Health and Safety in the hospitality industry has never been more significant as a topic than today. With health and safety regulations that are hard to keep up with, and threatening fines looming over the head of every hospitality business in the UK, some may say that health and safety as a topic has become a slight taboo subject. The idea that health and safety regulations eradicate all the ‘fun’, ‘flair’ and ‘freedom’ out of running a hotel, gastro pub, or restaurant business is perhaps true to some extent, but our question to you is: what are the real costs if health and safety is not taken seriously? Through that question, we are not only pointing to the obvious costs of breaking the law – i.e. fines, or even imprisonment – health and safety breaches can cause ‘costs’ to your hospitality business that are much farther reaching than those.
So, let us delve into the three main reasons why health and safety regulations, health and safety risk assessments and health and safety management are vital for your hospitality business. As can be expected, all three reasons are founded on the (mostly negative) implications serious health and safety breaches may have. And, perhaps you are one of the hospitality operators or owners who over the years has ceased to recognise the importance of health and safety, or the benefits proper health and safety management can have on your business…then please allow us to reason with you.
Understanding why a hospitality business should give health and safety a high priority status, and putting things ‘back into perspective’, will hopefully help reframe your mindset on the subject. Rather than begrudgingly ticking the health and safety tickboxes, allow yourself to be reminded of the importance of this subject and regain the aspiration to get all-things-health-and-safety-related right. Even if you do not know how to do that yourself, learn to invest in a health and safety service provision, such as the one provided by Venners, with eagerness.
1. Good Health and safety risk assessments and management keep your business safe from high insurance premium rates and fines that could go into the millions!
As a business sector the hospitality industry is heavily regulated for good reason. As such, insurance premium rates can be huge, constantly affected by the slightest change to your hotel, restaurant or pub. Being able to prove that your business has a well-managed health and safety plan when it comes to discussing your insurance renewal, places you in a lower-risk category, therefore lowering your premiums.
You may have noticed that over the years the fines for health and safety breaches have shown a huge incline. In fact, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) data collected from 300 plus local authorities has indicated that the amount of fines collected from businesses has more than doubled since the latest regulatory changes. In the space of 12 months (up until 31 January 2017) a huge £76.7m worth of fines was collected from business around the UK, compared to 36.2m the year before. On an individual level, fines are subject to a business’ turnover, but can run into millions of pounds for the largest businesses (Clydeco).
Whilst it is the local authorities’ Environmental Health Departments who are technically responsible for the enforcement of health and safety compliance, the sector is subjected to a set of high standards imposed by a number of regulatory bodies including, the Meat Standards Agency and Food Standards Agency. Apart from the obvious effects these breaches can have on your business’ profits, failure to comply can also result in long-term disqualification of carrying out a specific job function or even imprisonment. And that brings us to reason number 2.
2. Maintaining Health and safety risk assessments and management is important in upholding your reputation
The above statement really works two ways. Should your hospitality business be prosecuted for non-compliance with health and safety regulations, the fines you receive, and the key personnel that get dismissed or even imprisoned, will have damaging effects on your business’ reputation. As is often the case, news stories will circulate, or sometimes news through the grapevine in your local area will be enough to exacerbate the already serious implications you have had to deal with within your business. If not dealt with appropriately, the resulting reputation can have the power to completely destroy your business’ trade. All the more reason to ensure that the health and safety violations do not occur in the first place.
On the flip side, well-managed health and safety procedures can in fact be beneficial to your business’ reputation. Your staff will feel safe in the knowledge that your business cares for their health and safety. And as they say, a happy worker is a productive worker. Your customers too will recognise you for your attention to health and safety concerns. For example, a good food safety plan will result in a high food hygiene rating, and a high food hygiene rating means a higher footfall of customers. Even issues of diversity, in particular accessibility for those with disabilities (whether staff or customers), can show your hospitality business to be thoughtful and ethical. And this brings us to our next point.
3. Health and safety risk assessments and management are foundational pillars to ensuring your business operates ethically
Now you might have faithfully followed all the points up until now, but this one might have thrown you off. Taking it a bit far now? Well, think about it. Ensuring people’s health and safety is about more than just your reputation. It also keeps the slate of your business’ conscience clean. Knowing that you have done everything you could in terms of health and safety management shows that beyond your own business, you really do care about the people you serve, as well as the people who serve with you.
And honestly, we are not going on a philanthropic rant here. Because people dying as a result of health and safety negligence might be a rare occurrence, but surely ‘rare’ should still be considered as too often. Regularly making the news headlines, stories of customers drowning in their hotel’s Jacuzzi, or from food poisoning following a meal they were served at their local pub, make us all shudder. And even if it does not end quite as terribly as that, lasting health concerns for your staff or customers should be enough reason for your business to take health and safety seriously.
So really, what are the costs, the actual costs of not implementing a good health and safety management regime, or completing health and safety risk assessments as carefully as we would fill in our budgets? The combination of financial, reputational, and ethical concerns should really motivate us into not only considering health and safety issues more often, but also giving them higher priority too. Speak to us today about any health and safety concerns you have regarding your venue and operations. Venners have specialised in providing health and safety services for many years and will be able to support all your needs in this area.