Health and Safety at Work: UK Overview

by BritanniaSafety on October 9, 2012

Health and safety training often receives a certain amount of ‘bad press’ due to the fact that it is often branded as pointless and “purely common sense”. However, in the UK, employers are bound by health and safety laws and regulations placing importance on health and safety training and awareness. Even if it is considered to be a so-called “waste of time” figures prove otherwise, with the statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), an organisation providing authority and council on health and safety issues in the UK, showing that the number of fatalities and people injured while at work has been in decline since the increased awareness of health and safety issues.

So what exactly does the law say on the matter? There have been updates to the Health and Safety at Work Act since it was published in 1974, but the main principle has remained very much the same. It states that:

It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.

As this is a legal requirement, all employers must consider health and safety in the workplace and put into place different steps to ensure that no harm comes to their employees while at work. If employers do not comply with the regulations, there are a number of serious consequences which may occur. Firstly, if an incident were to occur on-site and it was found that there was no health and safety procedures in place the company may well be liable for the incident which can lead to a hefty legal case and possible compensation claim. Other sanctions could include fines, imprisonment and even disqualification.

With the failure to comply with health and safety legislation so great there are a number of options available to companies to ensure that they are providing a safe working environment for employees. One option is the inclusion of a robust health and safety system which includes health and safety training for staff members. Health and safety training is recommended by the HSE, as giving staff members knowledge and awareness about the risks they face in the workplace only heightens the importance to follow any safety procedures that are in place. Unfortunately, health and safety training and policy is not ‘one size fits all’ so to make sure that you’re living up to your responsibilities you either need to find someone externally to help you manage risks or to train a member of staff up in-house to complete any necessary health and safety projects.

A large part of any health and safety training will include risk assessment. Risk assessments are extremely important when looking to comply with legislation because it is here where you are going to be able to identify the hazards and dangers your company’s staff members face. As well as carrying out the risk assessments, health and safety training will cover the options available to you once they have been identified. It may be a case of ensuring that staff members have knowledge about how to use safety equipment effectively and securely, or that some work is only undertaken in certain circumstances. Health and safety training can help you to create a safe working environment.

Health and safety is not a joke and should be taken seriously by all businesses – no matter what area they are working in. Even if you consider your business to be of low risk, lack of vigilance is what leads to accidents in the workplace.

About the Author: Britannia Safety and Training offer health and safety training in Norfolk. Health and safety experts, their state of the art training facilities allow course delegates to concentrate on the practical elements as well as the theoretical elements of health and safety training. Their aim is to help reduce the number of accidents which take place in the workplace as well as ensuring that organisations comply with the health and safety regulations expected of them.

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