Health & Safety in the Workplace

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 places a general duty on all employers to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees.  

This includes:

  • The provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that is safe and without risks to health 
  • Arrangements for ensuring safety and absence of risk in connection with the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances 
  • The provision of such information, instruction training and supervision as is necessary to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable the health and safety at work of employees 
  • So far as is reasonably practicable as regards any place of work under an employer’s control, the maintenance of it in a condition that is safe and without risk to health and the provision and maintenance of means of access to and egress from it that are safe and without such risk 
  • The provision and maintenance of a working environment for their employees that so far as is reasonably practicable, safe without risks to health and adequate as regards facilities and arrangements for their welfare at work 

Employers also have a similar general duty towards persons not in their employment who may be affected by what they do. Employees also have duties under this Act to take reasonable care for the health and safety of themselves and of others who may be affected by their acts and omissions at work. Employees must also co-operate with their employer so far as is necessary to enable any statutory duties to be complied with. 

These general duties apply to all employers and employees regardless of the size or type of business they are involved in. 

Workplace Management 

In addition to these general duties made under the Health and Safety at Work Act, there is a whole range of regulations that make these general duties more specific. The most important regulations that apply to all employers is the Management of Health and Safety at work regulations which were introduced to place very specific duties on employers to actively manage Health and Safety. 

In particular, there is a requirement for every employer to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of:

  • The risks to the health and safety of their employees to which they are exposed while at work 
  • The risks to the health and safety of those not in their employment who may be affected by their undertaking 
  • For the purposes of identifying the measures they need to take to reduce the risks 

Risk assessment is the cornerstone of effective management of Health and Safety in all circumstances. In relation to transport, it is vital that all activities have been adequately assessed and control measures put in place to reduce the identified risks. 

Failure to comply with the duties laid down in the Health and Safety at Work Act and/or any specific regulation made under it can give rise to unlimited fines and/or a prison sentence. 

Workplace Transport 

Workplace transport is responsible for a considerable number of accidents every year. Over the last 5 years, there has been a higher rate of accidents within the road haulage and distribution sector than in construction. In addition, there are considerable numbers of employees suffering short or long term ill health, therefore controlling Health and Safety risks in the transport sector is vital in order to reduce these numbers. 

The main kinds of risks that need to be considered are:

  • Being struck by a moving vehicle 
  • Falling loads 
  • Falls from vehicles 
  • Collapsing or overturning vehicles 
  • Slips and trips 
  • Being struck by moving or falling objects 
  • Manual handling 

In addition, consideration needs to be given to driver competency and training, housekeeping of warehouses and unloading/loading areas as well as maintenance of vehicles. 

Vehicles at work continue to be a major cause of fatal and major injuries. Every year there are over 5000 incidents involving transport in the workplace and about 50 of these result in people being killed. Estimates suggest that up to one-third of all road traffic accidents involve someone who is at work at the time. 

What to do first? 

To manage the risks from workplace transport effectively three key areas must be considered: 

  • Safe site 
  • Safe vehicle 
  • Safe driver 

The Workplace Transport website provides more information and the Health & Safety Executive produce publications for guidance.

Some Dos and Don'ts 

Do: 

  • Keep people and vehicles apart 
  • Have clear site rules and enforce them 
  • Anchor loads securely to the vehicle chassis 
  • Avoid the need to work at height on vehicles 

Don't:

  • Operate vehicles without authorisation

The subject is huge and complex, but both employer and employee are required to do their part. The following links provide guidance to ensure the safety of all within the workplace. 

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999      http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1999/3242/contents/made 

HSE Transport in the Workplace  

https://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/ 

Work Safe UK  

https://www.worksafe.uk.com/health-and-safety-legislation/ 

https://www.worksafe.uk.com/health-and-safety-in-the-workplace-who-is-responsible/