New guidance published to help close the health and safety gap

Guidance on closing the health and safety gapThere is nothing more welcome to the ‘elf n safety’ hating tabloid press than tales of health and safety over-zealousness. So they must have rejoiced today at the publication of a new survey which reveals the extreme lengths some small firms mistakenly go to trying to comply. This included completing a risk assessment for using a tape measure or introducing written guidelines for walking up stairs. However, these examples were actually uncovered by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), itself, which is encouraging small and medium sized employers to use its free online tools and guidance, specifically designed to help them get their risk management right. The H&S ABC is full of straightforward information to help small firms save time, effort and money by identifying the things they really do and don’t need to do.

HSE’s survey shows how myths about health and safety could cause unnecessary confusion and flagged up some of the most absurd things employers had been advised to do.

For example, one in five people (22 per cent) surveyed believed they weren’t capable of managing health and safety themselves and needed to hire a specialist consultant. Eleven per cent believed that a qualified electrician must test electrical appliances, such as kettles and toasters, every year – another persistent myth.

Nearly a third of small businesses surveyed classed themselves as ‘hopeful-have-a-go’s’ when it came to health and safety – aware they have to take some action but unsure where to start or if what they are doing is correct.

HSE’s small business lead Kate Haire said: “Health and safety is all about taking reasonable steps to manage serious risks of ill-health and injury in the workplace. If something sounds completely unreasonable, more often than not it will be totally unnecessary too.

“What’s great about H&S ABC is that it contains all the information smaller businesses need to know to manage health and safety sensibly and comply with the law. It highlights the real risks in a workplace and how to put reasonable precautions in place.

“We have worked with some key industry partners who have regular contact with SMEs to make them aware of the benefits of using the free online tools and guidance HSE has to offer. We hope employers will realise health and safety does not have to be complicated or cost lots of money.”

Click here for guidance on sensible health and safety.