The basis of British Health and Safety law is set out in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The Act sets out the general obligations employers hold towards employees and members of the public, and that employees have towards themselves and each other.
Employers must protect the ‘health, safety and welfare’ at work of all employees, as well as others on their premises; including temps, casual workers, the self-employed, clients, visitors and the general public.
These duties are qualified in the Act by the idea of ‘so far as reasonably practical.’ Essentially, this means that an employer does not have to take measures to reduce or avoid the risk if they are technically impossible.
In other words, what the law requires is good management and common sense – look at what risks are present, assess them proportionately, and take sensible measures in order to tackle them where possible.
If you are an employer, your workers have a right to work in a place where risks to health and safety are controlled. You are responsible for the following health and safety regulations:
If you are an employee in the workplace, you are responsible for the following in regard to health and safety regulations:
If you are an employee worried about health and safety in your place of work, your first port of call is to raise a concern with your line manager or supervisor. They should in turn contact your workplace’s elected health and safety representative in order to resolve the issue safely (if possible). Locating the correct authority and the complaints process can be found at the Government’s dedicated health and safety website.
The key to writing a solid action plan is to identify what core actions are necessary – these should be the same whatever the size of your organisation. However, if you run a very small business, the HSE’s health and safety toolbox resource may be more relevant to you. A guide framework to effectively plan your health and safety strategy is provided below:
As an employer, you must appoint someone competent to guide you in meeting your health and safety duties. This individual must have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage your agreed processes.
If you run a low-risk business; e.g. a small office operation; you do not need to pay for external guidance. You could appoint yourself as a competent person, or else select a nominated employee with a genuine interest in health and safety, who is prepared to undertake any necessary training for the role.
You are bound by the Health and Safety Act 1974 to provide the right workplace facilities for everyone, including employees with disabilities. This sounds daunting, but it doesn’t need to be complicated if you focus on the basic standards required. These include providing and considering:
For employee wellbeing, you must provide:
To ensure a healthy working environment, make sure there is:
To keep your workplace safe, you must:
There are many areas to be aware of within your business when considering health and safety. The main ones include, but are not exclusive too:
You must also make adequate arrangements for first-aid within your workplace. This includes ensuring that employees receive immediate medical attention if taken ill or injured at work. As a minimum you must:
Under health and safety law, you must report and keep a record of workplace injuries, incidents and any cases of work-related disease.
You can find out which ones must be reported and how to report them on the government’s health and safety reporting portal; Riddor. This stands for the ‘Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurences Regulations (2013).
You should also note that if you have more than ten employees, or own or occupy a mine, quarry or factory, you required by law to keep an accident book, in which to store records of all workplace accidents and/or injuries.
Health and safety can be a minefield for SME’s, but researching and following the suggested guidance and procedures can ensure a happier and healthier workforce. Health and Safety is vitally important as it essentially protects the wellbeing of your employees, visitors and customers – basically, monitoring it closely makes good business sense! Workplaces that neglect health and safety regulations can often risk prosecution, may lose staff, and ultimately may face increasing costs and a subsequent reduction in overall business profitability.