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 completed one of our key objectives and all the others have made good progress. We have circulated the new ‘Consequences’ training DVD on health and safety compliance to stores. All new starters and those undertaking a six-monthly refresher will see it.
We have successfully delivered the health and safety masterclass for store management teams ahead of retail modernisation projects and we need to continue to drive awareness of it.
A new compliance app on in-store tablets was trialled in a TOPSHOP flagship store. Its success has seen it rolled out to the US stores for further trial and review. We envisage it being adopted by larger TOPSHOP stores and flagship stores across our other brands.
The health and safety ‘smart’ manual continues to be reviewed with risk assessments updated to make them easier for staff to understand and complete. Work is on-going to complete this review.
The new fire safety manual will start to be introduced before the end of this reporting year and will continue into 2014/15.
Accidents in our stores are down by 7%, continuing last year’s trend of 13% reduction due to on-going and new initiatives to reduce risks.
We have delivered two major campaigns this year to target awareness of and find responses to the biggest causes of accidents in our stores. Our Slips and Trips activity has mainly focused on BHS, due to the relatively higher proportions of such incidents in those stores. We have considered escalator speeds, our cleaning regime, training, informative posters, the introduction of spill kits and a review of problematic fixtures. Meanwhile, our Struck by Falling Objects campaign is on-going and looks at all brands.
We established a Health and Safety Steering Group in January of this year with meetings held bi-monthly. Discussions to date have included risk assessments, documentation, key accidents/incidents and safety campaigns.
We have continued to keep health and safety on the stores’ agenda by providing our monthly newsletter, each with its own focus such as manual handling or use of ladders. We are optimistic that this enhanced communication and the on-going reduction in the number of accidents are not unrelated.
Our major focus for 2014/15 and beyond will be the introduction of a three-year rolling improvement plan for health and safety. We envisage a ‘rolling refresh’ with around a third of our KPIs updated each year.
Areas of focus include store development where our teams will need to be reminded of their responsibilities under the Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations. We are planning training for designers. We intend to conduct a review of Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) to ensure we are meeting our targets with regard to required legal inspections.
Further training will form part of this picture. This year 350 retail team members from BHS have participated in train-the-trainer sessions and we plan to roll this out to TOPSHOP in 2014/15.
Store and website accessibility
Customer concerns shared with our Customer Care Team about accessibility issues appear to be forming a trend of around 50 per year. Last year was slightly lower at 35 with concerns this year totalling 53. This is still considerably less than half the number recorded at the time the Disability Discrimination Act (now the Equality Act) was enacted.
Around one third of concerns are from people with children in pushchairs, as opposed to disabled customers. Meanwhile, 25% of complaints relate to narrow aisles, service or closed changing rooms.
We have natural turnover in our store portfolio and as new and refurbished stores replaced older ones, many of the accessibility legacy issues ceased to exist. We remain committed to continuous improvement and in 2014/15 we are planning to review induction and refresher training to ensure all customers receive excellent service.