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Making it safe for all your workers

risk-control

Whilst the previous blog examined risk assessment, this post will now consider how these risks should be controlled paying particular attention to vulnerable workers. When controlling risk it should be considered whether it is possible to eliminate the risk altogether or if not, to control the risk so that the chances of it occurring are reduced and in accordance with what is ‘practically possible’.  Are the controls rigidly being applied and monitored? As an employer, your workers need to have the right information, instruction and training. They need the right information so they are aware of the hazards they face in their work role. They need to understand the measures in place to control the risks and the emergency procedures. Some workers will require extra control measures in place.

Agency and contract workers are entitled to the same health and safety protection as ordinary employees. The providers of temporary workers and the employers that employ them need to co-operate  and communicate clearly with each side and come to an agreement on how the health and safety of agency workers is managed. Under the guidance of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 each side must exchange information that they both need to ensure the safety of the workers. Temporary workers, before they start work, should be covered by risk assessments and be assured that measures have been taken to protect them.

All employers have a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments when employing persons who are disabled. A health and safety risk assessment should be carried out to decide what adjustments may be required. These can include changing the way things are done, making changes to overcome physical barriers and providing extra equipment.

Employers who employ home workers need to carry out a risk assessment on the work activities of their employees. The employer is only responsible for the equipment supplied to the employee. Most work at home would be low risk office type work. However, if there are more risky activities such as the use of adhesives or soldering, for example, then the necessary PPE should be supplied and maintained. Lone workers should also have their environments risk assessed. Risks posed to these workers can include manual handling, medical suitability of the worker and violence. A transient worker is someone who works away from their normal base of work. They can be in the office sometimes but generally have no fixed work base. Risk assessments need to be done on the type of work they are doing, ie whether working alone, working at night, the provision of PPE if required etc. Young and new works and those whose first language is not English need that extra bit of support. Young workers may lack experience, lack maturity and be unaware of the risks. Students and trainees on work experience are covered under health and safety law as if they were employees.

Extra risks posed to expectant or new mothers include risks from lifting or carrying loads. Other risks can occur when standing or sitting for long periods, exposure to infectious diseases/toxic chemicals and working long hours. Working conditions must have ample rest rooms and be in close proximity. Post-natal depression and mental and physical fatigue can occur and these work stresses must be considered for. Regulations to protect new and expectant workers are given under the Pregnant Workers Directive 92/85/EEC.

Health and safety regulations to protect the health and safety of all workers include the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Equality Act 2010.

Sources    hse.gov.uk

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