Health & Safety in the workplace protects both employees and employers. As an employer, you are duty bound to provide a safe place for people to work. As an employee, you need to know that your place of work is not likely to cause you harm. You have Health & Safety responsibilities too and
Legal Requirements for Health & Safety in the Workplace
Since 1974, there has been a law in place to protect employees and it’s important that employers understand their obligations. Although The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 is lengthy, it is comprehensive and easy to follow. It is also flexible enough to be applied to any size organisation. Size of company is no excuse for unsafe work practices.
How Does The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 Safeguard Employees?
The Act applies to all employers, no matter how many employees they have or what your line of business is. A building contractor has the same duty of care as a firm of solicitors. As an employer, you are responsible for the protection of all your employees as well as any members of the public, including visitors, who might be affected by their work.
Employers must tell employees about any matters affecting their wellbeing. They must also tell employees about their own Health & Safety responsibilities – it’s not reasonable for an employee to expect their employer to be accountable for every single action they undertake in the workplace. Each employee needs to take reasonable care to make sure they, their fellow workers and any members of the public remain safe.
Some Key Takeaways From the Act
The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 introduced the concept of criminal liability – prior to then, employers weren’t held criminally liable for accidents in the workplace.
The onus of proof is on the employer to prove they weren’t negligent and that reasonable care had been taken to avoid an accident.
The Health & Safety Inspectorate can enter a place of employment at any time to carry out a Health & Safety inspection and, if required, serve notice that practices are found to be dangerous.
The duties that fall on employers include taking reasonable care to make the workplace safe and healthy, keep dust and noise fumes under control and check staff are trained in the use of equipment. You can read the full Act here.
What Happens if Employers Don’t Meet Health & Safety Regulations?
Should an accident occur in the workplace, and the employer is found liable, they will at the very least be fined and a criminal prosecution may also follow, depending the severity of the injury caused. In 2019, the ten highest Health & Safety fines for UK companies totalled £16.9 million plus costs. And there were almost 400 prosecutions in 2018/19, resulting in an average fine of £15,000 per conviction. Could your business afford either the fine or the negative publicity? Some Health & Safety breaches result in loss of life or life changing injuries, hence the large numbers.
It is not acceptable for any employer to expect their employees to work in an unsafe environment. Or to be exposed to conditions which may lead to debilitating injuries and illnesses. The good news is that Maltby Professional Services can help you implement Health & Safety procedures for you and your employees. We are experts in the Health & Safety industry. Take a look at what we offer or call or email to discuss your needs. We are here for you!