20th February, 2024
A health and safety manager is responsible for the health and safety performance of a business. They must protect workers and members of the public from harm by developing safe systems of work to prevent accidents and ill health.
Health and safety managers exist in a wide range of industries. They are appointed in companies big and small. Because businesses don't all follow the same structure, the size and scope of the role can vary.
The health and safety manager is usually the person responsible for health and safety in the business. As the job title suggests, they manage health and safety.
It is an important role. The health and safety manager is usually held accountable for the health and safety performance of the business.
The health and safety manager role is usually the top role in health and safety within an organisation. It is a senior role because the health and safety manager needs to have authority. Authority to create and implement policies, manage employees, and advise management and directors on health and safety matters. They need the power to stop work if it is unsafe and puts people at risk.
They should have excellent communication skills to get people involved with initiatives and be approachable at all levels to gather information and feedback.
And they need to have the competence to create and implement safe working practices.
If you are taking on the role of a health and safety manager, you need to be competent to do so. You should be familiar with health and safety law, but also with the type of work being carried out. For example, if you work in construction, you should have an understanding of the health and safety hazards and risks present in construction work.
An organisation might have one health and safety manager, responsible for the management of the whole organisation. Or several health and safety managers, responsible for specific sites or projects.
The health and safety manager is responsible for making sure the business complies with health and safety laws, at a minimum. They will be responsible for understanding the legislation and keeping up to date with any changes.
But complying with the law is the minimum standard, and the responsibilities of a health and safety manager will often extend beyond this to continually improve health, safety and well-being within the business.
A health and safety manager is accountable for health and safety performance in the business and if health and safety goals are achieved.
In addition to working with in-house staff, health and safety managers will have responsibilities outside the business. They act as a point of contact for other organisations including:
The purpose of the health and safety manager is to prevent accidents, injuries, and work-related illnesses.
The primary role of the health and safety manager is to advise directors and managers on all safety, health and welfare matters. They are the health and safety competent person. The business looks to them to ensure it complies with its legal health and safety duties.
The health and safety manager will be held accountable for the management of health and safety within the business. They are the person appointed in overall control of health and safety.
Directors will often call on health and safety managers to carry out some or all of the legal health and safety obligations of employers. Certain requirements can be designated or assigned to the health and safety manager by directors. This doesn't relieve employers of their legal responsibilities but helps them comply with health and safety laws.
The success of the health and safety manager will depend on the health and safety performance of the business.
The health and safety manager will work with directors, managers, supervisors and workers, to make sure that health and safety requirements are met at each level.
The success of the health and safety manager will very much rely on teamwork, and the ability to get every level of the business on board with the health and safety agenda.
Health and safety managers must have proper training and be suitably qualified. Often, much of the competency of a health and safety manager can come from experience. However, they should have suitable qualifications which can include:
In smaller, lower-hazard businesses, the level of qualification required for the health and safety manager role might not be as high.
Health and safety managers are responsible for applying health and safety legislation to the business. They need to be up to date with changing health and safety laws, and know how to apply the law to the work processes and the impact of technological advances.
They must be provided with and pursue courses, seminars and other types of continuing professional development (CPD) to remain competent within their role.
You may hear some different terms for health and safety job roles, including:
And in many ways, a health and safety manager is a health and safety advisor. They provide health and safety advice!
However, the role of the health and safety manager covers a little bit more than that of a health and safety advisor.
An advisor will usually review, inspect and provide advice. They may investigate issues and prepare documentation, but they will usually rely on managers and supervisors to implement the recommendations given.
A health and safety manager is much more likely to be an internal member of the team, directly employed by the business. In addition to advising, they will also implement plans and policies. They have more control over implementing the advice given and taking recommended actions.
An advisor or consultant can be external and be asked for advice or visit periodically to provide advice, training and information.
A health and safety manager is a manager, so they will usually need to be full-time and based on site so that they can manage and monitor health and safety.
However, the exact role and responsibilities can vary from business to business and will depend on the structure of the business and the job description for the given role.
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This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.
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