Maintaining a safe working environment is a crucial part of running a successful business. By understanding, planning and putting into place health and safety protocols, you not only protect your employees/staff from injuries and illness, but you protect yourself from fines and failure to meet guidelines laid out by current legislation.
The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations (2002) set out laws and guidelines that inform both employers and employees of their rights and the steps they can take to reduce injury and illnesses in the workplace.
Employers must identify risks to workers (during a risk assessment) and take measured precautions in order to completely eradicate or reduce the risk. They must also ensure that they explain to workers what the risks are and what is being done to prevent or reduce them.
Employers should also provide any relevant personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, dust masks, ear protectors etc. free of charge, as well as free training and education on how workers can personally reduce and eradicate risks.
It is also important that an employer shows a copy of the current insurance policy the company has, where workers can easily read it.
Employees should seek to work with the employer or their health and safety executive to create the safest working environment possible. This includes informing the relevant person (H&S exec or Employer) if they feel that something in the workplace is unsafe or poses a higher risk than is necessary.
Employees must also take care to follow their health and safety training adequately, ensuring that their safety, and that of their colleagues, is paramount in their work.
Both the employee and the employer play an important role in maintaining a safe working environment. However, it should be noted that the afore mentioned Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) states that, “Employers must protect the 'health, safety and welfare' at work of all their employees, as well as others on their premises, including temps, casual workers, the self-employed, clients, visitors and the general public.” And therefore any injuries and illnesses sustained from what is deemed to be poor health and safety policy will see the employer held responsible.
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