Aside from the obvious desire to keep all of your staff safe and healthy in the workplace, there are other reasons to focus on health and safety as a business, not least the rising cost of employers’ liability insurance and the increasing levels of fines being handed out for breaches.
In an article for Factory Equipment, specialist insurance broker Russell Scanlan offered some advice on steps that firms in the manufacturing sector can take to help bring down their insurance premiums and make their workplaces even safer.
He acknowledged that the manufacturing industry tends to have a higher risk of injury than other business sectors, but added that there are steps businesses can take to mitigate these risks.
The costs of failing to do so can be significant, Mr Scanlan commented, not least of all in terms of the fines and compensation businesses have to pay. Other factors such as lost production, temporary staff costs, increased overtime expenses and the cost of training and recruiting new staff all add to the burden as well.
He stressed that the first step any business operating in this sector should take is ensure that they have robust health and safety practices embedded into every area of the organisation, and that these are “rigorously enforced”.
It’s not enough to put procedures in place and leave it to tick over either, they should be reviewed annually and amended where necessary. He also highlighted the importance of exploring every procedure as thoroughly as possible.
“Are all perceived eventualities covered? Have lessons been learnt from previous incidents?” he asked, adding that minimising the risk of a claim will reduce insurance premiums. It’s essential to regularly review emergency response plans too to ensure that any incident is dealt with correctly and promptly.
Keeping on top of staff training by ensuring that every new employee is properly briefed and trained in health and safety procedures is another must. Make sure you cover all the necessary training for your site, whether that relates to machinery or working at height.
Making sure there is evidence and a proper paper trail, whereby all employees sign documentation acknowledging they have undertaken specific training and understood its content, is also important should you need to make an insurance claim or defend your firm in the event of an accident which has occurred through no fault of your organisation.
A recent article for Out Law looked at how manufacturers can use technology, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), to help bolster their health and safety practices, but noted that there are challenges with this as well. Among the advantages of adopting the IoT, for instance, is the ability of machinery to feedback, in real time, how it’s working and to highlight any defects as quickly as possible.
Introducing more robots to the manufacturing process can also be useful in removing people from places of risk, but the news provider warned firms not to get complacent and ensure they understand that technology “is not the answer to everything”.
For example, businesses that use more machinery or robots will need to ensure the safety of their staff moving among them - something that may not have been such an issue when more jobs were being undertaken by people.