Exploring the increasing need for business leaders to morally maintain and continually improve their health and safety management performance.
With the publication of the Governments Deregulation Bill in July 2013 which aims to free UK business of red tape, Philip Jones, Technical Director with Quantum Compliance, explores the increasing need for business leaders to morally maintain and continually improve their health and safety management performance.
There are some business leaders on one side of this argument who use deregulation as justification for ‘easing up’ on their health and safety management activities. Whilst there are some examples of good business reasoning behind some deregulation in certain lower risk businesses, this approach certainly does not fit all business sectors and situations.
The case for ‘easing up’ has been and continues to be fuelled by the media, and indeed some business commentators, who continue to recycle one-sided news stories to justify occupational health and safety deregulation. This has resulted in concerns that some business leaders are using the deregulation agenda as justification for not correctly embedding health and safety management within their businesses. Unfortunately, mention those three words (health and safety) in conversation and you risk being met with a ‘tut’ or a ‘roll of the eyes’ response, which in part can be put down to the negativity which newspapers and the media in general attribute to health and safety. Indeed, much has been written about the way the media has often poorly presented health and safety decisions which in turn has led to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) robustly defending sound health and safety judgments and at the same time, criticizing unreasonable or disproportionate outcomes.
This leads to the core of the argument which focusses on individual business leaders and in particular, what drives their moral stance on protecting the health and safety of their employees. Against this backdrop of deregulation, a business leader needs to increasingly rely on his / her own moral compass in making compliance decisions for their organisations.
Trying to understand why some business leaders have sided with the deregulators is complex as everyone has different experiences upon which to draw. However, it is likely that one such experience would include attending a health and safety training course at some time whereby the trainer would predictably present the benefits of good and the costs of poor health and safety management. Unfortunately, the moral arguments of maintaining and improving health and safety standards would probably have been underplayed which in itself, represents a very important area for health and safety trainers and practitioners to focus on in future.
Motivating managers and staff;
Executing effective training programmes with efficient follow ups and reviews; and
Successfully influencing all stakeholders.
In effectively leading health and safety, business leaders must also strive to develop a sound health and safety culture within their organisations – one which:
Self-polices i.e. where staff are comfortable with challenging and being challenged;
Develops unspoken expectations and perceptions; and one in which
Health and safety is not labeled as a priority as priorities change – health and safety should be embedded.
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