Health and safety laws require strict adherence for everyone’s safety. They lay out who is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of those around them. They also outline the steps to take to maintain health and safety. Such laws are especially essential within an organisation. The question that remains is, who is responsible for health and safety in the workplace.
Who is responsible for workplace health and safety?
Health and safety in the workplace is an important aspect of well-being. While certain individuals must take legal responsibility, it is achieved with collective effort. Effective regulation requires the cooperation of all stakeholders. When everyone works together, a functional system can be implemented.
Legal regulations make workplace health and safety the employers’ responsibility. As an employer, overseeing such systems would be your legal and ethical duty. This would involve assessing and ensuring the health and safety of employees at all times. This is an ongoing task that requires constant vigilance.
Employers need to work with their employees to figure out the best safety approach. Understanding the needs of the workforce is the best approach to providing for them. Similarly, employees must work with their employers to maintain their safety and health.
What legislation implements health & safety?
Health and safety is not simply an ethical obligation but a legal one. The Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 underlies all legislation pertaining to this. It lays out the responsibilities of employers and employees regarding health and safety. For the purpose of direction, the act requires such duties to be carried out as are reasonable. This is to ensure that practices disproportionate to the risk are not necessary.
The law essentially enforces an active approach of maintaining health and safety. You need to assess the degree of risk and enact appropriate measures to counter it. The 1999 Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations outlines employer duties.
ISO 45001 has further encouraged employer-employee engagement for health and safety. The focus has now moved away from simple employer responsibility. Instead, the staff should work with the management to ensure everyone’s safety. Making it an active part of business strategy leads to the best results.
Health and Safety Responsibilities for Employees
As an employee, some responsibility also falls on you. Being responsible for your own health and safety creates a safe work environment. It is also important for you to adopt a similar attitude for others safety. Following safety instructions and helping others do the same fulfils your ethical obligation. As an employee, you also have a significant role to play.
As an employee, you are entitled to certain rights that ensure your safety. Working in an environment that does not pose risk and is safe and healthy is your legal prerogative. The safety of your workspace is a requirement in law which your employer must provide. In that regard, you have certain rights for your protection.
Any risks that present a potential threat to your health or safety must be duly addressed. In case your work involves dangerous equipment, you must take all safety steps. This includes the provision of safety equipment by your employer. This should be up to standard and free of cost to you.
You also have the right to leave any work areas with reasonable safety risks. If you believe a risk element exists, you have the right to leave without disciplinary action. The same applies to sharing concerns with your employer. You should be able to do so without fear of adverse action. It should also result in such concerns being reasonably addressed.
Should you feel your concerns are not being addressed, you can take further action. If there is a constant risk that is not addressed, you can reach out to the appropriate authorities. You should be able to do so without fear of disciplinary action. In essence, you have the right to prioritise your safety and health in the workplace.
As a member of the workplace, you also shoulder some responsibility for its safety. Working with the management to ensure your own and others safety is a major part of that. Using safety training at the workplace is necessary to maintain a safe working environment. You must stay vigilant in terms of practising safety and reporting accidents.
Health and safety systems are most effective with rigorous practice. You should encourage your fellow workers to follow such policies. Most importantly, do not knowingly engage in behaviours that could be dangerous.
Your employer’s duty of care in practice
Your employer is responsible for providing all necessary training. This includes safety procedures and policies that must be followed. It also includes a briefing on possible risks presented at the workplace.
Providing safety equipment is your employer’s duty. They should ensure access to first aid and treatment. With your cooperation, a safe and healthy workplace can be easily maintained.
Reporting injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences
Despite safety procedures in place, accidents can occur. It is important to report such incidences immediately to a supervisor. Only this can ensure that action is taken to reduce the possibility of another accident.
Ignoring or playing off incidences can pose further risk to you and others. Unless corrective action is taken, the risk continues to persist. Even if you notice a potential hazard that has never caused an accident, reporting it is the best course of action.
