Has anybody ever said “Health and safety! Fab! Give me more of that!”? Probably not, but like HR it’s one of those incredibly important areas that you absolutely, positively have to get right. If you don’t you not only leak money and work inefficiently, in the worst case scenario you may not only lose business, you may lose lives. Guest blogger Pete Fisher gives us the lowdown.
A number of reasons exist for effectively managing health and safety in your business no matter how large or small your operation is.
- 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.
Accidents cost money
The obvious things are things are downtime, repair or rework, fines and compensation. 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 and put matters right
- effect on contracts if you fail to deliver on time
- knock on effect on future business
- hiring a temp while someone is off sick
- demoralised staff or poor staff retention
- increased insurance premiums
- the effect on your company’s reputation – bad news travels very quickly in today’s social media and ‘business to business’ networking community
- and, possibly worst of all, if you’re self-employed who’s going to do the work and keep the business running if you can’t?
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.
- 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.
If you would like a review of your existing policy, or some proactive advice on where to start, contact Pete Fisher from New Level Safety Ltd.
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