RoSPA's Ultimate Award

Profile of the 2005 Sir George Earle Trophy Winner – GPIC of Bahrain

Lord Jordan presents GPIC's Chairman with the Sir George Earle Trophy 2005.


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Sir George Earle Trophy – Background Information

For the past 50 years the Sir George Earle Trophy has been RoSPA's most prestigious and sought-after award. It is awarded for the most outstanding performance in health and safety by a company or organisation. Recent winners have included world-class companies such as Foster Wheeler, Kelloggs, Powergen, AWE, FMC Technologies, Trant Engineering and Toyota.

This case study gives pointers to some of the criteria that RoSPA's awards judges expect to see amongst the finalists for the Sir George Earle Trophy. It should not be seen as a "how-to" guide to winning: every organisation is different and the most exciting feature of RoSPA's awards is the fierce competition amongst entrants and the continual improvement and evolution of systems to manage health and safety.

NB Click here for general guidance on the RoSPA Awards.

The Judging Panel's Criteria

The Sir George Earle Trophy (SGET) is awarded to the entry that most closely exemplifies excellence in the management of health and safety risks and the promotion of an all round health and safety culture. The Panel are looking not only for outstanding performance in terms of 'outcome' measures (such as extremely low and reducing rates of injury or health damage) but evidence of really robust health and safety 'input', particularly effective health and safety management systems led visibly by the board and underpinned by real workforce involvement.

Beyond this the panel are also looking for a highly proactive approach to safety and health, particularly close alignment of the organisation's approach with RoSPA's own vision and mission.

In this context what makes the SGET unique is that it seeks to recognise corporate health and safety effort which goes beyond the workplace and includes a focus on issues such as health education and home safety, as well as the prevention of accidents on the roads, on the water and while enjoying leisure pursuits.

Focus on 24/7 Safety

Responsible chemical production processes that care for and protect the environment. A shot of GPIC's Urea Plant.

This focus on "24/7 Safety" (24 hours per day, 7 days per week) reflects the fact that although there is always scope for improvement, increasingly most modern and well-managed workplaces are fairly safe environments. In the UK, fewer than 400 workers were killed last year in reportable workplace accidents. In contrast, UK employees are 2-3 times more likely to have a fatal accident while driving as part of their job. (These accidents are still not reportable to health and safety authorities.) Obvious occupations at risk include the police, ambulance and delivery drivers but less obvious are white-collar driving to/from meetings. A recent survey of manufacturing industry in England reported that 75% of male and 49% of female employees could not carry out their jobs without driving at some point in their working time. In an increasingly road mobile workforce risk escalates with the distance travelled. Car travel by a typical salesperson with an annual mileage of 25,000 miles (40,000km) gives a risk profile equivalent to that of a deep-sea fisherman or a quarry worker. The British home is even worse than the road network and is 10 times more dangerous than the workplace. Falls down stairs or off roofs or ladders, electrocution, misuse of tools during DIY and gardening can all result in needless injuries and fatalities.

Every year in Great Britain there are 3 million visits by people of working age to hospital A&E Departments because of home and leisure accidents. The costs to employers of accidents outside the workplace are considerable. Reportable workplace injuries are responsible for about 7 million lost workdays annually. The figure for non-work injuries is probably three times this. When a member of staff is injured, productivity suffers and costs increase as the employer has to recruit replacement staff or other colleagues work overtime. Some knowledge-based tasks may have to be postponed until the employee is able to return to work. In addition, parents and carers may have to be absent from work while taking children or elderly relatives to hospital or while nursing them back to recovery. Accidents of all kinds can have a deadening effect on morale, especially in tightly knit teams.

RoSPA therefore looks for organisations that achieve the highest standards of occupational health and safety to also work actively to promote sensible risk management in their local community through their staff, schools, local government and business partners (customers, suppliers and competitors). Their safety ethos has to be seen as their corporate calling card.

GPIC's Approach

Bahraini company, Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company (GPIC) was created 25 years ago as a joint venture between Kuwaiti, Saudi and Bahraini investors, GPIC has grown rapidly and now employs 500 staff. It uses natural gas to produce Methanol, Ammonia, and Urea. Global demand for all three products is healthy, especially Urea because of its value as an excellent fertiliser. State of the art technology allows GPIC to maintain consistently high quality standards and its unique spherical beads of Urea carry the DANAAT brand because of their resemblance to Bahrain's traditional export, the natural pearl. The spherical shape allows slow release of nutrients into the soil, enhancing crop yields.

At GPIC, leadership is very hands-on with the Board of Directors, led by Chairman, His Excellency Sheik Isa Bin Ali Khalifa, making regular visits to the plant and taking an active interest in plant operations. The Executive Management team is led by GPIC's dynamic General Manager, Mr Abdulrahman Jawahery. The ambition is to build an open, learning organisation where staff are actively encouraged to suggest ideas and experiment.

