13th March, 2024

Why Health And Safety Is NOT Your Number One Priority

Is health and safety the number one priority for any business? Probably not. Of course, health and safety is an important aspect of running your business, but it's not your number one priority. Find out why.

Why Health And Safety Is NOT Your Number One Priority header image

We often see the phrase "safety is our number one priority" in marketing literature, company posters, health and safety policies and other documentation.

Number one!

Above everything else!

But is this a true statement, really? Is health and safety the number one priority - for any business?

Health and safety is a priority

I'm not denying health and safety is (or should be) a priority for any well-run business. It's important. You need to be on top of health and safety to comply with the law, to look after your people, to keep them healthy and productive, and to avoid fines and enforcement.

It is particularly important in high-risk industries such as construction and manufacturing. But of course, health and safety is an essential aspect of running any business.

If you visit a workplace or site, you can tell the difference between a site that has health and safety right and one that is missing the mark. When the site has health and safety right, not only is the documentation in order, but the whole site runs better. When it is safe to move around, the site is laid out well and work areas are clean and tidy, workers are generally more productive.

safety person marking up plans

And these things don't happen without putting time, money, and effort into health and safety.

When health and safety isn't a priority, chaos tends to follow. If care hasn't been taken to plan and organise the work, everything becomes a mess. Hazards are uncontrolled, and work slows down as a result.

So a business that takes health and safety seriously should be celebrated. It makes good business sense and is vital for growing a successful business.

But is health and safety really the business's number one priority?

Probably not.

Health and safety isn't the number one priority

There are several reasons why health and safety is NOT your number one business priority - and shouldn't be.

Many factors are responsible for the success of a business, such as finances, processes, productivity, and growth.

hand holding bank note

And if health and safety is the number one priority, it means it comes before everything else. And that's unlikely to be true.

Because in a business, the number one priority will always be financial. This is not a cynical view, it's how the world works - businesses are run to make a profit (or at least cover costs). If a business doesn't, it is unlikely to last in the long term.

If you don't make money, you can deliver a return for your investors, you can't pay your staff, you can't buy goods and materials, and you can't continue to work. And if you're not doing anything, you don't have any need for health and safety at all.

That's not to say health and safety won't support the need to make a profit. Without completing the work you do safely, - delays, fines, shutdowns, labour shortages, investigations etc are all going to hit your finances and your ability to deliver your business service.

Plenty of businesses have good intentions, and making a profit is not a bad thing. It can be achieved in harmony with other business priorities, like treating people well, keeping them safe, and serving your customers.

But your top priority is to deliver your business service. If you don't do that, you won't have any customers! And unless you're a health and safety company, that number one priority is not health and safety - because that's not your business service.

If you are a construction company, your number one priority is to build things. If you are a manufacturer, your priority is to make products. If you are an educational establishment, your priority is to teach, etc etc.

Health and safety supports the number one priority

Can health and safety help you achieve your top priority? Is health and safety part of business success?

Of course! And that's exactly what health and safety should be. Not your number one priority, but a way of supporting your number one priority.

If you're a construction company, and your business service is to build things, doing it safely and keeping your team healthy will allow you to continue doing that.

worker putting gloves on

But what about the financial success of a business? Isn't health and safety an expense? Training costs time and money. The latest equipment with top safety features doesn't come cheap. PPE, signs, notices, lighting, and protection - they all need to be purchased and replaced.

Yes, all these things require a little upfront investment. But health and safety can save you money in the long term.

By the way, there are many ways you can improve health and safety cheap, and even free. Here are 11 free ways to improve construction site safety.

The financial success of a business and health and safety go hand-in-hand. Good health and safety management is needed to win new clients, to grow your business and to stay profitable. And you need to stay profitable so you can continue to invest in improving your health and safety measures.

Health and safety should be a top priority in any workplace. Not only to comply with the law but also so the business can thrive.

Health and safety should be part of every activity and task you do.

Just like you check for the quality of what you do, you should check for the safety of what you do too.

business product meeting at a table

By producing a good quality product, your business will grow and you can increase profits. By producing that product in a safe and healthy work environment your business will also grow and profit, without the risk of fines, ill-health or loss of life.

However, to be effective, health and safety practices must complement other business priorities, and not restrict company growth.

Good health and safety management will ensure that you can achieve your number one priority, running a successful business, without causing harm to those you employ or others - through minimising hazards and controlling risks.

A positive health and safety culture will enhance your business, rather than restrict its growth.

Is health and safety your number one priority? Maybe not. Is it a top priority that should be part of every business decision? Absolutely.

share on twitter share on facebook share on linked in share by email

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.

Better health and safety...

We are here to help you and your business put safety in everything.

Learn More

Recent posts like this...

Your Near Miss Reporting Procedure Needs These 6 Simple Rules image

Your Near Miss Reporting Procedure Needs These 6 Simple Rules

If you are thinking about starting a near-miss reporting system, you need more than a form. A successful near-miss reporting system starts with good design and ends with results. Here are six simple rules that will help you get the most out of your near-miss reporting procedure.

Read Post
HSE Improvement Notices Vs Prohibition Notices image

HSE Improvement Notices Vs Prohibition Notices

If the HSE visit your premises or site and find something wrong, they will expect you to put it right. You may get an enforcement notice, an improvement notice or a prohibition notice. But what are the differences between an improvement notice and a prohibition notice?

Read Post
What The Law Says About Hot Water At Work image

What The Law Says About Hot Water At Work

No hot water at work? Hand washing is important for cleanliness, at work and home. As an employee, you have legal rights to certain welfare facilities at work. As an employer, if you don't provide it, you could find yourself in a different kind of hot water with the HSE or local authorities.

Read Post

Spend less time on paperwork.
Start with the free plan today.