Duty of Care and the Importance of Health and Safety Inspections
Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, all employers have a duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and anyone else who might be affected by their acts or omissions. Workplace health and safety inspections/audits help prevent injuries and illnesses as well as ensuring that as a business you are complying with statutory health and safety legislation.
Health and safety inspections also allow you to identify hazards and risks that require corrective action as well as identifying any opportunities for improvement.
What is the Purpose of a Health and Safety Inspection?
Whilst ensuring that an employer is complying with statutory law, Health and Safety inspections also provide proof of your commitment to achieving a safe and healthy workplace.
Employers should carry out inspections/audits to:
- Listen to the concerns of workers and supervisors
- Gain a further understanding of jobs and tasks
- Identify existing and potential hazards
- Monitor hazard controls (personal protective equipment, engineering controls, policies, procedures etc.)
- Ensure compliance with health and safety legislation
What Does a General Safety Inspection Involve?
A general workplace inspection/audit should look at some of the following, however please be advised that the below list is not exhaustive and is dependent on the activities carried out by the business (For example, an inspection/audit of an engineering workshop will require additional processes or procedures to that of an office environment):
- Health and safety policy – does the business have a written health and safety policy? (written policy required if you employ 5 or more people)
- Machinery – is it sufficiently inspected, maintained and guarded?
- Risk assessments – are risk assessments carried out for activities and briefed to the required personnel?
- Electricity – is PAT testing carried out? Is the fixed wire system inspected as required (usually 5 yearly)?
- Hazardous substances – are they assessed, used and stored safely?
- Manual handling – are staff adequately trained?
- Slips trips and falls – is housekeeping kept to a good standard (no trailing cables etc. particularly in walkways)?
- Fire precautions – do you have an up to date fire risk assessment, do you have the appropriate fire alarm system, fire extinguishers, evacuation plans etc.?
- Welfare and first aid – have you carried out a first aid needs assessment to identify the requirement of first aiders? Is there a fully stocked first aid box in place to cover the hazards appropriate to your work activities, are burns kits required, eye wash etc. Are toilets clean with hot and cold running water available?
The outcome of the health and safety inspection must be recorded, along with an action plan with responsibilities and timescales.