The Importance of a Long-term View to Compliance
When it comes to legal compliance, just how do you ensure that you get the results you require, whilst keeping costs within budget, and what are the potential consequences of your decisions and actions in the longer term? Sadly, but all too often, once decisions have been made, many organisations sit back – unaware of potential problems that lie ahead, somewhere in the future. Have you got a compliance time bomb ticking away?
In the world of fire, health and safety, we have all heard the strong enforcement message following prosecution, fines and even imprisonment as a result of non-compliance, but, ultimately, that’s the law of the land. To reach that point, things have gone horribly wrong; forget the fines or court cases, just consider the risks to the people involved and the impact that any fire or accident has had. The implications for your workforce, and customers, can be significant. The hidden costs, in terms of management time and lost productivity, can be severe and creep up on
you with terrifying stealth.
Fire safety legislation has recently undergone its biggest change in 60 years and the introduction of the Fire Safety Order is starting to create an interesting trail of case studies – highlighting different strategies – followed by organisations and their consequences.
Weak strategies that could best be described as ‘do nothing’ or ‘wait and see’ are now slowly but surely starting to be exposed by effective Fire Service Audits, or in the worse cases, following fires. Recently in one landmark case, a company director was imprisoned for four months following a fatal fire where a number of breaches of the Fire Safety Order were identified. A second director was fined a further £21,000 and ordered to pay costs in the sum of £8,800.
The ‘leave it until the last minute’ or ‘go for the cheapest option’ strategies can also be the undoing of many organisations. Why? Well, simply because what was perceived as the quickest or most cost-effective route to the solution at the time failed to take into account future consequences. In one case, a large organisation invested a considerable amount of funds over a two-year period in fire safety risk assessments but had failed to take into consideration what was needed to be done with the reports when completed. It took no account of any remedial works, or training requirements, resulting in a Significant overspend.
Weak strategies that could best be described as ‘do nothing’ or ‘wait and see’ are now slowly but surely starting to be exposed by effective Fire Service Audits, or in the worse
cases, following fires.
It may also be argued that bodies such as the NBS and PCTs, whose core business is health and welfare of people, have a moral and implied duty to ensure they are fully compliant with regard to all aspects of fire, health and safety.
So what is the best way forward? The answer is surprisingly simple and involves not just addressing the issue that lies directly in front of you, but in the consideration of what might lie ahead: the ‘Strategic Solution’. By carefully planning and developing a legal compliance strategy to not only take into consideration your organisation’s immediate needs, but medium and
long-term view, you must have a process to drive compliance improvements on a continuous basis.