Health and Safety in the workplace

It is widely agreed that it is vital for all staff at the workplace are fully trained in health and safety law. Regardless of sector, complying with health and safety law is vital for the smooth running of the day to day operations. The aim is to prevent accidents and illnesses at work and to produce a positive work environment. Competent and able bodied persons should ensure training and communication is carried out to a level that abides by the law. Simple communication, such as posters on walls and signs, where needed, can prevent the smallest of accidents and teach workplace policy. Risk assessments should be part of entering into any kind of workplace project, where past outcomes are documented and learned from. For small businesses, “in house” health and safety personal is usually all that is required, however, for example, at a big construction site, outsouring a team of specialists may be necessary. Putting effort into preventing accidents can be very cost effective in terms of litigation and compensation costs.

One aspect of the workplace which needs solid safety is the environment in which lone workers operate. They are more vulnerable as they are out on their own and if backup is needed by them,  personnel may not be nearby to help. There may, for example, be more risks at night than in the day, also in areas where there are changing weather conditions and local politics can also contribute to a more colorful atmosphere where one can be become more vulnerable when alone. Company directors must, according to the Safety at Work Act 1974, ensure that a work place risk assessment is carried out for these workers and that measures are set in place with contingency plans to ensure tolerance levels for hazards are low; thus ensuring the environmental health and safety of the lone worker.

Another hazardous area in the workplace is exposure to chemicals. The European Commission has updated its directives to better protect its workers from the risk associated with chemicals in the workplace. The proposal ensures that labelling information is clear so that those working in this kind of environment can better risk assess against hazards.

In America

In the US, the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health  Administration) and  EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) are the primary bodies which govern best health and safety practice. Economic recession in the States over the past few years has seen non revenue generating staff lose their jobs. These included Health and Safety personnel. However, existing workforces within companies still needed to comply to Health and Safety law but don’t have the technical expertise. An online resource (called Compliance Forum & Resources)  detailing all aspects of OSHA, EPA and other administrative bodies has been set up so all workers have access to Health and Safety material.This makes it easier to close this gap.

In Australia

Just last month, an article advised that organisations issued with health and safety notices should carefully consider the implications of not reviewing a notice. An improvement notice is usually issued when a company has breached health and safety law in Australia i.e where it has not adhered to OHS/WHS (Work Health and Safety Regulations). A probation notice may be issued when an inspector believes there is a serious risk to persons in the workplace. Failure of the business owners to comply with an improvement can have a serious consequence. Neighbouring New Zealand is planning to set up a new health and safety agency. This will be dedicated to lifting New Zealands’ safety record.

In Britain

There has been a couple of reports published early this year by the British Government which aim at reducing health and safety costs for british businesses. Its been estimated that the result of the report could save businesses millions of pounds over the coming years.

 

Sources for this article:  workplace law,  virtual college,  ereleases,  europa,  mondaq,  workers compensation,  bay of plenty times,

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