Health and Safety for Managers
Description: This article focuses on UK health and safety law that all managers and businesses need to know to stay compliant and the duties involved.
Why do managers need a thorough understanding of workplace health and safety?
Health and safety can seem like a bit of a nightmare at times but it is something that every manager needs a thorough grasp of. Ok, some of it can seem boring and it might appear to be a lot of red tape and hoops to jump through, but it is an important part of the law and a necessary element for keeping a business functioning effectively.
There is a lot of information surrounding health and safety at work that you will need to digest at some point; the best place for that is the government's own website http://www.hse.gov.uk. This is kept up to date with the latest legal changes and how it applies to your business.
This article is going to cover the basics of why you should be taking the time to understand health and safety law, and how it will help you avoid any potential compensation claims in the future.
As a manager, what do I need to know about health and safety in the workplace?
British health and safety law is based around the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The Act states the general duties and responsibilities of employers to their employees and the general public, and of employees to their colleagues. These are all based around the principle of 'so far as reasonably practicable' - if it's impossible to completely reduce the risk, or the cost is disproportionate to the risk, then full measures don't have to be taken, so long as you make an effort to reduce the risk as far as possible.
Essentially, it's about common sense. Identify the risks in your workplace and take steps to reduce them.
There was further legislation with The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (the Management Regulations), which is much more detailed regarding the duties of the employer. The main responsibility being to carry out a risk assessment and implement actions to reduce the risks identified. Where there are more than 5 employees, this risk assessment has to be documented with the significant findings and actions disclosed.
5 key requirements that every manager is responsible for:
1. Making arrangements for the implementation of the health and safety measures identified by the risk assessment
2. Appoint competent employees to help you implement the arrangements
3. Set up emergency procedures
4. Provide clear information and training to employees (including having the Health and Safety at Work poster displayed in the workplace)
5. Work together with other employers if you share your workplace
So what could happen if I didn't meet my responsibilities?
Ultimately, failing to comply with health and safety law could lead to criminal prosecution in the Crown Court or Magistrates Court. It is possible to be prosecuted for corporate manslaughter if the death of an employee, or member of the public, was believed to be a result of you failing to put sufficient measures in place to protect them.
It is also possible to be fined for not having controls and measures in place after a health and safety inspection or investigation. This can include not having a written risk assessment and/or policy in place.
How are health and safety rules enforced?
It is the job of the Health and Safety Executive to ensure that the law is being followed by workplaces around the country. They will inspect premises; investigate incidents; investigate complaints made by employees, or the public; serve notices of action that needs to be taken, and can decide to prosecute if they deem a case severe enough.
Sounds scary, doesn't it? In reality though, all that is required is to learn about applicable legislation and best practices, implement them as far as is reasonably practical, and keep up to date with any changes. As long as you do that and encourage your employees to the do the same, you will be abiding by the law and serving to create a safe place of work for everyone in or near the premises.
The best way to make absolutely sure that you are not missing anything is by completing accredited training. Here at ATC Risk Management Services Ltd we offer a wide range of courses on every aspect of health and safety. Delivered by our team of professionals who have been working in the field for many years, at some of Europe's largest companies and organisations, we make sure that the training we deliver is applicable to you and your workplace; not just the bare facts and general theory.
For more information on how our team can help you and your business, give us a call on 0115 984 9940 where one of our health and safety consultants will be happy to help and advise.
Our pdf brochure contains the outlines to all of our accredited and bespoke health and safety training courses, as well as our selection of online courses and health and safety NVQ qualifications. Please click on the button below to view the brochure, or right-click to download and save.
Scheduled Open Courses
The following health and safety courses are scheduled at our training venues throughout the UK. Please click on a course title to find out more information such as the course syllabus, locations, prices and availability.
These courses form the basis for our in-house training programmes. These courses can either be run as they are if the outline is exactly what you want, or can be be modified to suit the individual requirements of your organisation. Two or more can also be combined to tailor a bespoke training session for you.
Please click on a course title to find out more about what each one entails: