Saving time and money is imperative when you are operating in a competitive market. But it is not at all easy to combine cost-cutting with good health and safety practice. After all, overlook key health and safety requirements, and you will find yourself vulnerable to all manner of fines and civil claims.

It can be difficult to find cheaper health and safety solutions without compromising on safety, but from over a decade of experience of working with garden centres, we’ve put together a few money-saving tips:

1. Trolley maintenance

Regular checks and maintenance of trolleys keep them operating smoothly and reduces customer and staff injuries from pushing, pulling and tipping of poorly maintained trolleys. Injuries arising from pushing and pulling of products is currently under more scrutiny than ever before since Wilko retail received a staggering £2.2 fine in 2017 for injuries caused to an employee caused by an overturning roll cage! Using a system like Southalls Safety Cloud manages equipment maintenance efficiently through automatic email reminders when maintenance is due.

2. Reducing tripping hazards

Take the time to walk your site and view it through customer’s eyes, considering the elderly and children. Taking steps to reduce common tripping hazards in garden centres such as raised drainage grids, pot holes, uneven floor areas or unmarked changes in level and abandoned trailing hoses will help to reduce the likelihood of injuries arising from tripping and the associated likelihood of a civil claim.

3. Decrease your PAT frequency

Portable appliance testing (PAT) is an essential part of electrical safety for garden centres. However, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has estimated that employers are wasting more than £30 m per annum on unnecessary testing.

“Many companies approach portable appliance testing (PAT) with a blanket approach of annual testing, paying a fee per item. However, it is a myth that portable appliance testing is a strict legal requirement or that it needs to be undertaken annually,” health and safety professional, John Southall, a director at Southalls, explains. Items that are in heavy use or exposed to the elements, e.g. portable hand tools may require 6 monthly portable appliance testing but office-based equipment like desktop computers and VDU screen would not require testing at all if double insulated or, if not, then testing only 5 yearly would be adequate providing they receive a visual inspection every 2-4 years.

4. Consult on PPE and bulk buy

When it comes to saving on health and safety, buying items in bulk can help. However, all purchases should be thoroughly reviewed beforehand to ensure compliance as PPE Regulations changed in April 2018. It is important to consult with staff to ensure items are fully fit for purpose – this can be a particular issue for female workers and those workers who are at the edges of sizes. It goes without saying that poorly fitted items will either not be worn, can cause safety problems or even increase the risk of accidents.

5. Conduct independent racking inspections

Independent racking inspections are not legally required, but would be recommended if you have a significant amount of racking. Alternatively, in-house monthly visual checks on the condition of racking checking for knocks, deflection, overloading or poorly loaded stocked can be conducted in-house. Ensuring stock is offloaded and damaged racking taken out of use pending repair or replacement promptly if required, will enable your legal obligations to be met. Safety software such as Safety Cloud can manage monthly inspections conducted by branch managers, and these can be complimented by six-monthly audits by companies such as Southalls.

6. Implement E-learning training systems

E-learning training is a cost-effective and time-saving solution for staff safety training. Whether for day zero induction training or ongoing refresher training, Southalls E-learning on Safety Cloud ensures staff get up to speed on essential safety training such as fire safety awareness and manual handling without the time and expensive of face-to-face training providers. This is particularly useful when employing casual staff on short-term contracts. Further garden centre specific training including; slips and trips, racking awareness, workplace transport and banksman training can all be conducted through Safety Cloud.

7. Accident investigation and Accident Statistics

If an accident does occur, it is imperative that you can learn from it as quickly as possible. By bringing on a qualified consultant, you can minimise your reputational damage, the chance of prosecution or enforcement action and implement practical preventative measures to prevent a re-occurrence. The cost of management time eaten up in an accident investigation can be reduced if a suitably experienced and qualified consultant is brought in from the start.

HSE reports reveal that in 2015/16, UK businesses lost £5.3bn due to workplace injuries, and £9.7bn due to ill health. The regular review of accident and injury statistics in your garden centre is an invaluable way to build a picture of the effectiveness of your risk management and help you to make more informed decisions on how to spend your health and safety budget.

8. Be examination savvy with your forklift trucks

Avoiding unnecessary examinations of lifting equipment is a quick way to save money, so every business-owner should understand which reviews are legally required, and which are not. Pallet trucks are not defined as lifting equipment under the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER), and therefore they do not require a thorough examination.

Sometimes through examinations are duplicated by both an insurer and another service provider. Thereby unnecessary doubling of cost.

Where pedestrian lifting cages are used with a forklift, nominating designated forklifts to be used with the lifting cage that are then thoroughly examined six monthly is more cost-effective than simply thoroughly examining all lift trucks on the site every six monthly. Remaining trucks can be thoroughly examined 12 monthly thus saving the cost of an engineer needlessly examining fork lift trucks.

9. Asbestos overkill

The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations require building owners to assess and manage the risk of asbestos. This is achieved through the undertaking of an asbestos survey and complemented by an asbestos management plan. There is no legal requirement to re-survey on an annual basis, only to review the survey and management plan you have in place. Assuming your asbestos survey is still relevant, you simply need to keep on top of checking for any damage to asbestos-containing materials on site.