Health and Safety at Work
The aim of this essay is to investigate the health and safety issues and examine the role of risk assessment and other important policies that should exist in the workplace. “It is estimated that 1. 6 million accidents occur each year in the workplace with a cost to the industry of around ?700m” (Ref. 1). This is why it is hugely necessary to take the rights steps in trying to prevent people from being injured at work. This process is called Health and Safety. Every business has its legal responsibility to work in within Health and Safety rules.
These regulation were introduces over 200 years ago, in 1802 in order to protect people from being harmed at work. The first legislation was related to factory work. Its aim was to reduce working hours and take more care of employees. From then onward health and safety legislations have been changing. Over time legislations were being developed to cover more working areas such as offices, railways, shops and buildings. In 1975 Health and Safety Act at Work came to force. Health and Safety Act at Work is the most important piece of legislation. It provides a broad, legal framework of health and safety requirements at the workplace.
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Health and Safety at Work Act applies to every type of employment. It puts general responsibilities on employers as well as on employees. Employers’ main responsibility is a duty of care towards their employees and the people who visit the place. This must be done by ensuring a safe environment and providing all important information and training for the staff. Although the main responsibility relies on employers, Health and Safety Act at Work states that employees are also required to take care of their selves and other peoples’ safety. It is also their responsibility to inform managers about any accidents or spotted danger.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 aims to improve already set up regulations by providing the standardised way of assessing health and safety at the workplace. This is called a risk assessment. A risk assessment is a careful examination of the working environment in order to identify hazards- anything with a potential to cause harm, risks- the likelihood of the hazard causing harm and the consequences if it does and take steps to reduce them. When doing a risk assessment five steps should be followed. As a first step employers should concentrate on identifying hazards that could occur in the particular environment.
They can do this by walking around the workplace. It is also important to look at the previous accident records which can provide details of difficult to see dangerous areas. It may be useful to ask staff whether they are aware of anything else that could harm. Step two requires employers to consider all the groups of people that might be harmed by those hazards and decide how that could happen and what are the injuries that could occur. Having decided about existing hazards, employers should look at the controls measures that are already in place and try to think what can be done in order to improve them.
Having done that it is crucial to record all the findings in risk assessment layout. It is very important in order to provide a safe environment for everyone at the workplace. It is also necessary for your business whatever size it is. Even if the workplace employ less than five employees which means they do not have a legal requirement to write anything down, it may be very useful to do so as it will enable to review it after time. Step five continues with the risk assessment and requires employers to review their findings so they can stay updated.
It is important as after time many changes at the workplace will occur. New equipment or floor surfaces may be a potentially dangerous so that the adjustments to the risk assessment should be made. As my assignment requires me to perform a risk assessment I would like to focus on the restaurant environment. Restaurants and kitchens are the areas where accidents can happen if the basic health and safety rules are ignored. There are different hazards in within those two areas and all of them can cause a potential danger if not handled correctly.
Things such as slips, trips and falls, manual handling, burns, cuts, contact with chemicals, workplace temperature or fire are hazards that could occur in the restaurant. In order to avoid confusion I would like to analyze them individually. Slips, trips and falls are the most common accidents at the workplace. “Over a third of all major injuries reported each year are caused as a result of a slip or trip” (Ref 2). Potentially all people in the affected environment could be at risk. This includes employees, hotel guests or other members of public such as visitors.
In order to prevent slips, trips and falls from occurring many control measures must be maintained. Good lighting is very important so that people can clearly see objects around them. They can also notice any changing in floor levels or any spillages. It is very important to ensure that there are suitable surfaces in the workplace. Floor surfaces regulations are stated by the Workplace Regulation 1992. They “require the construction of the floor surface to be suitable by not being slippery so as to expose any person to a risk to their safety and the floor to have effective drainage” (Ref 3).
Another vital control measure that should be in place is warning signs. Warning signs offer crucial information to the employees and can be used in order to indicate spillages, steps or broken floor surfaces. Health and Safety Regulation 1996 states that warning signs are require “whenever a risk has not been controlled by other means” (Ref 4). For example if the affected area is closed there is no extra need for a warning sign. Restaurant staff may also be at risk of manual handling.
