EHS volunteers embrace Wray & Nephew’s culture of safety

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Any hint of fire and Howard Nicholas numbers among staff ready to respond.

Michelle Letts never quite ended up with the job of her dream, but in emergency situations she may just get to fulfil those doctoral expectations that defined her childhood ambitions.

Kevin Richards is kind of the Jack of all trades — a warehouse specialist in the Raw Material Inventory Department, who is versatile enough to fill roles as firefighter, emergency medical technician/emergency responder and emergency monitor.

They are not exactly The Avengers, the Marvel Comic series defenders of the earth with combined unworldly talent. But like the comic book — now movie-team that delivers with ultimate efficiency, these staff members at J Wray & Nephew Limited (JWN) volunteer as members of the Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) support system.

“At J Wray & Nephew we have different kinds of volunteers under the EHS Support System. We have, for instance, emergency medical technicians, who are more advance-trained than our First Aid and CPR-trained personnel. We also have firefighters, we have a system of emergency monitors who serve as fire wardens to help usher persons out of the building and ensure that persons are being marshalled to assembly areas,” explained Alicia Burnett, JWN’s EHS director.

Burnett added: “In addition to that we do have a response system led by the Incident Command team, which comes into gear only in the event of an incident. All of these roles are primarily volunteers. For others it’s part of the portfolio, but it can be demanding in a time of an emergency because this can easily be a national emergency such as a hurricane.”

Nicholas says offering himself as first responder is “important” and “very vital”.

“The importance of safety is a very vital aspect due to the nature of the job and being a safety volunteer is also very important because if anything we can do basic things before the real firemen are here, although we were trained as firefighters also. We went through and did the course so if anything should happen,” said Nicholas, a forklift movement operator at JWN’s Spanish Town Road’s North Complex, Aging and Maturity.

“Things have happened before and we’ve taken care of it until the well-trained firemen came in and did the cooling down operations,” added Nicholas, who joined the company after graduating from Kingston Technical High School in 1993. “I do consider myself as part of that caring group and because of the nature of our job we have to try and protect it, it’s our bread basket and we have to protect it.”

Letts, who worked as a summer intern several years before full enrolment as a product quality analyst for the past seven years, noted her inspiration for joining the EHS team of volunteers.

“It’s very important. It’s the safety of us here in the workplace, not just safety at home, for safety everywhere and the safer you are in the company it’s a better environment to work,” shared Letts, who attended the Convent of Mercy Academy “Alpha”.

“I started a Master’s degree in Safety. I’ve always liked health so automatically this was the area that I was most interested in because originally I wanted to be a doctor, working in hospitals. But my life took a different turn, I did occupational safety so it brought me into this field and I volunteered to be a part of the team.”

Its constitution is vast and Richards attested to the growth.

“I’ve found the system to have evolved tremendously over the years from just having one or two persons per department as safety monitors. Now we have a more robust system, we have assistant teams in different areas to help monitor those persons, we’re having monthly meetings and because of that camaraderie has developed and we’ve gained more skills in our areas,” Richards pointed out.

“We’ve had several firefighters being trained; Andrew Lamb and myself have been sent to Texas A&M to do the Industrial Firefighting (course), so we’re NFPA-certified and we’ve always been practising,” Richards further highlighted.

The volunteers have been part of the JWN culture of safety and to show its appreciation, they were recently recognised at a series of luncheons at Spanish Town Road in Kingston, New Yarmouth in Clarendon and Appleton Estate in St Elizabeth.

“I think this is a wonderful occasion where we recognise those who think of us, those who are volunteers, those who will give a fellow man and woman a helping hand, that love in your heart. I think you should very seriously be commended for volunteerism; to do this freely, to give of yourself,” commended JWN’s chairman, Clement “Jimmy” Lawrence, during the Spanish Town Road function.

Lawrence also highlighted the input of Jean-Philippe Beyer, JWN’s managing director.

“I know JP has been central in this and I’m here today representing him. He’s away, he truly wanted to be here and to personally thank you. So on his behalf I want to extend a very warm thank you for what you’ve done over the past year and to continue in the same vein to give of yourself and to strengthen the bond among us as human beings. That is truly selfless love, it has no selfishness to it. I’m sure many of you here would jump in and save me the non-swimmer if it were so, and it’s not often we get a chance in a relaxed atmosphere to say thank you and show our appreciation,” remarked Lawrence.

“A day like today has ultimately brought us to that place where we feel a little bit more appreciated for what we’ve been doing,” Richards responded. “We know it’s volunteerism and we’ll do it without whatever accolades. But it feels better when you know that you’re being appreciated and it just gives you a little bit more drive to keep you going and keep doing what you’re doing and keep loving it.”

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