Your quick guide to Health and Safety in the workplace
Every business is legally responsible for ensuring the health, safety and welfare of their employees and those who access their business. The basis of these laws is governed by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. With over 200 people killed in workplace accidents across the UK and over a million injured, it’s important that employers implement reasonable measures to protect their staff against workplace risk.
One of the key requirements of health and safety law is taking sufficient steps to assess and control risks in your workplace. These are identified through carrying out targeted risk assessments. Your assessment should cover all groups of people who could potentially be harmed by your business, including both vulnerable workers and those working in high-risk environments.
When conducting a risk assessment, you will need to consider what the risk is, who could be affected by it and how you will control the risk. Only businesses with 5+ employees are obligated to record the results of their risk assessments. Anyone can carry out a workplace risk assessment and these should be reviewed upon major workplace changes, including new equipment, procedures or substances. Risk assessment templates can be found here.
What to look out for
Some of the key areas of risk to look out for in a workplace are space, temperature, ventilation, lighting and facilities. The requirements for what these need to be will vary based on the nature of the industry you work in. As well as physical hazards you will also need to account for less tangible risks, including work-related stress, fatigue, drugs and alcohol, bullying and harassment.
For those in office roles, you should consider workstation design and whether your employees need any amends, including seating, back care or otherwise. For employees working with machinery, plant and equipment, employers should have sufficient maintenance procedures in place, ensure to complete a thorough risk assessment of all machines, implement safety measures and ensure employees are aware of these and prevent access to dangerous equipment/parts from those who are not trained to use them.
Every business is required by law to display an HSE-approved poster or a leaflet equivalent. Your employees should be given the necessary information to ensure they understand the risks they face and what they should personally do to mitigate these. Health and safety training should be provided at no cost to your employees, within work hours. You are obligated to provide an adequate level of supervision for workers, especially for inexperienced, young or vulnerable employees. If there are any areas of significant risk which can’t be prevented or controlled in your workplace, employers must highlight these with visible safety signs.
Long term damage
As well as considering immediate dangers in your workplace, you will also need to consider risks which may not cause immediate damage but could have detrimental effects in the long term. For example, if you run a noisy workplace, frequent exposure to this could have long term consequences for your employees. You will then need to consider how to control the noise and issue hearing protection for those exposed to it. For those identified as ‘at risk’, you should then offer regular health checks to survey potential damage. This would also apply to harmful substances and radiation.
Gas, electric and fire
No workplace is safe from the risks of gas, electric and fire hazards, which is why all employers need to ensure that the level of risk has been established and adequate precautions have been made to prevent and control it. You are also obligated to ensure you maintain equipment and other potential hazards to mitigate the risk of an incident. For electrical work, you will need to ensure all work is carried out by a competent person and when servicing and maintaining gas appliances, this will need to be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
Reporting an incident
Should one of your employees suffer a RIDDOR-specified injury at work or if there is a fatality, you will be required by law to report this to the HSE. For businesses with 10+ employees, you must record incidents in a designated accident book.
Employers’ Liability Insurance
If your business hires any staff, whether paid or unpaid, you are legally obligated to have employers’ liability insurance in place. Without it, you may be subject to a fine of up to £2,500 a day. amb can help ensure you have this cover in place, ensuring that the level of cover is indicative of the size and nature of your business.
Hopefully, this helps you to understand your health and safety requirements, but the team at amb Insurance would be very happy to inform you further.
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