Health and Safety in the Workplace
The introduction of health and safety roles within organisations has grown significantly since the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work Act in 1974. The importance of these roles is paramount especially in larger organisations as figures from HSE highlight, “A total of 142 workers were killed at work in Great Britain in 2020/21, an increase of 29 from the previous year”.
The significant increase in fatal injuries to workers in 2020/2021 is speculated to be due to the Coronavirus pandemic, as many workforces were absent throughout 2019/2020, in comparison to the following year. Statistics such as these, it’s important to understand the role of a Health and Safety Manager which we discuss below.
Health and Safety Policies
Roles responsible for health and safety inherit the requirements of creating and maintaining all documentation in regard to safety policies. These policies may differ depending on the industry, workforce and country you are situated in. As a bare minimum, a Health and Safety Policy should be created.
Example Health and Safety Policy
An example from HSE can be found below:
To generate your own Health and Safety Policy, use the HSE template provided.
These responsibilities would also cater for creating all the content around Health and Safety for all employees among the company.
Audits are an important to implement as part of your role within Health and Safety in any organisation to understand how well the company is handling health and safety measures. Types of health and safety audits that may be completed by the role of a Health and Safety Executive are:
- General health and safety audit: these may include auditing first aiders, fire alarms, drills, training, checking signage and sign-in sheets.
- Behavioural health and safety audit: to observe and measure human behaviours which include near-misses, key risk indicators and unsafe acts with the purpose to rectify or implemented steps to prevent these from occurring.
- Compliance audit: to ensure the company is adhering to all legislation and compliance to laws within the country they operate in. These are further discussed within the Compliance.
- Identifying safety goals
- First Aid Courses
- Fire Alarm Drills
- Preventative Actions
- Creating documentation
An important part of the role will include documenting down incidents that occur throughout the business. Requirements set out by Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 also referred to as RIDDOR are mandatory to follow. These should be in the form of an Incident Log that includes the following information:
- Date and time of Incident
- Type of incident
- Employee(s) involved
- Place where incident occurred
- Description of incident
Risk assessments are important to carry out wherever applicable to ascertain the risks associated with a particular task at hand. These may include working from heights, how to carry equipment, wearing correct PPE, coronavirus risk assessments.
Key Performance Indicators
Understanding what success looks like in terms of health and safety can be complex but by utilising Key Performance Indicators. A primary KPI for example may be one of the following:
- Number of accidents in the workplace
- Work related health incidents
- Employee absences due to work related injuries
- Costs of accidents
Understanding what training is required to undergo certain activities is paramount in the position of a Health and Safety Officer. A few scenarios that may be applicable could be:
- Forklifts: Do all drivers within the organisation hold valid licenses and training to operate a forklift vehicle in the UK?
- Office Equipment: Ensuring all electrical equipment has been PAT tested.
- Emergency Exits: Making sure emergency exists are open, available and using necessary signage and for emergencies with the necessary lighting?
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Where applicable, ensuring all workforce are supplied and wearing the correct PPE equipment.
- Equipment Maintenance: Ensuring equipment is maintained, used and stored correctly.
- Medical Equipment: Confirming the necessary equipment present, available and ready in to use in the event of a medical emergencies.
- Driving licenses: Checking all drivers using company vehicles have valid driving licences.
Ensuring there are procedures in place to make sure correct PPE is worn when carrying out jobs that require specialist equipment alongside all electrical equipment is securely PAT tested.
Recording these in a log and ensuring these are within an employee handbook are some options on how you can stay compliant.
To stand the best chances of attaining a role in becoming a Health and Safety Manager, we would recommend the following qualifications and experience:
- NEBOSH Diploma: The most industrially recognised Health and Safety qualification available, covering occupational health and safety, risks, culture, measurement, management of subcontractors and more.
- ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001: Credible Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems which dives into the required environmental systems needed for organisations.
- Degree in Health and Safety: Degrees and educational achievements are available up to degree and post-graduate levels. Other non-degree qualifications are available from both online courses and college or equivalent NVQs.
- Previous Experience: Having previous experience within a Health and Safety role will substantially help improve your chances of attaining a Health and Safety Manager role as a track record of experience can showcase steps you have implemented; ensuring the health and wellbeing of employees and public.
- Identifying Potential Hazards: A good Health and Safety official will be able to identify possible hazards prior to them coming to light.
Health and safety of an organisation should always be paramount to ensure members of staff and the public are safe from any potential hazards that could arise.
Compliance is a huge part of the responsibilities of a Health and Safety Officer as all types of legislation and laws should be abided by. Health and Safety roles should be aware of the following many different compliance scenarios including but not limited to:
- Commercial Waste Disposal: If the company produces it’s own waste from consumer properties, the disposal of commercial waste should be disposed of by an upper-tiered waste licence carrier.
- Disposal of Hazardous Substances: Any hazardous substances on-site should be accompanied by SDS sheets to identify the product and what to do in the event of spillages and/or emergency procedures. If removal is required, these should be disposed of by an accredited hazardous waste removal company.
- Waste Transfer Notes (WTN): A document that details the transfer of waste from one person to another. You must ensure every load of waste you receive or pass to others is covered by a WTN.
- Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEEE) Recycling: Handling the disposal of all electrical equipment that belongs to the company, including the sensitive data which may still be on any IT systems.
- Environmental Agency Standards: Being compliant within the standards outlined by the Environmental Agency is legally enforceable otherwise you may find yourselves being issued with fines for non-compliance.
- Subcontractors: Any organisations using subcontractors to carry out any works on behalf of the company should be vetted and validated for the companies including Health and Safety Assessment and any necessary accreditations or certifications.
- Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA): Regulations set for vehicles include having the necessary operators licenses for HGVs alongside monitoring weight restrictions for all vehicles.
- Working from heights: Ensuring staff have the necessary qualifications and training to work from heights.
- Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS Cards): For any building and construction sites, valid CSCS card should be present for any members on-site.
Ensuring the health and safety practices are implemented throughout the company but also by being a prime example yourself on how to follow these and act accordingly.
As part of the responsibilities of a health and safety officer, ensure that all documentation, policies, audits etc. are dated and to ensure these are reviewed annually.
Health and Safety Roles
Health and safety job roles vary in job titles but as a general rule of thumb would be categorised under the following titles mentioned below. If you are looking for a career for any of these roles, click on the links provided.
Search for Health and Safety Roles:
- Health and Safety Advisor
- Health and Safety Manager
- Health and Safety Officer
- Health and Safety Consultant
- Health and Safety Officer
Search for SHEQ Roles:
SHEQ an acronym for Safety, Health, Environment and Quality.
Other useful resources to check out when looking for further information about the role of Health and Safety Officers Further information on Health and Safety guidelines, policies and recommendations, check out the following resources:
- Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
- Common Workplace Safety Hazards
- Understanding Health and Safety Law
- Health and Safety at Work