Last month, the majority of your calls to our helpline have been geared around policies and legislation. Two new entries have appeared in the top five categories: construction and fire queries. For advice on these or any other health and safety issues, speak to qualified consultant on 0844 561 8149.

1. Policies (up 3 places)

A written health and safety policy will be an employer’s safety net should any health and safety incident occur and can help in subsequent disciplinary action should set rules be disregarded. The purpose of a policy is to express the employer’s commitment to health and safety and to set out how the procedures will work in the organisation. It must include a statement regarding the responsibilities of the employer, supervisors and other workers.

A documented policy is a legal requirement if you employ five or more people, though even if this is not the case, employers are urged to have some form of written communication to illustrate their rules and processes. Written policies should reflect the organisation’s specific work activities. Why not customise our template Health and Safety policy?

2. Legislation (down 1 place)

Health and safety law must be observed and followed to ensure a safe place of work for employers and employees alike. Much health and safety legislation differs between industries depending on the work activity: what may affect a beauty salon may not be as relevant for a construction site.

Over the past few months, a few changes have come into force such as changes to personal protective equipment, new ISO regulations, and new codes of practice concerning ionising radiation. Organisations should have a way of monitoring the changes in legislation to keep abreast of what affects their activities. See the section on Legal Responsibilities.

3. Accidents and RIDDOR (up 1 place)

Businesses must report specified workplace incidents under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations which came into force in 2013.

These regulations do not only affect large-scale businesses but those of any size, including self-employed individuals. Essentially, anyone in control of a premises must abide by these rules. See your Accident Reporting topic for details.

4. Construction (new entry)

Considering the number of news stories concerning the accident rate in the construction or building industry, it comes as no surprise to see this new category in our top five popular call topics. In fact, this industry has fatality rate four times higher than any other industry in the UK.

Generally, the main concerns with the construction industry include working at height, objects falling, moving vehicles, traps, heavy equipment and tools, and manual handling injuries. All of these situations have clear risk controls, and every effort must be made to comply with set rules to ensure the safety of workers on site.

5. Fire (new entry)

Typically, the employer, owner or occupier of a business premises is responsible for fire safety. In law, they are known as the “appropriate person”.

Employers (and/or building owners or occupiers) must carry out a fire safety risk assessment and keep it up to date. This shares the same approach as health and safety risk assessments and can be carried out either as part of an overall risk assessment or as a separate exercise. Based on the findings of the assessment, employers need to ensure that adequate and appropriate fire safety measures are in place to minimise the risk of injury or loss of life in the event of a fire.

To discuss this in more detail, or for any other health and safety advice, please call a qualified health and safety consultant on 0844 561 8149.

Last reviewed 17 December 2018