08 Oct Compliance as a Public Safety Issue
Quality control assurance processes are put in place for good reasons, and often those reasons have to do with public safety issues or health guidelines. In recent years there have been some high-profile breaches relating to both environmental and health & safety standards resulting in potentially harmful consequences to public safety.
We now live in a world where red tape and ‘elf and safety’ pop up at every church fete, school play and children’s playground in the country. The world has gone seemingly mad for forms, risk assessments and DBS checks – all pieces of paper to desperately cover yourself and prove you did everything possible to prevent the worst happening. The majority of us diligently fill in the forms, pay the fees, implement good practice and train our staff. But for others the rules don’t seem to apply and scarily they are often big household names, cutting corners to increase margins, increase the speed of products to market and retain their competitive edge.
The increase in legislation, safety restrictions and rules is partly our own doing – with more insurance claims, cases for suing and our inability to accept sometimes accidents happen – has resulted in spiralling legal fees and payouts which organisations need to mitigate against.
Some years ago, there was the couple who ate too many McDonalds in the USA and sued McDonalds as nowhere did it state if you ate it three times a day you would be obese and suffer from poor nutrition. Grouped with many other similar obese crisis claims and blames – we now have itemised ingredients, nutritional values, breakdowns, calorie counts, Red, Amber Green warnings on all food items – even restaurant menus have started stated the calories in meals.
Other breaches and issues are much higher level and of far greater concern regarding our public safety. The VW emissions scandal a few years ago now, saw them skirting and even completely ignoring emissions standards for the sake of expediency and profits, and they were heavily fined for their excessive self confidence. Emissions are certainly a potential hazard, but there are other cases where being non-compliant can have more immediate and deadly effects.
Construction sits across the UK contribute to some of the highest death tolls of an industry. This is a combination of poor training, poor supervision, inadequate signage and poor use of safety controls and correct protective equipment. This includes signage and fencing to prevent members of the public entering a construction site without authorisation.
We’ve all walked along the side of a construction site and laughed at the number of signs required to confirm the Health & Safety compliance of that site. Without the infrastructure and legislation that goes behind those signs they are meaningless – but by being visibly compliant and adhering to the rules – it makes it easier for companies to instil best practice and prove they are implementing it.
The HSE are relatively inflexible with organisations not using Health & Safety best practice and rightly so, but have we all become victims of the fast paced, fast answers, now not tomorrow attitude we take to everything which makes our workplaces faster, our roads faster and even our homes, all contributing to the risks exposed to us every day.