When The Health and Safety Policy is at Odds with the Business Decision
Health and Safety Starts at the Top with Managers
Having a comprehensive health and safety culture within a business begins with the company's management as they are the ones who provide the direction of the business and set the standard to which employees follow. If they are not seen to take health and safety in the workplace seriously, or even deliberately tell employees to ignore certain things if time and money is scarce, then workers will face a much higher likelihood of suffering an injury or death which may or may not be of the own creation.
Often managers will be tempted to by-pass the health and safety policy and controls if there is a particular need to get work finished by a certain deadline or money is a bit tight. The business decision can therefore sometimes be at odds with the health and safety policy and rules which should be followed at all times. For example, materials which are purchased for use in the manufacturing process of a finished item may be required by law to be fire resistant. However, they are much more expensive than cheaper, more flammable material. If trading conditions are difficult, and as a result there is a lack of available money to spend, the business decision will be at odds not only with the health and safety policy and guidelines that would be followed by the management in an ideal world, but not following it also goes against legal requirements.
It is imperative that whenever a scenario like this comes about then management always stick to the health and safety policy, no matter how tempting it is to cut corners, even if it is "just the once because of exceptional circumstances". Circumventing the health and safety policy or not fulfilling set legal requirements will significantly increase the potential for a person to suffer illness, injury or death as a consequence of the workplace activities.
Health and Safety Can Be Positive Too
Following a health and safety policy is certainly not all about placing restrictions upon a business as to what can and cannot be done. The policy is also used as a guide for positive actions which aim to increase productivity, preserve the environment, enhance company image and result in cost efficiency amongst many other benefits.
Health and safety policies and even legislation are not intended to suppress profit and make trading tough for businesses. Although some requirements may be onerous, cause work to take slightly longer and end up costing more money, there are many benefits that a safe workplace brings which nearly always far outweigh any negatives and costs associated with it.