Every business is responsible for safeguarding the health and safety of anyone affected by its activities, whether they are employees, contractors, or visitors to its premises. The risks to health and safety will differ between sectors and individual businesses.
Whatever the nature of your business, it is imperative to put procedures in place to avoid health and safety breaches. In the most serious cases, health and safety failures can lead to serious injury or even death. Sanctions for breaches range from fines, and where the breach is serious, imprisonment.
General summary of businesses’ health and safety responsibilities
- The first obligation is the requirement to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, including a fire-risk assessment, to identify potential risks in your business, and taking steps to remove or minimise them.
- The person responsible for health and safety needs to be competent and fully trained.
- Employees should be trained to cope with accidents and you should provide adequate and appropriate personal protective equipment as well as first-aid kits.
- Maintain an accident book and a reporting system for serious injuries, diseases and incidents.
- Businesses are required by law to have employers’ liability insurance. You should also check whether you need public liability or any other insurances.
Even in these unprecedented circumstances surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, a businesses’ health and safety responsibilities do not evaporate.
Businesses retain the same health and safety responsibilities for home workers as they do for those in the work place.
Typically, those who are working from home, will be office workers using equipment such as PCs, laptops and display screen equipment (DSE).
The Health and Safety Executive has updated its guidance in line with the Government’s recent measures to contain the outbreak, who has advised that those home working temporarily are at no increased risk of using DSE. Although businesses should remind employees using DSE to do the following:-
- break up long spells of DSE work with rest breaks (at least 5 minutes every hour) or a change in activity
- avoid awkward, static postures by regularly changing position
- get up and move, or do some stretching exercises
- avoid eye fatigue by changing focus or blinking from time to time
Businesses are also advised to be aware of the effects of home working on employees’ mental wellbeing. Being separated from colleagues who may offer support and friendship could have a detrimental effect. It is vital that businesses recognise signs of stress in their employees as early as possible.
We are happy to answer any questions you may have about your policies, procedures or generally.