Why managers need to care about health and safety

POSTED BY IN health and safety

healthandsaftyManagers have a whole range of responsibilities, but one of the most important of these is protecting the health and well being of their personnel, as well as anyone else who may be affected by the actions of their companies. Bosses who choose to shirk their safety responsibilities are simply storing up trouble for the future, and here’s why.

The law

Under UK laws, firms are required to take health and safety seriously. As it states on the website of safety training specialists, employers have the primary responsibility for risk control in the workplace and they must do whatever is reasonably practicable in order to manage dangers. Those organisations that flout the rules can find themselves in major difficulties. According to figures provided by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), across Britain a total of 674 cases were prosecuted for safety breaches in 2013-14. This led to 636 convictions.

As well as having to endure the burden of being dragged through the courts, companies that fail to meet their safety obligations can find they are left out of pocket. The HSE notes that during this 12-month period, the fines imposed on businesses for safety infringements totalled £18 million. As well as fines, firms can be forced to pay compensation to the victims of their safety shortcomings.

The moral dimension

There is also the moral dimension of this issue to consider. HSE figures show that last year alone, around 629,000 injuries occurred at work and 133 people were killed while performing their roles. Meanwhile, 1.2 million people who worked during this period had an illness that they believed had been caused or made worse by their jobs. Behind these statistics lie stories of real human pain and suffering, and as well as affecting the workers themselves, injuries and illnesses can have a devastating impact on family members, friends and colleagues.

The risk to reputation

Managers also have to consider the risk to the reputation of their businesses if they let safety standards slip. While it requires a lot of time and hard work to build up a positive image as a firm, it only takes one lapse in risk management standards to bring brands into disrepute. People don’t tend to want to do business with organisations that they can’t trust on safety standards, and this can have a major impact on enterprises’ bottom lines. Companies can also find it harder to recruit and retain the best personnel if they show a disregard for the well being of their employees.

Given all the problems that safety failings can bring to firms, it’s easy to see why managers must take risk control seriously.