Health and Safety at Work

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Critically review your own organisation’s Health and Safety Policy and procedures and make recommendations for improvements

Organisations today widely regard their employees as their greatest assets, so it is no wonder that they are spending an increasing amount of their resources on ensuring that the workplace and work systems enable its staff to feel safe and secure; as management continues takes an active role in their wellbeing. Failure to ensure and provide a safe working environment can raise concerns in a variety of areas such as legal, financial and ethical issues. In the United Kingdom there are legislations in place designed to ensure that correct and appropriate systems of work, in regards to health and safety, exist within every organisation. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASWA), section 2, “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.” This highlights the responsibility employers have in ensuring their employees are safe of chemical, physical and machinery hazards and risks. Hazards can be defined as something that can cause adverse effects, such as water on a staircase because of the possibility of you slipping on it and hurting yourself. A risk is the likelihood that a hazard will actually cause its adverse effects, together with a measure of the effect. Risks are usually expressed as facts with a quantifiable likelihood, such as “one in a hundred”, paired with the effect and hazard, “fatal accident [effect] at work [hazard]”. Other important sections to highlight within the HASWA are section 3 “It shall be the duty of every employer..., so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health and safety.” This underlines the responsibility employers have of ensuring members of the public and non-employees are not exposed to any risks. HASWA 1974, s7; “It shall be the duty of every employee while at work to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work”. This states the duty every employee has in ensuring their own wellbeing within the workplace as well as their conduct in ensuring the health safety of their colleagues. HASWA s8; “No person shall intentionally or recklessly interfere with or misuse anything provided in the interests of health, safety or welfare in pursuance of any of the relevant statutory provisions.” Section 8 talks of the importance of not misusing or damaging property and equipment at work under a legal obligation. From each of these sections there are key phrases and words which can be interpreted differently and applied in various contexts. “So far as is reasonably practicable”, for example, involves weighing the risk against the time, money and trouble needed to control it. This is normally expected to be exerted to different extents within different organisations. In a small business with 5 employees it may be ‘unreasonable’ to put in place a system to prevent doors shutting abruptly due to the nature of the organisation and the cost of implementation. However if in a bigger organisation of significantly more employees (150), then the risk of getting fingers trapped in the door are increased, so this may be an issue that would need investigating and probably amended in order to comply with the act. I am going to make a risk assessment of my work place in my area of operation focusing on some of the health and safety concerns and what can or has been done to rectify the issue. My workplace is in ‘23 New Mount Street’ which is a grade 2 listed building of serviced offices. It used to be an old mill, later home to the ‘Cooperative Printing Society’, and now converted into a set of offices. My office is on the second floor for which you have to take stairs to enter the building and then an...
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