Whether you like it or not, workplace health and safety are here to stay. All company owners have a legal duty to guarantee that their employees work in a physically and mentally safe atmosphere.
Regardless of the number of workers in your company, you are responsible to your employees as a business owner. Many company owners feel that they are only compelled to pay regard to health and safety after more than five workers. The magic number five derives from the fact that you must have a recorded health and safety policy once you have five workers, but that doesn’t imply you don’t need health and safety as your firm grows.
The nature of your business may dictate how far you enforce policies and procedures, as well as which policies and procedures you require. Still, as a starting point, we recommend that all employees sign a written contract stating that they are responsible for their health and safety and the health and safety of coworkers, customers, suppliers, and any other third parties.
We also propose that they be compelled to disclose any health and safety risks that they cannot resolve internally.
What is necessary for terms of health and safety?
Some companies may need risk assessments right away. All examples are a cleaning firm with personnel who use chemicals, a restaurant with a kitchen and food preparations, or a landscaping company with power tools. You must establish processes to safeguard your employees, customers, and company. A violation of health and safety rules may be very expensive, particularly if it results in an accident or death.
Fairline Yachts in Leicester were fined £230,000 and ordered to pay expenses of £7,410 in November 2021 after one of their employees was crushed by a falling cage that was improperly lifted. The event happened in December 2018, and the court determined that the operation was not adequately planned, overseen, or carried out safely by a “competent” individual. The consequences of such an event include not just lasting impairment to an individual but also a deal of stress, financial loss, and reputational harm to the firm.
“health and safety is a living, breathing, and evolving.”
Many people believe that increasing health and safety regulations are “health and safety gone crazy.” Yet, the standards normally increase in response to significant accidents and prevent them from happening again.
You are solely responsible for the health and safety of your organisation as a business owner. You may select a competent internal individual, educate yourself, or hire an external expert to assist you. The type of your company and the degree of risk you’re willing to take will dictate which model you choose.
In every firm, there are five critical steps to managing health and safety:
- Legal, well-defined, and well-documented policies and procedures
- All workers, new hires, and any other relevant third parties are informed about your rules and processes.
- People are well educated.
- Policies and procedures form part of your company’s culture and normal operating procedures.
- Your health and safety are checked regularly to ensure it’s still up to date and suitable for your purpose.
Procedures and policies
Your policy should be tailored to the type of your organisation and the potential hazards. Your policy outlines your commitment, while your procedures outline how you intend to fulfil it and the steps that will be followed.
It’s pointless to have a fantastic policy if no one knows about it. Contracts of employment, employee handbooks, internal operating procedures, and signs all play a part in ensuring that employees are aware of their responsibilities.
Appropriate training is very important. It might include ensuring that your competent person is competent, that your first responders have current certifications, that your fire wardens get regular training, and that your mental health first responders are familiar with their roles and duties. If your employees must work at heights or move large things, ensuring their safety is important to your policies and procedures.
It could be essential to hire outside trainers, send individuals on courses, or buy an online programme. Whatever system works best for your company, ensure your employees are adequately taught and certified.
Culture While this may come more readily to certain firms than others, health and safety should be ingrained in the company’s whole culture. Ensure that fire doors are closed and that fire extinguisher are not utilised as doorstops.
Health and safety is not a one-time event that is then forgotten about. It’s an alive, breathing, and dynamic creature in your company, as the recent Covid epidemic has shown in ways most company owners could never have anticipated.
The dreaded risk assessment
To develop Covid-safe workplaces, employers were required to do risk assessments and then display a government poster informing workers and other relevant third parties of their actions. In reality, this is no different from what most firms should have done in the first place but didn’t.
A risk assessment is the most important tool for efficiently managing health and safety.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) maintains a comprehensive website with a wealth of free and valuable information. On its website, you may get an appropriate risk assessment template. Be aware that it is just a template that must be utilised and filled with care to ensure acceptable for your company. You must think about the nature of your company and the environment in which it operates.
It is critical to comprehend the following terminology while doing risk assessments:
- Something that can inflict damage is referred to as a danger.
- The possibility of injury is defined as a risk.
Employers should undertake risk assessments in five fundamental phases, according to the HSE:
- Step 1: Look for potential dangers.
