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Written by
on 16 February 2016

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Health and Safety Strikes Back – Why You Should Always Keep Every Workplace Safe

Regulatory compliance writtenEagle-eyed Star Wars fans might recall back in the summer of 2014 that Harrison Ford met a bit of an unexpected disaster while filming on set for Star Wars: Episode VII, when his leg was crushed by a hydraulic door.

Left with serious injuries, he ended up being carried away helicopter. Now the HSE have decided that the production company involved was responsible for the accident – and will be facing prosecution.

It’s a pretty important reminder that making sure you have a secure workplace is important and relevant to all businesses – no matter what industry you work in!

So what should you be thinking about to keep your workplaces safe?

Swot up on the Health and Safety at Work Act

The Health and Safety at Work Act – aka HASAWA – is quite an important bit of law you need to familiarise yourself with. Have a read of it with a cuppa in hand over here.

In short, the HASAWA is the main piece of legislation that covers all things related to health and safety – you guessed it – in the workplace.

And it’s really useful for you to go through regularly – so that you can stay on top of the latest rules and legislations that are relevant to your industry.

Know your responsibilities

The HSWA isn’t just there to look pretty though. Employers have responsibilities which need to be met, in order to keep their employees safe.

As an overview, employers’ responsibilities mean:

  • making sure employees have safe equipment and that it is properly maintained
  • making sure that materials are safely stored, used and handled
  • providing necessary and up to date information, supervision and training, and especially making sure that workers are aware of any specific safety information given by manufacturers
  • and generally providing a safe place of employment

A really important point to note: employers should not be charging people for any measures that have to be taken to make sure a workplace is safe!

But employers aren’t the only ones with responsibilities with the HASAWA. Employees need to know what is expected of them too:

  • they should take care of their health and safety
  • they should not interfere with anything that is in place to keep them or others safe from harm
  • and they should co-operate with their employers to keep the workplace a safer place

Inspectors have powers

As with any piece of legislation, the HASAWA is enforced on all businesses in the country – in this case, by your local enforcement officer.

This officer holds specific powers – so it’d be in your interest to make sure you pay attention to what they say!

If they have a suspicion that there’s something awry at your workplace, they can;

  • come in at reasonable times, without making any appointment
  • investigate and examine the space
  • dismantle any equipment, or take away materials
  • seize articles or substances if they think there is an immediate risk of danger

Your takeaway points

  • Educate yourself first and make sure you know what’s what – take a closer look at the Health and Safety at Work Act
  • Both employers and employees have responsibilities – everyone should be aware of what is expected of them to keep the workplace safe
  • Don’t trivialise the role of the enforcement officer and take your health and safety seriously

Have any questions about how to make your workplace safer? Give us a shout and we’ll help you out!

About 

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

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