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3rd March 2017

Using another company’s safety documents

The scenario

You have recently employed a new Operations Manager who has come from one of your major competitors. Since they joined you they’ve been trying to introduce their former employer’s policies and procedures. Should you use an other company’s safety documents?

The problem

You employed this individual as they demonstrated all the skills and attributes necessary for the role. This included a good working knowledge of health and safety, along with a number of industry-recognised safety qualifications.

However, it has now become obvious that they have very fixed ideas on how the subject must be managed. Unfortunately, this conflicts with your established health and safety systems.

They have now suggested that you overhaul your existing arrangements, and have gone so far as telling you that what you currently have in place isn’t up to scratch. Their reasoning behind this is that because their former employer is a larger business, then it must have all the answers.

The easy solution

To soften the blow, your new manager has a solution up their sleeve. They advise you that before they left their previous employer, they managed to download all of their health and safety documentation. They are now suggesting that all you need do is change the logos and staff names, then implement the system word for word.

This is a bad idea! Although the manager appears keen, they’re actually asking you to use stolen material – it’s unlikely your competitor would ever find out (or even care), but if they do, you may have an embarrassing issue to deal with.

Large companies often invest heavily in their H&S systems and sometimes develop good ways of managing issues. However, there’s no guarantee that their working methods suit your ways of working – and it certainly doesn’t mean that what you already have in place is inadequate.

More than one way to skin a cat

Because every workplace is different, the way that legislation is drafted allows business to assess and manage their own risks. The premise here being that those creating the risks are best placed to reduce them. This gives employers the flexibility to act in a reasonable and proportionate way according to their undertakings (Cost V’s Risk).

So, bottom line, use the manager’s industry experience by all means and take time your review your own safety arrangements. But, if you don’t think it will result in an improvement, there’s no reason to change anything – even if other businesses are doing things differently.

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