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Accident Book Plus

15 October 2005

Embracing a health and safety culture involves the pro-active involvement of staff at all levels to be effective, together with support materials and on-line resources of the kind developed by ESS-UK

HEALTH AND SAFETY IS ONE OF THE MOST CRUCIAL aspects of company performance yet many companies don't take the issue as seriously as they should, with the very worst offenders having nothing more than a dog-eared accident book to show for their health and safety policy. One organisation that views good health and safety management at its operating sites, as key to its success is ESS UK, the total support services division of Compass Group.

In the UK as a whole, there were 220 fatal injuries to workers between 2004 and 2005 and several hundreds of thousands more suffere illness and injury all of which equated to some thirty nine million lost working days. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that almost all these incidents are preventable - a sentiment fully echoed by ESS¨CUK.

Effective accident prevention is only possible with the co-operation of the whole of the ESS-UK team. Well aware of this fact and, in its endeavour to deliver an incident free environment, the company set out to improve its safety culture by engaging each member of the team to take active responsibility for health and safety best practice.

Far from the typical situation in many work environments, where employees are dictated a list of safety do's and don'ts, ESS created a programme whereby all personnel are acutely aware of the possible health and safety hazards and risks in their environment and work together to manage them. Each employee is encouraged to take responsibility for eliminating hazardous activities and removing unsafe conditions thus preventing injury or illness.

The company's health and safety standards scheme, the ESSential Safety Programme, was created to establish a safe work culture and provides employees with four vital tools:
...Basic safety management strategies and plans to be implemented at all operating sites
...Simple methods to identify potential hazards
...Methods to eliminate or control hazards identified and prevent injuries
...Assistance to implement an effective ESSential Safety Programme.

The company believes effective communication to be one of the main weapons against accidents and injury and this started with the clear communication of the ESSential Safety Programme in order to establish a safe, healthy and productive work environment for all employees, contractors, clients and visitors at each operating site.

In order to clearly communicate the company's health and safety policy at all levels and to ensure that each member of the ESS team has all the information and guidance needed to implement and maintain the ESSential Safety Programme, the company compiled and issued to all its operating sites an 'ESSential Safety Toolkit', designed to educate and inform personnel at all levels in health and safety best practice.

The first stage in ensuring the acceptance and implementation of the Programme was to secure the effective management of the initiative. The HSE cites a number of management qualities common across proven successful safe working environments and these include:
...Total visible commitment to safety
...Employee involvement
...Consistent messages
...Honesty
...Encouragement rather than cajoling
Celebrating success with employees

The Toolkit effectively summarised all these qualities in one initiative. It contains a wide variety of support materials, which are regularly reviewed and ensure that every member of staff, whether office based or elsewhere on site, can have access to relevant information and health and safety procedures. Point of Work Risk Assessments, 'STAR' hazard spotting stickers, observation cards, safety awareness posters and safety videos are amongst the range of tools that all help to keep issues of health and safety front of mind at all times. In addition, badges identify new starters so that more experienced team members can identify them and ensure that they are treated accordingly.

The Point of Work Risk Assessments (POWRA) are user-friendly forms for all employees to carry with them as they go about their day to day activities. They encourage all employees to proactively review and note the hazards attached to new, infrequently used or redesigned work procedures. The POWRAs also aim to reinforce the key stop and think, act and review¡ (STAR) message central to the ESSential Safety Programme.

The Observation Cards in the Kit are provided in the form of a note pad and used by managers and members of the safety observation team to carry out regular safety checks of working practices and the environment. Any hazardous situations are noted, as too are any positive observations, and these are then discussed by the management team and possible improvements agreed.

In addition to the tools that inform, advise and recommend, the Toolkit also includes 'Opportunities for Improvement' forms enabling all employees to make suggestions on business improvement when they have a suggestion for something that will improve service, eliminate a hazard, make a job easier or enable the team to perform a task more effectively.

Rowena Edwards, MD of ESS-UK commented, "In addition to giving staff the tools to reduce and eliminate risk on site, the Toolkit also encourages staff to take a positive role in health and safety and proactively review work procedures, whether new or existing, to ensure the continued safety of themselves and their team members alike.

"The ESSential Safety Toolkit is part of ESS-UK's long-term approach to employee and client Health and Safety. The company aims to ensure systems are in place to maintain improved employee awareness of Health and Safety, improved operational health and safety reporting and improved management reporting with the ultimate goal of reducing to an absolute minimum the number of incidents on site.

In addition to the Toolkit, ESS-UK is also investing into innovative new ways to improve health and safety management. One excellent example of this is its award winning Health, Safety, the Environment and Quality integrated Management Information System. The online, web-based system has enabled the company to integrate its management systems to avoid duplication whilst enabling users to access the information they need quickly, accurately and from wherever they may be. It allows Health and Safety data to be captured at source and offers significant benefits in terms of consistency and streamlining the reporting process.

ESS-UK's strategy for health and safety best practice has set it apart and often plays a crucial role in the appointment criteria for many clients. Far from resting on laurels, with the support and assistance of the whole ESS-UK and Ireland and ESS Global team, the company will continue to pursue health and safety best practice across all of its sites.


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