Its first meeting took place at the headquarters of HSE's Agriculture and Food Sector on 31 March, chaired by Dr Roger Nourish, Head of the Sector. Eight major trade bodies and four of the main trade unions were represented at the meeting.
The Forum will meet about twice a year to discuss, prioritise and drive forward a range of health and safety issues. In particular, emphasis will be placed on its members working together in partnership to pursue the main causes of injury and occupational ill health.
The industry's health and safety record has already seen an injury rate drop of over 20 per cent in the last decade. It is intended that members will produce a strategy setting out what everyone will do to work together to further improve the record.
Roger Nourish said: "It has taken some years to establish this new Forum and we are certain that it has tremendous potential for directing and helping to improve health and safety in the food and drink industries. Success to date has been effected by everyone working together towards the same goals - companies, trade associations, industry committees, trade unions, safety representatives and HSE inspectors.
"Prior to setting up the Forum, the HSE had to hold meetings with many individual trade associations, committees and trade unions. The new Forum will ensure better communication on health and safety issues within the industry and get us on the same wavelength.
"We want to build on the success of the joint HSE/food industry 'Recipe for Safety' initiative which commenced in the early 1990s and has shown how improvements can be made by targeting key issues, agreeing health and safety guidance and everyone following this through."
The new Forum is a significant expansion of the previous formal liaison arrangements, which the HSE had separately with the Food and Drink Federation and with four of the main food industry trade unions. An agreed written Common Strategy was produced under these arrangements. Last revised in 2001, it set out what each party would do to further reduce injuries and occupational ill health. The new Forum builds on the earlier structure by bringing in a further eight food and drink industry organisations. It is hoped these new members will also sign up to the Common Strategy to give it even more weight.
The following organisations are members of the Food and Drink Manufacturers Health and Safety Forum:
- Health and Safety Executive (Agriculture and Food Sector)
- Food and Drink Federation
- Health and Safety in Bakeries Liaison Committee
- Meat Joint Working Party
- British Poultry Council
- Dairy Industry Association Ltd
- Agricultural Industries Confederation British Beer and Pub Association
- British Soft Drinks Association
- BFAWU (Bakers Food and Allied Workers' Union)
- Scotch Whisky Association.
The next meeting of the Forum is due to take place on 22 September 2004.
Industry enquiries should be directed to Richard Morgan, the Forum secretary ( firstname.lastname@example.org , telephone: 0141 275 3045).