The health and safety of employees and individuals likely to be affected by the Company’s operations is treated with the utmost importance. It is the Company’s policy to ensure that operations are carried out at all times in compliance with the relevant health and safety guidance in the jurisdictions in which it operates.
The Company is committed to promoting a positive Health & Safety (‘H&S’) culture and high standard of H&S management throughout the Company. Each of the Company’s businesses occupying distribution facilities has a H&S Committee comprising representatives from the various business departments. These meet on a regular basis and formally report to the National Health & Safety Manager quarterly.
H&S is a standing agenda item at the Company’s Board meetings, with an associated report submitted, and regular presentations are made to the Board and the Senior Management Team. The report covers accident statistics, progress on initiatives, transport audits, assessment visits, updates on policies and procedures, and any changes in legislation that could affect the Company and its businesses.
A Risk Committee serves as a governance body to provide oversight, review and challenge of the risk management processes, and to confirm that appropriate and proportionate risk management procedures are in place. Investigations are carried out in respect of any accidents or matters warranting further detail.
During 2018, a new in-house Health & Safety Management System was launched and rolled-out across the Company to ensure a standardised approach to risk assessments, safe systems of work, accident and near-miss reporting. The System allows data to be immediately logged, analysed and any trends identified, with appropriate remedial action then taken. In addition to being a centralised portal containing all general policies, procedures and pictorial aids, the System contains specific information tailored to each operating location and has an employee feedback facility.
Various in-house and external training programmes were undertaken during the year. All business managers responsible for H&S completed the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (‘IOSH’) ‘Managing Safely’ training course, and in-house training courses tailored to the specific requirements of the Company focused on Fire Risk Management, First Aid and Accident Investigation.
The Company continued the installation of fall arrest systems across its commercial fleet, with a further 62 systems installed in the rear of vehicles and trailers to prevent falls by drivers unloading. In-line with its fleet renewal schedule, a further 70 installations are anticipated for 2019. Additionally, ‘creep speed’ mode was fully implemented across the forklift fleet adding enhanced control when handling loads at high elevations.
Over 150 H&S compliance assessments were undertaken at the Company’s 69 UK locations by the in-house H&S team in 2018, far exceeding historic numbers, with this level of local assessment anticipated to increase going forward.
There were 18 reportable incidents in 2018, down from 25 in 2017, none of which resulted in a serious injury. All reportable accidents are investigated and, in the infrequent instances where improvement is required, remedial actions to prevent reoccurrence are implemented in a timely manner. There were no prosecutions for breaches of health and safety or enforcement actions in the year.
A key priority for 2019 is the commencement of work towards achieving ISO 45001 accreditation across the Company’s main UK operating sites. The ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems is a new international standard introduced in 2018 with the aim of reducing occupational injuries, and provides a single benchmark for the management of occupational health and safety. Accreditation would provide validation that the Company is operating at the highest standard with regard to H&S, and a series of independent audits will commence in 2019 and progress through 2020 and 2021.
The Company would like to congratulate Leigh Holdsworth, National Health & Safety Manager, who was admitted as a Chartered Member to the Institution of Occupational Safety in December 2018. Chartered Members are recognised within the H&S profession as meeting the highest standards of skills and knowledge.