I’m going to start with the obvious question, what is health and safety?
Well in a nutshell health and safety is all about making sure that people are not injured or made ill by work. The health side focusses on ill health effects like bad backs, lung problems, skin conditions, stress etc. The safety side, that’s about stopping incidents and accidents and preventing people from coming to physical harm from workplace activities.
There are three main reasons that we have to manage health
and safety in the work force:
- There’s the moral
reasons, no one wants to see anyone get injured or ill from work whether
it’s an employee, a colleague, or even a customer or member of the public (you
have a duty of care to them too)
- Then there’s the financial
reasons, I’ll go into that in a bit more detail in a bit
but suffice to say health and safety events are expensive!
- Finally the legal
reasons. It’s the law!
Whilst we’re on the subject of the law, here in the UK there is one major piece of legislation which underpins everything we have to do in health and safety. The piece of legislation is the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (often referred to as HSAW ‘74 for short).
Off of the back of this we also have The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (also known as MHSWR ’99) which drills down into some more specific details. Then from there are many other regulations covering subjects such as manual handling, control of substances hazardous to health, display screen equipment, lifting operations, I could go on… Many of these are also supported by documents called Approved Codes of Practice (ACoP), these set a minimum standard so you either have to fully follow the ACoP or be able to prove that what you do is equal or better.
Confusing right? Where do you begin?
Well the best place to start is with these two legal requirements:
- Every organisation (of any size) must appoint someone competent to help you meet your health and safety needs. This can be yourself, a member of your team, or an external expert. The nominated person must however be competent to advise you on the legislation that affects your business and how to manage your H&S obligations.
- If you employ 5 or more persons, including directors, owners, part-time workers, or temporary workers you must have a written health and safety policy and you must write down your risk assessments.
While we're on the subject of risk assessments don't forget generic assessments may not sufficient for your needs. Have a look at my earlier post here
where I talk about how to make sure your risk assessments are up to scratch and what can happen if they aren't.
What if it all goes wrong?
You may already have some level of safety management in place and you pay your insurance premiums and may feel that you are covered. You have insurance, surely if something goes wrong that will cover your losses?
As we looked at in my earlier post discussing what an accident could cost you - here's a link!
What you may not realise is that for any workplace accident of case of ill health many of the costs are uninsured costs.
It is estimated that for every £1 of insured losses from workplace accidents and ill health you can expect between £8 and £36 of uninsured losses, that’s a lot of money that you could potentially be losing for every incident.
Accidents and ill-health costs can be likened to an iceberg: costs that are recoverable are visible but those that are unrecoverable are hidden below the waterline and are many times greater.
Uninsured costs can include:
- Lost time
- Sick pay
- Damage or loss of product and raw materials
- Repairs to plant and equipment
- Extra wages, overtime working and temporary labour
- Production delays
- Investigation time
- Loss of contracts
- Legal costs
How confident are you that your health and safety management will stand the test and protect your business?
If any of this has rung some alarm bells with you then don’t panic you don’t have to face it alone, I can help walk you through the process.
I have been involved with health and safety management for over 10 years and am a fully qualified safety practitioner, I now specialise in helping business owners find their way in health and safety. I can guide you through, showing you exactly what you need to do, give you the tools you need to effectively manage your own health and safety and be on hand at every step to make sure that put in place to protect you, your employees, your customers and your business is to the highest standard.