Cadbury - Raising the Bar on Safety Standards
The name behind some of Australia’s favourite chocolate brands, Cadbury received National Audit Tool (NAT) certification in May 2011. During the audit process it was acquired by US food giant Kraft, and the process of unifying safety management systems across the organisation began.
The NAT is now a requirement for workers compensation self-insurers. It was developed in 2005 to provide a complete national standard for workplace safety, and draws on other industry audit tools and standards such as SafetyMAP, AS/NZS 4801 and AS/NZS 4804.
Providing all the tools needed to manage safety effectively, the NAT audits company procedures against 155 criteria. “It is certainly more prescriptive than SafetyMAP,” explains Ken Holmes, Environment, Health and Safety Manager at Cadbury’s Claremont factory in Tasmania.
Cadbury had been certified to Level 1 on the SafetyMAP tool, and were working towards Level 2 when NAT became a requirement for worker’s compensation self-insurers.
“We knew we had to transition over to the NAT, so we did a self-assessment in July 2010 to see whether we were ready. We felt we were fairly close, the gap analysis showed we just had to make sure all requirements were in place.”
Ken asked Trevor Ross, NCS International (NCSI) Client Manager for Cadbury, to start the audit process in August.
A fresh perspective on safety
Ken was confident that they already had a comprehensive safety system in place at Claremont, which is the largest chocolate factory in the southern hemisphere.
“We checked that we had evidence for all the building blocks of the NAT in place, including up to date health and safety policies that have been clearly communicated to people across our sites. We’d been in a state of transition, and policies can get out of date fairly quickly.”
Ken believes their system of setting clear objective and targets, and of supporting those with a reviewed safety management plan, was robust. “However, training and competence is always a challenge, so we closed a few gaps in that area.”
For Ken, the biggest issue for a health and safety manager is implementation. “You can have very good policies and procedures, but it’s the effectiveness of implementation at shop floor level that’s the challenge – making sure our people are consistently doing the right thing all the time.”
As a more prescriptive tool, the NAT certainly focuses on behaviour on the factory floor. “But I think it’s also important to consider safety management at a higher level, improving safety culture over time,” says Ken.
Independent verification is an important part of the NAT process. It picks up issues that may have been missed in self-assessment, and by going beyond the paper trail, with physical observations and interviews, it can also assess whether behaviour matches intention. There is also an opportunity to learn from the way other sites manage situations.
“We had always mapped health and safety responsibilities from the top down,” explains Ken. “But Trevor suggested reversing that, cascading responsibilities up the chart as you move from employee to line manager to operations manager. That’s been a worthwhile change.”
Other suggestions included refining the process for storing and labelling chemicals and gas bottles, and the ways dangerous materials were handled. “We also occasionally learned that a standard had been updated, and it hadn’t been picked up in our legal review process. So when we were advised by the auditor, we could check we were still compliant,” says Ken.
Working towards a single safety system
Following the acquisition of Cadbury, Kraft has become a global market leader in confectionary, and its Australian operation is certainly a local food giant. Bringing all parts of the larger organisation under one safety umbrella in time for the first audit proved to be a major challenge.
“We aspired to have one common certification across the business,” explains Ken. “But as it turned out, there were too many differences across the Kraft business, so we had to split it up.”
Trevor needed to review and verify the reports for each individual site, and make separate assessments. “Individually, all the parts of the business had good systems, but when I put them together they were all different. So they needed to be split into groups to assess them properly,” says Trevor.
NCSI approved the final certifications for two sites in Tasmania and two sites in Victoria on May 13, 2011.
Eventually, Kraft wants all sites to run the same, and be certified under one tool – something the NAT, as a national standard, makes possible. “They’re making progress towards streamlining the processes, and will be able to unify them under Kraft requirements,” says Trevor. He is continuing to review Cadbury’s NAT certification with six-monthly surveillance audits.
“We’re currently looking at taking the best from the best from both organisations,” says Ken. “By mapping Kraft Global Standards for health and safety, we can make sure we close any gaps at a regional and site level.”
He acknowledges that a fresh pair of eyes from outside is always useful in that process. Ultimately, that external perspective on a consistent standard supports Cadbury’s Australian staff in making continuous improvements to their workplace health and safety procedures. And that’s also reassuring for the millions of sweet-toothed Australians who continue to enjoy their Freddo Frogs, Cherry Ripes and Crunchies.