There are some health and safety essentials that every business needs no matter the size of the organisation. The first thing you need to do as an employer is to appoint a competent person or people to help meet your health and safety legal duties.
What a competent person does
They should have the skills, knowledge and experience to be able to recognise hazards in your business and help you put sensible controls in place to protect workers and others from harm. It’s not usually essential for them to have formal qualifications and they’re not required by law to have formal training, although it can help. So who’s a good candidate for the job?
You could appoint (one or a combination of):
- one or more of your workers
- someone from outside your business
Usually, managing health and safety isn’t complicated and you can do it yourself with the help of your workers. You know your workplace best and the risks associated with it. If there’s a competent person within your workforce, use them rather than a competent person from outside your business. But you could always use an outside Health and Safety consultant or adviser.
Remember, as the employer, managing health and safety will still be your legal duty.
Health and Safety Policy
The law says that every business must have a policy for managing health and safety.
A health and safety policy sets out your general approach to health and safety. It explains how you, as an employer, will manage health and safety in your business. It should clearly say who does what, when and how.
If you have five or more employees, you must write your policy down. If you have fewer than five employees you do not have to write anything down, but it is useful to do so and you must share the policy, and any changes to it, with your employees.
There is more help on the HSE website on writing a Health and Safety Policy.
As an employer, you are required by law to protect your employees, and others, from harm. Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the minimum you must do is:
- identify what could cause injury or illness in your business (hazards)
- decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously (the risk)
- take action to eliminate the hazard, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk
Assessing risk is just one part of the overall process used to control risks in your workplace. As with the Health and Safety Policy the HSE has useful information for compiling a Risk Assessment, and a video to assist on YouTube.
Consult your workers
The HSE advise that you must consult all your employees on health and safety. You can do this by listening and talking to them about:
- health and safety and the work they do
- how risks are controlled
- the best ways of providing information and training
Consultation is a two-way process and by allowing employees to raise concerns and influence decisions on managing health and safety, you will be able to improve your systems. Your employees are often the best people to understand risks in the workplace. Involving them in making decisions shows that you take their health and safety seriously. In a small business, you might choose to consult your workers directly. Larger businesses may consult through a health and safety representative, chosen by your employees or selected by a trade union.
Provide information and workplace training
Decide what training and information you need
Think about how much training you need. If you’re a low-risk business, providing simple information or instructions is likely to be enough – for example if you’re based in an office.
Make sure everyone has the right level of information on:
- hazards (things that could cause them harm)
- risks (the chances of that harm occurring)
- measures in place to deal with those hazards and risks
- how to follow any emergency procedures
Ask your workers if the training is relevant and effective. Keeping training records will help you decide if refresher training is needed.
The information and training should be easy to understand and everyone should know what they are expected to do, especially in an emergency.
Health and safety basics training should take place during working hours and must be free for employees.
First Aid at Work
Employers must make sure employees get immediate help if taken ill or injured at work, the law applies to every workplace and to the self-employed and contracted employees.
You must have:
- a suitably stocked first aid kit
- an appointed person or people to take charge of first aid arrangements
- information for all employees telling them about first aid arrangements
First Aid Training
The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require employers to provide suitable first-aid equipment, facilities and personnel to enable immediate assistance to be given to employees if they are injured or become ill at work.
Mental Health First Aid Training
Mental Health First Aid training teaches people how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and provide help on a first aid basis.
We work with a company called SO Coach based in Northwich, Cheshire, with 20 years experience Simon has an overwhelming passion for the the First Aid and Mental Health First Aid Training he provides. Simon’s design and delivery is structured, he utilises a blended learning approach and that’s always on-brand, fresh, relevant, engaging and fun.
Workplace rescue plan
Workplaces need a strategy for emergencies that can have a wider impact. Special procedures are needed for emergencies such as serious injuries, explosion, flood, poisoning, electrocution, fire, release of radioactivity and chemical spills. Do you have a Workplace Rescue plan in place? Follow this link to our blog for more information, points on what to include in your plan and the training we can offer to your competent people in delivering your rescue plan of action.
As an employer, or a self-employed person, you are responsible for Fire training as one of the health and safety essentials in your business. Knowing when to tackle a fire, how to do it and which equipment to use safely is an essential skill. This is a half day course that we can deliver either individually at a session held at our Training Centre or for up to 10 candidates per half day course.
This course can also be taken as an online awareness course through kentraonline.com
3.9 million workdays were lost in 2018/2019 due to workplace injuries. Being aware of the correct way to push, pull, drag and lift during the course of a work day can have a huge impact on the physical health of employees and sets the standard for safer workplace practices.
This course can also be taken as an online awareness course through kentraonline.com
Any substance that an employee can come into contact with during the course of their work day is covered under COSHH regulations. This can include products containing chemicals such as cleaning products, soaps, disinfectants and hand sanitisers; vapours and mists present in air sprays or paints; fumes from engines and biological agents. The effects from exposure to these irritants can range from mild rashes to serious breathing and respiratory issues, and knowing how to handle them and the potential hazards associated with them will help to ensure the risks are kept to a minimum.
