I have lots of conversations with business owners, mostly about how they can improve their business. These conversations are usually really interesting, I get to hear lots of great stories, and lessons to learn. But when it comes to talking about health and safety as one specific aspect of improving their business, the response I often get is “my wife looks after that” or “sure you’ll need to talk to Sharon she does the office admin stuff”.
So I then ask a few questions, just to make sure I understand the situation:
“Do they work in the workshop with you?” or on the tools or in the truck you know whatever the actual work is that they do.
“No, she doesn’t do that”.
“Ok” I say, “let me ask then, where are most of the risks in your business, you know the things that can actually hurt people?”
“Well, I guess they are out here in the workshop” (or on the tools or out on site, whatever the case may be).
“So your saying that health and safety is looked after by someone who doesn’t work here and hasn’t done this work before?”
And then the awkward silence…….
If that’s like you, it’s not your fault. There is a really big problem with the way lots of us learn about health and safety. Health and safety is seen as this complicated, paperwork thing. It’s not, health and safety is about how you improve your business everyday, and it’s not that complicated.
So then I say to the business owner, right let’s do some quick maths. John here is your offsider. If John has a serious injury, which could easily happen because of the work you do, John isn’t going to be happy, nor will his family. But that aside, you are looking at hundreds if not thousands of dollars of costs associated with that injury, even with workers comp insurance. With John off, it means your workload doubles which causes issues for you, your customers, maybe the quality of the work. Let’s say you replace John, with a temp that costs you $50/hour.
John is off for 3 weeks, which will cost you 6 grand. But you can’t expect a random temp to be as efficient or as good a quality as John, so they might only work at 70 or 80% of John’s capacity given the time it takes to learn, making some mistakes, plus the time you need to spend training them and checking and fixing stuff up.
So your actual direct and indirect costs could be closer to 7.5 or 8 or 9 or even 10 grand…..
I’m sure she’s a lovely lady, but in the situations I’ve just talked about, your wife has almost nothing to do with health and safety, even if she does some of the paperwork.
You, as the business owner, have full responsibility for health and safety – and if your smart, you’ll look at that as a good thing for your business and the people like John who work for you.
Now I’m sure you get how this might apply to you forgetting the gender stuff – if YOU are the wife who run’s the business, and your hubby does the books, you know I’m talking to you.
Are you, the business owner, taking care of health and safety business, or leaving it to someone else? What can you to today to get up to speed and take proper responsibility for it?
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You might also like our video The #1 Health and Safety Trap for Small Biz, which is often a reason for business owners letting someone else take care of health and safety.