I get notified by E-Tenders when tenders come up in health and safety related areas and sometimes I submit a tender, sometimes I do not. I have noticed a new development in the last few years regarding health and safety training. In many cases when organisations are tendering for health and safety training they list the following: manual handling, first aid and fire fighting and sometimes safe pass. Very rarely have I seen a request for tender to do with health and safety training for management at any level because many companies do not feel it is necessary.
They do not understand the need for health and safety to be led by CEO and the Senior Management Team in all companies, big and small.
There is this misguided belief that once your employees are trained in manual handling, first aid, fire fighting and safe pass that the job is done. Once you have a Safety Statement written up, no matter how good or bad it is, or how it does not relate to the way work is actually done on the ground sure isn’t that all we are expected to do. No thought is given to the fact that management have a legal duty to “manage” health and safety to ensure the safety, health and welfare of their employees and relevant others.
Worse than that I have been in meetings with prospective clients discussing training needs who blatantly state that management do not need much training and senior managers certainly do not need it. They know it all you see – that is why they are Managing Directors, Directors and Senior Managers.
By “knowing it all” many of them simply abdicate their responsibilities to other managers lower down believing that they can do that. They also believe that they can get away with it and that if something should go wrong, they will push the blame down to that middle or line manager stating that that manager did not do what they were told to do.
How simple life would be if that was the way it worked.
Health & Safety Authority Publication
The reality is very different as those of us in this profession know. I regularly provide senior Managers with a copy of the wonderful HSA Publication “Guidance for Directors and Senior Managers on their Responsibilities for Workplace Safety and Health” – read it here This is a very easily read, non-technical piece of guidance, running to 16 pages which spells out very clearly that those at the top of the organisation (who make the decisions about staffing, budgets, work practices, equipment etc.) have to take health and safety into account in all of those decisions and will be held accountable for those decisions.
Many of them are shocked and slightly frightened when they realise the contents. That is no harm. In many of my training sessions I need to jolt senior managers out of their calm, complacent attitudes and bring them into the real world of responsibility and accountability.
This document does cover Section 80 of Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 which basically details the personal liability of Directors and Senior Managers and says the following which I feel sums it all up in one sentence:
“All directors and officers of undertakings who authorise or direct any work activities must understand their legal responsibilities and their roles in governing safety and health, upholding core safety and health values and setting good safety and health standards for their business”.
Key questions to ask yourself
So if you are a Senior Manager – ask yourself these questions:
- Do you fully understand your legal obligations under Irish Health and Safety Laws and Regulations?
- Are you getting good advice from a competent health and safety professional?
- Do you know what to do and how to do it?
- Are you actively managing health and safety the same way you manage everything else?
- Are you doing all you can to protect your employees?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, then perhaps you need some training after all. Real Safety Leadership is needed in all business so that health and safety and the care of employees is at the centre of what they do.