Health and safety
The majority of our employees work in lower risk environments and are not exposed to significant occupational health and safety hazards. Nevertheless, we have a programme of initiatives in place to ensure that we continually improve our health and safety performance.
In 2015, the total number of incidents (accidents, occupational diseases, dangerous occurrences, fires and natural cause incidents) reduced by around 15% compared with 2014. Health and safety incidents are reported to the relevant authorities as required by legislation.
All employees are required to complete mandatory online health and safety training which covers the key risks for all employees, including fire safety, display screen equipment, manual handling and slips, trips & falls. On average, employees receive around an hour of safety-related training per year.
Specialist training includes:
- Emergency training, including fire marshal and first aid training, is carried out in line with local legal requirements.
- Specialist health and safety training is carried in higher risk areas or for higher risk activities in areas such as our Cash and Coin Centres.
- Bespoke health and safety training programmes are in place for key roles including Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH) Managing Safety for Property Managers, IOSH Directing Safely for our Projects Managers and Chartered Member IOSH and National Examination Board in Occupational Safety & Health (NEBOSH) qualifications for our Health and Safety professionals.
- In our Real Estate Asset Management team, the part of the business that manages distressed assets, training on health and safety protocols is delivered to all new asset managers.
In the UK our cash and coin centres continued to be accredited to OHSAS 18001.
Awards and recognition
In 2015, RBS was awarded two Gold awards from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA): one for our overall approach to H&S management, and the other for how we manage driving safety.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that has the potential to pose a health risk by causing lung cancer. It is everywhere around us, but some areas have higher levels of the gas than others.
In 2015, we identified 500 RBS premises in the UK, Ireland and offshore, in radon-affected regions. High radon levels were found in 104 of these premises.
Instead of relying entirely on human factors to reduce exposure times, which was likely to be less effective and could have impacted on customer service, RBS invested more than £1 million in technologies to reduce the radon levels below the UK Government’s action level.
We continue to monitor premises in radon-affected areas to make sure that our solutions remain effective.
In 2015, we completed a full review of the controls we have in place to manage health incidents. This focussed on pandemic influenza and 14 other serious health conditions that could impact our employees and operations.
Outputs of the review included:
- Development of a suite of specialist guidance and improved health information for employees and specialist staff.
- An overview of the cleaning requirements that would need to be implemented in order to manage each disease effectively.
- Identification of appropriate personal hygiene products that can be distributed during a health incident.
These revised controls will reduce the risk of significant ill health to our staff and increase the robustness of our business continuity arrangements.
Late 2015 International SOS completed a review to evaluate the profile of corporate health across the UK. As part of this review it was concluded that ‘in terms of similar sized organisations in the financial sector within the UK RBS has adopted many best practice health programmes to address their duty of care regarding health to employees, business travellers and expatriates'.
A new fire safety partnership with Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service will establish a single point of contact for fire safety enforcement across our portfolio in a manner that will soon be recognised by the UK government. This arrangement will support delivery of consistent fire safety policies and procedures. The partnership should help us save time and money through fewer and shorter fire inspections enabling our staff to spend more time with customers.
An early benefit has been an independent opinion on our legal compliance. The HRFS Partnership Manager considered our fire safety culture to be of a very high calibre and was happy to recommend RBS as a suitable partner in this initiative.
RBS volunteered to participate in a research project carried out by the Institute of Occupational Medicine and funded by the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health to examine the current occupational safety & health landscape within the UK.
The aim of the project was to evaluate the success of our re-designed H&S documentation and intranet site in transferring knowledge to employees. It included a literature review, interviews with Sustainable Workplaces team, and employee surveys before and after the launch of the new policy.
The study concluded that the knowledge transfer methods and process has been successful at RBS. It also found that safety culture at RBS was very positive.
Early in 2014, large areas of the UK were severely affected by flooding. Local branches and businesses wanted to support their local communities, so we developed a simple tool to help them assess the risks and protect employees as they helped.
Haydn Thomas, who led the flood crisis management from the business, described the tool as “an excellent document... my team's enthusiasm has now been balanced with this sense check to reflect on the risks and the need for good planning.”