Anyone that’s ever been involved in an accident at work will know how important it is for employers to implement proper health and safety measures in the workplace. If they don’t, they’re not only endangering your safety, they’re leaving themselves open to legal action.
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers must (insofar as it is legal and practical) provide:
- Equipment (including personal protective equipment/clothing), systems and works practices that are safe;
- Arrangements to ensure the safety and absence of dangers to health in connection with the use, handling and transport of articles and substances;
- Sufficient information, instruction, training and supervision to enable all your employees to avoid threats to health and safety and contribute positively, both as to their own health and safety at work and the safety of others who might be affected by working activities.
- A place of work (including means of access and exit) that is safe and without risk to health;
- Adequate welfare facilities
Employers should also ensure that they do the following, in order to fully comply with the points above:
- Carry out regular risk assessments in order to identify measures that need to be implemented to comply with all health and safety obligations;
- Provide a safe place of work by ensuring that all equipment, machinery, safety devices and means of entrance and exit to the workplace are safe;
- Provide any necessary safety equipment and clothing and appropriate instruction and training to ensure standards are complied with;
- Set up clear emergency procedures;
- Consult regularly with your employees to ensure that they are fully aware of safety matters and are in a position to communicate any concerns that they have so that there is full co-operation between you and them;
- If necessary, set up appropriate committees for you to consult with;
However, the onus here is never fully on an employer. After an employee has been trained and briefed on health and safety measures, they need to take a certain amount of responsibility for their own actions. It’s an employee’s own responsibility to co-operate on all health and safety measures, and bring to the attention of a line manager any situations that they feel could become hazardous.
It’s also an employee’s responsibility to use all safety clothing and equipment that has been provided in accordance with safety instructions (and to report any malfunctioning equipment as well as any accidents that occur).
It’s always an upsetting situation when there is an accident at work, but you need to ensure that the responsibility lies with an employer rather than yourself before you can raise a grievance.
If you’d like further clarification, then visit our full health and safety in the workplace page or simply contact us. We’d love to be of assistance.