Maybe it’s due to my background in law, but while supplying workwear over the past 25 years I’ve noticed that UK organisations are misapplying the HSE regulations in several different ways – and losing out considerably. Here’s one example.
Manufacturers spend millions each year creating fantastic and innovative health and safety products with the potential to improve the lives of the UK’s workforce considerably. Yet often these products just sit on the shelves, benefitting no one. Companies reject these products on the basis of cost, but often, it needn’t even cost them a penny. I can explain.
Legally speaking, UK companies must pay for all necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). However, comfort or wellbeing products are often not such “necessary” items of PPE, which is why companies can refuse to buy them. However, this also means that UK companies are not obliged to pay for them. Instead, the workforce can lawfully be offered the choice to buy these products themselves, at their own cost or partly subsidised by the employer.
If handled properly, this represents the ultimate win-win solution. Workers have access to the best, most innovative H&S products that could significantly improve their daily lives, while H&S officers feel more fulfilled, procurement managers are pleased at the savings and the company benefits overall from a happier, more motivated workforce. Also, empowering the workforce to share responsibility for their own wellbeing can reduce any subsequent compensation claims as the onus partly shifts onto the employee for rejecting any product that could have prevented the injury.
There are other win-win solutions I could suggest, but even just this single idea can significantly reduce the UK’s injury statistics and benefit UK companies enormously – and IOSH (The Institution of Occupational Safety & Health) agrees. Of course, proper legal consultancy is required to ensure compliance with HSE regulations – but don’t worry, that’s my job.
Bali Rakhra LL.B.