Well, I guess that if you don’t have a job, you can make that claim. Everyone else has some responsibility for ensuring the health and safety of themselves and that of others. One problem that organisations must deal with is that not everyone knows this.
So, we all have responsibilities in health and safety but does that mean that we’re all responsible for managing it? For some of us it is pretty clear cut. Those holding senior appointments within an organisation are most certainly accountable to one degree or another, are they not? One problem, up here in the upper management tier, is that there is sometimes a belief that by delegating a subordinate manager to look after health and safety, one has relieved oneself of all accountability. Not so! We can appoint someone to coordinate the organisation’s efforts in managing health and safety; you might even call them The Health & Safety Manager. In most organisations, delegating all health and safety responsibilities would set the business up to fail, he or she cannot be in all places at all times.
In the line manager or middle tier of management one often encounters a belief that “so long as I don’t know I cannot be held to account”. Others would be aware that ignorance is rarely taken as an excuse in law. There are all sorts of requirements for the competencies of senior management, other management and even everyone else. It would be difficult for a manager to argue that they were competent to do their job if they simply ignored those aspects of it that didn’t appeal to them. Furthermore, if senior management don’t make their line managers aware of their responsibilities and accountabilities, senior managers could be held to account for the failings of their line managers.
Sometimes organisations have difficulty in identifying their managers. When we appoint a person as the manager of this, that or the other, it is apparent that they are a manager and have such they have responsibilities in the management of health and safety. What seems to be less apparent to some is that. When we delegate people to be responsible for other people, for looking after equipment or even materials, they may well, in the eyes of the law, be a manger, regardless of their appointment/title.
In recent times there has been an increased emphasis on the need for effective leadership in health and safety. If this leadership is effective it would surely lead to everyone being involved in improving the business, this includes the effective management of health and safety.
That leads to another question – do you want to take your chances and go with the flow or do you want to drive your business forward? If your answer is the latter then here is what you need to do next.