Health and Safety Chat

One size does not fit all!

Steve Schroder

01 September 2016

One of the most frustrating things I see as a consultant is the scaremongering currently being undertaken by some members of the health and safety industry.

There are people running around telling business owners that if they don’t buy their systems then they are going to be issued with a $500,000+ fine. Firstly, no one yet knows what the level of fines are going to be like and we won’t know until they clear the backlog of prosecutions still waiting from under the old legislation. This is expected to take until sometime in early 2017. It is widely assumed, however, that the level of fines will significantly increase and this has been well signalled with the increase in the level of fines that are now available to consider.

Having said that, most of the responsible health and safety professionals that I have talked to believe that unless you are grossly negligent with your health and safety responsibilities, you don’t need to panic.

Now, I am not going to sit here and say that a health and safety system will stop you getting a fine, when the truth is that a system is only one piece of the overall puzzle in health and safety. It is what ties your policies, procedures and practices together and provides proof of due diligence if managed correctly. What people don’t understand is that it is this whole package that is now expected from businesses.

The problem that I see in some of the businesses that I visit is the peddling of so-called ‘all in one’ health and safety systems claiming compliance as a result of purchasing them. These rogues are peddling their often overpriced ‘chocolate box systems’, and taking advantage of the fact that there is a large amount of uncertainty with the implementation of the new legislation. Worse is that there is a perception out there that some of these systems fulfil a business’s due diligence obligations and ensure compliance with the Health and Safety At Work Act 2015.

“Ask yourself this – if your responsibility under the new act is to understand and fulfil your ‘primary duty of care’, how are you doing this by purchasing a generic, ‘one stop shop’ health and safety system?”

The problem with some of the out of the box systems that are available in the market at moment is they try to cover everything all at the same time. This is nearly impossible to do well. More often than not, what the customer will end up with is a system that has sections that are not relevant to their business, and on top of that they are often overly complicated to run. We found a transport company with references to meat slicers in their health and safety manual!

Customised systems are imperative to running a successful health and safety system. Not only will they be relevant to the business and the staff, they are also, more often than not, simpler to run. They also display to staff and other bodies that you take the health and safety of your staff and business seriously.

Custom health and safety systems should complement your business, while not consuming significant amounts of time. How many times have you heard the grumblings about how health and safety is just adding paperwork? How many times have staff put up barriers to change simply because health and safety is once again making them jump through so many hoops? Remember that old acronym – K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, stupid).

Your health and safety system should reflect the level of risk within your business. There is a big difference between the risks in an office and the risks in a manufacturing plant, and there should be big differences in the comprehensiveness of their health and safety systems.

The onus has always been on business owners to understand the risks of their business and develop health and safety systems that reflect these risks. Sadly, human nature means that there are a lot of people out there who simply don’t want to put the effort in and look for the easy way out.

At Smart Safety Solutions, we look to get to know your business and develop systems that are relevant to your business, simple to follow, and do not consume all of your time. We are there to support your business with sound professional advice.

If you are serious about your health and safety, then give us a call today!

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