Planning Your Safety Budget
GEMMA COLLINS DOYLE
When a company creates a budget for safety, then you know that they are taking the first step to taking safety seriously. A safety budget isn’t just keeping some money aside for the obvious things like PPE and fire safety maintenance, it’s about using your available financial resources in a creative way to ensure that other less thought about aspects of safety are considered and executed.
Just like any other department, Health and Safety requires and deserves its own resources. Being realistic, it can sometimes be hard to get an adequate budget for safety (and in some companies lucky to get a budget at all!) and when you do it can be hard to justify it. Why? Well, because safety is based on what “could” happen and may not happen, but if a serious incident does occur, then the outlook for the whole company could be detrimental!
Managing health and safety at work is an important part of good business management, yet it is often seen as a “cost” rather than adding value to a business. If you are a Health and Safety professional working with an organisation, then you know how challenging it can be to plan or even forecast a safety budget!
Like any other departmental budget, keep in mind the following:
If budgeting and finances are not your forte, get expert help and advice from a colleague in your finance department, two heads are always better than one.
Identify goals, targets and plans
The future cannot be planned for without clear goals and targets. Knowing what actions need to be taken will help understand what resources are needed. Health and safety runs into trouble when there is a lack of correct resources and is a common reason that a lot of safety goals and action plans are not executed.
The health and safety plan should firstly address what the risks areas are and create actions from them that are needed for health and safety. It is important that it is linked to the company business plan and is also aligned to the corporate goals and values of health and safety (if applicable). Not clearly understanding your company’s goals and targets makes it very difficult to accurately develop an EHS budget that adequately supports the program
You also should revisit your company’s mission statement and vision to review objectives around daily tasks, monthly projects and yearly goals.
It should be linked to the company business and plan and answer the following questions:
- What do we want to accomplish?
- Where are we at currently?
- What do we need to do reach our goals?
- What do we need to make this happen?
- Who will be responsible and when will actions be taken?
Types of budgets
From an occupational health and safety perspective, the main budgets used are a capital budget, an operating budget and a project budget.
A capital budget is used to forecast costs for major capital purchase, such as noise monitoring equipment, computers or health surveillance. An operating budget is used to forecast the costs of products and services that a company might use in the budgeting year. In relation to health and safety, this could include PPE, external consultants, audiometry testing, health checks, nurses/doctors’ visits. You may also require a project budget that you will use to pay for any planned and defined pieces for work.
Many companies will use an operational budget for health and safety to ensure that the day to day costs are looked after and use capital expenditure when a large item of piece of equipment is required.
It is an important responsibility of the health and safety professional to make sure that budgets are well set and give the right return for investment. This will include reducing the number of accidents, incidents and complying with legal obligations and raising health and wellness to create a happier and more productive workplace.
One of the important roles of anyone working in health and safety is to make sure that budgets are well set and give the right return on investment. This may be reducing accidents, injuries and sickness absence rates, compliance with obligations and raising health and wellness to help create a more productive workforce. Health and safety is a cost, but it should still give a return that the organisation will benefit from.
Once you have created your plan, you can decide on how much you will be able to spend on some of the following areas:
- Health and Safety Training
- External consulting
- Major projects
- Upgrade to current IT systems/health and safety software
- Signage upgrades
- Health and Wellness programmes
- Incentive programmes
There is no doubt that properly set goals, clarity on what will be achieved, and the budget aligned with how to achieve this will benefit any company. Equally, delivering on these goals and the likely achievements for health and safety will strengthen the value that good management of health and safety has for a company.
At the end of the day, it is up to you to strategically identify the best option for accomplishing your health and safety goals – one that aligns with your company.
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