Established for over 20 years
Since we started Courtley Health and Safety in 1995, a few things have changed. These twenty plus years have allowed us a front row seat to see how health and safety law and practice has developed alongside changes in society.
Many years ago, it was all very prescriptive. Laws would state employers must do this and that. This method of control often failed to keep up with changes in technology and working practices, so the whole business of health and safety has changed to become more goal setting. Not pointing out what must be done but rather what must be achieved.
Society has changed with the greater acceptance of equality, diversity or disability. It was very much the norm for many roles to be defined as being for men while others were specifically for women. Now with more people choosing not to align with a specific gender or sexual orientation these distinctions are no longer valid. It was common practice to define why a person could not do a job, while now, the intention is to seek the reasonable adjustments needed to show how a person can do a job. We have also become much more aware of the need to adopt family friendly practices. The need to consider anti bribery policies and procedure along with environmental impacts have all been brought to the table and need to be determined. The thought of being more inclusive and considerate in every aspect was once given little more than lip service, but now seems to be much more developed and is becoming ingrained.
Another significant change has been the definition of what it takes to be regarded as an employee. This has altered over the years with the influence of trade unions on the wane, and the rise of the self-employed in many manifestations. The relationship in the workplace, wherever that may be, is as diverse as the definition of the supply chain. Think how Amazon will store and deliver but claim they are not the retailer!
On a very positive note. Those who are tasked with implementing safe systems of work seem to have improved their communication skills considerably. Health and safety documents once were very text heavy, supported by a few posters on notice boards by the staff canteen. These would usually be covered in a fine coating of dust. Now, with the use of graphics, video clips, pictures and practical demonstrations, the message is being conveyed effectively to those who have difficulty with literacy but also those who don’t have English as a first language. This has been achieved using fabulous developments in IT hardware, software and infrastructure.
Over the years, we have got better at addressing safety issues, but only recently has there been a deep focus on ‘health’. Society not only expects employers to get their workers to retirement without killing or maiming them, but also in a state of health that allows them to enjoy that time of life. This level of awareness and care is very welcomed, but I feel it is also much more difficult to deliver. What people do away from the workplace can obviously have a massive effect on their health and how much the employer should influence this is rightly debatable.
Health and safety has its challenges. Employers have little control of the working environment for those who work from home or the potential hazards from Nano technology for example, but I am sure it will rise to meet these. The United Kingdom has enjoyed an honored position as a world leader is occupational health and safety law and practice during these twenty years. I hope we will still have the same appetite post Brexit.
success is no accident