Health and Safety – Good for Business 2018 Joint Seminar with Business Doctors
We took our theme from the joint HSE and IOD (Institute of Directors) Guidance Leading Health and Safety at Work, which says:-
Addressing health and safety should not be seen as a regulatory burden: it offers significant opportunities:-
- Reduced costs and reduced risks;
- Employee absence and turnover rates are lower, accidents are fewer, the threat of legal action is lessened;
- Improved standing among suppliers of partners;
- A better reputation for corporate responsibility among investors, customers and communities; and
- Increased productivity – employees are healthier, happier and better motivated.
Andrew Clarke of Gullands and Peter Searle of Business Doctors decided to combine Peter’s previous talk on how to grow a business – Strategy Made Easy (SME) and Andrew’s presentation on Strengthening Health and Safety Management in your Organisation. Just as the Health and Safety Commission and the IOD recognised that good health & safety is good business when they launched INDG417 in 2007, we thought much of Peter’s “Top 10 Strategies for Growth” could, with just a little imagination – also be an agenda for revitalising health and safety within an organisation.
Peter used the Business Doctors’ “Value Builder” system to show the striking effect on a business’s value of having good policies and procedures. Peter also drew from his own experience as a former Operations Director for Kier Group to warn how a bad health and safety record would be viewed by clients and industry partners, the difficulties that would come up at the PQQ (Pre-Qualification Questionnaire) stage of a tender– and similar questions which a financial buyer will ask such as what is the company’s accident incident ratio (AIR)?
Andrew went through the many sources of health and safety legal duties affecting a business, ranging from the basic requirement for a health and safety policy to the criminalisation of “management failings” under the Corporate Manslaughter legislation of 2007. One huge legal driver for good health and safety compliance is to avoid costly civil claims by injured employees. However, where there is a HSE investigation we heard that simply thrusting a ream of risk documentation at a visiting HSE inspector will not be enough to satisfy them. As one senior inspector put it in 2010, “What we want to see is a scruffy piece of paper with coffee stains and fingerprints all over it that is being used on the ground”. A folder of neat paperwork “won’t save anyone” he said. Therefore Andrew highlighted the importance of engaging employees in a “living” health and safety policy and highlighted sources of guidance and good practice such as INDG417 and HSG65 Managing for Health and Safety.
We heard real examples of savings achieved by organisations thanks to revitalising health and safety management, such as the Fire and Rescue Service in INDG417, which saved £100,000 per annum in insurance premiums and 50% reductions in sickness and injury rates- and the striking illustration given by IOSH chief Bev Messinger of the unexpected benefits that can flow from proactive safety and health management, namely an investment of “health MOTs”, which at a cost of only £50 per employee revealed 10 early cancer diagnoses among staff. As she put it, “Imagine the impact if those cancers hadn’t been detected on them as individuals but also as employees, it’s not a cost, it’s an investment”.
We looked at the benefits of applying good health & safety management principles and practices to a business and made the following list of added qualities which such a business would have:-
- a functioning quality system, dovetailing with its other quality systems and based around a policy stating who does what, when and how.
- a culture of continuous improvement, including working to eliminate “management failings”.
- have a correspondingly more engaged and productive workforce (for a study see 2003 research on IOSH Means Business).
- reduced claims, absence costs and insurance premiums.
- reduced exposure to “high culpability” fines under the sentencing guidelines.
- ability to defend itself against doubtful claims.
- a more favourable perception in the eyes of the HSE if an incident does occur, which might affect their enforcement decisions.
- ability to respond to PQQ questions better and more credibly than competitors.
- ability to provide credible disclosure and HS&E warranties to a prospective purchaser.
Would such a business be more valuable, profitable and attractive to a potential purchaser? We thought so - and the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) have long recognised that good management and good health and safety management go hand in hand. A wealth of reading and resources is available on the IOSH Means Business pages of www.iosh.co.uk.
If health & safety or environmental compliance is an issue in your business, or one which you are buying or dealing with in some other way, we can help you with the legal issues. We can also suggest specialist consultants to advise on compliance, technical and management issues. For a discussion of health & safety issues affecting your business contact Andrew Clarke at firstname.lastname@example.org