Health and safety in the workplace in business

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Your employer has a ‘duty of care’ to ensure, as far as possible, your health, safety and welfare while you’re at work. They should start with a risk assessment to spot possible health and safety hazards.

They have to appoint a ‘competent person’ with health and safety responsibilities usually one of the owners in smaller firms, or a member of staff trained in health and safety.

Businesses employing five or more people For businesses employing five or more people, there must also be:

An official record of what the assessment finds (your employer has to put plans in place to deal with the risks) a formal health and safety policy which includes arrangements to protect your health and safety (you should be told what these are)

Your employer’s duty of care in practice

All , whatever the size of the business, must:

– make the safe – prevent risks to health – ensure that plant and machinery is safe to use – ensure safe working practices are set up and followed – make sure that all materials are handled, stored and used safely – provide adequate first aid facilities – tell you about any potential hazards from the work you do – chemicals and other substances used by the firm – and give you information, instructions, training and supervision as needed – set up emergency plans – make sure that ventilation, temperature, lighting, toilet, washing and rest facilities all meet health, safety and welfare requirements – check that the right work equipment is provided and is properly used and regularly maintained – prevent or control exposure to substances that may damage your health – take precautions against the risks caused by flammable or explosive hazards, electrical equipment, noise and radiation – avoid potentially dangerous work involving manual handling (and if it can’t be avoided, take precautions to reduce the risk of injury) – provide health supervision as needed – provide protective clothing or equipment free of charge (if can’t be removed or adequately controlled by any other means) – ensure that the right warning signs are provided and looked after – report certain accidents, injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences to either the Executive for Northern Ireland or the local authority, depending on the type of business