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Latest News Advice and answers: Health & Safety

Advice and answers: Health & Safety

Gavin Dearsley

Norwich-based Risk Management Adviser Gavin Dearsley answers your commonly asked questions about health and safety in the workplace

Gavin Dearsley
Gavin Dearsley

Q. Am I doing enough to keep my employees safe?

A. There are several points to consider when answering this question. If you’re carrying out regular risk assessments on processes that could cause harm; you’re talking to your team about issues that may affect their health and safety; you’re adopting control measures to help keep your workers safe and you’re communicating these to the workforce, the answer is probably ‘yes’.

By asking employees to carry out potentially hazardous work without listening to their concerns and then working with them to make practices safer – or by not completing appropriate risk assessments – you’re likely to be putting their health and safety at risk. Dangers could be posed by the machinery and equipment they use, the environment in which they work, or the processes and substances to which they are exposed.

Q. What can I do to make sure incidents are dealt with quickly and correctly?

A. As we go through life we learn from our experiences. It’s no different in the workplace. When an accident happens, it may well be that nothing could have prevented it. However, if you dig a little deeper, you might discover the cause and be able to take action to stop it happening again.

As such, be sure to fully investigate, record and report accidents in the workplace. Encourage honest and open reporting throughout the business to ensure lessons are learned and improvements are made. Don’t let your business suffer from a workplace accident that could have been avoided through a strong reporting culture and positive approach to change. Worse still, don’t let your business suffer from an accident that has happened before but, because no one was hurt at the time, nothing was done to stop it happening again.

Encourage honest and open reporting throughout the business

Q. Does my business comply with the Health & Safety at Work Act?

A. Health and safety management systems must be considered and arrangements put in place. By law, such arrangements must be recorded in writing if you employ five or more people. Remember that this applies to the number of employees at your busiest time of the year, particularly if you operate seasonal rotas. For instance, if you employ four people for eight months of the year, but seven over the summer, you must have your health and safety practices in writing.

To make sure you’re compliant, it’s important to audit your current arrangements. This will help you understand what’s going well and where you need to improve.

If you’re not sure of anything, I’d recommend referring to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) website (www.hse.gov.uk). It has lots of free advice and guidance to help you get on the right track.

Of course, because health and safety can seem complex and time-consuming, you may choose to engage the services of a third-party adviser. If you adopt this approach, check that whoever you appoint is suitably qualified. A good way to establish this is to ensure they’re a Chartered Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (CMIOSH), which is governed by a code of practice and must maintain the knowledge and understanding of health and safety law and practice through Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Got more questions?

For advice on health and safety, call us on 01603 967900. All our risk management advisers are CMIOSH and we’re happy to assess and advise on the best course of action, so you meet your legal requirements.

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