As an employer you are faced with many issues within the workplace, including the health and safety of your employees. It is your responsibility to ensure the health and safety of your employees at all times, so here are some tips on how to make sure your business complies with health and safety laws.
Health and safety law does apply to all business, regardless of size, and as an employer, you are required to maintain responsibility of the health and safety of your employees within your business. This means implementing and taking the correct precautions to eliminate or reduce hazards within the working environment and to keep your office safe for all. A hazard is something with the potential to cause harm, for example hazardous substances, a spillage on the floor, electricity etc.
As an employer, it is important to appoint another individual to assist you with all health and safety issues. This person has to be competent, that is they have sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities that allow them to assist you properly. This would usually require formal training in health and safety, which is why some Employer’s use the services of a competent Health and Safety Consultant who then acts as their competent person.
Write a health and safety policy for your business
Informing your employees about the implementation of a health and safety strategy in your business will provide your staff with the information they need to control the safety within the working premises; this will also make it much easier to manage. You can do this by creating a health and safety policy and putting it in a location where all staff can access it easily. Your policy should clearly state who does what within the business, when and how. By law, you must have a written health and safety policy if you have five or more employees.
This policy is not complicated to create, and will not take up much of your rime. Once written, you must ensure that this policy is reviewed on a regular basis and fully implemented.
Risk assessment is paramount for health and safety in business. This entails carrying out a scrupulous examination of what in your business could cause harm to employees, which will then give you the means to be able to make a decision on whether you need to enforce additional precautions. Involving your employees during any risk assessment of the company will give you the additional knowledge of what they believe needs to be changed or improved within the office. Your employees will be in the best position to advise you in developing safer and more effective practices, as they are the individuals that will know most about the daily tasks they do.
The five easy steps for risk assessment are as follows:
- Identify the hazards
- Decide who might be harmed and how
- Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions
- Record your findings and implement them
- Review your assessment and update if necessary
Very few offices remain the same as new equipment and procedures will be updated whenever necessary, which obviously could lead to different or new hazards. Because of this, reviewing your risk assessment frequently, for example every 12 months is integral to the smooth running of your business. Also, don’t forget to update it when you make any significant change within your business.
Training and information
Every single one of your employees should know how to conduct themselves safely in the office without risking the life of others, as well as themselves. You can ensure this by providing initial information, instruction and training sessions. Useful information such as; hazards and risks they may face; the measures set in place to deal with any particular risks or hazards, and emergency procedures are key to any health and safety training. You could also ask for the input of your employees by getting them to provide feedback on the training to make sure it is relevant enough for them. You may also want to keep a record of any training that has been given, so you can keep on track of refresher courses or training for new employees. It is important to know that any health and safety training that takes place should be allotted within working hours.
In addition to initial and ongoing training, you also need to make sure that new employees are provided with a thorough health and safety induction, which should cover all the relevant issues outlined above. Again, this induction should be documented.
Protecting the health and safety of everyone in your office is important, including people with disabilities. You must ensure that you have taken care of the following:
- Welfare facilities – To maintain the wellbeing you must have toilets, hand basins with hot and cold running water, soap and towels, or a hand dryer. You must also provide drinking water, a place to store clothing and somewhere to eat meals or rest, such as a kitchen or communal area.
- Health issues – A healthy working environment is paramount, so necessary measures need to be taken to ensure this. Aspects such as suitable lighting, ventilation, temperature control, roomy workstations, suitable seating and clean surroundings with waste bins are all needed.
- Safety issues – Safety is key, so to do this you must have windows in your office that can be opened, make sure traffic routes and floors are free from obstacles, maintenance of your premises and equipment, and also any glass doors must be clearly indicated with a sticker and are either covered with a safety material to stop shattering, or are made of safety glass.
Most fires can be prevented. As an employer, you must carry out a fire safety risk assessment and then make sure that is kept up to date and reviewed regularly. Based on the findings of the assessment, you must make sure that adequate and appropriate fire safety measures are in place to minimise the risk of injury or loss of life in the event of a fire.
To help with this, your risk assessment should identify what could cause a fire to start, i.e. sources of ignition (heat or sparks) and substances that burn, and the people who may be at risk. Once you have identified the risks, you must then take appropriate action to control them. Consider whether you can avoid them altogether or, if this is not possible, how you can reduce the risks and manage them.
You will also need to consider how you will protect people if there is a fire, which would usually include the introduction and maintenance of fire precautions. Such precautions include fire doors, fire extinguishers, fire detection and alarm system, emergency lighting, fire exit and escape routes, display of suitable fire safety signage, adequate training, and fire drills at least once a year etc.
First aid is important and you must implement it in your workplace. It is your responsibility as an employer to make sure that employees are able to receive immediate attention if they are injured or take ill for any reason. A first aid kit can potentially saves lives as accidents can happen suddenly and at any time. Making arrangements for your first aid procedure will depend on the particular circumstances within your company, so you need to make an assessment of what your first aid requirements are.
At the very minimum, it is law to have a fully stocked first aid kit in the office and an appointed first aid person that can take charge of any situation which may occur. Once you have made your first aid arrangements, you must make all employees aware of the expected procedure. It is also important to report and keep a log of accidents, injuries and incidents that occur within your company as this is stated under health and safety law. Keeping a record of these incidents will help you when it comes to completing your risk assessment and it will also allow you to identify any patterns of accidents.
Health and safety law poster
As an employer, you must display the health and safety law poster where employees can easily access and read it. This poster outlines health and safety laws in Britain and has a clear list that explains to both employers and employees of their requirements. You may also include the details of your health and safety representative by writing their names and contact details on the poster, as this will let everyone know who they are.
It is important to obtain employers’ liability insurance as you need to be covered for injury or illness of your employees as a consequence of working for you. If an employee does take ill or undergoes injury at work then they could potentially claim compensation from you. Employer’s liability insurance will enable you to meet the cost of this compensation for your employees’ injuries or illness.
If you own a family business or have no employees, then it is not necessary to invest in employers’ liability insurance. It is best to check with your insurance company to find out what you are covered for. You will find in some cases that this will already be included in your insurance package and therefore you will not have to invest in it separately.
Ensuring that your business follows health and safety rules doesn’t have to be time consuming or costly. You will be sure to reap the benefits and have a happy working environment if you are to follow the rules.
Alcumus SafeWorkforce offers a variety of services that can help companies meet their health and safety obligations, whatever their size, by providing a range of health and safety packages or one off services to meet specific needs as well as consultancy services and health and safety law advice.