Health and safety

Safety is our top priority and this starts from the highest levels of our business. We have rigorous policies and procedures in place to address safety risks and continually improve our performance, and we embed a safety culture through training, communication and visible leadership. We want to everyone to go home from work each day safe and well. 


How did we perform in 2022?

Our Annual Injury Incidence Rate (AIIR) of 166 is a 22% reduction on the previous year. This is well below the average for the housebuilding sector and wider construction industry. Around 31% of accidents are slips, trips and falls. Our AIIR for major injuries per 100,000 employees and contractors was 68 (2021: 73). There were no fatalities. The lost-time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) for employees (per one million hours worked) was 1 (2021: 1). For contractors, the LTIFR was 0.9 (2021: 1.35). We monitor employee engagement on safety issues through our performance metrics and employee surveys.  

Regulatory HSE compliance

There were no safety prosecutions or fines. We received six notices of contraventions from the HSE with a fee for intervention applied.

Roles and responsibilities

Health and safety performance is the first item reviewed at every meeting of our business unit management teams, our Group Management Team and our Board of Directors. Our Head of Health, Safety and Environment reports directly to our Chief Executive.

Directors from our regional businesses review HSE during site visits, including making unannounced spot checks. Production Managers review performance with Site Managers on a monthly basis.

Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Management System

We have a rigorous HSE management system that is based on OHSAS 18001. Key aspects include:

Partnering with contractors on safety

Many workers on our sites are employed by our contractors, so we work closely with them on safety. Our approach includes:

Risk assessment, vetting procedures and third party accreditation: We implement vetting and risk assessment procedures to confirm that all contractors have the right knowledge, skills, resources and experience to manage health and safety to our standards. Contractors must obtain third party H&S accreditation to demonstrate they have an adequate HSE management system, training process and risk assessment. External accreditation must be renewed each year. We employ an external organisation SMAS (Safety Management Advisory Services), to support contractors and are at 94.6% compliance in 2022 (2021: 94.9%). We require contractors to check that safety critical workers are medically fit to operate mobile plant.

Our ‘Operative’s Journey’ process: Ensures a consistent approach to safety including our HSE site induction, regular poster campaigns and site safe briefings.

HSE site support teams: Help to monitor and improve site safety. Team members are nominated by the Site Manager and given a blue hat in recognition of their role and to make them visible on site. Operatives can talk to them about HSE issues, concerns or suggestions for improvement.

Some aspects of the build process present particular safety risks and we work with contractors to identify and address these. For example, groundworks - the process of preparing a site for construction– presents a number of significant safety risks relating to excavation and use of heavy plant. We require groundwork supervisors to have completed externally accredited Site Supervisors’ Safety Training and our own bespoke one-day training course before working on our sites. Over 400 groundwork supervisors completed our course in 2022.

Working with suppliers to reduce safety risks

Telehandler safety continues to be a priority and we work with suppliers through our National Telehandler Forum. We are rolling out a ‘telemetry data’ system to monitor operative’s behaviour when driving telehanders on our sites. This will enable us to see whether drivers are applying the correct safety procedures such as wearing a seat belt, driving within our site speed limits, and travelling with the boom elevated, and follow up on any issues identified. 


Responding to near misses

As well as monitoring accident data we also pay close attention to near misses and unsafe practices we identify on our sites, and have robust procedures for responding to these.

If a serious near miss or unsafe practice (Category A) is identified on one of our sites, work must stop immediately and cannot recommence until the Managing Director of the regional business has visited the site and confirmed that the issue has been addressed. All Category A incidents are reported to the CEO and GMT within 24 hours. They are also reported to the Board of Directors.

By responding to such incidents and sharing the lessons learned, we can reduce the likelihood of accidents occurring.

Employee and contractor training 

We require our contractors to train their employees on H&S and also conduct our own training for site operatives such as our HSE site induction. Training includes:

  • HSE induction training for all employees and site operatives. 
  • A full day’s health and safety refresher training every year for production and site management teams as well as workshops and briefings.
  • All new Directors including functional and regional Managing Directors complete senior management HSE training.
  • Additional training for higher risk roles and activities such as groundworks. 
  • Training for customer service teams to assess for health and safety risks when responding to customer call-outs. 
  • Continuing professional development and training for our regional HSE advisers.

Digital safety passports enable Site Managers to confirm that apprentices, directly employed trade operatives and telehandlers have completed the relevant safety training before starting work on a new site.

Supporting industry safety initiatives 

We are a member of the HBF Health and Safety Committee, contribute to the HBF’s Action Plan for Health and Safety, and are members of the British Safety Council. 

In 2022, we chaired the HBF Steering Group on Working Near Live Buried Services looking at how to reduce safety risks and prevent service strikes. During 2023 we will further develop this work, establishing a competency framework for dig teams including mandatory training. From 2023 we will require groundworks contractors to become members of The Utility Strike Avoidance Group and sign up to its standards. 

We have signed up to the Construction Logistics and Community Safety initiative (CLOCS) and committed to developing our traffic management systems. Our site safety plans now cover safety risks on roads up to one mile from the site entrance and we have run traffic management awareness campaigns.

Safety in Spain 

In Spain, we have a comprehensive health and safety management system and internal audit process. Each site is visited at least quarterly by the relevant directors and regular site HSE inspections are carried out by our independent site HSE adviser. We provide health and safety induction training for all new contractors and subcontractors on our sites. 


Keeping safety front of mind

We want everyone to keep safety top of mind and to recognise good practice across our business. By calling out good safety behaviour and colleagues and operatives who consistently do the right thing, we can strengthen workplace safety culture, and increase the likelihood that safe behaviour will continue. In 2002, we rolled out a digital ‘safety observation’ system which our senior leaders and business unit management teams are using when visiting our sites to record positive safety performance as well as any concerns or observations. Users can input easily make observations via a mobile phone and in the first few months we have seen excellent engagement and participation. Over time we will be able to use the data collected to support engagement and performance measurement.