Health and Safety Basics for Employers

Health and Safety Basics for Employers

28th September 2015

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is one of the best places to look at accident statistics of all types in the UK. There were 148 fatal work related accidents in 2010-11 (the most recent statistics) which is equivalent to a fatal injury rate of 1 in every 160,000 workers. Of the major industrial sectors, the highest fatal injury rates are seen in construction, agriculture, and waste and recycling. Not surprisingly, the most common accidents see in fatal injuries are falling from a height, followed by being struck by a vehicle and being struck by falling or moving objects. Although fatal injuries at work are on a continuous downward trend in the UK, it’s still important that we try to lower the figures more and make the workplaces all across the UK as safe as is humanly possible.

Employers in the UK are legally bound to ensure that their work/business premises are safe for the employees to work in and that injuries sustained while working are kept to a minimum. The Employer’s responsibilities for health and safety in the workplace are described in detail in the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Every employer has a ‘duty of care’ to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all their employees whilst they are at work – this means making sure that your business has access to suitable competent health and safety advice. Even though responsibility for managing the company’s health and safety issues may be delegated to an appropriate person, the primary responsibility still rests with the owner or partners of the company.

Certain industries will bring added responsibilities to business owners but the following most basic requirements must be fulfilled by all employers.

  • Providing a Safe Workplace – employers have a duty to provide a workplace that is safe and healthy to work in.
  • Risk Assessments – these assessments must be carried out by a competent person in order to spot any possible health and safety hazards. If there are more than five employees it’s legally required that an official record of the assessments is made.
  • Health and Safety Policy – any business in the UK with five or more employees (this figure must include business owners/partners) must have a written health and safety policy that is reviewed annually to document how health and safety is managed by the company.
  • Employee Consultation – any matter which could significantly affect health and safety at work must be formally discussed with employees including changes in procedures, new technology, etc.
  • Appropriate Insurance – whatever the size of the company, all employers must have employer’s liability insurance that covers the costs of damages and legal fees for employees who are injured or become ill at work.
  • Incident Reports – RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Legislation 2013) legislation requires that employers must report and keep records of certain injuries, incidents and cases of work related disease.
  • First Aid – the Health and Safety Regulations 1981 requires that employers provide facilities and equipment that are adequate and appropriate to enable first aid to be given to employees who are injured or become ill at work (this also means ensuring that appropriate employees receive first aid training on a regular basis).
  • Display Poster – all employers in the UK are legally obliged to display the health and safety law poster in a prominent position in the workplace or provide every employee with the equivalent leaflet containing health and safety laws.