Business & compliance advice

IOSH business resource checklist

Written by Phoenix Health & Safety
16th December 2021
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With the announcement in August that UK job vacancies hit a record high of 1 million, a world professional body has urged employers coping with staff shortages not to ‘sleepwalk’ into a health and safety nightmare.

It was reported that the organisers of the Parklife music festival had to recruit 1,000 security staff needed for the September event in Manchester and had to go to extreme lengths to find them.  To meet the quota they bused in workers from Devon and Northern Scotland. 

The founder, Sacha Lord, stated: “We had to beg, steal and borrow from the whole of the UK, forty people from here, 20 people from there, it was a real battle.”

This growing shortage of security staff is potentially putting concert and club-goers at risk by the lack of qualified and experienced stewards and supervisors.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the global membership organisation for those responsible for safety and health in the workplace, has called for the protection of workers not to be compromised in the drive to maintain health and safety in line with efficiency and productivity levels.

It’s a warning call that puts both workers’ physical safety in the workplace and a possible increase in work stress and anxiety, with its related threats to workers’ mental health, on alert.

As part of this, IOSH has drawn up a ‘Checklist’ for those businesses and workers who are currently having to cope with worker shortages:

Resource planning


Have you worked out what resource you need against what you have available for the required tasks? Can you still complete those tasks safely? Understanding how many workers are available, worker skills sets and competency requirements, shift patterns, tasks to be completed and the number of workers required to fulfil a task safely will help you understand your capacity and capabilities with the number of workers available to you.


Policies and procedures


Are these still viable or have they been affected by staff shortages and now need to be revised?


Risk assessments


Are the hazards and risks different now you have a shortage of workers? Do your risk assessments need to be reviewed and updated? Remember to consult with workers.


Safe systems of work/Safe operating procedures


Do these take account of a shortage of workers, or do they need to be changed? Can tasks still be completed safely with fewer workers? For example, consider a task that needs two or three people, say, a three-person lift. If an organisation now only has one person to complete the task, that person wouldn’t be able to complete the task safely. It’s time to revisit the risk assessment to determine how that task now needs to be carried out.


Cross-training workers


Could it make sense to train workers to carry out different tasks and roles to cover worker shortages?


Checks


Checks will be needed on machinery, vehicles, fire systems and for legionella, for example. Have you made it a priority to ensure that all checks (daily, weekly, monthly and annually) are still fulfilled and that there continues to be either no, or limited, risk to workers?


Mental health 

and wellbeing


Have you considered how staff shortages might impact the mental health of your workers? Along with the pressures of over-working, workers may feel isolation, fatigue, anxiety and stress. How will you manage the potential increase in workload, working hours and lone working, for example, on workers’ mental health? What controls do you have in place?


Communication


How are you going to keep your people informed on the worker shortage situation? Do you have a plan? Staff morale will benefit if workers are included in discussions and feel valued, considered and part of the process.


“Worker shortages do not and should not mean worker neglect,” said IOSH’s Ryan Exley. “Whether organisations are finding it difficult to recruit, or they’re being challenged financially and need to make cuts in expenditure, it’s vital for their business/organisation and their staff that they ensure those who work for them are kept safe,” he added.


The Phoenix Health & Safety Stress Awareness E-learning course is designed to help staff members manage work pressures and responsibilities to reduce the risk of work-related stress. Read more about the Stress Awareness E-Learning course here.