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Top ten health and safety Q&As

Whether you are at the early stages of building your business or it's well established and you have a team of people supporting you, it's important to know the fundamentals of health and safety to protect you as the business owner, your employees and your clients. Here are the top ten questions regularly asked...

Do health and safety laws apply to me?

Yes. To all businesses, however small. Also the self-employed and to employees.

What is health and safety all about?

Health and safety is all about preventing people from being harmed by work or becoming ill. There are specific health and safety laws to help reduce the risk of workplace accidents and ill health, to protect employees and also members of the public.

What do I need to do?

To begin with, if you employ five or more people, you must provide a written health and safety policy statement which includes your health and safety commitments as a business, who is ultimately responsible for the safety of employees in your business and the measures in place to prevent workplace accidents and illness.

All employers and self-employed people have to assess their work-related risks. With five or more employees you have to record the findings as part of your General Risk Assessment. Other specific risk assessments may also be required depending on your work activities.

Employers also have a legal duty to involve and consult with their employees on health and safety matters. Consider seeking a health and safety rep within your team or include health and safety matters on your team meeting agenda. Make sure you display the Health and Safety Law poster which details legal responsibilities and contact details. Alternatively, you can provide individual copies to your employees in a leaflet format.

What is a risk assessment?

As part of managing the health and safety of your business you must control the risks in your workplace. To do this you need to think about what might cause harm to people and decide whether you are taking reasonable steps to prevent that harm. Think about how accidents and ill health could happen and concentrate on real risks – those that are likely to cause most harm. Assessing the risks include:

  • Identify the hazards – something which has the potential to cause harm.

  • Decide who might be harmed – employees and others including members of the public, new/expectant mothers.

  • Evaluate the risks and identify the controls.

  • Records your findings.

  • Review the assessment and update if necessary.

What other type of activities need risk assessing?

Other activities which require a specific risk assessment including manual handling (lifting and carrying), use of chemicals and substances, working at height, lone working, home working, any special events. If your employees travel on business this activity should be included in your risk assessment.

What actions do I need to take for fire prevention and emergency situations?

Separate legislation exists for managing fire precautions in the workplace. It involves completing a fire risk assessment of your premises and making sure you have arrangements in place such as a means of raising the alarm, signage for evacuation, a fire evacuation plan including escape route and exits and the provision of emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers. Employees need to be aware of these arrangements. You can do this by providing them with appropriate information and training.

What do I need to do if someone has an accident?

Make sure you have some first aid arrangements in place including a nominated person to take responsibility for the situation, this can be a first aider or appointed person. Provision of a first aid box is a must, together with an accident book to record any incidents. Some incidents may need to be reported to the HSE. These are normally prolonged absences from work or accidents which result in serious injury such as broken bones.

An employee is complaining of neck pain when using a computer. What should I do?

The Display Screen Equipment Regulations require that employees who regularly use computers and other similar devices complete a workstation assessment to identify the potential risks. Completing an assessment and putting controls in place before problems arise, should help to reduce the risk of aches and pains occurring. However, from time to time health issues can occur due to the intensity of work, the type of work being carried out, amongst other things. If an employee is experiencing problems a workstation review should be carried out. Simple things including taking regular breaks, adopting correct posture, using suitable equipment for the task can help these problems. If pain persists then a further assessment may be required involving a competent professional.

What sort of training should be given to my employees?

Make sure that your employees receive the necessary health and safety information and training required to do their job safely and ensure that you keep evidence of any information and training provided. This can include practicing fire evacuations, information about using computers and other devices safely to prevent ill health, informing them about first aid and accident arrangements.

I have a new employee starting do I need to do anything?

When a new employee joins your business you are legally required to complete a health and safety induction with them. This should include telling them about the possible risks to their job and the controls you have put in place. Other topics should include fire evacuation arrangements, accident reporting procedures and how to use equipment safely.

If you are unsure what to do next, contact CG Safety for a FREE Safety Clarity Call.

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