Most key elements for effective health and safety management are similar to those needed for good quality, finance, and general business management. Commercially successful organizations usually have good health and safety management systems in place. Good and effective management principles provide a sound basis for improving health and safety performance.
In HSG65, Successful Health and Safety Management, HSE has identified six key elements involved in a successful health and safety management system. The following chapters will describe and discuss this framework in detail. The six elements are:
A clear health and safety policy contributes to business efficiency and continuous improvement throughout the operation. Demonstrating senior management involvement provides evidence to all stakeholders that responsibilities to people and the environment are taken seriously. The policy should state the organization’s intentions regarding clear aims, objectives, and targets.
A well-defined health and safety organization offering a shared understanding of the organization’s values and beliefs at all levels of the organization is an essential component of a positive health and safety culture. An effective organization will be noted for good staff involvement and participation, high-quality communications; the promotion of competency; and the empowerment and commitment of all employees to make informed contributions.
Planning and implementing
A clear health and safety plan involves setting and implementing performance standards, targets and procedures through an effective health and safety management system. The plan is based on risk assessment methods to decide on priorities and set objectives for effectively controlling or eliminating hazards and reducing risks. Measuring success requires establishing practical plans and performance targets against which achievements can be identified.
This includes active (sometimes called proactive) and reactive monitoring to see how effectively the health and safety management system works. Active monitoring involves looking at the premises, plants and substances, people, procedures, and systems. Reactive monitoring discovers through investigation of accidents and incidents why controls have failed. Measuring the organization against its long-term goals and objectives is also essential.
The results of monitoring and independent audits should be systematically reviewed to evaluate the management system’s performance against the objectives and targets established by the health and safety policy. At the review stage, the objectives and targets set in the health and safety policy may be changed. Changes in the health and safety environment in the organization, such as an accident, should also trigger a performance review. Performance reviews are not only required by the HSW Act but are part of any organization’s commitment to continuous improvement. Comparisons should be made between similar organizations’ internal and external performance indicators with exemplary practices and high standards.
An independent and structured audit of all parts of the health and safety management system reinforces the review process. Such audits may be internal or external (the differences are discussed in Chapters 7 and 18). The audit assesses compliance with the health and safety management arrangements and procedures. If the audit is to be really effective, it must assess both compliances with stated procedures and performance in the workplace. It will identify weaknesses in the health and safety policy and procedures and identify unrealistic or inadequate standards and targets.
The conclusions from an audit of an organization’s health and safety performance should be included in the annual report for discussion at Board meetings. This is considered best corporate practice.
Sources of reference
The Management of Health and Safety at Work ACOP L21, HSE Books ISBN 978 0 7176 2488 1.
Successful Health and Safety Management HSG65, HSE Books ISBN 978 0 7176 1276 5.
Health & Safety Executive ‘ Ready Reckoner ’ website at www.hse.gov.uk/costs.
Relevant statutory provisions
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 – sections 2, 20 – 25, 33 and 39 – 40.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.