Put simply, in accordance with health and safety law, an employer must make the workplace a safe environment to work and visit, and take steps to reduce the risk of injuries.
The law states that an employer must take measures to reduce any risks or dangers in the workplace that could cause harm to employees, customers or visitors alike. They should also ensure that employees are made aware of the working practices they should follow to minimise the chance of injuring themselves or others. If a serious accident occurs, an employer has to notify the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or the local authority regarding the incident.
In order to make sure the workplace is safe, you are expected to carry out a risk assessment. This involves noting down any potential hazards in the workplace and figuring out the best way to reduce or remove the risk they pose.
Risks can be all sorts of things, not all of them obvious. You shouldn’t just consider the potential danger of toxic chemicals or heavy machinery, but also look into the way employees work and listen to any concerns they have.
An employer must make the workplace a safe environment to work and visit, and take steps to reduce the risk of injuries
When carrying out a risk assessment, you should:
- Find and note any potential dangers;
- Establish the potential for harm, and who is at risk;
- Look at the protective measures in place, considering whether they work effectively or if improvements or new measures are required;
- Keep records of risk assessments and review the situation if significant changes take place which may mean that new risks develop.
Accidents at work
If there is an accident, you need to contact the HSE if:
- It causes major injuries or someone’s death;
- Leads to the victim being off work or unable to do their normal job for more than seven days following the injury;
- Causes injuries to a member of the public (i.e. not a worker) that lead to them being taken to hospital for treatment.
Employers are also required to report what are known as ‘dangerous occurrences’, the HSE’s definition of which includes a variety of incidents in which people could have been badly injured, even if they weren’t. You must also report certain occupational diseases in your workers if such conditions could have been caused or worsened by their jobs.
All employers must ensure that immediate medical help is available if anyone should be injured or becomes ill at work. They are required to do this by making certain first aid provisions available for use if someone suffers a minor injury, or while medical professionals are en-route if a more serious incident occurs.
At the very least, employers must supply:
- A first aid box.
- An on-site individual trained in first aid.
- Relevant information on the first aid provisions available.
The first aid box should, at a minimum, contain:
- A leaflet giving general first aid guidance.
- 20 assorted plasters.
- 4 sterile triangular bandages.
- A pair of disposable gloves.
- 6 safety pins.
- 6 medium sterile dressings.
- 2 large sterile dressings.
- 2 sterile eye pads.
Note that a first-aider does not necessarily have to be fully trained, but there must be someone in charge of giving medical help in the workplace. If they are absent, then someone must take the lead in arranging for medical assistance if necessary.
Finally, you should also carry out a first aid assessment to decide what may be needed in their particular workplace. If the employees in a particular workplace regularly carry out potentially hazardous tasks, an assessment could show that more specialised medical equipment and a fully-trained first-aider should be located on site, for example.
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Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created. Note that the information was accurate at the time of publication but laws may have since changed.