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Health and Safety


Health and Safety (‘H&S’) is a standing agenda item at Board Meetings, and the associated report and updates form part of the Chief Executive’s Report, who has overall accountability for H&S. Presentations are also made to the Board by the UK Managing Director who leads day-to-day oversight of H&S matters within the UK, and is supported by a dedicated in-house H&S team and the retained services of a specialist third-party health and safety consultancy.

During 2020, there were no prosecutions for breaches of health and safety or enforcement actions.

COVID-19 - Keeping people safe

As detailed in Principal Risks and Uncertainties on page 32 of the 2020 Annual Report, the risk level attached to H&S increased in the year specifically due to COVID-19 introducing a considerable new risk to keeping people healthy and safe in the workplace.

Throughout the impact of COVID-19, the safety and protection of its people, customers and necessary visitors to site has remained the Company’s priority. Following the closure of the vast majority of the business in March 2020, the Company took a phased approach to reopening while becoming COVID-19 Secure, with COVID-19 Secure fully implemented throughout the UK network by June 2020. The Company issued a COVID-19 Secure Pack to its businesses supported by management briefings, detailing all the necessary guidance for managers and all employees to follow, and which has continued to be updated as necessary alongside employee briefings and ongoing site audits. All employees completed a COVID-19 Secure induction, and throughout the impact of COVID-19 employees have been working from home where they are able to do so, with new infrastructure built to support increased working from home. The risks and control measures associated with COVID-19 / COVID-19 Secure were additionally incorporated into the Company’s Health and Safety Policies and Procedures which are accessible to all employees on the Company’s intranet.

The Company’s in-house H&S team visits each of the Company’s sites on a regular basis, and as part of this process, continue to ensure the sites remain COVID-19 Secure and that social distancing rules, use of PPE, and hand hygiene measures are being strictly applied. Employees are able to raise any concerns they may have either directly, or on a confidential basis, through the Company’s whistleblowing process. As of the date of the 2020 Annual Report, Health and Safety Executive (‘HSE’) has carried out four inspections on various of the Company’s sites to ensure they are COVID-19 Secure, with no further action taken or recommendations made as a result.

Areas of Improvement

The specialist third-party health and safety consultancy supporting the Company was commissioned during 2019 to undertake an independent review of health and safety management arrangements. Their report noted the considerable progress made on process and procedure over the previous two years following the introduction of the in-house H&S team and improved oversight, and additionally made recommendations for improvement, including in the areas of:

  • Machinery safety
  • Storage of hazardous materials
  • Management of hazards associated with pedestrian and vehicle movements
  • Enhancing H&S culture - employee training, and local management ownership of health and safety matters

Despite the impact of COVID-19 necessitating site closures and a subsequent focus on COVID-19 Secure, good progress has been made in implementing some of the recommendations arising from the independent review:

  • Pedestrian and Mechanical separation – further clearly marked dedicated walkways, setting apart vehicle and pedestrian routes, established at the Company’s four largest sites, with roll-out to other sites during 2021
  • Machine Guarding and Racking – improved machine guarding and interlocking systems to reduce the risk of injury installed at two sites, with ongoing roll-out. Continuation of racking safety inspections by a specialist independent company
  • Culture and Training - H&S increasingly used as a performance measure with employees, and training to be undertaken in the areas of mental health first-aiders and hazard area classification in 2021
  • Planned Preventive Maintenance (‘PPM’) – a more structured PPM approach is being rolled-out across the group as a pre-emptive measure against any failings or failures
  • Other actions continue to be taken in the areas of improved fire protection; lighting protection; and flammable storage

The completion and embedding of all the recommendations from the independent review is the main focus for 2021.

ISO 45001:2018

Following certification in 2019, the Company was pleased to be re-certificated as meeting the requirements of ISO 45001:2018 during 2020, the international standard for occupational health and safety management.

Reportable Incidents and Industry Benchmarking

In 2020, there were 12 employee injury incidents reportable under the provisions of the Reporting of Incidents, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 in Great Britain (‘RIDDORs’) (2019: 23), none of which resulted in a serious or ongoing life-changing injury, and detail on the incidents is given below. Year-on-year comparisons are difficult to make due to the COVID-19 related site closures during 2020, however, certain month-on-month comparisons show an improving trend, and analysis of incidents over the last few years indicate no trends or areas of particular concern.


All incidents are thoroughly investigated, root cause analysis undertaken to establish any failings in risk assessment and/or safe system of work, and any necessary corrective action taken as quickly as possible. This is followed by a group-wide communication or ‘tool box talk’, a communication tool launched in 2019 used to highlight any lessons-learnt following an incident.

As an indicator of the Company’s performance against an industry standard, below is the Company’s RIDDORs incidence rate and frequency rate compared against an HSE benchmark:

  • Headlam’s RIDDORs incidence rate - 600 RIDDORs per 100,000 employees (compared against an HSE benchmark (from 2019/20) of 696 RIDDORs per 100,000 employees for the Transportation and Storage sector)
  • Headlam’s RIDDORs frequency rate - 3.07 RIDDORs for every 1,000,000 hours worked (compared against a HSE benchmark of 4.05 RIDDORs per 1,000,000 hours worked in the Transportation and Storage sector)

Road Traffic Accidents

Transport safety is a high priority for the Company due to the large element of product transportation within the Company’s operations and activity undertaken by sales representatives. There were 880 vehicles as at 31 December 2020, including personal cars driven for business usage. 197 ‘at fault’ Road Traffic Accidents (‘RTAs’) relating to vehicles being driven on Company business were reported in 2020.Actions being undertaken to reduce the number of accidents and prompt good driving behaviours / best practices include: training; fitting of Autonomous Emergency Braking (‘AEB’) systems; and further applications for Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (‘FORS’) accreditations.