Health and safety is now a standard part of the modern business world. The benefits to your business are well known, these can include:
- risk reduction,
- increased productivity,
- reduced insurance premiums and
- increased profit.
It is possible to get significant returns on health and safety investment, with some improvements delivering a ROI of £12 saved for every £1 spent*. At the same time, fines and fees associated with health and safety failure are fast becoming notorious.
Protection for you and your business
In the event of a fine, employers’ liability insurance will help your business cover the cost of compensation. Additionally, executives can be personally exposed to covering legal costs and settlement awards. Directors and Officers insurance is designed to protect you if this should happen. But the way fines are allocated could be about to change. Your direct personal involvement, as senior manager, in the health and safety culture of your business will determine your pay.
Performance related pay
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has responded to government’s recent corporate governance reform green paper. It has recommended that there is link between executives’ pay to occupational safety and health performance. IOSH considers strong leadership, stakeholder engagement, good governance and meaningful corporate reporting fundamental. It believes these qualities will ensure safe, healthy and sustainable working environments. They report that the number of prosecutions against directors tripled in 2016. Based on this it believes that the recommendations could be especially effective.
Reduce the risk
It’s easy to think that changes in legislation would only affect sectors that involve higher risk activities. But this isn’t the case – office workers are exposed to risks too. It is commonplace for untrained office staff to erect exhibition stands, move heavy boxes or even machinery such as printers. Some small-medium sized businesses ask staff to “muck in” with extra duties such as office refurbishments or even be on a cleaning rota. These activities are unlikely to be risk assessed. If the IOSH’s recommendations are upheld your business could be audited. When found to be lacking risk controls, you could have your personal income deducted.
Positive and proactive leadership
The IOSH’s recommendations aim to bring about positive change to your business regardless of industry or sector. The goal is to incentivise you, as a senior manager to be the figurehead for a safe working environment. Making health and safety a priority at the highest level embeds it as part of your corporate culture.
By taking a proactive approach with the implementation of a “safe culture” action plan, you could be eligible for an IOSH Certificate of Merit. Such an award would recognise positive leadership behaviour and help to secure your personal income in the future.
Attending approved IOSH Leading Safety and IOSH Managing Safety courses will teach you to identify and address risks. Accident Investigation courses would also help you to prevent recurrence of accidents.
You can also use the services of a health and safety consultant. The consultant would act as your ‘competent person’. They can carry out audits, put in place bespoke health and safety policies and risk assessments and prioritised action plans. As an extension to your team, they can be on hand to support and assist you on any health and safety issues as and when they arise.
Pragmatism and preparation
In summary, there are practical steps you can take to ensure that you provide a safe working environment. You should consider –
- A robust risk management strategy.
- Approved IOSH training for senior staff.
- Encouraging a safe culture – posters and regular communications can help with this.
- Hiring a health and safety consultant.
- Having the correct insurances.
This combination will provide you with the confidence that your business, your staff and your back pocket will be safe now and in to the future.
Zywave HSE Safety Cornerstones April 2017
*British Safety Council – The business benefits of health and safety 2014