SAFETY, HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES (S.H.E.)
The primary legislation is the Health and Safty Act 1974. The objectives of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is to secure the health, safety and welfare of persons at work and to protect others from risks to their health and safety arising out of, or in connection with, the activities of persons at work.
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, Section 2(3), employers with five or more employees must have a written policy for looking after the health, safety and welfare of all their employees, and it must state the means by which the policy will be implemented.
The Health and Safety Executive’s Inspectors look for hard evidence that a company is operating an effective safety management system and the first piece of evidence of this will be the written Policy. This is a measure of a company’s intention to provide and maintain safe systems of work.
This Act places a legal duty on employers to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety, and welfare of employees, and to ensure that employees and others are kept safe.
Under the Act you have an obligation to ensure any potential risk of work-related violence is eliminated or controlled.
The environment is also subject to stricter legal controls since the introduction of the Environmental Protection Act (E.P.A.) in 1990. The E.P.A. has been introduced to protect the environment and to prosecute companies and/or individuals who fail to do this. The Construction Industry’s work involves potentially polluting activities i.e. working adjacent to watercourses, drains, etc. and in the last few years companies have been prosecuted for contravening the Act.
The effect of environmental or safety prosecutions can be harmful to a company, it can lead to increased costs, adverse publicity, low morale and removal from tender lists. By increasing our S.H.E. awareness, we hope to avoid this and create a positive working environment.
To help achieve these goals, Infrastructures has a written S.H.E. Policy, a copy of which is available for inspection at all our operating locations. The person responsible for the organisation of S.H.E. matters on site is normally the Site Supervisor, Managing Director or General Foreman. Have you seen your Company’s S.H.E. Policy?
The SHE Policy contains the responsibilities, organisation and arrangements a company has in place for SHE issues. If you hold a position with specific SHE responsibilities, make yourself familiar with them.
Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) 1999
These Regulations require employers to consider the health and safety risks to employees and to carry out a risk assessment to protect employees from exposure to reasonably foreseeable risks. Those risks include work-related violence. A risk assessment is an examination to:
- determine what hazards exist in the workplace;
- establish the significance of the risk;
- identify and implement prevention and control measures;
- produce a clear management action plan.
If you have five or more employees you must record the significant findings of your risk assessment and any groups of employees identified by it as being especially at risk. In addition, employers have a requirement to appoint competent people, set up emergency procedures, provide information to employees and work together with employers sharing the same workplace.
Employees, on the other hand, are required to use the information/training they have received, and to report dangerous situations/shortcomings in health and safety arrangements.
Hierarchy of control
The law requires you, as an employer, to carry out risk reduction using a clear hierarchy of controls. Where it is reasonably practicable to do so, you should always adopt the following controls in descending order of priority:
- 1] Eliminate the risk completely by removing the hazard, eg arrange for a competent security company to handle your cash-in-transit procedures; exclude known troublemakers.
- 2]Where elimination is not possible or reasonably practicable in the circumstances, you should substitute a hazardous activity or process with one which is less hazardous or use improved equipment or technical solutions that reduces the level of risk, eg ensure that high-value goods are effectively tagged; use CCTV or improved surveillance by staff.
- 3]If this is not possible you should redesign the equipment or work activity to reduce the risks, eg arrange for cash handling to be carried out in a secure area or when the premises are closed to the public rather than in front of customers; redesign the layout of the workplace to give better lines of sight and better CCTV coverage.
- 4]If redesign is not possible it may be reasonably practicable to physically remove exposed people from risk, eg help to provide safe transport home for staff working late.
- 5] Finally, you should put in place controls such as training, safe systems of work and personal protective measures.
The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995
Under these Regulations, employers must make a report to the Incident Contact Centre in the event of an accident to an employee resulting in death, major injury or absence from work for three or more days. Incidents involving members of the public which result in them being taken directly to hospital must also be reported. This includes violent incidents that result in physical injury. However, RIDDOR does not cover threats and verbal abuse.
Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977
Safety Representatives nominated by recognised trade unions represent all staff on all matters of health and safety and can be an effective way of reducing the likelihood of accidents and ill health.
Under the above Regulations, employers are legally required to consult with any nominated representatives in their workplaces.
Safety representatives can take up any issues of concern and they have legal rights to:
- raise health and safety complaints with management;
- investigate hazards and complaints;
- inspect workplaces;
- investigate accidents/incidents;
- obtain information and facilities from employers/inspectors to help them carry out the safety representative role;
- insist on safety committees.
Under the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996, employers must inform and consult with employees on all matters relating to their health and safety.