Safe Working at Heights
Work at height means work in any place where, if precautions were not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury.
PPE is equipment that will protect the user against health or safety risks at work. It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment (RPE).
PPE must be properly looked after and stored when not in use, eg in a dry, clean cupboard. If it is reusable it must be cleaned and kept in good condition.
Types of PPE you can use
Hazards include chemical or metal splash, dust, projectiles, gas and vapour, radiation. Options include, Safety spectacles, goggles, face screens, faceshields, visors. Make sure the eye protection chosen has the right combination of impact/dust/splash/molten metal eye protection for the task and fits the user properly
Head and neck
Hazards to head and neck can include an impact from falling or flying objects, risk of head bumping, hair getting tangled in machinery, chemical drips or splash, climate or temperature. Options for PPE are Industrial safety helmets, bump caps, hairnets and firefighters’ helmets.
- Some safety helmets incorporate or can be fitted with specially-designed eye or hearing protection
- Don’t forget neck protection, eg scarves for use during welding
- Replace head protection if it is damaged
Hazards are most commonly Noise – a combination of sound level and duration of exposure, very high-level sounds are a hazard even with short duration. PPE options are earplugs, earmuffs, semi-insert/canal caps but make sure to
- Provide the right hearing protectors for the type of work, and make sure workers know how to fit them
- Choose protectors that reduce noise to an acceptable level, while allowing for safety and communication
Hands and arms
Hazards can be abrasion, temperature extremes, cuts and punctures, impact, chemicals, electric shock, radiation, biological agents and prolonged immersion in water. PPE includes gloves, gloves with a cuff, gauntlets and sleeves that covers part or all of the arm
- Avoid gloves when operating machines such as bench drills where the gloves might get caught
- Be aware that some materials are quickly penetrated by chemicals
- Barrier creams are unreliable and are no substitute for proper PPE
- Wearing gloves for long periods can make the skin hot and sweaty, leading to skin problems. Using separate cotton inner gloves can help prevent this
Feet and legs
Hazards such as wet, hot and cold conditions, electrostatic build-up, slipping, cuts and punctures, falling objects, heavy loads, metal and chemical splashes, vehicles. Options for PPE are safety boots and shoes with protective toecaps and penetration-resistant, mid-sole wellington boots and specific footwear, eg foundry boots and chainsaw boots
- Footwear can have a variety of sole patterns and materials to help prevent slips in different conditions, including oil – or chemical-resistant soles. It can also be anti-static, electrically conductive or thermally insulating
- Appropriate footwear should be selected for the risks identified
Hazards to lungs can be very varied from oxygen-deficient atmospheres, dusts, gases and vapours
Options – respiratory protective equipment (RPE)
- Some respirators rely on filtering contaminants from workplace air. These include simple filtering facepieces and respirators and power-assisted respirators
- Make sure it fits properly, eg for tight-fitting respirators (filtering facepieces, half and full masks)
- There are also types of breathing apparatus which give an independent supply of breathable air, eg fresh-air hose, compressed airline and self-contained breathing apparatus
- The right type of respirator filter must be used as each is effective for only a limited range of substances
- Filters have only a limited life. Where there is a shortage of oxygen or any danger of losing consciousness due to exposure to high levels of harmful fumes, only use breathing apparatus – never use a filtering cartridge
- You will need to use breathing apparatus in a confined space or if there is a chance of an oxygen deficiency in the work area
- If you are using respiratory protective equipment, look at HSE’s publication Respiratory protective equipment at work: A practical guide
Hazards can include heat, chemical or metal splash, spray from pressure leaks or spray guns, contaminated dust, impact or penetration, excessive wear or entanglement of own clothing. PPE could be conventional or disposable overalls, boiler suits, aprons, chemical suits
- The choice of materials includes flame-retardant, anti-static, chain mail, chemically impermeable, and high-visibility
- Don’t forget other protection, like safety harnesses or life jackets
Careful selection, maintenance and regular and realistic operator training is needed for equipment for use in emergencies, like compressed-air escape breathing apparatus, respirators and safety ropes or harnesses.
Many of our training courses involve and mention types of PPE, which you probably use and don’t even give a second thought to. Together with those above we provide over 100 different courses, most businesses should consider Manual Handling and Working at heights, as this comes in many forms from the general course to safe use of ladders and harnesses.
Abrasive wheels have their own legislation and should not be used without training and regular refresher courses, similar we also provided a number of different hand held tools, portable tools and small plant training.
A full course brochure can be downloaded from this website and our trained office staff are waiting to help you with any of your health and safety basics training requirements. Just click on this link for the ‘Get in Touch‘ option or give us a call on 01606 832 556.
The Kentra Training Team are waiting to help.