Using External Health and Safety Consultants – Am I Still Responsible For Safety?

Using A Health and Safety Consultant

Health and safety consultants can be used in a variety of ways for example writing a policy and conducting risk assessment or annual reviews and audits. The size of your organization in terms of its number of employees and element of risk can contribute toward the decision to use an external consultant.

Am I Held Responsible If I Use An External Consultant?

There is often confusion surrounding this question as common sense may imply that if you are outsourcing your workplace safety to external consultants they should be responsible, however this is not the case. The answer to this is yes you are still responsible even if you outsource this part of your business. Outsourcing your company’s health and safety to professionals shows that you are taking professional advice in order to ensure your workers are safe. By using the services of a professional safety consultant you can considerably reduce the risk of accidents and injury in the workplace. If an accident or injury occurs in your workplace and you are deemed to have put appropriate measures in place to help prevent such accidents then it is extremely unlikely you will be held responsible.

A Safe Working Environment

A professional consultant can assess your workplace environment and what safety requirements are necessary in order to ensure your workers are free from risk of injury or accidents. A safe working environment usually starts with an audit or assessment and a good safety policy. As a result of conducting risk assessments a professional consultant can help you to implement safe systems of work and an effective health and safety management system, which are essential to maintaining a safe working environment.

Implementing and Managing

If you decide not to use the services of professional health and safety consultants it is possible put your own measures in place and manage your organization, however you should consider how much of your time it will take and whether or not you have the skills to manage your company’s safety effectively. It is important to note that in the event of an accident or injury by failing to implement correct and appropriate preventative measures you may be held responsible.

Appropriate Training

If you decide to take on the role and responsibilities which come with managing this part of your business you will require appropriate training in order to be able to successfully and effectively conduct risk assessments, write a policy and put measures and controls in place to prevent accidents from happening etc. There are numerous training courses available in today’s market. Your really need to attend a course which is designed to educate delegates to the standard of responsible person as named in your company safety policy. It is generally not recommended to embark on a responsible persons course without any prior knowledge or at least previous basic training. You may find a responsible person course a little out of your depth, however this is not always the case. A highly regarded occupational safety training course in the UK is the NEBOSH General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety, however individuals are often advised to attend the IOSH Managing Safely course prior in order to ascertain an understanding of risk assessment and general safety principles.

Tip – Putting A Policy In Place

If your organization employs five employees or more than it requires a written health and safety policy. It is a requirement for all companies to have a policy, however those with a minimum of five employees are specifically required to have a written policy which should be made available for all workers to view as and when they feel necessary.

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Ten Simple Steps For Health and Safety For Your Business

This article will give you outline information on each of the ten steps you need to follow to ensure that your business is safe and legal in terms of health and safety regulation in the UK.

Step 1. Register your Business

Some businesses must, by law, be registered with the Health and Safety Executive or the local authority. However, most businesses do not need to register.

Step 2. Take Out Employer’s Liability Compulsory Insurance

As the title suggests, this insurance is compulsory for almost all employers and it covers you against claims from employees who are injured or become ill as a result of their work.

Step 3. Appoint a Competent Person

Every business must do this – it is a legal requirement on all businesses. The law says you must appoint a competent person to help you to meet your health and safety duties. This does not have to be an external consultant and in many companies it is the owner or manager who fulfils this role.

Step 4. Write Your Health and Safety Policy

All businesses are required to have a Health and Safety Policy, and for those with five or more employees this must be in writing. However, even for smaller companies, a written policy is an excellent aid to the business. Your health and safety policy sets out the arrangements you have put in place for managing health and safety in your business. It is a unique document that says who does what, when and how.

Step 5. Assess the Risks

This is again compulsory for all businesses. Without properly assessing the risks in your business you run the risk of invalidating your Employer’s Liability Insurance and leaving yourself open to prosecution. To do this you must decide what could harm people and what precautions to take. This is your risk assessment. You must act on the findings of your risk assessment, by putting sensible controls in place to prevent accidents and ill health and making sure they are followed.

Step 6. Provide Basic Welfare Facilities

This is a very basic requirement, but again one which is enforceable in law. You must provide a safe and healthy environment for all of your employees. This includes toilets, washing facilities and drinking water, and appropriate lighting and temperature.

Step 7. Provide Free Health and Safety Training and Supervision

Everyone who works for you, including self-employed people, needs to know how to work safely and without risks to health and so you need to train them and supervise their work. You also need to keep records of this training and provide refresher training periodically to ensure that everyone remains safe in the workplace.

