Nov 102015

“Reasons why I don’t …”

by Andy Farrall

Andy Farrall Health and SafetyHealth & Safety specialists never cease to be amazed by the “reasons” given by senior managers as to why they don’t see the need for effective Health & Safety management systems, and some of these “reasons” are analysed below.

What is rather worrying, is that the people advocating these “reasons” are otherwise astute business people who presumably understand the ways of the world!

  1. We don’t need a system – it’s only common sense:

Ah yes, but unfortunately this “common sense” that people talk about really isn’t very sensible! If you don’t believe it then how do you explain those drivers on the motorways who think it’s fine to sit six inches off the preceding car’s tail lights while still doing 70mph in heavy rain? Would common sense have not told them that they haven’t got a snowball’s chance of stopping safely in an emergency? Have they never seen news reports about multi-vehicle accidents on motorways in bad weather?

  1. We don’t need a system – we’ve done it this way for years:

There are two possible explanations for why you haven’t had a problem yet. Either you’re doing things correctly (which is always good news) or you’re actually making mistakes which haven’t caught up with you just yet (which is always bad news). There is a philosophy underpinning Health & Safety theory which says that every time you commit an unsafe act, or allow an unsafe condition, you are rolling the dice. And that one day the dice will go against you with possibly catastrophic results! Having an effective management system in place means that you can rest assured you’re doing things properly and aren’t gambling with somebody else’s safety.

  1. We don’t need a system – it’s too expensive:

If you think health & safety management is too expensive to set up and run then try looking at the real cost of having an accident! Think about the cost of fines (possibly in six or seven figures); compensation claims; increased insurance premiums (assuming anybody is still willing to give you insurance!); damage to the firm’s reputation; amount of management time involved in investigating/ defending legal actions; and so on. Unsurprisingly, some companies never survive the financial aftermath of a serious accident.

We could go on, but we think you get the point.

To conclude, Health and Safety experts would argue that advocating such flawed – yet damaging – criticisms of proper Health & Safety practice should be seen as the hallmark of a poor director, one who is either incapable of doing his job properly or who is ignorant of his legal responsibilities.

We say this because surely a director who encouraged ignoring taxation law on the basis that it was complicated wouldn’t last long in the boardroom, and rightly so, so why should a director who advocates ignoring Health & Safety law be treated any more leniently?

Failing to pay taxes only costs money, whereas failing to provide effective health & safety management can cost lives!

About the author:

Andy has his own health & safety practice, Management & Safety Training Ltd, which in turn has its own specialist industrial accident investigation division, iNDAXCON. He is a highly experienced and internationally qualified investigator, consultant and trainer, qualified in both the health & safety and training sectors.

A Fellow of the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management, a chartered safety & health practitioner (chartered both with IOSH in the UK and SIA in Australia) and a member of the UK Occupational Safety & Health Consultants Register (OSHCR), he has a proven track record in fields as diverse as accident investigation, lone worker safety, construction safety, and health & safety training.

Previously a specialist investigator with two élite UK law enforcement agencies (including responsibility for the management of complex international fraud enquiries) he became an accredited security trainer and assessor with the City of Bristol College. His move into the health & safety sector has included a wide range of training/ consultancy projects.