Getting involved in Estates Excellence

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1 Getting involved in Estates Excellence Estates Excellence (EE) is a unique way to help small businesses control their health and safety risks and protect their employees. EE creates partnerships between companies, councils, regulators and other organisations. The partners guide small businesses and improve their ability to manage health and safety. They also encourage businesses by identifying the financial and non-financial benefits. A pilot project found real demand among businesses for this support. EE increased their knowledge of health and safety and helped them to improve the way they worked. Now EE is expanding, so more businesses and their employees can benefit. Why your organisation should become an EE partner EE is an outstanding way for organisations to contribute to their local communities and wider society. It offers the chance to protect and enhance people s wellbeing, and provide a welcome boost to small businesses, which are key to increasing employment and driving the UK s economic recovery. Taking part in EE is also rewarding and motivating for your people. Its benefits last long after the programme is finished, helping small business to work safely for years to come. Want to know more? The following pages describe how EE works, explain the benefits that the pilot project achieved and gives feedback from some of our existing partners. 1

2 What is Estates Excellence? A partnership approach to improving health and safety EE is a unique way to help small and medium-sized businesses control their health and safety risks, and protect their employees from injuries and ill-health. It does this by creating a partnership between: health and safety experts from leading companies and other organisations, such as primary care trusts, county councils and trade associations, and regulators, including the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), local authorities and fire rescue services (FRSs). The EE partners provide support, guidance and tools that help businesses to break down the burdens both real and perceived of managing health and safety. They also help businesses to identify the benefits, such as reduced insurance costs and lost working time. EE targets areas of real need EE targets support to hotspots typically industrial estates with higher than average accident and ill-health rates, or areas where Department of Health and local authority data show early morbidity and mortality. Small businesses often have significant gaps in their understanding of their health and safety obligations. EE aims to give them this knowledge, so they can identify their risks and devise controls. A voluntary and collaborative initiative An important aspect of EE is that it is voluntary and collaborative. Rather than being enforcement driven, it invites businesses to take part and work with EE representatives to identify issues and how to address them. EE s initial contacts with businesses are designed to bring the project to the customers and make them aware of what is on offer, encouraging them to engage and ask questions, and letting them know who may be visiting them and why. To reflect EE s unique nature, its branding is independent of any regulator or partner. Engaging the business community The model allows the whole business community to make use of the products on offer, including leadership seminars, training and occupational safety and health advice. These products are designed so they can be consistently delivered by the range of partners, not just the regulators. In fact, the EE model enables engagement from any partner. For example, a large company can deliver training, while any health and safety professional can 2

3 be trained to use the knowledge and benchmarking tool. By pooling skills, resource and facilities EE has been able to offer free advice and training to the community. How EE is delivered The EE programme has five parts: initial invitation contacts leadership seminars benchmarking visits training occupational health Initial invitation visits All the businesses in the target area are contacted by one of the partners. These contacts usually face to face, take 15 minutes and include a brief outline of the project, an invitation to take part and completion of a basic questionnaire. The EE visitor leaves behind a letter together with leaflets on health, safety and fire. The visit and questionnaire enable better targeting of future advice and literature. Leadership seminars These are led by EE partners and delivered as one event for the whole community or as separate large and small business events. The half-day seminars are designed to encourage engagement, increase competence and commitment, and promote leadership. Every business in the target area is invited, along with local stakeholders. Benchmarking visits All businesses that accept the initial invitation to be benchmarked are visited by trained EE officers. These visits establish the business s current knowledge and practices and identify the support they would most benefit from. A benchmarking visit typically consists of: an introduction to EE a quick walk around the premises, to identify the key risks completion of the assessment tool education and promotion, making participants aware of the web site and community site, training events and the EE information pack conclusion and any final questions. 3

4 Training The training workshops have been created specifically for EE. They aim to refresh the audience s knowledge, help them identify hazards and implement sensible approaches to risk management. The 45 minute sessions are targeted at small business owners, employee representatives and managers, and are delivered by health and safety professionals from the EE partners. Attendees leave with commitment cards, listing the actions they need to take, along with guidance material. A core of eighteen training courses covers: Get it Right giving a basic understanding of a wide range of topics, such as risk assessment or working at height Get Efficient looking at the financial impact on a business and wider topics such as energy efficiency and sickness absence Get Healthier for Work for everyone s benefit The workshops are delivered within a five-mile radius of the businesses, often on the estates themselves, within two weeks of the visits. All workshops are offered free of charge. Occupational health Most small businesses do not recognise or fully understand their occupational health obligations. EE provides free occupational health tasters. These expose a business to relevant testing and advice but do not replace employers responsibilities to provide full testing. Where a benchmarking visit identifies a health-related issue, an occupational health professional will offer to visit to help identify the employees at greatest risk, explain the testing process and provide educational material. Tests are offered to up to five employees per company, covering audiometry, lung function, dermatitis and hand-arm vibration. A mobile health unit and technician then carries out the tests. Those identified as at risk are referred to an occupational health physician for further advice. 4

5 Estates Excellence delivers real benefits An EE pilot in the South East of England showed real demand among businesses and positive outcomes from their involvement in the programme. High levels of uptake from targeted businesses Targeted businesses recognised EE s potential benefits to them and participation rates were high. The pilot was able to interact with a wide range of businesses on all the targeted estates. The chart below shows overall statistics for the pilot. 2,000 EE Pilot Overall Statistics 1,800 1,600 1,400 1,200 1, Initial invitation contacts Benchmarking visits Businesses sending staff to training Training attendances OH - people tested OH - tests 1,195 small businesses were contacted and invited to participate in EE. Of these, nearly twothirds took up the offer of full benchmarking visits, and 365 attended the training workshops or drop-in sessions. The number of people attending training far exceeded expectations: 1,775, excluding the leadership workshops. The leadership events had several objectives including promoting EE in the community, fostering a community spirit and providing guidance on the importance of leadership in business. These events were mostly partner driven. The mobile health unit had limited capacity but 299 people still benefited from occupational health tests, with an average of 2.2 tests per person. Approximately one in eight of those tested was referred to an occupational health physician as high risk, most often for respiratory problems. 5

