We have read recently that the HSE is encouraging SMES to use it’s free tools and guidance in order to find the health & safety answers their business needs. The view from the HSE is that many businesses are wasting time and money on unnecessary safety measures.
This comes as a result of a new survey the HSE has completed which has revealed some SMEs go to unnecessary lengths in an effort to comply with health & safety legislation. The HSE believes it’s H&S ABC provides simple to access and useful information to help save time, effort and money and also identifies things that do need to be done and other things that don’t.
The survey showed that almost a third of small businesses classed themselves as hopeful have a go’s for health & safety; they are aware they need to do something but not where to start or if what they are doing is correct.
It’s interesting that the HSE are suggesting their website will provide all of the answers to these businesses; as most that come to professionals such as us do so because of a lack of competence and time to deal with health & safety.
Also as the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations require access to Competent Advice are the HSE suggesting this will suffice! It would be interesting to see a challenge from an employer in the future caught under FFI; could they make a case they had only been following HSE guidance!
There was a time when the HSE had an info line that employers could contact to ask advice; that was closed due to funding cuts and businesses have been required to find solutions from themselves. The H&S ABC will definitely help we believe but will only work if businesses have the time to look through the site and then have to competence to interpret the guidance provided.
Even then it’s about taking positive action and from the many HSE prosecutions posted they show that in many instances the business has invariably failed to manage the risks properly sometimes even when the risks were previously identified to them.
We do support the HSE view that some businesses do occasionally go over the top in trying to manage their risks; usually this is because they rely on poor advice from persons who are not sufficiently competent. A sensible and proportionate approach can only be achieved when the risks are sufficiently well understood.
So why not take a look around the HSE guidance and then where you are not sure of what is a sensible approach ask for help from someone that knows what they are talking about. This way you can help to keep your business safe without going over the top.