- Step 2: Determine who may be hurt and how they might be damaged.
- Step 3: Assess the risks and determine if current safeguards are enough.
- Step 4: Keep a journal of your discoveries.
- Step 5: As needed, examine and adjust the evaluations.
Step 1: Look for potential dangers.
Walking about your workplace, interacting with staff, and keeping track of any dangers encountered are all good ways to identify hazards. The kind of risks that may be present may vary depending on the nature of the company. However, they may include:
machinery, noise, electricity, fire, vibration, working at height, and other physical risks
Working space, workstation arrangement, repeated actions, and other ergonomic risks
Asbestos, cleaning detergents, paints, chemicals, and another chemical/substance risks
Bacteria and viruses, for example, are biological risks.
Step 2: Determine who may be hurt and how they might be damaged.
According to the legislation, the dangers to both workers and non-employees must be included in the risk assessment. As a result, hazards to customers, clients, contractors, members of the public, and service users – such as students or patients – must be recorded as appropriate.
Employers must also identify employees who may be in danger, with the HSE highlighting pregnant and new mothers and young workers. If you have disabled workers or third parties, you’ll need to make sure the danger to these persons is included in the risk assessment. A wheelchair user, for example, maybe unable to utilise the elevator in the case of a fire.
Step 3: Assess the risks and determine if current safeguards are enough.
Risks may be difficult to quantify and grade since they are frequently subjective. A grading system is often employed to provide as much impartiality as feasible. The following is a regularly used formula:
Risk = Likelihood x Impact
Both probability and effect are rated on a scale of one to three, with one being the lowest and three being the most.
Every hazard should be scored on a scale of 1–3 for both criteria, resulting in a risk range of 1–9, with a risk score of 1 indicating that the hazard is unlikely to occur. Still, if it does, the impact will be minor, and a risk score of 9 indicates that the hazard is highly likely to occur and, if it does, the impact will be severe.
Some organisations may then use a traffic light system to colour code the hazards, making it easier to identify the most serious threats that need mitigation.
Step 4: Keep a journal of your discoveries.
Employers with five or more workers must document the results of their risk assessments in writing. There is no precise regulatory form that must be utilised; nonetheless, the risk assessment’s “important results” must be reported. These will contain records of the procedures that have already been put in place to mitigate the risks and any further action that has been taken or will be done to mitigate the risk.
The results must also include sufficient information to demonstrate that an “appropriate and adequate” risk assessment was conducted. This will include the following:
- specifics of the work
- equipment or process being evaluated
- who isat risk
- the hazards involved, and the risk level
Step 5: If required, review and amend evaluations.
As previously said, health and safety management is not a one-and-done corporate activity. Risk assessments must be updated frequently, particularly if there are hazards to be handled. In addition to having a regular review schedule, maybe half annually, interim reviews and changes may be required as a consequence of any of the following circumstances:
- For a danger that has previously been evaluated for risk, an event or accident has happened.
- An event or accident has happened due to a danger that has not been evaluated earlier.
- The workplace has been restructured.
- Change in the law because of the introduction of new procedures or technologies.
Safety and psychological well-being
People frequently refer to the physical environment they operate in when they speak about health and safety.
On the other hand, employers have a legal duty to maintain a psychologically healthy and safe working environment.
Risk evaluations may be required, particularly when employees work in high-pressure circumstances or as loan workers on their own.
To eliminate bullying, harassment, and discrimination that may have a negative impact on an employee’s mental health, standards and procedures are in place. Documentation, communication, and training are all required, just as they are for other health and safety standards.
Employees may file a claim for violations of health and safety regulations and employment law if they work in a hazardous and unhealthy workplace. Employers must have a zero-tolerance policy for any toxic or inappropriate behaviour, and any violations must be dealt with swiftly under the company’s disciplinary procedure.
Surveillance of health
Some firms may be obligated to give workers health surveillance and risk assessments. This is a health check for individuals who operate in specialised circumstances, generally given by a medical practitioner. Blood testing, lung function tests, and/or clinical evaluations for physiological and psychological impacts of the job are common medical assessments.
There are also more regulations, such as the Management of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005, the Management of Lead at Work Regulations 2002, and the Management of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002, which explicitly demand health monitoring.