Who is Responsible for Health and Safety in Today’s World?

Article by Achilles

Simply put, everyone is responsible for managing health and safety whether in their personal lives or at work. Health and safety legislation also places additional responsibilities on employers to not only protect the safety of their own staff but also others that they come into contact with as a result of their activities, or as per the ISO 45001 terminology “other interested parties”. As supply chain projects become more complex, identifying those who hold responsibility for health and safety in the workplace can appear a daunting task. Even after identifying who is responsible there is still the matter of learning what the responsibilities are, and most importantly demonstrating accountability.

Raising Health and Safety Compliance

Everyone within an organisation has a responsibility placed upon them to ensure the health and safety of themselves and those around them but, why is it important to ensure we hold ourselves accountable? The most obvious reasons are preventing harm or injury to employees and others, together with legislative obligations placed on us, as we don’t want to find ourselves in trouble with the authorities. In addition to this, there are other several reasons that might focus the mind such as reputational damage, financial risks or even a custodial sentence. The reputational and financial impact associated with the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010 had huge ramifications for BP including a reported reduction in sales at their petrol stations of up to 40%.

More currently the Grenfell Tower Inquiry which is in the process of examining circumstances leading up to and surrounding the fire in June 2017 (killing 72 people) is continuing to identify major failings around the delegation of duties across multiple disciplines associated with work on the tower, summed up succinctly by an article in the Architects Journal titled “I was not acting as clerk of works, says Grenfell clerk of works” by Megan Kelly. Having full visibility throughout your supply chain is crucial when it comes to your company’s ability to ensure its compliance. This is one of the reasons why many companies look for impartial support to provide a level of clarity in their supply chains.

As a smaller contractor, it is equally as important to acknowledge health and safety compliance associated with all your projects and to demonstrate your ability to meet those responsibilities. Given the recent incidents, public enquiries and investigations try to leave no stone unturned in identifying those that are accountable and remain completely compliant and those that have failed to comply with the responsibilities placed on them.

Unseen Health and Safety Risks

It’s easy to feel that we live in a world where there are policies and procedures for everything, particularly when it concerns health and safety. Whilst policies and procedures provide an important foundation to demonstrate an awareness of responsibility, it doesn’t end there.

You can’t prove what you can’t see and there are many ways that this can be facilitated, for instance the use of assessment as a tool to identify unseen health and safety risks and areas of improvement in your supply chain. Ultimately, being able to visibly demonstrate the good work that is being done can open up potential business opportunities but more importantly it often provides the proof beyond the words written within a policy or procedure. Our pre-qualification tool, audits and assessments provide buyers with a level of transparency across their supply chain, understanding to what extent a suppliers’ culture and values are aligned to theirs.

We should all take the time to learn about our supply chains to ensure that our own principles and expectations, those often written in our health and safety policies, are adhered to by those individuals and those companies that we trust to provide services on our behalf. In a world dominated by the need to be fast, it is increasingly important for companies to have an awareness of who they work with and rely on, as well as be mindful that the work they undertake is now under the spotlight perhaps more than it ever has been before.



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