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Health and safety

The health and safety of our employees is important to us, and we are vigilant about controlling health, safety and environmental risks in the workplace. We need the support of our employees to achieve a risk free work environment and this year we launched our first ever Group-wide health and safety campaign to teach them how to identify and assess risks. Using a series of brief and informative videos, our employees learned how to conduct risk assessments and how to put corrective measures in place. Our responsibilities do not just end with the workplace. With many of our employees opting for flexible working practices, we launched a Working from Home Guide to Risk Assessments to ensure that their home based working environments are safe.

A potentially significant risk to our employees' health and safety this year was the outbreak of swine flu, which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation in June. Our Group Pandemic Committee was successfully mobilised to manage our response to this crisis. Country Pandemic Coordinators received regular guidance and updates and this was enhanced by the introduction of a dedicated Intranet page offering advice and guidance to all employees. We introduced enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures in all countries and carried out an audit of personal protective equipment to check our preparedness. We are in good shape to respond and have well established quarantine procedures and an infection control strategy to contain the spread the spread of the virus if the situation worsens.

Our fight against HIV and AIDS, which began in 1999, continues. Education is central to our battle. We have a workplace curriculum and offer free access to testing, monitoring and anti-retroviral therapy for all staff and their dependents in countries where these are not available. We are mindful of the important role that we play in the countries in which we operate, and, as a result, have since expanded the programme to the community. We have committed to educate one million people, including all of our staff.

This ambitious target requires the commitment of our employees, and also partner organisations. We now have 1,150 HIV Champions, up from 850 in 2008. These are employees that volunteer to educate at least 150 people on the facts about HIV and AIDS, and the precautions they need to take to protect themselves. We hold train the trainer courses that give our HIV Champions the necessary skills to pass on the five key messages about HIV and AIDS.

The training that took place in Nigeria in June, which also included representatives from Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana and Sierra Leone, resulted in greater staff engagement on Living with HIV. Since then, the original six HIV Champions in Nigeria has risen to 60 across five cities and we have also signed up four partner organisations: - Deli Foods, Opportunities Industrialization Centers International (OICI), Orlean Invest and the Youth Empowerment Foundation - with whom they will work to educate 37,500 people. On World AIDS Day on 1 December, the team completed education programmes for 12,200 students. Our team in Ghana subsequently ran a train the trainer programme for 60 HIV Champions, before adding University Cape Coast to a local partnership base that includes Ashesi University College, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, Lincoln Community School, TV 3 Network and University of Education, Winneba. In just half a day, five HIV Champions educated 2,200 students at University Cape Coast.

Our Health and Safety Committees across the world continue as the forum for discussing health and safety of our employees. This year we improved our risk management with the introduction of Key Performance Indicators that enable us to track our performance and risks more effectively. The committees monitor the outcomes of these indicators to enable us to continuously improve our process and mitigate risk.

Report tools

Annual Report and Accounts 2009