Welcome back to the second of our Toolbox Talks.
This month we’re taking a look at an Introduction to Health and Safety Legislation and Risk Assessments.
If you need a recap on our first Toolbox Talks, Introduction to Health and Safety and Accidents and Ill-Health, find it here.
Introduction to Health and Safety Legislation
It’s important to know how workplace legislation applies to you.
Here are the four main pieces of health and safety legislation that apply to all employers and workplaces.
Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
Often referred to as HASAW or HSW
This Act of Parliament is the main piece of UK health and safety legislation.
It places a duty on all employers to
- Ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees.
Among other provisions, the Act also requires:
- Safe operation and maintenance of the working environment
- Maintenance of safe access to the workplace
- Safe use, handling and storage of dangerous substances
- Adequate training of staff to ensure health and safety
- Adequate welfare provisions for staff at work.
Employers must also keep and revise a written record of health and safety policy and consult with employees or their representatives on such policies (this only applies to those employing five or more).
Make sure your employees understand:
- The main duties for employers in regards to HASAW ACT
Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 places a duty on employers to
- Assess and manage risks to their employees and others arising from work activities.
Employers must also make arrangements to ensure the health and safety of the workplace, including:
- Making ‘assessments of risk’ to the health and safety of its workforce, and to act upon risks they identify to reduce them
- Appointing competent persons to oversee workplace health and safety;
- Providing workers with information and training on occupational health and safety; and
- Operating a written health and safety policy.
Employees must work safely in accordance with their training and instructions given to them.
Employees must also notify the employer or the person responsible for health and safety of any serious or immediate danger to health and safety or any shortcoming in health and safety arrangements.
Ask your team what the most common workplace hazards are:
- e.g slips, trips and falls
Ask your team if they know of any shortcomings in the current health and safety arrangements
- E.g the current person responsible is on holidays, who covers them?
Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995
Known as RIDDOR, these regulations require employers, the self-employed and people in control of premises, to report work-related deaths, major injuries, work-related diseases and dangerous occurrences.
Incidents can be reported:
- to the Incident Contact Centre by telephone on 0845 300 9923
- online via the HSE’s RIDDOR report webpages
The Regulations require an employer to record in an accident book the date and time of the incident, details of the person(s) affected, the nature of their injury or condition, their occupation, the place where the event occurred and a brief note on what happened.
The following injuries or ill health must be reported:
- The death of any person;
- Specified injuries including fractures, amputations, eye injuries, injuries from electric shock, and acute illness requiring removal to hospital or immediate medical attention;
- ‘Over-seven-day’ injuries, which involve relieving someone of their normal work for more than seven days as a result of injury caused by an accident at work;
- Reportable occupational diseases
- Near misses (described in the Regulations as ‘dangerous occurrences’).
Ask your team if they know the process of reporting an accident in this workplace:
- E.g Note the date, time and person affected etc.
Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
These regulations are concerned with the working environment.
They place a duty on employers to make sure that the workplace is safe and suitable for the tasks being carried out there, and that it does not present risks to employees and others.
The regulations cover all aspects of the working environment, including:
- Adequate lighting, heating, ventilation and workspace (and keep them in a clean condition);
- Staff facilities, including toilets, washing facilities and refreshment; and
- Safe passageways, i.e. to prevent slipping and tripping hazards.
Ask your team if they know any aspects of the working environment that could be a potential hazard:
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.
This is known as risk assessment and it is something you are required by law to carry out. (If you have fewer than five employees you don’t have to write anything down)
A risk assessment is about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace. You are probably already taking steps to protect your employees, but your risk assessment will help you decide whether you have covered all you need to.
Think about how accidents and ill health could happen and concentrate on real risks – those that are most likely and which will cause the most harm.
For some risks, other regulations require particular control measures. Your assessment can help you identify where you need to look at certain risks and these particular control measures in more detail. These control measures do not have to be assessed separately but can be considered as part of, or an extension of, your overall risk assessment.
Make sure your employees understand:
- Why a risk assessment is carried out
- That it is required by law
The five steps towards assessing and preventing risks in your workplace
1. Identify the hazards
One of the most important aspects of your risk assessment is accurately identifying the potential hazards in your workplace.
A good starting point is to walk around your workplace and think about any hazards. In other words, what is it about the activities, processes or substances used that could injure your employees or harm their health?
So other tips to identify a hazard are:
- Checking instructions and labels on chemicals or substances to see if they are hazardous,
- Reviewing how often maintenance takes place in case something could potentially break down or cause issue in between.
- Looking at your accident and ill-health records
There are some hazards with a recognised risk of harm, for example working at height, working with chemicals, machinery, and asbestos.
Depending on the type of work you do, there may be other hazards that are relevant to your business.
2. Decide Who Might Be Harmed and How
For each hazard you need to be clear about who might be harmed; it will help you identify the best way of controlling the risk.
It is best to identify certain groups of people who may be at risk rather than individuals.
- Workers with particular requirements – young workers, migrant workers, pregnant mothers, people with disabilities, temps, contractors, lone workers
- Visitors, contractors or maintenance workers
- Members of the public
- Other nearby businesses
3. Evaluate The Risks And Decide On Precautions
Having identified the hazards, you then have to decide how likely it is that harm will occur; ie the level of risk and what to do about it.
Risk is a part of everyday life and you are not expected to eliminate all risks. What you must do is make sure you know about the main risks and the things you need to do to manage them responsibly.
Generally, you need to do everything ‘reasonably practicable’.
Your risk assessment should only include what you could reasonably be expected to know – you are not expected to anticipate unforeseeable risks.
Look at what you’re already doing, and the control measures you already have in place. Ask yourself:
- Can I get rid of the hazard altogether?
- If not, how can I control the risks so that harm is unlikely?
Some practical steps you could take include:
- Trying a less risky option
- Preventing access to the hazards
- Organising work to reduce exposure to the hazard
- Issuing protective equipment
- Providing welfare facilities such as first aid and washing facilities
- Involving and consulting workers
4. Record Your Significant Findings
Make a record of your significant findings – the hazards, how people might be harmed by them and what you have in place to control the risks.
Any paperwork you produce should help you to communicate and manage the risks in your business. For most people this does not need to be a big exercise – just note the main points down about the significant risks and what you concluded.
An easy way to record your findings is to use HSE’s risk assessment template
A risk assessment must be ‘suitable and sufficient’, ie it should show that:
- A proper check was made
- You asked who might be affected
- You dealt with all the obvious significant hazards, taking into account the number of people who could be involved
- The precautions are reasonable, and the remaining risk is low
- You involved your employees or their representatives in the process
If your risk assessment identifies a number of hazards, you need to put them in order of importance and address the most serious risks first.
Identify long-term solutions for the risks with the biggest consequences, as well as those risks most likely to cause accidents or ill health.
You should also establish whether there are improvements that can be implemented quickly, even temporarily, until more reliable controls can be put in place.
5. Review Your Assessment And Update If Necessary
Workplaces change and updated. Whether that be new equipment, substances or procedures, these changes can lead to new hazards.
It therefore makes sense to review your workplace hazards on an ongoing basis.
Look at your risk assessment again and ask yourself:
- Have there been any significant changes?
- Are there improvements you still need to make?
- Have your workers spotted a problem?
- Have you learnt anything from accidents or near misses?
Make sure your risk assessment stays up to date.
For extra learning materials on this topic follow this link to the Review Assignments with Q&A.