Health and safety at work

Health and Safety at Work

Our council provides or links you to lots of free health and safety advice, information, publications and downloads for individuals and local businesses in Central Bedfordshire, who are either starting up or already established.

The Health and Safety team can provide:

  • support by telephone or by answering email enquiries
  • information on a variety of health and safety topics

Your legal responsibilities

Employers

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (link opens in new window) (HSWA) requires you to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all employees while at work. You also have a responsibility to ensure that others are not put at risk by your work-related activities. Read more information on the HSWA from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) (link opens in new window).

Risk Assessment

To help compliance with the HSWA, you will first need to identify what hazards are present within your business, assess what risks those hazards pose, then put in place control measures. This is known as a Risk Assessment.

A risk assessment is an important management tool which is used to look at work activities, identify all hazards, and quantify the significant risks so that they can either be eliminated or controlled to a suitable and safe level. It is the single most important measure of working out how safe your business is, and ensuring control measures are put into place so as to avoid ill-health and injuries.

If you employ 5 or more people, the findings must be recorded in writing.

The findings of the risk assessment and, more importantly, the control measures introduced to minimise or eliminate the hazards being realised, must be communicated to the persons who may be affected. As well as employees, this may include visitors, contractors, persons who share the premise and members of the public.

To help understand risk assessment and ensure you don’t overspend or underspend on control measures, the following definitions may help.

Reasonably Practicable: If it can be shown that an assessment has been made and that the difficulties and costs of reducing the risks further would be grossly disproportionate to the risks, then it can be taken that everything that is reasonably practicably has been done. However, should the severity of any outcome, following the risk assessment, still be serious injury or death, then you must introduce the control measures.

Hazard: Something with the potential to cause harm. Hazards can be a variety of things, including e.g. machinery, equipment, electricity, working at height, workplace transport, slips and trips, occupational stress, lifting, pushing and pulling, etc.

Risk: Is the likelihood of the hazard actually causing harm / damage being realised? Risk takes into account two principles:

  • likelihood - a subjective or objective evaluation of the probability of occurrence (what are the chances of it happening?)
  • severity - if the hazard is realised (happens), what are the consequences (if it happened, what harm / damage would it cause?)

Suitable and sufficient: For a risk assessment to be deemed 'Suitable and sufficient', it must:

  • identify the significant hazards
  • be appropriate to the nature of the work
  • identify and prioritise the significant risks
  • enable identification of the appropriate control measures
  • be valid for a reasonable time
  • contain detail proportionate to the level of risk

More detailed advice in risk assessments, including worked examples, can be found on the GOV.UK website. http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/

Employees

The HSWA requires you to ensure that you act in a responsible and sensible manner so as not to put yourself and others around you at risk.

Directors and Board Members

The HSWA act requires directors and board members to take action to ensure employees and others are safe. They are also legally liable for failures in particular those that lead to injury or ill health. Read more information on leadership from the HSE (link opens in new window).

Self-employed people have a similar responsibility to that of employers

Under The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, you have a responsibility to manage health and safety effectively. You need to carry out an assessment of the risks to the health and safety of your employees, while they are at work, and to other people who may be affected by their work activities. The Regulations require you to periodically review your risk assessment so that it remains appropriate.

Management of Health and Safety

It is important that you have a system in place to ensure health and safety is managed well. To help you achieve this, read latest health and safety guidance from the HSE (link opens in new window).

You can also use a self-assessment checklist which has been designed to help you find out how well you are managing your health and safety: however, the standard is very high. Remember good health and safety practice can have a positive impact on your insurance claims and also improves your reputation with customers, the local community and your employees. It can also help prevent you being investigated for breaching health and safety laws and causing injury.

This tool should take around 30 minutes to complete.

Reporting injuries, accidents and diseases

If one of your employees is off work for more than 7 days following an injury, or spends more than 24 hours in hospital following an accident at work, you are required to report the matter to the relevant enforcing authority such as our council.

You will also need to report serious incidents such as fatalities, broken bones, electrocution, losing consciousness, injuries to eyes, asphyxiation, and where members of the public are taken to hospital from your premises.

You can report incidents via the HSE (link opens in new window).

Further information

You will find lots of helpful website links throughout this section. These links enable you to download publications directly, or will lead you to a subject-relevant website. All health and safety pages on this website have helpful web links at the bottom of every page.

Read health and safety information from the Health and Safety Executive (link opens in new window)

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