EPC-UK safety & comms-led best practice supporting customers during COVID-19

EPC-UK, an explosives and blasting specialist for industries including quarrying, has explained the measures it’s taken to deliver successful results for its customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company says it has always considered safety to be its fundamental operating principle and, due to monitoring international activity via the EPC Groupe business, was quick to respond to the British government’s social distancing guidelines announced in March 2020.
Breaking, Drilling & Blasting / November 11, 2020
By Guy Woodford
EPC-UK has highlighted its approach to supporting its customers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Always putting the wellbeing of its employees, customers and associates first, the firm has strived to continue specialist processes and services and has intently implemented a range of safety measures – both recommended and self-realised - across its sites and business functions.

“The very nature of our operation has led EPC-UK team members to think using a ‘safety first’ approach,” says Ben Williams, EPC-UK managing director. “So, adopting the new social distancing methodology has readily become familiar practice for us all.

“From applying safety initiatives such as ‘virtual sign in and out’ processes within quarry environments to minimise human contact, to conducting ‘on bench briefings’ to plan jobs and discuss risks prior to charging a hole, our operating teams have made social distancing measures second nature functions.”

Williams goes on to describe further new systems that have become EPC-UK’s new operating standards; such as the introduction of in-cab Perspex screens to keep both driver and passenger safely separated, the regular sanitation of all vehicle touchpoints, thorough risk assessments company-wide, and shared HSE guidance to ensure all employees are constantly updated regarding the latest advice and instruction.

The professional approach EPC-UK has taken to implementing and following new best-practice measures has rewarded the company with enthusiastic appraisals from companies it’s worked to support since social distancing measures were put in place.

Ed Buscombe, mobile plant manager at the UK division of Imerys – a world leader in mineral-based specialties - speaks of how impressed he’s been with EPC-UK’s commitment to working safely to maintain service and results. 

“The EPC team’s competence throughout these challenging times has been exemplary,” he says, “as it’s continued to provide Imerys with uninterrupted, full rock-on-ground solutions for drilling and blasting services.

“Following the implementation of safeguarding measures introduced by EPC-UK and Imerys, we were - and continue to be - able to meet current demands. We’re delighted to report that due to the practising measures that were quickly put in place, the overall result has been that nothing has changed during the pandemic.

“This achievement has further reinforced the level of confidence we have in EPC-UK to apply technical expertise and invaluable lines of communication that not only support our customers’ demand but improve costs wherever possible.”

Similarly, Mark Gibbons, national operations director – aggregates at leading supplier of heavy building materials, Hanson, has had a positive experience of dealing with EPC-UK in recent months, particularly in terms of the company’s commitment to effective communications:
“Historically, we’ve brought EPC-UK on board to supply Hanson with explosives, shot firers, and explosive supervisors,” Gibbons explains.

“To date, the team has successfully helped to optimise blasting techniques, with the aid of drones, profiling and detailed drill patterns, with exacting levels of specialist work completed prior to the pandemic that ensured operations were safe and services were maintained.

“Once the severity of the COVID-19 situation became apparent, EPC-UK prioritised regular communications and were completely transparent, giving us reassurance that our resources were aligned and put to best use during a challenging time.

“The same class of professionalism and commitment was applied to our production levels, with Hanson keeping EPC-UK fully informed as to which of its sites were open and when so safe operations could continue to be performed.

“Communications between both companies has increased rather than decreased during this unparalleled episode, which in turn has served to develop our relationship even further.”

Williams has been gratified to learn from these positive customer testimonials that the unified approach teams across EPC-UK have taken to not just comply with regulations during the pandemic, but seek out solutions designed to improve services and relationships, has been successful.

“We have applied and embraced new business practices in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of which are likely to become new operational norms.

“We’ve learnt how to safely and effectively perform for our customers in the current climate and have adopted additional methods which, as the ‘new normal’ continues to evolve, will serve us well; increasing both our business and safety resilience and strengthening our highly specialist industry offering.”

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