Health and Safety in the Workplace

June 25, 2014

All employers should be aware of the continuing need to ensure that health and safety in the workplace is paramount.

The key areas include but are not limited to the following:

1. Training: All staff should be trained and training records maintained and signed off. Also, where appropriate, refresher training should be carried out and training records updated and signed off;

2. Cleaning and inspection records: Depending on the type and nature of the business, for example, if it is open to the public, inspections should be undertaken at regular intervals and inspection and cleaning records should be maintained and signed off;

3. Risk assessments: It is extremely important that not only any equipment used to carry out tasks is assessed for risks but also the actual task being undertaken is thoroughly assessed and any hazards are identified, documented and where appropriate, preventative steps taken to eliminate such risks and these preventative steps should be documented;

4. Accident Reporting and Recording: All accidents reported should be documented in an Accident Report Form and Accident Book. It is important that all accidents are properly investigated immediately following an accident and photographs taken of the accident locus, if appropriate. Witness Statements should also be taken, if appropriate, and signed and dated.

It is a common occurrence in litigation that cases are settled or lost because of the lack of documentation or inadequate documentation.

All workplaces should have a health and safety policy and employees should be made aware of this. In addition, managers and supervisors should be mindful at all times of implementing the health & safety policy. In all likelihood, this will prevent injury or a fatality. Employers should also be mindful of not only the exposure to civil legislation but the potential criminal liability arising out of serious breaches of the health and safety legislation. The health & safety legislation is extensive but the main areas include:-

> Working at heights
> Safe systems re plant and machinery
> Workplaces are safe and hazard free
> Instruction, training and supervision

A comprehensive list of health & safety legislation is detailed on the HSENI website. There is extensive guidance for employers and employees on the HSENI website.

Please note the content of this article is for information purposes only and advice should be sought from a legal professional before any action is taken.
Any further information or guidance can be obtained by contacting Mairead O’Boyle or William Cross.