Health and Safety Help! - There’s no ‘I’ in team... or ‘health and safety’!


15 January 2019

For a long time health and safety was considered as a workplace irritant, a waste of time, and as something that just needed to be ticked off rather than given full and proper consideration. These days are (mostly) gone; its importance is recognised and many businesses now give it the due care and attention that it deserves.

Most companies have health and safety systems in place, an appropriate competent person to manage and review the systems, manage their employees, and have health and safety committees. However, the difficulty can often arise in keeping all of these elements working harmoniously. Communication and collaboration are vital to achieving effective workplace health and safety.

Collaboration is about teamwork; joint involvement leads to joint problem solving. Employers have a duty to manage health and safety as well as a legal duty to consult; research has shown that workplaces in which employees are involved in taking decisions about health and safety are safer and healthier. Employees are often best placed to understand the nature of the risks that are in your business. Talking, listening and co-operating with each other can help:

  • identify joint solutions to problems
  • develop a positive health and safety culture where risks are managed sensibly
  • reduce accidents and ill health, plus their related costs to your business
  • bring about improvements in overall efficiency, quality and productivity
  • meet customer demands and maintain credibility
  • comply with legal requirements - HSG 263.

In our experience, it is when businesses fail to communicate that accidents occur. This is not only when there is a lack of collaboration within the business itself, but also where companies who are working together do not work in partnership to ensure health and safety systems are appropriate for the job.

The design and construction industry work in accordance with the Construction and Design Regulations 2015 (CDM); the principles of these regulations can assist any business in developing a collaborative approach to health and safety with agents, clients or associated businesses.

CDM aims to improve health and safety in the industry by helping you to:

  • sensibly plan the work so the risks involved are managed from start to finish
  • have the right people for the right job at the right time
  • cooperate and coordinate your work with others
  • have the right information about the risks and how they are being managed
  • communicate this information effectively to those who need to know
  • consult and engage with workers about the risks and how they are being managed.

CDM is essentially a management tool and these principles are equally applicable in any industry… but how do you put them into practice?

The Real Health and Safety Conference’ on 7 February 2019 at our new office in Ipswich, is focused on this subject. It will address the importance of effective cooperation and communication inside and outside of your organisation. We are offering a unique opportunity to hear from the HSE, experts and industry leaders, benefitting organisations from any sector. Aimed at directors and senior management teams, the programme will include specific breakout sessions for construction, agriculture/food producers and road transport, as well as a general session for other organisations.

 

The content of this article is for general information only. For further information please contact Laura Thomas or a member of Birketts' Health and Safety Team.

This article is from the winter 2019 edition of Health and Safety Help!, our newsletter for professionals tasked with health and safety matters. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website. Law covered as at January 2019.

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