By Pete Fisher
In 2014/15 the UK’s HSE reported that 1.2 million working people suffered from a work-related illness and 142 workers were killed at work.
Reducing these statistics are part of a number of reasons that exist for effectively managing health and safety in your business no matter how large or small your operation is, but two key reasons are simply:
- It’s the law. You are legally responsible for your own safety and that of others who could be affected by your work. No one at work deliberately sets out to hurt themselves or anyone else, but if you turn a blind eye to safety procedures, start taking short cuts because of a tight schedule, or to ‘under cut’ another quote, you are making a deliberate decision that could leave you open to prosecution.
- It makes sound business sense. It can actually cost you more by doing nothing than being proactive and taking steps to prevent injury to your employees in the first place.
How much will a workplace accident cost?
The most obvious points that come to mind are:
- Repair or rework
- Hiring a temp while someone is off sick
But what about the indirect costs of accidents or poor health? These can be much higher, both in time and money:
- Management time to investigate what went wrong
- Management time to put matters right
- Effect on contracts if you fail to deliver on time
- Effects on future business
- Demoralised staff or poor staff retention
- Increased insurance premiums
The effect on your company’s reputation – bad news travels very quickly through social media and ‘business to business’ networking communities Yet you can turn all this doom and gloom around – into success. You simply need to be proactive about health and safety right from the start up of your business.
Good health and safety management can actually increase your productivity – whether you have an accident or not!
By steering clear of accidents and health problems in your business, you build up a subtle ‘feel good factor’. You feel more confident, you attract staff more easily, and existing staff are more committed to your business. As a result, productivity improves, deadlines are met and communication throughout the company is more open and honest. It can even lessen the ‘us and them’ syndrome – people start to take ownership of a situation and put things right as they go along rather than thinking “I’ll pick up that box in the gangway later”.
All this helps you grow your business:
- Clients see the company in a good light and want to put work your way.
- They know that goods and services will be delivered.
- They know that you’re not going to come onto their premises and possibly injure their own staff or damage their reputation.
And it’s not that difficult to achieve…
- Review what you are already doing and what health and safety measures you already have in place.
- Consider the hazards and risks your employees are exposed to and how you can reduce those through risk assessment and training.
- Set yourself a plan to achieve those aims.
- Write a policy that encompasses your commitment to your employees, customers and others and detail your safety procedures – make sure employees understand what is expected of them.
- Continuously review your health and safety performance and procedures, make changes as necessary – remember your Policy is not ‘set in stone’!
A simple tip…
When you are risk assessing a straightforward, day-to-day activity follow it through from start to finish (note significant hazards as you go along) and assess the whole activity in one go. This is a less complicated approach than breaking the activity down into sub-sections and good for most lower risk activities.
Pete Fisher, CMIOSH GIFireE EurOSHM
Pete is currently a Director of New Level Safety Ltd; a UK based health and safety services provider, specialising in corporate health and safety management. Pete is a Chartered Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, a Graduate Member of the Institution of Fire Engineers and a European Occupational Safety and Health Manager. He is listed on both the OSHCR Registered Consultant and IFE Fire Risk Assessor Registers.
He has over 23 years’ direct employment as a health and safety adviser, manager and consultant in a wide range of engineering and commercial environments including Shell International, the Open University and Local Government.
His specialty is in the development and implementation of bespoke Health and Safety Management Systems that link with a company’s existing management framework. He is an experienced auditor and has conducted health and safety audits of large and medium sized companies in the UK, Europe, South Africa and the Far East. Pete’s primary aim is to dispel the myth that health and safety management is a complex and bureaucratic overhead and show that effective and proactive health and safety management acts as a positive enabler for the development of any organization.
1 http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/, viewed 4 March 2016