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At Coats we value our workforce highly and employ over 19,000 people in around 50 countries worldwide. The health and safety (H&S) of our employees is our number one priority in everything we do.

Every year we monitor H&S within our Employee Engagement Survey and our results for 2017 have a “favourable” response of 90%, an increase of 9% since we started the survey in 2011 and very close to the top 10% threshold for the global IBM/Kenexa survey of 91%.

Health and Safety at Coats

We are committed to maintaining high standards of employee safety and engaging with our workforce on issues that matter to them. We have a comprehensive global H&S management system in place which is used in all our sites.  Our global H&S manager and our five regional H&S managers have regular calls and/or face to face meetings to discuss any arising issues and progress made.  The regional H&S managers interact on a regular basis with their respective regional operation managers as well.

During 2017, we reviewed our policy and improved our H&S reporting and investigation procedures. As a result, we have prepared a set of ‘lagging’ and ‘leading’ H&S indicators as well as targets against each of these indicators.  The indicators include: work related incident rates, commuting incidents, close out of corrective actions, near-miss reporting, hazard reporting, improvement actions and training hours.  The data against each indicator is collected and published on a monthly basis, which helps us track performance and action any arising concerns.  Furthermore, we are also monitoring site performance through self-assessment questionnaires, reviews and audits.

Strong engagement with our employees

A global safety campaign

To reinforce our commitment to H&S, we ran a global safety campaign, ‘Be the One’, to stress the importance that we place on keeping our people safe and to encourage our teams to improve their own performance. In July 2017, we launched our new See and Fix Hazard Report (SFHR) asking employees to ‘Be the One’ to prevent incidents, report all incidents immediately and intervene when they see an at-risk act or unsafe condition.

The SFHR process:

·         Employee fills in a SFHR card if they see a near-miss, at risk act or unsafe condition and places the card where the condition was found
·         Shift supervisor or H&S team coordinates corrective actions
·         Supervisor or H&S team logs the cards, tracks actions to completion
·         Supervisor or H&S team feed back to the employee.


This campaign was rolled out globally. Each country prepared kick-off meetings and invited their employees to take a photograph of themselves or their team holding up one finger to show their commitment to the new SFHR process and ‘Being the one’ to prevent, report and intervene.

The campaign was very successful with the number of hazards reported increasing by 47.7% compared to previous years.

Global training programmes

In 2017, we continued to roll out our safety leadership programme and launched a new programme (IOSH – Institution of Occupational Safety and Health) for supervisors and line managers.  The latter is a 3-day training course. The main objectives are to give managers and supervisors an understanding of everyone’s H&S responsibility in the workplace and to enable managers and supervisors to recognise how they can influence, control and monitor risk to improve H&S issues in the workplace. Our aim is to have trained all supervisors and line managers by the end of March 2018.

In support of our continual learning imperative, 2017 also saw the launch of Minerva, our new online digital platform which provides over 700 resources, including online learning tools, videos and tip sheets. Minerva is available to everyone who uses Perform (our internal system) enabling them to access content on many aspects of the business and professional excellence including H&S.

Local rewards and initiatives

Beyond our global campaign and training programme, we also have various recognition programmes and initiatives at site level. For example, after initial development in India, vacuum knife tools have been installed at all spinning locations to reduce the risk of hand injuries. The vacuum knife tool helps employees to cut tangled thread without their hands getting too close to the spinning system. The design and operational specifications were available at all spinning sites by mid-August 2017.

In our EMEA region, we’ve had a number of local initiatives to raise awareness around H&S issues, targeting both our employees and our local communities. Coats Estonia has been working with schools in the Viimsi municipality to create reflectors that are hung on trees around the schools to provide a source of light for passers-by, ensuring their safety in the dark. Coats Turkey has initiated a couple of campaigns, including ‘Safety Angel’ (see picture below) which encourages people to use handrails to avoid slips and falls. Coats Poland ran a number of campaigns and training to promote health and wellbeing to their employees. They have sent over 20 safety letters to their employees, ran first aid training, organised meetings with nurses and other health professionals, and delivered fire training and various other safety meetings. The team at Coats Poland also organised and delivered a program called “Safe back from school” to improve the safety of local primary school children on their way back home from school.

Similarly, in the rest of the world, we have multiple initiatives to show our commitment to provide a safe and healthy environment for our employees and the local community.

Coats Mexico launched a health programme for employees to increase their physical and psychological well being and employee engagement. The programme includes activities such as fitness and massage sessions, bowling, nutrition and health matters. Coats Colombia launched a Mindfulness programme, in June 2017, to help employees manage stress and improve their health, productivity and performance.

A number of initiatives have taken place in Sri Lanka to increase safety awareness, including training sessions on how to handle chemicals for those who work with dyes and chemicals. The team in Bangladesh marked World Health Day, themed ‘Depression, let’s talk!’, with a one-hour interactive session. The event included a discussion with an external professor, who gave tips about stress management, coping with depression and the impact of social media on mental health.

Coats teams in the United States (US), Tunisia and Indonesia have reached key H&S milestones. The team in Toccoa (US) achieved seven years without any recordable incidents, Indonesia celebrated seven million accident free working hours since 2013 and Tunisia achieved 439 days without recordable incidents in October 2017.

 What next for 2018?

