The law requires employers to be responsible for the management of health and safety within the workplace. They must protect the health, safety, and welfare of their staff, including those people who are part of the business operation. Employers should, therefore, implement practices to achieve this. These practices should include making sure that all workers are protected from anything that could put them in danger while working.
Employers should effectively control any risks to harm, injury, or anything that could affect their health and safety. They must also conduct risk assessment within the workplace and address the risks that could put the employees in danger. Employers are also responsible for providing information about any possible workplace risks and how to avoid them by providing accessible health and safety training courses that cover the statutory and mandatory legislation.
Here’s a guide to mandatory health and safety that all employers in the UK must be aware of.
Effective fire safety is very important in any business and should be a top priority for every employer. Data shows that businesses in the UK are losing about £8.3 billion each year due to fire. Therefore, it is truly important to ensure that your company has put in place effective fire protection measures.
To ensure safety in the workplace, employers should implement a fire safety plan that every employee should be made aware of. As part of the Regulatory Form on Fire Safety, Order 2005, fire safety signs should be installed on-site that provide the following information:
- Emergency exits and escape routes in case of fire.
- Visual markers indicating where fire fighting equipment is located.
- Practical ways to raising the alarm
There’s no uniform solution to preventing fire at the workplace because every individual business can have its own unique set risk of fire hazards. For instance, shops and retail stores have to be mindful of the flammable materials on display. Meanwhile, companies that deal with flammable and combustible liquids must implement ways to eliminate ignition sources that could inflame fire.
Accidents and emergencies can happen anytime at work, whether in an office setting or in a factory that utilizes dangerous machinery. Therefore, employers should have first aid provisions in place to deal with any emergencies. Sometimes, these accidents can be severe, so having the right first air response would be essential to save lives.
Proper planning is important when setting up first aid provisions at work. The UK Government has set up some laws that businesses should follow in terms of workplace health and safety, which also extends to first aid provision. The main components of these provisions are mostly covered by the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981. It states that employers, including small businesses, must conduct appropriate provisions in dealing with incidents that require first aid response.
Employers should conduct first aid assessment to identify what needs to be done in terms of providing first aid. The assessment would require going around the workplace to identify any possible risk. This can also help you to decide what to include in the first aid kit and if any of your staff should undergo first aid training.
Manual Handling in the Workplace
As an employer, it is your responsibility to keep your workers protected from danger, especially if their work involves manual handling of hazardous materials. Manual handling means transporting and handling materials by hand. It may also require lifting, pushing, and carrying loads.
The UK Government has provided a set of provisions on how employers should deal with the risks that come with manual handling in the workplace. These provisions include the following:
- Avoid hazardous manual handling if possible.
- Assess the risk of injury resulting from hazardous manual handling operations.
- Minimize the risk of injury that could stem from hazardous manual handling operations.
The weight of the load that will be manually handled will also matter, but the law did not specifically identify any limit on the weight.
Employers have legal duties to assess the risks posed on the health and safety of their employees. When carrying out the risk assessment, employers must consult the employees as well as the health and safety representatives. Employees doing manual labour are aware first-hand of any risk involved, so it makes sense to consult them during a risk assessment. They are more likely to understand the procedures that were put in place to minimize the risks if they have been involved in the development of health and safety practices.
Consultation with employees must form part of the general process of risk assessment. After the general risk assessment that the employers will conduct, employees must perform a second brief assessment of the risks.
Employers in the UK must also be aware of Standard Infection Control Precautions (SICP) and Transmission Based Precautions (TBP). The SICPs consist of the basic infection prevention and control measures that are necessary to minimize the risk of transmission of infectious agents within the workplace. Everyone must follow these measures whether there is a known infection or not.
Some of the most common sources of infection are body fluids or blood, mucous membranes, non-intact skin, and any equipment in the workplace that might be possibly contaminated. The SICPs cover a wide range of measures when it comes to preventing infection. These include proper hand hygiene, such as regular washing of hands. When coughing or sneezing, everyone must cover his or her mouth and nose and used tissues must be immediately disposed to the nearest waste bin.
Wearing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) might also be necessary to avoid getting into contact with blood or body fluids that may contain infectious agents. This is especially important during this time of the Covid-19 pandemic. Wearing of PPE will keep everyone protected from the virus that could spread rapidly in the workplace. Employers must be able to provide the necessary PPE to their employees. The most common items of PPE that workers may be required to wear to stop the spread of the virus are disposable gloves, surgical mask, face protection, and disposable apron or gown.