Health and Safety
Top of our priorities is the health and safety of our employees. Our business requires our staff to move heavy and potentially dangerous equipment on a daily basis. They also regularly come into contact with hazardous materials. How we keep our employees safe and limit any impact from those hazardous materials are of prime concern and are intrinsically linked to the long-term sustainability of our business.
Because of this, rigorous safety procedures are essential if we are to minimise potential harm to both our staff and our reputation. A strong reputation for excellent health and safety is a significant competitive advantage for us. In addition, changing legislation in this area and more stringent requirements on everyone involved in the industry, have contributed to the growth in our business in recent years. This is because as health and safety regulations become more onerous across the industry, abiding by them is increasingly more difficult and expensive for both our customers and our smaller rental competitors.
As a result, it often makes better economic sense for customers to outsource more of that health and safety commitment to a specialist equipment rental provider such as Ashtead. Smaller rental companies may also struggle to compete as a result of these increased customer demands. This is one of the factors contributing to the structural shift in the US market. It is for these reasons that health and safety is at the heart of everything we do.
We have extensive programmes in place to monitor, develop and maintain safe working practices across the Group and remind our employees of the need to be safe at all times.
We also offer assistance to our customers in fulfilling their own responsibilities to ensure the safety of their employees. For more detail on this see our section on customers.
How we track health and safety
On a day-to-day basis, health and safety is tracked across the business by the number of reported incidents that occur during the course of our work. We track and analyse any incidents which occur to enable us to identify recurrent issues and implement preventative improvements across our business. The number of reportable accidents is one of our group-wide KPIs. For the purposes of our internal tracking, the term incident does not necessarily mean that an employee was hurt or injured. Rather it represents an event that we want to track and report for monitoring and learning purposes under our health and safety management policies. There are significant differences in how reportable accidents are defined in the US and UK due to differing legislation in the two countries. For more information on our performance in this area see our annual report.
Health and safety training
Because of the reasons outlined above, our most comprehensive group-wide training programmes relate to health and safety. In our view, regular employee education and awareness training is the most effective way of improving and sustaining safety standards across the business. We have a continual process of educating our employees and customers about new and improved methods of ensuring employees operate in a safe environment.
Our US transportation fleet continues to operate as one of the safest fleets in the equipment rental industry. We continued our commercial vehicle training programme across the US, with more than 2,700 employees trained in vehicle safety and compliance. Over the last three years, our US commercial vehicle training programmes have been instrumental in the education of more than 12,000 employees nationwide. We lead the industry in continuously supporting the training and education of employees in commercial vehicle compliance and safety.
In the UK, our driver training courses are aimed at delivery drivers and cover areas such as loading and unloading of vehicles, working at height, site safety and manual handling. All general drivers at A-Plant, including delivery drivers and fitters, are required to undertake the A-Plant Driver Induction Course, which is delivered in the form of workshops and covers transport procedures, legislation, hazard perception and practical driver assessments.
Working with our customers and suppliers
We invest significant resources in ensuring our customers use our equipment effectively, efficiently and safely. We regularly conduct special safety focused events and accredited training courses for our customers. We have an on-going programme of specialised customer health and safety briefings on using our equipment range, as well as regular general health and safety awareness-raising initiatives. This helps build and maintain relationships as well as providing that additional level of service that infuses everything we do. The health and safety of our customers is as important as that of our employees. We find that this focus plays an important part in keeping our customers over the long term.