What is a Health and Safety Management System?Your organisation is responsible for ensuring the health and safety off all your employees and those who may also be affected by your activities. Therefore, it is essential that your organisation provides a safe working environment, has measures in place to prevent the occurrence of work-related injuries and illnesses and strives to continually improve its health and safety performance. Having a robust health and safety management system will help provide your organisation with an effective framework to help you control both the risks and opportunities associated with health and safety. An established health and safety management system will also ensure that your organisation is meeting all its legal requirements, such as those outlined by the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.
Establishing an Effective Health & Safety Management SystemThe Health & Safety at Work Act states that any organisation that employees over five members of staff must possess both an established health and safety policy and written risk assessments. However, it’s still good practice to have these measures in place, even if you employ less staff. Remember when writing your health and safety policy you need to include information, such as your health and safety objectives, how your organisation will achieve these, who will be responsible for controlling the measures and how you will measure success. An effective health and safety management system should also outline how your organisation will respond to and minimise the impact of emergency situations, such as fires or natural disasters. The success of your health and safety management system is dependent upon the commitment and participation of all members of staff from all levels of your organisation. Be sure that your health and safety system is reviewed thoroughly by management at least once a year to ensure you maintain and are up to date with your compliance.
10 Reasons Why a Health and Safety Management System is Important
- Implementing and maintaining a health and safety management system will help boost employee morale and as a result their productivity by demonstrating that you genuinely care about their safety in the workplace.
- A health and safety management system will ensure that you are complying with health and safety laws and regulations helping to reduce the potential risk of fines, forced closure of your organisation or even imprisonment.
- With effective preventive and protective measures, a health and safety management system will help prevent injuries and illness within your workplace.
- A robust health and safety management system will help generate and maintain a strong positive brand image for your organisation which can encourage new employee, consumer, and investor interest.
- Your organisation will reduce its financial costs related to accidents within the workplace such as employee compensation claims, or the costs associated with locating and hiring temporary staff to fill in for injured or sick employees.
- Evidencing an effective health and safety management system will help lower your insurance costs as insurers are more likely to offer lower premiums to your organisation if you can demonstrate you are effectively controlling risks.
- A clear health and safety management system helps improve awareness of legal requirements at all levels of your business ensuring that everyone is on the same page and working to ensure compliance.
- Banks and investors are more likely to finance your organisation if you can clearly evidence that it is well managed with a strong health and safety management system in place.
- An established health and safety management system will also give your organisation a competitive advantage over others as it will help increase efficiency and reduce costs across the board, such as money lost through absenteeism, lower insurance rates and higher overall organisational productivity.
- Adopting an effective health and safety management system that follows the PDCA cycle framework will help drive continual improvement within your organisation.
Using the Plan Do Check Act Cycle to Design Your Health and Safety Management SystemThe Plan Do Check Act Cycle is a repetitive process used as a framework by organisations to help generate the continual improvement of their management systems and their individual elements. Continual improvement is critical to effective health and safety management; therefore, it is important that you use this framework when designing your own health and safety management system. Let’s consider each step of the PDCA cycle and what your organisation needs to do to optimise your health and safety management system.
PlanDuring the plan stage your organisation should:
- Determine and evaluate both the risks and opportunities associated with health and safety.
- Establish your health and safety objectives and the processes and procedures that will help facilitate their achievement.
- Decide how you will measure the performance of your health and safety management system.
- Identify the specified legal requirements that are relevant to you.
DoDuring the do stage your organisation should:
- Implement the preventive and protective measures you have determined.
- Ensure you can provide the correct equipment and tools required.
- Offer training to ensure employee competence and compliance.
- Monitor to ensure your plan has been introduced correctly and effectively.
CheckDuring the check stage your organisation should:
- Measure your activities and processes against your established policies and objectives and report on the results.
- Investigate how well risks are being controlled as well as causes of any accidents to see if you are meeting your aims.
- It may be useful to conduct an internal audit to measure the successes and failings of your health and safety management system.
ActDuring the act stage your organisation should:
- Use the results obtained during the check stage to make continuous improvements to your health and safety management system to ensure your objectives are being met.
- Revisit and update accordingly any plans, policies, procedures, and risk assessments.
- Implement any corrective actions raised by lessons learned, audits or inspections you have carried out.
Monitoring and Reviewing your Health and Safety Management System.It is essential that your organisation closely monitors and periodically reviews the performance of your health and safety management system to ensure that it is meeting the objectives set out in your health and safety policy. To ensure you are examining your system most effectively, it is recommended that organisation adopt both active and reactive types of monitoring. Active monitoring is a preventive measure that allows you to monitor the design, development, implementation and operation of your health and safety management system, this includes techniques such as:
- Systematically inspecting your health and safety policy, processes, and procedures.
- Systematically reviewing your risk assessments.
- Systematically carrying out plant or machinery inspections.
- Analysing trend and pattern data collected and reported about unwanted events such as accidents, near misses, ill-health, or complaints from the workforce.
- Analyse your important documentation such as your health and safety policies, procedures, method statements, risk assessments and safe systems of work.
- Examine important health and safety records such as training, inspection, and maintenance reports.
- Verify compliance with health and safety regulations and standards within the workplace.