When running a business and employing individuals, there is a fundamental responsibility that should never be overlooked – health and safety.
From the moment you hire someone and assign them tasks or equipment, you become legally responsible for ensuring their safety. This responsibility covers everything from conducting risk assessments to establishing a safe system of work, and it's not just a formality; it's a critical aspect of being an employer.
In this blog, we'll explore the vital elements of health and safety in the workplace, highlighting the role of leadership, the importance of documentation, and the practical steps involved in creating a culture of safety.
Health and Safety is your legal responsibility.
As soon as you employ someone and give them a task (from basic movement of goods to working at height) or equipment to use (ranging from basic tools such as a hammer to machinery or a vehicle) you, the employer, become legally responsible for ensuring that everything is risk assessed and that your safe system of work is both communicated to, and understood by, the employee.
Responsibility for Health and Safety begins with the leadership team and should be communicated from the top down; anyone in a managerial position should be aware of this, and take it seriously. Health and Safety is an integral part of their role as a manager and will be part of their job description.
Robust documentation is key.
Employees may grumble that Health and Safety documentation is a chore, but the content is only there if absolutely required (and remember, your Stallard Kane Health & Safety Advisor is always there to help).
The detail needed for each procedure is assessed and tailored according to the tasks and environment; one size does not fit all.
Our content is taken from a range of sources, including HSE guidance, ACOPs (Approved Codes of Practice) and the current legislation, which we then interpret to ensure you are meeting all your legal and recommended requirements.
Obtaining the correct documentation is crucial but not the final goal. It must then be communicated to your employees, who should be given the opportunity to review the content and ask questions. Once communicated, you need to evidence this. A signature beneath the standard statement ‘I have read, understood and will adhere to the content’ will suffice.
Moving forward, it is your responsibility to ensure that employees adhere to the content, whether it be the controls stated in the risk assessment or the safe system of work. You should do this by regular auditing and recording those audits.
Plan, Do, Check and Act
Companies can fall at various stages of the process:
No documentation in place
Documentation in place but not communicated to employees
Initial issuing of documentation but no refresher communications
No auditing of the systems against the documentation
If information has been communicated, but the content is not being adhered to, then you need to find out why. Perhaps the employees have taken it upon themselves to do things differently; this could be because they want to save time, believe they know better or are simply resistant to change.
Alternatively, it may be that the process genuinely no longer works. At this point, communication is key. Take feedback on board and investigate.
If something needs to be changed, you should risk assess prior to the change, make the necessary updates and then communicate these to your employees. However, you will only identify issues if you conduct audits of the documents against the actual performance of the task.
Alongside looking at your operatives, it is best to look at your managers; are they supportive and proactive regarding Health and Safety? Do they actively promote safe, compliant practices? If not, you need to start here. Our Training Team can deliver a wide range of courses to support your entire team. Contact email@example.com to discuss any training needs you may have.
If you require support regarding health and safety in the workplace, documentation, audits and the practical steps involved in creating a culture of safety, then contact firstname.lastname@example.org, and one of the team will be able to help you.
About the author
This article is provided by our sister company, Stallard Kane, a specialist risk management service provider offering expert advice and solutions in Health and Safety, HR, Risk Solutions and Training. This article is for general guidance only and aims to provide general information on a relevant topic in a concise form. This article should not be regarded as advice in relation to a particular circumstance. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific advice.
If you want a truly personalised service, contact your usual Towergate advisor today who can put you in touch with Stallard Kane’s HR Team to discuss your requirements – call 01427 420 403 or email email@example.com, and #oneoftheteam will be happy to help.