The negative perception surrounding health and safety is unfounded according to a poll conducted by BSI, the business standards company. Despite often being perceived as being all about paperwork, legislation and bureaucracy, 67% do not believe this is the case saying that the benefits of an effective health and safety compliance regime outweigh the costs.
The poll carried out at Safety and Health Expo 2014, investigated the changing perceptions of health and safety as more organisations strive to manage and reduce occupational health and safety risks and hazards in the workplace.
Creating the best possible working conditions for employees should be of the utmost importance to every business. The research found that in order to reduce the risk to their employees, 37% of businesses are operating in compliance (24%) with or certified (13%) to OHSAS 18001, the Occupational Health and Safety Management System standard. A further 35% are managing health and safety in accordance with HSG65, 35% have put in place internal health and safety policies and procedures, whilst 31% have provided training to their staff.
Overwhelmingly, 93% of respondents believed that the increased focus on health and safety over the past decade has made a difference to their business.
“Health and safety is often seen as ‘red tape’ and an excessive burden, however our results show that this perception is changing. It’s great to see that employers are taking health and safety issues seriously and more importantly that this clear message from the top is being understood by everybody right down to those on the shop floor,” said Suzanne Fribbins, risk management expert at BSI. “By investing in a management system and implementing clearly defined policies and procedures to identify and manage health and safety risks, organisations can minimise the risks to both employees and visitors or external contractors on their premises.”
Commitment from senior management is essential if an organisation is to manage health and safety risks effectively. Encouragingly, 93% believe top management is committed to health and safety, with 67% saying that their company allocates the necessary resources to it, investing in areas such as staff, training and personal protective equipment.
Suzanne Fribbins continued: “We have found organisations that implement OHSAS 18001 can better identify hazards and put in place controls to manage them, resulting in reduced workplace accidents and illness, a lowering of expenditure and reduced downtime. The results also showed that the greatest perceived benefits of using OHSAS 18001 were improved communication and organisational awareness, improved performance monitoring and a reduction in accidents and incidents.”
Interestingly, the poll found that over three quarters (76%) felt that internationalisation of the current standard for health and safety will have a positive impact on its adoption. “As appreciation of the importance of health and safety grows internationally, so too will the importance of using an internationally agreed best practice framework to manage it,” added Fribbins.