New Year, New Budget: A look at setting an Automotive Health and Safety Budget and why it is so Important

by Lee Kennedy

January 16, 2018

Automotive Health and Safety Budget

How much should we be spending on health and safety?

It’s a new year and the last thing on your mind is probably a health and safety budget. For most people it’s a time when we reflect on what we have (or haven’t) achieved and how much we want to change over the next 12 months. Whether it’s a new diet, cutting sugar, living healthier, stopping smoking, a new fitness regime or learning a new skill, we all want to improve.

"In many cases, targets go up and budgets go down"

In the automotive industry it is no different, we have new targets, in many cases new products and in an industry that is changing every year, new technology. We also have new budgets. In many cases, targets go up and budgets go down, most companies use this time to review the past 12 months to see what is working and what needs to go. Larger groups have been selling parts of their businesses to maximise profit.

Why does Health and Safety get Neglected?

One thing that will not go away is the need to provide a safe working environment for your teams and a safe place for your customers to visit. So why does health and safety get neglected? Well, let’s face it, health and safety is not sexy. I have always said ‘health and safety won’t get you up in the morning, but it will keep you up at night'.

Successful businesses in any industry focus on not just making a profit but holding on to it. I wouldn’t buy a brand new car and drive it without insurance, although the chances are that vehicle will lose value after its first journey is complete, so why would anyone risk the very thing that provides income?

It’s quite simple, when I started my business, I wasn’t thinking about policies, risk assessments and training, I was focused on sales, reducing costs and increasing profits. It’s often the drive and enthusiasm that business owners have, the cavalier, no holds barred bravado that launches a start up to becoming a success. We begin to employ more people and things snowball. Before we know it somebody mentions health and safety and we say ‘We’ll be fine’!

"Last year the amount of incidents between now and mid February from insurance claims I heard about, just in the motor trade, was amazing"!

Until you’re not, If your company has a serious accident, an inspection of lifting equipment is deemed as dangerous or a disgruntled ex team member decides to become whistleblower, HSE or Local Authority may come and inspect your business premises, you have no right to stop them and with Fees For Intervention, Improvement Notices and Prohibition Notices, these costs cannot be claimed back. We also have the ‘No Win, No Fee’ claimers, last year the amount of incidents between now and mid February from insurance claims I heard about, just in the motor trade, was amazing. People change jobs at this time of year and when they get there credit card bill after Christmas and New Year they start to think of ways to bring in extra cash. You can call me cynical but who wants the hassle of claims letters and HSE inspectors?

So, my question was how much should we spend on health and safety? If you have the time you can find out all of the information you require on the Health and Safety England website and you can download free information like; the HSE’s guidance to working safely in Motor Vehicle Repair.

Training, training, training...

Something I have noticed beginning to feature much more is the need for documented training. It is important to ensure you provide your team with Induction Training and larger organisations will have HR dedicated to this. It is also important to protect your team from workplace risks such as manual handling, COSHH and you have a legal requirement to provide first aid training, you can book this locally with St John’s Ambulance, British Red Cross here you will be training with a wide cross section of businesses. We provide bespoke 1 and 3 day first aid courses designed specifically for motor trade businesses.

Online training for fire marshals, manual handling and display screen equipment is expected and this can be more productive and cost effective than stand up training, which takes large groups of workers away from profit making activities some sites to consider are Intuity Online Training, IHASCO and ROSPA.

One of the first things I did when setting up my business was to seek out an accountant. Like the HSE, the HMRC publish everything you need to know about being compliant but I left it to a professional, it saves time and money. Large companies employ financial directors and accountants to work in house, they also employ safety professionals or ensure they have a good consultant.

"Remember all of this is tax deductable and may save you time, money and worry".

I am a big reader and a book I enjoyed reading is Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and he said;

"It’s not about how much money you make, but how much you keep, how hard it works for you and how many generations you keep it for".

Thank you very much for your time and if you would like some more details, I will be happy for anyone to email me.

Lee Kennedy.