Step 8. Consult Your Workers

Consultation means discussing health and safety with your workers or their representatives to allow them to raise concerns and influence decisions. Minutes should be kept of these discussions and any agreed actions must be implemented. Again, this is a legal requirement and hence keeping minutes of these meetings provides evidence of your compliance.

Step 9. Display the Health and Safety Law Poster

Possibly the easiest step to complete and yet often overlooked. This is required by law. The poster includes basic health and safety information and lets people know who is responsible for health and safety in your workplace. Or instead, you can give workers a leaflet.

Step 10. Understand the RIDDOR Reporting Procedures

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR), require you to report work-related accidents, diseases and near-miss incidents. Make sure you know how and when to report, even if you never need to.

Finally – You Must Stay up to Date

This is not a step but a way of conducting your business.You must stay up to date on the changes in legislation and health and safety issues that are pertinent to your business.

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Why Do a Company’s Health and Safety Procedures Need to Be Constantly Reviewed?

Having effective health and safety procedures in place is vital in order to reduce the chances of accidents in the workplace. As well as reducing the possibility of accidents occurring in the first place, careful thought should also be given to determining the procedures that should be followed in the event of an accident, including who does what and when. Having a clear plan of action in place enables the damage (to a person, building/equipment or company’s reputation) to be kept to a minimum. Having to think of what to do whilst an emergency is unfolding will lead to a delay in the necessary things being done, as well as key activities (e.g. fire sweeping during an evacuation) being forgotten about and not being done at all.

These procedures form one of the major components of a firm’s health and safety policy. It is easy to think of this as a document that just needs to be written once and then left, but it is vitally important to make sure that these procedures are constantly reviewed.

Virtually every workplace is continually changing, whether it be the people working within it, the machinery being used, the different products being produced etc. Whenever there is a change, some part of the existing procedures are likely to be affected. For example, the health and safety policy should detail who does what in response to an emergency like a fire, such as who is responsible for checking particular rooms or areas have been evacuated, who performs the role call when people have gathered at the fire assembly point etc. If one of those people leaves the company, somebody else needs to take over their duties, and this also needs to be clearly communicated. If this does not happen, the tasks may not get done at all, or different people may start doing them after completing their own duties, which could mean they get trapped by the fire.

Different machinery also leads to a revision to the health and safety procedures being needed. There is little point in a worker knowing the procedures for shutting down the coal-fired power station when the whole thing was converted to gas-fuelled two years ago!

Obviously the above example is a little extreme, but it highlights that fact that the health and safety policy for a change in conditions, including new equipment, needs to be understood by existing workers, and isn’t something that just needs to be read by new starters, as what they read when they started the job may be completely different to now.

Most companies will review and amend their health and safety policy and associated emergency procedures once a year. This is acceptable if there have been no particular changes, but if something has happened which affects the policy such as a change in personnel of those with a responsibility in an emergency, the policy should be changed and communicated to staff immediately. Even if it has been eleven months since you last reviewed your procedures and it is due to be looked at again in a month’s time, an incident may occur within that month, and everybody needs to be clear on exactly who does what and when. It could save your life.

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Important Health And Safety Policies You May Need To Formulate For Your Employees

In any business setting, it’s always a good idea to have policies that govern health and safety. This is important for many reasons. Even if the laws in your area do not make you obliged to do this, having such policies in place can protect you from loss of productivity due to injuries sustained in the workplace. It can also save you a lot of money, since you would not need to pay much towards the medical costs associated with workplace injury. Most importantly, it ensures that anyone who is in contact with your business – either yourself, your employees or your clients – are always safe from harm.

There are many safety policies you can implement in order to facilitate this. Some of these include:

The proper use of safety equipment

If you have staff members who provide services such as repairs and construction, you will need to buy them protective equipment such as helmets and boots. However, it’s important that you go a step further and put in place policies that govern their use as well. Of course, items such as helmets and strengthened boots are easy to use, but there are other kinds of safety gear that are a bit more complicated in which case there is the potential to not use them properly. In such cases, your employees may not gain the full benefit of using them.

To avoid this, you should try and have them trained on how to do this. For instance, when you get new safety gear, you can take the people who will be using it through a course to give them instructions on how to do so. You may also need to put in place measures to periodically remind them of this, such as through regular drills.

Injury preparedness

Doing things such as getting safety gear drastically reduces the risk of injury in the workplace, but does not eliminate it. This means that even with the best of these, you may need to deal with a few of such incidents from time to time. Fortunately, using the right safety gear for the right application normally reduces the degree of injury inflicted in such cases.

