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What is health and safety and why is it important?

Posted by Tristan Dorman on Nov 22, 2016 5:21:27 PM

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It seems a strange question. We all have a idea of what health and safety is, though quite often it is viewed, rather unfairly, in a negative light.

It can be seen as something which can hold a business back by throwing obstacles (not literally) in its path.

Yet it shouldn't be seen as a barrier, but as an enabler.  A cohesive health and safety policy provides a framework for efficient, and safe, production in the workplace. 

Whether that be in a factory with heavy machinery, an office with dozens of workers, or a school with its staff, pupils, and numerous visiting parents.

The government has its own very concise answer to 'what is health and safety?'

'All workers are entitled to work in environments where risks to their health and safety are properly controlled.' 

An all-inclusive policy

Whatever the environment, a clear and well-managed health and safety system can help any business move forward.

That's not to say implementing and maintaining the system is always easy.  It can be anything but.

Working through the minutiae of regulations can be a laborious and often frustrating process, and convincing staff of the need to respect new health and safety rules can be tricky.  Especially if it impacts on working practices which have been ingrained in the business for many years.

Some people are resistant to change.  Even when it is patently in their best interests.  Yet, implementing or improving an existing health and safety policy, should only be seen as a positive for everyone concerned.

After all, anything which improves working conditions can only be a good thing, right?

"For any business, an accident resulting from a breakdown of health and safety could be a financial disaster." 

Why health and safety is important

From a business point of view, there are many reasons why an effective health and safety system is so important. Not the least of which is it is a legal requirement

Health and Safety has been developing since the 1800s. However, the majority of today's regulations can be traced back to the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act.  Legislation which was designed to reduce risk in the workplace.

For any business, an accident resulting from a breakdown of health and safety could be a financial disaster

Damage to expensive equipment, compensation claims, medical expenses, wages paid to employees no longer able to work, and loss of production could be the immediate aftermath of an accident in the workplace. 

Not to mention there could be severe legal consequences.

There are also less immediately obvious repercussions, including a disaffected workforce, bad PR, and higher insurance premiums amongst others. 

Conversely, a robust policy will negate all the issues outlined above resulting in a happier and more productive workforce.  As well as a more profitable one.

"Health and safety is something which affects us all.  Every business, from SMBs to multi-nationals."

Managing your health and safety policy

Health and safety is something which affects us all.  Every business, from SMBs to multi-nationals, must have a coherent and efficient system to protect their employees and visitors.  'Accidents happen' is an old saying.  However, they don't have to be inevitable.

But, there is no getting away from it, there is a lot of admin associated with maintaining any health and safety system.  Audits need to be arranged, regular inspections undertaken, and reports written. 

Records need to be maintained, accidents logged, and training kept up to date.  It's a lot of work.  Even in a small business.  For a larger enterprise it can appear to be overwhelming.

However, the key for any business in maintaining a successful health and safety policy is to have an effective management system in place.

Back in the day this would involve huge amounts of paperwork and even more man hours.  Fortunately, technology has moved on and, thanks to specialist software and cloud computing, managing a health and safety system in any sized business is a fast and efficient process.

For advice on how to manage your workplace health and safety system give us a call on 0333 010 7999

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