Health and safety
Employers Duties of Health and Safety
Employers have health and safety obligations when it comes to their employees. The main Health and Safety obligations of Employers are to:
(a) Assess risks to health and safety and identify ways to overcome them.
(b) Provide and maintain a healthy and safe place to work. Including
- Safe means of entering and leaving the premises,
- Emergency procedures for use when needed.
(c) Provide information, instruction, training and supervision in safe working methods and procedures.
(d) Ensure that working areas and equipment that are safe to sue and without risks to health.
(e) Ensuring that equipment has all necessary safety devices installed, that equipment is properly maintained and that appropriate protective clothing is provided.
(f) Promoting co-operation between members of staff to ensure safe and healthy conditions and systems of work by discussion and effective
(g) Regularly monitoring and reviewing the management of health and safety at work, making any necessary changes and bringing those to the attention of all staff.
These obligations can be effectively implement through continuing risk assessments, ensuring that the health and safety of a business’s employees is the responsibility of the board of directors and undertaking constant review of processes and the changing requirements of the workforce.
There are special rules relating to pregnant workers. Please see Health and Safety of Pregnant Workers
Use of Display Screen Equipment
Anything with a screen that is used for working purposes will fall into this definition.
In practise, this is mainly computers. Employers are obliged to pay for appropriate eye and eyesight tests for their employees on request and at regular intervals. The Employers is not normally required to pay for glasses or contact lenses, although there are some exceptions where normally glasses would not met the requirement of a job.
Lifting, moving or handling items. This can occur in common environments such as warehouses and also in office environments with boxes of paper. Employers are required to avoid dangerous manual handling so far as is reasonably practicable. Employers should also provide specialised training and specific instructions to their employees to minimise the risk of accidents happening.
Employers are required to provide adequate facilities and personnel for first aid to be given to employees if they become injured or ill at work. The minimum requirement is a suitably stocked first-aid box and an appointed person to take charge of first-aid arrangements, a “First Aider”.
Why is health and safety important?
This might seem like a lot of bureaucratic red tape and a lot gets blamed on the ‘Health and Safety Culture’ but business’s can benefit from spending the time in comply with their health and safety obligations. Les workplace accidents and better regard for health and safety can lead to:
- Better industrial relations.
- Less employee absence
- Less reliance on agency or outside contractual staff.
- More effective use of management time and resources.
- Less personal injury litigation
- Reduced staff turnover and therefore reduced recruitment costs.
Common methods of adhering to these obligations are to employ Health and Safety managers or contract with consultants. A good basic first port of call will be a compliant Health and Safety policy as part of a staff handbook.