Health & Safety and all what comes with it, is one of the causes of major headaches when running a business. It is also one of the processes/policies that many businesses ignore due to its complexity and the belief that it wouldn’t happen to them as ‘their employees are sensible and ensure they are safe to carry out their duties’. This belief results in Health & Safety being allocated the least amount of resources into managing it effectively in most industries.
Health & Safety- Who needs it?
Since the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, it has been a legal requirement to maintain a safe working environment. As an employer you are responsible to protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety.
So, the answer to the question ‘Who needs it?’ is easy, if you are an employer or carry out a business where the general public could be at risk by you carrying out your work then YOUR business/team needs it, in some shape or form.
Do I really need it?
The health and safety of your employees/team members should be a priority to any business, after all without its employees a business cannot provide the service or products it needs to be a business.
Many people in business look at health and safety with the belief they haven’t got the time to manage it effectively and it costs them too much to implement and review. When really, they should be asking themselves, how much time and money would it cost them if they didn’t. Non implementation costs so much more, both in resources, money and employee’s health & wellbeing.
According to the Health and Safety at Work Summary Statistics for Great Britain 2022 produced by HSE and National Statistics.
1.8 million employees suffered from work related ill health issues in 2021/22 resulting in 30.8 million working days lost.
In 2021/22 914,000 workers suffered from work related stress, depression or anxiety which resulted in 10 million working days lost.
Reported workplace injuries rose slightly in 2021/22 with 565,000 workers sustaining a non-fatal injury, the same statistics revealed 123 workers were killed in work-related accidents rising again in 2022/23 to 135 and 6 million working days were also lost.
Where do I start?
There are many differing websites and health & safety advisors out there that I am sure will offer you the right customised advice for your business needs but who knows your business more than you. Yes, if you are in big business, you will know doubt have health & safety specialists that are employed by the business to manage all aspects of health & safety but if you are a small business or part of a smaller team, you are best positioned to start the ball rolling.
Small Businesses (less than 5 employees) – Your health & safety does not have to be complex or take more time than the actual work you are carrying out, it doesn’t even have to be a written policy, but it does need to address any risks that your employees or others may face whilst working for you and you do need to share the information with your employees whether in writing of verbal.
Business over 5 employees – are required to have a written policy that clearly states who does what, when and how, risk assessments, first aiders and other competent people within the business to manage the health and safety.
The HSE website Introduction to Health & Safety provides further information on Health & Safety which is really useful and clearly explains the process by using their step by step process for both small and larger businesses.
What does Health and Safety at Work look like?
Health & Safety Policy – Every sector is different but the general guidance what is needed for most businesses is having something in place (a policy) that provides clearly defined information to all employees that answers the who, when, what, questions.
Information and Training – Ensure your employees know what they are responsible for and are fully trained and competent in carrying out any role/duties they are responsible for.
Risk Assessment – These are a step by step process for controlling the health and safety risks that could be in any workplace. The key elements are to identify and record these risks, assess who could be at risk, what controls are currently in place (if any) and what other controls could be in place to reduce the risk. The law states that you have ensure reasonable practicable controls are in place, they are not expecting you to eliminate all risks. These are then to be reviewed on a regular basis to check their effectiveness or as and when needed e.g. a new tool is used.
Reporting Accidents and Illness – you must report certain injuries, near misses and work relations illness to HSE, further guidance can be found here Report accidents and illness – Health and safety made simple (hse.gov.uk)
First Aid At Work – Ensure you have an appointed person to take charge of any first aid arrangements and inform employees of who they are.
Displaying the Law Poster – Either display the H & S poster where your employees can easily read it or provide each employee the equivalent leaflet.
I have a policy, risk assessments etc what do I do now?
Having a policy, risk assessments, first aiders etc in place is brilliant and you have now won half the battle, the other half is ensuring your team members/employees adhere to everything that has been written in all the documentation. This is crucial to any successful health & safety policy and process. Your new, health & safety policy and all its documentation now needs to get out into the world of your employees/team members, this now needs to be implemented and embedded into the business processes, until it becomes second nature. How do I do this?
There are many different ways in doing this, you alone know your employees/team members and know what ways work best with them, the HSE recommend consulting with your employees/team members so they have input into what is being developed and therefore have a better chance of understanding and following them. Whichever way you choose, the goals is ensuring everyone knows, understands and follows the processes.
How do I keep track of all the Health & Safety Tasks for all my employees/team members?
Keeping track of all the information is crucial when implementing a good health & safety policy and its processes. Keeping records forms part of the legal requirements for a business that have 5 or more employees.
If you are responsible for the health and safety within your team/business there will be so many questions you have in your head that you need to have a memory or an elephant or a system that can act as your memory, record keep, reminder and so much more.
Many years ago, when ESP was a smaller business, health and safety was very basic, a policy that was reviewed annually and a first aider. There is nothing wrong with basic health & safety as long as it covers all the legal and business requirements but as businesses grow, so do the services, employees, possible locations etc and these all need to be addressed within health and safety.
ESP grew from 5 employees, operating in one location, offering IT Support Services to employing over 35 people, various locations, providing numerous services all having differing health and safety requirements. The responsibility for health and safety also grew from a basic need to more detailed implementation and recordkeeping.
So how did ESP achieve this without spending too much time and resources on health & safety? As with everything ESP, the teams researched the needs of the business and its employees, examined the possibility of streamlining its current processes and decided to utilise its strengths in technology to address the growing health and safety needs of the business and have so far implemented the following.
Health & Safety Policy – This was slimmed down to ensure it was easier to read and understand but covered all the necessary points, so at any given time any employee could quickly look at the policy and be guided where to go or who to speak to. A further in-depth health & safety process was developed which forms a related document to the policy.
Risk Assessments – Produced in house by the managers and team members from an initial template on the HSE website. Each assessment has a review date and when this date is coming up the system notifies the relevant employee/team member to book in a review.
Weekly/Monthly Checks – Managed by our CORE Software solution. Currently the system reminds employees that a check is required and what type of check is needed, the checks are carried out either on a phone, tablet or computer depending on the location and device the employee/team member has access to. Once the check is completed the system records the outcome of the check and sends an alert to their manager for them to check everything is in order. Examples of ESP’s current weekly/monthly checks are that managed by the system are;
Records – All checks, reviews, certification expiry dates etc are all stored in the system along with images of them if required. The system notifies the relevant team/employees prior to an expiry date that action needs to be taken.
Employee Clock in/Out – This is ESP TAMS system which is part of CORE this enables any manager to check their team member is at work even if they are not in the same location. This enables the business to carry out is checks for duty of care to its employees. Again alerts are set up on this to ensure managers are aware without having to remember to check.
Dashboard – All the above and all the managers other responsibilities/duties make a long list of things to remember but rather than having to remember it is managed on one screen called the Dashboard within the CORE System. This Dashboard pulls all the alerts together and provides a summary of everything that needs to be addressed throughout the business the manager is responsible for, thus streamlining the processes and enabling the manager to focus on areas when necessary.
Health & Safety…headache or not?
So, referring back to the original question, Health and Safety… who needs the headache? No one needs the headache but all businesses need health & safety to protect their employees and others from risks. It doesn’t have to be complicated nor complex, in fact the easier it is to follow the better. It needs to be clear, with defined responsibilities and followed. And as the business/team grows anything you can do to streamline the management of it will enable your employees/team members more time for your customers which is always good for the business and its employees.
Ensuring Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is followed is not the headache if implemented effectively and its process are streamlined, the headaches and so much more will come if Health and Safety is NOT implemented.
To find out more book a chat with one of our friendly team and see a free demo that is designed on your business needs.