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2020 – A year to remember rather than a year to forget!
As we fast approach the end of another year, we thought it worth reviewing what has happened this year and share some of those things that have impacted us at British Lead Mills.

 
Firstly, before we can talk about us, we must mention the pandemic.

It is fair to say that the whole country had a massive speed bump in the form of Covid-19. No-one should understate the impact this has had on so many families across the country. By mid-December 2020 nearly 65,000 people had lost their lives so far. No review of the year should pass without acknowledging this and the pain and suffering for the family and friends of these people. The impact on what is fast approaching 2 million people who have tested positive through the year should also be acknowledged as well as the hard work and sacrifices made by frontline healthcare and emergency service personnel.

When the country first went into lockdown, the construction industry was classed as essential so we remained open and continued to recycle lead. Our first thought was how to do this safely. Our teams worked hard to produce a safety manual on how to continue operations during the lockdown and to try and reduce the chances of our colleagues being affected by the virus at work. This manual was a dynamic tool that we have constantly reviewed to make sure that we continue to stay as safe as possible whilst in the work environment.

You can view the manual on LinkedIn where we shared it as a way of trying to help others through our experiences. It has meant some changes to how we work and our thanks must go to all of our colleagues, customers and supply chain partners who have maintained their high health and safety standards throughout the year, enabling us to remain open.

We are also incredibly pleased to have got through this year without any Lost Time Incidents which is a fantastic achievement given the number of moving processes within our operation. It is even more impressive given that we have increased our workforce since the lockdown finished and have 9 new colleagues working in the production area. It is always a challenge to maintain health and safety standards at the highest level and this is tested further when you have new starters working in the dynamic environment. It was during this latter period that we achieved our ISO 45001 Certificate for Occupational Health & Safety and we are very proud of that achievement.

We are proud that we have been able to increase our workforce and provide new jobs in what has been a very tough year for many businesses. In total, we have increased our production team by 7, taken on 2 new apprentices, one mechanical and the other electrical and last but not least, a Marketing Executive. In terms of numbers, this represents a 12.5% increase in the size of our workforce.
 
Away from health and safety, we entered the year having had a £3m investment in an upgrade to our refinery to reduce our emissions. This project was successfully completed in April. The project was a challenge, as we maintained a fully working plant around the refinery area at the same time as construction was happening. The project was a success, and this has helped future-proof this area of our operations in Welwyn Garden City and reduce our emissions. The logistics that go into making a project like this a success are complicated and we are thankful to our project team and our contractor, Lodge Cotterill, for the work that went into this project.

The challenges that the construction industry has faced this year are well documented and there have been lots of challenges that manufacturers have had to deal with to maintain their supply chains. We were no exception and scrap lead, which we rely on to recycle and make our products, became very scarce during the lockdown period. We were fortunate that we saw this as a problem early enough to be able to formulate a back up plan that meant we used refined lead, made from scrap batteries.

It was significantly more expensive and was a cost that we chose not to pass on to our customers.

What it did show was how resourceful and determined we are in making sure that we continue to deliver the highest quality products to our customers in the shortest time period possible.

Finally, we would like to thank two very important groups of people...

Our customers, who have supported us during the year whilst adapting their own businesses to continue operating during and after the lockdown. We appreciate the hard work that this takes, and we promise to continue to support you into next year.

Our colleagues, without whom we would not have been able to maintain our service. The dedication and commitment they have shown has been amazing in a truly testing year. On top of this, they have gone that extra mile to think about others on several occasions, including raising money for charity and donating PPE equipment to the local hospital.

We would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a much better 2021!

Adrian Farley
Commercial Director
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