The British Safety Council's manifesto, Working Well, outlines five steps for healthier and safer work activities.
Health and safety in the UK often suffers from bad press. Stories are all too common place about the banning of conkers and firemen refusing to save lives. Health and safety is often blamed for many of the ills of modern life, even of undermining our collective sense of responsibility.
The accusation is that an undue emphasis on health and safety is driving risk-aversion and a compensation culture. While we recognise that we suffer on occasions from over interpretation in the application of health and safety law, we are convinced that sensible health and safety is of great social and economic value. Apart from being a fundamental human right, getting the management of health and safety risks right is also good for business.
Therefore, irrespective of the stage of economic development, the importance of health and safety in all countries must be promoted and maintained. Striking a balance between over and under-interpretation requires public education on risk and informed communication, including through the media. We need to pay particular attention to health issues as the major cause of sickness absence and focus on engaging young people, as it is their attitudes that will define the future.
- Work with journalists and the media to ensure a balanced perspective in how health and safety is reported, drawing upon our members to provide examples
- Help build a coalition of organisations who want to see a step change in the reduction of work-related deaths, accidents and ill health, including business, trade unions and other charities
- Bring together organisations and provide a platform to publicise evidence on the social and business benefits of well-managed health and safety risks
- Campaign to ensure all young workers and those new to the job are hazard and risk aware, using new technologies and social media to get our messages across
- Use our own, our members’ and stakeholders’ knowledge and expertise to help inform our contributions to the reform of health and safety law and regulation in all countries we operate, drawing attention to the business and economic benefits of effectively managing health and safety risks.
- Highlight the benefits that well managed health and safety risks have produced in your organisation or in organisations you work with
- Support calls for the setting up of a Parliamentary committee to promote a public debate on risk education in the UK and work with scientific and other institutions to promote the debate on risk communication
- Always question the veracity of claims made about health and safety regulation, how it is implemented, interpreted and enforced
- Challenge those organisations, such as claims farmers, who by their actions help foster the perception of a ‘get rich quick compensation culture’ thereby undermining the credibility of health and safety.
Organisations need to effectively manage their risks including those concerning health and safety. This requires the deployment of adequate resource to build understanding of hazards, the risks associated with them and the capability to control them. Simple, user friendly and accessible advice and guidance are critical to help people take the right action to manage health and safety.
Too many organisations – many of them small – are overwhelmed by the complexity and bureaucracy that has grown up around the legal framework. Guidance on what the law requires is one of the main drivers of compliance. All employers and workers should know where to go to get accurate, understandable and proportionate advice and guidance that helps them understand the hazards involved in their work and working environment and the actions they need to take to control the associated risks.
It is essential to ensure that everyone – whether a director, manager, supervisor or worker – is provided with the necessary training to build competence and help them play their part in controlling risks. But more than this, all workers should be actively encouraged to get involved in identifying hazards and managing risks. Those who are close to the hazards are well placed to help identify and implement appropriate risk controls.
- Work with regulators (including the Health and Safety Executive and Local Authorities) and other key influencers (such as insurers) to utilise our members’ knowledge and expertise to assist their review of guidance with the goal that such guidance and information is simple, practical and easy to understand
- Offer an online platform through our website to provide clear and proportionate advice to all employers and workers, including information aimed at vulnerable workers including young, older and migrant workers
- Continue to build our membership base and provide cutting edge, relevant training and qualifications to help businesses manage their risks
- Continue to offer young people in full time education between the ages of 14-19 entry-level training in health and safety awareness
- Provide appropriate advice and guidance on the health and safety implications of new and emerging hazards arising from new technologies and materials
- Provide appropriate advice and guidance for those aspects of health and safety which are complex and/or often overlooked, such as occupational health, hygiene, health monitoring, wellbeing and rehabilitation.
- Provide training on health and safety to equip workers with the appropriate knowledge
- Work with your insurer to ensure they provide you with useful and practical advice and guidance on risk management
- Publicly expose and challenge incorrect or inappropriate advice and marginalise those who misuse and distort health and safety and create unnecessary burdens
- Make use of auditing services to ensure your systems and procedures for managing health and safety risks are fit for purpose
- Support and encourage workers in your business to obtain recognised qualifications in managing health and safety risks, building your capacity and contributing to the skill base of the workforce.
At the centre of the health and safety system is the relationship between the employer and worker. The quality of this relationship – and the openness and honesty of communication between them – will influence how good health and safety is managed. All parties need to be aware of their responsibilities to jointly manage risks that arise from work activities.
Like any relationship though, it does not operate in a vacuum. There are important influencing factors that we can all improve, including the training and development made available to individuals, the capacity of the organisation to allow for collaboration and worker engagement, the culture, including demonstrable leadership and management, and the broader messages and values that can sustain good practice and drive continuous improvement.
