At any company, keeping track of standards and safety systems would be enough work to keep a team of people busy. When you throw chemicals into the formula, you’d be surprised at just how much maintenance and audits are required to ensure safety and quality are never compromised.
Meet the man behind all of this at ReAgent; introducing Graham Bayliss…
What is your chemical background?
In terms of qualifications, I’ve got a professional qualification and I have the letters ‘CChem’ after my name, which stands for “Chartered Chemist”.
I’m a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
What does your role at ReAgent involve?
Basically, it’s about looking after the management systems we’ve got in place. I have to implement them, get them approved (generally from the MD) and I have to maintain them to make sure they’re always up to scratch. I make sure we’re maintaining any standards we’ve got in place and if something’s not working, I have to ask myself why it’s not working and then try to come up with some answers to correct it.
I look after the Health and Safety in the company so if you ever need a point of contact, that will be myself. We’ve got to stick to all the legislation that’s out there, and it all stems from the Health and Safety at Work Act. For us, we look mostly at chemicals, but you also have to think of other things such as work equipment – there’s a lot of legislation that covers that. As well as this, you’ve got to think of things like working with electricity and power tools and manual handling. We also have to think about people in the office – we don’t want them to have any slips and trips.
My role involves training the staff, as well. This could be a one-to-one session, a group session or a staff meeting – it just depends on the subject.
What are the potential hazards people face when working in the chemical industry?
Loads, really! With chemicals you’ve got different classes;
You’ve got things like flammables – that’s fire! That can be caused by anything. It doesn’t have to be a flame, it could be a spark or even friction which can be generated by flammable liquids bouncing around in a plastic container, and then igniting. You have to make sure that any metal equipment is all earthed.
You’ve got things like corrosives – which are obviously going to burn you. They can burn your skin or cause irritation.
You’ve got toxic things. If you inhale these, swallow them or get them on your skin, they can produce toxic effects which can be fatal.
There’s things like radioactivity – we all know about that and what that can do to you.
There’s also things called oxidisers and in the situation of a fire, they actually promote oxygen and in turn promote the fire.
What ISO accreditations and standards do you manage?
We’ve got two ISO standards at the moment. We’ve got the ISO 9001 which is for quality management, and we have the ISO 14001 which is environmental management.
We’ve had the quality standard since about 1990. Since then, I’ve maintained it, chopped it, changed it, re-written it. We got the ISO 14001 in 2010 and I pretty much wrote that myself.
Do you have anything else to add about your experience at ReAgent – anything you’ve learnt or problems you’ve come across?
Since I’ve been here, I’ve not always done this side of it. I’ve been doing this for probably three or four years –ish, but I used to work downstairs and look after the production side of things. I learnt a lot about handling people and how to treat people, as well as transport regulations and things like that.
In terms of problems we’ve encountered, we’ve had a lot of new European legislations coming up and have been hit with it all in one go. It’s been a bit of a headache to try and understand them and work out how we will implement them within the company. Product labelling has all changed now – there’s lots of different symbols and statements to go on the labels, and all the criteria that we classify our products to has changed.
Another problem was the Safety Data Sheets – they’ve all had to be re-written because there’s a lot more data to go on them. It’s not just us, though, all the chemical companies have been hit throughout the industry and everyone’s got to cope with it.
You can also read about what it’s like to work in a Chemical Sales role – meet Cat Bridges.