Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about health and safety. Simply click each question to open or close the answer. If you don't see an answer to your question here, please contact us.
Properly identifying and controlling risks to people’s health and safety from work activities to prevent people from being harmed, or becoming ill, due to work activities. Health and safety in the workplace concerns all of us, and the impact of poor health and safety on businesses, families and the whole economy is far reaching.
There are moral, business, economic and legal reasons for ensuring health and safety is properly managed, as detailed below:
People have the right to return home from work safe and sound. People matter, and the people best placed to make workplaces safer from harm are the staff and managers who work in them. Leadership from the top and the involvement of employees and their representatives are crucial.
Good health and safety management can lead to real benefits such as saving money, improving productivity, raising morale and helping create a happier, healthier workforce.
Accidents result in costs to the company, and not all of these costs are insured. Uninsured costs include lost time, sick pay, extra wages/overtime payments, and investigation costs.
The main responsibility for managing health and safety rests with employers, who have duties under Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
These duties are expanded upon by more specific legislation, in particular the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 which stipulate that:
- an assessment of work-related risks should be made (risk assessments);
- effective arrangements need to be in place for planning, organising, controlling, monitoring and reviewing the measures in place;
- a ‘competent person’ should be appointed to assist with undertaking the measures needed to comply with health and safety law; and
- employees should be provided with suitable and sufficient information regarding the risks they face and measures in place.
Where a ‘body corporate’ commits a health and safety offence, and the offence was committed with the consent or connivance of, or was attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate, then that person (as well as the body corporate) is liable to be proceeded against and punished (section 37, Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974).
If you have five employees or more (including Directors) then Yes, you are required by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to have a written health and safety policy.
Your Health and safety policy should contain:
This should be an expression of the management’s commitment to health and safety.
It is a legal document.
It should be dated, and signed, by the most senior person in the company.
A diagrammatic chart showing the structure of the company, from the most senior level, e.g. Managing Director. This chart may look like a flow chart, and must clearly show levels in seniority.
This section will state the individual health and safety responsibilities of all people (or groups of people) within the organisation.
This is likely to be the largest section in the Policy, and will set out the day-to-day arrangements that are in place for the management of health and safety matters.
It may cover the following;
- Fire and First Aid arrangements;
- Arrangements for the selection and use of contractors;
- Safe handling and use of substances;
- Training (including induction);
- Managing risk assessments;
- Specific Safety Rules related to working with equipment.
CQMS can help you write your Health and Safety Policy, contact us for more help and advice.
Specific Risk Assessments are required by a number of regulations including;
- the Management of Health and Safety at Works Regulations,
- the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations,
- the Manual Handling Operations Regulations,
- the Display Screen Equipment Regulations.
Risk Assessments may not be considered suitable and / or sufficient if they do not comply with all appropriate legislation.
Further guidance is available from the HSE, which provides minimum Risk Assessment standards, entitled Five Steps to Risk Assessment.
CQMS can help you write your risk assessments and comply with current Health and Safety legislation. Contact us for more help and advice.
A Competent Person is defined as someone who ‘has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities’ to enable them to carry out their duties.
Every employer must appoint one or more ‘competent persons’ in accordance with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, so that accidents and ill health at work can be prevented so far as reasonably practicable.
In practice, you could appoint:
- yourself (if you are sure you know enough about what you would have to do);
- one or more of your employees, ensuring you give them enough time and other resources to do the job properly;
- someone from outside your firm to help you, if neither you nor your employees have sufficient competence (or resources).
Health and safety duties cover a wide range of issues, such as identifying hazards and assessing risks, preparing health and safety policy statements, introducing risk control measures, providing adequate training and assessing the effects of work on employee health.
Additional information and clarification can be found here.
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 requires you to provide whatever information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of your employees.
This is expanded by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which identify situations where health and safety training is particularly important, e.g. when people start work, on exposure to new or increased risks and where existing skills may have become rusty or need updating.
The level and type of training requirements will depend upon the hazards and risks within your organisation and work activities.
You must provide training during working hours and not at the expense of your employees.
Special arrangements may be needed for part-timers or shift workers.
If you are an employer, self-employed or in control of work premises, you are required by law to report some work-related accidents, diseases and dangerous occurrences.
