Newcastle-based, Peacocks Medical Group, is a regional winner of the Make UK Awards for its commitment to the health, safety and wellbeing of its workforce.

Make UK, is the representative voice of UK manufacturing and held its annual awards ceremony in Harrogate to recognise the achievements of companies from the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber.

Peacocks won the Health and Safety Award and will now go forward to the national finals in London in January.

Established in 1903, Peacocks Medical Group is a multi-award-winning, family-run group, providing outstanding care in the delivery of both clinical services and medical equipment to the NHS and the private sector.

The company was recognised by Make UK, for implementing sustainable cultural changes, particularly in partnership with its workforce to re-energise its approach to health, safety and, importantly, employee wellbeing over the last two years.

David Stevens, managing director at Peacocks Medical Group, said: “We are very proud of the transition in our workplace culture, which has continued to flourish despite the extremely challenging circumstances of the past 18 months.

“We have maintained a focus throughout the pandemic on developing and encouraging an open and proactive approach to the health, safety and wellbeing of our people. The leadership team, as well as representatives from our workforce, believed that a whole new approach, which embedded staying healthy and safe at work and beyond, was of critical importance, not only to keep people safe but also to ‘live’ one of our key values, that our people are our greatest asset. Safety and wellbeing are fundamental to this.

“As a result, a health, safety and wellbeing improvement programme was developed, which has since been implemented, resulting in increased employee satisfaction, less attrition, lower absenteeism and improved health and safety performance against key metrics.”

In a recent ISO9001 audit in May 2021, the company passed with no observations or minor non-conformances and was praised for its world class health and safety performance and team culture.

The Programme was multi-faceted and led by its manufacturing and health and safety manager, Craig Dixon, who the company invested in to achieve NEBOSH and IOSH status. The entire layout of the factory was changed, allowing more space, improved product flow, better visibility and the eradication of potential tripping hazards

Other changes included painting the factory in zoned areas with clear segregation of walk ways and access and signage, restricting access to certain areas without appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), a newly refurbished on-site staff gymnasium, as well as a twice weekly personal trainer, windows replaced so as to  provide natural light and air circulation, a confidential impartial advisory helpline for staff needing advice, including access to specialists and mental health advice and support through nominated colleagues.

David added: “Our health and safety manager was supported by a team of departmental representatives of employee safety’ (RoES) who implemented plans, generated ideas, collated feedback, monitored performance and championed initiatives, all of which are documented in monthly management meetings.

“Our health and safety metrics have continuously improved and, year-to-date, we have achieved our zero-harm target, with only three near miss incidents reported this year. In the last reporting year we observed improvement month on month in our safety statistics and near-miss reporting has continued to identify potential hazards which are quickly eradicated through our remediation action plan.

“Other benefits of the programme have been considerable, particularly with regards to the engagement of our staff and improvement in retention, attendance and workplace satisfaction.

“We have a workforce who report they feel valued and our proactive approach to safety and wellbeing form a large part of this. We are proud to talk to our customers, potential new customers, candidates for roles and suppliers about our approach to health, safety and wellbeing and this generates much interest.

“Fundamentally, we believe the transition and journey we have been on has now become inherent in how we operate. It is not an initiative or a tick box exercise but something that permeates the business as a sustainable part of our operation. This provides a fantastic foundation to build upon in the future and continuously improving our approach to this is high on our business agenda.”

June Smith, director for Make UK in the North of England, said: “These awards are a testament to the dynamic companies and individuals working within engineering and manufacturing. The sector remains at the heart of creating wealth in the North East and as we re-build our economy there will be a bright future for companies and individuals that make the most of their talent.

“Peacocks Medical Group stood out because of its dedication and ongoing commitment to support its employees and the measures it has put in place to help attract and retain its workforce. We wish all regional finalists the best of luck in the national finals.”