Health and Safety

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This, the thing that you know now is Mr Health and Safety wasn’t around, not like he is around now anyway. You can’t open the door now without checking first if you’ve got a sticker to tell you not to walk into it.

In those days it was a little bit more of a factory when men did men’s work, if you like. If something needed lifting we lifted it, we didn’t have to go and see if it was more than 20 kilos so we’re not allowed to do it, but that’s the way it is. But in here a lot more emphasis on safety.

We did have a serious accident here in one of the shut-downs where a guy got killed. So that obviously really beefed up health and safety issues here. And Ford generally in Europe have done that.

Martin W

So we’ve changed a lot of the PPE – Personal Protective Equipment – over the years. It was very optional when I first started in 1979. It was up to you whether you had safety shoes. When I first came here I bought my own safety shoes. And then the company would just take a bit out of your pay each week – so a small amount of money per week to pay for your shoes.

Several years ago, because of the safety department, the company then decided that we would make it mandatory for people to wear safety shoes but also the company would pay for those shoes. That was from 1979.

Today if you and I were to walk into the Body Shop without a high-vis jacket and glasses on, then the culture is such that the employees out there will stop us and they will say, ‘You’re not allowed in this building, leave’. And the culture is such that even if that was the Plant Manager walking into there, the guys know they have the right to go up to him and say, ‘I’m sorry, but you must leave this building now’.

And that actually did happen a few years ago. We had a Plant Manager that was, well he actually into Body Shop, already lectured people about high-vis jackets and glasses and went into Body Shop, forgot to put his own glasses on. And within two minutes he was stopped and asked to leave. And he was very apologetic, very, very embarrassed, and he came out and got his glasses very quickly.

Barry S

Intense safety – definitely safety shoes, safety glasses, sometimes safety hats to keep, you know, your head safe or your hair out of the way. All of that came under health and safety. You could not have stuff where there could be tripping hazard.

They had actual footsteps, so you knew where you could go. Also you had the chevroned areas. You had black and yellow ones but on some of the lines they were yellow and red, which meant just really don’t walk in, because some big mechanical thing’s going to go right across. And these things could slice you, you know.

I mean like the robot areas, absolutely, you know, really hazardous areas; total protocol. So, so yeah all that sort of thing was read the riot all the time, they never, ever, ever let you away with that. And they were really good with it and I’m glad they were and what I mean is we didn’t resent that.

Laurie G

I was always very stringent when it comes down to safety. Because I wanted to make sure all of my guys went home with the same number of digits, the same parts and no bumps and bruises and stuff like that.

Stephen HP

Well I got my hair caught in a rotating gun. I moved out of the way to let someone go past and I brought my rotating gun up to my face to let them go by, so I could squeeze into a smaller space and I triggered it while it was close to my hair and it just pulled a massive chunk of my hair out, really quickly.

Little bit painful, more embarrassing... noteworthy in the sense that no other idiot had done it, it was me you know. Everyone was quite sweet about it and it kind of went round Europe and stuff because obviously these things have to get reported because they’ve got to learn from it.

And then after that there was another big quite serious swoop of people being told about health and safety and hat wearing and hair, how to have your hair. It was just, it was quite a shock and I think it did make people think, ‘Look,’ you know, ‘that can actually ...’

You know seriously, you watch these videos every now and then and they take you up to an area where you all are seated and you have a bit of a health and safety talk and they show these awful videos of people putting their foot into something and it being chopped off and people ‘Oh it will never happen.’

Luckily what did happen wasn’t serious, so it did give people a little bit of a sombre reflection for a few days about yeah maybe we should all, you know, watch ourselves a little bit you know, it just shows, anything can happen if you’re not careful.

It made you realise that you weren’t working with toys, you know. They’re really powerful tools and if in the wrong hands or used badly, yeah very dangerous. It was just a sort of a sobering thing, you know.

Laurie G

There will be rules and regulations regarding fork-lift driving, safety equipment. There is power lock-off system so if you have to go into a piece of machinery or equipment, there is a lock-off procedure to make sure that nobody starts that piece of equipment while you’re in there working. We’ve given everybody the power and responsibility for safety. So everybody is responsible for their safety and everybody else’s. So now it’s a different way of thinking. Some of the noticeboards, there is a mirror on the noticeboard and it says below the mirror, ‘The person you are looking at is responsible for safety in this plant, and you’re looking in the mirror. So it gives a message, ‘You’re responsible’. And people have taken that on board.

Patrick M