Five minutes with...

Tim Holtam

5 minutes with…

Time 532 days ago Comments 0 comments

Tim Holtam is Sodexo’s head of services at Wythenshawe Hospital in Greater Manchester. He picked up a Star Award in November 2017 for his team’s commitment to safety. Tim tells us more about their success.

How have you changed the safety culture at the hospital?

The culture has changed dramatically from when I first moved to the site back in 2010. The most important thing has been to get people to realise that health and safety is not the responsibility of a supervisor or a manager, but the responsibility of everyone.

How does it work in practice?

People are now empowered to speak up if they see a colleague doing something unsafe. This stops the unsafe act and in theory prevents a potential accident. All managers undertake site safety walks and are allocated areas that don’t normally fall within their remit, giving a fresh perspective with every safety walk. We always make sure a member of the frontline team joins the manager on the walk too – if anyone knows where the real hazards are it’s the people doing the job on a daily basis.  

What are the key challenges?

Giving people the confidence to speak up if they see an unsafe act. Telling your line manager that they can’t enter your work area as they aren’t wearing the correct PPE could be daunting, but reminding employees that they are protecting their colleagues helps break down perceived barriers.

What results have you seen?

Last year we saw a 44% reduction in accidents and zero RIDDOR incidents, which I am sure most will agree was a fantastic result! It gave me great satisfaction to know that after each day’s work even more people went home in the same condition they started. We also achieved recognition from RoSPA, receiving our 4th Gold award, and from the British Safety council gaining our 4th Merit award.

Why are you so passionate about safety? My earlier days with Sodexo were spent in a commercial laundry. This was a massive factory with some very dangerous machines and I once witnessed a member of staff wearing a loose sleeved casual top nearly get dragged into the machine. Fortunately I was close enough to hit the emergency stop – however things could have been a lot worse. After the incident I wondered why no one had told the individual to remove the top – and one person’s response was ‘it’s not my job, the supervisor should have told her’. Since then I have tried to instill that health and safety is everyone’s responsibility and that we should all look out for each other regardless of experience, grade or job title.

Were you surprised to win a Star Award?

I was completely blown away! It was an absolute shock to have won such a meaningful award. Sodexo is a company that has the health and safety of its employees and customers at the top of its priorities so to receive the national award recognising my contribution towards such an important cause was amazing.

What did you make of the night?

It was spectacular and we all had a great night. Eight members of my team travelled from Wythenshawe down to London for the awards including 2017’s Service Excellence ‘Porter of the Year’ winner Nick Freeman. I was also joined by a group of amazing colleagues who supported the clinical teams during the night of the Manchester Arena attack. Some of these people saw the news on the TV and simply dropped everything, jumped in their car and arrived at the hospital offering their help. This team received a Special Team Effort award, which was richly deserved.


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