The health and safety of employees and individuals likely to be affected by our business, including contractors, customers, staff and members of the public where appropriate, is treated with the utmost importance.
We are committed to developing and maintaining a positive and effective health and safety culture. It is our policy to seek to ensure that the Company’s operations are carried out at all times in compliance with the relevant health and safety guidance in the jurisdictions in which we operate.
Our health and safety policy, which is endorsed by the Board, is tailored to each of our business operations and the circumstances in which they operate. It is amended to reflect changes in procedures and processes and any modifications to our control and inspection procedures. The Board receives a detailed presentation on health and safety issues, covering each trading location, on an annual basis, with interim updates as considered necessary. These include comments on improvements following inspections of the UK businesses undertaken by our advisers. At least once a year, each of the UK businesses receives an updated bespoke comprehensive health and safety manual for use as a source of information, guidance and training together with a set of compliance documentation. These detailed presentations have also shown that sites continue to demonstrate a high level of health and safety management.
Each of the businesses occupying our distribution facilities has a Health and Safety Committee comprising representatives from the various business departments. These meet on a periodic basis and are co-ordinated by the on-site health and safety manager. Management teams are encouraged to create a supportive health and safety culture and recognise the value of employee participation.
The report to the Board includes our businesses in Continental Europe, which operate in accordance with the health and safety legislation and inspection practices in their respective countries. Inspections undertaken by our third-party adviser form the basis on which we determine our standards and are continually reviewed and improved. Additional inspections are undertaken where changes to operations have occurred or new premises occupied.
These are complemented by inspections of racking systems carried out by independent externally appointed assessors and, in the UK, risk inspections undertaken by our insurers at several of our businesses.
Health and safety is an important part of employee induction, at which time we ensure that all employees are aware of our policies and of the commitment that is expected of them towards their safety. Managers, to whom the day-to-day responsibility for health and safety is delegated and who are best placed to monitor and control safety, are guided and supported by our third-party advisers in risk assessment techniques. Job-specific training, including periodic refresher training, is supported by good practice guides which set out the important features associated with many aspects of the roles and duties undertaken by employees. Good practice guides are reviewed not less than annually to ensure they remain relevant to the business and include an awareness of impending changes in relevant legislation and other specialist subjects. They are also reviewed, as appropriate, following any accident or incident. The majority of the local business managers with responsibility for health and safety have completed the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health “Managing Safely” course, with refresher training planned this year.
Our businesses maintain good relationships with health and safety and environmental health regulators with positive and prompt responses to any findings or observations following compliance inspections. We have open and active reporting of any accidents and incidents. During the year we introduced near miss reporting, which has resulted in some improvements to our operating procedures. In 2016 there were 17 reportable incidents, compared to 15 in 2015, none of which had resulted in a serious injury or fatality. Whilst this is a small increase on prior year, the number of reports is fairly consistent from year to year. All reportable accidents are investigated and, in the minority of instances where improvement is required, changes are implemented in a timely manner. There were no prosecutions for breaches of health and safety or enforcement actions in the year. Whilst there were a few slips, trips and falls, there was no common cause or trend.
New commercial vehicles for delivery in 2017 will arrive with a fall arrest system installed in the rear of the vehicle. This, in conjunction with the body harness worn by the driver, is designed to prevent future falls by drivers unloading from the side or back of the vehicle.
Containment and inspection regimes in higher risk areas, such as fuel and lubrication stores, compressors and forklift truck battery charging areas, are kept under review. Fire risk protection continues to be improved, training and awareness increased and special containers are sited at least five metres from the main buildings for the storage of flammable products and combustible waste. Bespoke provision for such aspects of the business is incorporated within the design of the new distribution facilities.
Scheduled in the first half of 2017, an automated external defibrillator (‘AED’) is to be installed at each of our operating businesses, at which time selected employees will be trained in their usage. Recently, after placing the order but prior to installation, we experienced an employee having need of an AED whilst at work. This reinforces our view that their installation is a positive step towards employee wellbeing.
We will continue our efforts in promoting a safe and secure workplace in the forthcoming year, with continued focus on collation of data relating to near misses and the continuation of the external health and safety risk advice programme, the aim being to at least maintain, if not improve, standards.