For 2018, we are releasing our second instalment of the H&S Climate Survey. The first one took place in 2015/16. The aim of the Survey is to review the organisation’s existing level of safety culture, identify perception gaps, determine positive and negative aspects of our current arrangements and help identify opportunities for improving how we work.

We will also launch a new software tool in 2018 to track H&S deployment plans progress at site level.

Finally, a global manufacturing workshop will take place in early 2018 to define the key priorities for the year. The aim is to focus on reducing the likelihood of an incident that has high potential for a serious injury or fatality.



We employ over 19,000 people worldwide and we value our workforce highly. Our employees are from 68 different nationalities, representing many different cultures and are based in 50 countries all around the world.

To make sure that we have a consistent approach to Human Resources (HR) across the Company, we continually review our global and local approaches to managing people.  This way we ensure that we have the necessary support structures to enable best practice people management at all our locations. Our global HR team is supported by a network of local HR professionals, who have an understanding of the local culture and norms in the countries in which we operate, and who are helping to achieve our aims.

Creating an inclusive workplace – our global Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Initiatives

Wherever we operate we aim to create an inclusive culture that enables everyone to thrive.  To support this we have established a global Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) network and each year this continues to grow. Our D&I network ran three virtual meetings in 2017, featuring guest speakers who bring their insights into improving Diversity and Inclusion from their own experiences. At least 150 of our employees from around the world regularly join these calls and we have a dedicated intranet microsite which holds diversity resources and materials, accessible by some 6,500 employees.

We also encourage our teams to develop their own local D&I initiatives. In Turkey, for example, our team started a local D&I project in 2015. The local project team put together a three-year strategy and action plan, including benchmarking, internal spot surveys and unconscious bias training. This is supported by regular communications and events such as activities for International Women’s Day. As a result, our team in Turkey received an award from the Turkish government for being one of the top three companies in Turkey with equal opportunities for women and men (picture below).

To mark International Women’s Day, which took place on the 8th of March 2017, we launched a programme with the theme #BeBoldForChange. This programme helps identify and raise awareness of internal role models who are being ‘Bold For Change’ in their own career choices or in taking action to increase gender diversity at Coats. As part of this, we have received 150 role model nominations across Coats.

Various local events also took place across Coats to celebrate International Women’s Day in countries that included UK, Bulgaria, Brazil, US, China, Colombia, Egypt, Honduras, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Poland, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam. In total, more than 4,000 people joined in.

In 2018, the D&I Working Group plans to focus on the following activities:

-          Organising several more D&I network calls

-          Providing more support for local programmes and actions (e.g. toolkits, facts, presentations and ideas)

-          Continuing to build on the #BeBoldForChange programme that was launched in 2017.

-          Ensuring global activities for International Women’s Day 2018

Learning and Development

We invest in our people by providing equal opportunities for learning, through general training and job-skills programmes and, where appropriate, tailored career planning and leadership development.

We have continued to roll out our Management Capability Development (MCD) and Transcend Leaders programmes. The MCD is a tailored learning programme available in four different languages aimed at strengthening leadership skills throughout the business.  The Transcend Leaders programme is targeted at our senior managers, who are not high potentials, but are too senior for MCD.  The main goal of Transcend is to develop the essential Leadership Competences that will drive success for the company in the coming years.

In support of our continual learning imperative, 2017 also saw the launch of Minerva, our new online digital platform which provides over 700 resources, including online learning tools, videos and tip sheets.  Minerva is available to everyone who uses our Perform platform and enables them to access content on many aspects of business and professional excellence including building teams, managing change and communication skills.

Local actions are also being rolled out around the world to ensure an optimum learning and development environment at Coats sites. In India, for example, close to 100 members of the manufacturing management team took part in workshops about team working principles. This was the first milestone in the team’s journey towards more collaborative working. Through simulation games and practical exercises participants learnt how to build trust and manage conflicts, and how collaboration helps not only the team but also the individual to win. Furthermore, an eight-months long supervisor development training programme concluded in Mexico in May 2017. The training covered a range of modules including time management, communications skills and change management to improve the leadership skills of the participants.

Employee Engagement

It is vital that we listen to what our employees think about Coats to help us create an excellent working environment and to retain and motivate our people across the company.

One of the ways we do this is through our annual employee engagement survey that we’ve been conducting for the last eight years. In 2017 we continued to have a high participation rate – a fantastic 99% of our employees took part (two points higher than last year).

Research has shown that organisations with high employee engagement scores also have better customer service, enhanced performance (productivity, sales, profit), and reduced absenteeism.  Our 2017 overall engagement score (which shows how proud people are to work at Coats and how willing they are to work towards achieving common goals) was 83% (same as 2016 and 2015, and two points higher than 2014).  Such a high engagement score maintains our position in the top 10% of all globally surveyed companies.  These results are testimony to the efforts of the many employees and managers who strive to make Coats a great place to work. Every year each unit develops specific action plans to address the issues raised for their local business during the Engagement Survey. 

We are also proud of the favourable responses to the Corporate Responsibility related questions within the survey – which all remain high.  92% of our employees feel that Coats is socially and environmentally responsible, 94% believe that we are committed to employee safety, and 89% feel that our senior leadership is committed to ethical business practices and conduct.

This is very good news at the group level, but we know there are some areas of the business that need attention.  Furthermore, with a major organisational change taking place in Coats during 2018 we recognise that it will be especially challenging to maintain our high levels of employee engagement in the next year or two, but we believe that our long term commitment to this structured process of survey and response will be especially critical during this period.


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