Mitigating Winter Hazards with the OHSAS 18001 Health & Safety Standard

A skilled and productive team is crucial to sustainable business success. We all know that, but it doesn’t happen by chance.

An effective recruitment strategy, along with training and development opportunities certainly help to build a strong team. Recognition, reward and investment in efficiency measures will go some way towards enhancing productivity. Positive leadership keeps things on track, but what about health and safety?

Health & Safety has a reputation for being a bureaucratic and restrictive process. It can be seen as a hindrance, but when relevant policies are embedded in everyday activity, health and safety measures support growth. Let’s outline a few ways in which addressing Health & Safety can enhance productivity:

  • Disruption is avoided as potential problems are identified and managed before they occur
  • Incidents and Accidents (and the associated costs and paperwork) are reduced
  • Staff absences are minimised, allowing the team to work to their full potential
  • Staff turnover is lowered, preventing the need for high recruitment costs
  • There is reduced risk of being taken to court (and potentially fined) for negligence

Some workplaces are naturally more hazardous than others, but in winter the risks are heightened. This is particularly evident if your employees work outdoors or on the road. It’s also important to note that commuting employees may not be your responsibility, but the impact of them having an accident can be just as drastic on business operations. Any Health & Safety culture that you can maintain in-company will help employees with their own lives as well – possibly to your benefit in the longer term.

The aim of OHSAS 18001 (due to become ISO 45001 in 2018) is to make businesses fully aware of the health and safety risks within their organisation. It also supports the implementation of measures to reduce those risks. If your industry is highly regulated, OHSAS 18001 is a means of both evidencing compliance and preventing incidents in the first place. If you are looking to mitigate winter hazards, commitment to Health & Safety is a priority.

Why Commit to OHSAS 18001 Certification?

As a business owner, you should already have completed a risk assessment and found ways to reduce workplace hazards. You should have, and use, an incident record book. There should be the relevant safety equipment installed on your premises, including fire alarms and emergency exit signs. You may feel this is sufficient.`

In truth, if you are following best practice in terms of health and safety, there may be very little work involved in achieving the globally recognised OHSAS 18001 certification. Your business can then clearly differentiate itself from the competition and enhance its reputation with customers, partners, employees (both current and future) and industry regulators.

If an initial OHSAS 18001 audit does identify gaps in your provisions, you can address these before an issue arises. It basically ensures that you have all bases covered. Whilst the risks may heighten in winter, good working practices will enhance health and safety throughout the year.

Health and Safety Matters

Every employee deserves to work in an environment that isn’t going to compromise their health. With the appropriate training, safety measures and personal protective clothing, they can undertake their role without fear of injury. By providing a good working environment the company benefits from a positive, healthy and productive workforce that recognises it is valued, by the efforts you put in and the approach you adopt, to keep it safe.

The costs of not taking health and safety seriously are summarised below:

Staffing Problems

Your employees expect you to take care of them. They have the right to expect you will train them, protect them and provide a low risk working environment. You breach that expectation at the cost of future staffing problems and low current morale levels – let alone the potential for court cases.

In any Health & Safety challenge it is vital that the full details are heard from both sides. Key staff are required to give details. This prevents them from working and puts pressure on other employees. Even if you win every case, the adverse impact is very detrimental to staff and customer relations.

Court Cases

If an employee takes a case to court, the legislation is very much against the organisation. The assumption is often that if an accident happens then it is the organisation’s fault and the organisation has to prove otherwise. The burden of proof is “Guilty until proven Innocent” where this is the opposite that usually applies in court.

Accidents do happen. If an incident should occur and end up in the court, OHSAS 18001 provides strong evidence that your company has Health & Safety policies and culture in place and that it takes this area seriously.

Damaged Reputation

One case often spawns another. If one person makes a formal complaint, others may follow. There’s been plenty of recent examples of this in the media. Whatever the outcome, the reputation of the organisation is publically damaged. Like all reputations, they take considerable time to generate and even longer to rebuild. This affects company value, staff morale, customer and other stakeholder perceptions as well as likely future attitudes of authorities if they are called in again.

Loss of Custom

Customers don’t want to support a company where quality and care is lacking. Multiple staff safety incidents imply that a business is cutting corners and lacking in core values. It’s common for customers to take their business elsewhere following an incident. It does not matter whether they leave because of the disruption to schedules, because of the event or because of the realisation that the company is not as good as it should be – the effect is the same.

Cost of Investing in OHSAS 18001 Certification

The cost of investing in OHSAS 18001 Certification is considerably less than facing the costs of an incident together with the repercussions listed above. With time allocated to fulfilling the requirements, along with the support of an experienced Qualitation Expert, you can gain formal recognition of your commitment to Health & Safety. There’s no doubt that properly protecting your employees is mutually beneficial.

Remember that if you already have an ISO system, the OHSAS Health & Safety system can be added to the existing procedures – minimising bureaucracy and keeping it to a familiar format. With the new upgrade due next year, this approach will be even easier – and while encouraging organisations to get OHSAS 18001, we recognise that others will want to wait until the ISO 45001 (superseding OHSAS 18001) is released (currently due late 1st half 2018). We are happy to discuss what you can do in the meantime to get yourselves ready for the new standard.

If it is time to prove that you are operating with good working practices and you would like to discuss OHSAS 18001 or the new ISO 45001, contact Qualitation to get the ball rolling.

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