Workplace health and safety
Often small changes can make all the difference in improving peoples working lives and achieving better performance for your business.
Consulting employees on health and safety matters can be very important in creating and maintaining a safe and healthy working environment.
By consulting employees, an employer should motivate staff and make them aware of health and safety issues. Businesses can become more efficient and reduce the number of accident and work-related illnesses.
By law, employers must consult all of their employees on health and safety matters.
Some workers who are self-employed, for example for tax purposes, are classed as employed under health and safety law.
Fire safety in the workplace
Fire safety is enforced primarily by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, and should you require further help or advise you should contact them.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 emphasises preventing fires and reducing risk and makes it the responsibility of the proprietor to ensure the safety of everyone who uses their premises and in the immediate vicinity.
All businesses must now undertake a risk assessment, considering 3 main areas:
- Manual systems
- Electrical systems
- Automatic systems
As part of the fire risk assessment, you may have concluded that Emergency Lighting is necessary to adequately illuminate the escape routes from the premises in order for people to safely use the escape routes.
You should consider whether, in the event of a fire occurring, all persons in the premises could leave safely and reach a place of safety.
The first aid at work regulations 1981 state that all workplaces must have first aid provision. The form it should take depends on:
- the nature and degree of hazards at work
- whether there is shift work involved
- what medical services are available
- the number of employees
An appointed person is recommended, he or she will take charge of the situation (e.g. to call an ambulance) if there is a serious injury or an illness.
If no trained first aider is available, or if you have less than 50 employees in a low hazard workplace, there must always be an appointed person present when people are at work.
Emergency first aid training should be considered for all appointed persons.
A first aider is a person who has undergone training and obtained a certificate of qualification which is approved by the Health and Safety Executive.
In a workplace of low hazard (e.g. a bank or office) at least one first aider will be required if there are more than 50 employees.
In a more hazardous workplace, such as a factory, a larger number will be required.
Health and safety management
Safety management is key to the performance of your business.
Companies with good health and safety management systems are usually profitable and competitive in the market place. There are five steps to a safety management system:
- Set your policy - this should influence all your work activities
- Organise your staff - get your staff involved and create a positive safety culture
- Plan and set standards
- Measure your performance
- Learn from experience
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 provides a comprehensive guide to health and safety management.
Train your workers
You are legally required to provide training for your employees to ensure they know how to work safely and without risks to health. They must know:
- what hazards and risks they may face;
- how to deal with them; and
- any emergency procedures
As an employer or a self employed person, you will need to keep yourself up to date with your legal duties and know how to identify hazards and control risks arising from your work.
All employees should be given induction training when they first start work. This should cover basic health and safety procedures including the arrangements for first aid, fire, evacuation and any company rules.
You should identify the skills and knowledge needed for people to carry out their work safely and compare these against people's current skills and knowledge and identify the gaps.
Your risk assessments and your accident book will also help you to identify areas where further training is required.
You must keep records of all training so that you can see when it might need to be repeated.
Welfare at work - cold working temperatures
During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings must be reasonable.
The regulation depends on the nature of the workplace, such as a bakery, a cold store, an office or a warehouse may not be practical to provide heating in some of these rooms.
The temperature in workrooms needs to provide reasonable comfort without the need for special clothing.
Where such a temperature is impractical because of hot or cold processes, all reasonable steps should be taken to achieve a temperature which is as close as possible to comfortable.
Workplaces must have suitable and sufficient lighting to enable people to work, use facilities and move about safely.
Good lighting, whether natural or artificial, plays an important part in promoting health and safety in the workplace.
It helps people see and avoid hazards and it can reduce the likelihood of eyestrain, headaches and migraines.
Toilets and washing facilities
Employers must provide adequate toilet and washing facilities for their employees. The law requires provision of the following:
- enough toilets and washbasins for those expected to use them - people should not have to queue for long periods to go to the toilet;
- where possible separate facilities for men and women- failing that rooms with lockable doors;
- clean facilities - the surfaces of the internal walls and floors should permit wet cleaning e.g. ceramic tiles;
- a supply of toilet paper and, for female employees, a means for disposing sanitary dressings;
- rooms containing facilities that are sufficiently ventilated and lit;
- enough soap or other washing agents;
- a means for drying hands e.g. paper towels or hot air dryer;
- facilities with hot and cold running water;
- a basin large enough to wash hands and forearms, if necessary;
- showers where necessary, eg if the work is particularly dirty.
Special provision should be made if necessary for those with disabilities.
Young persons at work
Young people, especially those new to the workplace, will encounter unfamiliar risks from the jobs they will be doing and from the working environment.
Health and safety law defines people by age:
- a young person is anyone under eighteen years of age (young people);
- a child is anyone who has not yet reached the official age at which they may leave school, also referred to as the minimum school leaving age (MSLA)
Children in work
No young person under the age of 13 can be employed.
A young person aged 14 or over can only be employed in permitted light work. A young person aged 13 years can only be employed in permitted light work specified in the local byelaws.
- Newspaper delivery
- Shop work
- Office work
- Car washing by hand in a private residential setting
- Work in a café or restaurant (not in the kitchen)
- Work in riding stables
- Domestic work in hotels and other establishments offering accommodation
Children are prohibited in employment where heavy physical work takes place, jobs using dangerous or complex machinery and jobs involving a possible moral risk to the young person.
Employers must send written notification to your local Child Employment and Entertainment Officer within a week of employing a young person.
The form must be completed by both the employer and the parents of the child.
If there are no problems with the proposed employment the young person will be issued with a certificate. A copy will also be sent to you as the employer and the young person's school will be notified.
Further queries relating to Child Employment must be directed to the Child Employment and Entertainment Officer at Lancashire County Council.
Making a complaint about working conditions
To make a complaint about working conditions, including dangerous activities, please complete our online form.
Consulting employees on health and safety - Health and Safety Executive website
Means of escape for disabled people - GOV.UK
Basic advice on first aid at work - Health and Safety Executive website
First aid at work - Health and Safety Executive website