Health & safety at work

The Health & Safety at Work Act covers all work places and defines the obligation of all employers and employees to ensure a safe working environment.

Employers are required to assess risks have policies and procedures in place to control those risks. If there are 5or more employees the risk assessments are required to be documented.

Whilst inspections are not a requirement under this legislation, they are recognised as part of providing a safe working environment.

Any "Risks" are required to be reduced in a hieratical form.

Elimination: 1 Redesign the job or remove a substance so that the hazard is removed or eliminated. For example, duty holders must avoid working at height where they can.

Substitution: 2 Replace the material or process with a less hazardous one. For example, use a small MEWP to access work at height instead of step ladders. Care should be taken to ensure the alternative is safer than the original.

Engineering controls: 3 Use work equipment or other measures to prevent falls where you cannot avoid working at height. Install or use additional machinery such as local exhaust ventilation to control risks from dust or fume. Separate the hazard from operators by methods such as enclosing or guarding dangerous items of machinery/equipment. Give priority to measures which protect collectively over individual measures.

Administrative controls: 4 These are all about identifying and implementing the procedures you need to work safely. For example: reducing the time workers are exposed to hazards (eg by job rotation); prohibiting use of mobile phones in hazardous areas; increasing safety signage, and performing risk assessments.

Personal protective: 5 Clothes and equipment: Only after all the previous measures have been tried and found ineffective in controlling risks to a reasonably practicable level, must personal protective equipment (PPE) be used. For example, where you cannot eliminate the risk of a fall, use work equipment or other measures to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall (should one occur). If chosen, PPE should be selected and fitted by the person who uses it. Workers must be trained in the function and limitation of each item of PPE.

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