FAQ’s

There is no such thing as a trivial or complicated question. This is not an exhaustive list, if your question isn’t here, please get in touch via phone, email or social media and we would be glad to provide an answer suitable for you and your workplace.

Q. Am I breaking the law if I am working alone?

No.  It is not illegal but employers are strongly advised to conduct a risk assessment for lone worker activities.  Further guidance to employers and workers is outlined in the freely available HSE publication, INDG73 Protecting lone workers.  How to manage the risks of working alone https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg73.pdf

Why do I need to do a risk assessment for lone workers?

Lone workers face the same hazards at work as anyone else, but there is a greater risk of these hazards causing harm as they may not have anyone to help or support them if things go wrong.  As an employer, you should provide training, supervision, monitoring and support for lone workers.

Q. Do I need to have a SHE Management System?

No.  It is not mandatory. But you do have a legal duty to put in place suitable arrangements to manage for health and safety.

It is widely recognised that well organised management systems are useful in helping organisations and businesses comply with health and safety at work legislation.  Most management system models adopt a Plan, Do, Check and Act cycle to drive for continuous improvement.  Management systems endorse positive safety leadership from directors and managers to encourage the collaboration of the entire workforce to develop a safety culture that goes beyond just compliance.

Small or medium sized enterprises can follow the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) published guidance ‘Managing for Health and Safety’ HSG65 https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg65.pdf  It is available as free download and outlines what needs to be done to achieve an effective management system.  If you have something like this in place and it is working well, you may want to consider going for implementing an accredited H&S management standard, such as, ISO 45001.

For many small businesses a safety handbook and some suitable assessment checklists may cover most of what is needed for day to day operations.  Record keeping will be necessary for accident reports, training and qualifications.

Responsibilities for H&S arrangements; Regulation 5 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR).

Q. What if there are only 2 employed and everyone else is subcontracted to us?

If you have joined in an agreement with someone else’s to contract their time and labour for an agreed rate of enumeration you have set up a contract of employment.  If this agreement comes into action you are then considered to be an employer as far as the application of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) is concerned.  English common law will still hold up precedent will uphold the ‘employer’ status even if a written contract of employment has not been exchanged.

As an employer you have duties under the Act.  Part 1, Section 2 state the employer’s duty to their employees, Section 3 covers an employer’s duties to other persons not in their employment but who may be affected by the employer’s undertaking.  This general duty of care will cover agency workers, contractors, visitors and the general public.  The duty also extends to voluntary workers who are not paid for their time.  The employer controls who, what, where, how and when work will be done.  Hence, they hold duties and liability under the law.

The details of responsibility to temporary workers is stated in Regulation 15 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR).

Q. Do I need an assessment if I work from home?

Yes.  If you have set up either a temporary or long-term office workstation at home the employer is responsible that a suitable assessment is done to ensure the workstation is set up correctly without risks to a worker’s health of safety, Regulation 2 of the Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992.  This applies to most working at home activities.

Q. I drive a lot for work, do I need any health and safety for driving?

Yes.  You should have a safety induction with guidance and instructions as to carry out a safety inspection of your vehicle.  You should also have instructions about the safe loading and unloading of your vehicle, e.g. the relevant maximum load, distribution of weight, methods used to secure the load.  You will need more specific training in the safe use of tail-lift equipment, hydraulic lifting arms, sliding ramps and winches, etc.

If you own the vehicle, you will have responsibility to tax, insure and keep it maintained in a safe and roadworthy condition.  If it is owned by your employer, they will have these responsibilities.  You must report any defects found during an inspection prior to a journey.  The employer should have arrangements to rectify any defect when it is reported.  The driver must also take appropriate action should a fault or failure occurs whilst driving on the road.

The employer will need to routinely check you have a valid license for the class of vehicle you are driving.  If you use your own vehicle for work purposes the employer must check you hold a valid driving license, insurance and a MOT certificate if the vehicle registration is over the prescribed period.

Q. I am out with clients a lot of the time. Can I just sign up to their H&S?

It depends.

1)  If your clients are domestic clients without a business connection to any of the services you provide, they have no strict liability under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA).

Therefore, if you are self-employed and you are providing a work-related service to a member of the public, you have a duty to take reasonably practicable care of yourself and your client (any other person ) who may be affected by your undertaking, HSWA Section 3(2).  You must be able to prove you have taken reasonably practicable steps to prevent risks to you and your client’s their health and safety.  Your H&S arrangements, assessments, etc need to take account of this aspect of your business activity.

