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Health and Safety Legislation

Over the last century or so, great strides forward have been made in safeguarding the health and welfare of an organisation's workforce. Where once workers were seen as expendable and an easily replaceable commodity if killed or suffered an injury or illness that prevented them from working, the introduction of successive health and safety legislation means that now virtually every country in the world has laws which protect the health and welfare of workers. This legislation includes such requirements as the provision of suitable safety equipment, maximum working hours, minimum working ages, the achievement of a certain qualification through health and safety training before being allowed to start work in a particular workplace or task, maximum exposure limits to hazardous substances, and many more. Companies must also perform risk assessments in order to try and take measures with the aim of preventing an incident from occurring in the first place.

These new rules and regulations are often grumbled at by managers and owners of businesses who often resent all the extra cost and administrative effort that comes with having to satisfy all of the conditions imposed on them by legislation. However, many fail to appreciate the potential costs that would come with an accident taking place. Not only would production often come to a standstill whilst the incident was attended to and the area put back to normal, but there will be a drop in output as the worker(s) affected by the incident take time off to recover. If they will be off for the long-term, or are unable to return to work at all, then recruitment costs will be incurred as a temporary or permanent replacement is found, not to mention management time being taken up with having to write the job specification, arrange advertising for the position, interview potential candidates etc. Then, when the new person starts, they will take time to get fully up to speed with their new tasks, during which time mistakes are likely to be made, along with taking up time from colleagues who have to sit with the new person to conduct on-the-job training and/or put right any mistakes they make.

All of this means that the cost of providing health and safety training or complying with legislative requirements can often be far less than dealing with the aftermath of an incident. With the risk of large fines or even imprisonment for breaches of health and safety laws, it is vital that your organisation complies with all applicable legislation.

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