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Health and safety: seeing daylight through the paperwork

Health and Safety manuals that look good on the shelf may be no good in practice.......

Many businesses have consultancy companies engaged to carry out their health and safety responsibilities. The consultants descend and carry out risk assessments, COSHH inspections, noise tests and enquire into a myriad of other matters.

They eventually go leaving behind a vast array of papers contained in one or more large files, which proudly sit on the shelf for all to see.

Sadly that is where they remain and all the good work carried out on their behalf, usually at considerable cost, is lost. Having a system is half a defence. Making sure the system is applied and all staff are familiar with it is the other half and without this part all that has been achieved is to no avail.

A Welsh branch of Asda was prosecuted for not having safe systems in place.

It had completed risk assessments and had the “file on the shelf”.

Unfortunately the risk assessments identified the risks and documented what should have happened but the staff had not seen them and were unaware of the risks or precautions.

They were inadequately supervised and poorly trained. If you have completed Risk Assessments then let your staff know the results.

Train and instruct them or you may have a “white elephant” on the shelf. Communication is the key.

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