The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) requires the following work related incidents to be reported:
- specified injuries
- over-7-day injuries: where an employee or self-employed person has an accident and the person is away from work or unable to work normally for more than 7 days
- injuries to members of the public where they are taken to hospital
- work-related diseases
- dangerous occurrences: where something happens that does not result in a reportable injury but which could have done
For more information on accident investigation click here.
Maintenance Records – planned preventative or breakdown maintenance should be recorded.
Inspection Records – more complex plant and equipment will require regular inspections to ensure their safety. Some items will require statutory inspections i.e. air compressors and receivers, lifting gear and accessories, Local Exhaust Ventilation systems (LEV).
Electrical Records – Mains electrical installation and Portable Appliance Testing (PAT).
Contractors may be used by for a variety of purposes i.e. Maintenance (e.g. painting/decorating, alarm systems) at Company premises; Testing of systems (e.g. electricity, gas) at Company premises; Provision of services (e.g. external training); or Undertaking work on behalf of the Company on site or at client premises.
If you use subcontractors you have a duty to ensure they are competent for the associated task and ensure that you;
- Assess the competency of the contractor
- Communicate and coordinate
- Ensure all risks are assessed and controlled
- Monitor the works
- Review on a regular basis.
Any building built before 2000 (houses, factories, offices, schools, hospitals etc) can contain asbestos. Asbestos materials in good condition are safe unless asbestos fibres become airborne, which happens when materials are damaged.
It is a legal requirement that any occupier and / or landlord should establish the presence of asbestos and manage the risk accordingly. This is especially important when any modernisation or building refurbishment work is planned.
Furthermore all employees who are liable to disturb asbestos during their normal work should be trained so that they can recognise ACM’s (asbestos containing materials) and know what to do if they come across them.
More information about asbestos can be found on the HSE website.
You do not need a fire certificate. Changes to legislation (The Regulatory Reform (Fire) Safety Order 2005) repealed The Fire Precautions Act 1971 and The Fire Precautions (Workplace) (Amendment) Regulations 1999, meant that fire certificates are no longer issued and existing fire certificates are no longer valid.
However, you do need a Fire Risk Assessment as fire safety is now the sole responsibility of the employer, manager or occupier. Your Fire Risk Assessment will advise what action should be taken to either eliminate, or if not possible, reduce the risks relating to any fire hazards, as far as possible.
CQMS can provide you with a Fire Risk Assessment and ensure you are compliant with current legislation.
There isn't a maximum legal limit on temperature in the workplace under UK Health and Safety legislation. Employers are advised to ensure that temperatures in workplaces are kept to within 'comfortable' limits by, for example, by the use of cooling units, shading windows, moving work stations, fans or increased ventilation.
Additional guidance is available from the HSE website if temperatures are consistently high, so that the effects on employees can be minimised.
There isn't a legal minimum temperature for a workplace in the UK.
However, the minimum temperature should be at least 16 degrees Celsius, or 13 degrees Celsius if much of the work is physical, according to the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. But this will depend on the workplace.
Additional guidance is available from the HSE website.
If you need additional help, contact CQMS for experienced health and safety advice that you can trust.
You are entitled to ask your employer to provide an eye test if you are an employee who habitually uses Display Screen Equipment (DSE) as a significant part of your normal work.
This is a full eye and eyesight test by an optometrist (or a doctor).
Your employer should arrange for your test and should tell you how to apply.
Your employer will only have to pay for spectacles if the test shows you need special spectacles (e.g. ones prescribed for the distance the screen is viewed at). If your ordinary prescription is suitable for your DSE work the employer does not have to pay for your spectacles.
More information can be obtained from the HSE website.
The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 came into force on 6 April 2008 and is called corporate manslaughter in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and corporate homicide in Scotland.
There aren't any new obligations or duties under the act but it is specifically linked to existing health and safety legislation.
Will directors, board members or other individuals be prosecuted?
The offence is concerned with corporate liability and does not apply to directors or other individuals who have a senior role in the company or organisation. However, existing health and safety offences and gross negligence manslaughter will continue to apply to individuals. Prosecutions against individuals will continue to be taken where there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to do so.
Additional information can be found on the HSE website.
You can read more about the UK's first Corporate Manslaughter case here.