The concept each month, for you to consider areas of your management you may not routinely review, by investing 15 minutes of your time once a month to challenge them.

Here are three topics for you to investigate and identify whether you are meeting the level of compliance you are expecting. Some months may involve simply reviewing documents, others to go and look at items or challenge processes there will also be some suggestions on points to consider.

Deliberations for February are:

1. Select and spot check a departmental health and safety risk assessment, are those responsible for risk assessment completing/reviewing them appropriately?

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (Management Regs) 1999, require us to identify and manage risks in our workplaces, and this is covered by Regulation 3 specifically.

The aim of these risk assessments is to, as needed, establish an effective system of preventive and protective measures covering your work activities and will typically follow an outlined risk assessment process, such as:

Step 1: Identify hazards, i.e. anything that may cause harm.
Step 2: Decide who may be harmed, and how.
Step 3: Assess the risks and take action.
Step 4: Make a record of the findings.
Step 5: Review the risk assessment.

As well as employees, contractors, visitors, members of the public etc. they should also consider ‘vulnerable groups’ within the workplace including young people (those under 18), new and expectant mothers, individuals with disabilities and those with long- or short-term health conditions (as disclosed).

So, whether it is for a piece of equipment in Design Technology, a manufacturing plant or process, maintenance or other activity, or a specific departmental task, select a risk assessment and review it to check, for example:

  • Is it still relevant and up to date?
  • Have any recommendations/actions in the report been considered and completed?
  • Have any people needing to use or be aware of the risk assessment changed and have they seen it?
  • Have any accidents/near misses/incidents occurred with this piece of equipment?
  • Are there any changes to work practises, regulation or guidance relevant to this activity/piece of equipment?

As the Health and Safety Executive highlight, “Few workplaces stay the same. Sooner or later, you will bring in new equipment, substances and procedures that could lead to new hazards. So, it makes sense to review what you are doing on an ongoing basis”.

2. Review and inspect the contents of your “Grab Pack” or “Grab Bag” 

Typically, as part of the business planning process, your grab bag/pack/kit is there to provide you with essential information and items you need to help and support your initial management in the event of an emergency evacuation.

The contents of your grab bag/pack can vary depending on the nature of your business and extent of your planning -some “grab bags” contain only limited information and resources, others are full “crisis management kits”. As well as whether you have purchased a bag/kit/pack from a third party or produced it yourself.

Either way, you should have an inventory or contents list you can audit against. Some of the more common things you may have (or want to consider adding) include: 

  • Your emergency evacuation procedures/plan and checklist
  • Your emergency contacts list
  • Building specific information such as floor plans, access information, hazardous areas including fuel or chemical storage, gas/water/electricity shut off valves, ventilation switches, escape routes, fire compartments, fireman’s override switches, wet/dry risers, external fire hydrants, and fireman’s lifts.
  • A spare copy of plans, above on a USB stick/drive
  • Access keys and a list of access codes
  • Pens and paper/notepads (have some that are waterproof too)
  • Hi-visibility vests for example for the incident management team, fire wardens and first aiders 
  • A first aid kit, emergency blankets, wipes etc.
  • Water for drinking and energy food
  • A torch/torches, lamps, lanterns (wind up or with spare batteries)
  • Whistles, glow sticks, tape, multi-tool, scissors, etc.
  • Other items could include a camera, megaphone, mobile phone, two-way radios, etc.

Is your grab bag properly stocked? Is the information contained within it up to date? Are any consumables in it out of date?

3. When was the last time your directors/senior managers had any formal health and safety management training?

Health and safety when done well is an investment for your organisation, legally, morally, financially and reputationally. But it also needs to be driven from the top if it is to remain effective and become part of your culture – “the way we do things here”. 

With the significant change in the potential liability directors and senior managers now carry, especially following the introduction of the health and safety and food safety sentencing guidelines in February 2016, it is still surprising to see how few senior managers and directors have had any recent health and safety training if any training at all.

As well as understanding the law, well-delivered training should cover management thinking and processes such as (extracted from HSE website - Leading and managing for health and safety):

  • How is health and safety included in the processes or management arrangements you have for running the business?
  • Are the health and safety responsibilities of key people set out?
    • Who is the champion/focus at the board?
    • Who sets policy and standards?
    • Who monitors the performance?
    • Are these responsibilities reflected in their job descriptions? 
  • How do you ensure access to competent advice?
  • How do you ensure health and safety information is communicated effectively within and beyond your organisation?
  • How do you control your contractors?
  • How do you review your health and safety performance?

What do you have currently to be able to demonstrate your senior management’s training, if needed? 

Assurity Consulting is the leading expert in workplace health, safety and environmental compliance. For more information, please contact us on tel. +44 (0)1403 269375 or email us.