Whether you’re in a management position with a multi-million pound corporation, or whether a small business of your own, employing only a handful of staff, health and safety should rank high on your agenda, and not only because of legal obligations.
That machine guard on the large band saw, that’s been rattling away for the last three months, may at present just be a nuisance, but what happens when it finally comes off altogether? In a worst case scenario, the person operating it at the time could lose their hand. Then again, your staff has medical aid, and besides, your business does have adequate insurance in place, should that employee decide to sue you in court, which they more than likely will do. The point of the matter is though the effects of that original negligent act can be far reaching. Your injured employee may not be able to continue with the same career path, and could therefore be left jobless, while his wife and kids go hungry every other day. Ironic in a way, because that machine guard could probably been secured with a screw or a bolt costing just pennies.
Admittedly, the above example may not be the best, but it does serve to get some form of message across with regards to health and safety in the work place. Of course in a perfect world business owners and all companies would put the welfare of their employees first, but unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world, especially when one considers just how “profit driven” the business world really is.
This s exactly why past governments introduced legislation regarding health and safety. In fact, if you own a business in the UK, if you employ five or more people, or you provide accommodation for paying guests, you are required b law to meet certain requirements. One of these requirements involves carrying out a regular health & safety risk assessment. These assessments can be done by the business owner, any designated employee or employees, or else by way of a third party firm specialising in this field.
While there are no real hard and fast rules pertaining to the actual minimum requirements or standards, it is every employer’s responsibility to ensure their assessments are at least worth something. Inspectors who may call to see your company’s can and will make recommendations if they feel more could have been done, but that’s basically where in ends. Should you choose to ignore such advice, and something does go wrong, full responsibility lies with you the business owner, rather than with any inspector.
Also, if a court decides your company’s health & safety risk assessment was inadequate your insurance company will be closing their door in your face.
To put it mildly, health and safety is a serious issue, and it needs to be viewed as such. If your business is small enough to justify doing your own assessments, or perhaps get one of your staff members to do them, then at the very least make sure suitable training is provided. If on the other hand you run a slightly bigger operation, then it would certainly be wise to consider handing the responsibility over to a third party company that has plenty of experience in such matters.