- Planning and Implementing
- Measuring performance
- Reviewing performance
Key elements of health and safety management
The key elements for effective health and safety management are similar to those considered in good quality, finance and general business management. The principles of good and effective management provide a sound basis for the improvement of health and safety performance. The key elements involved in a successful health and safety management system are:
A clear health and safety policy is essential for business efficiency and continuous improvement throughout the operation. The policy should state the decision of the organization in terms of clear aims, objectives and targets.
A well-defined organization is an essential component of a positive health and safety culture. An effective organization will be noted for good staff involvement and participation, high quality communications, the promotion of competency, and the empowerment and commitment of all employees to make informed contributions.
Planning and implementing
An effective health and safety plan involves the setting and implementation of performance standards, targets and procedures. The plan is based on risk assessment methods in order to set priorities and objectives for the effective control or elimination hazards and the reduction of risks. Measuring success requires the establishment of practical plans and performance targets against which achievements can be identified.
Include both active and reactive monitoring to see the effectivity of the health and safety management system. Active monitoring involves looking at the premises, the people, procedures and systems. Reactive monitoring discovers through investigation of accidents and incidents why controls have failed. Measure the organization against its own long term goals and objectives is also important.
The results of monitoring should be systematically reviewed to evaluate the performance of the management system against the objectives and targets established by the health and safety policy. Comparisons should be made with internal performance indicators and if it is possible with external performance indicators of similar organizations.
Costs of accidents
The occurrence of any accident will cause both direct and indirect costs. It is important that all of these costs are taken into account when the full cost of an accident is calculated. Different studies shown that indirect costs or hidden costs could be more than 30 times greater than direct costs of an accident. In other words, the direct costs of an accident or disease represent the tip of the iceberg when compared to the overall costs.
These are costs that are directly related to the accident and may be insured or uninsured.
Insured direct costs, normally include:
- claims on employers and public liability insurance
- damage to buildings, equipment or vehicles
- any attributable production and/or general business loss.
Uninsured direct costs, normally include:
- fines resulting from prosecution by the enforcement authority
- sick pay
- some damage to product, equipment, vehicles or process not directly attributable to the accident (e.g. caused by replacement staff)
- increases in insurance premiums resulting from the accident
- any compensation not covered by the insurance policy due to an excess agreed between the employer and the insurance company
- legal representation following any compensation claim.
Indirect costs are costs which may not be directly attributable to the accident but may result from a series of accidents.
Insured indirect costs, typically include:
- a cumulative business loss
- product or process liability claims
- recruitment of certain replacement staff.
Uninsured indirect costs, can include:
- loss of goodwill and a poor corporate image
- accident investigation time and any subsequent remedial action required
- production delays
- extra overtime payments
- lost time for other employees, who attend to the needs of the injured person
- the recruitment and training of most replacement staff
- additional administration time incurred
- lower employee morale possibly leading to reduced productivity
Some of the items mentioned above, such as business loss, may be uninsurable or too prohibitively because of the big amount of money required.
Basic definitions related to occupational health and safety
Some basic and powerful definitions related to occupational health and safety are the following:
Related to the protection of the bodies and minds of people from illness resulting from the materials, processes or procedures used in the workplace.
Related to the protection of people from physical injury. The borderline between health and safety is ill-defined and the two words are normally used together to indicate concern for the physical and mental well-being of the individual at the place of work.
Related to the provision of facilities to maintain the health and well-being of individuals at the workplace. Welfare facilities include washing and sanitation arrangements, the provision of drinking water, heating, lighting, eating and rest rooms. First aid arrangements are also considered as welfare facilities.
Occupational or work-related ill-health
Is concerned with those illnesses or physical and mental disorders that are either caused or triggered by workplace activities. Such conditions may be induced by the particular work activity of the individual or by activities of others in the workplace. The time interval between exposure and the onset of the illness may be short or long.
Related to the arrangements to cover those activities in the workplace which affect the environment and, possibly, the health and safety of employees and others.
Defined as any unplanned event that results in injury or ill health of people, or damage or loss to property, plant, materials or the environment or a loss of a business opportunity.
Is any incident that could have resulted in an accident.
It’s a near miss which could have led to serious injury or loss of life.
Hazard and risk
- A hazard is the potential of a substance, activity or process to cause harm. Hazards take many forms including, for example, chemicals, electricity and working from a ladder.
- A risk is the likelihood of a substance, activity or process to cause harm. A risk can be reduced and the hazard controlled by good management.
The difference between hazard and risk
It is very important to distinguish between a hazard and a risk – the two terms are often confused and activities such as construction work are called high risk when they are high hazard. Although the hazard will continue to be high, the risks will be reduced when controls are implemented.
The residual risk
The level of risk remaining when controls have been adopted is known as the residual risk. There should only be high residual risk where there is poor health and safety management and inadequate control measures.
About occupational health and safety
Occupational health and safety is relevant in all branches of industry, business and commerce including traditional industries, information technology companies, care homes, schools, universities, leisure facilities and offices.
Occupational health and safety affects all aspects of work, that’s why high hazard manufacturing plant requires many different specialists, such as engineers (industrial, electrical, mechanical and civil), lawyers, medical doctors and nurses, trainers, work planners and supervisors, may be required to assist the professional health and safety practitioner in order to ensure that there are satisfactory health and safety standards.
Generally, there are many obstacles in the process of achieve good health and safety standards. The pressure of production or performance targets, financial constraints and the complexity of the organization are typical examples of such obstacles. However, there are powerful incentives for organizations to strive for high health and safety standards. These incentives are moral, legal and economic.
The corporate responsibility and the relation with occupational health and safety
Corporate responsibility, a term used extensively in our days, covers a wide range of issues. It includes the effects that an organization’s business has on the environment, human rights and common welfare. Health and safety in the workplace is an important corporate responsibility issue.
One definition of corporate responsibility
Corporate responsibility has various definitions, however, broadly speaking it covers the ways in which organizations manage their core business to add social, environmental and economic value in order to produce a positive, sustainable impact on both society and the business itself. Terms such as corporate social responsibility and socially responsible business refer to this concept.
In terms of corporate responsibility, organizations must work in order to:
- improve management systems to reduce injuries and ill health
- demonstrate the importance of health and safety issues at board level
- report publicly on health and safety issues within their organization, including their performance against targets.
Effective management of health and safety:
- is vital to employee well-being
- has a role to play in enhancing the reputation of businesses and helping them achieve high-performance teams
- is financially beneficial to business.