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11 health and safety questions managers must ask

21-06-2012

Photo shows workers in an officeManaging a workplace safely is crucial for business owners and managers. Not only are there laws to adhere to, but there’s the ethical considerations of workplace conditions, and valid financial concerns such as insurance and compensation.

Whilst some actions are not specified as legal requirements, employers do have a duty of care to look after health and safety at work as far as possible. Because this directive is unspecific, it’s wise for managers ask themselves the questions below, as a first step towards fulfilling this duty of care.

Do I know what is required of me?

Get some IOSH-accredited Health and Safety training to be sure of meeting legal requirements, protecting your staff, and reducing the risk of expensive incidents. Check DirectGov for an outline of your responsibilities.

Am I insured?

Make sure you have a valid certificate for Employers' Liability Insurance clearly displayed in your office

Am I meeting the basic needs of my employees?

An employer has a duty to meet basic needs for health, safety and welfare. This begins with providing access to drinking water, toilets and washing facilities, including for employees with disabilities.

Who is the company’s health and safety representative?

Elect a health and safety representative within the company, who can conduct a risk assessment (see below) and provide health and safety advice to others.

Have I informed my employees about Health and Safety law?

The HSE Health and Safety law poster should be displayed in the workplace, and your employees should be informed of any health and safety risks. If there are any risks, they need to have training in how they should be avoided. Regular consultations with employees are a must to make sure they are happy with the health and safety measures in the workplace.

Has a risk assessment been done?

An annual risk assessment should be carried out to identify and reduce health and safety hazards. This should be carried out by the Health and Safety representative once a year.

Do I have a health and safety policy?

If you have more than five employees, you need to have a formal health and safety policy, which must include a record of the findings from the risk assessment.

Do I provide adequate first-aid facilities?

You must appoint at least one person as being responsible for first aid arrangements. They do not need to have a qualification in first-aid, but giving them training for certification is advisable for most workplaces.

You must also provide employees with information about first-aid response and facilities, and a stocked first-aid box and information for employees. The contents of the first-aid box depend on the workplace and will depend on the outcome of the risk assessment.

Have I reported accidents or diseases?

Some types of accidents and diseases must be reported to the HSE.

Do my employees have somewhere to eat lunch?

Employees need somewhere to take breaks and eat meals – but this can include their desk.

Are temperatures at a comfortable level?

The legal minimum temperate is 13 degrees for workplaces involving physical work, and 16 for sedentary workplaces. Beyond this, employees must feel comfortable and the workplace must be adequately ventilated.

 

This post was written by Andy Trainer from Silicon Beach Training, leading providers of Health and Safety training and courses in other management skills.

 

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