As business owners and employers, we like to think we’re adhering to Health and Safety standards, but how seriously do we really take our duties? As employers we have a responsibility to our employees to keep them safe at work, but this doesn’t have to be costly or complicated. If your business has more than five employees, you need to have a written Health and Safety Policy, but all businesses should carry out risk assessments too. The risk assessment process will help you understand the potential hazards within your workplace and what measures you can put in place to control them.
However, Health and Safety isn’t just about protecting your employees. If you provide a service to the public, you need to protect your customers too. The recent tragic incident involving Summer Grant and the bouncy castle serves to remind us of how seriously we need to take Health and Safety. William and Selby Thurston, Fairground Workers in charge of the bouncy castle, failed to provide a safe environment for the children that were using their service. Consequently, Summer Grant died because the bouncy castle that she was playing in blew away in 35 to 45mph winds. The bouncy castle was only recommended for use in winds of 24mph or less. Therefore, the Thurstons were found guilty of Manslaughter by gross negligence and breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
This tragic incident highlights the importance of being fully aware of the hazards posed by our business activities and the attitude we adopt towards Health and Safety. Our staff need to feel safe working within the environment that we create for them. Whether staff work within an office, a factory or other workplace, their Health and Safety needs to be paramount when we make any decisions. Our employees must have the necessary information, instruction & training to enable them to carry out their duties in line with the expected safe methods of work.
As emphasised by the bouncy castle incident, if there’s a mismatch between equipment, environment and understanding, it could lead to terrible consequences. As business owners and employers, we all have a responsibility and we need to have the upmost regard for our employees and customers safety, ensuring that they don’t come to any harm because of something that we did incorrectly or something we failed to do at all.