Demand for toilet rolls meant Lancashire firm had to keep working

As coronavirus struck and demand for toilet rolls soared, the bosses at Accrol’s tissue division realised they could not stop production.

Friday, 19th February 2021, 12:30 pm
Lancashire-based Accrol

So they immediately set about ensuring their Lancashire factories were Covid-safe and their 330 staff were protected.

A steering group was set up and advice taken from the government’s coronavirus website, the Health and Safety Executive and Blackburn with Darwen Council.

The firm has a head office, two factories and two warehouses in Blackburn and another factory in Leyland.

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One of Acroll's products

Blackburn with Darwen Council’s director for place Martin Eden has held up the firm as an example of good practice and invited them to sessions outlining Covid-secure steps to other companies.

Graham Cox, the 52-year-old managing director of Accrol Group’s tissue division, said: “Right as the pandemic started and demand for loo roll escalated, we realised we could not stop production so we had to protect our employees.

“From the start we were very mindful of the the danger of the pandemic to our key-worker staff and their families.

“We conducted a risk assessment and installed segregation, one-way systems, enhanced cleaning, signposting, sanitisation stations and improved hand-washing facilities.

“The company began steering group meeting weekly with management and workplace representatives. Those few administrative staff who could work from home were asked to do so. as were the clinically vulnerable.

“We introduced Covid safety reps on every shift to make sure rules were being followed. We translated all our safety paperwork into Urdu and Polish.

“The company made facemasks mandatory in April before the government did and introduced temperature checks then too.

“We started staggering shift times so fewer people we entering and leaving at the same time.

“We introduced out own test and trace system and in October when there seemed to be a general feeling of complacency growing in the outside world we produced a four-minute video with testimonials from staff who had had the virus or who families had been affected to emphasise how dangerous this invisible disease is.

“We have not missed a single shift since the start of the pandemic. No has been furloughed or lost pay. We have only had a handful of cases, all from community transmission outside the business.

“We are now looking forward to vaccination leading to the end of it and assessing which safety measures we will be keeping permanently.”

Martin Eden said: “Since early on in the pandemic, the management team at Accrol has demonstrated a real commitment to introducing Covid-secure measures to protect their staff and to manage workplace risks.”

Accrol manufactures toilet rolls, kitchen rolls and facial tissues as well as other tissue products.

It supplies some of the UK’s largest retailers.