That said, you still need to make sure that your staff members know how to deal with such issues if they arise. For instance, you could make it mandatory for them to go through a first aid course if you think that this will be of benefit in such cases. You could even select a subset of employees who are more likely to get injured, and then pay for their first aid course instead of having to force all employees to go through it.

These are just some of the policies that you can use to improve safety in your workplace. Using them, you will have a lower chance of having to deal with issues such as lawsuits. This is especially so when you do the above and also get the correct safety gear for your staff members, and encourage them to use it when working.

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Developing an Effective Health and Safety Polic

For many years, various regulatory bodies, certification organizations, and insurance agencies have required that organizations develop and implement a health and safety policy. Unfortunately, there has been little to no guidance on how to develop such a policy. In this article, Dean M. Calhoun, CIH, President and CEO of Affygility Solutions, provides some guidance when developing a policy.

The first suggestion is to understand that the policy should not be developed in isolation by a single individual, such as by the EH&S manager. In order for the policy to stand the test of time, it should be a statement of the principles and beliefs of the organization. To achieve this, development of the policy will require broad participation from across the organization. In order for the policy to be effective you will need to have buy-in at all levels – from the front line employees to senior management. Prior to beginning the policy development process, enlist participation from safety committee members, human resources, operations, and other stakeholders. I understand that this will make the process go slower, but the outcome will be well worth the additional time.

Secondly, development of the policy will take time. Depending upon the size of the organization, obtaining consensus on the policy may take six months or more. Remember that consensus does not necessarily mean that everyone agrees 100% with it, but means that they are willing to support the policy. Do not expect to write the policy in a single committee meeting over a box of doughnuts.

Thirdly, the policy should be principle-based, not a list of rules. Principles are intended to guide the organization when the regulations are vague, or if there are no specific regulations covering that aspect. An good example of a principle would be “It is the belief of XYZ, Inc. that all accidents and injuries are preventable.” Another example would be “At XYZ, Inc., we believe that the prevention of occupational injuries and illnesses is a line management responsibility.”

Fourthly, the policy should be concise. If the policy is longer than one page, I would question whether it will ever be read, much less understood. When developing the policy, each word will take on a life of its own and should be selected carefully. I personally have participated in many policy development meetings where discussions over a single sentence and its impact went on for several hours.

Fifthly, an effective policy must be endorsed by senior management. This should not be just a rubber stamp endorsement, but it should really a statement of their beliefs. It senior management doesn’t buy into the policy no one else will either.

Finally, the policy must be periodically reviewed and revised. The most ineffective policies are the ones that are covered in dust and look like they haven’t been read since the day they were printed. Companies should establish a schedule for periodic review of the policy, and ask themselves “Are we complying with the true spirit of the policy or is it just window dressing?”

An effective health and safety policy establishes the directive for the rest of the health and safety efforts at the organization – take the time to get it right. I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on this article, please comment.

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Health and Safety Policy Template: A Useful Tool for Businesses

Many business owners may not know yet but the law requires companies with at least five or more employees to develop a written health and safety policy, and to effectively enforce it in their workplace. No matter how small an enterprise may be, health and safety should be a priority in the office and job site. This is not only for the welfare of the employees, but for the company’s customers and clients as well.

If such small companies are already required to submit these types of policies, all the more should large-scale businesses take health and safety policies seriously. Such big businesses would include those in the construction, engineering, mining, petrochemical, and manufacturing industries, and the like. These businesses have extra high levels of occupational hazards and risks, owing to the presence and operation of heavy equipment, as well as due to the substantial number of employees and workers.

Businesses should not worry about developing their own policies because there are many templates available on the Internet.

These templates would outline the basic information that policies should cover. Here is a sample outline of points that a document should cover:

- Health and safety policy statement: a general declaration of the company’s safety goals and commitment

- Areas of responsibility: on a daily and overall basis, as well covering general and specific areas of operation

- Health and safety risks: the imminent dangers inherent to the specific workplace, in order effectively warn workers and employees

- Guidelines on a safe plant and equipment: maintaining the site, operating equipment within it, etc.

- Safe handling and use of substances and chemicals: guidelines on the proper handling, storage, and disposal of substances, especially hazardous ones

- First aid and ill health: steps to strictly follow in case of emergency, injuries, or accidents

These are just some of the many items that a document should cover. Business owners should remember that a template needs to be tweaked to their specific needs, requirements, and work circumstances.

A template is a great tool to work with, but it needs to be customized according to a specific business’s operating procedures and line of work. A template by itself cannot be used and passed off as an actual health and safety policy document. It should just be used as a starting point for a company to develop its own unique health and safety document.

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