HR management review of health and saftey

JJK Retail Outlet, situated in the Midlands, have employed us as their Human Resource Advisor. One of our responsibilities is to assist the HR Manager in ensuring that the company follows the health and safety regulations. During a review of health and safety records, it has been revealed that the Site Services department are experiencing difficulties in achieving a satisfactory standard of health and safety. Employers have a common law duty to ‘take reasonable care’ of each employee and are expected to safeguard employees against hazards, which are reasonably foreseeable.

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The duty is not an absolute one and the mere occurrence of an accident does not of itself necessarily impose liability on the employer. However if an accident occurs as a result of the employer’s failure to comply with his duty to his employees, he is liable for any resulting injury or damage. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974 employers are required to conduct their undertaking “in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in (their) employment who may be affected thereby are not exposed to risks to their Health and Safety”.

(Keenan, D and Riches, S, 2002)Employers are required to carry out a hazard analysis study of their business operation, identify risks through the appointment of competent persons, analyse them as to their degree of seriousness and put in place appropriate protective and preventative measures to guard against them. The general principles of Health and safety and enforcement procedures are contained in the Health and safety at Work Act, 1974, also known an ‘HASAWA’, a key piece of enabling legislation in the area of Health and Safety.

“HASAWA represented a se-change in the UK approach to Health and Safety legislation and was aimed at combating the endemic apathy towards Health and Safety provision, attributed to excessive, prescriptive and unintelligible law and compounded by ineffective policing and enforcement”. (Corbridge and Pilbeam, 1998, pp. 251) The 1974 Act also established the Health and Safety Commission and the Health and Safety Executive. The Health and Safety Commission advises the Government on the issue of regulations, which have statutory force.

The commission also issue codes of practices and guidance’s with which employers should comply. A latest analysis of accident and injury statistics for Site Services has revealed a downward trend for the first few months, leading to slight deterioration in relationships between Site Services Department and the Sales function. The Sales team are complaining that Site Services are more concerned about health and safety issues rather than focusing on the customer.

The key issue being accidents and injuries are being under-reported for the reason of fears being punished, which raises doubts about the validity of the decrease. The Site Services Manager has realised that his policy is failing and needs to act quickly to overcome this problem effectively and efficiently. The concept of Health and Safety culture appears to have become increasingly important for our understanding and management of Health and Safety at work.

The culture theory was of the dominant themes in the general management literature in the early 80’s, such as strongly influenced popular approaches to obtain organisational effectiveness. It is a growing concept in managing and implementing best practice and the safety culture assessment enables organisations to take a fresh, objective look at their safety practices from a behavioural and operational perspective The British safety culture has also defined a safety culture standard that will help organisations assess to what extent they value safety.