The health and safety of our employees, contractors and customers remains a priority. We constantly investigate and review risk and respond appropriately.
This year we have achieved our targets in all of the four key areas highlighted in last year’s report. The areas where we have seen progress are:
- reduce the number of accidents that take place in our stores;
- review and improve training provided for our customer care team;
- ensure all health and safety and access requirements are included in plans for our head office refurbishment; and
- review and update our Equality Act 2010 training materials for employees.
Accidents in our stores are down by 13% year-on-year and we are confident this trend will continue, due to ongoing and new initiatives to reduce risks.
Summer 2013 saw the launch of a new ‘Consequences’ health and safety film that re-enacts hypothetical but commonplace accidents in-store as if caught on CCTV, demonstrating to employees what can happen if they fail to follow procedures. We plan to use this DVD for all our refresher training. We are confident that the strong visual impact will ensure that employees remember the consequences of failing to follow policies and procedures.
We created a bespoke health and safety course for our store design team to help them understand their responsibilities under the Construction Design and Management Regulations, the law relating to safe project management. We are keen to ensure that in creating exciting new stores, safe design is adopted at the earliest opportunity.
Whilst no actions have been taken against the group in regard to incidents relating to legionella, asbestos or electricity, as a responsible retailer we take potential major safety issues very seriously so we have put in place training in these key areas for our teams this year.
In addition, a new system has been put in place to assess planned designs for shop fixtures for their suitability. The TOPMAN visual merchandising team is piloting this new approach, ahead of a planned rollout across the group.
The end of this reporting year will see the launch of the first health and safety master class for retail teams whose store is about to undergo modernisation works. This training will brief management teams on what to expect, the risks to look out for, cooperating and coordinating with contractors, recording documentation and ensuring compliance. These sessions will prepare managers and support them through the process, minimising disruption and reducing accidents.
The department has also provided input into the head office refurbishment from inception and continues to do so throughout the construction works.
Store and website accessibility
It is now eight years since the Disability Discrimination Act was enacted (now the Equality Act) and as we make continual improvements to our retail estate, customers’ concerns about store accessibility have reached an alltime low with just 35 issues referred to our team this year. This includes BHS, which brings with it the challenges of trading from larger footprint sites and the added risks presented by operating in-store restaurants and cafes.
We take all customer concerns seriously. A good example of this is a fashion blogger for the disabled who has become a ‘critical friend’ of the business, working with Dorothy Perkins and providing insight as part of their focus groups.