The start of a new year is always a great time for employers to cast their eyes over their current Health & Safety measures and consider whether they could be doing anything better.
Last year wasn’t a great one for Health & Safety, with fatal injuries creeping up to 142 deaths over the year, an increase on the record low of 111 recorded in 2019/20.
And in terms of non-fatal cases, 0.4 million workers sustained an injury while at work in 2020/21, with slips, trips and falls remaining the leading cause (33%). This was followed by heavy lifting (18%) and being struck by a moving object (10%).
These statistics suggest that employers in the UK could be doing more to keep their businesses and employees safe. With so much else to focus on when running a business, sometimes the basics get forgotten about, and standards start to slip.
So, in this article, we’re going to give you a quick reminder of the five crucial Health & Safety basics. Getting these right is the first step to good workplace Health & Safety in 2022.
Let’s get started!
Employers with over five employees in the UK have a legal obligation to fulfil these five Health & Safety basics. But what are they?
Having a company Health & Safety policy isn’t optional – it’s a legal requirement under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. And, if you have five or more employees on your books, it has to be a written Health & Safety policy. Even if you don’t yet have five employees, writing your policy down makes good business sense.
Your workplace Health & Safety policy statements provide clear communication, helping to build a good Health & Safety culture and improving employee engagement. It might just seem like a piece of paperwork, but your policy goes a long way to showing employees (and the regulator) that you genuinely care about employee wellbeing.
To help you get started building your Health & Safety policies, our experts have put together this great free Health & Safety policy template. Download it now for an easy way to stay compliant!
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 requires employers to provide whatever information, instruction, training, and supervision necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the Health & Safety at work of their employees.
There are also two further sets of regulations which will apply depending on whether you recognise unions or not – the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 and the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996.
Again, this isn’t just a legal requirement – good two-way Health & Safety communication can also lead to some real benefits for businesses. It’s been found that companies that consult with employees have higher levels of engagement with Health & Safety.
This can lead to fewer accidents and incidents, better quality and productivity, a more highly motivated workforce, and lower staff turnover. As a result, your business can save time and money while meeting your legal obligations.
For a great place to start with mastering good Health & Safety communication, check out our free guide from our Health & Safety experts!
As we highlighted above, employers have legal duties within the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to ensure that their workplaces, equipment, and activities are free of Health & Safety risks.
As part of this, businesses are required by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to complete suitable and sufficient risk assessments to ensure that risks relating to work activities are identified and managed.
Not having suitable and sufficient risk assessments in place can, at worst, be fatal. On the other hand, showing risk assessments to all employees can benefit your business by eliminating or reducing work-related ill health; preventing disruption to output; avoiding your environment or equipment from being damaged; preventing unwanted costs from fines, fees, or claims; and avoiding reputational damages.
Risk assessments can cover everything from manual handling to stress – and now most businesses will be required to have a COVID-19 risk assessment, too. You should review your risk assessments regularly to make sure they’re still fit for purpose.
It’s a lot to think about, which is why our experts have created these great resources to help you meet your legal obligations.
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 requires you to train your employees to ensure their health and safety.
This is also expanded by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which highlight situations where Health & Safety training is particularly important. For example, when people start work, or are exposed to new or increased risks, or where existing skills may have become rusty or need updating.
Providing good training is a great way to make sure that people who work for you know how to work safely and without risks to health, as well as developing a positive Health & Safety culture. It can also help your business avoid the upset and financial costs that accidents and ill health cause.
But how should you go about training employees? Many businesses are moving away from in-person training to online solutions, which are more convenient and less disruptive.
Here at Citation, we can help with that. Atlas, our certified elearning platform, is a fantastic way to keep your employees up to date on their necessary training and track their progress. Find out more about Atlas here.
We’re often asked how often risk assessments and Health & Safety policies should be reviewed.
You also need to regularly consult with your workers to ensure that you’re taking into account their feedback on things that are working well and any changes that are needed. This forms part of the requirements of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and is illustrated in the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) guide HSG65.
Leading from the top is also really important for developing a good Health & Safety culture, so your leadership team should set an example with managing, monitoring and reviewing all Health & Safety measures in your business.
You should measure Health & Safety performance by monitoring both actively (routine inspections, health surveillance, etc.) and reactively (such as investigating incidents – check out our information on accident reporting here).
You should review performance by acting on lessons learned from the findings of your investigations.
We can help you review your Health & Safety arrangements with our on-site Health & Safety inspections. We’ll give you detailed observations and recommendations on your Health & Safety measures in a comprehensive Site Visit Inspection Report, which can be stored in our online platform, Atlas for easy online progress and task management.
We understand that this can seem like a lot to think about. And it is – which is why we’re here to help. Our industry-leading Health & Safety Consultancy services can make sure your business achieves and maintains total compliance, to protect your business and your employees.
If you’re already a Citation client, you can call our 24/7 advice line on 0345 844 4848 to speak to our experts about your Health & Safety arrangements and get advice on any issues you’re facing.
If you’re not yet a Citation client, simply fill out the form on this page or call 0345 844 1111 to speak to our team and access the great benefits of partnering with us.
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