How do I choose a health & safety representative?
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.
Providing the right facilities
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:
- Welfare Facilities
For employee wellbeing, you must provide:
- Toilets and washbasins, with soap and either towels or a handryer
- Clean drinking water
- A place to store outdoor or protective clothing
- Somewhere to rest and eat meals during breaks
- Health Issues
To ensure a healthy working environment, make sure there is:
- Good ventilation
- A reasonable working temperature
- Suitable lighting
- Enough work space and suitable working stations
- Clean work space and appropriate waste bins
- Safety Issues
To keep your workplace safe, you must:
- Properly maintain your premises and work equipment
- Keep floor and walkways free from obstruction
- Have windows that can be opened and cleaned safely
What are common health & safety risks?
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:
- Electrical safety, including computer equipment, trailing wires, lighting, heating and immersion
- Fire safety
- Gas safety
- Harmful substances
- Machinery, plant and equipment
- Manual handling
- Noise levels
- Slips and trips
- Working at height
- Working in confined areas
- Workplace transport
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:
- Have a suitably stocked first-aid box
- Appoint a person to take charge of first-aid arrangements
- Provide information to all employees of first-aid arrangements
How do I deal with accidents and investigations?
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.