Health and safety should be an integral part of businesses of all shapes and sizes. Whilst it is imperative that the wellbeing of employees and all those associated with the company are highly valued and protected for their own sake, ensuring that this is the case also makes perfect business sense too. Being health and safety compliant reduces the risk of prosecution, fines, and reputational damage, and so improves the likelihood of positive business performance.
What is health and safety
When we talk about health and safety, we are ultimately talking about stopping the likes of employees, visitors, and customers being subject to workplace incidents, so that they can enjoy freedom from illness and injury.
Health and safety rules are there to protect employees
Clearly, there are some industries and roles that are deemed more ‘risky’ than others. However, it is important that good practices are implemented across all areas so that employees do not face unnecessary or uncontrolled risks when performing their jobs.
The area of health and safety is subject to many laws and regulations and failure to comply with the law can leave businesses open to prosecution and countless financial, reputational, and practical consequences. By promoting best practice throughout the company, both the employer and employees can avoid these hindrances. This excellent video by Blue Sky Media and BASF explains some of their on-site health and safety procedures. It is a superb example of how to communicate health and safety practises to employees and visitors alike.
It makes good business sense
Having best practice in regard to health and safety is always morally right, but there’s also a very strong business case for promoting it too. A company operating with a strong health and safety culture can:
- Boost staff morale and productivity - a safer workplace is a happier workplace! This can lead to improved staff turnover rates.
- Reduce risks, ultimately lessening the likelihood of incidents - less paperwork, less staff absences, and less nasty fines!
- Improve efficiency.
- Avoid reputational damage and enjoy lower insurance costs.
Rather than being an expense, health and safety procedures should be considered an investment as the results are just as important as any other measurable business objective.
It encourages social responsibility
Over recent years the importance of corporate social responsibility has become more apparent. There is an expectation from society that businesses are held accountable for their ethical practices, and so it has never been more important for businesses to ensure that their employees, visitors, and customers are never put in harm’s way during the course of business operations.
The Importance of Health and Safety Culture
Clearly, the risks that face the workforce differ from industries and roles. However, regardless of this it is vital that managers of all positions enforce a culture of health and safety best practice. The Health and Safety Laboratory have produced this video to explain what health and safety culture means to them.
This can be done in several ways, such as…
1. Spreading awareness of the laws...
The presentation of various Acts throughout the workplace is essential by law.
However, companies should go further by discussing the workplace's various risks at hand and the process as to how they should be reported. By spreading awareness, this will promote best practice and improve the situation of health and safety at work.
2. Learning from your mistakes...
Whilst it is of vital importance to eliminate risk as much as possible, it is inevitable that incidents or near misses will occur from time to time. However, these should act as a learning tool for all to gain from so that similar situations are avoided in the future. This can be achieved through good communication up and downstream from employees and managers to ensure that all are informed about how to avoid nasty accidents.
3. Blame culture, getting the balance right...
Sure, reporting near misses seems easy - but this is only likely to happen if the employees believe that they will not be punished consequently. Therefore, it is important for employees to have the balance of knowing that they can report incidents without punishment yet know the importance of being responsible and avoiding reckless and unacceptable behaviour.
4. Ditch the paper...
Times of incident reporting via paper forms and spreadsheets should be long gone! For businesses to have a coherent, well-communicated health and safety culture, a consistent, live cloud-based system is a modern-day essential.