Why is it important to establish who is responsible for H&S?
Let’s start by looking at the employer’s responsibility for Health and Safety and what this means in the COVID-19 world we are returning to.
As an employer, you would be mainly responsible for Health and Safety in the workplace as it is the employer’s duty to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of their staff. As per the overarching Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, it places specific duties on employers “to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees”. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR), which fall under the Health and Safety at Work Act emphasise in more detail exactly what employers have to do to manage Health and Safety. The risk assessment process in particular, by law under the MHSWR requires employers to carry out a risk assessment of any hazards that can produce risks pertinent to health and safety of their employees or other persons. This is important as COVID-19 is a newly introduced hazard to the workplace that needs to be managed through the risk assessment process.
This is where Alcumus can help, we have created a free to use Return to Work Risk Assessment Pack under these regulations. The pack will help employers manage the risks to their employee’s from COVID-19 and indeed the business risks critical to safe operation. If you haven’t already begun a phased return and utilised this pack, it will provide you with the first step at becoming COVID 19 SECURE, which is the requirement to undertake a COVID-19 related risk assessment, should your business be facing the prospect of returning its workforce to work and opening the businesses doors.
What about employee’s responsibilities?
You may think it’s the employer who needs only to think about this, however this is not the case. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 also places a duty on employees. An employee is required to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and other people at work they come into contact with. This extends to co-operating to enable the employer to fulfil their legal duty. Indeed, anyone in relation to the business, not just the employer and the employees, such as the public, suppliers and contractors need to play a part in maintaining the businesses chosen method of ensuring Health & Safety is maintained.
In this COVID-19 environment in cannot be more important to make sure employees abide by the controls that the business has put forward to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace. Employee’s should be consulted on the risk assessment process the business has adopted. Employer’s should make sure that this is understood and that there is agreement in methods used to control the transmission of the virus so the control measures in the risk assessment become properly adopted in the business.
So, to answer the question, who is responsible for Health and Safety in a business? It is EVERYONE.
Written by Nicole Jackson, Health and Safety Consultant