Happy New Year to everyone. Hope you had a great Christmas and New Year with time to relax and take a much-needed break…
With everyone back at work after Christmas and the festive celebrations a fading memory, now is a great time to take a fresh look at H&S across your business:
- Is it fit for purpose and able to support your 2020 objectives?
- Do your employees have a good understanding of relevant H&S issues?
- Are you getting the most out of your H&S consultant or adviser?
H&S systems need to follow a cycle to be successfully implemented – the ‘PLAN, DO, CHECK, ACT’ model provides a sound basis and is advocated by the Institute of Directors. Each of the four elements leads onto the next and you must consider what is already in place and what needs to be implemented, improved or changed at each one.
Here we consider a few items to check to get you started and suggest some easy improvements:
- H&S Policy – this is the fundamental cornerstone of your business’ approach to H&S. However…don’t waste hours on this or £1000’s buying a new one! Just make sure the one you have is specific to your organisation and is communicated to your employees. The HSE has produced guidance on its website on how to write a simple H&S policy. If you don’t understand your policy, no one else will! https://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/managing/writing.htm.
- Risk Assessments – these are the foundations of your approach to managing risk. Do these cover your current scope of activities? Do the control measures make sense? Do employees know what’s in them and do they follow the controls? Have the significant findings been communicated to relevant people? If any of these answer ‘no’ – you must revisit and update. If in doubt start again – it really is straightforward and there are five simple steps to follow:
- Identify the hazards
- Decide who might be harmed and how
- Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions
- Record your significant findings
- Review your risk assessment
- https://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/controlling-risks.htm for further details
Risk assessments are the first place anyone will look if you have an incident…
- Communication – are you communicating in a way that people will understand? Can you make it fun? Support e-learning with face-to-face coaching and support – this can be done for little extra cost and really underpins a positive health and safety culture.
- Increase employee engagement – building on point 3, set up an employee task force to identify H&S improvement ideas, set up a company-wide suggestion scheme, run a regular newsletter, blog or vlog, establish an annual H&S award programme. Or simply just recognise employees who go the extra mile with praise and/or a reward.
- If you use an external H&S consultant – have you been in contact recently? Have you agreed a plan for 2020? January is a good time to touch base and check nothing significant has changed which may alter risk assessments, method statements or H&S policy. Have they come across any examples of good practice in other businesses or sectors that might benefit your organisation? Have you had a recent H&S inspection to check your H&S performance or standards are as expected? It is important to maintain regular contact with your H&S adviser to maintain two-way flow of information and ideas. Set your expectation of how the relationship will work and at the very least schedule a quarterly catch up call.