It seems that whenever we talk about workplace safety today, cries of “it’s health and safety gone mad!” aren’t far behind. From outlawing running in the playground to banning flip flops in the office, it’s all too often that discussions on the topic tend to focus on situations where rules are at best outlandish, and at worst seen as lacking any common sense. With so much criticism and division on the subject, it’s easy to lose sight of the reasons why health and safety training is important in the first place.
While it may be a common trend to make fun of overzealous rules and guidelines, we often lose sight of the crucial role it plays in protecting millions of workers across the UK from harm.
It doesn’t matter what the size of your organisation is, if you have employees (or are self-employed), health and safety should be at the top of your priority list. Here are 7 key reasons why health and safety training is important for your business.
1. It’s The Law
This might seem like an obvious point, but one of the key reasons why health and safety training is important is because it isn’t optional – it’s the law. Introduced in 1974, The Health and Safety at Work Act is a key piece of legislation that requires employers and employees to take reasonable and practicable steps to ensure health and safety in the workplace. In addition, certain regulations outline health and safety procedures in specific industries and sectors.
Breaking health and safety law can have severe consequences for many organisations. Fines for health and safety violations continue to grow year on year, as the UK Government continues to pursue a zero-tolerance approach against offenders. Fines can often severely disrupt a company’s financial security and, in severe cases, lead to bankruptcy. In addition to the financial cost, breaches in health and safety can often lead to criminal prosecution which can have a devastating impact on an organisations reputation and ability to continue to operate.
2. Risk Can Be Found in Any Workplace
From busy construction sites to a quiet business office, all workplaces come with their own unique hazards. While it’s true that an office space might look and feel safe in comparison, threats such as slips, trips and falls, unsecured equipment and even asbestos are all things that can cause significant risk to workplace safety and are all potential issues that employee should be aware of.
It’s important to avoid becoming complacent with health and safety procedures, and to remember that no workplace is 100% safe. Ultimately health and safety should be an ongoing process that allows employers to identify, monitor and reduce risk associated with the workplace.
3. Increases Efficiency
In today’s fast paced world, many consider health and safety to be a time consuming and tedious effort, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, there are many ways in which health and safety can have a positive influence on boosting an organisations efficiency and productivity.
In most cases, health and safety procedures require the use of concise language and follow a distinct step by step structure so that tasks are clearly defined and easy to understand. As a result, employees are able to complete work tasks efficiently, and above all, safely. A safe workplace also ensures that employees are able to go about their work without having to worry about unsafe working conditions. By working in a safe and secure environment, workers are more likely to remain focused which contributes to the overall productivity of the organisation.
4. Reduces Costs Across the Board
Indeed, a good health and safety training program can play a key role in reducing costs in more ways than one.
Making operations clearer not only increases productivity, but can also help organisations cut down on indirect costs to businesses. Streamlined operations mean less time is spent on individual tasks, which ensures that working hours are more efficient.
Losing workers due to a workplace accident injury or illness can also have a detrimental effect on operations. Not only do employers lose valuable time and resources in managing the situation and finding a replacement, but they also miss out the knowledge, skills and experience that the employee brings to the table. Effective health and safety procedures mean that fewer employees need to take a leave of absence, which reduces the chance of long term disruptions to ongoing projects and the potential loss of highly skilled workers.
Finally, an uncompromising approach to health and safety training can also help companies avoid significant fines for breaches in health and safety regulations. In recent cases, fines for violations have soared into the millions as the UK government attempts to crack down on offenders. It’s also important to remember that on top of fines, organisations can expect to pay further dues in compensation, victim surcharges and the cost of legal proceedings.
5. Creates a Safe Company Culture
A strong health and safety policy can help an organisation build a good relationship with its employees. Indeed, staff who feel safe and valued are less likely to leave, and tend to be more satisfied with their employers, which can have a positive impact on morale and help boost productivity.
On the other hand, in the digital age in which we live, word travels fast. Today forums across the internet are full of threads that discuss a companies values and ideals. A health and safety strategy can serve as a good indicator of an organisation’s awareness and commitment to social responsibility.
A safe and secure company culture is also something that prospective hires really value when looking for a new position. A safe and secure workplace can be an effective way to attract a highly skilled pool of potential candidates, which can aid an organisation in building an effective workforce.
6. Raises Your Profile
Health and safety training is important because it can often play a vital role in what projects an organisation can bid for and how they are awarded. As a result, a strong record of health and safety excellence can help businesses to achieve high recognition and good standing in their industry.
For example, a construction company that demonstrates a commitment to health and safety, is compliant with all Health and Safety Executive (HSE) requirements and is industry recognised is far more likely to be awarded high profile contracts than a company that isn’t.
Building a strong profile is a vital part of the ongoing success of any business model, and a commitment to health and safety can play a key role in the process going forward.
7. There’s Nothing to Lose, and Everything to Gain
While the above reasons are all effective points, they do share a common theme.
In short, health and safety training is important because it has the capacity to unite employers and employees in the pursuit of a common goal – to create a safe and secure workplace that ensures the safety and success of everyone involved.
Ultimately, the benefits of a strong health and safety policy far outweigh the cost of maintaining it. To that end, health and safety training should never be seen as a barrier to success or considered as an after-thought, but rather as an effective and logical step to ensure good, ethical and productive business standards.
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This article is purely for informational purposes. For more information on health and safety in the workplace visit: http://www.hse.gov.uk