An interview with Tony Jackson, our Health & Safety Manager during COVID-19

What would you say has been your biggest challenge to date?

Speed in which we had to adapt to the Government’s lockdown directive, not only from a physical layout perspective but also from an employee’s mental well-being too. As with all businesses we have a duty of care to our employees, partners and customers whilst ensuring we continue to deliver the level of service, we are renowned for.

Over 70 years we have taken great pride in providing that face-to-face, personal touch with our customers and for that to rapidly change overnight to become more virtual was quite challenging. Plus ensure the correct PPE was being worn when face-to-face interactions with customers were necessary.

How are we tackling the physical constraints as well as general well-being?

Working near others is often necessary within our Service Department so we canvassed opinion from the team on what works best for them and balanced this against the needs of the business as well as ensuring rules and regulations were met.

COVID-19 risk assessment was carried out, signage was installed, and regular employee communication was sent out to act as a reminder for safe social distancing and what safe action can be taken if this was not possible.

We took early steps to promoting well-being within the workplace by providing a confidential ‘go to’ support service if required. We also ensured employees were kept in the picture on changes and actions across the business by updating them weekly, and we sited ever-changing motivational posters and reminders to keep the spirits up and the communication lines open.

Are there any positives to be taken from this experience?

The roll the sleeves up and ‘in it’ together attitude has been phenomenal. Suggestions from across the business has also really helped shape the way we are dealing with the changes whilst still delivering against business objectives.

Working practice has clearly had to change with remote working coming to the fore. Productivity is higher than ever with employees being forced into using other meeting platforms, which has in turn reduced travel time and less time out of their working day. Plus, it is great for the environment too, which ties into our growing concern of CSR.

Before COVID-19, we had already embarked on a safety management system update. With the challenges we faced over the past 3-4 months, we harnessed these updates and put them into the ISO45001 format, which we proudly received in May this year.

As a machinery and equipment dealer, what do you think the industry could learn from this time?

Resilience and teamwork should not be underestimated. Also, flexibility is key at an operational level from remote working to working patterns themselves to keeping abreast of technological change and so on.

What does all this mean for our customers?

Safety for our staff, partners and customers is paramount to our business offering.

ISO45001 is demonstrative that the correct processes are in place and of our commitment to keeping everyone safe.