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2015 – New Year Elf n Safety Resolutions
Posted by David Cant on January 13, 2015

2015 – New Year Elf n Safety Resolutions

Health and safety mythbustersEntering its 40th anniversary year, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has started January by encouraging customer-facing businesses to carefully consider how they publicise unpopular decisions. According to the HSE, too many businesses are using health and safety ‘rules’ as a way to excuse poor customer service.

Referring to the results gathered from their own Myth Busters Challenge Panel, the HSE estimates that at least 45% of complaints they received had nothing to do with health and safety. Instead businesses were using elf n safety as an excuse for not meeting customer expectations.

Fear and ignorance

As well as actively avoiding responsibility for poor customer service, many businesses use ‘health and safety reasons’ as a way to minimise operational costs. Others took a longer term view, turning down requests for fear of being sued by disgruntled customers at some point in the future.

Where cost was not an issue, the HSE suggested that over-the-top decisions were a result of poor understanding of health and safety legislation. Instead of carrying out proper assessments, many businesses simply take a default ‘no’ position when faced by a decision that falls outside their experience.

A New Year resolution

By publicising elf n safety myths the HSE hopes to discourage businesses from further propagating them. Instead they want organisations to set themselves a corporate New Year resolution to not hide behind health and safety as an excuse for inaction or poor service.

Judith Hackett, who chairs the HSE and Myth Busters Challenge Panel said:

HSE wants to encourage everyone, especially those working in leisure and retail, to make a resolution to stop using the health and safety catch-all excuse.

Give the real reason for the decision you take. We want people to be honest – giving health and safety the blame is lazy and unhelpful.

Customers are at the heart any business. Getting rid of over-the-top decisions blamed on health and safety will improve the service customers receive and enable the business to prosper.”

Making better decisions

At the heart of making well thought-out health and safety plans is the understanding of an organisation’s responsibilities, and what constitutes a genuine health and safety risk. Where a business owner or manager is unable to perform either of these assessments, they should seek the assistance of a qualified third party.

Inconveniencing customers with elf n safety myths could be hugely damaging to a brand’s reputation. As well as inviting public ridicule, businesses found ‘guilty’ of propagating elf n safety fibs could have their incompetence/ignorance highlighted by the HSE on their website and newsletter. Although company names are not published by the HSE, third party media outlets often identify elf n safety myth creators.

As a result, many businesses could benefit from setting themselves a second New Year resolution – to get the help, advice and training they need to meet discharge their health and safety responsibilities properly. This goal will help deliver a more satisfying experience for customers, avoid embarrassment for your brand, and ensure that employees and the public are protected at all times.


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Health and Safety, Health and Safety Consultancy, Health and Safety Services

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