Frequently Asked Questions

In the event of a prosecution against my company what would the consequences be?

The negative effects of a prosecution are potentially far more serious than they may appear at first sight. Apart from the obvious increased insurance premiums, the loss of staff confidence and morale can be emphatic. Clients, both existing and potential, are unlikely to be impressed and probing enquiries are frequently asked openly in prequalification questionnaires. Of course it’s tempting to attempt a cover-up, but the truth will normally get out at some point and this can potentially make the consequences far worse.

My H&S compliance is the responsibility of my site managers and we correspond with them regularly. Surely as Managing Director I could not be held responsible for an incident?

Company Directors have both collective and individual responsibility for health and safety. Whilst as Managing Director you can delegate the management of safety to your site managers or other staff, you cannot delegate ultimate responsibility. Members of the board must also ensure that their organisation has access to competent health and safety advice, that health and safety arrangements are adequately resourced, that risk assessments are carried out and that employees or their representatives are involved in decisions that affect their health and safety. An offence will be committed where failings by an organisation’s senior management are a substantial element in a breach in duty or care owed to employees or members of the public results in death. Penalties include a custodial sentence and fines that can render a business bankrupt.

Surely Health and Safety is just a cost. Are there any benefits at all to the business?

The inescapable fact is that ‘Good Health is Good Business’. Whilst it is sometimes considered socially acceptable to denigrate certain aspects of health and safety, be assured that poor safety management will be a fast route to poor morale, cynicism and disillusionment amongst staff. Get it right however, and employees will feel a part of an organization that cares, that is professionally run and efficiently managed. To feel part of that culture will cause them to conduct themselves accordingly. The construction industry is a prime example of an environment where there is everything to gain by outwardly demonstrating high standards of health and safety compliance. Clients and Principle Contractors are too concerned about their own legal and financial security to risk employing the services of organisations who do not themselves adopt the highest standards of safety management.

How do I choose an Health and Safety Advisor?

Perhaps the most simple and obvious answer is to ensure the advisor is appropriately qualified and that you obtain competent advice. The choice of whether to recruit a direct employee or to use a consulting partner such as Britrisk may largely be a resource issue that depends on the size of the company. One question that should be considered is whether the person / company you have in mind has appropriate experience in your industry. The higher the inherent nature of risk, the more essential relevant experience is likely to be. For example, an industry notorious for its poor accident record such as Construction, should only attract consulting companies with the experience necessary to understand the salient safety management issues and the skills required to interpret and deliver the demands placed on you by your existing and potential clients. You should certainly be aware how long the prospective company has been in existence. Recently formed organisations are unlikely to have had sufficient time to achieve the credibility and consistency of service necessary to achieve a top quality reference – one more essential aspect of selecting the best consultant or adviser.

Are all advice companies the same?

No. It may help to identify two fundamentally different approaches. There are companies whose service comprises the supply of a collection of document templates that are completed by you as the client. There are occasional visits by an auditor to check on progress, but you shoulder most of the work. We would counsel extreme care as such services do not typically offer good value for money and can lead to difficulties. There is a wealth of such documentation circulating on the internet that is entirely free of charge if you are prepared to risk your presumed lack of specialist knowledge and experience when completing it. Written safety records and documents must be completed to a high standard by trained people (indeed it is a specific legal requirement that an employer must appoint a ‘Competent Person’ to advise them on health and safety). Companies like ourselves therefore offer a Safety Advisor who will implement agreed, specialist actions on your behalf and manage safety on an ongoing basis. Based on an initial audit to determine your needs, a suitable chosen advisor will build a robust, simple and transparent safety management system that is fully in tune with your business needs and budget. We concentrate on a pragmatic approach, with the accent on improving safety whilst minimising onerous procedures and complicated documentation.

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