There is now great protection given to employees in relation to the right to work in a safe environment. |
The benefits of having in place an effective health and safety system, not least to meet your legal responsibilities, can be surprisingly wide ranging. For example by: protecting workers, saving absence costs, saving recruitment costs, saving insurance costs, protecting reputation and improving productivity whilst minimising the potential to be a defendant in any personal injury claims. Some statistics supporting the above and highlighting the need for good health and safety procedures suggest lower accident rates (14% compared to 29% depending on if employees concerns were properly listened to), greater avoidance of slips (76% where workers were consulted as opposed to 40%), awareness of risks (60% compared with 28%) and in workplaces where positive discussion of health and safety is encouraged 77% of workers are happy to raise concerns, compared with just 20% in poorer environments. Clearly an effective health and safety system can be highly beneficial to a business, even if it may seem like an unnecessary expense to many.
There are also many legal responsibilities which need to be adhered to. The employer has far greater power then the employee and as such is responsible for providing a safe working environment. The responsibilities can be fairly detailed and complex and take time to become accustomed to and implement, before setting up a business these requirements must be considered so the business is in a position to meet the minimum obligations. Existing businesses must make sure, if they are failing these requirements currently, that they sophisticate their systems appropriately. It is also necessary to keep up to date with any changes happening with regards to these obligations.
The basic requirements relate things like: Ensuring safety is prevalent in the workplace and that any risks are controlled, making sure all equipment is in a safe condition, ensuring unsafe substances have a proper usage procedure, the providence of welfare facilities, to provide training and information on health and safety matters and to consult with employees on health and safety issues. There are however many other requirements and specifics relating to the above. Employers should ensure they check that all relevant issues have been addressed.
Steps should be taken to ensure these standards should then be maintained, upgraded when necessary and regular health and safety assessments should be made. Many argue that too much red tape presides around health and safety and that it has gone mad due to an increasing compensation culture likened to that in the US. However recent research from Norton Rose found that 59% of managers felt current legislation was 'about right' in relation to health and safety obligations and 88% thought the regulations afford them with enough flexibility to adopt a common sense approach to health and safety. There are clearly many benefits to be had by having an effective system in place and if the majority of managers who are responsible for meeting the obligations are happy enough with them then surely they are largely effective in there purposes.
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