Below are some faq questions on Health and Safety
Yes, it has been a legal requirement since 1989 and employers can be prosecuted if they do not have one. Even single self-employed people (e.g. painters, decorators, tillers, roofers, gardeners, IT support people etc.) have to have one. Farmers also have to have one as do small shop owners. No one is exempt. It is not determined by the size of the business but by the nature of the hazards – you could have a call centre with 1,000 employees and risks overall could be quite low and equally you could have a roofing company employing 3 people where the risks are much higher.
Yes they can, there is no rule which requires them to use the services of a Safety Consultant. However if they do their own then they must stand over it if it is found to be lacking. Whereas if a Safety Consultant prepares it they have to stand over it.
There is no set format and each consultant will use their own format. But each one should contain the following 8 parts:
Part 1 Policy statement
Part 2 Responsibilities of Management and others
Part 3 Management of Risk
Part 4 Fire and Emergency Arrangements
Part 5 Accidents, First Aid & Protection of Health
Part 6 Health and Safety Arrangements
Part 7 Risk Assessments
Part 8 Appendices (to include Emergency Plan, Stress, Prevention of Bullying and other relevant policies)
Within Safety, Health & Welfare at Work Act 2005 there is a requirement for every employer to have, where necessary, the services of a “competent person” and this is defined as:
“For the purposes of the relevant statutory provisions, a person shall be deemed to be competent where, having regard to the task he or she is required to perform, and taking account of the size or hazards (or both of them) of the undertaking or establishment in which he or she undertakes work, he or she possesses sufficient training, experience and knowledge appropriate to the nature of the work to be undertaken”.
This competent person can be an employee within the business if there is someone suitably qualified or employers can bring in a consultant. As a consultant myself I act as the “competent person” to many of my clients who do not need a full time safety professional or who cannot afford one.
Ask if they are a member of IOSH (if they are not then in my view alarm bells should go off in every employer’s head). Ask them about their specific experience in your sector of business to make sure they are a good fit. Ask them to supply names and contact details of previous companies or organisations that they have worked with, then call them yourself to verify how competent they were. Ask them for evidence of their Professional Indemnity Insurance.
It is a careful examination of what, in your work place, could cause harm to people, so that you can weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent injury or ill health.
The aim of a risk assessment is to make sure that no one gets hurt or becomes ill. It is designed to identify hazards before they actually harm anyone enabling management to take appropriate action. Effective risk assessment prevents accidents, injuries and illnesses from happening.
In order to do one the employer has to:
Identify the hazards
Assess the risks
Determine who might be harmed and how badly
Then put in control measures to eliminate, reduce or control in some way those hazards actually harming anyone.
All risk assessments must be written down, communicated and then put into practice. They will form an important part of the Safety Statement.
A risk is where employers look at the hazards they have identified and consider the following:
Some risk assessments use a scoring mechanism from one to ten or they use colour coding to identify the really dangerous hazards that are highly likely to happen and that will have major consequences in terms of the level of injury or the number of people affected.
The important point is to identify the main hazards and address them. Some times it is useful to prioritise them from the most serious to the least harmful. However the focus should always be to control or eliminate the most serious ones first and then move down to the less serious.
Having identified a hazard what do you do then? Depending on the nature of the hazard there is a hierarchy of controls that Health & Safety Authority recommends which is (in this order):
Within the General Application Regulations 2007 – Part 4: Work at Height it is defined as: work in any place, including a place at, above or below ground level, where a person could be injured if they fell from that place. Access and egress to a place of work can also be work at height. Examples of work activities that are classified as working at height:
Even standing on a chair in the office to reach a file on a top shelf is technically working at height.
Again a risk assessment needs to be carried out of all the circumstances where employees work at height with a view to eliminating it, controlling it and minimising the risk of falls etc. All such work should be planned, organised and carried out by a competent person. If work is taking place outside then ground conditions, wind, snow, frost etc. are key factors to take into account.
In essence all platforms on which people work must have guard rails to prevent falls. When using Mobile Elevated Work Platforms harnesses may also need to be worn.
Fire poses a significant risk to the safety of employees and others who may be in the workplace. The Health & Safety Authority is interested in how employers are managing fire and emergencies while the Local Authority through the Fire Officer is primarily involved in issuing Fire Certificates and enforcing fire issues.
Again Fire needs to be risk assessed under the following headings:
Chemicals are used extensively in Irish workplaces and they must be managed to ensure there are no injuries or fires. Again a risk assessment needs to be carried out to determine: