Health and Safetyby Pete Fisher
- What health and safety responsibilities do I have?
- What is meant by a DSE Assessment?
- How do I do a risk assessment?
- One of my staff has had an accident. What should I do?
- What is a Fire Risk Assessment?
1. What health and safety responsibilities do I have?
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 places general responsibilities on employers to, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide a safe place of work, including equipment and training.
Individuals also have a legal duty to take reasonable care of themselves and others and co-operate with their employer to enable him to comply with his legal duties. It is also an offence for anyone to interfere with or misuse anything provided in the interests of health and safety.
As well as the general duties above, anyone who has responsibility for someone at work in any guise (director, manager, supervisor, foreman, instructor and so on) also has a degree of responsibility for that person’s health and safety.
2. What is meant by a DSE assessment?
DSE refers to an item of Display Screen Equipment, such as a graphic display system or, in more friendly language, a computer screen, CCTV screen, microfiche reader and so on.
The use of DSE is governed by regulations that aim to prevent associated problems. To prevent injury, employers are required to conduct an assessment of each individual’s workstation and remedy any shortcomings that may be identified.
This usually involves the provision of suitable office furniture, advice on workstation layout and work routine, and it may involve proactive health schemes.
3. How do I do a risk assessment?
A risk assessment is used to identify all the circumstances that could put employees at risk while at work and determine the level of resource needed to manage those risks effectively.
The first step of a risk assessment is to identify the hazards associated with the task being assessed. This will involve walking around the work area, observing the task and talking to those involved. For each hazard, consider who may be harmed; in most cases, this will not be limited to the operator.
Once noted, the level of risk attributed to each hazard should be evaluated, taking account of the severity of the possible outcome and the exposure. Controls must then be implemented to reduce the risk as far as is reasonably practicable.
Risk assessments must be documented and forms for this purpose will be found in each company’s Health and Safety Policy.
4. One of my staff has had an accident. What should I do?
The first step is to ensure that the injured person has received first aid treatment and, if necessary, the Emergency Services hace been called. The accident must be reported within the company, using forms from the Health and Safety Policy, and investigated.
Depending on the circumstances, you may need to ensure the accident scene is left intact until all relevant information can be captured for the report. The aim of any accident investigation is to to identify what went wrong and prevent a recurrence, not to apportion blame.
There may also be a need to report the accident to the enforcing authorities and you should check the Health and Safety Policy for the correct procedure.
5. What is a Fire Risk Assessment?
Anyone who has control of any part of non-domestic premises must undertake a Fire Risk Assessment to identify risks from fire that can be removed or reduced and to decide the nature and extent of the general fire precautions needed. If five or more people are employed, the risk assessment and any significant findings must be recorded.
The Fire Risk Assessment must be completed by a competent person and should pay particular attention to
- People at special risk, such as young people, disabled persons and anyone with special needs
- Means of detecting any fire, raising the alarm and extinguishing the fire
- Any dangerous substances likely to be on the premises
- Emergency plans.