Bibby Distribution chief executive Richard Morson candidly told MT in a recent interview that “the Covid-19 pandemic is the ultimate test of resilience for any business”. And nothing could prove this more than the performance of a company’s health and safety strategy during a time of global crisis.

A comprehensive system including employee training, mentoring, mental health awareness and company-wide communication gave Bibby Distribution the powerful tools it needed to thrive in a challenging 2020.

“Safety in Operation is obviously the one to win in this current environment and in 2020,” says Morson. “And safety is a long journey we’ve been on for a number of years. It’s something we’ve really focused on and we’ve worked together to improve our safety performance.

“Our nomination was based on nearly 40% reduction year-on-year in reportable incidents. And that was on the back of the previous year, which had already significantly improved.”

In Bibby Distribution's - now Menzies Distribution Solutions - winning entry, the business demonstrated how an embedded safety culture led to 2019 being its safest year on record. Smashing its already ambitious targets by some distance, achievements included reducing accidents by more than a third and recording its lowest-ever number of lost time and reportable incidents. While the target reduction was 10%, reportable incidents (RIDDOR) were actually reduced by 36% and lost time accidents (LTRs) by 39%.

Near-miss reporting also improved by 139%, from 236 in 2018 to 566 in 2019.

A manual handling training course developed by osteopaths was completed by 70 trainers and manual handling incidents were cut by 10%. Slips, trips and falls also declined by 17% following a focused campaign and targeted training courses.

At the same time, Bibby Distribution’s driver trainers focused on reducing road traffic collisions by conducting one-to-one and class training, particularly around its GOAL (Get Out And Look) campaign. This saw on-the-road, ‘at fault’ vehicle accidents drop by 21%.

The company’s approach to safety emphasises openness and team empowerment. It has developed several internal campaigns for staff based on ‘mindset’, which have had a positive impact on culture across the business.

It also held its fourth annual health and safety conference, to share and discuss best practice, and the second annual Driver of the Year Awards, recognising safe driving.

Top-down approach

andrew mawson2

The importance Bibby Distribution places on wellbeing is shown by the fact that head of safety, health, environment and quality (SHEQ) Andrew Mawson (pictured) reports directly into CEO Richard Morson. His immediate team includes four dedicated SHEQ managers, a lead driver trainer and five driver trainers.

The company has invested £1m on in-cab cameras across the fleet as well as full fleet telematics, and has its own bespoke software, AIRS – Accident Incident Recording System – used to detail accidents and near misses. AIRS data and lessons are regularly shared across the business.

All accident/incident data, including vehicle trend analysis and damage and repair costs, are reviewed on an ongoing basis and the business flexes its daily, weekly and monthly priorities based on this information.

Underpinning all its safety initiatives, Bibby has also introduced a cultural drive across the business called ‘Come home safe’. This campaign was designed to “instil a proactive safety focus among all staff by highlighting the importance of families, pets and outside work interests”, and underline that every team member has a responsibility to protect their colleagues on a daily basis to ensure they return home safely. It has been delivered in workplaces, at meetings and through company-wide internal social media to great effect.

2019’s target-beating results have been the culmination of a five-year strategy called ‘Road to Zero’, launched in 2015. This ambitious plan aims to deliver zero harm, zero waste and zero environmental impact across the entire Bibby Distribution operation.

Top of the agenda

Morson says: “Health and safety is truly at the top of our agenda, and we have worked hard to make Bibby Distribution one of the safest companies in logistics.

“We would ultimately love to support the whole logistics sector in raising safety standards, so everyone can Come Home Safe. Nothing matters more.”

“The Safety in Operation Award was fantastic to win. It was an amazing achievement for Andrew and the team because they have worked tirelessly to help and support people across the business.”

Mental health and wellbeing will continue to be one of the biggest focuses for Bibby Distribution throughout 2021. Working from home, prompted by 2020’s coronavirus pandemic, has shifted the way risk assessments are approached.

“This recognises that within our own colleague group we have everything from people living on their own in a small flat with limited contact to colleagues in their family home trying to work on complicated budgets with the family buzzing around,” says Mawson.

“We have a whole new set of hazards to understand and work out how to solve. So with Richard’s help, we’ve done everything from providing essential furniture to getting people into the right spaces to work.”

Health and wellbeing

The entire Bibby management team is now trained in IOSH Managing Occupational Health & Wellbeing, which enables to them to carry out health assessments and understand how to spot if an employee is struggling.

Each line manager also carries out a weekly “buddy call” with team members to check in with them while not in an office environment.

In addition, more and more staff are volunteering to be trained up as mental health first-aiders. Mawson says: “In many ways mental health is becoming the new slip, trip and fall. While everybody is in the workplace, we all know that slips, trips and falls are the biggest cause of injuries. Now people are working from home, mental health and wellbeing are key.”

Mawson says another positive to stem from the shift in working patterns during Covid-19 has been the use of social media platforms to communicate health and safety messages with staff. Monthly updates on video, weekly Zoom calls for safety-co-ordinators, and dedicated Facebook and Twitter pages have helped staff communicate any issues quickly. This has proven particularly useful for drivers, who may want to report a health or safety issue at a time when not many people are on site. Now they simply use social media as an instant tool.

“It’s a whole new way of working for us and has taken a bit of time to get used to, but will stand us in good stead now,” says Mawson. “It has really opened up our ability to communicate and engage. I’m incredibly proud of what my team has achieved and will continue to achieve.”

The use of online interactive tools such as Kahoot has also enabled Mawson and his team to liven up training sessions and gauge instant feedback from delegates taking part.

Judges impressed

The MT Awards judges were particularly impressed by the excellent results delivered by Bibby’s approach to safety and praised the “full commitment from top level management”.

“The results speak for themselves,” said one judge.

Another called Bibby’s entry “a very strong submission based on a long-term strategy driving along a road to zero in a number of areas, including safety”.

The judges also commented on the amount of evidence, including relevant statistics, to back up the impressive results. “There appears no desire to rest on their laurels,” said one. “The engagement for near-misses is also very positive,” said another. “You get the feeling that they will not be happy until they reach zero.”

About Bibby Distribution

Bibby Distribution has been providing logistics and supply chain services for more than 30 years. It was acquired by Menzies in December 2020 and has beee rebranded Menzies Distribution Solutions.

It operates from 50 UK locations, and has 1,400 employees providing contract logistics, warehousing, distribution and other added value services, supporting industry from primary production through to multi-channel retailing.

■ It delivers more than 1.3 billion drinks cans each year – 20 cans for every person in the UK

■ It delivers 350 million sq m of cardboard every year

■ Its fleet travelled 90 million km last year – the equivalent of the moon and back 130 times – yet still reduced C02 emissions by 5%

The deadline for entries to the 2021 Motor Transport Awards is 9 April so visit the website for full details.