The term ‘health and safety’ has many bosses weeping into their tea. It’s a bureaucratic nightmare, they say. It’s just for jobsworths. And it gets in the way of doing real business.
They’ve heard the ridiculous stories about cafes refusing to heat up baby food, golf courses banning golf buggies, airline passengers being told they can’t suck boiled sweets and trapeze artists being ordered to wear hard hats. All in the name of health and safety.
But these daft decisions and over-interpretation of legitimate guidelines trivialise what health and safety is really about: looking after the long-term health and wellbeing of your employees.
‘Most companies have got their big health and safety issues sorted – as an example, most would have guards on their machinery so no-one’s fingers get chopped off. It’s the long latency health risks that need attention,’ says Rob Green, senior marketing executive at 3M, specialists in workplace personal safety products.
‘An employee spends all day drilling concrete; and perhaps he puts up with the slight ringing in his ears at night but what happens years down the line when he can’t hear his children playing in the park? Could your business also be liable for this safety negligence in the future?’
‘Health and safety managers aren’t just there to implement procedures or slow up tasks. They’re there to look after workers and take calculated, informed steps to manage risk,’ continues Green. ‘Protected employees are productive employees.’
Earlier this year, 3M launched its nationwide Wise Choices campaign, a series of comic videos parodying a not-so-informed approach to health and safety. Famous for portraying Keith in The Office, Ewen Macintosh plays Barry, a lackadaisical purchasing manager with a complete disregard for safety issues.
‘He’s your stereotypical decision-maker who just doesn’t get health and safety,’ explains Green. ‘We went for comedy as a shock tactic – we wanted to make MDs think about their approach to looking after staff.’
Are you the office Barry? Do you make wise choices when it comes to health and safety? Watch 3M’s amusing video series and download a Wise Choices pack here: www.3m.co.uk/wisechoices