An Introduction to Health and Safety
Health and safety is all about the following three actions; assess, control and record.
Risk assessment involves thinking about something and working out the negative effect on mind and body.
The "something" or subject of the risk assessment may be a task someone is performing or it may be a physical thing like a piece of machinery.
The negative effect could be an injury to a person or animal or it could be stress that could lead to damaged mental and physical health.
Once a risk has been identified it needs to be controlled or better still removed.
This may be achieved through the following control measures; engineering, safety equipment, supervision, training, signage, personal protective equipment (PPE) and first aid.
Engineering - For example a guard to cover a moving part on a machine. Is a service or maintenance required? If a piece of machinery is unsafe due to a fault can it be locked off to prevent use?
Safety Equipment - Alarms, emergency lights, fire exits, access equipment, sprinkler system, RCBs (residual circuit breakers), fire extinguishers. All equipment should be checked and tested regularly.
Supervision - Life guard, etc.
Training - In the work place all employees should be given basic health and safety training such as manual handling, dealing with a fire, violence avoidance and disability awareness. Before using any equipment an employee should be given training for it.
Signage - Fire escape route signs, instructions to wear PPE in certain areas or if using certain equipment, no entry signs, please ask for assistance signs, health and safety notice board (contact your local authority to see what you need to display).
PPE - Safety shoes, high visibility jackets and vests, gloves, face shields, safety glasses, dust and vapour masks, aprons, ear plugs and defenders.
First Aid - Have at least one person on duty on each shift who is trained to deal with an injury incident. Well stocked first aid stations with eye wash should be within easy reach of all areas of a site. Ensure contents are in date.
Once you have assessed the situation you need to record your findings and detail what you have done or are going to do to reduce the risk.
This is useful for three reasons. First, it serves as a memory aid. Secondly, others can read your findings and be made aware of the hazard and thirdly the record is available for any authorities to view. This gives evidence you are showing due diligence.
Your records should contain the following; risk assessments, SWPs (safe working practices), training records, checklists, maintenance records, accident records, health and safety meeting minutes and other statutory documents such as licences and permits, etc.
Risk Assessment - Tell the story. What is the hazard? Who is at risk? What injury could result? Why could it happen? Record all the control measures you have put in place and any you are yet to action. Record who will action the measure and a date when it is due to be actioned and a date when it has been actioned. Communicate your assessment to your staff. Get appropriate staff to read it and sign that they understand it.
SWP - These documents should highlight the particular hazards of a task, the specific injuries that can result and detail how to carry out the task safely. Get your staff to sign that they have read and understood it.
Training Records - Record all training with names, dates and signatures of instructors and pupils. It is best if these records contain details of all the information covered in the training course. Some training will need to be carried out by persons with recognised technical qualifications.
Checklists - Keep a record of daily, weekly, monthly, 3 monthly, 6 monthly and yearly checks that you make around your site. Check everything to ensure it is as it should be. Check assessments are in place for all machinery and tasks. Check controls are in place, check equipment for damage. Check all documents are in place. Check the checks. Some checks will need to be made by persons who have the recognised technical qualifications.
Maintenance Records - Keep all records of maintenance carried out at your site.
Accident Records - If an accident occurs on your site you need to record as much relevant information as possible. Names, date, time, place, contact details, injuries, how did the accident happen and why, what first aid treatment was given and by whom, what has been done to prevent recurrence, witness statements, photos. Keep in mind that some serious injuries may need to be reported to the authorities.
Health and Safety Meeting Minutes - Best held on a quarterly basis these meetings will review your previous minutes and all your records made since the last meeting. Create a committee who can represent each department of your company and present issues that have been escalated from staff. Your meeting will produce an action plan stating issues discussed, action needed, dates when action is due to be completed, names of persons assigned to carry out the action and dates when the action is complete.