The food industry has had its own regulations to comply with The Food Safety Act, since 1990. The law is enforced at local level by the environmental health officers based within the local authority. Their role is to ensure that the food we buy is safe to eat. And the system works too. Have a look at the Scores on the Doors website and search your local area to see what score any food business has been given. Why not have a scores on the doors for health and safety? A level 5 is the one to have, and those who care about their customers and business reputation will have one displayed in a prominent place for their customers to see.
Whilst the same local authority is responsible for enforcing the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and all its regulations that sit within it, no such scheme exists for displaying the results of HSE’s audits. Yet in the UK today there are over 34 million people in employment. All are vulnerable to health and safety risks at work, no matter what industry, and could be harmed or made ill by their workplace. Latest figures published by the HSE show that there were 611,000 injuries at work and 1.2 million suffering from work related illness. As a business that does all it can to ensure the health and safety of your employees, you might welcome an opportunity to shout about it to your customers, suppliers and employees. If so, please get in touch, I need to talk to you for my campaign.
As I listen to clients try to justify why their employees do not need fire safety, lifting and carrying and other industry related training, I am always conscious that my mouth may fall open without realising it. When I ask if they have public liability insurance (not a legal requirement for all businesses), of course they do. They think that by having insurance, it provides a sort of security blanket if anything goes wrong.
Why do businesses cherry pick health and safety laws?
- Failure to recognise a problem – for both the business owner and their workers.
- Lack of regular checks by the HSE and local authority – 30% fewer HSE inspections since 2012.
- Complacency – nothing bad has happened yet, so we don’t need to bother with it.
- We haven’t got time for health and safety – it’s a time consuming nuisance, we just need to get on with the job.
- We can’t afford health and safety – if anything goes wrong the insurance company will pay out.
- Company culture – management style and poor attitude towards their employees and ultimately the business.
- Ability to get away with it – no annual inspection means complying with the law is a choice.
- Media portrayal of ‘elf and safety – consistent mocking of and abuse of genuine guidance.
I personally would like to see a register where all businesses are obliged to display their health and safety rating through official government media channels. The government needs to step in and act for the health and safety of the 34 million people who are at risk and create a scheme similar to the food safety one. The alternatives are evident weekly in the media when cases come out of court after yet another person has died or been injured at work.
What are the benefits of a Scores on the Doors for Health and Safety?
- Happier and healthier workplaces – improved working experience and employee loyalty.
- Compliant employers demonstrate care for employees – easier to recruit and become an employer of choice.
- Fewer accidents would reduce NHS costs to tax payers – money spent could be spent on real health issues.
- Decrease in economic costs of ill health and injuries – £11.2 million in the Northwest 2014.
- Compliance would reduce insurance costs to businesses.
- Fewer work days lost due to ill health – improved business continuity and productivity
- Reduction of HSE improvement/prohibition notices – savings directed to proactive HSE support
Do I have a strong case to put to the minister for the Northern Powerhouse, James Wharton? Leave a comment below and I will start to collate the feedback. Who knows, he may just listen to an SME who is passionate about the health, safety and welfare of the Northern Powerhouse workforce.