Fraud is not typically a topic that comes up regularly when you consider Health & Safety risks to your business. It is a term that is more associated with corporate backhanders, corruption, identity theft, money laundering and more recently internet scams.
These are some examples of criminal activities that fit the laws interpretation of fraudulent activity. There are however fraudulent activities that can have a direct or indirect impact on H&S within your organisation.
The most well-known and widely publicised area of fraudulent activity regarding H&S comes in the form of organisations being contacted and sold so called ‘compliance packages’ to ensure they are compliant with the regulations and will not face enforcement action.
It should be noted that whilst there are plenty of companies that may advertise their services as packs, the notion that a failure to make a purchase will result in regulatory enforcement action can be classed as fraud. Even if the ‘service’ provided does actually meet regulatory and best practice standards (more often than not unlikely) use of scare tactics and threats of potential prosecutions/fines is not the remit of professional and competent H&S professionals.
A correct course of action for a H&S professional outfit providing services to an organisation would first and foremost be to assess the current H&S standards of their client, provision of a readymade ‘compliance pack’ is not typical behaviour and should be cautious of.
Email and internet scams, more commonly known as phishing also can have an impact via gaining of sensitive data or files. By utilising H&S as a means of entry into an organisation, scammers can use this data for the purposes of blackmail to have important files retrieved or threats of sensitive information being leaked and used as leverage.
Whilst these instances of criminal activity are not directly associated with H&S, it is important that you are aware of the language used and information being asked for by your current or potential H&S providers. Email accounts can be hacked or made to look similar to persons that you may know within a providers organisation and from there it is quite easy to misread an incoming email address or comply with a request for information that you would normally think is innocent.
Requests for sensitive documents, such as an employee’s medical information, should always be treated with caution, especially if a is not in context with your contacts current projects or appears completely out of the blue. If in doubt, it is always good to get on the phone to someone you know from an external organisation to ensure requests are coming from a trustworthy source.
Finally, there is the direct impact of machinery and equipment from companies that are selling goods not fit for purpose and therefore potentially having a direct impact on the H&S and risks posed within your organisation. Whenever approaching a new supplier due diligence should be exercised. Have you met the suppliers? Do they have a professional looking website and have credible traceability with a registration number?
CE marking, and going forward UKCA marking, is taken as a given and a stamp of approval however these marks can be falsified. There should be traceable evidence of such marking through to approved testers which should also form part of any due diligence checks being undertaken.
There are many areas of H&S that need to be considered on a day-to-day basis, with the ongoing pandemic this is truer now than it has been in some years. However, all employees within all organisations have a responsibility to not allow the world’s current distractions to detract from the threat of fraud from a business and H&S perspective. You can be sure that individuals and groups that work within this world will almost certainly be trying to find ways to use the current stability to their advantage.
As always if you have any concerns regarding fraudulent behaviours it should be raised to your organisation’s senior management, and if you think relevant to WA Management as well. As a professional and well-reputed H&S, management system and compliance service provider, we would be happy to assist.
Written by James Ross, Senior SHEQ Consultant at WA Management.
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