The pandemic has had a dramatic effect on all our lives over the last two years. Businesses have had to adapt quickly to a changing environment. One area that may have been overlooked is the need to review your health and safety compliance.
Many businesses have found that they needed to develop, implement or enhance health and safety procedures in order to be compliant with government guidelines. This action has been essential in allowing them to continue to trade. Businesses have been forced to adapt and for many this has seen a reduced workforce and an increase in staff working from home.
We are all hoping that 2022 will be a more normal year which for many will mean returning to the office and workplaces filling up again, making health and safety in the workplace more important than ever. As a business owner you will need to ensure you are equipped to deal with the ever-changing legislative requirements and ensuring that a high standard of health and safety is maintained across all levels of your business.
Activity of health and safety executives is on the rise and it’s an unfortunate fact that fines imposed for breaches are rapidly increasing. In December 2021 alone fines totalling more than £2.5 million were handed out to employers, with the largest single fine being £530,000. Health and safety compliance rules cover all businesses big and small. December also saw four prison sentences issued including a 15-month sentence and 200 hours unpaid work for a self-employed gas engineer following the completion of work deemed unsafe.
Many people aren’t aware that all fines associated with Health and safety breaches are uninsurable, so if you are given one you really are on your own. Something easily avoided by having a comprehensive health and safety procedure in place.
We have compiled below a list of three areas that are key to health and safety compliance and considerations to be made for each point. Whilst we do our best to get back to normal, health and safety is not an area anybody wants to fall down on!
All employers are legally required to have adequate health and safety in place. If you have over 5 staff you are required to have a Health and Safety Policy in place under the Health & Safety at work act 1974 Section 2. This includes a general policy on health and safety at work setting out your commitment to health and safety and what you want to achieve. When was your last Health & Safety Policy review? Have you considered workplace risk level? Are your policies supported by suitable protective arrangements? Now is an ideal time to review your policy and make any updates.
Much like policies, risk assessments must be reviewed regularly and be considerate of specific requirements. Do you have documented risk assessments? Are they fit for purpose? Who completed your risk assessments – was this a qualified competent person? Assessing risk within your organisation is critical to reducing incidents in the workplace and achieving compliance. You may find that you need enhanced risk assessments in place with numbers in the workplace increasing.
Providing Health & Safety training is a legal requirement for all employers – you may now find yourself welcoming staff back who have never actually entered the office in person! These individuals will need to undertake health and safety with a competent person using evidence-based examples. Training must also be recorded. How often do you review your training needs? If staff have been away from the office for a length of time is a “refresher session” completed? Is Health & Safety training given on a normal induction and, do directors and senior managers receive specific training? Many accidents are easily avoidable with the correct training in place and large fines can be imposed if it’s found that adequate training has not been provided.
If you feel out of your depth with health and safety there are many consultancy services available to help you, a negligible cost compared to what you could face if you are found to have any failings! Let us know if you have concerns in this area and we can put you in touch with the specialists that we use for our own business.
The content in this blog is correct as at 25 February 2022 See terms and conditions.