Stoneywood mill makes Covid-secure startup

Stoneywood mill: collaborative effort to come up with safe systems of work
Stoneywood mill: collaborative effort to come up with safe systems of work

Arjowiggins Group’s Stoneywood mill is back in production after a phased start-up during the past month.

At the beginning of April the Aberdeen mill extended a planned maintenance shutdown after the Scottish government said that non-essential businesses should close unless they were capable of operating in a way that was fully compliant with social distancing advice.

Since then, new guidelines for Covid-secure workplaces have been issued.

Arjowiggins manufacturing director and Stoneywood general manager Angus MacSween told Printweek that half of the mill had started up on 4 May, with the rest of the operation following a week later.

“We are in full production now,” he said.

“The reason we had to shutdown was because we could not source the PPE needed – masks, gloves, visors, hand cleaner – we couldn’t get anything so we had no option other than to shut.”

He said it had taken at least five weeks to source all the necessary PPE materials.

In the meantime, there had been a collaborative effort to come up with safe systems of work that would comply with government guidelines at the historic mill site, where a paper mill was first established in 1770.

“We carried out generic and task-based risk assessments involving the union, safety reps, and senior operators, as well as looking at the health and safety aspects of how to re-start,” MacSween explained.

He said the workforce had been “very ingenious”.

“We’ve put up screens and moved some control panels. The workforce has come up with some fantastic ingenious designs to make it happen.”

Some of the mill’s 420 employees are continuing to work from home, MacSween added.

Stoneywood runs four paper machines and makes a range of creative and specialist paper, including security papers.

He said the market in general had been “very light” but was “definitely picking up”.

The Stoneywood mill was acquired in the two-part MBO last autumn that formed the new Arjowiggins Group.