Be honest! Are you and your organisation robust enough to deal with an accident or visit from an inspector?
In my career as a worker, manager, inspector and director, I wish I had a £1 for every time someone said to me,
“my health and safety is top notch, I have all the health and safety I need and those accidents will never happen to me!”
If an inspector or auditor arrives at your business today, do you have the ability to prove you have a competent health and safety management system operating? Are you able to prove workers and contractors have not only read health and safety documentation, but you have the ability to prove they understood them? Signatures may only prove they have seen, not entirely understood.
So in answer to the managers and directors who most probably say they are fine, we have compiled 7 essential guidelines to raise awareness and help your business be compliant with health and safety law.
Our essential guide
1, SAFETY ALERTING: Today your safety notifications are probably emailed out to supervisors, who then print them and pin onto notice boards. Ask yourself, were these actually distributed to every employee? did every employee receive, open, read and understand them, and were the alerts relevant? Lastly, can you prove this?
Posting notifications on a notice board and emailing them out is not evidence you are protecting the health and safety of your employees. What is needed is to get this readable information in front of every worker which needs to be relevant for their discipline, you then need to ensure each worker individually has fully read and understood with options so they can to ask for more information if the language and literacy aren’t to a standard.
This is your evidence in proving the worker actually read and understood and it needs to be documented and stored. Safety Pal does this with technology and time stamps, all accessible in one place. Take a look at our safety alerts for more information.
2, STANDARDS AND PROCEDURES: We have many different visitors and delivery drivers visiting our sites and premises daily. There is a requirement for these visitors and delivery drivers to fully understand your standards and procedures.
Just because this is a frequent activity, it doesn’t mean it’s safe. Under section 3 of the health and safety at work act, you have a responsibility to ensure that persons not in your employment, who may be affected or exposed to risks which will affect their health or safety, do not come to any harm while on your site.
This really isn’t hard: you probably have it written in your health and safety policy, so we just need to ensure that contractors and visitors have fully read and understood it (it’s no good on a shelf, or in a folder on your computer) you need to put procedures in place to check adherence. Also adding suitable signage, complete on-site inductions and enforce visitor and delivery driver control measures.
With all of these implemented will get you closer to operating within the law.
3, RISK ASSESSMENTS: Do you have the ability to complete risk assessments on every task and to ensure they are enforced?
Risk assessments are essential in creating awareness and controlling a task. Risk assessments do not need to be huge, they just need to be accurate and effective.
When creating a risk assessment, don’t just add your control measures believing they exist! Many companies we speak with will add ‘adequate training’ as a control measure to their risk assessment, but when investigated, they are unable to prove that adequate training existed.
Get this right and only then will you will be complying with the law. Risk assessments within Safety Pal have training modules built in with testing and pass dates, plus reminders of when updates are needed.
4, TRAINING AND COMPLIANCE: for your organisation to comply with the law, employees need to have the skills, knowledge and experience to carry out their duties safely. The training you apply, needs to ensure your employees gain the skills, knowledge and competence to complete their work safely and without risk to their health.
You need to decide which format this training will take and when it will be necessary. There are situations where training is particularly important, for example:
- When new employees start (under close supervision)
- When situations have changes change or risks are increased
- Where existing skills may have become rusty or simply need updating (skills decay)
Remember that training should not be a substitute for proper risk control. You may need to use some form of temporary measures until permanent improvements can be made, also you may also need to make necessary arrangements for those whose first language may not be English or those workers with low levels of literacy.
Whichever form of training you choose, don’t assume that all workers will be competent following the course instructions, you must always ensure the trainee has obtained a full understanding. Follow up training with a question and answers sessions will help you ensure workers competency levels. Make sure you document and store results of what training took place, when and where.
If you need specialist help, you must remember that you cannot devolve the management of health and safety risks to others. Specialist help or consultants can be used to contribute to your overall health and safety management.
5, MANAGEMENT OF HEALTH AND SAFETY: What are your significant risks and how are being controlled?
This is commonly referred to as a ‘Management of Health and Safety’ The HSE will ask if you have suitable evidence that the board or leader of your organisation is responsive to the health and safety information, and that is profiled in your organisation?
You must create a systematic approach to managing health and safety. Getting workers to understand the risks and control measures associated with their work through compelling engagement. You must always ensure your contractors adhere to the same standards as set out to others in your organisation. Your health and safety documentation needs to be:
- Organised and relevant.
A company structure will help people understand their roles and the roles of others.
Use performance measures to check controls are working and standards are being implemented, this also allows you to learn from mistakes. Always challenge unsafe behaviour immediately.
6, CONTRACTORS: A contractor is anyone working for you who is not an employee. In your business, you may have many contractors working on your site.
You must think about how their work may affect each other and how they interact with your activities, communicate clearly with your contractors, defining the hazards of their job. Some key tips are as follows:
- Planning: define the job, identify hazards and reduce risks
- Choosing your contractor: Check technical competence, get evidence of certifications and qualifications
- Go through the job information (method statement, risk assessments) and site rules
- Appoint a site contact, have the contractor sign in and out to know who is where they are.
- Keep a check on progress and review once complete.
Ensure the contractor is aware of your safe methods of working demand that they follow your health and safety rules while on-site at all times.
Think about health and safety as soon as you know a job needs to be done, not when the contractors arrive on site.
7, LESSONS LEARNED: Even in well-designed and well-developed management arrangements there are still challenges of ensuring that all requirements are complied with consistently.
Many organisations find out after an accident or case of ill health that rules, systems and procedures that would have prevented were actually in place, they just weren’t complied with! Organisational learning from your business and external businesses is a key aspect of health and safety management.
You must report and follow-up on standards and procedures that are not fit for purpose, this will make recurrences far less likely.
Top-down: show with your actions that safety is a core value, report and praise on good news, avoid complacency and take responsibility for keeping your own knowledge and capabilities up to date. Always challenge unsafe behaviour immediately.
Bottom-up: welcome constructive challenges, avoid overburdening workers and involve workers in organisational changes, a structure will help people understand their roles and the roles of others.
Use performance measures to check controls are working and standards are being implemented, this also allows you to learn from mistakes.
- There aren’t any insurance policies that will protect you from non-compliance with health and safety.
- If you have taken reasonable steps to prevent accidents or harm to your employees (and the injury or illness was caused after 1 October 2013), you shouldn’t have to pay compensation.
Our current court’s page shows real fines, I believe that all companies fined thought they were complying with the law. I am unable to believe directors and business owners put their workers at risk by choice. 64 companies in Nov/Dec 2017 had little or no evidence to prove their compliance, the result being ‘they were all prosecuted’
Say it – Do it – Document it!
Effectively managing health and safety is not just about having a management or safety management system. The success of whatever process or system is in place still hinges on the attitudes and behaviours of people in the organisation (this is sometimes referred to as the ‘safety culture’), it is imperative that you create a positive safety culture, increasing safety and reducing incidents.
For the people who cannot be prevented from accidents (careless workers), you must make sure you have a full audit trail to prove that you really did do everything practically possible to prevent harm.
Safety PAL is here for you: we really can help you move your business to be robust enough to manage the worst-case scenario, but first, we need to understand more about you.
Our unique 30-minute no-obligation consultation will create the opportunity to provide you with:
- A refresher on health and safety law
- Understand some common causes of accidents
- An understanding of your responsibilities
- The tools to create an effective team to increase productivity and bring your clients benefits.
Fill in the form below to schedule your consultation
Karl Spencer, Founder and Managing Director of PAL Software Limited