Previous articles in this series have explained that the management of health and safety at work is about preventing injuries and ill-health from real hazards and risks, and not from spurious or trivial risks. We have also seen that the general management principles of Plan, Do, Check, Act apply as much to health and safety as to any other aspect of business management.

So what do you have to do? What does Plan, Do, Check, Act look like when applied to health and safety management in practice?

Reference to guidance from the Health and Safety Executive, BS OHSAS 18001, the EU Agency for Health and Safety At Work and others suggest that an effective health and safety system will look something like this-

The Plan
Your plan will have been developed after giving thought to:

  • What you currently do and what you should be doing.
  • What you need to do, what targets and objectives you are going to set.
  • Who is going be responsible for achieving these targets and how will you measure progress. How will you know that you have been successful?

Together the above three items will represent your policy.

  • How you would deal with emergencies including fire.
  • Whether you need to talk to and co-ordinate your arrangements with other people or businesses operating from the same building or site.
  • How you will keep abreast of changes in standards and legislation so that you can take account of them in your plans and objectives.

The Doing
You will have:

  • Identified the real health and safety risks in your business activity, those that could cause injury or harm, and what needs to be done to reduce those risks to an acceptable level.
  • Identified the significant risks and priorities.
  • Decided on the action required.
  • Informed, organised, consulted and listened to your workforce so that they are aware of the risks and are clear about what is required of them.
  • Provided adequate resources and competent advice as needed.
  • Implemented your plans by introducing the control measures required to meet your objectives and targets.
  • Provided and maintained the right tools and equipment and trained people to use them without risk.
  • Given instruction in safe working procedures.
  • A supervisory system in which supervisors are confident and competent to ensure that arrangements are followed in practice.

The Checking
You will be able to demonstrate, with hard evidence, that:

  • Your plans are implemented.
  • Supervision is effective.
  • Risks are being controlled.
  • Accidents, injuries and near-misses are investigated and lessons learned.

The Action
You will be able to show that you have reviewed your performance and:

  • Learnt from accidents and incidents, ill-health, experience and information received.
  • Acted on those lessons learned.
  • Reviewed procedures, arrangements and risk assessments at sensible routine intervals, following an incident or on significant business changes.
  • Adjusted plans, procedures, controls and arrangements in the knowledge and experience of the reviews and experience.