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Case studies

A man having his blood pressure taken

Thames Water have increased the visibility and profile of occupational health and wellbeing, and it is now a key element of their strategy.

They have fostered an environment where all their employees can have a say in how their health and wellbeing is being managed, offering a range of initiatives in the workplace. By closely monitoring ill-health referrals they have put measures in place to help prevent recurrences. They have prioritised the key health risks that concern their employees.

They have a unified approach that includes their supply chain, with all those working for and on behalf of Thames Water adopting the same principles for employee health and wellbeing. Their supply chain are already seeing remarkable benefits in adopting the Thames ‘Health & Wellbeing Maturity Model’.

In the three years since introducing these measures, they have halved both the number of lost-time injuries and incidents of illness. Their employee engagement survey, completed by several thousand employees annually, shows that 90% of workers feel health and safety is being taken seriously at Thames Water.

Battersea Power Station nurses Lauren Cody (left) and Nicola Osborn (right)Battersea Power Station has a team of six on-site occupational health nurses to look after the health and well-being of over two thousand construction workers that are employed on-site, as well as supporting the neighbouring community.

The Battersea health team focuses on two areas. There is an occupational hygiene team who look at prevention and mitigation of ill health in the workplace and a clinical team who provide a wide range of medical services.

The work of the occupational hygiene team focuses on ensuring that the workforce are working in ways that eliminate or reduce exposure to things that might affect their health such as dust, noise and vibration from the works.

The clinical team, made up of experienced trauma/A&E nurses, undertake emergency response and rescue services for the site and, on occasions, the local area. In addition the team manages an on-site medical centre for emergency treatment, injuries, illnesses and health issues. Most patients are successfully treated on-site and follow-up appointments are scheduled where required to ensure continuity of care.

The health team work together to run monthly well-being campaigns where they focus on different health topics and offer interactive health promotion/health checks. Many members of the public also attend for free health checks, health promotion materials and one-to-one nurse advice.

Welsh Water established a new company culture and way of thinking about health and safety to ensure that all their employees were actively engaged in preventing injuries and ill health.

Image of Welsh Waters employee talking with HSE inspector

They set up a training and awareness programme to help promote a culture where health and safety coaching conversations are the norm and there is an ethos of personal ownership at all levels. This programme is called STEP – (Safety Takes Every Person).

The programme started with the executive and leadership team talking to people about safety. Over 300 line managers and supervisors were trained in safe and unsafe behaviours and identifying improvements.

STEP messages were promoted through an awareness campaign, employee roadshows and a conference. Seventy ‘STEP cascade trainers’ delivered two-hour employee workshops using slides, exercises and a DVD.

Leaders and front-line employees throughout the business have taken more ownership when it comes to health and safety matters. They have also shared their approach with their contractors. This has resulted in reductions in their RIDDOR Incidents Rate from 851 in 2011-12 to 394 in 2014-15.

Work-related ill health and injury devastates individuals and their families. It damages profit and can destroy a small business. In making huge demands of the NHS and other services, it costs the Scottish economy alone an estimated £1039 million annually.

Image of Welsh Waters employee talking with HSE inspector

PHASS is one of the key organisations to recognise and tackle this. It was founded over ten years ago, bringing together players in Scotland’s health and safety system to coordinate action between regulators and non-regulators and across reserved and devolved governments. Its aim is to get more value from ‘the system’ through people acting together to improve health and safety.

PHASS is responsible for creating strong networks promoting competent advice to Scottish businesses. This involves helping employers to manage key risks and providing business-to-business support.Its promotion has helped to raise awareness of the benefits of healthy workplaces while ensuring a better understanding of the law.

Karen McDonnell, RoSPA Scotland and current President of IOSH, credits PHASS with creating the right conditions for creating healthy and safe workplaces. It is the reason PHASS has been asked to develop a new Scottish Action Plan on Health and Safety, broadening ownership even further to help protect people's lives.

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