The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is the primary piece of legislation which governs health and safety laws in the workplace. It places responsibility on both the employer and employee; employers are responsible for providing a safe environment, and employees are responsible for the safety of themselves and of each other.
To ensure a safe working environment, employers should follow a few important steps. A good starting point is having a written health and safety policy, which should be signed and reviewed regularly, with updated versions to be shared with employees.
It is also a good idea to carry out risk assessments, consider what might cause harm and see what sensible measures are being taken to prevent or reduce the risk of that harm occurring.
Providing adequate information and training is advisable, too. This should be easy to understand and take place during working hours; feedback on its effectiveness should also be obtained. Finally, it is also a good idea to have a suitably stocked first aid kit and an appointed person in charge of first aid arrangements.
Despite having these measures in place, there will always be a risk of an accident in the workplace. If an employee gets injured at work, the employer should record the accident details in a book, notify the insurance organisation, report serious injuries in a report under the Reporting of Injuries (Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) and ensure the employee receives appropriate medical treatment and time off to recover if necessary.
It is also important to revisit risk assessments and consider what additional or better adjustments could be implemented to prevent similar accidents.
Karen Holden is founder at A City Law Firm