News & Updates

Health and Safety is just common sense, right?

By Julie Smith, Health & Safety Advisor

I hear this statement from employees, production managers, engineering managers and even directors every week, and every time I have to grit my teeth and usually give one of the following responses:

“I totally agree but not everyone has it”

“It is, but when we are employing people, we have to document it and provide evidence of the communication and understanding” 

“So why do we still have accidents?!”

What is common sense?
The dictionary defines it as: ‘the basic level of practical knowledge and judgment that we all need to help us live in a reasonable and safe way’

Let’s remind you why we should all take health and safety seriously

Firstly, it’s the law.

As soon as you employ anyone and give them tasks to do (movement of goods, manual handling, working at height etc.) or equipment to use (ranging from a simple hammer, a vehicle, a machine, PPE etc.) you the employer are responsible for ensuring that everything is risk assessed and your safe system of work is communicated and understood by the employee.

The responsibility for health and safety begins with leadership from the top down, so anyone in a managerial position should be aware of this – it isn’t an add on, it’s an integral part of your role and your job description will include this.

Robust health and safety documentation is a must – but don’t keep it to yourself!

I have been told some health and safety procedures are too complicated. I explain (repeatedly) that it may feel like it, but the content is absolutely required (and remember, your Stallard Kane Advisor is always there to help). The depth required is assessed on the task and environment – one size does not fit all. And, we don’t make the content up –  it is taken from a range of sources, such as HSE guidance, ACOPs (Approved Codes of Practice) and legislation, which we then ‘interpret’ to ensure you, the business, cover all the requirements.

Of course, the content’s of no use if it’s stuck on a shelf! It must be communicated to your employees, to be given the opportunity to review the content and ask questions. Once communicated you need to evidence this – usually a signature beneath the standard statement of ‘I have read, understood and will adhere to the content’ will suffice.

But it doesn’t end there, it is your job to ensure that employees adhere to the content, whether it be the controls stated in the risk assessment or the safe system of work. You do this by auditing and recording those audits. 

Strengthen your company on facts not opinions. Educate ALL employees with relevant training. 

Plan, Do, Check and Act

If the content is not being adhered to then you need to find out why. 

Is it behavioural?

We all know that as humans we ‘think’ and this is not always good for the business, especially when employees take it upon themselves to do things differently. Or it may be that something has changed, and the process no longer works, but of course we all know if something changes then you should risk assess prior to the change and make any updates AND then communicate them to your employees.  

You will only see this if you carry out the required audits of the documents against the actual carrying out of the task.

Many companies fall at various stages of the process:

  • No documentation to begin with
  • Documentation in abundance but not communicated to employees
  • Initial issuing of documentation but no refresher communications 
  • No auditing of the systems against the documentation 

But also attitudes can let a company down, especially those that rely on the saying “we’ve never had an accident yet”.

But before you start looking at your operatives, take a look at your managers – are they supportive and proactive to health and safety? Do they promote health and safety? If not, then this may be the best place to start.

Need training? 
Our Training Team can deliver a very wide range of courses, in a variety of ways. If you can’t find what you need on our website, chances are we will be able to help, so please contact faye@skaltd.co.uk

Nobody knows best within a company 

Health and safety is all about engagement, listening to others and the law. If you put all these together you will make progress. 

One of my proudest moments was when an apprentice questioned a very top-level director (he really could make heads roll) as to why he wasn’t wearing safety footwear in a production area when it was mandatory. The director was impressed and never entered the area again without the required PPE. The apprentice got a pat on the back!

Sometimes even leaders get it wrong. 

If you need help with anything covered above, please speak to your designated advisor or contact our Health & Safety team – email healthandsafety@skaltd.co.uk or call 01427 420 402 and #oneoftheteam will be happy to help