The main purpose for any safety policy is to protect the health and welfare of your workers. Along with the legal requirement, there’s a moral duty to minimise risks and provide a healthy working environment.
But there are also a range of business benefits that an effective safety policy can deliver to a field service company. It helps to create effective, efficient and competitive field service operations.
The business benefits of effective field worker safety:
Businesses in the UK lost 5.5 million working days during 2016-2017 as a result of non-fatal work related injuries. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimate that this represents economic losses of around £5.3 billion.
This can have a particular impact on field service operations where staff shortages are liable to reduce the quality and reliability of services. Staffing shortages can also create added stresses and strains for active workers as systems get stretched.
An effective safety policy minimise the loss of working days and help to ensure a smooth running and productive field service operation.
Legal health and safety responsibilities apply throughout a supply chain - including those who commission services. This means that any field service company that’s involved in procurement needs to demonstrate the ability to work safely.
So a robust safety approach, together with the use of open and accessible safety management methods delivers a competitive advantage when tendering for contracts. Being able to provide commissioning authorities with accurate and up-to-date safety information during projects is a particular advantage.
This is one area where digital management systems are a particular benefit with safety processes being tracked and stored in real-time - allowing a reassuring level of accurate data to be shared externally.
An exemplary safety record and a commitment to protect the welfare and safety of workers doesn’t just help when competing for contracts - it also helps to build a positive and enticing company ‘brand’.
It’s something that can become a powerful selling point for a business, having an influence on everything from recruitment to marketing. Winning industry accolades for safety standards creates can generated particularly positive media coverage.
It also helps to create a healthy company culture with the commitment to safety becoming an active and practical demonstration of an organisation’s core values.
The perception amongst a workforce that safety processes are more of a ‘box ticking’ exercise than a genuine effort to protect health can have a damaging effect on morale. It sends out the basic message that a company doesn’t care about its employees.
Conversely, an effective safety policy will promote a positive relationship between managers and workers. It sends out the signal that employees are appreciated and valued - helping to build trust and create the foundation for solid and stable working relations.
Along with increased productivity, improving worker morale can reduce absenteeism, staff ‘churn’ and improve the quality of customer/client interactions.
The consequences of failing to comply with health and safety laws can have a devastating impact on a field service business. During 2016-2017, the HSE prosecuted 594 companies for health and safety compliance breaches with convictions in 554 - a success rate of 93 percent.
The resulting fines totalled £69.9 million with the largest single penalty being £5 million. Revised sentencing guidelines in 2016, increased the amount courts are able to fine companies for safety breaches, as well as lowering the threshold for sentences of imprisonment.
An effective safety policy helps to shield a business against these risks. Along with the financial penalties, there’s also the serious reputational damage that can be caused by details of safety failures being made public.
Explore innovative ways to improve your businesses safety practises in the free field worker safety guide.