Health and safety should be a key aspect of any workplace - it’s something that can affect employers, employees, and businesses as a whole.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 outlines the legal regulations regarding health and safety - it ensures that employers have a ‘duty of care’ towards employees (as well as site visitors and contractors) to protect them from harm in any work environment.
Knowing your responsibilities as an employer is the first step in implementing a quality health and safety strategy. Keep reading to learn more about what an employer’s health and safety duties are.
What Are Employer's Health and Safety Duties?
Health and safety is something that affects everybody - and the correct rules should be followed for the welfare of yourself and your employees. This post will outline what your duties are as an employer, and how you can prevent accidents in the workplace.
The first step to ensuring that your business meets all health and safety requirements is educating yourself on health and safety laws. This ensures that you’re prepared for any unexpected action that may be taken against your business, as well as ensuring that you, your employees, and any visitors to your workplace are safe from harm.
Health and safety in the UK is a criminal and civil matter - no matter where you’re based in the UK, it’s a possibility that your local authority may take legal action against you if you’re in breach of any health and safety legislation. As it’s also a civil matter, there’s also a chance that anybody affected by a health and safety-related incident in the workplace may be able to claim compensation through civil law.
Dedicate some time to researching health and safety legislation - if your business is doing everything by the book, then the likelihood of your business suffering as a result of a claim is very unlikely. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is the best place to start - the act states that it’s not only your responsibility when somebody gets harmed, but it’s also your responsibility to prevent the risk of harm.
A small amount of research will also tell you that as a business, you’re required by law to have employer’s liability insurance to cover any compensation costs if a civil case is carried out. It’s will also be helpful to browse through the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to learn more about what steps your business should be taking to prevent workplace disasters. There are training courses that you can take to learn more about health and safety, as well as quality and effective Beacon Risk advice.
Accidents can happen at any time, but they can be prevented. One of the most effective ways of preventing an accident is by carrying out regular risk assessments to ensure that your businesses health and safety policy is fully functional.
If your industry is classed as high-risk (for example, construction, mining, or healthcare), then regular risk assessments are more important than ever - it can allow you to understand the types of risk you’re likely to encounter, as well as identify any flaws in your current policy. A risk assessment can ensure that you’re prepared for any safety issue that may arise, and identify hazards such as slips, falls or spillages.
Implement A Policy
The results of a risk assessment will enable you to create or update an effective health and safety policy. A standard health and safety policy will include general workplace rules and regulations, as well as information on who is responsible for health and safety and other areas.
If your business has five or more people under your employment, then your health and safety policy should legally be in writing. Each business will have a slightly different health and safety policy, as it should be tailored to the work activities and staff.
It’s a legal requirement for businesses to report certain incidents that occur in the workplace. This can cover injuries, dangerous occurrences, occupational diseases, as well as deaths - all of which should be reported to enforcing authorities (e.g., HSE or your local authority). It allows the relevant authorities to know the details associated with the risk (where it came from, whether it could’ve been prevented, and if it needs to be investigated).