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Health & Safety and Business Continuity

Published on July 05, 2019

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For a business to survive during a Business Continuity incident, safety must be a top priority during the recovery process or else a business can risk not only the effectiveness of their recovery, but the lives of the workforce and the future survival of the business.

A people focused recovery

In an attempt to minimize the impact of a Business Continuity incident, employees may be asked to perform tasks that go against normal/usual working procedures. During this period of uncertainty, basic health and safety measures may be overlooked in an attempt to prevent an immediate financial loss to the business.

Any unnecessary attempt to save equipment or merchandise, for example, may put the immediate safety and long-term wellbeing of staff at greater risk. There could also be knock-on effects which could damage the recovery process and the supply of products or services.

If these actions resulted in insurance claims or if they caused compensation claims and costly legal proceedings, then the survival of the business could be put at risk.

Business with good health and safety policies will use prevention methods that can be put in place for some expected incidents such as a loss of power then back up power i.e. emergency lighting would be used which could prevent a hazardous workplace for your employees.

However, organisations must also consider those less predictable incidents that occur, such as natural disasters or terrorism incidents, as these could lead to a dangerous work environment. These scenarios would need to be addressed at the time, and considered in advance, to prevent / lessen any further harm coming to your workforce.

Health and safety training, procedures and preparedness have to be part of the culture within a business. A mature business continuity plan is also required to ensure correct actions and safety procedures are adhered to in a potentially stressful and difficult situation, if a live incident occurs. A people-focused recovery will look after your staff and in turn help them look after the recovery of your business.

Health & Safety Responsibilities

Employers are responsible under Health and Safety Law for the health and physical safety of their employees and must do whatever is reasonably practicable to achieve this. With different jobs come different levels of risks and exposure to potential dangers that could result in a potential loss of staff and skills.

Industries like construction, fishing, mining and logging have some of the most dangerous work environments and incur the highest levels of risk.

These industries tend to know the importance of safety measures and have learned from previous incidents that the loss of staff from injury can become a business continuity incident in itself. For example, if operations have to be shut down due to a lack of skilled workers, a significant financial loss can be experienced.

Health & safety has its own role to play in preventing a man-made disaster from occurring in the first place, and a BC plan being invoked. Seemingly simple lapses in quality assurance, maintenance, communication, and management led to the partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear reactors. This is considered the worst preventable accident in U.S. commercial power plant history.

Employee Wellbeing

Health and safety shouldnРІР‚в„ўt merely put checks and balances into the workplace to prevent a potential business continuity incident and look after employees should an incident occur.

It should also promote positive wellbeing to look after the physical, mental and social health of workers. There are, unfortunately, a number of recorded workplace incidents where an employee whoРІР‚в„ўs mental wellbeing has gone unaddressed, and they have gone on to cause harm and even the death of other employees.

Having the correct procedures in place to ensure a safe work environment is as important as focusing on the long-term health of employees.

USA today reported the NFL are estimated to pay out $1.4 billion to former NFL players for concussion claims, due to the long-term health effects suffered from sustaining multiple head injuries playing American Football. This was seen as an avoidable situation if the players' wellbeing had been a bigger focus for the league over short term profits.

Fay Tennet, Deputy Director of Security Operations for Houses of Parliament recently spoke at the Edinburgh Community Resilience Week on the Westminster Terror Attacks of 2017 and the lasting impacts that had on changes to safety procedures.

She also covered lasting impacts on the staff and the people who had to deal with the incident directly, which involved their own colleagues and friends. Fay asked those in attendance to think about their own resiliency plans, and if they thought that the people named in those plans could be expected to carry out their duties under these circumstances.

Even in the following days, weeks and months, a plan C to your plan B might be required. What is your backup plan to your backup plan?


If you intend to put people at the focus of your Business Continuity plans, then a good relationship with health and safety practices and policies is paramount. Recognizing that your employees are the best asset for your organization in facing an incident and the recovery from it, will give your BC plan the best chance of success.

WeРІР‚в„ўve seen the role health and safety can play in preventing incidents from occurring and how it can protect the lives of your workforce during an incident.

Good testing of your Business Continuity plans with health and safety in mind should also be a top priority. Focused and varied testing should be able to provide you with confidence and validation that the BC and crisis management plans & strategies are feasible and that all team members and staff are familiar with and understand their roles in the BC process. These should ensure the recovery process provides your business with the best chances of survival.