Your workplace must be safe for customers and staff – that is the law. Where you work everyone has a duty of care to you, and you to them. This means:
- your colleagues have a duty of care to you
- you have a duty of care to your colleagues
- your employer has a duty of care to staff, clients and customers.
You have to be careful that you protect yourself and others from risks to health and safety at work. You should look out for things that could cause accidents, for example damaged machinery, trailing cables or wires that people could trip over, or broken glass.
Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 covers areas that both employer and employees must follow.
Duty of employers
- To ensure the health, safety and welfare of their staff, as far as is reasonably practicable
- To do everything reasonable and practicable to eradicate or minimise the risks of harm from all hazards to health, including violence
- To undertake risk assessments to identify hazards, how severe they are and how likely they are to occur. Once risk assessments are completed, processes and procedures should be put in place to eliminate the risks or, at the very least, reduce them to a minimum
- Where a violent incident (a hazard) is foreseeable, an employer must identify the nature and extent of the hazard and devise measures that will provide a safe workplace and a safe system of work.
Duty of employees
- To ensure that they are aware of the risk assessment process
- To follow the processes and procedures put in place by their employer to ensure both their own safety and that of their colleagues, including making use of any personal protective equipment provided by the employer.
Duty of care
Under common law, employers have a ‘duty of care’ to others. This means that they have to ensure the safety of anyone who has access to their premises, as far as is reasonably practicable. This means that there is a duty to ensure the safety of the public and to ensure that they are not put at risk because of workplace violence.
Employees also have a ‘duty of care’ and must take care for their own safety and the safety of others who may be affected by their action or inaction. The duty of employees does not in any way reduce the responsibility of employers to comply with their duties.
Consequences of breach of health and safety law
Under Health and safety legislation the consequences of an employer failing to fulfil their responsibilities include:
- the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuting the employer
- employees who suffer injury or stress-related illness on behalf of the employer making negligence claims and seeing compensation
- employers being in breach of their contract to provide trust and support to their employees.
Employees can also be prosecuted if they are found to be negligent.
An employer may be held criminally liable or liable in common law for the negligent or unlawful acts of a member of staff, even though the member of staff can be shown to have wilfully disobeyed the express instructions of the employer. This is known as ‘vicarious liability’, whereby one party becomes liable for the actions of another.
If employers are party to the negligent or unlawful act, or aid and abet the unlawful activities of another, they assume personal liability along with that other person. However, should an employee act negligently ‘on a frolic their own’ independently of the job, then the employer is not liable.
Your employer has a legal duty to make sure that your work environment is safe and a risk assessment is the first step in the process of developing a safe working environment.
Undertaking a risk assessment involves identifying hazards, i.e. the things that can go wrong and become a danger Having identified the hazards it is then necessary to assess the risk that they pose i.e. how likely the hazards are to happen. Your employer must carry out a risk assessment, which means that anything that could cause an accident will be listed. The risk assessment will identifythe hazards in your workplace and state how risks to staff and members of the public can be reduced.
There is a 5 step system that is used to assess risk:
1 Identify the hazards
2 Decide who might be harmed and how
3 Evaluate the risks and decide on the precautions to be taken
4 Record your findings and implement them
5 Review your assessment and update if necessary
NB – Health and safety risk assessment is not the same as dynamic risk assessment which will be covered in the Conflict Management for the Private Security unit.
Your role may call for you to lift and handle heavy loads or objects. These should be handled correctly at all times to prevent injury to yourself or others.
Always check to see if you can make the load lighter, easier to hold, or if you can use equipment to move the load before attempting to lift or move anything. If lifting a heavy object is unavoidable you must always:
- plan the lift
- remove obstructions from the area you will move in
- place your feet apart, giving a balanced and stable base for lifting; put the leading leg as far forward as is comfortable
- when lifting from a low level, bend your knees and keep your back straight (tucking in your chin helps)
- lean forward a little over the load if necessary to get a good grip
- keep your shoulders level and facing in the same direction as your hips
- make sure your grip is secure and keep the load close to you
- lift smoothly, keeping control of the load and don’t twist your body when turning to the side
- to position the load, put it down first, and then slide into the desired position.
Details of all accidents in the workplace must be recorded in an accident book, whether they involve members of staff, contractors, customers or members of the general public. It is therefore essential that you know where the accident book is kept at your workplace.
Details of the accident, including the names of the person or persons involved, the time, date and circumstances should be entered in the accident book as soon as possible after the accident has occurred.
Under RIDDOR (the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995), there is a legal duty on employers, self-employed people and people in control of premises to report injuries to employees and members of the public that occur in the
workplace to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), if as a result of an injury:
- an employee is away from work for more than three days
- an employee or customer is taken to hospital.
RIDDOR also requires the reporting of: some work related diseases; all dangerous occurrences, where something happens that does not result in an injury, but could have done; major injuries, and deaths.
RIDDOR applies to all work activities, but not all incidents are reportable. Fatal and major injuries and incidents can be reported to HSE’s Incident Contact Centre by telephone. Businesses reporting all other incidents under RIDDOR are required to submit an online form, available on the HSE website, www.hse.gov.uk. The Incident Contact Centre will then forward details of incidents to the relevant enforcing authority.
0845 300 9923