All businesses will need some documents that describe safe systems of work. The trouble is that most companies have a lot of documents that are never read. Having simple and sensible safety documents ensures that only necessary and useful documents are produced. All should be concise, making them easy to read and understand. You will end up with a lot less paperwork than most safety systems produce.
Minimising documentation helps people get the job done, but they need to know what they are doing. This does not mean sending people on courses to learn about safety. Instead, they need to learn how to do their jobs safely.; You need to identify specific training needs and provides methods for managing the process. Most skills will be picked up through on the job training, which involves minimal cost and disruption.
Risk assessment is the cornerstone of health and safety. However, most assessments focus too much on hazards, fail to consider wider risk management issues and are frankly not worth the paper they are written on.
What you really need to do is assess of business activities rather than individual hazards. Simple techniques are usually all that is needed and they are most likely to result in practical and sensible actions to manage safety risks alongside production, quality and environmental factors.
Some health and safety ‘professionals’ take great delight in pointing out the legal requirement for a written safety policy if you have five or more employees. Unfortunately they often can’t break out of this legal perspective and end up imposing policies based on their own opinions, rather than what is sensible for you.
You should think of your safety policy as a way of selling health and safety to your staff. You will need to continually reinforce your policy through your words and actions. This means you need to be comfortable with what your policy says and it needs to be something you are happy to talk about. Also, it needs to be fully understood by your staff.
You need to decide exactly what you want to say. You don’t even need to call it a policy if you think a better title would suit. You can keep safety separate or integrate it with other aspects of your business.
People’s behaviour is the biggest influence on health and safety, and culture drives behaviour. For most companies, making changes to behaviour and culture is difficult because their systems are impractical and unhelpful.
Simple tools make it very easy for people to be involved in the development of safety systems. This has a very positive affect on behaviour and culture. Also, the development of sensible systems means that people are more likely to choose safe behaviours in the first place.
It is amazing how many stories go around saying things can’t be done or doing business is made difficult because of health and safety regulations. In fact there is rarely much truth in these stories, and it is often a case that health and safety is used as an excuse where other causes of problems are really the issue.
The Health and Safety Executive are actually trying to promote sensible health and safety. They realise that things have gone over the top in recent years, and that this is counter-productive. Simple, sensible safety is totally in line with their current thinking. It’s just a shame that some safety professionals have not got the message.
The HSE’s Myth Busting webpage is a clear demonstration of their views.
To achieve simple and sensible safety it is essential that health and safety is seen as an integral part of your business. The focus must be getting the job done safely rather than allowing health and safety to become a reason why things can’t be done.
Legal compliance is clearly essential, but there is no Act or Regulation out there that can tell you how to run your business safely.; Simple and sensible safety involves ensuring production, quality and environmental performance are all achieved, whilst complying with health and safety legislation at the same time.