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations define manual handling as “any transporting or supporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving thereof) by hand or by bodily force” (Ref. 5). Restaurant staff may be injured when handling heavy items such as boxes of alcohol, heavy crockery or heavy, overloaded trays. This is why employers must adopt correct control measures. Team lifting should be encouraged when moving heavier objects such as beer barrels or trolleys full of stock. Things such as mobile steps should in place so shorter members of staff are able to reach items from the higher shelves.
Staff should be also informed about the correct lifting techniques. Manual Handling is described in more detail in the Manual Handling Regulations 1992. They state that employers are responsible of reducing handling activities to minimum, asses the risk of injury that could occur from manual handling activities and try to reduce that risk. Now I would like to focus my attention on burns which are also very common hazard in the restaurants. Burns could mainly affect food service staff. This may be caused by hot water, hot steam, hot surfaces or other hot items such as plates.
Customers can also be at risk. They may be burned when being served hot food and drinks. In order to avoid burns it is employers’ responsibility to make sure that staff is trained in use of the coffee maker and in handling hot items. It is also important to provide signs in the areas where needed such as near hot water tanks or hot plates. Waiting staff should also be remained to use protective cloths and make customers wary when serving hot plates. As the restaurant is a place where sharp knives are used, food service staff may be also at risk of being cut. This may occur when preparing food.
To control the risk of cuts knives should always be stored appropriately in the safe place and food service staff should be trained how to handle them safely. Employers also have to consider the chemicals that are used in the restaurant. Things such as toilets cleaners, coffee machine cleaning tablets, dishwasher detergents or even different types of food may be potentially dangerous for waiting staff. Law says that employers are responsible to “control substances that are hazardous to health” (Ref. ). In order to minimise the hazards of those chemicals correct control measures must be maintained.
The personal protective equipment should be issued. PPE is described in Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992 as “all equipment intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects him against one or more risk health and safety”. Besides the legislations that I have already discussed, there are many other regulations that apply to every type of workplace. These include First Aid Regulation 1981 and Reporting of Injuries, Dieses & Dangerous Occurrences 1995. First Aid Regulation 1981 puts a duty on employers to ensure adequate first aid to be given to employees that have been injured at work.
The First Aid Regulation 1981 sets up the minimum first aid provision requirements for every workplace. They state that employers should provide an appropriately equipped first aid box, appoint first aid qualified person to be in charge and inform employees about “location of equipment, facilities and personnel” (Ref. 5). According to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, & Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (1995) RIDDOR employers are also responsible to record certain accident “arising from or in connection with work” (Ref. 6).
When considering the health and safety of employees and other members of the public, employers should pay attention to different types of insurance. Employer’s liability insurance is designed to protect business from claims made by employees who have been harmed in relation to the business. “The Employers Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 (ELCA) makes it compulsory for employers to have employer’s liability insurance” (Ref. 7). It states that employer’s liability insurance should be at least ?5m. Second type of insurance is Public Liability insurance and it protects the business from claims made by members of the public.
For instance places such as restaurants could be sue by hotel guests and other visitors who have been injured when being at the business’s property. To conclude health and safety rules are a critical aspect that must be considered in every type of business, from the places such as factories to little beauty salons. It is essential that in within the company everyone will accept their personal responsibilities and there will be an active co- operation between the management and employees in promoting and maintaining a safe working environment.
1. http://www. rbkc. gov. uk/businessandenterprise/healthandsafety/accidentsintheworkplace. spx 2. Health and Safety Executive, 1996. Slips and trips. : Summary guidance for the food industry. Health and Safety Executive. Available from: http://www. hse. gov. uk/pubns/fis06. pdf [Accessed 13 November 2009]. 4. Manual handling assessment chart (MAC) tool. Available from: http://www. hse. gov. uk/msd/mac/index. htm [Accessed 12 November 2009] 5. http://www. pcs. org. uk/en/resources/health_and_safety/health_and_safety_legal_summaries/health_and_safety_first_aid_regulations_1981. cfm 6. http://www. hse. gov. uk/pubns/cais18. pdf 7. http://www. directlineforbusiness. co. uk/liability-insurance/employer-liability-insurance. htm