Regulations & EHS&S

Developing a positive safety culture

By John Creighton, Head of Safety and Corporate Responsibility at SPI Pharma

John Creighton, Head of Safety and Corporate Responsibility at SPI Pharma, explains how a focus on health, safety and enviro

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John Creighton, Head of Safety and Corporate Responsibility at SPI Pharma, explains how a focus on health, safety and environment (HSE) forms the foundation for a positive company culture.
The manufacturing sites handle hazardous chemicals, have significant forklift traffic moving packaged raw materials and finished products, on top of ergonomic challenges in the packaging area. Products need to be distributed and stored, without reacting with other products in distribution or storage. Constant awareness of the effects of raw materials, intermediates and finished products on the health and safety of company employees, and the environment, is paramount. Employees who travel for business face situations that change, depending upon where they are in the world.
Sounds familiar? These are the real-life challenges of a modern, international, chemicals manufacturing company.
Headquartered in the US, with additional manufacturing sites in the US and France, and a research laboratory and business office in India, global pharmaceutical excipients and API supplier SPI Pharma is a typical example. The company is presented with unique challenges at each facility, and with varying employee situations. A focus on health, safety and environment (HSE) is achieved by maintaining a small company culture that emphasizes transparency and agility for decision making, while also taking advantage of the wide range of experience and best practices from the global operations of its parent company, Associated British Foods.
Be proactive!
Initially, the emphasis was on investing in physical upgrades and equipment that would eliminate high risk situations that might lead to accidents and injuries. As a result, over the past five years, the injury rate has dropped significantly. Now, the focus is on more proactive awareness of risky behaviours and an accountability across the organization for the safety of all employees.
Speak up!
A large piece of a successful HSE program is communication. Encouraging employees to speak up when they see something that could be dangerous is key. When something is reported, SPI Pharma has found that a culture of trust, where employees know the incident will be acted upon, inspires further reporting. Reporting rates have increased through progressive awareness campaigns.
Involve everyone!
This commitment to safety and the environment goes beyond the workplace. Community involvement has been a common thread for the organization. Being a good neighbour is part and parcel to SPI Pharma’s philosophy. The Septemes, France facility hosted an event for local residents and businesses to explain how the site addresses work safety, as well as minimizing its effects on the environment.  
The Lewes site in Delaware, USA, sponsored a visit from a local school to educate the students regarding the technical, safety, and environmental challenges of operating a manufacturing facility. One process at this site draws magnesium from seawater. Once the process is complete, the water is returned to the ocean cleaner than the way it was found.
While HSE forms the foundation for a positive company culture from within, a strong HSE program comes full circle when responsible companies consider their intended contributions to the world. Surely all such pharmaceutical companies aim to produce high performing ingredients that make it easier for patients and caregivers to administer medication through convenience, compliance, safety and efficacy.
By combining equipment upgrades with a proactive awareness of potential risks, and with good communication involving all stakeholders, good HSE practices can be implemented at all levels throughout an organization. In this way, SPI Pharma seeks to improve lives globally and to take care of the people and places in which it operates.
John Creighton, Head of Safety and Corporate Responsibility, SPI Pharma Inc, Rockwood Office Park, 503 Carr Rd, Suite 210, Wilmington, DE 19809, USA
T: +1 302 576 8600