Health and safety at work
Health and safety at work examines the wellbeing of your employees while in the workplace or working from home and sets out to protect your staff and your business. Health and safety can be divided into 9 subsections to consider.
Health and safety policy
Having a health and safety policy is a legal requirement for UK businesses. It should cover the company approach (statement of intent), how health and safety will be managed (arrangements for health and safety), and outline the personnel responsible for overseeing its fulfilment (responsibilities for health and safety). For any business employing over 5 workers, the policy has to be documented in written form, and all companies are required to share their health and safety policy with their staff. For legal guidance, see the Health and Safety at Work Act and The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.
Risks and risk assessment
Risk assessment in the workplace is a legal requirement under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, that outlines the 3 aspects that are the minimum requirement:
- Identification of potential hazards,
- Identification of the likelihood and the level of potential injury,
- Actions to eliminate and manage the risk.
The health and safety executive recommends a 6-step approach to risk management:
- Hazard identification – who may be injured and how.
- Risk assessment – how likely is this to occur.
- Risk control – what measures are in place to prevent this from happening.
- Recording the findings.
- Reviewing the controls.
The most common examples of risks in the workplace include harmful substances, equipment and machinery, noise, vibrations, and physical and mental stress. For more guidance on the most prevalent risks by industry or topic, visit the Health and Safety Executive.
Illness and accidents
It is your obligation as an employer to record and report any and all workplace injuries, near-misses, and other relevant cases of work-related illness to the Health and Safety Executive. For a list of reportable incidents and guidance on how to submit your report, visit the RIDDOR reference pages.
If your company employs over 10 workers, you are obligated under the social security law to keep an accidents book. It can also be of assistance in risk assessment and management, as it can help you identify patterns and high-risk places and activities in your workplace. As the accidents book will contain extensive personal data, it has to be kept and accesses in accordance with regulation concerned with the handling of personal information.
Training and information
It is essential that your employees are provided with any training and information necessary to keep them safe in the workplace, in addition to appropriate instructions and supervision. What the training should include depends on the industry your business operates in, and the day-to-day tasks the workers perform. Generally, you are looking to inform your employees about:
- Potential sources of harm,
- What measures exist,
- Emergency procedures and guidance.
It is also essential that you consult with your staff about whether the training is useful, relevant, and exhaustive, and if not, it has to be reassessed and updated. Some workers, such as new starters, those who have been promoted, and those with little to no experience, will need more extensive training, so ensure the programme has accounted for these instances.
Collaboration with employees
While risks assessments and hazard identification are essential to keep you, your employees, and the business safe, consulting with your staff will provide invaluable insight into the daily activities and any dangers they may present. No one knows better the safety risks associated with their daily tasks than they do, as well as whether these risks are controlled adequately, and where there are gaps in training, instructions, and supervision, if any.
In a smaller company the collaboration can be done face to face, whereas in larger enterprises it might be more effective to turn for help to the health and safety representative, or a wellbeing application to conduct surveys.
Provision of appropriate workplace facilities and a healthy working environment is your responsibility as part of your health and safety at workmeasures. Under this, you must provide:
- Welfare facilities accessible to all employees, such as toilets and washbasins, drinking water, space for eating and resting.
- A healthy working environment, thus keeping the workplace reasonably clean, warm/ventilated, illuminated, and having enough free space to more around and carry out daily tasks freely and safely.
- A safe workplace, by conducting timely maintenance checks for any equipment and ensuring clean and unobstructed floors.
- To learn more about the provision of toilets and washing facilities, read the Health and Safety executive guidance.
Employers must ensure, in case of an injury or illness, their employees are provided with immediate and appropriate help. To prepare for such an instance, it is important you have on hand:
- A first aid kit,
- A person in charge of first aid kit arrangements,
- Adequate information for employees to inform them about such arrangements.
There is no standard equipment that you have to include in a first aid kit, as it will depend on the workplace and the nature of the work. In particular, the kit’s contents will be influenced by any identified hazards, number of employees and size of the workplace, work patterns, and any history of accidents.
Signage or leaflet
It is a legal requirement for any business employing people to either have a health and safety at work law poster displayed where easily accessible to all, or for every worker to be provided with an equivalent health and safety leaflet.
Health and safety manager
You must assign a person or people to assist in meeting health and safety duties. They must have appropriate skills, knowledge, and experience to recognise and control any workplace hazards. While usually one or several people in your company, being you and/or your worker/s will suffice, if your business is large, complex, or high-risk, you might consider assistance from an outside party. It is, however, advised that you rely on yourself and your employees where possible. Remember, that whoever you appoint to be in charge of health and safety, as the employer, it will still be your legal duty.
To learn more about health and safety in the workplace and how you can ensure you are complying with all appropriate legislation, react out to us to book a consultation today!