Why do I have to worry about Health & Safety?

Legally, you have to… 

The UK has a legal framework in place to ensure that employers provide a safe working environment for the people who work for them, and anyone else who might be affected by what they do. If someone is seriously injured due to your negligence then you face the possibility of a prosecution by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) in the criminal courts leading to large fines and / or prison time for the responsible people.

The ‘responsible people’ will include the people involved in a specific incident but also the directors of the company who are responsible for implementing the company’s health and safety policy. It’s therefore very much in the owners interests to ensure that their company has an effective health and safety system in place.

Your problems don’t stop there though, you can also be sued in the civil courts by anyone who is injured whilst in your employment or at an event where you have a ‘duty of care’. The civil courts have slightly different processes where the case only has to be proved ‘on the balance of probability’ and can result in your company having to pay substantial damages.

In both situations, a large part of your defence will be producing your health and safety planning documents to the authorities to prove that you were making every effort to manage the safety of the situation effectively. A key component is that any health and safety documents you create can’t just be paper exercise which gets completed and then filed away in a drawer. You’ll have to prove you’ve implemented the safety control measures you’ve detailed otherwise your defence is non-existent.

It’ll save you money…

Spending time and money on health & safety can seem like a waste of time but in the long run it can actually save you money.

A pair of safety shoes costs about £40, but if one of your team accidentally drops a stage deck on their foot or stands on a nail on an event site?  Then the costs could quickly mount up.

  • You’d have to pay them whilst they were off sick from work
  • You might have to pay for a replacement to finish the job
  • It’d cost you management time to complete the accident forms and find a replacement
  • You’d have to cover the cost of any damaged or lost materials due to the accident, plus recover any lost time on the event build
  • They could potentially file a civil court case against you for negligence costing you management time, solicitor fees and ultimately a compensation payout or an increase in your insurance premium
  • A more serious accident might well trigger an investigation by the HSE which would jeopardise your event opening on time, if at all!

Suddenly £40 is looking pretty good value….

It’s estimated that for every £1 of insured costs of an accident there are £8 to £36 of uninsured costs which that to be borne by the business. – HSE

It’s the right thing to do…

We feel the most important reason to take health & safety seriously is that people are important, and no one should ever have to go home from work or from an event injured, or even worst not go home at all.

It’s easy to take short cuts when building an event site, especially when you have an experienced team who have been “doing this for years” and think that health & safety is just “common sense & balance”. However this is often when the most serious accidents happen and even if your team or your contractors don’t appreciate it, ensuring you have a well managed safe system of work ensures that tragedies don’t happen.

Isn’t Health & Safety just a bunch of paperwork?

Managing health & safety starts with good planning which is where our event safety management tools can help. Once you’ve created your risk assessments & safety plans it’s essential that the safety control measures you’ve outlined in your documents are implemented onsite. Otherwise the paperwork is pointless.

Example
If your risk assessment states that you are going to ensure that all your team are going to be wearing hard hats onsite to protect their heads whilst people are working at height then you have to ensure that this is carried out. If you don’t, and someone gets injured by a falling object because they aren’t wearing a hard hat then your liability is pretty much the same as if you hadn’t of written the risk assessment in the first place.

Do I need any special training to do health & safety?

Writing safety plans and risk assessments can be very easy if you are familiar with the activities you are assessing, and our tools make it very simple to produce safety documentation for activities and situations that you are familiar with. If you have the training, skills, knowledge and experience to do the job then you can probably write some good safety paperwork for it.

Example
If you are an experienced AV manager at a venue then our tools can help you build a safety plan for the work that your team regularly do like setting up projectors, installing sound systems etc. If you are unsure about what control measures you should put in place to make an activity safer then you can refer to our template documents or to the detailed guidance on the HSE website.

If you aren’t sure, then additional training or some advice from a health & safety consultant may be required – especially when you are trying to risk assess activities you are unfamiliar with or activities that are high risk eg. electrical work or working at height.

There are also very good safety guides available from the HSE that detail best practice for managing these activities.

If you work in a small to medium organisation then we’d always recommend that at least one person on the team takes the IOSH managing safely course. This course can give you a good background understanding of health & safety practice and will help you get the most out of our tools.

For senior management in large organisations we recommend that at least one director or senior manager takes a NEBOSH General Certificate course so they can fully understand their responsibilities.

For more information on suitable courses and recommendations for training providers drop us an email. .

Who is responsible for health & safety in my company?

Everyone has a responsibility to ensure the work they are carrying out is done safely.

Managers are responsible for ensuring that:

  • Activities under their control have been assessed and measures implemented to control, reduce or eliminate any risks associated with them.
  • Staff undertaking risk assessments are competent.
  • Staff undertaking activities understand what they must do.
  • Risk assessments are reviewed and authorised before activities begin.

Staff are responsible for

  • Making sure they understand and undertake the control measures identified in an assessment
  • Telling their managers and colleagues if they think an assessment is not right.

This means that employees have a legal responsibility to follow the safety measures put in place to protect them eg. wearing safety shoes, hard hats etc if the risk assessments detail them as a control measure.

When they employee five or more people, companies are also legally required to have a written health and safety policy which is signed by the manager responsible for ensuring it’s implemented (Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, Section 2(3)). This is usually a company director.

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