There are a lot of misconceptions about Health and Safety…
Here, we try and set the record straight and banish some of those myths:
All Consultants are just ‘cowboys’ – there are so many organisations and qualifications, it’s impossible to know who to trust.
In order to ensure that businesses only get the best advice from experienced consultants and avoid the so-called ‘rogues’, the Health and Safety Executive now run a nationwide accredited consultants’ scheme called the Occupational Safety Consultants Register (OSCR). The list is for those who have ‘met the highest qualification standard of recognised professional bodies and who are bound by a code of conduct that requires them to only give advice which is sensible and proportionate’. Kevin McCloskey, owner of Just Health and Safety, is on this register and commits to abide by these principles.
If I tried to follow all Health and Safety workplace Regulations, I wouldn’t have any time to run my business!
This would be true if you decided to give everything equal priority. In fact, the law helps you in that it allows you to consider and prioritise your efforts using the technique of risk assessment.
It feels like we’re in the grip of a compensation culture.
The number of civil claims for compensation against employers for accidents at work has fallen every year for the past 5 years. The overall amount claimed has, in real terms, remained the same since 1989.
Employers Liability insurance is just another burden on businesses.
Employers’ Liability insurance costs businesses on average 0.25 of their total payroll. It is a legal requirement to have this insurance in case someone is killed or injured through your negligence – however, not all costs can be claimed, so insurance is not a substitute for good Health and Safety practices!
Health and safety has got so bad, they’ve banned the use of ladders!
Ladders are excellent for work of short duration, or as a means of access. However, the HSE has responded to the fact that many employers use ladders as the working platform for work which is carried out often, or over a long period of time. This has resulted in many injuries from falls from height. Ladders have not been banned, however you need to show that it was not reasonable to select alternative equipment (e.g. because the work was of low risk or short duration)
Our Company only has people working on computers – we don’t need a Health and Safety System just for that!
Even computer operators need good Health and Safety! In 2005/06 an estimated 2 Million people suffered from ill health – three quarters of which were musculoskeletal disorders (e.g. upper limb or back problems), or stress, depression or anxiety. If you haven’t put measures in place to protect these workers, then you’re also not protecting your business.
Contact us and begin to feel confident about your knowledge in Health and Safety!
Here are some answers to general Health and Safety questions that we’ve been recently asked:
What is the law on having a Health and Safety Policy?
You must have a written Health and Safety Policy if you employ 5 persons or more. This is in total, that is to say you still need to have a Policy if you employ some of them part-time.
What’s the law on carrying out risk assessments?
Two levels of risk assessment emerge from studying the law and Health and Safety Executive guidance:
- Risk assessment arising from considering ALL of your activities and associated hazards (General Risk Assessments), and
- Risk assessment in response to well-known hazards and specific legislation (Specific Risk Assessments e.g. Display Screen Equipment assessments, Manual Handling assessments etc.)
We don’t have any risks, so we don’t need to do anything – right?
Wrong! Firstly, there’s probably no such thing as a totally risk free working environment – even using PC’s can lead to injuries if their use is uncontrolled.
Secondly, even if you are in a low risk environment, you’ll still need to have a Health and Safety Policy, consult and train your staff, plan for emergencies etc.
If our staff don’t follow all the rules, surely it’s down to them if they have an accident?
Errr…not quite! All employers have a duty to actively manage their staff, so it’s not sufficient to just give them instructions and then watch as mayhem ensues! You also have a duty to provide sufficient information, training and adequate supervision.
Why would anyone need to hire a Health and Safety Consultant?
Although Health and Safety (‘H&S’) is a normal management task, some of the legislation is complex and hence there is a legal requirement for employers to have access to Competent advice. It would be great if this person is one of your staff, but most small-to-medium sized businesses don’t have a fully-trained person who keeps up-to-date on H&S law – it is therefore more cost-effective to contract this out to a H&S Consultancy.
So we can just outsource our Health and Safety management to you?
Health and safety is a line management responsibility, and one that can’t be outsourced to an external consultancy no matter how often they visit (besides which, not many companies would appreciate a consultant coming in, changing methods of work, purchasing equipment, re-writing job descriptions etc!)
However, we make the whole business of managing health and safety much easier for you through applying our years of experience of giving useful, practical health and safety advice and solutions.
HSE or Environmental Health haven’t visited us yet, so why bother?
Reacting after an accident has happened and you get a visit from the authorities is never a good idea. H&S policies and procedures take time to put in place – they’re not just pieces of paper, they should reflect the practices within your organisation that keep everyone safe. This in turn attracts good workers and raises morale. Knowing where you stand in terms of legal compliance will also help if you get sent a claims letter from a lawyer alleging negligence.
In addition, more companies are choosing only to work with those who can prove they have good H&S systems in place, and it gives confidence to your customers or suppliers when you show them that you have this well organised. Insurance companies also check the systems you have in place for reducing risk and this can lead to lower premiums.
Do you carry out all of our risk assessments for us?
Before delving into the detail of specific risk assessments, we help you compile a ‘General Risk Assessment’. This is the ‘big picture’ and enables you to prioritise your efforts and justify working on the biggest risks first. After this, we help you to carry out the ‘Specific Risk Assessments’ (e.g. Manual Handling, DSE etc.) that are required, and train your staff as necessary. This is in line with our philosophy of enabling you to be self-sufficient.
Is hiring a Health and Safety Consultant expensive?
We charge competitive rates and will explain these to you – usually after our visit we send you a quote that you can chew over (and we don’t employ salesmen, so you won’t be hassled for a decision).
You may find others who claim to offer the same service for less – but our advice is to compare like-with-like:
- Choose a Chartered Adviser (IOSH is the principal body for H&S in the UK) – you can check this on the national Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register
- Check that they are committing to a realistic level of service – one or two visits per year generally isn’t going to achieve much for you, and
- Get them to show you how their systems work – if you don’t understand them, then how can you comply with your responsibility for the health and safety of your workplace
- Ask for local, satisfied clients and named references – if possible, speak to someone else about the service
Of course, we will always tell you up front before we do any chargeable work, and it’s easy to spread the cost over the year with our Retainership service.
How does it work and what help can Just Health and Safety give us?
Under our Retainership package, we can be your company’s H&S ‘Competent Person’ for the length of the contract and guide you smoothly through the H&S ‘red tape’. We can set up regular visits over the year to get to know your business and help move your H&S arrangements towards compliance with H&S law. We are also available in between visits by phone or email to answer questions you have along the way.
Alternatively, we can also work on a Pay-As-You-Go basis where we work for an hourly rate – this may be more suitable for those with small numbers of employees, or who have set tasks in mind (e.g. an audit).
Try out our approach first by asking us to come and conduct a Free 1 Hour Health and Safety Management Checkup – it’s risk-free (and not painful at all!)
Do you have a question for us? please send it and we’ll do our best to solve your query. Our Frequently Asked Questions are below…