Health and Safety Made Simple


Please do not try to turn the title round to ‘health and safety made me simple’ or some such headlines, though it is tempting.

As part of their campaign to demystify health and safety for small, low risk businesses, HSE have launched yet more new guidance, giving in a nutshell the top things a business has to do to comply with health and safety law. It isn’t actually new as such, because HSE used to have a webpage on the ten things you must do as a business. Now your list of ten things might be different – like embezzlement (if you can’t help yourself who can you help?), tax evasion (sorry, I mean tax avoidance) and the ability to take pleasure in the misfortunes of others. All sound business skills you might think.

The guidance covers the basics of writing a health and safety policy, managing risks, consulting employees, training and information, welfare, first aid, and insurance.

I must say, this new guidance is friendly, colourful and straightforward but there is hidden complexity. A statement such as “manage the risks in your business “ is simple enough to say, and the words are encouraging – almost, go on, you know you can do it. This is all very well, in a counter ‘Finding Nemo’ kind of way but even with this wealth of guidance, including examples, some businesses will be nervous of relying on their own expertise (it’s a confidence thing – and the fear of being found wanting is a terrible thing).

This week I had the pleasure of travelling by coach. I came to the conclusion that I was the only person on board who actually paid for my ticket – what with all the concessionary travel passes. Coach travel is a humbling experience. As a cattle truck sailed by, I caught the eye of some beast pressed against the air vents. I’m sure I detected a look of ‘I know what you’re going through’. This coach was fitted with seat belts which, it seems were largely ornamental and would certainly not have fitted the girth of a cow. They aspired to be life savers but instead collected effluvia. I got to thinking, maybe it’s like some businesses – some of the stuff, like risk assessment guidance and tools, you know is there but you just get used to not using it because you hardly ever have an accident.

Changing the subject, next week I’ll be helping run a stand at Maintec. It’s an exhibition devoted to maintenance equipment and other related technologies at the NEC, Birmingham. If you’re in the area, drop in, I’m sure we’d be glad of the company.