This article has been written by Arch Business Protection, part of BCarm. To find out more, visit arch-bcarm.co.uk
Managing Health and Safety can be a minefield, with a significant number of elements that go into the process covering the different activities, physical spaces and assets/resources utilised by a business.
To be successful it requires cooperation and participation of anyone with management responsibility, as well as positive engagement of employees and other parties.
Additionally, the need for an audit trail and robust record keeping to meet statutory requirements add further pressure. Not to mention the ability to satisfy enforcements agencies of a businesses’ activities and insurance criteria in the event of an accident in the workplace and potential subsequent employers’ liability claim.
Imagine if the above was made that bit harder by the health and safety management system itself?
Is the Safety Management System Up to the Task?
Substandard functionality of a safety management system such as, if it is hard to access, complicated or difficult to use, and poor visibility, can lead inadvertently to any of the following.
- Poor or inadequate records impacting Claims Defensibility, with subsequent cultural damage of a questionable claim being paid as well as the reaction in a HSE intervention. This can also impact on future business value through the due diligence process, particularly for a business with high-risk activities.
- Lower levels of safety activity, whether that be inspections, safety sampling, proactive monitoring of Control Measures, checking PPE or reviewing Risk Assessments. With less activity comes lower levels of protection, greater exposure to incidents and claims, and disruption to the business.
- Lack of engagement and accountability, businesses can tend to do what is easy and put off what is difficult, resulting in a negative attitude towards the safety process. Wider engagement strengthens the protection safety management brings.
Poor risk management systems might also add to operational cost through increased input to achieve the desired outcome.
Looking at the flip side of this, the following are the functions of a good risk management system, and what businesses should be aiming for;
- Elimination of paper-based records, which by their nature can degrade.
- Reduction in the number of process steps — making it easier to engage a wider population in the business.
- Provide easy access for those who need to interact with it, for instance, completing a checklist or delivering a Toolbox Talk.
- Improve visibility of what is/isn’t being done and how well the organisation is complying with its own H&S requirements.
- Produce lead and lag performance metrics, the former enabling the proactive management of risk.
- Provide Management Information and reporting, in particular MI that helps the business leaders make more informed data-based decisions.
- Reduce administrative time, allowing more time for management and analysis.
- Raise engagement and participation throughout the business in H&S activity.
- Reduce the overall operational friction and cost of health and safety in the business.
A health and safety management system is a critical component of the safety process and not just a document and record repository and can be an effective business enabler. With the right system in place, it can help a business protect itself with the optimum operational impact and more “willing and able” business engagement.
For more information on effective Risk Management Systems please speak to your Arch contact about our Arch Business Protection offering.