Health and safety in the workplace

Health and Safety in the Workplace – What You Need to Know

In today's dynamic work environments, prioritising health and safety in a business, along with the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), is an important cornerstone of responsible workplace management. With occupational hazards spanning various industries, from manufacturing plants to office spaces, ensuring the well-being of employees remains paramount, as does safeguarding your business against liability.
Are you sure you have everything covered when it comes to both health and safety and PPE? Here’s a guide to what you should know:

Health and safety policy requirement for businesses with more than 5 staff

Did you know that as soon as you have 5 employees or more you have a legal responsibility to have full health & safety provisions in place? Your obligations are outlined in the Safety at Work Regulations 1974.
You need to have:
  • A written health and safety policy.
  • A written health and safety policy statement.
  • Written risk assessments implemented.
  • Depending on the nature of your business, you may also need COSHH assessments, ‘toolbox talks’ (a brief, informal health and safety meeting before each shift) and a designated ‘competent person’ from either within your business - who must be fully qualified in all aspects of health & safety - or a consultant you pay a retainer fee to.
If you’re unsure exactly what your business needs to do, you can find details on the government’s HSE website:
Your health and safety policy must have:

1: Statement of intent

State your general policy on health and safety at work, including your commitment to managing health and safety and your aims. As the employer or most senior person in the company, you should sign it and review it regularly.

2: Responsibilities for health and safety

List the names, positions and roles of the people in your business who have specific responsibility for health and safety.

3: Arrangements for health and safety

Give details of the practical arrangements you have in place, showing how you will achieve your health and safety policy aims. This could include, for example, doing a risk assessment, training employees and using safety signs or equipment.

The use of PPE and the importance of making sure it fits

The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) recently issued a warning to those overseeing the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety product procurement, following tests on non-member products.
Between December 2022 and December 2023, the BSIF examined 123 non-member products, assessing their performance as advertised and their compliance with standards. Disturbingly, only 21% – 26 products proved fully compliant, with a staggering 79%—97 products falling short of testing criteria.
The BSIF advise that all PPE purchased and used should carry the certified BSIF shield for a business to be confident it meets the required safety standards.
Not only must your PPE be compliant, but making sure it fits is also crucial. Research has indicated that a significant amount of respiratory protection PPE does not offer the expected level of protection because it does not fit properly, causing potentially dangerous leaks.
It’s a legal requirement that workers using tight-fitting PPE face pieces and masks must be fit tested by a competent person (a requirement detailed in CoSHH regulations). This is where the BSIF’s Fit2fit scheme for companies providing face masks comes in.
The Fit2Fit RPE Fit Test Providers Accreditation Scheme is a competency scheme for any person performing face piece fit testing. Fit2Fit accredits courses that offer face fit training, align with the methods of Fit2Fit and comply with best practice for fit testing.
It's not mandatory to follow the scheme, and employers are free to take alternative routes in order to comply with the law, but following the scheme will make sure your business demonstrates good practice. Find out more information at:
Good practice: staff signing that they have received training and/or PPE helps to defend Employers’ Liability claims
The law requires that you provide relevant health and safety information, and employees signing to acknowledge they have received both health and safety and personal protective equipment (PPE) training can offer several benefits to employers in the context of liability claims, for example:
  • Legal protection for the employer

In the event of a liability claim, signed documentation can serve as evidence that the employer fulfilled their duty of care to provide adequate training to their employees and comply with relevant health and safety regulations and standards.
  • Establishing accountability

Signed acknowledgment forms create a record of employees' understanding and acceptance of their responsibility to adhere to health and safety protocols and use PPE correctly, establishing accountability in the event of an incident or accident.
  • Improving safety culture

Requiring employees to acknowledge their training can contribute to fostering a culture of safety in the workplace. When employees understand the importance of adhering to safety protocols and using PPE correctly, they are more likely to actively participate in maintaining a safe work environment, thereby reducing the risk of accidents or injuries.
Health and safety provisions and the use of PPE come under stringent laws and government regulations and if not followed to the letter can result in accident and injury, and subsequent claims and financial losses to your business. However, being armed with the knowledge of everything you need to do in your workplace regarding health and safety protocol and the use of PPE means both your employees and your business are fully protected.

Read more blogs from Ascend:

Safety practices regarding lithium ion batteries
Sustainability in manufacturing a comprehensive guide

Need further advice? Our expert team at Ascend are knowledgeable on all aspects of the engineering industry and the challenges of its insurance needs.

Contact Chris Buchholz today on 07842 021430 or by email,

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