The importance of Health and Safety

Why is it important to manage health and safety? As outlined in both the IOSH Managing safely and IOSH Approved Directing safely training courses found elsewhere on this site, there are four main reasons. Firstly, there is a moral imperative. It is simply wrong to put employees’ health and safety at risk. Employees are entitled to return home from work in more or less the same condition as they arrived; tired maybe, but with the same number of fingers and limbs and as healthy. There are legal reasons and whilst in most cases it is the corporate body that suffers the penalty, the number of directors and senior managers who were personally prosecuted under section 37 of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 has risen by a staggering 400% in 5 years. Section 37 makes it possible for individuals within a business to be prosecuted if an offence has been committed as a result of the individuals consent, connivance or neglect. 43 directors, senior managers and/or company secretaries were prosecuted under section 37 in 2010/11alone. This illustrates what many practitioners have long alluded to – the tendency of the authorities to single-out individuals wherever possible – and is a significantly more potent deterrent that prosecuting corporate bodies alone. Financially, the adage is “if you think managing safety costs money, try having accidents”. It comes as a surprise to many but health and safety insurance policies don’t cover everything. In fact, the uninsured costs of accidents – whilst they vary between businesses – are several times more than those costs covered by insurance. Studies carried out by...

The Role of the Safety Practitioner

I recently came across a 2-part article from the Safety & Health Practitioner (SHP) from March and April 1999 entitled Styles of safety practice and was reminded what a good piece it was and how influential it had been on my health and safety development. Around that time there was a recurring debate – which hasn’t really gone away – about the relative importance of health and safety professionals to organisations and why it was that they appeared to have lower status than some other specialists, such as those in personnel and quality. The article compared and contrasted 4 very different characters and discussed how the modus operandi of the practitioner can ultimately be to the detriment of health and safety. The conclusion of the piece was that those that operated as mentors and coaches and who worked to influence what it was that operational managers wanted, were likely to be most successful. It argued that a combination of imparting knowledge and unlocking others potential was the secret to maximizing both health and safety performance and the importance of the health and safety professional him/herself. What sort of practitioner are you? Why not drop me a line? I’ll send you a copy of the article and you can find out for...