Female representation in manufacturing is improving but not as fast as it could be, according to a senior manufacturing firm safety manager. Gill Avis, UK Health and Safety Manager, manages all seven ALPLA UK sites and has seen an improvement in the number of women joining the organisation.
As she approaches a decade of monitoring health and safety across the plastic packaging manufacturer’s UK operations, Gill wants to share her experience to encourage other women to consider a manufacturing career.
She said: “No two days are the same, and things change so much. You have to be reactive when working with a fast moving production line. I never thought I’d get into manufacturing, it was just the role that was available at the time. I was doing a retail apprenticeship, and then worked on a couple of production lines after that.
“From this I learned how important health and safety is, and became interested in the regulatory side of production, and began to learn more about it. There are opportunities at ALPLA for women. I’ve started seeing more CVs come through that are from women seeking the senior manufacturing roles. The industry is heading in the right direction in terms of female inclusion, but it’s not coming fast enough.”
Before joining the team at ALPLA, Gill had worked in numerous manufacturing firms and a short stint in insurance. She had worked in admin roles, answering phones, taught herself to weld and worked on production lines which is what sparked her interest in health and safety.
In her current role, Gill evaluates on-site risks, investigates accidents, assesses machinery and ensures legal and regulatory compliance. And while she is proud to be one of the most senior female figures at ALPLA, she would like to see social attitudes change in terms of which jobs are open to young women.
She added: “I love the noise of production, machines whirring, cogs turning are the sounds of something being made. It’s a great sound. While my main office is in Golbourne, Gtr Manchester, I travel to all our sites to check-in, which means I’m visiting numerous towns and cities daily or in some cases staying there, too.
“Some months I can be doing 2,000 miles a month. And the Health and Safety managers from the different sites look to me for answers. I feel schools should be doing more to show young girls they can do any job, they don’t have to follow the stereotypes of being a nurse, nail technician or a teacher.”
ALPLA Group is a manufacturer of innovative plastic packaging and has 45 locations across the globe. The group continues to expand its UK operations and there are vacancies across all their UK sites, for a variety of roles. Alongside its innovative packaging solutions, there is ongoing research into bio-based and biodegradable plastics.