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October 25, 2006

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Saving millions through ‘Maximising Attendance’

A scheme that saved a local authority £4.5 million in its first year while reducing sickness absence among the authority’s social workers picked up this year’s Zurich Municipal Supreme Safety Award.

Glasgow City Council picked up the prestigious award for its ‘Maximising Attendance’ programme during the IOSH Public Services Group’s Annual Dinner, held at the National Safety Symposium at the Holiday Inn in Leicester.

The scheme saw a unique partnership between the health and safety, training and development and personnel teams at the council, working alongside its occupational health service provider, BUPA, and its counselling service, Care First.

As part of Maximising Attendance, staff are offered a number of benefits including a 24-hour employee counselling service, an occupational health service, a back initiative, and stress awareness training. They were also offered a lifestyle screening programme which included a free 20-minute health check to highlight health concerns early, preventing long-term absence later.

Steve Kelly, corporate services director at Glasgow City Council, said: “Maximising Attendance has been so well received that we are now rolling it out across the whole of the authority and other Scottish local authorities and the HSE has shown an interest in it. Tackling absence and its causes were a key priority for the council. But to do that we had to generate a feel good factor among employees. We had to let them know they could trust us and that we genuinely cared about their well being.

“By offering services such as counselling, stress awareness training and lifestyle screening, we were able to demonstrate that Glasgow City Council is a caring employer, while at the same time identifying health concerns, such as diabetes, substance abuse or high blood pressure, before they led to long term absence from work.”

For its efforts, Glasgow City Council picked up an engraved plaque and a certificate along with a cheque for £1500, which has been donated to the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow. This award sees the city council go one better than it did in 2004, when it picked up the Zurich Municipal Safety Trophy for its innovative hand arm vibration (HAV) management system.

The ZM Safety Trophy went to Severn Trent Water for its health and safety communication package containing:

– a video, entitled Self Preservation Society, on a day in the life of four employees and how their behaviour affected the outcomes of the day;

– ‘Nobody does it better’, a display at a company event done in a James Bond theme featuring displays on safe driving, noise, health and well being, Q’s personal protective equipment laboratory and a ‘Gambling with your life’ casino;

– ‘Soundcheck’ — key ring noise meters and guidance for all site managers.

Certificates of Merit were also presented to Caerphilly County Borough Council, for Spring-Box, a web-based package designed to help schoolchildren in design and technology lessons understand health and safety messages, and to Aberdeenshire Council for a risk management user pack for head teachers to help minimise the effects of anti-social and criminal behaviour in schools.

The ZM Awards are presented each year to projects that make an outstanding contribution to improving health and safety in the public sector.

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