Outsourcing the health and safety compliance burden?Category: Health & Safety | Bryan Richards | Published on: Jul 28, 2012 | Updated: Dec 12, 2016 Read more: Health & Safety
A recent survey of perception of regulatory health and safety compliance by the National Audit Office shows that UK Businesses feel the compliance burden is decreasing, but less so in health and safety than in other areas of the law.
Many businesses said it is not easy for them to find information on which health and safety regulations applied to their operations. They also had difficulty finding guidance explaining what must be done to comply with certain regulations. Completing paperwork and retaining records were cited as further headaches.
Lack of time or resource, as well as concern about penalties for non-compliance, were cited as the major reasons why businesses use external agents to help them comply with health and safety law.
In their June 2012 report published on the DWP website , the Government is claiming progress on health and safety regulatory reform, and they are expecting the results to solve this compliance burden. But will it? The arbitrary reclassification of school trips as low risk (the guidance on school trips) and the plan to withdraw Health and Safety Codes of Practice and replace them with simple guides are examples of the Government removing red tape. These steps, whilst laudable on paper, could actually result in `unnecessary’, but long-standing, good practices and protective measures being removed, exposing employers to the bare bones of managing risk.
This is likely to result in a new need for competent advice on how best to manage risk. The requirement to comply with specific Health and Safety Regulations may have been removed or reduced, but an employer’s liability in the event of workplace injury and ill health will remain the same. Indeed Employers could be more vulnerable with a reduced Health and Safety regulatory framework.
The need for expert Health and Safety guidance, whether in-house or externally through outsourcing will remain important if not more so. However, the level and type of expertise will need to move away from checking compliance against lists of Regulations to experts who understand the principles of managing health and safety risks in the context of other business risks. A move away from consultants who are technical advisers to those who are business partners is the smart way forward.
At Arinite we have already recognised the need to think differently about providing outsourced Health and Safety support to our clients and we embrace the current opportunities to provide a more business focussed level of support so that organisations can focus on their core business. If you are interested in working with us, please call me on 0780 361 2948 or drop me a line at email@example.com.
Bryan Richards 23rd July 2012