We are all aware of the health and safety burdens placed on businesses from bureaucratic red tape caused by statutory regulations. Blue tape, however, refers to the guidance offered by professional bodies, insurers and even safety professionals! This growing concern can portray the profession in a poor light and even undermine health & safety standards due to high profile headlines of ‘elf ‘n safety gone mad.
Here are my four biggest causes of blue tape, and some advice on how you can avoid them.
  1. Insurance providers will place contractual health and safety requirements onto an organisation which may exceed the legally required standards. A common example within the hospitality sector could be kitchen duct cleaning; for seasonal operators an annual clean may suffice however, it is common for insurers to require six monthly cleaning.  In my experience insures will change such requirements if a satisfactory case is argued however, it is best to read the small print or you may be forking out for unnecessary maintenance or worse, find yourself uninsured.
  2. Subscriptions to professional bodies look great; they’re a testament to an organisations commitment and professionalism. However, each professional body will have its own set of requirements and some can be quite arduous and bureaucratic, depending on the size of your business. Be wary when signing up to professional bodies and think twice about the value that the use of their logo will bring to your organisation!
  3. Management standards, such as OHSAS 18001, are almost becoming a pre-requisite for larger organisations which is positive however, it must be remembered that these standards provide a management template. It is a misconception that the management standards require you to achieve no lost time incidents or zero accidents.  On occasion, consultants and organisations can create management systems which achieve accreditation but the drawback is a policy that is potentially unachievable, costly due to the additional requirements and could trip them up if later produced in court.
  4. Larger health and safety consultancies operating across several industries may offer to sell an all-encompassing package which effectively insures the business. However, it must be remembered that the policies, procedures and RAs belong to the client and, in the event of an incident, these documents will be scrutinised to ensure that they have been implemented fully. When selecting a consultant always consider how much experience they have in your industry and are the documents produced reflective of your organisation.
The HSE are rightly seeking to tackle causes of blue tape and the myth busters page is always a good read available at: www.hse.gov.uk/myth.
Based in Somerset, PDT Safety specialise in health and safety for the hospitality and leisure sector.  We are proud of our common-sense approach, resulting in a safe environment for your customers and employees.
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