55. Significant risks
Context CIS and The Co-operative Bank have reported on health, safety and welfare for a number of years. During 2003, CIS and the bank operated distinct Health and Safety policies and management practices. During the year, several central CFS functions were established - including Information Communications & Technology, Financial & Actuarial, Risk & Compliance, Marketing, Corporate Affairs and Resources. Staff within these central areas continue to be employed according to either CIS or bank terms and conditions. As a consequence, discrete workforce statistics are reported for CIS and the bank. Attitudinal data is reported for CFS as a whole, as the development of CFS central functions renders CIS and bank year-on-year comparisons obsolete.
Policy review Following a review of the Health and Safety policies of CIS and the bank, a new CFS Health and Safety Policy was launched in April 2004.i The Policy sets out CFS' responsibilities with regard to the health, safety and welfare of staff.
Governance In 2003, local partnership forums covering over 75% of bank staff sought to raise awareness of management accountability for health, safety and welfare. Local managers and representatives from UNIFI attended these forums. CIS operated a central Health and Safety Committee, with AMICUS representation, which covered the majority of staff based at main offices. In 2004, a central CFS Health and Safety Committee will be established. This will ensure representation is achieved from all recognised trades unions, and that a common and consistent approach is taken to health, safety and welfare across CFS. Where appropriate, local groups will also be established during 2004, to support the identification and resolution of local issues.
Significant risks The majority of CIS and bank staff are employed in office-based jobs, where one of the more significant risks to their health, safety and welfare could arise from the incorrect use of Display Screen Equipment (DSE). Improper use of DSE is known to lead to postural problems, visual problems and fatigue. The bank revised its procedures on DSE in 2002 and, following a successful pilot in the Customer Service Centres, DSE self-assessment forms and Health and Safety Executive booklets were distributed to bank staff in 2003. Following the staff DSE assessments, reasonable adjustments were made for staff where required, as described here. A similar self-assessment exercise was carried out for CIS staff, with additional information on the risks associated with the use of DSE being available to staff on the intranet. Additional risk assessments are carried out across CFS in response to the identification of issues of concern. For example:
Enforcement visits All businesses are subject to random inspections by Local Enforcing Authorities' Environmental Health Officers. 13 such visits were made to CFS premises during 2003, with comments and recommendations arising from these visits being communicated to CFS. If the authorities deem a premises or practice to be particularly dangerous and requiring immediate attention, improvement or prohibition notices can be issued to CFS or its employees. No such notices were served on CFS during 2003. A visit was made to the Pyramid building in Stockport to review call centre activities. Subsequently, the Health and Safety Manager has worked closely with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to trial a new piece of equipment which measures noise levels within a call centre environment. Assessments were carried out in March 2004 to monitor the noise levels over an eight hour day. The assessments utilised the HSE's 'kemar mannequin', in conjunction with a new piece of technology which, together, act like an 'electronic ear' to record the noise levels call centre staff are exposed to through their headsets. This project will help the HSE develop their research on workplace noise, whilst providing CFS with valuable information.
Training The Health and Safety Manager has provided training to managers, team leaders and UNIFI representatives throughout 2003. In addition, the bank's Facilities Advisers have completed an externally accredited four-day 'Managing Safely' course organised by the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. In 2003, a site property manual was developed for use by all bank branch managers, which outlines their overall responsibilities regarding general site statutory health, safety and welfare information and record-keeping. During 2003, health and safety information was made available to staff via CIS' intranet. Presentations on general health and safety issues were also made to CIS' District and Claims Offices throughout the year.
Accidents/incidents A joint CFS Accident/ Incident book was established in 2003, which complies with the data protection requirements of the HSE. In 2003, the majority of accidents affecting bank staff or customers related to slips, trips and falls, striking fixed objects and handling, lifting or carrying. The majority of incidents affecting CIS staff or customers related to slips, trips and falls, and handling objects.
Staff absence The number of days lost by the bank as a result of absence decreased slightly in 2003; to 4.8%, or on average twelve working days per staff member during the year. Almost half of all absence can be attributed to minor illnesses (e.g., colds, flu and headaches); whilst stress and depression together account for 21% of overall absence. The number of days lost by CIS as a result of absence increased slightly in 2003; to 5.8% absence as a percentage of working time, or 13.3 working days per staff member during the year. According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD), the average overall absence rate in the financial services sector is 2.9%, or 6.7 average days lost per employee per year. This research also indicates that increases in job insecurity are twice as likely to have an upward, rather than a downward, effect on absence. Minor illnesses and stress are ranked as the highest causes of absence amongst office workers.
Well-being The high proportion (46%) of staff who say they feel under inappropriate pressure at times in their jobs continues to be a cause for concern. Over two thirds (68%) of Insurance Sales staff say that they feel under inappropriate pressure in their jobs, which may reflect the challenges to work/life balance associated with sales activity and the less formal arrangements that characterise their working week. 'Project Lime' has reviewed the operation of six priority employment policies across CIS and the bank, including Work/Life Balance, Well-being and Sickness Absence Management. Underpinning the review has been a desire to recognise and consider best practice. The new policies will support business needs and will meet, and in some instances go beyond, legislative requirements. Policy proposals will be further developed during 2004, with the involvement of the Human Resources Strategy Group and the trades unions. A key part of the bank's existing Well-being Policy is the provision of a confidential employee counselling service, provided by CCP Direct.ii As part of the CFS Well-being Policy, this service will be extended to all CIS staff during 2004. A communications campaign across CFS will support the extension of the service, with flyers, posters and leaflets being produced. CCP Direct counsellors will provide the confidential telephone helpline service and will listen, support and advise on any issues that may be impacting on a member of staff's well-being. In addition, for staff based in Manchester city centre (35% of all CFS staff), there is an on-site welfare officer who can provide face-to-face counselling support. In other locations, similar face-to-face support can be provided by CCP Direct. In 2003, CIS increased the number of instructor-led classes - yoga, tai chi, pilates and kickboxing - offered at its subsidised on-site sports and social club and gym at the Miller Street premises. These classes have a clear focus on well-being and are accessible to members of staff, regardless of their level of fitness. In partnership with the mental health charity, Mind,iii CIS arranged a 'Mind Awareness Week' in June 2003. This sought to raise awareness of the work of the charity and improve understanding of mental health issues amongst staff. A range of holistic therapies - designed to promote well-being - were offered to staff based at CIS' Miller Street premises during the week.
Number of accidents and incidents
of which reportableiv to the HSE
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