Health and safety fines increasingly have the potential to make or break a company. In the past year in the UK, the number of safety fines of £1 million or more has increased six fold. Serious health and safety breaches, such as corporate manslaughter, can now top £20 million (not to mention the potential for criminal charges for management)! This comes as no surprise to those who are familiar with the very stringent new sentencing guidelines put into place by the Sentencing Council last year.
Health and safety managers should view this trend as an opportunity to revisit their current policies, procedures and health and safety training to make safety a priority for senior leadership at their business.
Get leaders attention
Issues such as productivity, 4IR and the Apprenticeship Levy are some of the issues today’s senior leadership and executive boards are paying close attention to these days. In this business environment, health and safety can often get short shrift. Presenting the potential impact of safety failings with the new sentencing guidelines and reminding them that it’s their responsibility is one way to demonstrate how important safety is for employees and the company’s finances.
The IOSH leading safely course is a great way to get started and for your leaders to set the safety agenda.
Fix the root of H&S issues
This is your opportunity to get the core of the issues resolved, so do your research, investigate whether risk assessments are being done, that the right controls are in place and that they are being followed. Afterall if you have an accident this is what the HSE will do.
If they’re not, find out what it is that’s stopping them and put it to the board to invest in resolving the issue. Whether it’s cultural, behavioural, due to communication or management - action will need to be taken because, depending on the level of risk, sooner or later you could have a court case on your hands.
Train your managers
Training and competence makes a big difference to the health and safety performance of the business – but you do need to do it properly. Training shouldn’t be done to tick a box, it should be designed and delivered to achieve specific outcomes. As with anything, you get what you pay for so with the board’s attention you can pitch to deliver a bespoke training programme focussed on your goals.
Consider near misses
Most companies track accidents and injuries that occur on the job. However, many do not rigorously investigate and analyse near misses. Understanding trends and causes of these situations can help HSE managers develop an effective plan for ensuring these do no arise in other parts of the business and where deficiencies lie.
If there’s something you think the business should be doing and investing in, now is the time to raise it. The business case is much clearer and you’re likely to get more support:
- If you don’t have a certified management system, ISO45001 that’s on its way is a good direction to go in and can help health and safety add real value to the business.
- You could look at a cultural safety programme, like Advanced Insulation, to really embed safe working practices
- If you have multiple sites you can look to standardise your practices like Formica have done
If you’re looking to learn more about how you can use the sentencing guidelines to drive change in your business, get in touch with our experts to discuss everything from a factory walk through to reviewing your policies or risk assessments. You can also watch our webinar, Sentencing guidelines: analysing the impact so far.