Finlay avoids health and safety risks, which provides big rewards

SAFE AT HOME: Finlay Extracts & Ingredients USA Inc. CEO, President and Executive Director Julian Davies says putting the safety and welfare of its employees first demonstrates to customers that the company is a people-first organization.  / PBN PHOTO/DAVE HANSEN
SAFE AT HOME: Finlay Extracts & Ingredients USA Inc. CEO, President and Executive Director Julian Davies says putting the safety and welfare of its employees first demonstrates to customers that the company is a people-first organization. / PBN PHOTO/DAVE HANSEN

PBN MANUFACTURING AWARDS 2020 | Excellence in Safety Performance & Records: Finlay Extracts & Ingredients USA Inc.

KEEPING EMPLOYEES SAFE on the job can be a heavy task during a normal year. Finlay Extracts & Ingredients USA Inc. in Lincoln is ­getting noticed for its zero-incident numbers during two intense years of growth and change at the company.

“When companies grow at this rate of speed, things [such as] safety can fall by the wayside,” Finlay Environmental Health and Safety Manager Shaun Galligan said. “To be able to do all the things we did and go without any injuries is quite the feat.”

Finlay provides coffee and tea extracts and ingredients for the food and beverage industry. The company recently acquired coffee syrup maker Autocrat, commissioned a new facility within Quonset Business Park in North Kingstown, purchased new equipment for a legacy site and had significant changeover in personnel due to long-tenured staff.

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Changes such as these naturally increase health and safety risks. The changes required Finlay to be hands-on with contractors, perform many risk assessments before installing or removing equipment, and ensure that new employees receive the required training to complete each process safely.

“[Finlay] is really one of the best,” Galligan said. “This is one company where they don’t place profits over people; they make sure they do things safely and won’t race to market if those two things are in jeopardy.”

Safety is a major tenant for Finlay worldwide, from the estates that provide tea leaves and botanicals to the facilities that manufacture them into its products.

Finlay CEO, President and Executive Director Julian Davies said the majority of the company’s customers these days have a “high level of interest in how all of their suppliers treat their employees.

“By putting the safety and welfare of our employees at the top of our agenda, we are able to clearly demonstrate to our customers that we are first and foremost a people organization and one that takes its responsibility to its employees very seriously,” Davies said.

To that end, in 2018 Finlay chose to follow a global standard framework of ISO 45001, the International Organization for Standardization’s standard for occupational health and safety management. This structured approach to managing occupational health and safety proved beneficial for both Finlay and its employees. Finlay’s Rhode Island operations identified and addressed more than 300 near-miss incidents since the inception of the program.

“All of these incidents could have led to an injury,” Galligan said. “But due to swift reporting and action, along with empowering our employees to stop activity from continuing to occur, we were able to prevent our colleagues from being injured.”

To begin utilizing ISO 45001, Finlay needed to foster a proactive, not reactive, culture. With support and engagement at all levels, including from upper management, there was less reason to battle over the need to spend money or change processes to reach improvement standards.

Galligan said that no matter an employee’s position or title, everyone at the company is expected to participate in all safety trainings, conduct risk assessments when work environments or processes change, identify and report unsafe work conditions, and actively participate on health- and safety-related committees. Finlay also developed a three-day training program, called Always Safe Leadership, for everyone to be a part of, including sales staff and senior leadership.

“For me, it’s not really the specifics of particular safety measures but the expectations I have of our leaders when it comes to safety – ensuring they own it and have clear accountability for delivery of safety within all aspects of their functions,” Davies said. “Equally, creating an environment where any employee can challenge anyone at any level with regards to a safety issue is a continuous focus area for myself and my team.”

Davies has seen the change for himself, as he was recently challenged by a worker about a breach of protocol in the warehouse.

“Rightly so,” Davies said. “Clearly we are making progress.”


Thanks to a well-established focus on occupational health and safety, when the COVID-19 pandemic began in March Finlay Extracts & Ingredients USA Inc. acted quickly.

“We immediately formed a crisis team to monitor the information coming in from the government and how the orders would impact our business,” said Shaun Galligan, Finlay’s environmental health and safety manager.

Many Finlay employees now work from home. Those on the manufacturing floor enter the building at a specially designed checkpoint and are screened for temperature and must answer health questions. Only a few employees have been turned back to wait out symptoms – and Finlay pays for the sick time.

Overall business is still solid, Galligan said. A few orders have been pushed into the future, but the company is getting ready for the busy time of year, summer, for cold-brew and iced-coffee products.

“We feel comfortable right now. And it’s a good feeling,” Galligan said.

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