RIS Group


Making Safety Simple

Alex Mchugh - Monday, October 14, 2013


All you need to know about the basics of health and safety

Who to Put in Control

Appointing a person to cover your health and safety needs is not a difficult task. It could either be yourself if you are competent enough to do so, an employee(s) who you trust and is also competent enough to complete health and safety tasks, or an external body. A competent person would be someone with experience, knowledge and the correct skills to manage health and safety.

Health & Safety Policies

Your company must have a written health and safety policy if you have 5 or more employees. The document should consist of a description of how you manage your workplace health and safety and let staff know that you are committed to health and safety. This document does not need to be long or complicated, it just needs to be followed by your employees and reviewed on a regular basis.

Managing Your Risks

You know what the risks are in your business. You know what is within your business, what might cause harm to employees, and whether you are doing enough to prevent that harm. All of this is documented in a risk assessment. Once these risks are identified, you or your competent health and safety advisor need to decide how you are going to control them and what appropriate measures are going to be put in place.

Again, a risk assessment doesn’t have to be a massive document; it just needs to be detailed and understandable for your employees to know how to work safely and know where the risks are for the less experienced members of staff. Law doesn’t state that all risks need to be removed from your workplace, but to protect people by controlling them. Risk Assessments should be reviewed on a regular basis, to make sure all risks are being documented and controlled.

Assessing Risk in your Workplace

Begin with a site inspection, a visual tour of your company’s workplace and look for any hazards – anything that may cause harm. What risks do you see – the chance, high or low, of someone being hurt by that hazard. Then consider who will be harmed. Ask employees about what hazards they believe are in the workplace as they may have some you may have missed. Consider measures that are already in place incase there is some way you could make the workplace even safer. After putting the appropriate measures in place make sure you record your findings.

Training and Information

You must provide appropriate instruction, information and training to all of your employees. This includes any contractors or self-employed workers that are working for you. The information and training must include: the hazards and risks of your workplace, measures in place to deal with hazards, and emergency procedures. Any training must be done in work hours and there can be no charge given to employees.

Workplace Facilities

For your employees will be you need to provide:

  • toilets and hand basins, with soap and towels or a hand-dryer;
  • drinking water;
  • a place to store clothing (and somewhere to change if special clothing is worn for work);
  • somewhere to rest and eat meals.

To have a healthy working environment, make sure there is:

  • good ventilation – a supply of fresh, clean air drawn from outside or a ventilation system;
  • a reasonable working temperature (usually at least 16°C, or 13°C for strenuous work, unless other laws require lower temperatures);
  • lighting suitable for the work being carried out;
  • enough room space and suitable workstations and seating;
  • a clean workplace with appropriate waste containers.  

To keep your workplace safe you must:

  • properly maintain your premises and work equipment;
  • keep floors and traffic routes free from obstruction;
  • have windows that can be opened and also cleaned safely;
  • make sure that any transparent (eg glass) doors or walls are protected or made of safety material.

First Aid Basics

As an employer you are responsible for the immediate care of your employee when they have had an accident. As a minimum you must provide: a suitable stocked first aid box, an appointed person to be in charge of the first aid box, information of details around the first aid box. You should have at least one first aider on site with you at all time, but after that there is no law on how many first aiders should be there. The best way to manage this would be by looking at the likelihood of risks, to the number of people on site.  

Keep up to Date

And finally keep up to date with all of your information and procedures. New employees, new machinery, new tasks should all be monitored, documented and reviewed on a regular basis and ensure that your workplace is as safe as possible and that your employees are working safety too.