Health and Safety Management – The Changes From October 2013

Throughout October several changes in health and safety legislation took place. How to be safe and how to manage the safety of workers? RIDDOR(Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations), First Aid Regulations, Young people at work regulations, are just few of the recent changes among the many bits and bobs of that the authorities were trying to adjust or remove. Ever since the Lofsted Review the Government has been aiming to make it easier for all of us…

Less safety requirements do not necessarily simplify things, at least not for everyone. Overall, there are lots of positive changes; however some of them are not as clear and simple as they were intended to be. Depending on the kind of service provided and the size of your business, those new changes would may impact you in some way. The truth about this new approach the authorities are promoting is that everything is simplified and easier, but the penalties and fines are even higher for those who make mistakes. Everything is an attempt to be direct and straightforward for you to comply, however if you do not have a full and clear understanding then professional advice and guidance should be sought after.

So whatever duty holders do or do not do, every health and safety failure translates into more expense. The change of attitude towards health and safety is the essential change that hopefully will be seen in the next couple of years. More than anything, the idea is to start perceiving health and safety as an integral part of good management generally. Rather than seeing it as a separate system of rules, “unnecessary” and “expensive”, which is quite the generalized opinion among many companies?

A revised version of the Guidance for Successful health and safety management (HSG65) is due to be published in the next few months; the refreshed guidance will be available on line on the HSE’s website. In general it represents the above mentioned change of attitude towards health and safety. The simplified recommendation on how to keep workers safe is moving from using the POPMAR (Policy, Organising, Planning,, Measuring performance, Auditing and Review) to the much more clearer slogan “Plan, Do, Check, Act”.

This is a quite useful way of thinking and organizing your office, factory or building site… Maybe some people would be able to apply it in their personal lives too? It represents a breaking point of the perception of the “dreaded” health and safety compliance. Over the years, different experiences and talks with colleagues have taught us that business owners and managers whom are effectively using health and safety as a managerial tool are the most successful ones. It can be tricky to start off, but once you have a well organized business, the ball starts to roll and the benefits are not late to arrive.

Plan, where you want to be, identify any problems and make a clear list of simple steps and people who will be responsible for corrective measures. Make sure the basic legal documents that safety compliance requires (health and safety policy, risk assessments etc) are well written and well understood from everybody who is affected by them. Once you have a workforce conscious of the fact that they should work in the safest possible way, everything tends to get easier. This is the stage when you should decide how to monitor performance – based on active indicators such as health surveillance, routine inspections as well as reactive methods, for example monitoring sickness absences and investigating accidents and incidents.

Do, everything is now risk assessment based, it is all about conducting the necessary assessments and manage them, always start with the biggest risks/hazards. Everyone from the top to the bottom of the organization should be clear on what they should do. Invest in things like training, competent professional advice, introduction of new equipment and ensure you have the correct and trusted supervision.

Check, when having to monitor health and safety and/or how well your production line is organized, there is nothing better than implementing in house spot checks and audits. Do not rely only on what the documentation is saying, go and see it for yourself and talk to your workers and line managers.

Act, learn from the mistakes and compare your results with those of other companies, even competitors. Take into account the information from accidents and incidents, sick absences and near misses will tell you where failures are.

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