GPIC - The Judging Panel's Citation

"GPIC Bahrain were selected as winners of the RoSPA 2005 Sir George Earle Trophy from a small number of closely matched finalists, all of whom exhibited an outstanding level of commitment and professionalism in the management of health and safety at work. Among the factors which caused the RoSPA Awards Panel to eventually select GPIC as overall winners were their outstanding top level leadership of health and safety, their efforts in synthesising the best from worldwide health and safety standards to build a truly robust risk management regime, the various steps which they had taken to involve all members of their workforce, their strong focus on off-the-job safety and their efforts to involve employees' families and the wider community in numerous initiatives to raise awareness of health, safety and environmental issues. The Panel were also impressed by the substantial and positive influence which GPIC had had on the continuing development of health and safety legislation and culture within Bahrain and their commitment to embed such values in the continuing development of their society."

GPIC's care for staff and environment

Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa
His Highness the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, receiving Lord Jordan and the GPIC Board of Director on the occasion of winning the Sir George Earle Trophy 2005 on 6 December 2005

List of names from left to right:
Dr. Ahmed Ali Al Sharyan – Mr. Mohamed Ali Alymni – Mr. Anwar Saeed Bin Salama – Mr. Errol Taylor – Dr. Mohammed A.Rahman Al Terkait – Lord Jordan – HH The Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa – H.E. Shaikh Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa – Mr. A.Aziz Mohammed Alrawaf – Mr. Ahmed A.Rahman Al Sayed – Mr. Yusuf Hamad Alateeqi – Mr. Abdulrahman Jawahery

Though its site is built on an environmentally unpromising 60 hectares of reclaimed land consisting of sand and rock. GPIC has managed to create award-winning gardens, a bird sanctuary and a fish farm. The fish farm is placed strategically adjacent to and downstream from the plant's effluent discharge to the sea. Similar to the miner's canary (who saved miners' lives by showing signs of distress when entering potentially explosive pockets of gas), GPIC's fish would be the first to suffer from any pollution in the effluent. Instead, the fish are thriving and spawning. Every year, thousands are released into the Arabian Gulf to replenish depleted fish stocks whilst many of the remainder are given, together with dates from the plant's date palms, to local charities.

GPIC staff volunteer to look after the fish, birds and gardens in their free time. As a result of their efforts, the bird sanctuary now boasts over 100 different species of wild birds including flamingos and hoopoes.

As part of their overall management of health and safety risks, educational programmes are designed to raise awareness and understanding of H&S issues amongst staff and their children. Efforts to encourage children to discourage their relatives from smoking are having remarkable results. A recent focus on obesity has highlighted problems within the young adult population – Bahrain's first generation to be brought up relying on cars and enjoying a surfeit of fast food containing high levels of fat and/or sugar. The USA's decline in life expectancy as a result of these factors has helped managers realise the role they can play in helping staff enjoy a longer, healthier and happier lifestyle.

GPIC's Bird Sanctuary – A creative and effective environmental project demonstrating harmonious co-existing between Industry and Nature.

GPIC also provides a superb club for members of staff to unwind, socialise and enjoy sporting activities. A crèche for young children, manicured gardens, swimming pool, tennis court, grass football pitch, aviary, restaurant and bar are available all day to staff and their families. Weddings and private parties are encouraged. Occasionally the club is used for business meetings including training, but the prime focus is relaxation.

The open and welcoming approach is extended to local companies. GPIC pools its emergency response teams and equipment with those of the neighbouring aluminium smelter (ALBA) and natural gas processor (BANAGAS) and Bahrain Petroleum Company (BAPCO).

GPIC's investment in its staff has paid off with record levels of profitability despite one of the plant's largest planned shutdowns for essential and preventative maintenance. The shutdown was completed ahead of schedule and below budget cost as a result of innovative approaches by staff.

Safety performance is exemplary and the plant has achieved an international record of 941 days of continuous production with no stoppages or injuries. GPIC are certified to ISO9001 (quality), ISO14001 (environment) and OHSAS18001 (health and safety) standards as well as the American OSHA Process Safety Management and the International Ships and Port Security (ISPS) code.

A shining example of success as a result of Mr Jawahery's use of the "triple bottom line", measuring and managing financial, environmental and social performance.

The future

The challenge now is for all organisations, large and small, public and private to follow in GPIC's footsteps and become the "best they can" and "better than they were"...a spirit of excellence as inspired, for example, by Toyota's relentless pursuit of continuous improvement through incremental change.

GPIC's low accident rates will now be underpinned by a roll-out of RoSPA's behavioural safety training together with health and safety staff qualified to the NEBOSH Level VI Diploma – the highest in the field. Added to this, an occupational road risk programme will cut road traffic accidents amongst staff while at work and in leisure. Even an exemplary organisation such as GPIC has plenty of scope to improve on its already excellent performance.

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