Legal responsibilities of employers
Health and Safety law states that employers must, as a minimum, have the processes and procedures in place that are required to meet the legal requirements, including:
- Ensuring they have access to competent Health and Safety advice, such as a consultant who is registered on the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register (OSHCR).
- For more information, please see Competent Advice
- A written health and safety policy. (If your business has five or more employees.)
- Assessing risks to employees, customers, partners and any other people who could be affected by their activities. (Written risk assessments are required if your business has five or more employees.)
- Arranging for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of preventive and protective measures.
- Consulting employees about their risks at work and current preventive and protective measures.
- Providing employees with information about the risks in your workplace and how they are protected.
- Instructing and training for employees in how to deal with the risks.
- Ensuring there is adequate and appropriate supervision in place.
Failure to comply with these requirements can have serious consequences for organisations and individuals. Sanctions include fines, imprisonment and disqualification.
Under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, an offence will be committed where failings by an organisation’s senior management are a substantial element in any gross breach of the duty of care owed to the organisation’s employees or members of the public, which results in death. The maximum penalty is an unlimited fine and the court can additionally make a publicity order requiring the organisation to publish details of its conviction and fine.
Benefits of good Health and Safety
Addressing Health and Safety should not be seen as a burden, because it offers significant opportunities, which include:
- Reduced costs and reduced risks.
- Employee absence and turnover rates are lower.
- Accidents are fewer.
- Insurance premiums can drop.
- Threat of legal action is lessened.
- Improved standing among suppliers and partners.
- Better reputation for corporate social responsibility among investors, customers and communities.
- Increased productivity.
- Employees are healthier, happier and better motivated.
- Quality improvements.
- Reduced waste.
You also have to:
- Notify the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Local Authority of your existence.
- Have suitable insurance. g. Employers’ liability insurance.
- Record accidents (and where necessary report them to the HSE).
- Provide certain basic workplace welfare facilities.
- Provide first aid facilities.
Costs of poor Health and Safety
The Health and Safety Executives (HSE) statistics reveal the human and financial cost of failing to address H&S. Each year:
- Millions of working days are lost due to work-related illness and injury.
- Thousands of people die from occupational diseases.
- Around a million workers self-report suffering from a work-related illness.
- Several hundred thousand workers are injured at work.
- A worker is fatally injured almost every working day.
- Organisations can incur further costs, such as uninsured losses and loss of reputation.
What stage is your business at now?
When it comes to health and safety:
- Where are you now as a company?
- Where do you want to be this time next year?
Start by looking at your company health and safety policy statement (statement of intent), because it should be the basis of your health and safety action plan.
- Have you appointed a competent person to help you comply with your duties?
- Do you have an effective health and safety management system in place? (A planned way of tackling problems.)
- Have you got clear policies and objectives for health and safety?
- Have you organised key people to achieve them?
- What training do they need?
- Have you identified your main hazards and assessed the risks involved?
- Have you selected the right control measures to tackle these main risks?
- Are they adequate or do you need to do more?
- Are they actually being applied in practice?
- Are you monitoring progress – for example, by inspecting the workplace regularly or investigating accidents and ‘near misses’ – to learn from your mistakes?
- Have you set a date to review your health and safety performance against your plans?
If you are the person in overall control of your business, overall and final responsibility for Health and Safety rest with you. However, you cannot achieve a safe and healthy working environment on your own, because it has to be a team effort.
You need to:
- Consult your employees and, where appointed, their safety representatives.
- Get proper Health and Safety co-ordination going with other businesses with which you come into contact. g. Clients, customers, suppliers, contractors.
- Build ownership and commitment to Health and Safety throughout your workforce.
Don’t Delay – Get Started Today!
You need to remember that besides protecting people and the environment, action on health and safety can also make a major contribution to business success. Not only will it help stop accidents and work related ill health among your employees, but it will reduce your accident losses, improve your profit and loss statement and help you become more efficient.
Build health and safety in from the start and develop a good safety culture in your business.
- Don’t think accidents and occupational ill-health can’t happen in your company.
- Don’t wait for things to go wrong and then go for the ‘quick fix’.
If you are a ‘for profit’ or ‘not for profit’ businesses, make time and get started today. Contact us now to arrange your competent advice!