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Health and safety: managing the process.

[check] This checklist provides an overview of the key issues that should be considered in managing the health and safety process within an organisation. Effective health and safety management is not just a legal and moral obligation, but a personal one, as managers are increasingly being held personally accountable in law for the safety of their employees.

To succeed, top management commitment is required to support a coherent strategy that is fully integrated into the general management practices and processes of the organisation.


Management of the health and safety process involves the setting of a policy, creation of a suitable organisational culture, development and implementation of a health and safety plan, and evaluation of the plan's performance.

Advantages of managing the health and safety process

Managing health and safety effectively not only ensures that you meet legislative requirements but also:

* contributes to the positive well-being of the organisation

* reduces the risk of injury and ill health

* reduces lost staff time

* improves corporate image and averts negative publicity

* contributes towards a programme of continuous improvement.

Disadvantages of managing the health and safety process

The benefits far outweigh the disadvantages, but managing health and safety properly:

* takes up time and resources

* requires constant review and updating.

Action checklist

1. Get the policy right

Success relies on an effective policy which minimises health and safety risks to employees and others. Key actions at this stage include:

* undertaking a health and safety risk assessment--this will give you information on areas that need attention and monitoring (see Related Checklist 56)

* familiarising yourself with relevant legislation (see Useful Reading)

* allocating responsibilities for creating and revising health and safety policy and procedures

* ensuring that the health and safety policy is given the same priority as your other organisational goals

* resourcing health and safety adequately--using a separate budget if appropriate.

2. Create a positive health and safety culture

The creation of a culture which secures the motivation and involvement of all members of the organisation in health and safety is critical. All employees need to think 'safety first' and consider health and safety matters as a natural part of their working life.

You can create the right climate for this to develop in some of the following ways:

* appoint health and safety champions to raise the profile and drive the project

* set health and safety objectives and performance standards for all staff--remember that prevention is better than cure

* involve employees and safety representatives at all stages--from planning through implementation to monitoring and review

* provide adequate information on health and safety to all staff and keep them up to date

* implement refresher training for all staff at regular intervals

* reward employees for good health and safety practice

* include health and safety as an agenda item at top management meetings and team briefings.

3. Develop a plan

You will need to:

* produce a written plan for health and safety which is reviewed regularly--co-ordinate and timetable all health and safety activities in one programme

* identify clear objectives and standards

* include measurable targets

* identify resources required

* consider all the processes in your organisation--from purchasing materials to delivering the product or service--and all personnel when drawing up a plan.

Areas which the plan may look at include:

* accident prevention--look at severe hazards such as chemicals and radiation, and also more common hazards such as trailing electrical leads and heavy lifting

* physical working conditions--including factors such as light, heat, ventilation, seating, hygiene and computer workstations

* psychological health--covering areas such as stress reduction, shift working, rest breaks, prevention of bullying and achieving a worklife-family balance

* health problems of employees--including alcoholism and drug addiction

* health promotion--for example exercise and healthy eating

* emergency procedures--such as fire drills, equipment shutdown and security procedures

* specific groups of employees particularly at risk--including the young, disabled workers and pregnant women.

You should also consider extending your health and safety plan to suppliers and contractors. Any failings on their part may impact on your organisation, so a written policy and penalties for non-compliance could be introduced.

Remember also to consider the health and safety of customers using your products or services and of visitors to your premises.

4. Measure performance

Once your plan is in place, you will need to ensure it is effective. Performance can be measured proactively as well as reactively. Proactive measures include:

* auditing your system to ensure that monitoring systems are in place and are effective

* systematically inspecting the workplace

* evaluating your training processes

* talking to staff

* reviewing the relevant minutes of management meetings.

Reactive measures include:

* examining data collected after incidents--accident books, sickness records and records of 'near misses'

* checking damage to property, perhaps via insurance reporting.

* revising procedures to account for problems encountered whilst carrying it out

5. Review performance

Performance evaluation will enable you to check that your policy and plans are working efficiently and continue to meet legal requirements, corporate objectives and changing circumstances. The evaluation process might involve:

* comparing your findings to your objectives and standards

* validating your findings by talking to staff

* benchmarking against similar organisations in your area

* giving feedback to staff and seeking commitment to improvements

* changing your policy, plan and procedures to reflect your findings--ensure that high risk areas are given priority attention.

Review will be a continuous process, but you will need to set a timetable for formally revising your health and safety plan every year, or when new legislation or regulations require it.

Dos and don'ts for managing the health and safety process


* Involve all your staff including top management.

* Give health and safety the same priority as your organisational goals.

* Aim for continuous improvement.

* Consider health and safety issues when carrying out organisation restructuring--if necessary, arrange training for those taking on new health and safety responsibilities.


* Assume that health and safety is only for high risk or hazardous environments.

* Assume that health and safety is just 'common sense' and therefore understood by everyone.

* Forget to include temporary staff, homeworkers and contractors in your planning.

Useful reading

Health and safety law 2004 Labour Research Department London 2004

Systems in focus : guidance on occupational safety and health management systems Institution of Occupational Safety and Health Wigston, 2003

A managers guide to health and safety at work, 7th ed, Jeremy Stranks London, Kogan Page, 2003

Maintaining and improving health safety and quality, National Extension College Trust Prime Training Cambridge, 2002

Health and wellbeing in the workplace : managing health safety and wellbeing at work to boost business performance Institute of Directors and others London, 2002

Tolleys office health and safety handbook 2003, 3rd ed, David Wenham ed Croydon, Butterworths Tolley, 2002

Useful addresses

Health and Safety Executive HSE Infoline Tel: 0845 345 0055

Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents RoSPA House, Edgbaston Park, 353 Bristol Road, Birmingham B5 7ST Tel: 0121 248 2000

British Safety Council, 70 Chancellor's Road, London W6 9RS Tel: 020 8741 1231

Thought starters

* What might be the cost to your company of a serious accident?

* Talk to your staff--how aware are they of health and safety risks and issues in your workplace?

* Who is responsible for health and safety in your organisation? How accountable are they?

* Are there any incentives in place to encourage good health and safety practice?

Note: This checklist was prepared in collaboration with the Health and Safety Executive's Operations Unit.
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Title Annotation:Checklist 157
Publication:Chartered Management Institute: Checklists: Operations and Quality
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 1, 2005
Previous Article:Implementing the balanced scorecard.
Next Article:Pursuing business excellence.

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