Appointment of a Competent Person
The first step for any organisation to take in managing its health and safety responsibilities is to have access to competent professional health and safety advice. In fact it is a specific legal requirement that an employer must appoint a competent person to advise them on health and safety. Active Safety Associates can assist with this requirement, please see Competent Person and Competent Person Support and When to Contact the Competent Person
Once on-board the health and safety consultant can then actively assist the organisation come up to speed in addressing its health and safety programme, usually with the use of of an Initial Status Review and the judicious application of some risk management techniques.
Active Safety Associates, health and safety consultants, provide a comprehensive range of professional and bespoke health, safety and environmental consultancy services that ensure clients manage the health and safety aspects of their business in the most cost effective way. Please go to our Services page to see a listing.
Primary Employers Responsibilities and Duties (Expanded Version )
All employers, businesses and companies have obligations under current health and safety legislation to protect employees and the public from health and safety risks created by their activities. These duties are enshrined in statute law (criminal law). Also under common law ( civil law) there exists a similar duties of care.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) is the principal health and safety legislation in the UK. It is the enabling Act for all the the supporting specific legislation such as the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1998 (MHSWR), The Control of Substances to Health Regulations (COSHH), Provision and Use Of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) etc.
There are specific legal duties placed on the employer by each of these pieces of legislation. For simplification these duties may be summarised or paraphrased by the following concept.
"An employer shall not to expose employees or others to risks arising from the conduct of the employers undertakings so far as is reasonably practicable"
The reference to risk and exposure to risk is a key element of this statement. The requirement to not put people at risk or expose people to risk means just that. It does not mean the employer shall have no accidents it means the employer shall not allow circumstances in which accidents or injury might occur. i.e. the employer is required to prevent exposure to risk at all times .
For example consider the case of a scaffolding collapse or a train derailment where no one was injured. The fact the the scaffolding was unsound and could have collapsed when people were present and injured them, or that the derailement of the train may have resulted in injury of the passengers means that people were put at risk and therefore there was a breach of this basic duty to not put people at risk. Where an accident does occur then there is clear proof that people have been put at risk and very clearly a breach of this fundamental duty.
Once there is proof that persons have been exposed to risk then the employer is liable to prosecution for a breach of the relevant legislation. Under health and safety legislation, unlike any other criminal legislation, the burden of proof rests with the employer to prove that there was no breach of the law. The employer is guilty until they can prove otherwise. The only defence that an employer can mount is to demonstrate that they have done what would be regarded as "reasonably practicable" in the circumstances leading up to the incident. This means that the employer needs to be in a position at all times to be able to demonstrate that they have done what is reasonably practical in the circumstances with solid written evidence.
Taking this concept a step further this means that employer needs to actively and effectively manage health and safety and keeping relevant contemporary records. Active management of health and safety will reduce the hazards and the risks in the first instance.
Some significant specific duties are
- Prepare a Health and Safety Policy and supporting Arrangements (If there are 5 or more employees this must be recorded (in writing or computer file) - a suitable Health and Safety Management System is a good way of doing this)
- Appoint a competent person to advise on health and safety - This is very important and cannot be stressed enough- See Competent Person
- Carry out risk assessments (If there are 5 or more employees this must be in writing).
- Not to expose employees or others to risks within premises
- Not to expose employees or others to risks arising from hazardous substances
- Not to expose employees or others to risks arising from work equipment and machinery
Under civil law in the UK there is a duty of care to be extended to others.
Competent Person Appointment
The above is just a broad interpretation of just some complex and involved legislation Probably the most important first step to any organisation is to appoint a competent person to assist them understand their obligation and to help them meet those obligations. Active Safety Associates can provide assistance with a suitable appointment. See Competent Person
Call Us Now!
For all your company health and safety needs, safety advice or assistance or if you would like to know more about your health and safety responsibilities and feel you need some assistance, then call Active Safety Associates, Health & Safety Consultants, Surrey UK, now!!