Together with forewords from Justin Tomlinson MP, then Minister for Disabled People (covering HSE) and former HSE Chair Dame Judith Hackitt DBE the strategy reflects on the "complexity and bureaucracy" that has built up around health and safety in Great Britain, but also reiterates the principles of our overarching system, these being:

  • "Those who create risks have a responsibility to manage those risks - placing the ownership of risk in the right place"; and
  • "Action should be proportionate to the risks that need to be managed - which means we need well-thought-out measures to be applied that are tailored to each business, to the nature of the work undertaken and the people who work there."

It also clearly promotes the message that good health and safety is good for business, organisationally and nationally - "effective health and safety management allows innovation, enhances productivity and enables growth."

For those who don't subscribe to this message the new sentencing guidelines covering health and safety offences, corporate manslaughter and food safety and food hygiene - which also came into effect this year - have already seen significant and substantial increases in fines for a range of offences.

Using the key themes and a quote from the strategy document, what are the questions you should be considering to help shape your health and safety to best effect for compliance and productivity?

1. Acting together: Promoting broader ownership of health and safety in Great Britain

"Health and safety should not be a responsibility assigned to a particular individual or part of an organisation, but an integral part of everyone's role. There needs to be much broader ownership of the issues."

The key words in this theme revolve around "collective", "collaborative" and "engaged" and some
of the things you might want to consider are:

  • When was the last time your senior management team had any form of meaningful health and safety training or update?
  • How well are your health and safety committee meetings working and what are their outputs?
  • To what extent is interdepartmental/faculty managed health and safety understood and delivered particular areas where this can be a challenge include asbestos, fire and Legionella?

2. Tackling ill health: Highlighting and tackling the costs of work-related ill health

"Work-related ill health is a problem for every section of society, with conditions ranging from cancer and other long-latency diseases, to stress and musculoskeletal disorders. Greater awareness of the harm, costs and preventability of work-related ill health should drive collective action to improve health outcomes."

We have a strong safety culture in the Great Britain and while our management of work related ill health is improving, it remains the biggest contributor to lost time. It is also interesting to note that organisations are increasingly developing policies and initiatives around the more social areas of sustainability such as wellbeing, living wage, healthy eating and flexible working to sit alongside environment and safety.

  • How well are work related ill health issues and their possible impact on your organisations understood?
  • Have you assessed your organisation to identify the range of activities that could impact on health - don't just think stress, but consider vibration, chemicals, tasks (handling, DSE, etc.)?
  • What trends in ill health are you seeing in your organisation and how are you managing them?

3. Managing risk well: Simplifying risk management and helping business to grow

"Successful organisations understand that sensible and proportionate risk management is integral to delivering their business. This approach supports growth, enables innovation and protects an organisation's most vital asset, its people."

The "people, place, process" model is key to sensible risk management for all organisations.

Understanding where problems could impact and how they affect the organisation and its ability to function "normally". If not considered, all too often we find trivial risks being over managed, while significant risk are, delegated - with no control - to third parties, badly managed or not managed at all.

  • Do you have a health and safety risk register for your organisation and when was it last updated?
  • Are your risk assessments suitable and sufficient? How much involvement did you have in the process? Were they purchased on cost or quality? Who carried them out and when were they last reviewed?
  • Go and find one of your risk assessments and check how many of the recommendations in it have been completed - who and when - and when it was last reviewed against the requirements of your policy?

4. Supporting small employers: Giving SMEs simple advice so they know what they have to do

"Reaching micro and small businesses can be difficult, but not impossible. Working together, much has already been done to help small businesses, but there are opportunities to work smarter."

SMEs are the engine room of our economy, but like any organisation they need to manage risk proportionately but effectively. Particularly with rapidly expanding/growing organisations, if the management infrastructure isn't in place at an early stage, health and safety provision is soon non-compliant or insufficient/unsuitable because it fails to keep pace with the rest of the business.

  • Where are the intrinsic risks in the business and how are these being effectively managed?
  • If health and safety requirements changed how would you identify and react to them in your organisation?
  • What health and safety questions are you being asked by your customers and how can you develop your processes for answering these to best effect for you and your business?

5. Keeping pace with change: Anticipating and tackling new health and safety challenges

"Great Britain leads the world in anticipating and tackling the new health and safety challenges that come with social, economic and technological change."

Keeping up with change, particularly in health, safety and environmental legislation, has been a challenge for many over the last decade with agendas and requirements changed, amended and adapted. It is by being progressive and managing risk, not just proportionately but effectively, that we will maintain our "world-class" standing.

  • What areas of your current health and safety do you need to invest in for the benefit of your employees and organisation?
  • How are you keeping up to date with changes in legislation and the effect this may have on your organisation?
  • When was the last time you strategically reviewed your health and safety provision?

6. Sharing our success: Promoting the benefits of Great Britain's world-class health and safety system

"Everyone can take pride in Great Britain's world-class reputation for health and safety and promote its success at home and abroad."

"This strategy has largely concerned itself with improving standards in Great Britain. But we should also look to share best practice and the latest thinking and innovation around the world."

Increasingly the reputational drivers around health and safety are becoming increasingly compelling. Not just in terms of the negative publicity of non-compliance either. Positively through tenders, promotion, staff morale and increased productivity, good health and safety is good for business and something that should be celebrated.

  • Do you use your health and safety record to your competitive advantage?
  • How is effective health and safety celebrated in your organisation?
  • What opportunities do you have to share your successes and experiences with others - How about a case study with Assurity Consulting?

If we can help you with any aspect of your health and safety management, please contact us on tel. +44(0)1403 269375 or email us.