4 Essential Health and Safety Concerns for UK Organisations

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The focus on health and safety in the workplace is constantly increasing, with stricter legal requirements and heightened awareness making it a central concern for organisations across all sectors. In fact, it it so high on the agenda that the UK is now officially home to some of the safest workplaces in Europe. In spite of this achievement and despite best efforts to reduce possible risks, accidents in the workplace are still going to happen, so it is up to managers and their employees to take a proactive approach to health and safety. Here, the team at LegalExpert.co.uk discuss four essential health and safety concerns that all UK organisations should consider.

1) What are your industry-specific risks?

Every workplace is different, and many will have risks that are specific to their particular industry.  The first step in working against workplace accidents is assessing what risks might present themselves in your working environment. These risks are classed as ‘organisational’ if they are caused by substandard working conditions, policies or practices, with ‘ergonomic’ risks relating specifically to the use of inappropriate or ineffective equipment or furniture relative to the working environment . Exposure to anything that could cause harm, including extreme temperatures, harmful fluids or fumes and even mold, will fall under the respective categories of chemical, physical or biological risks. Finally, ‘safety’ risks cover high risk working environments or conditions, such as working at heights, on terrains where trips and falls are likely, or in settings where spillages may occur.

Once you are aware of exactly what you are trying to prevent and in what circumstances, you will be far better placed to create policies and procedures designed to reduce the chances of those kinds of accidents happening.

2) What are your legal responsibilities?

As an organisation responsible for other people, it is up to leaders and managers to not only prevent workplace accidents, but to nurture a culture that prevents them. This means encouraging others to be proactive and remove risks before they cause harm. On top of this, organisations are bound by legal measures to introduce and sustain a culture that is conscious of health and safety. These are:

  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) 1999 – it is the responsibility of managers to have adequate health and safety measures in place
  • The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 – managers must write, enforce and update health and safety policies and carry out regular risk assessments

These two policies mean that it is essential that managers and leaders position health and safety as a main priority and that it stays that way, being given regular attention and reassessment if necessary. Managers who fail to meet the requirements of these policies, or to implement their own H&S policies in the workplace effectively, could be subject to legal or other disciplinary proceedings.

3) What steps are you taking to reduce health and safety risks?

A workplace that prioritises health and safety needs to create a culture as much as it needs to take physical precautions such as safety equipment. Workplaces that do not hold the wellbeing of their employees in mind often nurture an environment that actually increases the likelihood of accidents and injuries. Those who push for their workers to endure long hours and give little regard to a healthy work-life balance produce employees who are not adequately rested, fed or hydrated, and therefore not fully equipped to handle a working day. Experts have found that fatigue is a key cause of accidents in the workplace, which is why managers must take a healthy culture seriously, and encourage it in their employees. Safe working hours that give time for proper rest, decent food in between shifts and hydration are all immensely important when looking to eliminate risks.

4) What processes do you have in place for managing workplace accidents?

If an accident does take place, managers are required to ensure that all proper protocol is followed and that the employee’s wellbeing is looked after. This means adhering to the company H&S policy, and all applicable legal requirements, including the writing and filing of a report.

In some circumstances, the injured employee may have to take time off work while they recover from the incident. If this happens, managers must check in with them regularly to get an idea of how best to support them and get them back to work when they are ready, as well as making sure that they receive Statutory Sick Pay. Some injured employees may be entitled to claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, and if so, you must also help them do this. In particularly severe cases, if an employee feels their accident was the result of the workplace’s failure to keep them safe, they may file a compensation claim. In such cases, the manager must alert the organisation’s liability insurance provider, who can then give guidance specific to the circumstances. Throughout the process of an employee absence, managers should make sure that the worker is supported remotely, and that no animosity grows in the workplace as a result of their compensation claim.

Between great progress in legal H&S requirements, employee rights and awareness, accidents in the workplace are now not only less common, but more preventable. Maintaining this standard is the responsibility of the manager, and it requires dedicated and serious advocation of safe company culture and practices to ensure a healthy workplace for everyone.

March 7, 2018 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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