Safety link to pay

Following research by the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (a voluntary association of 46 public sector pension funds), FTSE 100 companies are being asked to link directors’ pay and bonuses more closely to non-financial measures such as the safety of employees.

The 2006 Companies Act requires companies to identify key performance indicators (KPI) that they must then use to measure non-financial issues.

The research carried out by the forum, however, showed that only seven FTSE 100 companies had built them into a long term incentive plan (which motivate executive directors to achieve high performance), although two thirds disclosed at least some type of non-financial KPI.

Last year the Forum called on its members to oppose BP and Shell’s pay and bonus reports due to the lack of safety targets. This year it is concentrating on its campaign to encourage companies to demonstrate their commitment to non-financial KPIs by formally embedding them in executive long-term incentive schemes.

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Back to back

Training in correct working techniques and lifting equipment is widely used to manage the increased risk of back pain related to repeated heavy lifting and handling.

But following a review of a series of studies looking at workers who lift or move patients and heavy loads, a group of scientists has come to a contentious conclusion.

They found that it made little or no difference to the incidence of back injury whether employers provided advice or training about how to lift correctly.

These findings, reported in the British Medical Journal, are based on eleven studies. Eight looked at health workers who manually handled patients and three at baggage handlers and postal workers. Everyone who participated in the studies therefore had the potential to suffer from back pain and to benefit from training and advice in how to minimise it.

The researchers, however, found no difference in back pain in any of the studies where one group received training and the other did not.

They concluded that there was “no evidence to support use of advice or training in working techniques with or without lifting equipment for preventing back pain or consequent disability. The findings challenge the current widespread practice of advising workers on correct lifting technique”.

The researchers say the only solution is for employers to have a “no lifting” policy.

The TUC has welcomed the study saying that it shows the importance of workers not lifting heavy weights on their own. It added that employers should not rely on employees lifting heavy weights “correctly” to prevent back injury, but should instead reduce the weight of objects that need to be lifted or moved. It has also suggested that the Health and Safety Executive review its advice on manual handling as a matter of urgency.

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