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.
Health & Safety (‘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. It is intended that a comprehensive review of existing policies and procedures will be undertaken during 2018 and presented to the Board for approval.
A Risk Committee (comprising the Chief Financial Officer, People Director, National Health & Safety Manager and Logistics & Compliance Director) 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.
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 periodic basis and report quarterly to the National Health & Safety Manager. Management teams are encouraged to create a supportive H&S culture and recognise the value of employee participation.
A focus of 2017 was the building of dedicated in-house H&S expertise. This will allow for more effective management of H&S, the implementation and tailoring of systems to meet the Company’s specific needs, and ultimately ensure that H&S becomes embedded in the Company’s culture and long-term practices. A National Health & Safety Manager and two Regional Health & Safety Advisers were appointed during 2017 and 2018 to effectively cover the Company’s UK operating locations.
The new in-house team, working in conjunction with the existing outsourced provider, has already implemented a number of revised and improved policies and procedures. These include H&S compliance assessments being undertaken at all of the Company’s locations on a quarterly basis at a minimum, and all business managers with responsibility for H&S completing the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (‘IOSH’) ‘Managing Safely’ training course with periodic refresher training as necessary. During the beginning of 2018, 80 business managers completed the IOSH ‘Managing Safely’ course, with additionally 25 members of the Company’s senior management completing the IOSH ‘Leading Safely’ course.
A new in-house Health & Safety Management System (that will ensure a consistent approach to risk assessments, safe systems of work, accident and near-miss reporting) is being launched in the first quarter of 2018 and implemented across the Company. It is well-recognised that reporting near-misses can significantly improve worker safety while enhancing an organisation’s safety culture and induction procedures. The system will allow data to be immediately logged, analyzed and any trends identified, with appropriate remedial action then taken.
There were 25 reportable incidents in 2017, compared to 17 in 2016, none of which resulted in a serious injury or fatality. The uplift in reported incidents reflects the introduction of a more robust and enhanced reporting schedule in 2017. All reportable accidents are investigated and, in the infrequent 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.
In-line with a commitment outlined in the 2016 Annual Report, 101 new commercial vehicles were delivered in 2017 with fall arrest systems installed in the rear, and a further 109 are scheduled for delivery in 2018. The fall arrest system, in conjunction with the body harness worn by the driver, is designed to prevent falls by drivers unloading from the vehicle. The Company intends to continue roll-outing this initiative across its whole fleet as the fleet is renewed.
Fire risk assessment is undertaken across the Company on an annual basis. During 2017, to improve activity in this area and ensure the highest level of compliance going forward, the Company undertook to enhance its processes and training in the area of fire compliance. As such, a Fire Risk Management course and training was undertaken at the end of 2017, with Diplomas in Fire Protection and Prevention to be run later in 2018.
In 2017, AED units (‘Automated External Defibrillators’) were installed at the Company’s 36 larger depots in the UK, with people at each trained in their usage. These units are proven to be one of the most important tools in saving the life of someone suffering sudden cardiac arrest, and it is intended that units will be placed in the Company’s larger Continental Europe premises currently without them during 2018.
Automated lone-working devices have recently been trialled at one site and will potentially be rolled out to other locations in 2018 where employees may be in a lone-working environment for a proportion of their time. The device provides a two-way communication with a monitoring station, with emergency assistance provided when necessary.
With the aim of achieving excellence in H&S, and a clear vision for the future, the Company is undertaking a rigorous PDCA method (‘plan-do-check-act’) in 2018. Key priorities in the near to medium-term include continue growing the in-house expertise and systems, increase the regularity of visits to operating locations, and provide comprehensive ongoing training and support to all employees.