Overview of Health and Safety in UK Workplaces
Under the main piece of UK legislation that makes health and safety law, The Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) 1974, an employer must protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees.
What Happens if We Don’t Follow Health and Safety Law?
If an employer fails to do so they will be held accountable in one of two ways. Firstly, a regulator such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or local authority can take action under criminal law by pursuing penalty or prosecution.
Secondly, under civil law, a person(s) affected by illness or injury in the workplace may act in the form of a compensation claim.
How Many People Suffer Work-Related Illness and Injuries?
In 2019/2020, 1.6 million working people suffered from work-related illness and 696,000 sustained an injury whilst at work. Nevertheless, there are several ways to ensure the H&S implementation process is being accomplished in compliance with government guidelines and administered correctly.
As a result, ensuring H&S will help to minimise unnecessary risks to both employers and employees over the year.
What Are Good H&S Standards?
A good way to maintain H&S as a priority is by using monitoring practices within the workplace. Monitoring may include physically checking for hazards and inspecting the workplace for risks in general.
This can help to decrease the statistic of the single most common cause of major injury in the UK workplace, slips, trips and falls, accounting for 29% of all accidents and injuries each year.
How Else Can this Help?
It can also identify potential pitfalls within the workplace that may already exist that need addressing.
What Are Health and Safety Risk Assessments?
Another way in which H&S at work can be implemented is through creating an H&S plan including risk assessments where appropriate to control and subsequently eliminate potential risks or hazards in the workplace.
This means introducing, initiating, maintaining and ensuring policies, measures and procedures are up to date, appropriate and are being enforced and checked regularly.
Consulting with Employees on Health and Safety
An extremely important way in which H&S can be implemented is through employee consultation.
Workers should and can be consulted on the topic of H&S, both specific to the work they do and in general.
It will ratify a higher level of standard practises within the workplace by providing the best, up to date information and training on H&S procedures and policies.
This may also be initiated by holding regular meetings to gain suggestions from employees and show that management care about the safety and well-being of their staff.
It is important to maintain up to date records on H&S, including the occurrence of incidents and when H&S training has been completed by employees.
Records can also be kept by employers on concerns that have been raised. This helps to increase the understanding of H&S amongst employees and within the workplace in general, thus helping to keep the number of avoidable incidents down.
Therefore, it should be seen that employers must do whatever is ‘reasonably practicable’ to maintain standards and make sure they are meeting government guidelines on H&S within the workplace for both the protection of themselves and their duty of care to people in their employ.
Further areas on this website go into more detail on specific Health and Safety best practices for your organisation.