Under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, you have a legal duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of your employees, but is your workplace as safe as it could be? Is there room for improvement to avoid accidents and possible legal fines?
Your working environment is affected by factors including health and safety, security and working hours but a poor working environment can damage your employees health and put your business at risk. An employer is legally responsible for ensuring good working conditions, but employees also have a responsibility to work safely, which can be taught and continually monitored through training.
By law, all businesses must conduct risk assessments where there are potential hazards within the workplace. All hazards must be identified with a plan of action starting with the most important risks first. Often, risk assessments can lead to the improvement of a business through finding long-term solutions to issues that pose the most risk to staff health, such as preventing falls from height.
You must carry out (and review regularly) a fire safety risk assessment to identify the potential for fire to occur in the workplace and cause harm to employees and persons in, or in the immediate vicinity of, the premises. It’s important to provide clear, appropriate information and instruction (and training where necessary) to your employees and anyone else working on your premises, e.g. contractors and their employer(s), in relation to any risks identified and fire safety measures provided.
Also, you must ensure that a record of a fire risk assessment is kept (electronically or paper-based) if you employ five or more employees (whether they are based in the premises or not).
Smart employers know that organisations perform better when staff are healthy, motivated and focused. Research consistently shows that when employees feel their work is meaningful and they are valued and supported, they tend to have higher wellbeing levels, be more committed to the organisation’s goals and, importantly, they perform better too. An organisation-wide mental health strategy is essential. Your organisation should have clear policies about promoting wellbeing for all staff, tackling the causes of work-related mental health problems and supporting staff.
Emergency First Aid
After a cardiac arrest, every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces the chance of survival by up to 10%. An alarming fact. First aid at work is important not just for life or death situations but for a wide range of reasons – for both employees and employers. It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “It won’t happen to us” and underestimate the importance of first aid in the workplace. Yet doing so doesn’t just leave employees at risk – your business can face legal actions, reputation damage and productivity loss.
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (Noise Regulations 2005) require employers to prevent or reduce risks to health and safety from exposure to noise at work. Employees have duties under the Regulations too. The Regulations require you as an employer to:
- Assess the risks to your employees from noise at work;
- Take action to reduce the noise exposure that produces those risks;
- Provide your employees with hearing protection if you cannot reduce the noise exposure enough by using other methods;
- Make sure the legal limits on noise exposure are not exceeded;
- Provide your employees with information, instruction and training;
- Carry out health surveillance where there is a risk to health.
Hygiene and cleanliness
Hygiene is incredibly important and plays a crucial role at work. If workplaces are dirty or unsanitary, this creates a real health and safety risk for workers. During the pandemic for example, workplaces that didn’t increase sanitization or put into place strict hygiene measures put workers at risk of catching COVID. And even outside of the pandemic, bad workplace hygiene still poses a health risk and needs to maintained.
Regulation 8 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) regulations 1992 says that every workplace must have ‘suitable and sufficient’ lighting. Where possible natural light should be used in preference to artificial lighting and lighting should be sufficient to enable people to work, use facilities and move from place to place safely and without experiencing eye-strain.
For further information and advice on whether your workplace is as safe as it could be, please contact us here.