28 Jun Who owns your Health & Safety Information?
If you have ever been asked by your customers to supply information about your health and safety policy or systems, what do you supply?
A question we often get asked is, do I have to do this or what should I give them? Do I have to give them a copy of all my health and safety information?
If your customer requests the information, I suggest that you contact them and ask them exactly what they want – a policy, or your health and safety system?
The health and safety policy
For starters, let’s look at the difference between a policy and a system.
It may come as a surprise that the requirement for a health and safety policy is not in the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (yet!). There are companies that require it, to prove to themselves that you are committed to health and safety. Why? I ask, when as the PCBU of your own business, you are obligated by law to be committed – it’s a given. The policy proves nothing, and in any case – who wrote it for you, who reads it and how often do you review it to ensure that it reflects your business operations?
The health and safety system or plan
Imagine that a customer is requesting this information, and has 20 – 30 other contractors in the same situation. Do you really think they will want a full copy of your health and safety system?
Unfortunately, many contractors and sub contractors don’t know what to supply, so here are a few tips to manage this situation:
- Always remember your health and safety systems, plans and supporting documents have value. They are the intellectual property of your business. You have paid for it to be developed or purchased;
- Always have your logo and a watermark on the documents to protect this for your business;
- Contact the customer’s health and safety manager or representative, and get them to clarify exactly what they require. Ask for a copy of their evaluation sheet to be emailed to you so you can ensure you get it right first time;
- If they insist that you have to send the information to them, inform them that your information is confidential and the intellectual property of your business. Why not ask them to visit your business to carry out the assessment?
- If they do insist in getting the information, I suggest the following:
- make a copy of what they require;
- PDF the files with your logo and watermark to protect your information;
- copy it to a pendrive; and
- courier it to them with a cover letter on company letterhead that sets out your ownership of the material and the return of the pindrive within a set timeframe.
This may sound over the top, but from my experience plagarism too often happens in the world of health and safety. Remember that plagarism is the greatest form of flattery, or is it when it comes to business? Especially if your information is used or passed on to others. This may not happen. If it does, it is a breach of copyright of your health and safety advisor and/or your company information.
If you require any additional information, contact Hasmate today.