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Devonport Dockyard – serious about health and safety

Devonport Dockyard – serious about health and safety

Health and safety reps at Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth have their work cut out with just under 5,000 staff and a site that is three and half miles long and between 0.25 and one mile wide.

But directors, managers and Prospect health and safety reps work together to make sure that everyone goes home safe, every day.

Steve Anniss is a full-time health and safety coordinator for Prospect, paid for by the company, Babcock Marine. He has worked at Devonport for 44 years and been a safety rep for 25 years.

Steve came along to a recent Prospect seminar for health and safety reps in the energy sector to talabout how health and safety is organised at Devonport.

There are 65 safety reps on the site. Once a month on a Monday everybody stops work for half an hour to talk about health and safety – called ‘Time out for safety’.

What they’ve done

Safety reps get involved with setting action lists eg they pushed for more defibrillators on site and more first responders after a 90-minute wait for an ambulance after an incident.

Devonport has a visible leadership programme which is run and managed by Steve. This involves director-level staff talking to workers at least three times a month.

On accident investigations, safety reps are notified of any incidents via daily reports. Trade union safety reps are also involved in investigations and part of investigation teams.

Safety reps attend event review boards which are chaired by a director. The reps can ask for an ERB if they think it is required. They also attend Safety, Health, Environment and Fire meetings.

How they organise themselves

The huge site has been broken down into 20 areas for housekeeping purposes and assigned to safety reps to police. Managers and safety reps do regular visits and report back to Steve.

Stress and well-being policy

It took three years, but the safety reps pushed for, and were involved in creating and approving, a stress and well-being policy for Babcock Marine Division.

A health and well-being group has been set up. It meets fortnightly and includes three managers, four Prospect reps, one Unite and three GMB safety reps.

It organises lots of events, often in collaboration with external organisations. They hold a families day once a year and the group “is always planning the next event” says Steve.

Devonport has 40 mental health first aiders on site but Steve says “you can never have enough”.

Marie McGrath

Marie McGrath


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