If you are an employee working with a member of the public, both your employer and you have general duties under HSWA.  Your employer has duty to you under Section 2 and a duty to the client under Section 3.  You have a duty to yourself and your client under Section 7(a).  Therefore, you follow your employer’s H&S rules and arrangements covering visiting and working with private clients, HSWA Section 2(5) and 7(b).

Note: English common law holds that every citizen owes a reasonable duty of care to other people.  Any negligence committed on their behalf that leads to someone suffering damages or loss may be subject to a civil action (tort of negligence) if the injured party wants to seek redress for their loss.  If you are hurt by your domestic client’s negligence you may have grounds for redress.

2)  If you are self-employed and your client is another employer, then General Duties stated in HSWA apply to both parties.  The client owes you a duty as either a visitor or contractor, HSWA Section 3(1).  You retain a duty to your client, HSWA Section 3(2).  You both share a duty to exchange relevant H&S information to each other Section 3(3).  If you are working on a client’s premises and working with their employees, then their H&S site rules and arrangements apply.  However, you must co-ordinate your work with the client and ensure effective communication between all people who may be affected by the work as it is undertaken.  You must act competently to ensure you do not create a risk to others.

3)  If you are an employee and your client is another employer, then General Duties stated in HSWA apply to both parties.  The client owes you a duty as either a visitor or contractor, HSWA Section 3(1).  Your employer has duty to you under Section 2 and a duty to the client under Section 3.  You have a duty to yourself and your client (any other person) under Section 7(a), you must also co-operate with your employer’s H&S arrangements in connection with how the work is assessed and done, Section 7(b).  If you are working on a client’s premises and working with their employees, then their H&S site rules and relevant safety arrangements apply.  However, you must co-ordinate your work with the client and ensure effective communication between all people who may be affected by the work as it is undertaken.  You must act competently to ensure you do not create a risk to others.

More detail on the responsibilities of different parties is stated in the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR). Regulation 12(1).

Q. Are risk assessments for the person or the task?

Both.  Regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR).  The employer must assess the risks to the health and safety of their employees that they could be exposed to whilst they are at work.  This also extends to other people who are not their employees.  And Reg. 3(2) places the same duty on the self-employed person to assess their own risks and to other people.

A review of the assessment of risk to an individual person is necessary if they are:

  • a young person who has not reached the age of 18. Reg 3(4)-(5) and Reg19.

An assessment of risk will be necessary if the person is:

  • a new or expectant mother. And they have given their employer written notification, refer to MHSWR Reg 18.

When this is the case, the employer must follow Regulations 16 and 17.

The employer should also review any assessment of risk that may involve vulnerable workers, such as, migrant workers or people with disabilities

HSE guidance 5-Steps to Risk Assessment.  To identify hazards in the workplace (Step 1), it may be practical to first look at a discrete task or activity and decide who will be at risk (Step 2).

 

Also refer the HSWA Part 1 Section 1(3).

Q. Who should do the risk assessments?

A competent person.  Regulation 7(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR).

Someone who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities that allow them to identify hazards and determine the associated risks.

The level of competence required will depend on the complexity of a particular situation and the employer may need to enlist help for other competent people.

Q. I have been in business for many years, I know the process, people and risks – is this enough competence?

Not necessarily.  To ensure compliance, do you know and understand what H&S legislation is relevant to your business?  Do know where sources of information and guidance can be found to help you effectively manage your health and safety risk?

Good knowledge of process, people, etc are strong indicators of competence.  An independent check by a H&S professional can confirm good practice and identify any shortcomings that will need to be actioned to ensure compliance with the law.

Q. What welfare do I have to provide?

Details for the standards expected for various elements of welfare are stated in the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

Reg 20 – Sanitary conveniences

Reg 21 – Washing facilities

Reg 22 – Drinking water

Reg 23 – Accommodation for clothing

Reg 24 – Facilities for changing clothing

Reg 25 – Facilities for rest and to eat meals

Further information on standards are included in the free download HSE publication, L24 Approved Code of Practice https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/l24.pdf

Q. Do I have to provide training?

Yes.  HSWA duties of employers, Section 2(2)(c) – provision of information, instruction, training and supervision.  Further detail on this responsibility is stated in MHSWR Reg 13 – capabilities and training.

The employer has responsibility to employ safe and competent workers.  Competence can be described as the combination of training, skills, experience and knowledge that a person has and their ability to apply them to perform a task safely.

Induction training is essential for all new employees from the start, (including trainees, apprentices, agency workers and volunteers).

