Health and Safety Obligations as an Employer
Why is health and safety in the workplace so important?
Especially in light of Covid, health and safety in the workplace is a very prominent issue. Making sure that your company is fully compliant with the relevant legislation can help ensure your employees’ workplace wellbeing and help to avoid any potential financial damage caused as a result of fines or claims due to improper working conditions.
Goodwille can work with your business and a specialist Health and Safety Officer who will do a full health and safety audit of your business to ensure compliance. Having policies in place which can be crafted from these audits is essential in maintaining safety and abiding by the legal obligations to operating a business in the UK.
Notably, health and safety often goes hand in hand with Corporate Insurances. It’s essential to have the correct insurances – such as Employers Liability Insurance – in place to act as a safety net just in case an employee were to incur injury or illness as a result from work carried out on behalf of the business. Goodwille can ensure that you have all legally required and recommended insurances in place, as well as a Health and Safety Policy.
What are an employer’s main responsibilities when it comes to Health and Safety?
In short, the main responsibilities of an employer are legal, moral and financial. An employer’s overriding responsibility is to ensure the health and safety of their employees by meeting legal requirements and legislation. Whilst there is a moral duty of care for a business, it is important to remain compliant else there can be significant financial ramifications.
Failing to comply with health and safety legislation can lead to legal action, fines and even damage to an employer’s reputation. If an employee falls ill or gets injured as a result of your companies malpractice then, as the employer, you will be liable for compensation claims. This is important to note as more employees are aware of their rights nowadays and therefore feel more empowered to sue if they feel that they’re the victim of malpractice.
What are the moral and legal responsibilities of an employer in regards to Health and Safety?
As an employer, you have a duty of care towards your employees. Not to mention a legal obligation to make sure that your company is compliant with the Health and Safety Act 1974. Therefore, you have a moral and legal responsibility to make sure that the work environment provided meets the health and safety needs of your employee . As such, you should look to be preventing workplace harm by all means possible.
These moral and legal responsibilities includes things like;
- Ensuring sufficient and proper training is provided: As an employer, you have the responsibility to ensure that your employees are fully educated and trained on use of equipment and know how to follow safety procedures. What’s more, you should appoint competent individuals who are capable in assisting with health and safety duties.
- Accident report systems: Some workplaces are more prone to accidents than others but how you respond to having an accident is crucial in preventing it happening again. As such, an employer should have an accident reporting system in place where employees can record any incidents – or near misses – that have occurred and inform management or a Health and Safety Executive.
- Providing First Aid facilities & safe work environment: The workplace provided by an employer must be free from any hazards that could potentially harm an employee. Examples of Measures an employer could take to reduce hazardous conditions would be appropriate lighting, proper ventilation and ensuring there are no structural fragilities in the building. More importantly, the workplace must include an adequate facility that allows for first aid and the employer must ensure that employees know how to use them.
- Implementing compliant safety policies: It is essential for employers to develop and implement contemporary safety policies that address specific risks or hazards in a workplace. Usually this is accompanied by regular health and safety audits. In the UK it is a mandatory requirement for a company, with five or more employees, to have a Health and Safety Policy in place. These policies must be compliant with relevant legislation that relates to the health and safety act 1974. Such legislation includes the Workplace (health, safety and welfare) Regulations 1992 and Health and Safety at Work 1999. Goodwille can assist you in drafting a fully compliant Health and Safety Policy.
Who is responsible for health and safety in the workplace?
As outlined in the Health and Safety Act 1974, the responsibility primarily lies with the UK employer. However, employees and other parties – such as contractors or visitors – also bear a degree of legal responsibility in ensuring the workplace remains compliant.
As mentioned, employees must also bear some responsibility when it comes to Health and Safety in the workplace. It’s necessary for an employee to take care of their own health and safety, whilst looking out for their colleagues and any other party that may be affected by their work. Furthermore, employees must follow any health and safety procedures or policies that are outlined by their employer, reporting anything of concern to management.
How does Health and Safety impact your employees?
Whilst we’ve considered the impact of health and safety in the workplace on the employer, it is also important to consider the way it can affect the employee. Having strong health and safety measures in place can reduce negative impacts on:
- Mental Health
- Physical Health
- Overall Work Satisfaction
How Goodwille can help you with Health and Safety:
To conclude, ensuring strong health and safety measures are in affect within the workplace is now incredibly important to businesses. If you fall short of the legislation by putting your employees’ health and safety at risk, then you are likely to face moral, legal and financial ramifications. Depending on the industry that you operate in or the kind of business you run, you may need a more in-depth health and safety policy, covering more than the standard elements.
If you would like to reach out to us to better understand UK Health and Safety requirements in the workplace, or find out how to get assistance with drafting and implementing a policy, then please contact our HR Manager, Jacqui Brown or our Head of Governance, Philip McCarron. Further still, if you would like assistance in setting up a UK entity, please feel free to explore our website further or get in touch with our Marketing Manager, James Service.