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Health & Safety - it's time

Written by LesleyAnn Thomas - People in Mind

When it comes to how employers are reacting to the upcoming changes in the health and safety legislation, I've found there are three types of employers. The first is the employer who just sees it as part of business, and will get on with it. Then there's the employer who is a bit apprehensive and needs a helping hand, but quite willing to do it. And the third type is the employer who thinks it's just more red tape and interference, and who is unconvinced it will affect them.

The ethos of our health and safety legislation is that people deserve to be safe at work and to come home to their families and loved ones at the end of the work day. Quite simply, businesses have a duty to look after their people, themselves and their clients.

I am sure we have all heard the scaremongering tactics about the practicalities of the changes in health and safety – the fear that businesses will get fined for every little thing. And I am sure we will continue to see a growth in businesses that make a living out of instilling fear in business owners. From my perspective, health and safety is about practicality, common sense and making sure everyone is on the same page.

The Health and Safety at Work Act comes into force on 4 April 2016. In a nutshell, the biggest changes are that it assigns accountability for directors and officers of businesses, removes isolation as a way to manage a hazard, and increases the fines and penalties for those who choose not to operate safely.

As an owner of a small business you have two hats to wear – operational and governance.

  • With your operational hat: you need to be implementing health and safety, know what the risks are in the business and manage them, and know that your staff are following instructions.
  • With your governance hat: you need to know that there are evidenced health and safety practices and an effective programme in place to keep your team, and anyone else who comes into contact with your business, safe.
Health and safety is not a new thing. Unless you have had your head in the sand for the last 20 years, your business will be up with the play already on health and safety compliance. So, my advice on dealing with the legislation changes is, don't overcomplicate it. Get on with it and do it!

LesleyAnn will be presenting our client seminar on Health & Safety on Tuesday 26 April, so keep an eye out in your inbox for the invitation and register your interest. See our full schedule of seminars here.