How can owner-managers ensure that they protect their workers health and safety?
Owner-managers are at particular risk of being found personally guilty of health and safety offences due to flat management hierarchies and hands-on involvement in the day-to-day operations of the business.
Corporate and social responsibilities have never been more important for small and medium sized businesses. Clients are increasingly interested in how companies manage their health, safety and environmental impacts. Reputation has always been important in gaining more work. So how can owner-managers protect their own and their company’s reputation and ensure the health and safety of their employees?
A systematic approach is needed. This approach is no different to other systems that are employed to control other important business activities like finance, quality or business development. It can be achieved in four steps. The first is to identify what needs to be controlled. The second step is to introduce control measures. Reviewing the how well the system is working is the third step. The final step is to identify opportunities for improvement.
Step 1 – Identifying what needs to be controlled
Identify all of the hazards that there are in the workplace. Some will be obvious like electricity and machinery. Some are not so obvious such as stress or chemical exposure. A systematic approach will ensure that all hazards are identified. You need to make sure that your employees are aware of all of the risks that they face at work.
Step 2 – Introducing control measures
Once hazards are identified, risk assessments need to be carried out to determine how likely to occur the risks are and what the consequences will be. Risks need to be reduced to an acceptable level, and in some cases you may need to use additional control measures to reduce the consequence and/or the likelihood of any incident. You need to make sure that those employees affected know what control measures to use and you must ensure, through supervision, that these control measures are used.
Step 3 – Reviewing performance
Many companies believe that they have finished work on health and safety once risk assessments have been completed and control measures have been put into place. Although these are important steps, only by reviewing performance can owner-managers be sure that the control measures are working as effectively as needed. The whole system needs to be reviewed from hazard identification, risk assessment, to deployment of control measures.
Reviews also need to be carried out periodically to ensure that any new activities or equipment have been included in risk assessments. Some measures of health and safety performance can also be reviewed to provide information on health and safety performance.
Step 4 - Improve
The most important step is to look at the health and safety activities and performance, and to decide what can be improved. These improvements may include changing control measures, providing additional training for employees or starting new health and safety initiatives. An improvement plan can be generated to manage the improvement activities.
Owner-managers can access great online resources like the HSE website (www.hse.gov.uk) to find information on managing health and safety in their workplace. There may be some aspects of health and safety that may need input from a competent person. Make sure that any health and safety advisors are competent. One way to do this is to search the OSCHR register (http://www.oshcr.org/).
Inertia Safety are passionate about protecting employees from harm at work. If you want to discuss your needs then send us a message via the contact us page for a no obligation discussion.