6 Positive feedback from participants After the pilot, the EE team asked participants for feedback. The vast majority said EE was a positive experience. They liked the knowledge and benchmarking visits and even businesses that were good at managing their risks felt it offered them an opportunity to check that they were going in the right direction. Businesses appreciated the training, which they said was appropriate and informative. The vast majority rated the training as good or very good. The most popular training was risk assessment and fire risk assessment, followed by practical manual handing training. Typical comments were: Practical, short, sharp Extremely useful for SMEs and new starters Helpful that the training was held locally The training also attempted to get firms to think of their own business needs. They were asked to identify what they would do following the training courses. The majority referred to creating or reviewing assessments, increasing communication and training and dipping into the regulators web pages. Having the chance to interact informally with regulators gave businesses a more positive view of their work. As one participant said: I would not be reluctant to ring the HSE for advice they are not so scary now. They have opened themselves up. Businesses also cited improved employee commitment as a key benefit, and said they would happily take part in EE again. Improved knowledge and working practices The pilot delivered real increases in businesses health and safety knowledge. The chart below shows the percentage of surveyed participants who reported greater knowledge of various elements of health and safety. Around five out of every six participants made at least some changes as a result of EE. Nearly half made comprehensive changes to their approach, while more than one third either made changes in one or two areas or numerous small changes. 6

7 % Reporting improvements in knowledge of h & s areas Workplace transport Working at height Slips and trips 59 Noise 25 Musculoskeletal disorders 47 Machinery/guarding 33 COSHH 46 Attendance management 23 Training and supervision Fire safety Risk assessment % Quotes from participants in EE We have always been mindful of the health and well being of all of our employees but Estates Excellence has certainly helped us raise the bar! The quality of advice and support was really good, and the flexibility shown in positioning the mobile unit on our premises was also extremely helpful. (Manager participating company) I was concerned when I first heard of the project that this might be a burden on business and I would have put money on it not getting the engagement it did, as getting people to turn out is very difficult but having seen it for myself and spoken to companies I think it a fantastic project and would be keen to support wider rollout. ( Estate Landlord) Estates Excellence has certainly provided a catalyst for the company to take a careful look at the arrangements in place for protecting our employees from noise. We are delighted that a significant number of our employees took advantage of the surveillance and that the levels of awareness and understanding - both at management level and individual employees - of the issues of working in noisy environments have been improved. The measures we have taken to complement and strengthen our existing procedures will underpin our determination to keep a tight eye on this issue. (Manager participating company) The pragmatic way we chose the topics relevant to our business followed by the free training was a good approach. (Manager participating company) The professional approach of the Estates Excellence staff and the focus on providing support via training, made the experience positive and productive for us.. (Manager participating company) 7

8 Views from some of our Estates Excellence partner organisations From whatever angle we view the challenges of providing a safe and healthy working environment, clear and responsible leadership has to be the key and for that reason (and many others) it is very easy for the Institute of Directors to offer its full and active support to this and similar initiatives Rodger Broad, Institute of Directors This pilot has been a useful experience for many small firms and we were pleased to take part. Mary Boughton, FRSA, MBE, Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) health and safety policy committee: We ve been involved in joint initiatives with local authorities and councils before but this was the first time we have worked with such a wide range of partners. Estates Excellence has been an excellent example of how effective this type of risk reduction activity can be, which has significantly influenced the way the KFRS delivers its own Business fire safety activities.we all wish businesses to be safer, so any form of partnership working with other like minded organisations has to be a good thing and its also a great opportunity for everyone involved to benefit from the experience of others. I look forward to building on the relationships we've forged through this initiative - after all; our shared aim is to reduce deaths and injuries in the workplace, so we need to make the most of any opportunity to work together". Mark Richards, Senior Protection Fire Officer, Kent Fire and Rescue Service "The importance for SERTUC of the Estate Excellence Project can be summed up very easily. It was a very positive and innovative way to bring employers, both private and public, employer organisation, along with trade unions, utilities, agencies like HSE, local authorities, fire and rescue working together, in a common purpose - to improve the prosperity of SE industrial estates by improving the health and safety performance." John Ball, Spokesperson for South East Region Trades Union Congress By bringing together a range of regulators, large commercial organisations and NGO s, to provide training and support for a range of companies in a targeted geographical area, I believe the HSE has acted in an innovative way that is a model for other regulators to emulate" John Corden, Head of Health, Safety & Resilience, Southern Water 8

9 For Serco, corporate responsibility is about living our values and governing principles that define how we operate as an organisation and behave as individuals. It 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 reflected our approach and commitment to corporate responsibility and provided an opportunity for us to share our experience and capability for the benefit of smaller organisations to help them grow. Andy Lewis, Director Health, Safety & Environment, Serco QBE believe that Estates Excellence has been a great success by targeting resources effectively to provide free risk based information, training and advice to those who need, and will benefit from it, most i.e. small to medium sized businesses. The subject areas covered by EE are key focus areas for Employers Liability and Property Insurers. Those engaged organisations who have embraced positive changes will undoubtedly benefit from a safer and healthier working environment as well as improving their exposures, and by doing so, present a more favourable proposition to insurers. We have been proud to play our part and hope to continue to do so as the project rolls out nationally. Mark Black, Client Risk Manager/Liability, QBE Insurance Want to be involved or learn more? Contact: Peter Lunn, HSE on or 9

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