2016 has proven to be a year of celebration for New Charter Building Company with the Greater Manchester-based organisation having been awarded with its eighth consecutive gold award from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) for its excellent health and safety record.
For the past 60 years the internationally renowned RoSPA awards have sought to recognise companies that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to raising the standards of safety and well being within their organisations. For its part, New Charter Building Company, which is a division of the New Charter Group, is a social landlord based in the Tameside area of Greater Manchester that provides maintenance and repair services to social housing tenants. Due the fact that it works in such close proximity to the public, it is essential that it is able to demonstrate an innovative and well-structured approach to health and safety management, especially as many of its customers are vulnerable members of society.
Paul Woodcock, Managing Director of New Charter Building Company, said: “Given the nature of the work we do, it is vital that we have robust health and safety policies and procedures in place, not just for the safety of our staff, but of our customers too. To have our outstanding record recognised for yet another year not only validates the hard work that our team put in, but also lets our customers know that we are a building company they can trust.
“This latest award is a fantastic achievement and really underlines the fact that for every individual in the group, as well as the building company, health and safety is their number one priority. I’d therefore like to thank all my staff at New Charter Building Company for the care and diligence with which they carry out their work, as well as New Charter Group’s Health & Safety team for their innovative approach to policy implementation.”
As for New Charter Company’s long established link with RoSPA, Mr Woodcock believes the awards scheme has played a key role in the organisation’s impressive consistency over the years. “We’ve obviously been involved with RoSPA for a while now and since we first began our journey with them we’ve been strongly motivated to adhere to the strong safety standards that they advocate. They have therefore been a key factor in the continual improvements we’ve been able to make, which has ensured that our safety record has remained strong.”
The non-competitive RoSPA awards are rated from Merit to Gold and any company that receives a Gold Award for between five and nine consecutive years is awarded a Gold Medal. New Charter Building Company is now just two years off receiving the next highest accolade, the President’s Award, which is given to companies that receive the Gold Award for ten consecutive years.
“Given the nature of the work we do, it is vital that we have robust health and safety policies and procedures in place, not just for the safety of our staff, but of our customers too. To have our outstanding record recognised for yet another year not only validates the hard work that our team put in, but also lets our customers know that we are a building company they can trust.”
Paul Woodcock, Managing Director
What makes New Charter Building Company’s health and safety record all the more impressive is the high volume of work it is involved in. “We have an extensive responsive repairs and maintenance programme that is supplemented by a strong investment programme that we carry out for New Charter Group. We therefore do approximately 50,000-plus repairs a year covering everything from gas and electric repairs through to general building maintenance work on all our properties and buildings. We also have an investment programme that is around £10m a year incorporating bathroom and kitchen refurbishments, painting, decorating and rewires.
“Whilst the majority of our work comes from New Charter Group, we do have an external business programme as well and we work for other housing associations throughout the north-west, in addition to having carried out developments for Greater Manchester Police. The RoSPA Award success is a great way of demonstrating our strength on health and safety to external organisations that might not be familiar with us already. Health and safety is obviously one of the most important factors that potential clients focus on when they’re looking to take on a new contractor so it’s vital that we can show our credentials in this area.”
As for how New Charter Building Company has been able to develop such a robust health and safety approach, in addition to the support of the wider New Charter Group, a strong emphasis on staff training and development has been absolutely essential, as Mr Woodcock outlines: “We’re always looking at new ways of training our teams and our people, particularly regarding technical skills. Obviously every one of our gas and our electric technicians hold the requirements that they need by law, but this is supplemented with additional safety training. We have health and safety meetings every month that all the supervisors and the managers are involved in. We also have union meetings every two months so any issues can be identified and addressed.
“We spend hundreds and thousands of pounds every year training our technicians because it’s a constant thing that you need to do. You can never just sit back on your laurels; it’s a continual process so all our technicians are sent on training courses and undergo e-learning packages as well. It’s vital that we do our utmost to keep compliant with all the latest gas, electric and technical legislation as they’re changing all the time. Out in the field our employees are working at height and having to deal with asbestos and silica dust so it’s vital that we’re able to identify the major risk areas and train our operatives accordingly. We’re not only trying to protect our staff, but also make sure our customers are kept safe as well.
“Going back to the RoSPA Awards scheme, it’s also a great way for us to learn from other organisations and to share our best practice with them. This ensures that we’re continually learning and will hopefully help us to secure other awards in the future.”
With its firm commitment to health and safety, it would be fair to say that New Charter Building Company has every chance of winning further RoSPA recognition in the years ahead.