As a general rule, the prevailing health and safety culture in the UK has often been regarded as overbearing. To many, it is the symptom of a ‘Nanny state’, in which governments look to exert control beyond reasonable means and influence the private sector. This has prompted justice secretary Chris Grayling to declare war on Britain’s so-called health and safety culture, in a bid to protect small and medium sized businesses and prevent the award of frivolous compensation payments.
Why Businesses Must Pay Attention to Health and Safety Guidelines
While the UK’s justice secretary may have a point, it is crucial that the government do not send the wrong message to small and medium sized businesses. As the developers of national laws and industry guidelines, they must adopt an ethos that reflects existing regulations while also creating a culture of responsibility among entrepreneurs. After all, among the instances of rogue and frivolous claims there are also occasions when individuals have been seriously injured as a result of employer negligence.
As is stands, businesses must comply with a host of health and safety regulations that impact on every single aspect of their commercial venture. So even though the coalition government may intend to dispense with these regulations in time, until they take direct action it is irresponsible to do anything other than encourage compliance and reinforce the importance of a safe workplace. This will ultimately save businesses money in the long-term, as companies which suddenly relax their approach to health and safety may find themselves falling foul of national laws.
In Summary: Your Duty to Individual Employees
While it is important to understand and observe health and safety laws, you should not lose sight of your duty to the individual well-being of each employee. More specifically, it is imperative that you provide a safe and compliant workplace for your staff members, as they have a basic right to work in comfort and represent a business that respects their safety.
Beyond this, you should also look to create a culture of health and safety awareness and responsibility in your workplace. By educating employees and training them on topical issues such as asbestos awareness, you can create a genuinely safe workplace where each individual employee is empowered to take accountability for their own actions. Such an ethos also ensures that health and safety awareness can survive high levels of staff turnover or instances where your business expands considerably.