A project to deliver free health & safety advice to protect SME staff across Britain is being expanded. Five in every six participants go on to make positive changes in their workplace
Serco has been a key partner, driver and supporter of this innovative approach to help SMEs and communities they form part of.
Following a trial in 2010, an innovative initiative has got the green light to expand across the UK. Its remit is to give practical accident-prevention advice to small businesses and help identify and avert health risks. This venture is an alternative to the traditional inspection and enforcement approach, helping businesses manage risk sensibly and make workplaces safer - far better than trying to resolve problems after accidents have happened.
The experimental Estates Excellence (EE) pilot was run in conjunction with local authorities, fire services and the Health and Safety Executive. Free informal visits to industrial estates (hence 'Estates Excellence') were aimed at helping businesses assess potential hazards and protect their employees. Serco donated the use of its Health Bus, a mobile wellness facility staffed by medical advisers who gave employees free screenings, health tests, diagnoses and recommendations.
The venture is designed to encourage positive changes and improve the quality of working life. It is made clear that visits do not constitute an inspection, but provide an assessment and advice - delivered direct to the workplace. One of the reasons EE has been such a success is its collaborative nature, offering expertise from a range of professionals.
The trial, conducted within the south-east of England, showed a clear demand for this kind of intervention, with a large take-up of services: five in every six participants went on to make positive health & safety (H&S) changes. Almost half of all businesses that took part sent staff on free training courses subsequently; like the assessments, these were brought direct to those involved, usually to the estates themselves. As an outreach initiative, EE is greatly motivating for employees - businesses cited improved employee commitment as a key benefit. Participating SMEs also pointed to financial gains such as reduced insurance costs and lost working hours; accidents cost employers nearly £2 million per year.
Heather Bryant, Director of HSE, said: "Serco has been a key partner, driver and supporter of this innovative approach to help SMEs and communities they form part of. There is no doubt Serco has been fundamental to the success of the project."
Andy Lewis is Serco's Director of Health, Safety and Environment, said: "Corporate responsibility is about ensuring we sustain safe operations, have a positive impact on our people, communities, the wider environment and society in general. Serco got involved in Estates Excellence because it was the right thing to do. It provided an opportunity for us to share our experience and capability for the benefit of smaller organisations, to help them grow."