If firms are looking to cut corners, they may be tempted to question the cost of health and safety.
Sadly, some people still view health and safety as needless red tape so when it comes to the cost of health and safety they only look at the wages they are paying out or the invoice they receive from their health and safety consultancy.
If they’re doing this, they’re not thinking about the true cost of health and safety.
The true cost of health and safety is what happens when you fail to manage your health and safety requirements properly.
This is when workers or visitors run the risk of being injured or killed. This is when a company that has been found to be in breach of health and safety law is told by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to stop operating. This is when a firm is prosecuted and faces crippling fines and court costs.
To many people it also comes as a surprise when you tell them that it’s not just firms that can be prosecuted – individuals can be prosecuted, ordered to pay court costs and even given custodial sentences for breaching health and safety law in the workplace too.
The cost of health and safety to individuals
A few weeks ago, the HSE shared the details of a sad incident which showed the human cost of a health and safety breach.
It reported on the case of a site supervisor who was sentenced for safety breaches after a 46-year-old worker became entangled in a conveyor belt sustaining serious injuries to his hand and arm.
Last month, Leeds’ Crown Court heard that, on 20 October 2016, an operative was working on a conveyor belt on an automated waste picking line at Associated Waste Management (AWM) Ltd in Canal Road, Bradford, when it became damaged and needed repair.
Whilst the operative was working to repair the conveyor line, it started moving and his arm became entangled, which caused muscle and tissue damage.
An investigation by the HSE found AWM site supervisor Andrew Hughes, who had control of the site in the absence of the site manager, was responsible for completing a permit for the repair work and isolating the line.
However, on his way to complete the permit he became distracted with another matter and the permit to work and isolation were not completed. This meant that the conveyor belt restarted during the repair work injuring the employee.
Andrew Hughes, of Heathmoor Park Road, Illingworth, Halifax, West Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 7 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was given a four-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay costs of £1,000.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Darian Dundas said: “Mr Hughes failed to implement company policy and procedure in respect of permits to work and isolation.
“This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.”
This case highlights not only the cost of health and safety in terms of the physical injuries sustained by the worker but also the cost of health and safety in terms of the financial cost to the site supervisor.
How can firms manage the financial cost of health and safety?
We understand that firms can struggle to cope with the expense of employing a full-time member of staff who is dedicated to managing health and safety. However, if firms don’t manage their health and safety requirements properly the cost of health and safety in human terms and in terms of damage to the business and its reputation can be much greater.
This is why Acorn Safety Services offers a wide variety of health and safety services, including a Retained Health and Safety Consultancy Service. This service helps firms to manage the cost of health and safety because it protects them from the onslaught of health and safety regulations without them having to hire a full-time employee.
At Acorn, our highly qualified team of experts has helped business owners become health and safety compliant in the shortest time possible, supporting them, their business and their employees on an ongoing basis.
We’ve shown hundreds of businesses how to easily become health and safety compliant without them having to do all the hard work or making mistakes.
We do all the work for them, so all they need to do is choose which support package works best for them and they are health and safety compliant in no time.
Essentially, we can help firms manage the financial cost of health and safety management, so they don’t end up facing the devastating cost of health and safety mistakes.