21 Aug 2020
Health and safety law is criminal law. That means failure to follow it can result in criminal convictions. But it’s not just staying on the right side of the law that should provoke interest in compliance. Having a strong health and safety mentality in the workplace can provide significant benefits to your business.
What is health and safety compliance?
When we use this term, it usually means following the guidance set out by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). Every workplace has obligations—although they’re different for each. Whether these are preventative or protective measures, it’s important you follow them.
What are my health and safety compliance requirements?
The type of workplace, and the nature of the work, will determine what your requirements are. Ultimately, the goal is to protect your employees from getting hurt or ill through their work. More specifically, you must:
- Conduct a health and safety risk assessment
- Provide your staff with clear instructions, information and training relating to their role
- Have a health and safety policy
- Provide the correct facilities, such as toilets
- Appoint a competent person to manage health and safety in your business
- Have a first aid kit, training workers, and appoint first aiders
- Display the law poster
- Get employee liability insurance
- Report any accidents, injuries, or work-related illnesses to the HSE
These are the basics, and there’s a lot of them. If your business has specific health and safety requirements, we’ll have a specialist to help with them. Call for expert health and safety advice for your business today on 01455 858 132.
How to ensure compliance with health and safety legislation
There are a number of ways you can guarantee compliance.
The first area you should review is your health and safety management system, policy and risk management. Make sure you cover all relevant risks and assign a suitable person to each issue. If every person within the business understands their responsibility, they’re more likely to deliver it well.
Next, you should consult your workforce. Ask about the health and safety work they do and how they’d improve it. Ask if they feel they’ve got all the relevant information and are sufficiently trained. Your staff may be able to shed light on areas you have missed.
Conduct/review your risk assessment. Remember to assess the hazards that are likely to cause harm to people. Are you taking reasonable steps to prevent harm in each of these areas?
The next step is to action any issues highlighted in the previous steps. This is just as important as highlighting problem areas.
The final step is keeping up-to-date with any developments and seeking advice when you’re unsure. Remember, Croner’s advice line is available 24/7 and manned by experts in the field.
Conducting a health and safety compliance audit
You can produce an audit internally or externally. Whichever approach you take, you must have a “competent person” leading it.
You should also ensure the auditor is independent of the part of the organisation you’re auditing. For example, you could have a health and safety manager in a parent company review your premises. Or, you could get a competent person in the head office to conduct an audit in a warehouse that is part of the organisation.
For further details on how to conduct this type of audit, take a look at our article on health & safety audits here.
Health and safety penalties for non-compliance
It’s a criminal offence to fail to comply with your legal obligations. But what does this mean in terms of penalties if you commit health and safety offences?
The consequences of non-compliance with health and safety legislation are two-fold:
Financial penalties: a legislation breach can mean a fine of up to £20,000. More serious breaches, ones that endanger human lives, can produce unlimited fines. In the most serious of cases, employers can even face imprisonment. There’s also the added risk of an employee claiming against your business, resulting in further financial damage.
Disqualification & reputation damage: Minor breaches can hurt your organisation’s reputation. Severe breaches can result in disqualification from the industry. This will have a devastating impact on your business and could result in a total shutdown.
Health and Safety Compliance for COVID 19
One unprecedented challenge all employers are facing in 2020 is the coronavirus (COVID-19). Every organisation has felt its impact. And, in response, the HSE has been granted extra funding to ensure employers are following their guidance. Compliance in health and safety has never been more important.
Now, you need to consider if your workplace can operate within the social distancing based two-metre plus rule. If the task cannot be completed within two metres, it may be reduced to one. You will be obligated to provide training on the new procedures to operate within 1 metre.
If you work in certain sectors, such as the care industry, you need to ensure employees have the correct PPE, RPE, and that they know how to use it. PPE/RPE is no required for most businesses.
One quick way to ensure you are compliant is by downloading our checklist and covering all areas highlighted in it. Get your health and safety compliance checklist for COVID-19 here.
Health and safety compliance software
The cost of health and safety compliance can be massive… Ensuring your documentation is correct, such as your health and safety compliance declaration. Providing relevant training. Conducting regular assessments and audits. Hiring designated competent people to manage your responsibilities internally. The cost of compliance is high, and it’s a lot of work.
One of the ways Croner help you manage both your cost and the workload is through health and safety software solutions.
BrightSafe helps you create HSE standard risk assessments in a matter of minutes. And it lets you cut out paperwork with secure online policy and document storage you can see in real time.
BrightSafe also has a comprehensive suite of e-learning courses to allow you to train your staff at a time to suit your business needs. Find out more about BrightSafe here.
Don’t wait until an accident happens, make sure you are invested in health and safety, so everyone works safely. Call Croner today for expert advice from our health and safety consultants on 01455 858 132.
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