Abbie Bates (3)
October 28, 2020
Posted by Home (ENG)
Challenges around Health & Safety within the FM Industry
Health and Safety is the subject of many laws and regulations, failure to comply with these renders companies and individuals liable to prosecution. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is a piece of legislation that protects the general principles of health and safety in the workplace. However, the FM industry is not shy about the challenges that implementing Health and Safety can bring.
Policies & Procedures
FM management teams are tasked with the daunting job of ensuring that all staff have visibility of all the relevant health and safety documents and policies relevant to their role. The nature of FM often means that staff can be widespread location-wise which creates a challenge. It is important that these staff have the same access to information, policies, and resources as the staff working in the office, enabling them to operate in an informed and safe manner. The need to communicate safety procedures becomes even more important when considering the scope of FM responsibilities; such as building regulations, any products that should or shouldn’t be used, planning permission for certain work, and the time of day certain tasks can be undertaken just to name a few.
FM has always been a remote job, with a small number of FM professionals managing to spend a full week at their desks. FM workers are also in an ever-changing work environments, which provide changing levels of risk. Many companies tackle this by simply completing task-specific risk assessments which are then complimented by a generic risk assessment. Not identifying and controlling the site and task-specific risks not only has the potential to negatively change lives, but it could also increase costs to businesses through sick pay, court cases and fines, compensation claims, and higher insurance premiums.
With staff working on client sites, this can sometimes cause confusion surrounding policies with regards to reporting accidents. Often FM staff will fill in the accident book on site but then not mention it to their own employers, or not report it to anyone at all. Whilst unreported accidents make the figures look good for annual review, they put your company at risk. Reporting gives a company a reason and an opportunity to review current processes, identify any missing controls, and implement accident prevention measures or retrain staff. If an accident goes on to become a RIDDOR and evidence is found that previous accident reports have not been managed effectively, this could mean large fines or even prosecution. The HSE can drop in without notice to undertake spontaneous investigations too, which means that nothing necessarily has to go wrong for a company to be prosecuted.
Managing training can be time-consuming in larger organisations. Not only is it important to track what courses staff have completed, but identifying training requirements as they start working and again every time something changes which could require further training is equally important. On top of this, most qualifications require refresher courses, of varying intervals, generally from annually to 60 months. It can also be difficult to pin staff down when it comes to planning training days and unfortunately, due to busy lives employees struggle to find the time to keep track of their own training requirements. Aside from keeping your staff trained so that you can operate compliantly; it may also be that having a database of qualifications and competencies helps you identify who to send for a particular job. For example, selecting a particular employee with working at heights competencies for cleaning windows on a tall building.
Above mentioned are just a few challenges that the FM industry face when implementing health and safety in the workplace however although it may be challenging the importance of health and safety in the workplace simply cannot be underestimated.
If you are a company looking to recruit a HSE specialist into your organisation to assist with these challenges, or maybe a HSE professional looking for a new challenge yourself, please do get in touch with the HSE Network on 0121 450 5000.