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What is health and safety compliance?
Health and safety seems like the given thing for organisations to acknowledge, but what exactly is health and safety compliance?
Health and safety compliance refers to the enforcement of the law within your organisation, as well as the activities and process of complying with regulations. 98% of UK establishments have a document referring to the health and safety responsibilities and procedures of their organisation.
There are several laws and regulations in the UK with health and safety at the forefront. The primary law for all organisations to comply with is the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, which involves the safety of employees and the consumer.
The HSE outline several basics for you as an organisation to implement and abide by to help maintain a safe establishment.
Who is in charge of health and safety compliance?
Everyone within an organisation is responsible for full compliance with health and safety rules and regulations. However, organisation owners and employers hold the most responsibility for workplace health and safety.
The senior management of an organisation is the collective group that may be prosecuted under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act or individually under the Health and Safety at Work Act or be barred from holding an office as a director. They have a vested self-interest to set the highest level of compliance and proclaim that to the organisation. They may also see that compliance is a core value of the organisation and its shareholders and stakeholders.
What is the level of health and safety compliance we should aim for?
People who suffer accidents and ill health due to a lack of compliance with the organisation's standards are usually workers directly employed, outsourced or contacted. It also includes those who may be visitors, passers-by or the general public. They will generally expect that organisations will operate to high standards of compliance. However, workers often observe that what is said and applied are different things. This, in turn, generates a culture in which lack of compliance and risk-taking is an accepted norm, and as a result, the organisation's performance is impacted.
As has been written about, analysed, researched, published and legislated for over many years, the problem stops with senior management. Therefore, the question 'What level of compliance should we be satisfied with?' is their decision and not for general debate or interpretation in the organisation.
The Institute of Directors and the Health and Safety Executive publication gives some pretty clear guidance and has some interesting quotes from senior management across the public and private sectors:
"Board-level involvement is an essential part of the 21st-century trading ethic. Attitudes to health and safety are determined by the bosses, not the organisation's size."
"Health and safety is integral to success. Board members who do not show leadership in this area are failing in their duty as directors and their moral duty and are damaging their organisation."
"An organisation will never be able to achieve the highest standards of health and safety management without the active involvement of directors. External stakeholders viewing the organisation will observe the lack of direction.
What is a health and safety compliance audit?
A health and safety compliance audit is a process that your organisation can go through to check compliance with health and safety legislation. It also assesses how well you follow processes and your general performance. It's an excellent way to protect your organisation's workforce and consumers.
Most audits are carried out against several requirements, including:
- UK legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work Act
- Health and safety management arrangements
- Training policies
- First aid
- Hazardous substances
- Work equipment
For smaller organisations, the audit may only involve an inspection of the premises and a review of health and safety documentation.