Health and Safety Regulations in the Workplace

Health and safety regulations are designed to protect employers, employees and the general public from potential dangers in their own and other people's places of work. It is both required by law for every place of work to have a health and safety policy as well as recommended to show a company's commitment to the safety and well being of any individuals who may be on site. Workplaces differ widely, from production factories to childcare nurseries, as such, the health and safety considerations for each place of work will vary with its function.There is specific legislation applicable to certain industries and additionally, the laws are often changing and being updated. However, there are universal health and safety laws that apply across the board and guidelines on procedures for how employers should put them into place.

In the first instance, a person should be appointed responsible for health and safety in a designated workplace. The Health and Safety Manager should be a competent person with proven attention to detail. It may be an existing employee, the employer themselves or it may be necessary to seek external advice. A health and safety policy will be drawn up by this manager, often with input from other members of the management team as well as members of staff who are carrying out day to day operations and who will be directly affected by it. The policy must be agreed upon, carried out and reviewed regularly. The policy will usually take the form of a chart detailing each health and safety consideration, the relevant risks, which individual or team is responsible for making arrangements to avoid any risks and how they will do so. The policy may also dictate where the health and safety poster and first aid kit should be located.

Creating an effective health and safety policy for a workplace is about identifying and assessing potential risks posed by its location and function, the necessary and potential actions of any individuals using the area and the developments of procedures by which to avoid, prevent or eliminate those risks. A risk assessment can be carried out by the Health and Safety Manager methodically walking through the workplace and makinga note of any potential hazards which could cause harm to colleagues, visitors or customers. The Manager should consider any measures that are already in place and what further action needs to be taken to minimise or eliminate risks. Particular attention should be paid to the types of people that use the space and any specific needs they might have; for example, lack of training in new employees and any physical limitations or disabilities. Additionally, if the workplace in question is a particularly high risk environment, there may be very specific measures that are required by law such as working with chemicals or heavy machinery. It is also important to remember that workplaces are, in most cases, constantly changing environments and new risks will continually need to be assessed and the policy updated accordingly.

When the policy is drawn up, based upon the risk assessment, the health and safety procedures must be followed. This may involve training of employees and particularly individuals who have been designated a specific role in preventing risks. In general, all the people who use the workplace will need to be made aware of the health and safety measures in place and an up to date copy of the Health and Safety Law Poster must be displayed clearly.