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Friday, 28 November 2014

Support makes process simple

WE know that for many companies health and safety legislation can be an over complicated and overwhelming issue – one which is often ignored.

But we also know ignoring a problem rarely makes it better. In fact, it often makes things worse, and where health and safety is concerned, ignorance has the potential to make things much worse.

Whatever sort of business you are, there is always the possibility of an accident or damage to someone’s health. All work exposes people to hazards, be they loads which have to be manually handled; dangerous machinery; toxic substances; electricity; working with display screen equipment or even psychological hazards such as stress.

Small businesses are far more vulnerable and have a greater percentage of accidents than larger companies (for instance, the fatality rate in SME manufacturers is twice that of large ones). In 2010/11 26.4 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury.

As an employer you have a legal duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of your employees and other people who might be affected by your business, and so you must do whatever is reasonably practicable to achieve this.

This means you must:

l Have a system in place to manage health and safety (e.g. have a policy, designate people and have clear procedures) and, if you employ more than five people, set this out in a written health and safety policy statement. You need to be able to show how you plan, organise, control, monitor and review preventative measures. And you need to appoint a “competent” person(s) to help you comply with your legal obligations.

l Identify your hazards (things that could cause harm).

l Assess your risks and again, if you employ more than five, record the results of your assessment. Risk assessment is the key to working out what needs to be done.

l Implement risk control measures. The first port of call is to try to reduce or eliminate hazards at source, or isolate people from them (for example, by guarding machinery). If this is not sufficient you must have suitable risk control measures in place (such as respirators or protective footwear) and ensure that they are used and maintained, and that employees are trained on their use.

l Report and record any accidents that do happen.

l Provide basic workplace, first aid and welfare facilities.

Employers must also consult employees on health and safety issues, either directly or through a safety representative.

Remember that failure to protect the health, safety and welfare of your staff can have dire consequences – both for the individual and the employer, with penalties including fines, imprisonment and disqualification.

The above all sounds complicated and involved but in reality – and with the right advice and support – it is actually quite a simple and straightforward process but, as already stressed, a necessary one.

As well as providing a full suite of HR support services, TurnstoneHR is now offering a comprehensive health and safety management service.

For guidance on how to implement a simple but effective health and safety management strategy for your business, contact TurnstoneHR on 01229 615 280 or email us at info@turnstonehr.com for a free consultation.

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