The benefits of Health & Safety
There is a common misconception that compliance with health and safety law and best practice costs employers money. However, quite the opposite is true. Health and safety can be an asset not a chore.
The costs incurred following an accident can be astronomical, not just with fines and claims but with other ‘hidden’ costs such as sick pay, admin costs, legal costs and damage to business reputation. These costs are not covered by insurance and following an accident, premiums can be increased or cover might even be refused. It is generally recognised that uninsured losses amount to ten times the cost of insurance premiums paid.
When we consider that the vast majority of accidents are avoidable if suitable and sufficient control measures are in place, it becomes obvious that compliance with health and safety law saves money as well as lives.
Improved standards of health and safety in a company can pay off in new business. Prospective clients are becoming increasingly aware of their legal duty to appoint health and safety conscious contractors and many are becoming members of assessment schemes such as CHAS (Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme) and Constructionline – to them it is simply not worth taking a risk by employing unsafe contractors.
Making the law work for you
While there are legal duties placed on employers by health and safety legislation that can’t be ignored, they can often be made to work to the advantage of the company. A example of this is the written health and safety policy. If you have 5 or more employees in a company, you are legally required to have a written health and safety policy which comprises of a policy statement (also known as a statement of intent,) details of the organisation in place and specific arrangements.
Naturally there is a cost and time factor in creating and utilising a policy. However if your company is tendering for work, potential clients will most likely want to see not only your policy statement but also worked risk assessments and systems of policy monitoring. Being able to provide these could mean the difference between winning and losing a lucrative contract.
Do I have a safety problem?
Firstly you need to take a look at your business. This could mean examining the hazards present in your workplace that could lead not only to accidents, but also ill health. We are not just talking about chemicals, machinery and the more obvious safety concerns but also other increasingly common problems such as stress and musculoskeletal disorders. Try to work this into part of your regular system of risk assessment.
Sickness absence records should be examined for any hints that any absence taken could be down to your working processes, environment or management. Also just talking to your employees can be useful.
Remember that even trivial complaints can soon become major problems! Good communication with employees is critical to good health and safety management and should always be encouraged.
Reducing the costs
The risk assessment process is all about identifying hazards and reducing the likelihood of an accident or ill health occurring – use this to your advantage and see it as an opportunity to improve your processes efficiency too, as the two often go hand in hand.
In order to help preserve the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees, current legislation requires that all employers assess and review working processes to make them safe. This duty of care cannot be ignored or avoided so it makes sound commercial sense to turn this duty into an asset. It is easy to demonstrate that companies who embrace health and safety are not just safer places to work in; they can be more efficient and profitable too.