Empowering a workforce key to implementing a functioning safety culture, the UKMHA’s National Safety Convention is told


The UK Material Handling Association’s annual Safety Convention has been labelled a success for the intuitive way in which it approached the key safety issue of Implementing a Safety Culture in the workforce.

Delegates attending the 2023 event heard from keynote speaker John Dillon, Principal Consultant at safety specialist, Anker and March, that engaging with a workforce and empowering them to take responsibility for their own wellbeing was the key to establishing a successful safety culture.

Cameron Burnett, Director, UKMHA addresses delegates at the annual Safety Convention

Mr Dillon told the conference that the more empowered a workforce felt, the greater the likelihood was that it would feel valued and want to contribute to the development of the business.

He said the safest businesses were often the ones where employees were encouraged to have a voice, where they felt free to air subjects which they felt could enhance safety protocols without fear of reprisal.

An engaged workforce was also more likely to be a productive one, said Mr Dillon. Therefore, positive reinforcement on the part of management was likely to yield more constructive results with the workforce all pulling together.

The message was one of the important takeaways from the conference for the 170 delegates who attended the event, which took place at the CBS Arena in Coventry.

Established by the industry for the industry, the UKMHA exists to be the single voice of the UK material handling sector, representing the interests of manufacturers, dealers, end-users or suppliers to the material handling industry.

One of its founding principles is to raise industry standards by benchmarking best practice on safety procedures, which is why the Safety Convention was established.

The event draws upon the knowledge of leading business professionals who pass on the benefit of their experience to members, helping them improve their safety strategies and improve engagement within your workforces.

The convention heard from a selection of industry experts about the steps they had introduced in their own workplaces to strengthen engagement. 

There were a series of informative case studies, the first from Briony Morgan, of PPG Industries, who told delegates how a fresh approach to risk assessment had developed wider engagement amongst the workforce and help define the company’s safety culture.  Lauren Hickling, of Travis Perkins, addressed the convention on how creating and sustaining employee engagement in regard to a safety culture had proved vital in ensuring the ongoing improvement of the builder’s merchants.

The conference also heard from Principal Inspector of health and safety for the HSE, Kanwal Kanda, and Zoe Gould, Work Psychologist at the HSE, who spoke about the HSE’s Safety Climate Tool, which has been carefully designed by scientists to assess attitudes within an organisation towards health and safety issues, and how the tool is used to deliver an objective measure of a safety culture.

Laura Nelson, managing director of RTITB, explained about the adoption of the ‘Plan, Check, Do, Act’ approach to implementing a safety culture, and how the training provider’s Safety Chain methodology could be used to achieve measurable operational benefits to a business.

Headline sponsor, A-SAFE spoke about how having an effective safety infrastructure within a working environment was also a significant aid to a functioning safety culture.

The event was supported by an exhibition featuring leading businesses from across the material handling sector, including Crown, Flexi Narrow Aisle, Mentor Training, Elokon, McCue, CFTS, media partner Warehouse and Logistics News, The Stationery Office, Abbey Attachments, B&B Attachments, Compact Manufacturing, SIS Safety, Train-a-Lift, ZoneSafe and IMHX 2025.

Keynote Speaker John Dillon, of safety consultants Anker and Marsh, addresses delegates at the KMHA Safety Convention 2023.

Cameron Burnett, Director of the UKMHA, said: “The National Safety Convention was an excellent event and we received very positive feedback from exhibitors and delegates alike. It is yet another example of how the UKMHA works on behalf of the industry to help improve safety standards.

“On behalf of the UKMHA, I would like to thank all our exhibitors and attendees for their support and for helping to make the convention such a success. Special thanks go to Stuart Taylor at Mentor Training for his contribution.”

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