Healthy employees are critical to a well-functioning company, and in 2020 our primary focus was on ensuring the health and safety of our employees during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a bid to protect people against Covid-19. At PostNL, we focused on providing a safe and healthy environment for our people across all our locations. We established a number of crisis teams within the HR department, focused on our people's safety and ensuring business continuity, and we introduced contingency plans for worst-case scenarios.
As the pandemic took hold, we introduced social distancing guidelines and health regulations to provide the most complete protection possible for our people, customers and consumers. In our sorting and delivery centres, and across our logistics' operations, we implemented measures to support social distancing and ensure a safe working environment, including the mandatory use of face masks, limiting the number of workers in a facility, creating flow patterns to limit the contact employees had with one another, fitting protective plexiglass walls, adjusting the layout of preparation centres, and placing floor stickers, signage and other forms of communication to help raise awareness. We also introduced contactless delivery to ensure deliverers maintained the required 1.5 metre distance from customers, and deliverers were also required to wear face masks. From mid-March onwards, office-based workers began working from home. While this was an intense process that involved its own challenges, we are proud of how everyone responded.
Board members provide a weekly video or blog to keep everyone informed of company developments and help maintain a sense of connection. And each quarter the management board have held employee communication meetings, with an average online attendance of 1,800 people.
While it was clear there were disadvantages to home working, the vast majority of people also embraced the benefits. Many said they welcomed the additional flexibility, reduced commuting time, and improved work-life balance. What they miss most is the social contact an office environment provides, including the informal chats. We made a helpline available for people experiencing mental difficulties in relation to the pandemic including working from home. The limited number of colleagues that reached out indicates to us that working from home is manageable for PostNL employees.
For 2020, absenteeism was 5.9% (2019: 5.4%). We believe the home working introduced in March and our continuing focus on employee health and well-being helped maintain a steady absenteeism rate.
Our recordable accident ratio decreased to 4.0 in 2020 (2019: 4.2), as we focused on initiatives that raise awareness of health and safety across the organisation. While the decline is positive, we continue to focus on improving it even further.
Despite our ongoing focus on safety, it is with regret that we have to report one occupational fatal accident in 2020 (2019: three). The one fatality, which included civilians and people who work for or with us, occurred in a traffic accident. This event is tragic and we remain determined to prevent fatalities.
In our Parcels’ sorting centre in Leeuwarden, staff began implementing Covid-19 measures early in the outbreak, which helped a lot, says process manager Babs Hertog. “We placed disinfectant near the revolving doors that driver use immediately after I noticed that people were hoarding it. Soon after, we also gave drivers disinfectant for use in their vehicles. We also cleaned the hand scanners more frequently, while the chairs and tables in the cafeteria were set further apart. Posters and signage were put up throughout the building, reminding people to social distance and wear a face mask. And we placed screens at the planning desk. Drivers fetch their car papers and keys and fuel pass here every day so that poses a risk for infection. The desk is now completely shielded, just like the places where employees sort parcels. The screens here can even be removed. This is where, in the evenings, pallets with wine are put on a pallet forklift and a screen would stand in the way. “