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Health & Safety - The Essentials for Managers, Directors and Owners

What are my responsibilities as an owner/manager of a organisation with regards to Health & Safety? What will the Health & Safety enforcement agencies be looking for if they inspect my organisation? How can I minimise, as far as reasonably practicable, the chances of accidents occurring in my organisation?

These are questions that should be regularly asked by organisation owners, directors and managers across the UK. Park City have put together the following 5-step guide which outlines the main areas regarding Health & Safety that must be covered in your business. We also outline how Park City can help your business manage all of the following elements of Health & Safety.

1. Management of Health & Safety:

Q. What is Health & Safety management?

Good Health & Safety management is about making the safety, health and welfare of your workers and others (such as clients, contractors and members of the public) of equal importance to both quality and sales within your organisation. Health & Safety management is not just the responsibility of your Directors and Management Team; it is the responsibility of all of your employees. It should become part of your organisations culture and ultimately the way ‘things are done around here’.

Park City’s Health & Safety consultants can make you aware of this responsibility but they cannot embed this culture in your organisation for you. It is the duty of your organisations owners, directors and management team to make Health & Safety one of its core values.

Q. What practical steps can I undertake to have a safe and healthy workforce?

Whilst it may sound like a daunting task, you must do whatever is ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect the health, safety and welfare of your employees and others.

In order to do this, you must first identify all of the risks that have the potential to cause harm as a result of your activities. You must then assess these risks based on the likelihood of something occurring and the severity of any potential outcome. This is known as ‘Risk Assessment’.

High risk activities need a higher level of time, money and effort to reduce the risk to an acceptable level. Low risks will require less effort. Importantly, you are not aiming to eliminate all risk, but to sensibly manage this risk. Park City can train you and your employees about how to analyse and assess risks in your organisation and suggest ways of sensibly managing this risk.

Q. Once I have assessed the risks in my organisation, what should I do next?

You should formulate a plan that outlines how you propose to sensibly manage risk in your organisation and the control measures needed to reduce risk where it cannot be eliminated. Decide on what you want to happen, put safe methods of working and systems of work in place, make sure that your employees have the right training, safe equipment/tools to do their jobs safely and efficiently and importantly, check on a regular basis that work continues to be done safely.

Crucially, involve your workforce – as mentioned before, good Health & Safety management is about ensuring that all your employees are involved in your decision making processes. Listen to their problems and successes and make improvements based on what they tell you. Remember, it is often your employees ‘on the front line’ that are exposed to risks on a daily basis.

2. Leadership:

In order for your organisation to embrace a culture of good Health & Safety management, you need to set the example from the top. Organisation directors, owners and management team members must set the standard and agenda for all employees and others to follow.

Q. What practical steps should I undertake as a leader in my organisation?

You need to demonstrate to your workers that you are committed to Health & Safety yourself. If you see that someone is working in an unsafe manner, let them know that this is unacceptable and it will not be tolerated in your organisation. Make sure that you know what is happening on a daily basis in your workplace. Whether you actually inspect and check processes and procedures yourself or employ a manager to do this for you, you should know what is happening in your own organisation by actually creating time to actually see working practices and documents for yourself.

Make sure that you regularly review your Health & Safety performance at a top level. Continually update your risk assessments and make sure you still comply with ever changing legislation. Importantly, you must be aware that the consequences of not complying with Health & Safety requirements have increased significantly in recent times as a result of the new Corporate Manslaughter Legislation.

Park City would meet with your managers and directors on a regular basis to review your Health & Safety performance. Park City also offer IOSH Directing Safely and Managing Safely courses that are ideal for those at the top of your organisation who are responsible for the safety, health & welfare of your workforce.

3. Competence:

The key to good Health & Safety management is to have a competent workforce, with sufficient training, knowledge and experience to undertake the work that is required. Perhaps more importantly, they should know when they need to seek assistance from other more knowledgeable individuals or organisations.

When workers are given the correct training to work safely, morale increases, productivity improves and they can add more value to your business.

Q. What is a competent person under Health & Safety law?

Most importantly, under Health & Safety law, you must have a ‘competent person’ who has the right knowledge and experience to be responsible for your organisation’s health & safety. Park City can be your organisation’s ‘competent advisors’ and help facilitate the competence of your own in-house ‘competent person(s)’ to ensure compliance with Health & Safety legislation. Moreover, you can take advantage of our comprehensive training portfolio to ensure that everyone has the right training to do their job safely and prevent any health problems from arising.

4. Involve Your Workers:

It is crucial when striving for good Health & Safety performance that you involve the workforce. Employers should remember that it is often your employees that are ‘on the front line’ and face risks on a regular basis and not the owners and directors in the board room or managers in an office.

Consult with your workforce and let them know that you care about their health and wellbeing. This is not just a requirement of Health & Safety law but also a good business move. Your employees can help you spot workplace risks, they can also let you know if working methods are unsafe and they can even help to identify if the management team’s health & safety controls are workable.

You should record your employees’ views and act on them in order to improve processes. You also need to make sure that if a union or employee representative for safety have been elected that you share necessary information with these individuals.

5. Occupational Health:

Did you know that four times more days are lost through ill health than through injury? Whilst injury problems are obvious to see, health issues don’t always happen straight after an incident and can be difficult to see any physical symptoms. Examples include stress, noise, vibration and exposure to asbestos, chemicals and dusts.

In recent times, it has been found that incidents of stress have significantly increased. The HSE have published “Management Standards” for work-related stress which state that if stress is not properly managed, the possible results may include poor health and well-being for employees, lower productivity and potentially; increased sickness absence. The Management Standards cover the 6 primary sources of stress at work;

  • Demands – the workload, work patterns and work environment
  • Control – how much control the employee has in the way they can undertake their work
  • Support – the sponsorship, encouragement and resources provided by managers and colleagues in the workplace
  • Relationships – how unacceptable behaviour is handled and promoting positive working
  • Role – whether employees have conflicting roles and whether employees understand their role within the firm
  • Change – how organisational change is managed and communicated in the firm

The HSE recommend that employers regularly undertake risk assessments for individual employees, allowing a good assessment of the current working situation. Employers should work with employees, building relationships and trust and decide on practical improvements that can be made.

You must educate your employees about the health risks that may affect them at work, not just the obvious injuries that could occur, but other less obvious health issues. You must take practical steps to alleviate this risk as much as is reasonably practicable.

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