We live in a world where danger hides behind every corner, and it takes a real leader to ensure that what can be done to eliminate or reduce those risks, is actually done. If you are a business owner or are responsible for health and safety within your organisation, we encourage you to take a look at six simple steps which you can take now to raise the bar and keep it high when it comes to protecting your workforce from unexpected, negative events. Beware of the usual presumption that “it won’t happen to me” – this attitude in itself can increase risk of harm. Furthermore, we cannot run away from the consequences and escape scot-free. If an accident happens at your workplace, responsibility lies within the business. The duty holder will have to pay the costs – legal, financial and moral – and also identify and fix the root causes of the accident.
Our message is not all “doom and gloom” - here are some actions which you can implement within your overall management strategy immediately. These solutions are not ground-breaking, new discoveries, but they demonstrate that sometimes improvements in the most obvious areas can enable you to achieve your goals. Your ultimate purpose - and the one which every business owner should have - is to protect your workforce and always put safety first. This would not only insure you against human and financial costs, but will also boost your business reputation both internally and externally.
1. PROVIDE INFORMATION
Do you provide your staff with a written Health and Safety guidance explaining in detail the risks to them in carrying out their daily duties? Your Health and Safety Management policy as well as your Safe Working Procedures are not going to be successfully implemented if you are ticking boxes just for the sake of it. Your workforce should actually be able to understand the control measures you expect them to follow, and it is your responsibility to provide additional support and make sure the information, instruction and training you provide is processed and comprehended. With this in mind, if English is a second language for some of your employees, suitable communication and checking understanding is of paramount importance.
Here are some facts for you to consider: According to Workmobile’s safety report "27% of staff who have received and read their company’s health and safety manual thought that the information didn’t go into enough detail about their role and the dangers they could face, or how to deal with risky situations." That’s more than a quarter and it’s putting the lives of your workers at unnecessary risk- Risks created by the company itself, not by unexpected or natural events.
2. TRAIN YOUR TEAM
Here is an indisputable fact- you can’t expect people to know how, when and why they could be at risk of being hurt. You would never acquire new skills if you did not go through a learning process, right? Even if you think there are situations or actions which are self-explanatory, you can’t know for sure that what is common sense for you, applies to each single member of your staff. Providing the necessary, relevant information to your workforce regarding their responsibilities, and teaching them what to avoid and how to react in certain circumstances, will not only reduce the risk of incidents, but will also protect your business from costly penalties which could potentially destroy it.
If you need an extra affirmation then bear in mind that the first question which HSE ask when they come for an inspection is “Do you have training documentation?” Then they want to see evidence and they also may check with your staff whether you actually carry out Health and Safety training sessions on a regular basis or not. The choice is yours!
3. COMMUNICATE AND ENCOURAGE PARTICIPATION
Communication is key when it comes to running any type of organisation and without it you would never be able to manage your workforce and develop your business. Your plans and control measures would not be enacted if nobody knows about them, right? It’s no surprise that large organisations have departments dedicated to communication. Don’t worry if you are a small business- you don’t need excessive resources to get this right! What you can do is replicate the best techniques that competitors and leaders in your industry use, and incorporate these into your own HR model. Make your business strategy a conglomeration of all the positive examples you see around you, and ensure that you are always available and open to dialogue with your staff. What many organisations forget is that communication is a two-way process and there should be respect given if the same is expected in return. Always ask them for their opinion and ideas to show them they matter and are an important part of your business success. As the business coach Zig Ziglar put it:
You don’t build a business. You build people and then people build the business.
If the only thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word “housekeeping” is cleaning floors and taking the dust off surfaces, then you’d better read this. Housekeeping at the workplace is so much more than that! It not only teaches order and builds morale, but it can also prevent costly injuries and improve overall productivity. If you are aiming to develop a positive business ethos, maintaining your workplace in good order develops positive habits and encourages compliance. What’s more, your management and you should faithfully follow this concept if you want it to be taken seriously by the rest of your team. Remember, you are the one setting an example so you’d better do it well!
5. PLAN, DEVELOP AND MONITOR PERFORMANCE
When we are talking “Health and Safety”, not planning your course of actions is like playing a Russian roulette - you can get lucky for a while but leaving safety to chance will result in incidents sooner or later. As an ultimate duty holder, it is your primary responsibility to make sure your organisation follows the national standards and laws, and that you have outlined and available procedures that are embraced and fulfilled by all members of staff. And because legislation develops and evolves continuously, it is necessary to continually review and develop your control measures to ensure they remain relevant, effective and legitimate. Furthermore, it would cost you money (if not human lives!) AND your business if you don’t comply and/or provide sufficient evidence that you follow The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and associated legislation.
6. ASK THE EXPERT
Sometimes, it can be hard to piece together a well-functioning Health and Safety strategy, especially if you are pressed for time or lack sufficient resources. Smaller organisations may fail to adequately address workplace safety – not because of indifference or apathy - but due to the challenges of the countless demands faced in the course of daily business. If you are one of those business owners who are eager to make safety a key part of their business then you have made the first and most important step towards being a great leader- you see what truly matters from the right perspective! What you actually need now is professional guidance on where to start. You may assume that this is costly, but the truth is it will surely be not as much as what you will have to pay if you are prosecuted! You can now be charged even in cases where no harm has occurred if it is judged that your actions have not been suitable or sufficient. Think from a moral point of view. If an accident happens and there’s been measures that could have been taken to avoid it, then who will be the one to be blamed? It’s the duty holder as he or she is the body who is not only responsible but also accountable. Think about your reputation- it’s a lot harder (and sometimes impossible) to restore it than to build or improve it.
As a sign of good will, we are giving you a free Health and Safety consultation with an expert from the Safety2Business team. You will receive a complimentary professional advice and discuss a plan of action that is absolutely bespoke to your business needs! Best news? If cost is an issue for you right now and your health and safety budget does not allow for hiring an expert, no worries. We can help you develop your workplace safety strategy with a low-cost online solution that you can access anytime and from anywhere and keep your business network constantly connected.
If you are interested and want to learn more, please do not hesitate to give us a call at
0161 413 9027 or drop us a line here and one of our consultants would be happy to introduce
you to our sister digital company S2B Online.
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