A sensible approach to managing health and safety at work.

Peninsula Team

February 03 2013

In an earlier article we gave examples of ill-considered, over the top decisions made in the name of health and safety management; decisions that divert attention from the real risks to people at work. Real risks that lead not just to ill health, injury and suffering but also add to business overheads and affect profitability.

How then should a business approach the sensible management of health and safety issues?

It is a legal requirement for organisations to have suitable arrangements in place for the management of health and safety. Meeting this wide ranging requirement requires a common sense practical approach, one that is coordinated with the other everyday practice of running a business. Health and safety should be an integral feature of your approach to business, no different to any other aspect of managing a successful business.

This is the Health and Safety Executive’s considered position. It is an approach supported by many other professional and trade bodies including the Institute of Directors, the CBI, the EEF and many others. Whatever the size or nature of a business the considered view is that effective health and safety management requires

  • Leadership and management
  • A trained and skilled workforce and
  • A working environment in which people are respected, trusted and involved.

Managing for profit is a process rarely achieved by just the occasional intervention by directors and senior managers; similarly the successful achievement of health and safety goals cannot be obtained by one-off interventions. They both require a systematic and sustained approach supported by the attitudes and behaviours of people working within the business. In most successful businesses, whatever their management system and arrangements, the underlying approach to business activities will involve PLANNING, DOING, CHECKING and ACTING.

This commonality of management systems and arrangements can be illustrated thus-


Business or Process Management

Health and Safety Management


Set targets and goals. Identify resources required. Define and communicate acceptable or expected performance standards.

Set policy and objectives. Plan and arrange for implementation. Define and communicate acceptable or expected performance standards.


Identify and assess business risks. Identify suitable controls. Record actions. Build a knowledge base of successful and appropriate business practices.

Assess hazards and risks. Organise to manage those hazards and risks. Implement plans


Measure performance. Make routine check of progress against targets. Make routine checks that standards are being maintained; make specific checks before and after significant events

Measure performance. Make routine checks that controls are in place and maintained. Investigate accidents, incidents and occupational ill-health.


Review performance. Act on lessons learned

Review performance. Act on lessons learned.

There are nationally and internationally recognised standards for safety management and quality system management, BS OHSAS 18001 and BS EN ISO 9001 and sector specific standards and guidance such as is published by the Energy Institute and the Chemical Industries Association. Although the language and methodology may vary between systems, the key actions can usually be traced back to PLAN, DO, CHECK, ACT.

Coming soon
Our next article in this series will consider where to start in developing a sensible approach to health and safety management.

For any further clarification, please call our 24 Hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2773

By Tony Trenear

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