It doesn’t matter what sort of business you are running or which industry it operates in, health and safety are of paramount importance. Although it may seem like the world is covered in unnecessary red tape, we live in an age of litigation. By having proper health and safety training procedures in place, in addition to providing comprehensive health and safety training to your staff – especially in risky industries such as construction - you cover your own back and protect your company from being sued in the event of an accident that could have been avoided by proper training.
Observing health and safety makes perfect sense from a commercial standpoint; it helps decrease your costs and the likelihood of reputational damage should one of your employees suffer an accident which could have been avoided. The press and public are always looking to hold businesses to account and this can have a massive impact on profitability. It has even killed off a fair few companies.
Although health and safety may seem overbearing and pedantic, it is there for a reason and helps protect your employees and visitors to your company’s premises from unnecessary injury or harm.
1: Underlying Principles of Health and Safety
Health and safety are about more than being responsible. It makes sense to your company’s bottom line and it is just as important to meet key health and safety objectives as it is to abide by others.
Modern health and safety laws are extensive and complex, and working out what they mean and how they apply to your company can be a confusing and irritating process. Although it appears that there’s a lot to research on the face of it, there is lots of guidance available to business owners and you should always seek legal advice when creating your health and safety policies or regime.
2: Managing Health and Safety
You are required by law to have a system (e.g. procedures and policies) in place to manage workplace health and safety. If you employ multiple people, this must be written out in some form of policy document or statement provided and signed by your employees upon commencement of their employment. This statement needs to show how you organise, control, and monitor health and safety measures, including preventative measures. You need to appoint an individual within your company whose role it is to help your company comply with their legal commitments.
Under health and safety law, your company has to identify main hazards within the workplace, assess the risks that these hazards pose and whether there is the likelihood of significant harm, and perform risk assessments, which are to be recorded, dated, signed and stored away for future reference. So long as you can show that you have identified things within your business which could cause harm and that you have taken steps to prevent this harm from occurring, you are usually good to go.
3: Providing Health and Safety Training
Having health and safety procedures in place isn’t always enough to completely cover your back, though. Accidents will still happen, and you may find that injured persons want to take it a step further and claim compensation for their injuries. Although you can do little to prevent the unforeseeable from happening, you can provide health and safety training to your employees through a third-party provider to ensure that they are all clued up on the inherent risks of the workplace, and how they can manage and avoid these risks.
Health and safety training provided by a specialist third-party provider enables you to take the training of your employees to the next level. In doing so, you are helping your employees learn about health and safety in an engaging and focused setting, which will do more to teach them about what they need to know than they would ever learn from you reading out a PowerPoint or distributing a document (which will likely be ignored.) Although specialist health and safety courses cost money and require you to take a day out from work with your team, they are a worthwhile investment which can save you a lot of money and drama further down the line. You can find more information on health and safety courses here and choose one that’s nearby to you and relevant to what you need.
Although the consensus surrounding health and safety is that it’s too far-reaching and pedantic, you still have to comply with it. If you don’t and you find that one of your employees succumbs to an injury, you will be in for a rude awakening when demands from lawyers start hitting your desk.
By complying with health and safety law, having policies in place, and providing relative training to your employees then you are doing all you can to cover your back. Injured employees are inevitable, but you can dramatically reduce the fallout by being compliant with your health and safety obligations.