How External bodies can influence an Organisations internal health and safety operation

In my latest article i am going to look at how external bodies can influence an organisations health and safety. What follows is only an example, there are many more influences.

Insurance Companies 

Insurance companies are increasingly becoming active at influencing the health and safety policies of the company to which they provide insurance.

The amounts of money involved for corporate insurance claims are often far higher than they are for private individuals. Insurance companies will feel a greater financial impact when they have to pay out for a large corporate claim. As such, they will want to have more of an idea about what goes on within the company and, more pertinently, what measures and controls are in place to minimise the chances of an incident taking place which would result in an insurance claim.

The extent to which insurance companies are concerned with potential payouts has resulted in an increase in the level of scrutiny and influence which they have over the company to which they are insuring. If they are going to cover them for such large amounts, they want to know what the company is doing to reduce the chances of such an incident occurring. They may even demand certain conditions be met and particular control measures be put in place as a prerequisite of them providing the requested level of insurance cover to the organisation.

Because circumstances change, the insurance company will often want to conduct periodic reviews to ensure that risks are still being managed appropriately to determine that the premium being charged is high enough. It may also be the case that the company can introduce such comprehensive controls, safety features and level of health and safety training that it actually warrants a lower insurance premium than currently being charged.


Media reporting of perceived negative activity at an organisation can have a direct influence on the organisation and the way it reacts to the allegations.

An open and honest policy by the organisation may satisfy the media regarding the allegation. If there was a fault and the organisation were correcting this then this may have a positive affect on the organisations perceived culture in the community and media

A closed door policy by the organisation may antagonise the media, encourage more negative reporting, build mistrust in the community and put barriers between management and the work force. This will have a negative affect on the organisations safety culture.


The main reason for health and safety legislation is to protect people at work and those who are affected by work activities. Legislation (that is, laws) is made so that everyone in society knows which behaviours are acceptable and which are not.

Legislation is reviewed and updated when changes are required, for an organization to continue to be compliant they must be aware of these changes.

HSE Intervention

The publicity of an HSE enforcement may have a negative affect on a business, morale of its workforce, its standing in the community, future insurance costs and the trust of its customers and clients

HSE's emphasis is on prevention but, where appropriate, will enforce the law where it is being deliberately flouted. Enforcement action is taken to ensure dutyholders deal immediately with serious risks and comply with the law and are held to account if they fail in their responsibilities

Inspectors also have the power to issue HSE enforcement notices to prevent and/or stop unsafe workplace activities. HSE enforcement policy will typically apply when health and safety breaches are serious in nature and pose a significant risk to workers or the public.

External Awarding Bodies ISO 45001

ISO 45001 is an International Standard that specifies requirements for an occupational health and safety (OH&S) management system, with guidance for its use, to enable an organisation to proactively improve its OH&S performance in preventing injury and ill-health

an ISO 45001 based OH&S management system

will enable an organisation to improve its OH&S performance by:

•     Developing and implementing an OH&S policy and OH&S objectives

•     Establishing systematic processes which consider its “context” and which take into account its risks and opportunities, and its legal and other requirements

•     Determining the hazards and OH&S risks associated with its activities; seeking to eliminate them, or putting in controls to minimize their potential effects

•     Establishing operational controls to manage its OH&S risks and its legal and other requirements

•     Increasing awareness of its OH&S risks

•     Evaluating its OH&S performance and seeking to improve it, through taking appropriate actions

•     Ensuring workers take an active role in OH&S matters

How will it benefit the organization?

•     Will ensure that an organisation’s reputation as a safe place to work will be promoted

•     Improving its ability to respond to regulatory compliance issues

•     Reducing the overall costs of incidents

•     Reducing downtime and the costs of disruption to operations

•     Reducing the cost of insurance premiums

•     Reducing absenteeism and employee turnover rates

•     Recognition for having achieved an international benchmark (which may in turn influence customers who are concerned about their social responsibilities)