Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Treat health and safety with care

Company directors must make sure they understand health and safety rules, or face tough consequences.

Stuart Haynes, from our Commercial Team, said every director should have a “working knowledge” of their company’s health and safety provision.

“You should know where the risk assessments are kept, and you should have read and understood the ones that are most relevant to your line of business. For instance, if you deal with chemicals, obviously you should know how the principal risks are managed.”

If your directors don't know where the risk assessments are kept, or if their knowledge is patchy, any visit from a health and safety inspector could prove extremely uncomfortable. Getting to grips with the information should not just be a one-off effort either, as health and safety legislation is constantly changing.

“One option is to add health and safety to the agenda of your board or management meetings, though it should probably already be on there anyway. You could also nominate one person to send out regular reports – by email would be fine – to the directors and relevant managers.

“Try to keep the directors’ report to a single sheet of A4, and avoid using jargon or abbreviations to avoid any confusion. You should also include details of anything that has, or is likely to, cost your business money such as potential claims, accidents, or contact from insurance companies.

“And include any legal or procedural changes – if you’ve updated a risk assessment, attach a copy of the latest version, highlighting the new sections.”