Safety culture makes good business sense for PFD Food Services

The best injury is the one that doesn’t happen. To achieve their vision of Zero Harm to their 3,000 staff across 74 sites, PFD Food Services partnered with icare NSW to join the Protect Together (P2) program.

P2 is a voluntary injury prevention program whereby icare partners with NSW businesses to help them build a sustainable safety culture.

Family-owned foodservice distributor PFD Food Services worked alongside icare for the past 12 months to identify and fix safety problems across their national sites, and work towards embedding a consistent approach to safety Australia-wide.

Armed with a new approach to safety, they’ve been able to steadily reduce safety incidents year on year across their 3000 employees and 74 sites nationally.

“PFD Food Services’ story is a great example of a true partnership between the business and icare. This is the very essence of what the Protect Together program is all about”, said icare’s Injury Prevention Manager Jennifer Cameron.

Safety starts with a good culture

PFD Food Services supplies pubs, cafés, airlines, hotels, restaurants, aged care facilities, resorts and theme parks, schools and kindergartens, and sporting, and correctional facilities with a range of food products from dry and frozen foods, to fresh seafood and confectionery.

Operating in an industry like manufacturing that traditionally has a large number of work-related injuries, PFD Food Services was keen to get all areas of their culturally diverse, geographically dispersed business on the same page and develop a consistent, national approach to safety.

Recognising that to improve their safety culture they would first need to understand their workers’ attitudes towards safety, PFD Food Services reached out to icare to assist them with rolling out a Culture Survey.

icare’s Culture Survey provides businesses with insights into the different attitudes, beliefs and perceptions that exist across their organisations when it comes to safety.  This helps them understand what they can do to positively influence their workplace culture.

For PFD Food Services, the Culture Survey was a big step forward in their safety journey. With most of their workforce on shift work, conducting a survey of any kind had previously been almost impossible to manage. With icare’s help PFD Food Services was able to roll out the survey to over 3000 of their workers nationally.

“Being able to find out how our workers view safety was invaluable to identifying areas for improvement in our current safety practices and behaviours. icare worked right alongside us to help get the best response possible, even attending some of our sites at 4am facilitate the survey for our shift workers”, said PFD Food Services’ National Safety Manager Tony Fenwick.

“The survey was well received by our workers who commented that it was ‘nice to be asked’ about their views on safety and to have a say on what we needed to work on”, he added.

The survey findings revealed that while PFD Food Services’ workers understand the importance of reporting safety incidents and feel comfortable to do so, work needed to be done to improve leadership around safety, particularly consistently role modelling and recognising good safety behaviours.

Identifying strengths, opportunities, and action planning

Following the Culture Survey, some of PFD Food Services sites were visited to identify opportunities for improvement in implementing their Work Health and Safety (WHS) management system.

The findings were compiled into a report and provided to PFD Food Services. Both the strengths and opportunities of the Culture Survey and the WHSMS Diagnostic were reviewed, and the company is currently working on developing a 12-18 month action plan with clear objectives, tasks, responsibilities and timeframes.

“We’re already starting to deliver on that plan by re-launching safety training across all our sites and using toolbox talks to encourage our people to report safety incidents”, Tony said.

“Partnering with icare has allowed our family business to be part of the journey. Rather than just prescribing a safety approach they’ve worked hand in hand with us to understand our business and help us to begin to develop a plan that suits the unique environment we operate in. It’s been a true partnership”, he added.

Having steadily reduced the number of safety incidents as the business has grown, PFD Food Services is proud of their safety journey so far and looks forward to continuing to partner with icare as they roll out the next phase of their action plan.

“Our safety mindset is simple. We consider our staff to be an extension of our family and we wouldn’t want our family members to be at risk of being hurt”, Tony concluded.

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