Our people and suppliers

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 2023?

Our Annual Injury Incidence Rate (AIIR) of 151 is a 9% reduction on the previous year (2022: 166). This is well below the average for the housebuilding sector and wider construction industry. Around 37% of accidents are slips, trips and falls. Our AIIR for major injuries per 100,000 employees and contractors was 65 (2022: 68). There were no fatalities.

The lost-time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) for employees (per one million hours worked) was 0 (2022: 1). For contractors, the LTIFR was 1.25 (2022: 0.9). We monitor employee engagement on safety issues through our performance metrics and employee surveys.

Regulatory HSE compliance

There were no safety prosecutions or fines in the UK. We received six notices of contraventions from the HSE with a fee for intervention applied. In Spain, we paid a small fine (€2,400) for an H&S administrative error which meant a contractor was allowed to start work before the H&S plan had been approved.


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 97.4% compliance in 2023 (2022: 94.6%). 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. Examples include:

  • Groundworks: the process of preparing a site for construction presents 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 360 groundwork supervisors completed our course in 2023. We work with groundworkers to prevent service strikes and now require use of ARC resistant PPE when working close to services to protect workers if a strike does occur. 
  • Telehandlers:  we work with suppliers through our National Telehandler Forum. We use a ‘telemetry data’ system which can tell us whether telehandler 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. Site managers must confirm each week that they have reviewed the data and discussed any issues with the telehandlers.

Responding to near misses

We 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 future accidents.


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. Regular 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 that show Site Managers whether apprentices, directly employed trade operatives and telehandlers have completed the relevant safety training before starting work on a new site.

We carry out additional training to focus on specific priorities. For example, in 2023 we re-trained our business unit management teams on our Digital Safety Observation system and provided guidance on areas they should look out for during site visits. This will be rolled out to other members of our leadership in 2024. 

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 2023, we chaired the HBF Steering Group on Working Near Live Buried Services looking at how to reduce safety risks and prevent service strikes.

We have signed up to the Construction Logistics and Community Safety initiative (CLOCS). Our site safety plans 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. 

We updated our HSE Manual in Spain in 2024 and have launched an annual meeting for our Spanish production teams to discuss health and safety matters and to share best practices. 


Occupational health

We manage a range of occupational health risks on our sites:

Dust control: We have clear procedures to reduce and control construction- related dust. In 2023, we introduced automated water suppression to improve dust control during groundworks and we will extend this to other relevant trades. We use powered respirators on our sites to protect our employees from the impacts of dust. These are more effective than face masks at reducing dust inhalation particularly for people with stubble and facial hair. We’ve made them available at a discounted rate to groundworkers and other contractors. We supported the Health and Safety Executive’s campaign on dust during the summer of 2023 and our HSE advisors made dust control a focus area during site visits. 

Sun safe: We run a sun safe campaign in the summer months and provide free high factor sun screen for colleagues, contractors and visitors.

Mental health: Our Mental Health First Aiders support managers and employees when mental health issues arise.

Defibrillators: In partnership with the British Heart Foundation (BHF), we’ve installed defibrillators on all our construction sites and regional offices. We’ve trained our first aiders and site HSE Advisers on how to give CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and use a defibrillator to help someone experiencing cardiac arrest. We donate the defibrillator to the community once construction has finished.