Follow health and safety instruction
Familiarise yourself with the potential risks your work poses to yourself and others. You must also make sure to practice safe working to minimise that risk. Understand what procedures are in place and make sure to follow them. Health and safety instructions protect you at the workplace. Encourage others around you to strictly adhere to such instructions.
Attend health and safety training
It is your employers duty to provide necessary health and safety training. It is your duty to follow that training in effective ways that reduce risk. Make sure to attend such training vigilantly. Always make sure to incorporate this training into your work.
Adhere to safety procedures.
Ensuring health and safety is your responsibility. This includes following any and all safety procedures enacted in the workplace. This is with the understanding that their purpose is to keep you and your fellow employees safe. Safety procedures must always be followed to reduce the potential for harm.
Stay motivated to maintain workplace health and safety. You must play your part in keeping risks to a minimum, by actively countering them. Working with the management also includes being vigilant about safety procedures and requirements.
Health and Safety Responsibilities for Employers
Given the legal issues, employers carry the most responsibility. As an employer, you must ensure the safety of your workplace and all work practices. Health and safety extends not only to your employees but to visitors to your workplace as well. You must minimise all potential risks and reduce the likelihood of any danger.
What can you do to guarantee workplace safety?
As an employer, there are many steps you must take to ensure safety. Beyond what is legally required, you can take additional measures. As the employer, you are the one who is responsible for health and safety in the workplace. Working in collaboration with employees is an essential part of that.
Making the workplace safe and healthy
There are several steps involved in creating a safe and healthy workplace. In addition to identifying potential risk, you have to keep your employees informed. They should be aware of any and all issues and all safety procedures. This is to influence their own safety practices.
The law also requires you to display a health and safety poster. It should be placed so it is easy to see and read. Safety equipment including emergency first aid kits are also mandatory in the workplace. It is also your duty to provide essential safety training that reduces accident risk.
Some employees may require additional safety training than others. These can include people who do certain work, or those with special needs. You must identify such employees and ensure their safety is also provided for.
Carry out risk assessments
One of the first steps in ensuring health and safety is carrying out risk assessments. Their purpose is to identify potential threats and the likelihood of these occurring. A written record of the assessment is required with five or more employees.
Such assessments are pretty straightforward for most workplaces. They should tell you whether enough safety procedures are in place. The adequacy of existing measures can be easily established. You can identify areas where more measures or training may be needed.
Implement health and safety procedures
Your risk assessment should help you design safety procedures and guidelines. It is also important to adequately implement them in the workplace. A good idea is to appoint an employee who can assist in this responsibility. They can help ensure adequate systems are in place and are being adhered to.
In addition to safe practices, emergency procedures should also be in place. Employees should be aware of and trained in these procedures. Training and concise information is key to maintaining health and safety of all. Make sure to provide all necessary equipment needed to keep people safe. This extends to temporary workers and visitors to the workplace as well.
Create a health and safety policy
A policy can direct employees on possible risks and their countermeasures. It also acts as a guide for unforeseen problems and how they should be tackled in the moment. These policies should consider the nature of your work and employee involvement. They should also reflect the degree of risk undertaken by employees in their work.
Policies are only effective if people know and understand them well. Make sure to communicate these policies to your employees. This includes informing them of possible issues that could arise in the workplace. They should be aware of how they are protected from such issues, and how they must cooperate.
Safety policies may need to be updated with changing systems. Make sure to inform your employees of such changes in an adequate fashion. They should know how such changes affect their work and their health and safety.
What you should do if you have concerns about your workplace health and safety?
If concerns arise about your workplace health and safety, there are a number of steps you can take. The best approach is always to speak to your supervisor or manager. They are in the best position to take immediate action to rectify the situation. This is especially important if you believe the concern is time-sensitive.
If you believe your concerns are not being addressed, you might want to take further action. If, despite notice, the safety concern has not been dealt with, you can take further steps. This includes contacting the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). They are responsible for the enforcement of health and safety laws in the workplace. Reaching out to the HSE may help initiate the action needed to minimise risk.
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