Do you perform a health and safety management review?

It should be a yes or no answer.

But what should a management review of your health and safety look like?

That’s going to depend on a number of factors:

  • What operations happen at your site
  • How many employees you have
  • If you have high risk activities
  • Whether subcontractors are onsite
  • If you have a H&S director, manager or team OR you rely on outsourced support

Whatever goes on where you work there’s no ambiguity; a formal board review of health and safety in your organisation is ESSENTIAL.

It’s more than just whether your systems are managing the health and safety of people working for you or whether you are managing your risks effectively. It’s leading from the top. It’s embedding safety culture firmly.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that health and safety performance should be reviewed at least once a year. Companies may decide to review them every twelve months, once every six months, or even more frequently if workplaces are rapidly changing.

Your health and safety review should focus on:

  • Your policy
  • Your systems
  • Any weaknesses or incidents
  • Action implementation (and monitoring)
  • Reviews to address issues
  • Changes in external and internal issues that are relevant to the H&S management system
  • Risks and opportunities
  • Audit results / H&S monitoring and measurement
  • Performance of your external providers.

Let’s take these one by one.

Your health and safety policy shouldn’t just be something stuck up on the noticeboard or as a downloadable file on the intranet. It’s there to ensure whatever business decisions you make in the boardroom won’t have an adverse effect on your current policy.

Systems need to be working for the good of the people; not to extract data or prove you have one. Using your systems for board reports will give you an insight as to whether the system is being used effectively by your team.

As a senior manager you’ll probably be notified of serious incidents or accidents as they happen. This doesn’t mean they are off the agenda for a review. In fact it’s essential the board understands what happened, why and what has been put in place to mitigate it happening again. It’s your responsibility legally to keep employees and subcontractors safe.

It’s easy to set a team off with a load of actions to implement to make things safer, or to invest in training, or even to solve a safety issue with the people on the ground. Monitoring is key here; a progress report on all health and safety actions is essential to review regularly.

If you have any H&S issues bought to your attention review them, thoroughly. And perhaps even make a visit to the shopfloor to see what is happening or how. Immediate action is essential for health and safety matters so address them as they arise and review the impact at board meetings.

Now for frequency; the HSE advises you do an annual review. That won’t get you the culture you are looking for or give you the ability to act fast or even monitor actions required to improve as a board. Ideally you can access your health and safety system whenever you like as a board and should. However if you run monthly board meetings our suggestion is to put H&S AT THE TOP OF THE AGENDA every month.

Are there any changes within the business or external to, which may have an impact on health and safety, welfare of staff or the reputation of the business?

Assessing your risk and opportunities will be different dependant on the size and nature of your business. A large manufacturing plant using dangerous chemicals and substances or a airport will have different health and safety considerations from those of a small office. However, wherever you work, your circumstances, above all, its all about people.   Consider whether the hazards you have identified are likely to occur, and if the did how serious the impact would be to your people and business.  Next, think about what opportunities there to improve, can you make changes to the working environment or how work is organized?

Audits are a great way of understanding whether the current way of managing health and safety meets the organisations health and safety policy aims, they are a necessary part of the health and safety management system. Without audits systems could deteriorate over time and not be detected.

Its really important to check the performance of your external providers and check if they have good health and safety practices in place.  Afterall, what if one of your suppliers had a very poor health and safety performance, could this have an impact on you.  Sending out and supplier questionnaire and an annual basis and checking out your suppliers is essential.

And finally for WHO. Is it just the big businesses? The manufacturers or people using equipment to move things around like a warehouse? Is it just for boards with loads of people sitting on them? No, board reviews of health and safety are essential for EVERY business.

As what’s more important than keeping your people safe EVERY DAY?

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