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Why Health & Safety Is Important For Your Business

Why Health & Safety Is Important For Your Business image

The health, safety and well-being of individuals is something that touches every aspect of our daily lives.  From the home to the workplace; health and safety plays an integral part of business performance and the ramifications should an accident or incidence of ill health occur is often life changing.

In simple terms, health and safety is about the identification of hazards and risks by people who are competent, the policies and procedures put in place to manage and mitigate those risks, and finally, ensuring the individuals involved in work processes fully understand the risks and the correct procedures to follow.

While this may seem straight forward enough, a thorough approach can sometimes be sacrificed for speed, and in many instances, corners are cut to save both time and money.

In recent years, the introduction of The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 enabled, for the first time, that companies and organisations (in addition to individuals under health and safety law), can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.

Prosecutions will be of the corporate body and not individuals, but the liability of directors, board members or other individuals under health and safety law or general criminal law, is unaffected. It is therefore crucial that organisations should keep their health and safety management systems under review, in particular, the way in which their activities are managed and organised by senior management. This has undoubtedly placed an increased focus on the importance of businesses getting health and safety right; Alpha Safety provide the following recommendations:

Competency & Qualifications
To undertake a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, risk assessors  need to be competent. Competent individuals can evidence skills, knowledge, training and ability, with an industry understanding that this is generally backed up by suitable qualifications..  In all working environments, risks must be identified and considered by an individual who knows what to look for.

Take fire risks for example. An ex-fireman with over twenty years active service could be deemed competent to undertake a fire risk assessment in a typical working environment.  As most businesses do not have this type of individual as an employee, it is down to the business to ensure the person undertaking the fire risk assessment is competent to do so. Courses such as NEBOSH Fire Safety are well placed to educate assessors to  feel confident when undertaking assessments.

Processes & Procedures
Once a risk assessment has been undertaken, the hazards and risks identified must be managed. Risks can be be graded on their severity from low to high, and control measures must be emplaced to ensure significant risks are mitigated, and if required, safe systems of work are defined and implemented. 

Take a coffee shop as an example. Hot water is a hazard, however, to prevent staff from using it would result in the business closing, so procedures are put in place so staff know how to correctly use hot water in a manner that limits risk to themselves and customers.

Arguably the most important part of health and safety is the successful understanding of policies by people operating in a particular environment. Communication is essential to ensure people understand what the risks are and how to work safely and that the policies and understanding are regularly refreshed.

This is often explored via training courses, and it is essential that businesses keep up to date records of employee health and safety training alongside evidence that the individual has completed such courses successfully.

While this may appear straightforward, having the knowledge to undertake these three stages can be time intensive and for some businesses, considered a burden.

Fortunately, at Alpha Safety we combine health and safety consultancy, management system audits and training courses to offer a turn key solution. This “one-stop-shop” service not only gives a business peace of mind that they are adhering to their responsibilities correctly, but they also receive the latest legislative training and guidance.  

As ignorance is no longer a defence should something go wrong, aligning your business to a company such as Alpha Safety is a prudent move to keep your staff and customers safe and healthy, and your business prospering.

If you'd like to discuss how your business can best manage risk email consultancy@alphasafety.co.uk and we'll get right back to you.