The more we work in businesses across the UK, the clearer it becomes that common sense really is not that common after all. On the HSE website we see weekly prosecutions showing that if only a sensible approach had been applied then an accident could have been avoided and there would have been no case to answer.
This is backed up by what we see when working in many businesses, where our fresh pairs of eyes and expertise spot potential hazards in most workplaces we visit. Take for example a workplace where workers are using power tools around flammable dusts – the tooling would often become clogged and not perform properly. At this stage the maintenance department would clean the tools out but there was no set procedure for the frequency. Our question was: “what if the equipment started to overheat or started sparking – what do you think might happen?”. The staff had no real appreciation of the risks of the flammable materials they were working with so did not see the risks.
This points to the fact that what is “common sense” to one person clearly might not be to another.
What is true is that health and safety does not have to be complicated and in fact really should not be in the majority of businesses. It’s people and their fear of health and safety that tends to over complicate things.
The Government seems to think that relaxing regulation and removing what it sees as a health and safety culture (that is stifling all of your businesses) will make life easier; but will it? When people get hurt then they suffer and by association your businesses will also suffer. Therefore, many savings made will quickly be lost. Is this a sensible approach to improving UK business competitiveness?
We believe that there is a happy medium that can be found for most if not all businesses; where a “common sense” approach can be applied to make health and safety more effective and less of a burden. The key to this common sense approach is to make sure your staff are trained to understand what might go wrong and what they can do to avoid things going wrong.