• Health and Safety

  • The main duties of employing organisations are to:

    • provide all necessary Health and Safety information, instruction, training and supervision to enable individuals to be safe
    • provide and maintain a safe place of work with safe entry and exit
    • provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risk to health
    • provide and maintain systems of work that are safe
    • arrange for the safe use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances.

    Clearly, it is impossible to remove all risks and hazards from any working environment. The law recognises this and qualifies all the duties listed above with the term ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’. This means that the level of risk involved can be balanced against the time, trouble, cost and difficulty of taking measures to remove the risk. With some specific legislation, however, the duties are absolute, ie the cost of a preventative measure has no bearing upon whether it should be implemented. Health, safety and welfare policy

    The employer is obliged to produce a written safety policy that states the organisation’s commitment to the health, safety and welfare of its employees and others. The employer must state how health and safety is to be organised and by whom, and detail the arrangements for how health and safety is implemented (usually through site-specific rules and procedures).

    Recognised trade unions have the right to:

    • appoint safety representatives
    • require employers to establish safety committees.

    Employers are also required to consult with all employees on health and safety matters, including those who are not members of a trade union. This is especially important as the employee is often best placed to advise on control measures that are needed.

    The employer must consult and work in cooperation with trade union groups and employees when developing health and safety arrangements. Consultation must take place on:

    • changes which may substantially affect employees’ health and safety at work (eg changes in procedures, equipment or new technologies)
    • employer’s arrangements for appointing competent people to assist in complying with the law
    • information that employees are given on the likely risks and dangers from their work, and the control measures needed
    • planning of health and safety training. Health and safety poster

    A statutory health and safety poster must be displayed in all workplaces. This summarises employers’ and employees’ legal duties and confirms the necessity of risk assessments. The contact details of staff responsible for health and safety assistance at the workplace, the trade union representative and the relevant enforcing authority must also be listed.