Responsible businesses need to take account of Profit, People and the Planet and, despite some people’s views about profit being a ‘dirty’ word, that is the order of importance.
If you don’t make a profit you can’t look after your people, in fact, it’s the only way to safeguard both the people in your organisation and the planet on which we live and work. If you aren’t making a profit (or an operating surplus), you will be focused on fire-fighting and that usually results in ‘making do’ rather than ‘good practice’. It certainly doesn’t allow for training your people in how to look after themselves, let alone their planet.
There are three reasons for addressing health and safety:
Financial – to ensure you have the resources to continue to operate efficiently, effectively and safely.
Legal – to comply with the legislation, which is not as complex or onerous as most people think. There is a great deal of legislation; however, it all says pretty much the same thing.
Moral – every employer has a duty of care to their employees to keep them safe.
These three come together when you’re talking about business ethics – making money in a safe and sustainable environment. Health and safety should not be a cost to the business: there must be payback – a positive benefit.
Balancing Risks and Costs
There needs to be a balance between risk and cost and this is often missing as organisations only look at the severity of any risk, resulting in a skewed view that results in high levels of cost – and very few benefits.
A robust approach to health and safety is based on risk assessment
, balancing likelihood and severity. If you don’t look at likelihood, risks can be seen in an unnecessarily negative light, against the interests of organisation to the point where everyone becomes wrapped in cotton wool.
The responsible and sensible approach is to apply common sense and practical systems. Health and safety legislation isn’t as complex as many people imagine. In fact, if everyone in the organisation is properly informed, instructed, trained and supervised (IITS) to ensure they are competent and all competent people are KEPT (have Knowledge, Experience, (appropriate) Personal attributes, and Training) you’ll be compliant without having to wade through a mountain of legal requirements.
And remember that training isn’t just sitting in a training room – it can be working beside an experienced person, exploring new activities to develop skills, or coaching. Neither is supervision only about performance measurement; it’s also about keeping eyes and ears open for fellow workers, to support and protect them.
In responsible organisations the legal requirements make no difference to the way the organisation is run; they are just a part of good practice.
Malcolm has a wonderfully refreshing attitude to Health and Safety and Risk Assessment: mention the word “conkers” to him and he is likely to give you a lecture on the idiocy of people who don’t know what a risk assessment is about! If you are looking for a common sense approach, Malcolm is the person to speak to.
Malcolm is an ex-firefighter and a former skydiver: he understands risk! Even more importantly, Malcolm understands business and the entrepreneurial spirit. He believes that the compliance of Health and Safety and risk management should be a profit generator; something that is incorporated into the core of a business and part of the business improvement process. Malcolm makes compliance work for businesses instead of being an obstacle.
Malcolm has also won an IET (Institution of Engineering & Technology) award for his concept - PROPA™ which helps deliver integrated risk and safety.