Thorough processes for health and safety at work are not only good practice, it is something companies are required to do by law. There are specific laws and acts covering all industries – and to understand what is required of your business, you need to find the standards and laws that are relevant to your industry.
The Health and Safety At Work Act
Regardless of industry however, all businesses should be aware of the ‘Health and Safety at Work Act’ of 1974.This act covers all businesses and outlines legal requirements for all companies. There have been several amendments to this regulation over the years, so it’s important that you read most up to date version, which as of writing, was released in 2011.
The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) is also referred to as:
2. HSW Act
The Act covers what needs to be done by businesses to ensure all their workers can operate in a safe and risk free environment. The act details the appointment of a health and safety officer, and what their role and responsibilities are. Of course, it is not only management that sets the precedent when it comes to health and safety – well-trained employees are vital in the identification and reporting of possible health and safety risks.
Your Obligation as a Business
The standards laid down by the HSE are not amendable. They represent a set of legal responsibilities that are designed to protect you as an employer, the people that work for you and anyone else that may visit your premises – for example: suppliers, external contractors and the general public. Listed below are just a few of the obligations you’ll need to be able to fulfil:
1. Providing suitable first aid facilities
2. Creating emergency plans
3. Providing your employees with equipment, materials and training to protect them at work
4. Making sure the right equipment is available for staff
5. Ensuring potentially hazardous materials are stored out of harm’s way
There are a number of other acts which cover health and safety at work. Some of these acts are industry specific, while others are more general. The regulations change from time to time and it’s important to stay as up to date as possible; in fact, it is your legal responsibility.
In April 2013 the Health and Safety Miscellaneous Repeals, Revocations and Amendments Regulations came into effect. The changes set forth in this regulation did not affect most industries, as itrelated primarily to the Factories Act of 1961.
Other laws and regulations which came into effect at the start of 2013 relate to the Oil and Gas industry. These regulations outline offshore health and safety.
Health and Safety legislation often changes, which is why your business needs to stay up to date with the latest proposals – regardless of whether they are at draft stage or passed. This will enable you to plan for known eventualities. One of the most important forthcoming changes in discussion at the moment is whether the HSE should continue to select training bodies for employers – or whether, in fact, they should be able to make this selection themselves. This improved flexibility within the HSE framework would enable your business to control the cost of such training and develop external relationships based on a range of other individual preferences.