Q & A: Ben Naden - Health & Safety Manager (and more!)

Ben Naden, Quality, Health, Safety and Environment (QSHE) Manager at Hydro Building Systems UK, talks about starting during the COVID-19 pandemic, reveals a health and safety trend and what he enjoys doing outside of work.


Can you tell us when you joined Hydro?

I joined Hydro in October of 2019, having previously worked at a consultancy working with manufacturing businesses to improve productivity and performance. Hydro was one of our first clients, so when the offer came through, I was already aware of who they were and what they did. As you can imagine though, starting when I did made my first two years a little hectic due to the Covid-19 pandemic!

Why did you join Hydro?

As I had worked with Hydro before at my previous job, I knew it was a good place to work right off the bat. Additionally, I knew it had gone through some major changes in the few years right before I joined, so it was an exciting prospect to join the company as it grows. As well as this, the progress Hydro is making to become a more sustainable manufacturer was an attractive prospect. For example, our Hydro CIRCAL range of aluminium is prime quality and contains at least 75% post-consumer scrap is currently the aluminium alloy with the lowest CO2 emissions available on the market. 

Can you tell us a little about your role as QSHE Manager?

As well as being QSHE Manager for Hydro, I'm also its Extrusion Business System (EBS) Champion too. This means not only am I responsible for our Health &Safety and Quality departments, but also our Continuous Improvement programme too - which is mostly related to process improvements, cost savings and efficiency gains at a site level. 

I manage our International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) accreditations and work with our Operations and Customer Services departments, as well as our customers on quality issues. Another part of my role as EBS Champion, is to work with our Operational Management Team to make our site as efficient as possible and reduce costs where we can.

What are the issue you are working on to improve health & safety?

Fortunately for us, we have a good safety record over the last few years, so my main focus has been ensuring those high standards remain in place. We don't want to become complacent, so we've been aiming to maintain a high level of activity focussing on health & safety to continually improve and reduce the risks of our operations.

What are the most exciting developments coming up in your field?

I'd have to say Virtual Reality (VR), it's potentially an extremely valuable technology we can use to train our people, allowing them to experience "unsafe" situations whilst in a totally classroom environment. I experienced the power of VR first-hand at the Hydro HSE Conference last year, which demonstrated what it was like standing underneath a load suspended from a moving crane - it was alarmingly realistic!

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Definitely the most satisfying part of the job is interacting with the other teams, especially when discussing ideas they have come up with the improve safety, quality, efficiency or environmental savings. We've been working for a long time to create a culture where this is encouraged and it's really rewarding to see it in action.

What do you do outside of work?

Besides vague attempts to keep fit, I am a keen photographer and walker. In fact, I recently completed a "marathon hike" this year, which is 25 miles in one day, to raise money for a cancer charity. Seeing as I spend most weekends chasing my two-year-old daughter around, it was a comparitively easy challenge!