Last year in the UK, 147 workers were tragically killed in the workplace 70,000 more serious workplace injuries met the criteria for reporting to the Health & Safety Executive and nearly 600,000 people self-reported workplace injuries of some sort. Workplace Safety isn’t just about guarding against physical injury, a staggering 1.4 million UK workers are currently suffering from a work-related illness.
Centurion Alba works with employers in all industries and sectors to minimise the risk of work related injuries and ill-health in their workplace. This article looks at the need for workplace health and safety and the many ways in which we can help your organisation. Every workplace fatality and injury is preventable and our Chartered Safety and Health Practitioners are genuinely passionate working with organisations to keep their workforce safe and health and businesses reputable and productive.
What is health and safety in the workplace?
Workplace health and safety is everything that is involved in maintaining a safe place of work, free from accidents, injuries and occupational ill-health. The subject will mean different things for different people dependant upon the nature of their work. This specialism covers everything from the ergonomic assessment of an office workstation to the safe keeping of a hazardous biological agent in a research laboratory.
The provision of a safe place of work is a statutory requirement mandated by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and a whole raft of secondary legislation or ‘statutory instruments‘ which fall under the remit of the 1974 Act. The Health and Safety Executive the UK Governments regulator of Health & Safety is is responsible for the ownership and regulatory enforcement of some 100 regulations.
Who is responsible for workplace health and safety?
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 places the legal responsibilities for ensuring the health, safety and welfare of and organisation’s employees onto the employer. Who is the employer I hear you ask?
Although many organisations are a legal entity in their own right, in the context of health and safety, the term ’employer’ extends to mean an individual director, company secretary or manager; these individuals can be held criminally responsible for health and safety offences. Section 37 of the 1974 Act places the accountability for offences onto those individuals in control of the organisations under certain circumstances:
(1) Where an offence under any of the relevant statutory provisions committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to have been attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate or a person who was purporting to act in any such capacity, he as well as the body corporate shall be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.Section 37 – Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
(2) Where the affairs of a body corporate are managed by its members, the preceding subsection shall apply in relation to the acts and defaults of a member in connection with his functions of management as if he were a director of the body corporate.
Why is health and safety important in the workplace?
Within the introduction of this topic we cover the real-life implications of poor health and safety management. 147 fatalities last year and nearly 600,000 injured workers.
Aside from the tragic human toll of loss, suffering and grief, there are some very substantial business and economic costs associated with injury and ill-health in the workplace. Workplace injury and new cases of work-related ill health cost the UK economy £15.0 billion a year. Many businesses who experience a fatality in the workplace or accident resulting in serious injury never recover.
Health and safety penalties and prosecutions
A breach of health and safety law is a criminal offence and can attract substantial fines for a business. Where the case against a director can be proven, courts may impose a custodial sentence of up to 2-years and/or an unlimited fine.
Pinset Masons a a law firm which specialises in health and safety has published an excellent article summarising the legal implications of health and safety offences.
Fine associated with health and safety offence have risen steeply in recent years following a review of the Sentencing Guidelines. The Health and Safety Offences, Corporate Manslaughter and Food Safety and Hygiene Offences guidelines now require courts to consider the level of culpability, potential for actual harm, companies turnover and mitigating factors. For instance, the fine range for a small business with high-culpability and a high potential for harm is £170,000 – £1,600,000. And this isn’t an extreme example, high culpability can be associated with a case wherby the company has simply failed to put in place measures that are recognised standards in the industry.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that fines issued by the court following a prosecution under health and safety law are not insurable or recoverable under your companies insurance policies.
Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992
Turning more specifically to our ‘places of work’, the shops, factories, schools, hospitals and other premises where we carry out work activities, the Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992 set out a wide range of basic health, safety and welfare standards.
This statutory legislation places additional duties on the employer with respect to their work facilities and premises. Some of the many topics covered in these regulations include:
- Maintenance of the workplace
- Cleanliness and waste
- Workstations and seating
- Conditions of floors
- Falls and falling objects
- Access to toilets
- Washing facilities
- Drinking water
- Facilities for changing
It’s expected that employers provide not only safe systems of work but also a work environment which fundamentally clean, safe and secure.
Workplace Health and Safety Training
There are specific duties under numerous health and safety regulations as well as the overarching Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, to provide adequate health and safety training. Again this is a statutory requirement and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, explicitly outline when training is required. Such circumstances include:
- When a new employee is recruited
- When an employee is exposed to new or increased risks, such as
- when given new responsibilities
- the introduction of new equipment
- the introduction of new technology
- when changing to a new ‘safe system of work’
The regulations require that training is repeated periodically where appropriate, be adapted to take account of new or changed risks and be completed in work time.
Centurion Alba provide a broad range of workplace health and safety training including face-to-face courses and online training. We are also an IOSH Accredited Training Provider. Below is an introduction to our online training catalogue.
Expert Workplace Health and Safety Consultancy
Centurion Alba Consulting Ltd is a health and safety consultancy specialising in the provision of health and safety advice and support to small and medium businesses across the UK. Our expert Chartered Safety and Health Practitioners have knowledge and experience of a complete range of workplace health and safety topics.
Get in touch with us today for a free no-obligation consultation to discuss you business needs and how our professional advisers can support you in meeting your workplace health and safety goals.
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