Breedon Cement’s commitment to Health & Safety was once again underlined by its success at the recent 2021 NISO (National Irish Safety Organisation) Health & Safety Awards in Killarney.
NISO’s mission is to create conditions where Irish workplaces are among the safest and healthiest in Europe, and Breedon Cement continues to excel in that regard. Employing 115 people in Kinnegad, Co. Westmeath where it operates one of the most modern cement manufacturing facilities in the world, Breedon was delighted to win a Merit Award which not only reflects well on the Health & Safety team, but on all the staff and contractors.
Breedon Cement Health & Safety Manager Patrick Walsh, who travelled to Kerry with Business Director Declan Carr and Plant Manager Garrett Ghee to receive the award, comments: “We have participated and submitted entries to the NISO Health & Safety Awards for a number of years now. It’s an initiative which we enjoy taking part in and which we have achieved great success in.
“To achieve a NISO Health & Safety Award, companies have to submit information and examples of how Health & Safety is managed on a day-to-day basis, e.g. Hazard Identification, Risk Management, Health and Safety Management, Health & Safety Communication and Consultation, Workplace Health & Wellbeing and Emergency Preparedness.
“While the submission was put forward by our Health & Safety department, our success in winning an award is down to the dedication, hard work and commitment of all Breedon staff and contractors who actively participate in making this site a safer place to work, and promote our values of making a material difference to the safety, health and wellbeing of everyone by ensuring they go home safe and well after their day’s work.
“All our staff and contractors work extremely hard to improve our Health & Safety standards, so it’s nice to achieve this recognition for the hard work that is put in.”
Patrick’s appointment as Health & Safety Manager in March 2020 coincided with the Covid-19 outbreak. Needless to say, the pandemic posed huge challenges for everyone at Breedon Cement where on-site rapid Covid testing was introduced
“When the virus first hit, the country went into lockdown and our cement kiln was turned off for three weeks,” he explains.
“Thankfully, we have been fully operational since then. The demand for building products never really eased off. Our plant has a capacity to produce 700,000 tonnes of high-quality cement per annum.
“We gradually got people back to work safely. We introduced rapid Covid testing for everyone that came onsite. This was carried out over a period of five weeks, while we also hired in a private company to carry out rapid antigen testing. Anyone who tested positive had a PCR test which they brought to their GP.
“It speeded up the process for everyone, kept the business operational during the pandemic and also ensured peace of mind for everyone onsite.”
Lagan Cement commenced clinker and cement production at Kinnegad in September 2002 before being acquired by the Breedon Group in April 2018. Now trading as Breedon Cement Ireland Ltd, the company’s vision is to be an industry-leader and to foster a culture of continuous improvement to provide job security for all and to be a company that all staff members are proud to be a part of.
Breedon Cement has a number of safety, environmental and quality accreditations, including ISO 45001:2018, ISO 14001:2015, ISO 9001:2015 and an excellent rating in BES 6001: Responsible Sourcing of Construction Products.
With safety being its number one priority, Breedon Cement seeks continuous improvement through its 5-Star Safety programme. Breedon Cement management recognise that creating a safe working environment is not an easy task. Worker participation is key to the success or failure of any safety campaign. Everyone who works for the company has an input into how it successfully manages the health and wellbeing of people on-site.
The 5-Star Safety initiative was devised as a way of involving workers in all aspects of Health & Safety onsite, and to highlight the importance of teamwork in promoting the safety culture onsite. The initiative divided up the departments equally so that each work together for Health & Safety and encourages reporting of safety concerns, recognises good safety behaviour and facilitates ongoing communication of a positive site safety culture through team meetings, safety improvements and site auditing.
In 2021, wellbeing initiatives were introduced into the campaign and Breedon Cement’s eight teams have already developed a number of noteworthy initiatives, including ideas on promoting physical and mental health such as a wellness walking trail which was officially opened in October.
Breedon Cement recognises that it operates in a community and therefore has a valuable role to play in supporting and engaging with the local community. Every year, the company brings hundreds of students and visitors on-site for presentations, site tours and biodiversity walks.
Co-fuelling using greener energy from alternative fuels commenced in June 2006. Breedon Cement has set an overarching sustainability framework to focus its efforts on the three main areas which it believes can make a positive material difference. The first is through our Planet by reducing energy used and carbon emissions, reducing waste, responsible use of resources such as minerals and water, and enhancing nature and biodiversity.
The second is through People by developing and empowering a diverse, talented workforce, having a positive impact on the communities in which Breedon operates and its Place in helping customers mitigate their impacts by providing products and services that deliver higher performance, resources efficient buildings and resilient low impact infrastructure.
These three focus areas are underpinned by a number of fundamental principles that guide the way the company does business. These include: keeping colleagues, contractors and supply chain healthy, safe and well; good governance, ensuring sustainability is considered through the organisation; quality assurance and continuous improvement of products and services; operating compatibility, transparently and with integrity, ensuring ethical operations and responsible sourcing; engaging openly and collaboratively with stakeholders, colleagues, customers, investors and the communities in which Breedon Cement operates.
Patrick concludes by praising the other members of the Breedon Cement Health & Safety team – Health & Safety Officer Kevin Donegan and Junior Health & Safety Officer Orla Hyland – for their work.
“Kevin has been working here since the beginning and Orla joined us in 2018 from college. It’s a real team effort,” he stresses.
Breedon Cement Ltd
Telephone: 044 937 9200
This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, April 2022, Vol 8 No 4