Health And Safety Legislation For SME Owners

Health And Safety Legislation For SME Owners

20th June 2017

The most recent statistics of work related accidents in Britain are from the year 2015 – 2016 and were compiled by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE).  With 144 work related injuries which proved fatal, this works out at a rate of one fatal injury per 160,000 workers.  The highest number of fatal injuries is seen in the industrial sectors, namely the construction industry, agriculture and the waste and recycling sector.  The most common type of work related injury is falling from a height, followed by being hit by a vehicle and being struck by a falling or moving object. 

Even though fatal work related injuries are decreasing year upon year here in the UK, efforts to make the workplace safer are still an important issue to reduce these figures as much as is possible.  Every employer in the UK is legally bound to make sure that their work/business premises are a safe place to work and that injuries are kept to the absolute minimum.  The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 dictates that employers are responsible for health and safety in the workplace.  Employers have a ‘duty of care’ to all of their employees whilst they are at work, so ensuring that your business has access to the relevant health and safety advice is essential.

Responsibility for the company’s health and safety issues may be delegated to a specific person (such as a health and safety officer), but the primary responsibility always rests with the business owner(s).  While some industries will require additional responsibilities, the basic health and safety requirements need to be fulfilled by every business owner.  This means:

·         The provision of a safe workplace – a workplace that is safe and healthy to work in.

·         Risk assessments must be carried out by a responsible person to indentify health and safety hazards – if the company has more than five employees an official record must be kept.

·         Any business with more than five employees must have a written Health and Safety Policy that is annually reviewed.

·         Any matter which significantly affects health and safety at work must be formally discussed with employees in an Employee Consultation exercise (this includes new technology, changes in procedure, etc).

·         Whatever size business you have, you will need full employer’s liability insurance that will cover the costs of damages and legal fees for any employees who may suffer a work related injury or illness.

·         RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Legislation 2013) requires employers to report and record certain injuries, incidents and cases of work related disease.

·         Health and Safety Regulations 1981 require all employers to provide equipment and facilities to enable first aid to be given to workers who are injured or become ill at work – this also means regular first aid training for employees.

·         Every employer in the UK is legally obliged to display the health and safety law poster in a prominent position in the workplace or provide every employee with the relevant leaflet covering health and safety laws.