Is there a large Health & Safety Executive (HSE) poster entitled “What You Need To Know” in your company’s staff room, locker room area or pinned to a wall above the filing cabinet next to the office door?
There should be - employers are required, by law, to either display the A3 sized law poster or to provide each of their employees with the equivalent sized leaflet.
At the top of the poster, it is stated: “All workers have a right to work in places where risks to their health and safety are properly controlled. Health and safety is about stopping you getting hurt at work or ill through work. Your employer is responsible for health and safety, but you must help.”
As is sometimes mentioned in a claimant’s accident or injury claims statement, unfortunately, pinning the poster to the wall may be the limit to an employer’s focus on health and safety compliance, even when there is a necessity to carry out risk assessments ( and training) for special tasks.
According to HSE, it tends to be the small firms who can be prone to oversight or negligence, which can mean issues such as disabled machinery safety guards or emergency power isolators remain a potential safety risk. HSE figures at the start of 2013 show a total of 111,164 non-fatal injuries were reported between 2011-12, many of which would have been prevented if a regular risk assessment, proper procedures and maintenance schedules had been observed.
Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, an employer has a duty to their employees to provide a safe-working environment in a ‘reasonably practicable’ manner. Legislation, such as the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, also set out the required measures and training employers need to ensure are complied with by the workforce.
However, there can be some employers who simply “haven’t got the time” or imagine that there are likely to be too many complicated or unnecessary rules and regulations, which will prevent them from carrying on their business quickly and efficiently. The present economic conditions are an added pressure and it may be simply easier to “work around the rules” to save time and added expense.
HSE go to great lengths to help employers, stating, “ If you think health and safety has to be complicated – it doesn’t” and “ For many businesses, all that’s required is a basic series of tasks.”
The HSE publication “Health & Safety Made Simple” is a guide, “which takes employers through the required steps and helps make sure they have done what they need to do – and no more”, and to make sure their businesses comply with health and safety law.
The guide advises employers that they must manage the health and safety risks in their workplace. Risk assessment is essential at all times and requires employers to think about any aspect of their business, which might cause harm to people and decide whether they are doing enough to prevent that harm.
“A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace.” (HSE) – and prevent needless accident, injury and fatality to their workers.