Everyone knows there is a lot of health and safety legislation that applies to businesses, but how many:
- Keep up to date with legislation;
- Are aware what applies to their business; or
- Understand how best to apply it to their business.
In our experience not too many; certainly in SME`s (where health and safety professionals are not employed) a lack of knowledge is common place. Only today we discussed with a Facilities Manager the company’s barriers to putting their health and safety house in order. The key barrier was a lack of appreciation of risks to the business from senior management who are regularly asking, does this really apply to us and is this not going too far!
All too often, the problems will normally only be highlighted if something goes wrong, and then where is the blame likely to be apportioned? This Facilities Manager was carefully documenting concerns out of fear of being blamed if a serious incident occurred.
In terms of the law, it is made clear that:
- A lack of knowledge is no defence; and
- That all businesses are required to seek sufficient competent health and safety advice.
With the budget cuts to the HSE and the removal of the HSE Infoline, many smaller businesses are going to find staying up to date very difficult in future. Interestingly, as the Government is currently intending to streamline legislation over the next 6 months, so changes could come thick and fast in 2012 onwards.
It will be interesting to see how businesses approach this challenge, especially as this April the HSE will be required to apply the Fee for Intervention scheme.