Richard Evens: The business case for taking health and safety seriously

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Do you know if your organisation is meeting its legal requirements for health and safety? Whatever the industry, the consequences of non-compliance with health and safety regulations can have a big impact on the welfare of employees and the future success of your business.

In the last year there were over 1,100 cases of businesses being taken to court because of health and safety failings and the financial penalties for non-compliance can be massive. Just this year, a Birmingham-based car firm was fined £50,000 by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after one of its employees was struck by a manufacturing robot, leaving his voice box damaged and almost paralysing him down one side of his body. A Northumberland fruit shop owner had to pay over £4,000 in fines for not having compulsory employee liability insurance to cover injury claims by employees.

Businesses have a legal obligation to ensure the health and safety of their employees at work and should be aware that many accidents can be prevented or the effects minimised through simple risk assessments. Over 15% of businesses have never carried out an assessment to determine the risks posed to their employees, yet according to the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), 70% of workplace accidents could be prevented if employers put proper safety control measures in place.

However, with economic recovery at the forefront of people’s minds health and safety can slip down the agenda. A year on from the launch of Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) new guidance to employers a high proportion of businesses fail to meet even the most basic regulatory first aid requirements.

Whilst getting to grips with regulations can be daunting, dealing with risk assessments, legal obligations and protocols is not as complex as it seems. By ensuring risk assessments are regularly conducted in a working environment, business can make a difference to employees. This need not be onerous and by determining potential dangers and taking the necessary steps to minimise, if not eliminate them, businesses can offer employees the safe working environment they deserve.

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About Richard Evens

Richard Evens, Commercial Training Director, St John Ambulance

Richard is Commercial Marketing Director at St John Ambulance, the nation's leading first aid organisation and market leader in workplace first aid training. Responsible for training programmes and educational standards, Richard has been involved in consultation with the HSE since the early development of new guidance for the content and structure of workplace first aid training. He has liaised widely with the HSE and other stakeholders to apply the collective expertise in first aid to the new guidance, becoming a board member of the First Aid at Work Council which was created during this process.

Before joining the charity sector 10 years ago in a retail development role for Oxfam, Richard worked in marketing and logistical roles with Shell and Total Oil. He lives in north west London spending time with his family, trying to keep up with two energetic young children.

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