The National Safety Symposium, held by the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) from September 2-4, brought renewed focus on the difficulties often identified by business leaders of managing health and safety requirements in the current economic climate. A survey commissioned by IOSH on this topic reveals a great deal about how UK business leaders approach health and safety management in theory and in practice.
The survey found that UK business leaders support the concept of health and safety management, with eighty per cent of survey respondents believing health and safety management directly saves lives. However, in practice, during difficult economic times, UK managers often take an approach that is contrary to their stated belief in the importance of health and safety.
Sixty per cent of the UK business leaders surveyed said that health and safety management is all about red tape, while fifty-six per cent thought it is also about laws from Europe. In addition, fifty-seven per cent of respondents agreed that it costs businesses far too much money to comply with existing legislation. These numbers demonstrate that while UK business leaders value the health and safety of their employees, they feel that health and safety law and practice is too expensive and time consuming.
It is not surprising that this perception exists. The Administrative Burden Measurement Exercise calculated an annual cost of £2.02 billion of administration from health and safety legislation. However, as a result of easy to use health and safety management software, building health and safety resilience does not have to cost an enormous amount of time or money. For example, SHE Software has helped clients such as Stoke on Trent College save around £30,000 in administrative time savings, accident claims and staffing efficiencies.
In reality, ignoring health and safety in the workplace could create much greater, unnecessary costs to businesses and organisations, irrespective of the economic climate. This is especially true in light of the Health and Safety Executive’s recent announcement that a cost recovery scheme will start on 1 October 2012. The scheme will recover costs from those businesses breaking health and safety laws, meaning that the largest economic burden from health and safety management that exists for a business results from not giving health and safety compliance the important attention it deserves.