- Promote the importance of active workforce engagement and involvement and the contribution workers can make to identifying and managing hazards and risks. We will do this through case studies, online information, the advice and support we provide through our training and auditing and in our public engagements
- Campaign to encourage all directors in all organisations, whatever the size and sector, to take responsibility and provide leadership on health and safety, recognising the particular role that leadership has in successfully managing health and safety risks
- Provide a platform for a mentoring scheme to enable directors of high performing organisations to support businesses, particularly small ones, to help build visible and effective health and safety leadership
- Continue to celebrate, award and promote exemplars of leadership and worker engagement from the business community.
- Embrace health and safety as a Board level issue to ensure risks are being effectively managed, with particular attention given to health and wellbeing, including mental health issues. You can measure your progress against the government’s public health goals
- Encourage the involvement of workers in the creation of policies, systems and cultures to manage hazards and risks at work, and ensure they have the necessary training to manage their own health and safety and those of people affected by their work.
- Use your influence to drive good health and safety through your contractual relationships and supply chain, setting standards for all so that workers from different backgrounds, e.g. migrant workers with different perceptions of risk, are clear about what is expected of them.
A key endeavour of our work is to communicate, share and promote our and others’ knowledge and experience of good health and safety. As a charity with 60 years of experience of doing this, we are well placed to bring this information to businesses operating in countries with ineffective or inadequate regulatory regimes.
We are also well placed to influence other governments, working with and through our members, to tackle some of the awful working conditions that still plague the lives of many working men and women. Building alliances and partnerships will create a virtuous network of continuous improvement that has the potential to transform millions of people’s lives for the better.
- Work with our members to facilitate sector-based dialogue and the sharing of experiences to aid continuous improvement in managing health and safety risks
- We will collect information, data and knowledge on good practice and disseminate this in the form of robust case studies that demonstrate the business benefits of well-managed health and safety risks. We will also use this information to help regulators target their efforts
- Provide a platform for our international members to debate and disseminate knowledge and expertise, for example, through social and other media using internationally recognised experts
- Work towards equal protection of all workers in every territory where we have members by working to influence the regulatory framework in their respective countries
- Provide a platform for regulators to share experiences on effective and proportionate enforcement.
- Tell us where improvements can be made, where we should be seeking to influence government thinking and policy as well as the public debate
- Undertake campaigns and make your communication and engagement channels widely available so that your knowledge and experience of what works – as well as other key messages on risk management – is communicated to as many people as possible
- Proactively look for opportunities to work with your networks to share good practice and publicise exemplary performance
- Ensure that accident and ill health occurrences are properly recorded and reported and use the resulting data to help drive improvements in the management of health and safety risks.
Effective and respected regulations are vital to ensuring good health and safety. Our members in Britain, in the main, consider our current regulatory framework to be working well. We will support reforms, providing they sustain existing standards and further reduce health and safety failures.
Enforcement has a critical part to play in driving compliance and raising standards. It is a model relevant to all businesses operating in parts of the world where we have members. Resources available to regulators for enforcement are finite, so it is important that priorities are set to ensure they are targeted at the most hazardous sectors and those less hazardous sectors where historically risks have not been consistently well-managed. Our members have a wealth of knowledge and experience which could assist regulators in this regard.
With strong links to multinational businesses, we are in a good position to influence legislation and treaties at the European Union (EU) and international level. We will focus on the EU’s review of health and safety legislation starting in 2013 and promote the importance of the work of the International Labour Organisation, for example the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health.
- Work with regulators to ensure the experience of our members is used in creating regulations that are easy to understand, administer and enforce
- Explore how taxation and insurance premia could be better linked to well managed health and safety and incentivise good performance
- Assist the development of a definitive set of measures, with UK government support, to chart the true picture of the nation’s health and safety at work and the impact of interventions to improve health and safety outcomes
- Support appropriate resourcing for regulators to investigate fatal and major injuries, enforce compliance and disseminate the lessons learnt
- Set up workshops and contribute to discussions – including feeding in our members’ views and experiences – to help inform the 2013 review of EU health and safety legislation
- Call upon all countries to ratify the International Labour Organisation’s Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health which pledges countries to continuous improvement through national policies, systems and programmes aimed at the prevention of occupational injuries, diseases and deaths.
- Commit to sensible health and safety and ensure that you encourage others, where appropriate, to manage risks and not ban behaviour
- Provide knowledge and experience to regulators on your particular hazards and approaches to risk management, helping them to better understand the policies and laws that are needed to manage workplace hazards proportionally, sensibly and effectively and achieve greater consistency in its enforcement
- Use your and your organisation’s knowledge and expertise to help shape the direction and content of health and safety policy and law, including the EU’s review of health and safety legislation, starting in 2013
- Work with government, regulators, the British Safety Council and others so the debate on the legal framework for health and safety and how we regulate is informed by sound science and other evidence.
“We joined as a member because it is a source of information and support, and because it is a means of demonstrating our commitment to health and safety.”
Members of parliament on our "Working well" manifesto
Andy Slaughter MP, Andrew Bridgen MP and Andrew Miller MP share their thoughts on Working Well, the new British Safety Council manifesto launched at Houses of Parliament