On-the-job instruction and training should be carried out under the supervision of a competent person until the employee can demonstrate they can carry out their allotted tasks safely, without risk to themselves or others.  This will need to be recorded and signed by the employee and supervisor.

Job specific training should be planned to develop skills, competency and understanding.

All these types of training must include aspects of work safety that are relevant and proportionate to the tasks being undertaken.

Safety training will underpin knowledge and understanding of how to work safely and keep other safe from harm.  Additional specialist safety training will be necessary for employees who have been appointed to assist the employer to fulfil H&S duties, e.g. First Aiders, Fire Wardens.

Further guidance is available as a free download in the HSE publication INDG 345 Health and safety training.  A brief guide. https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg345.pdf

Refer to the Health and Safety (Training for Employment) Regulations 1990 to ensure that learners doing work experience are covered by health and safety law.

Q. Who should my competent person be?

A competent person.  Regulation 7(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR).

Someone who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities that allow them to identify hazards and determine the associated risks and recommend necessary actions and priorities to address any shortcomings in policy, procedures, assessments, etc.

The level of competence required will depend on the complexity of a particular situation and the employer may need to enlist assistance for other people outside their organisation.

Q. How much fire equipment to do I need?

The different types and amount of equipment (including portable fire extinguishers and fire blankets) you need depend on your business premises.  Any new equipment must be properly installed by a competent person.  Your current arrangement for portable fire-fighting equipment is likely to reflect the British Standard what was relevant at the time they were installed on the premises.

The current Codes of Practice in 2020 are:

BS 5306-8:2012   Fire extinguishing installations and equipment on premises.  Selection and positioning of portable fire extinguishers.

BS 5306-3:2017   Fire extinguishing installations and equipment on premises. Commissioning and maintenance of portable fire extinguishers.

Part 2 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO).  This legislation requires the ‘responsible person’ to carry out a risk assess to identify the general fire precautions they will need to comply with the Order.  The requirements for fire-fighting equipment are stated in Reg 13.  Seeking advice from a competent Fire Risk assessor is important at this stage.  They will know how to interpret current standards and guidance to advise as to which types of portable fire-fighting equipment (extinguishers) are appropriate to your business and operating premises.  They will also advise on the minimum fire-fighting capability you need for different classifications of fire, together with their location along fire escape routes, final exit doors and other places within the premises.

All fire-fighting equipment will need routine checks and inspection and must undergo annual maintenance by a competent and accredited fire safety operative.  Completed checklists and engineer reports should be filed with your site fire safety folder.  Employers are advised to train their employees how to use a fire extinguisher as part of their general fire safety training.

Q. How much first aid equipment do I need?

Assess what is needed by following the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981.  Further guidance is available as a free download in the HSE publication L74 First Aid at Work – Guidance on Regulations. https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l74.htm

Q. I have trainee’s under 18 do I need anything specific to protect them?

Yes.  If they are your trainees, refer to Regulations 3(4) and (5) and Reg 19 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR).

Yes.  If they are trainees placed by agreement with a Training Provider organisation or education establishment to gain work experience.  Refer to The Health and Safety (Training for Employment) Regulations 1990

Provision of relevant training:

Induction training is essential for all new employees from the start, (including trainees, apprentices, agency workers and volunteers).

On-the-job instruction and training should be carried out under the supervision of a competent person until the trainee can demonstrate they can carry out their allotted tasks safely, without risk to themselves or others.  This will need to be recorded and signed by the trainee and supervisor.

Job specific training should be planned to develop skills, competency and understanding.

All types of training must include aspect of work safety that are relevant and proportionate to the tasks being undertaken,

It will be necessary to provide a higher degree of supervision for young persons under 18 because of their overall lack of experience in work and their limited ability to recognise danger, work hazards and the associated risks.  Similar levels of supervision may also be necessary for students, post-graduates and inexperienced workers who are 18-years or older.

Q. I have a pregnant worker, what should I put in place?

Refer to the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR).

An assessment of risk will be necessary if the person is:

  • a new or expectant mother. And they have given their employer written notification, refer to MHSWR Reg 18.

When this is the case, the employer must follow Regulations 16 and 17.

Further guidance to employers and workers is outlined in the freely available HSE publication, INDG373 New and expectant mothers who work – A brief guide to your health and safety. https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg373.pdf

Q. Am I responsible for the cleaner and maintenance person?

Yes.  HSWA Section 2 duties apply if they are your employees.  Section 3(1) duties will apply if they are not your employees.