Executive responsibility:

Company Secretary

Link to foundations:

Committed colleagues

Link to principal risks:

Regulatory and compliance, people and culture

Our targets:

  • Reduce RIDDOR reportable accidents year-on-year.

Our commitment

We want to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our customers, our colleagues and all our visitors. This is a Company-wide focus with stringent policies and procedures implemented at all levels of the business.

About our health and safety

We are responsible for the health and safety of over 9,500 colleagues across our business, and over one million shopping trips that our customers make to our stores each week.

Covid-19 impact and learnings

Since March 2020, we have focused on ensuring the physical safety of our colleagues and customers in all operations, specifically on the design and implementation of effective policies and social distancing measures at all of our sites. These will continue to evolve as the Covid-19 crisis develops, and UK Government and best practice guidance changes. In addition, we are increasingly supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our colleagues, which is detailed in our Colleagues section.

How we manage health and safety

The Board is responsible for the creation and implementation of our health and safety policy and procedures, which include an effective system of ‘upward’ and ‘downward’ communication, appropriate standards for monitoring performance, and ensuring that sufficient resources are available to support this activity. 

Health and safety is a standard agenda item at every Board and monthly Executive Board meeting, supported by a monthly report and a formal annual presentation from the Group’s Health and Safety Manager covering accident/risk analysis, review of previous objectives, and agreement of new objectives for the next year based on risks highlighted through accident trends, industry changes and colleague feedback. For example, one of our priorities this year was to improve the personal security of our store colleagues, by addressing the regrettable societal increase in aggressive and, sometimes, violent public behaviour.

In our stores and at each of our sites, the site or store manager is responsible for implementing his or her respective health and safety policy and procedures, supported by the area manager (for stores) and the Group Health and Safety team. At our Stoke distribution centres we have a dedicated Health and Safety Manager. Risk assessments are in place at all Company sites and updated as required.

We use our in-house health and safety audit to monitor compliance to policy and procedures. It is reviewed annually to ensure that it meets best practice industry standards and addresses specific identified risks. Our stores and distribution centres complete a monthly online self-audit, and area managers audit each of their stores at least once a year.

These protocols are backed up by our in-house operational Health and Safety team who report to the Group Head of Health and Safety. Regular review meetings are held between the Group’s Head of Health and Safety and senior management from operational functions, and we have cross-functional safety committees covering retail, distribution, food safety and colleague personal safety. We also have an ongoing programme of education and training, including DVDs and interactive computer-based learning.

We have a proactive approach to safety, and colleagues are encouraged to report all potential hazards and risks and to feed back suggestions and concerns through Local/National Colleague Voice meetings, and specific safety meetings at our distribution centres. At all sites, listening groups obtain feedback on how our social distancing measures are operating, so that we can improve them for the safety of all.

Our policies

A copy of our full health and safety policy is available here

Update on activities 2019/20

As well as the Covid-19 related activities, which were our priority focus during the latter part of the year, we achieved the following:

Focus on knife sale controls

Previously in the year we updated our policy and controls around the sale of knives and other age-restricted products in our stores, with guidance from our Primary Authority, and completed refresher training. We continued our program of independent ‘mystery shopper’ checks and achieved an industry-leading pass rate.

In-store colleague personal safety

Following the unfortunate rise in assaults on store colleagues, we set up a Colleague Personal Safety working group to promote the personal safety of our store colleagues. We have provided safety training videos, procedures to deal with threats of violence, a pocket guide with helpful tips, personal alarms, and improved exterior lighting at stores.

Performance against targets



Why this measure is important

  • It is a reliable, externally comparable measure of how safe our premises are.

2019/20 performance

  • 31 (year-on-year decrease of two).

* Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).

Store safety processes

We rolled out a simplified and time-saving new compliance process for completing health and safety checks on electronic tablets. We are now able to track compliance remotely across the business using this new process. We delivered half-day health and safety training courses for 412 store managers and store keyholders.

Ongoing safety initiatives in Pausa

We updated our allergen booklets in our Pausa cafes, and repeated hygiene and allergen training. We also automated the reporting of food quality issues, enabling us to track and address trends with our suppliers.

Forklift truck removal program

Our aim remains to remove all forklift trucks from stores by the end of 2021 and, to date, we have achieved this in 144 of our stores. However, as this programme is linked to new store and refit activity, which has been delayed due to Covid-19, it may take a little longer than expected to achieve our goal.


Behind the scenes during the Covid-19 crisis

Prior to re-opening our distribution centre, Home Delivery Network and manufacturing centre, we reassessed all operational risks, taking into account health and safety factors relating to the Covid-19 pandemic. In less than a week we produced new comprehensive briefing guides – down to details such as driver traceability and satnav usage rules for our drivers and fitters on the road. In our distribution and manufacturing centres we rerouted walkways and thoroughfares and introduced signs to demarcate new zones and promote new protocols. Throughout the process we held weekly listening groups with colleagues to alleviate concerns and discuss ideas.

What’s next for 2020/21

  • Continue to support, oversee and monitor the effectiveness of Covid-19 secure safety practices across the business, and adapt as required – including the re-opening of our Pausa cafes and our support centres.
  • Continue to improve safety standards for our customers and colleagues in our Pausa cafes.
  • Work with our Colleague Personal Safety working group to enhance colleague safety in stores.
  • Work with our Home Delivery Network to continue to improve safety and reduce accident rates.
  • Continue to work on the removal of forklift trucks from stores.