Company Receives Prestigious Safety Award - Frank Smith Award 2010

Friday, 12th Mar '10 at 11:34

The Sheffield Occupational Health and Safety Association’s Annual General Meeting 2010 saw the announcement of the Frank Smith Award 2010, which recognises and rewards creativity and innovation in health and safety. This award is issued on an annual basis to individuals or organisations that share best practice that can help others to improve standards, raise awareness, tackle issues and improve occupational health and safety performance in their workplaces.

Frank Smith Award 2010Announced by John Pearce, past chairman of the association, the 2010 Frank Smith Award was presented by Diane Etchell, HM Inspector of Health and Safety with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to Chris Jerman, Health and Safety Manager at John Lewis plc for his initiative in reducing the burden of manual handling assessments across a business with over 300 000 product lines that could be handled in almost infinite combinations. Using an innovative new ‘virtual shape concept’ the idea was to condense these assessments down to a manageable number so that effective training and instruction can be delivered to Partners. The initial assessments for particularly large and heavy items have resulted in a comprehensive national training programme, train-the-trainer, video assessments and a dedicated ‘mock-up’ house for training. The initiative has already achieved a dramatic reduction in back injuries and Partners have expressed their views of the programme as being some of the best training that they have ever received. The next part of the initiative called SHAPE focuses on the smaller but, nonetheless significant, items handled within the Branches.

The application received strong competition from a range of workplaces in the South Yorkshire region, including the runners-up Chesterfield Royal Hospital and Sheffield City Council for initiatives in Workspace Ergonomics and Manual Handling respectively. The SOHSA Executive Committee determined that the application from John Lewis deserved the award this year as it “went the extra mile” in taking health and safety beyond legal compliance and for its’ innovative approach to tackling risks arising from manual handling operations.

Speaking about the initiative, Chris Jerman said, “mere compliance is not sufficient when running a business such as ours; there is intense scrutiny where any company is leading the field.

I am delighted to receive this prestigious award from SOHSA and for recognition of the amount of work put into this new initiative by all of our staff [at John Lewis] and hope that in sharing details of this initiative we can help other organisations with their own manual handling issues.

Chris will speak at the next members’ meeting of the association on 11 May 2010 to present further information about the initiative, key findings and successes and discuss learning points with other members of the association in order to share any information that may benefit other organisations.

This award commemorates Frank Smith, past chairman of the Sheffield Occupational Health and Safety Association, who was a strong believer in sharing and communicating of information between organisations and was always keen to help others and offer support.

For further information about the Sheffield Occupational Health and Safety Association or Frank Smith Award, please visit or contact the committee on

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