Running a Small to Medium sized Enterprise (SME) in the UK is not easy and requires a very special kind of balancing act. The kind of balancing act that can have you taking your eye off some of those balls that seem less important or non-mission critical. This can prove a very costly mistake in the long run. Health and safety compliance is one of those balls. But, it is far more mission critical than you may think. With the introduction of Fees for Intervention (FFI) in October 2012, the costs of ignoring your responsibilty for health and safety compliance, could prove to be the downfall of your business!! Read on….

To take an almost direct quote from the HSE: Modern day working standards requires every organization, regardless of it’s size, to follow certain rules and regulations regarding the Health and Safety of it’s employees. By following and maintaining those strict standards you as a business owner, or responsible person, can both elevate your company’s reputation in a very positive way whilst at the same time protecting it from major financial implications. Financial costs, such as those associated with lost productivity or healthcare, represents £6.0 billion in 2012/13 (HSE Statistics)

Yes, of course accidents DO happen, it’s a sad fact of life, but they can be avoided by ensuring that there is a sound Health and Safety Management policy in place. By maintaining Health and Safety Standards, not only are accidents avoided but the hefty penalties associated with them are also avoided. The introduction of FFI has caused the cost of these penalties to rise dramatically. Sadly, many employers, almost three years after their introduction, are still not aware of FFI! The costs can be huge, causing significant damage to a company’s bottom line or, in extreme circumstances, lead to the closure of the company.

Under FFI, employers that are shown to have contravened health and safety law must pay the HSE’s enforcement costs at the rate of £124 per hour until the breach has been rectified. In the first two months following the introduction of FFI, the HSE issued 1,419 invoices totalling £727,644. These figures are expected to rise as time goes on.

Clearly then it is in the interests of every business owner to ensure that health and safety procedures are not breached within their organizations. This adds a significant burden to the shoulders of managers and owners of SME’s. But, by putting in a place a few simple procedures, complience can be efficiently and cost effectively attained. Here are some points you may want to consider undertaking:

  1. Carry out a risk assessment of your operations

    It is understood that you cannot eliminate all risks. But, they can be identified and minimised. By carrying out a risk assessment using the tools freely available on the HSE website, or downloadable from this site, you can develop an action plan to tackle the risks you identify. An example action plan could involve developing a regular training program and providing or updating PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for your employees.

  2. Develop an effective Health and Safety Policy

    Company’s with 5 employees or less do not need to have a written Health and Safety Policy. However, company’s with more than 5 employees do. While adding yet another drain on your company’s resources, it makes total sense to ensure you have one in place and available for inspection. Any accident or fatality that occurs within your organization can result in huge fines, and possibly imprisonment under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, if you do not have a written Health and Safety Policy. Again the tools are freely available both here and on the HSE’s website to achieve this.

  3. Seek expert advice

    All of this may seem daunting at first. But, by seeking expert help in the early stages you can be sure that your organisation will have the correct procedures in place and is fully complient with the strict standards imposed by the HSE. Whilst it is yet another business cost, the benefits far outweigh the costs you would incur for non-complience if found guilty.

By taking the time to implement these procedures you will instill confidence in your employees and elevate the reputation of both your company and you as an owner or manager.

The 1st team Solutions website is a growing resource for free information and our experts are on hand to help you develop and implement your Health and Safety Management System. Our Risk Assessment service can include a full written health and Safety Policy. Feel free to contact us to discuss your requirements. We’ll be happy to help.

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