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Health and Safety at work – what you need to know
Posted by David Cant on February 7, 2011
1 Comment

Modern health and safety at work is of stark contrast to health and safety in the past. In today’s society, it is more prevalent than ever. There are many laws, rules and regulations in place with the aim of achieving three aims:

1). Protecting the safety, welfare and health of both employers and employees
2). Protecting the health and safety of customers
3). Protecting anyone else in any way effected by a workplace environment

It’s obviously impossible to 100% guarantee the safety of any employee in any normal workplace. However, the aim of health and safety at work is to minimise risk as much as possible. With minimised risk, there are fewer possibilities of accidents, and any potential damage can be limited.

The UK law

There are six primary sets of health and safety regulations, these are:

  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
  • Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
  • Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
  • Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
  • Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992

Along with these primary regulations, there are also a wide range of different additional regulations to cover specific workplace situations. These relate to such things as transport of dangerous goods, lifting equipment, control of lead, control of asbestos, control of vibration, dangerous substances, ionising radiation, confined spaces, working at height and many more.

The most common applications of health and safety at work

Health and safety plays a part in literally hundreds, if not thousands of different workplace activities and scenarios. Here are some examples of the most common situations:

Hygiene not only protects employees, but it also protects customers – especially if the business provides food products.

The extent of hygiene protection depends on the nature of the business. If it’s a simple office environment, then adequate sanitation and cleaning should be provided. When it comes to business involved in food, strict procedures and equipment must ensure that conditions are extremely clean at all times. A business will have to be registered and certified by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or your local council authority. Some workplaces may also be subject to an on-premises inspection.

Workplace injuries
The concept of workplace injuries can vary massively. However, they must always be controlled. In an office, there are risks associated with falling, tripping, slipping or collisions with objects. In restaurants and kitchens, there’s the high risk of burns and cuts. In industry and construction, there are potentially fatal risks involved in dealing with heavy-duty tools, heavy weights and large heights.

Depending on the type of workplace environment, health and safety at work can vary from simple practices through to regulated procedures and comprehensive safety equipment.

Fire and emergency procedures
No matter what the workplace environment is like, sufficient entrance and exit procedures should always be planned. In the event of a fire or emergency, unrestricted escape routes should be identified and maintained. An emergency procedure and meeting point should also be identified.

When it comes to fire protection, suitable equipment and instructions must be provided to deal with any foreseeable situation – including fire extinguishers, fire blankets and a sprinkler or smoke detection system.

Other problems

Health and safety at work isn’t just about the usual accidents. There are also other problems which can result from the conditions of a workplace environment. Such problems include:

Repetitive strain injury – Perhaps from the overuse of a keyboard or machinery
Headaches and eye strain – Often due to the excessive use of visual display units and inadequate breaks
Stress and workplace anxiety – Can be caused by the stress levels of an occupation or relationships with managers and other staff
Asthma and breathing problems – Sometimes caused by over-exposure to certain gases, chemicals and even dust
Back pain – Inadequate seating or unusual working positions can create acute and chronic back pain

What does the Health and Safety executive (HSE) require from you?

An appointed competent person
Health and Safety at work regulations requires all employers to assign one or more people to assist in health and safety management. These people are known as competent persons.
When it comes to abiding with health and safety law, the responsibility lies with the employer.

However, an employer may fulfil these responsibilities in a number of ways – whether a staff member is trained with the knowledge, or whether certain procedures (such as risk assessments and a competent person) are outsourced to a health and safety consultant who can handle everything for you and make sure that you’re correctly abiding to health and safety law.

Agreement with the law

No matter what sort of business you own, there will always be some form of health and safety regulation to follow. If you aren’t fully aware of your obligations, you could be breaking the law.

Veritas Consulting can provide very affordable competent person services, along with a full range of health and safety services to make sure you’re abiding to the rules and regulations. Click here to contact us.


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Workplace Safety

One Comment

  1. February 15, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Good thing that the managers at our office have hired a cleaning company to clean around the office. But it still can’t prevent the company from losing workers on a sick leave. Which I think is something you will find absolutely ordinary considering the fact that all of us are working in a big open space office.

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