.

At the recent 2019 Risk Excellence Awards, coordinated by professional membership body, IIRSM (International Institute of Risk & Safety Management), Whale Tankers was announced as ‘Finalists’ in the ‘Best SME Risk Initiative’ category. This latest accolade, which attracted entries from global organisations of all sizes – including multinationals, SMEs and charities – comes in the wake of Whale Tankers having achieved the internationally recognised ISO45001:2018 certification for Occupational Health & Safety in December.

Commenting on the achievement, a delighted Whale Tankers’ Managing Director, Mark Warmington said: “We were obviously delighted to have been announced as finalists at this year’s awards, particularly given their standing on a truly international level. Having attracted entries from the likes of Royal Mail and ITV, it is extremely gratifying to be recognised for the ongoing commitment that the entire team at Whale Tankers places on what is an increasingly important part of the H&S policies that we have in place, and which are an inherent part of our business.

“It is extremely rewarding for the team at Whale who continue to work in this field, in particular project manager, Matt Broadhurst. Their unremitting efforts are helping raise the profile of health and safety at Whale, and in doing so encouraging the culture change that is required to move the business forward in this field,” he added.

The finalists announced across the seven categories at the 2019 Risk Excellence Awards attended a ceremony held at Church House in London’s Westminster, and which was hosted by Dr Steve Cross, a comedian and founder of the Bright Club, the International Academic Comedy Network, which hosts club nights that cross-fertilise science and comedy.

Whale Tankers 2019 award entry for the Best SME Risk Initiative centred on the significant improvements the company has made to the health & safety systems and their applications across the business, working within the constraints of the existing site. Having identified health and safety as an area for ongoing strategic development at Whale, a unified approach was adopted that focused on:

• Providing managers with the tools to effectively apply health and safety practices in their area.

  • Improving communication across the business.
  • Identifying top-level measurable objectives to demonstrate effectiveness of the system

The strategy developed to achieve this was based on delivering a culture change as part of an ongoing process as opposed to a one-off campaign, the key being to raise the profile of health & safety in the business and to provide training and relevant information. Following a review of existing arrangements, it was agreed that the development of the health & safety system would not only be linked to ISO45001 certification, but fully integrated with the existing ISO9001 and ISO14001 Systems, to provide a single point of reference for quality, environmental and health & safety requirements associated with any task.

As a result, key objectives were identified:

  • Reduction in risks from vehicle movement
  • Reduction in risks from confined space working
  • Reduction in risks from working at height

To ensure that the improvements were fully embedded in the company, all Managers and Supervisors (40 approx.) completed a four-day health & safety awareness training course – developed to address the relevant issues within the business with reference to legislation and best practice. As a result, managers have taken responsible for regular workplace inspections, which are supplemented by independent audits by an external consultant.

Furthermore, to ensure that health & safety is understood and supported at all levels, Whale has produced an “easy read” version of the full health & safety policy, which is provided as part of any induction process. Additionally, a Health & Safety Committee has been created – with employee appointed representatives – which supplements the current Whale Council. All members of the committee have completed a full day’s awareness training and are observing health & safety audits conducted in their areas. Subsequent regular meetings have been established with the opportunity for all employees to make suggested improvements to their representative. To date 180 items have been raised – with approximately 80% completed.

Other significant changes have included the introduction of specific machinery risk assessments, including sign-off of operators, introduction of Smart Screens with electronic access to company documentation (including risk assessments, method statements and Skills Matrix) on the shop floor, and development of COSHH assessments linked to part details within the EMU (MRP) system.

As Mark Warmington concludes: “Whilst Health and safety has always been high on the Whale Tankers agenda throughout its 50 year history, it is our intention to continue to lead the field within our industry sector. And, as has been previously intimated, this will be delivered through a highly focused and ongoing process rather than the route of a one-off campaign.”