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Health and Safety


How to Manage Health and Safety

If you can manage other areas of your business successfully you will be able to manage your company's Health and Safety just as successfully.

The key is to organise and plan what you need to do.

Begin by making a list of what work activities are performed and what types of equipment are used in the course of work.

For example:

  1. The safety of portable electrical appliances and the electrical installation are covered by:- The Electricity at Work Regulations
  2. Working at height using a stepladder (e.g. changing light bulbs) can be a dangerous task

    The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations require an assessment of the risks to be carried out and those risks to be controlled.

Then think about how Health and Safety fits in with other management systems

For example:

  1. Maintenance of the electrical Installation and portable appliances - regular checks should spot faults before they become a bigger problem that would cost more money to repair than the cost of yearly maintenance.
  2. Carrying out an assessment of the risks to employees from working at height may highlight the need to ensure that the stepladder is in safe working order, if used. This should reduce the likelihood of a civil claim arising from an accident.

Five Steps to successful Health and Safety Management

Remember, organisation and planning are essential.

Step 1 - Set out your Health and Safety Policy

(A Health and Safety Policy is required where there are 5 or more employees)

An example is given in Section 4

Step 2 - Get organised

The 4 C's - Competence, Control, Co-operation and Communication are a useful aid to getting organised.

Competence

Train yourself and your staff so that everyone has the knowledge, skills and experience to work in a safe and healthy manner.

Arrange for access to sound advice and help, so that you understand what the law requires and how to comply with it. See Appendices 2 and 3.

Control

Think of all your managers, supervisors and employees. Decide who is responsible for each safety duty, make sure that there are no gaps and that everyone knows their own responsibilities. Lead by example and ensure that everyone is aware of the consequences of their actions.

Co-operation

Have regular meetings with employees at all levels to discuss safety issues. Listen to what staff have to say, their opinions are invaluable as they have first hand knowledge of the risks involved with their work. Create an environment where staff feel able to discuss problems. Don't forget to include any home workers.

Ensure that a safety representative is appointed so that there is a recognised link between employees and management. It is a legal requirement to consult employees on matters of Health and Safety and the employer must assist them in their role by allowing them to inspect the workplace and providing them with information necessary to carry out their role. The Safety Representatives and Safety Committee Regulations and The Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations give further guidance on the role of Safety Reps.

Communication

Provide information, e.g. posters, notices, training packages to employees and visitors. Ensure that feedback is given to employees to encourage maintenance of high Health and Safety standards.

Step 3 - Planning

Think about all the tasks that your employees are employed to do and ask yourself what exists that can cause harm and what is the chance, great or small, that someone will be harmed. Weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent harm. Set standards against which performance can be measured. These must be both realistic and achievable. For example:

  • Methods and frequency for checking guards on machines
  • Methods for checking that all computer users have had their workstation assessed to ensure there are no health and safety risks associated with its use.

If necessary, draw up an Improvement Plan.

Step 4 - Measuring Performance

To check that your policy is successful draw up simple checklists and inspection forms to ensure your standards are being implemented.

For Example: Ladder defect check

Date Examined: 04/07/01
Ladder type: 6 rung, A-frame stepladder - No. 2
Defects Noted: Rubber foot missing - ladder unstable
Action: Remove from use until feet replaced
Completion Date: 07/07/01
Signature: P. Spice

If things go wrong learn from your mistakes, carry out thorough accident investigations and use the information to amend the policy and training programme, if necessary. The following checklist will aid you in managing health and safety.

Step 5 : Audit and Review

Nothing in life stays still, things change over time and new challenges present themselves so the policy, organisation and systems must be monitored, to ensure that you continue to achieve the right results.

The policy must be used. Don't lock it in a filing cabinet or leave on a file to collect dust - use it!

Remember: If you think that there is room for improvement, act today - don't react to an accident tomorrow.

Don't let a fear of Health and Safety stop your company being a quality organisation.

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