As a market leader in structural steel, we recognise that operating in a 'Smarter, Safer, more Sustainable' manner is crucial to both the current and future success of the Group.


Smarter, Safer, more Sustainable

Our sustainable business strategy is driven by our values and our strategic objectives to ensure that we operate responsibly and ethically. Our 'Smarter, Safer, more Sustainable' business improvement programme underpins the Group's business model and strategy, and enables us to operate as a responsible, sustainable business for the benefit of all our stakeholders. We believe that investing in our improvement projects, training and technology to empower our people to work in a 'Smarter, Safer, more Sustainable' way will be fundamental to achieving our long-term strategic objectives.

We continue to develop smarter ways of working that enable us to be more effective and focus on the things that matter and in 2020, our sustainability policy was published by the Group's sustainability committee in line with our commitments to health and safety, environment, the economy and our people. Meeting quarterly, the committee discusses new initiatives and innovations that can minimise the impact of our activities on the environment. The committee's principal role is to review the Group's sustainability strategy, ensuring it is aligned with the Group's vision, mission, strategy and values.

At the heart of our sustainable business strategy is our intention to focus on the following priorities, namely our safety, health and environmental strategic goals, the development and engagement of our people and our impact on our community.

Our safety, health and environment strategy

A principal aim of the board is to continue to ensure that, through example and encouragement, we behave ethically and responsibly, particularly in the fields of health, safety and environmental management. Operating within the construction industry means many of our activities could be potentially dangerous to our employees and wider stakeholders. 'Safety first' remains a core value for the Group being vital to our continued success and a key differentiator in the market, both to our clients and to our employees. This has been particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic where we have continued to run our operations safely and in line with the guidelines issued by the Construction Leadership Council, Public Health England and by the UK and local governments.

During the year, our continued focus on the Group's values ensures all aspects of safety, health and environment remain a fundamental and integral aspect of the business. Our executive committee continues to review safety performance monthly. Investigations are completed on all RIDDORs (a reportable accident that results in an employee's absence from work for more than seven consecutive days) and high potential near miss incidents ('HiPo'), with input from the Group SHE director, chief operating officer and the relevant business unit managing director. Findings from investigations and 'lessons learned' are shared Group-wide to promote a collaborative approach to preventing accidents and incidents.

We have, once again, achieved our Group safety targets for the year. The Group's accident frequency rate ('AFR'), including our Indian joint venture, was 0.15, which continues to outperform the industry average. This represents a slight increase from the prior year AFR of 0.11, but this was not wholly unexpected given both the significant improvement in the AFR in 2019 (the 2018 AFR was 0.22) and the increased Group activity levels in 2020. During the last year, we have shifted our focus to the Group's injury frequency rate ('IFR'), rather than only on the AFR, which is a fairly narrow metric based on the level of RIDDORs only. Instead, IFR focusses on a variety of incidents, ranging from minor to potentially more serious, which allows us to learn lessons from each individual case and to identify process improvements and prevention measures. The Group's IFR has reduced over the course of the year, with targeted reductions in almost all areas of the business.

Our people strategy

Our people are at the heart of our business and are vital to the success of our vision and the achievement of our strategic goals. We are committed to creating a great place to work, to attract, recruit, retain and develop an inclusive, talented workforce who live and breathe our values at every level of our business.

The development, engagement and satisfaction of our people is a key focus of the Group and is fundamental to our success. We seek to develop an inclusive, diverse workforce, treat all employees fairly, uphold their rights and reward them competitively.

In the year, we have continued to invest in our employees' development and training, and we have increased our focus on stakeholder engagement including with our employees. We are committed to refreshing our people strategy next year in tandem with launching our Group-wide renewed sustainability strategy.