Lesson 1, Topic 1
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6.3. Important Health & Safety Documents and Notices

ryanrori January 12, 2021

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1. Health & Safety Poster:

This poster is something that should be displayed in the workplace and should

include:

.The details of the employees’ Health & Safety representative (if any)

.The details of the management of Health & Safety in the workplace (this may be yourself or someone who is trained and knowledgeable in the area of Health & Safety)

.The contact details of the Health & Safety authority of your business

2. Health & Safety Policy:

This is only a legal requirement if you employ more than five people and should outline the following:

. The responsibilities of those people using a certain area of the premises

. The Health & Safety risks that arise from the work activities and how they should be controlled

. The name(s) of the employees’ representative(s) concerning Health & Safety

. Who is responsible for providing safe equipment and maintaining its safety

. The location of the Health & Safety poster

. Who is responsible for informing and training employees for Health & Safety

. Location of first aid equipment and the name of the person(s) who is responsible for recording accidents

. Who is responsible for monitoring Health & Safety

. Who is responsible for carrying out risk assessments and making sure that it is always valid and put into use

3. Warnings and Information

This will be issued by the fire authority or fire brigade and declares that your workplace can be easily and safely evacuated in the event of fire. The Fire Precautions Act, 1971 lists and details premises that require such a license and includes ’premises being used for work’. The license will also give procedures to follow in case of fire specific to your premises.

It is important that you have displayed somewhere in the workplace a copy of the safety regulations of the premises. You should also have a poster displaying the Health & Safety Law so that your employees can be aware of regulations.

It is advised that you put up warning signs that illustrate a hazard so that people will know to take precautions when using equipment or entering a certain place in the premises. For example, a sign that warns people they are using electrical equipment so that they are cautious when using it.  See the images on the pages for examples.

4. Licences and Certificates:

Any licenses and certificates that you have should be displayed and the two most common essentials are:

a) Means of Escape in case of Fire

b) Certificate of Employer’s Liability Insurance

If you employ anyone, then it is compulsory that you have one of these as stated by the Employers’ Liability Act, 1969. It is a certificate to say that you have insurance cover for the injury or poor health of employees caused by incidents at work.

The licenses and certificates that you need will be determined by the industry you are in, but some will be compulsory to all businesses (like those above). You should therefore contact a solicitor to find out what licenses and certificates you need specific for the Health & Safety law requirements of your business.

5. Equipment Examination Records

From time to time, any equipment that you have in the workplace may need to be examined by competent people to confirm that the equipment is safe to use. Reports that are generated from the examination should be kept on file so that they can be referred to at any time. If you perform routine checks on equipment yourself (or by anybody else in the business), you should also make records.

Risk Assessments

A risk assessment is only a legal requirement if you employ more than five people but it is still a good idea to do one if you employ below this number. A risk assessment is simply a careful analysis of those things that could potentially harm people in the workplace and also the hazards that the work itself may possess. From this, you can assess whether you have done enough to eliminate or reduce the individual hazards as much as possible or if it is something that needs to be dealt with. The main aim of a risk assessment is to prevent people from being injured or falling ill.

The following is an outline of how you may approach a risk assessment:

1. Identify the hazards         For example, tripping, flammable equipment, electrical equipment, fumes, poor lighting, computer related hazards,

working from heights i.e. ladders, etc.

2. Recognize who may be harmed by This is not a list of names, just the people the hazard and in what way they would     involved, say, office staff, operators, etc.

be harmed.

3. Assess the level of the risk and     Do they meet the legal requirements for decide if you feel the existing safety’  If not, you should propose precautions taken (if any) are enough actions that need to be taken to make to reduce or eliminate the hazard              them safe and list them with respect to priority to other actions. Do not look at cost as a constraint: many issues can be solved with cost-effective solutions and remember that the cost will be less than legal expenses that could result from failing to act.

4. Record your findings (Steps 1-3)

5. Confirm with colleagues

They may disagree or even add things themselves

Many of the hazards you identify may be obvious to everyone but it is still essential that you record them. Remember that it may be impossible or out of your reach to completely eliminate the threat of a hazard, but you should concentrate on making the risk as small as possible. In other words, control the hazard so that the risk of

being harmed is low.

You should review the risk assessment periodically or when it is legally required if you employ more than five people. If you introduce changes in the workplace, or to the work itself, then you should update the risk assessment as soon as they are integrated. Any documentation associating Health & Safety, particularly risk

assessments, should be made available and easily accessible to all staff.

Health & Safety Issues

The area that Health & Safety covers is extremely extensive when you take

into account the diversity of the industries where each one has specific Health & Safety issues. We have therefore identified the issues that are common to most small businesses today, which identify the hazard along with appropriate solutions.

a) Electrical Safety

Small offices are usually considered to have low risk when it concerns electrical hazards but it still is one of the main causes of personal injury and fire.

With the more machinery and equipment that you have in the premises, the risk increases but for now, we will just consider the small office with the common electrical equipment of, say, computers, fax machines, fans, etc

There is no way of eliminating such dangers as it is entirely down to how the user operates the equipment with respect to the potential dangers that can occur from miss-use. It is therefore your responsibility to make sure that all electrical equipment (including power points) are maintained so that the risk of injury is low.

   

This does not mean re-wiring, say, the computer, it is just a general inspection and testing which may include:

Looking for exposed wires that have no insulation

Identifying damaged and defected equipment

Identifying signs of overheating

Checking that all plugs have the right fuse and are earthed correctly, etc

Any issues need to be fixed immediately which will mean putting the equipment out of use until it is fixed: if you are still unsure, then turn off the power to the premises completely until it has been adjusted.

It is important that all tests and inspections are carried out by someone (if not you) who has a high knowledge on electrical safety. If your business employs more then five employees, it is stated in the Health & Safety Regulations that such inspections should be carried out by a qualified electrician.

b) Fire safety

Fire can put an end to small businesses if they are not controlled and you should therefore take all the necessary precautions to prevent such an incident from happening. All individual threats should be identified in your risk assessment but fire can be caused through a ‘knock-on‘ effect of poor electrical safety precautions.

It is important that you isolate the individual threats of fire by training your staff to deal with each case of fire. This will include fighting electrical and chemical fires as well as the general fires. In which case, you should provide the necessary equipment that is needed to battle fires including blankets, extinguishers, and possibly axes.

Fire extinguishers come in different sizes and more importantly, different types to put out different classes of fire:

Class A fires

These are combustibles such as wood, paper, general furniture, etc and

can be put out with an extinguisher that consists of either pressurized water or foam.

Class B fires

These include fires caused by flammable liquids or gases. In which case

you have to eliminate the oxygen to prevent the liquid or gas from further reaching the ignition source. Such extinguishers contain either carbon dioxide or dry chemicals (powder).

Class C fires

These are fires caused by electrical equipment and therefore it is important that the element used to put out the fire is a non-electrical conductor. You should never use water to put out electrical fires. The correct extinguisher to use would consist of carbon dioxide or dry chemicals (powder).

All extinguishers are classed and correlate to the type of fire that they can be used for. Some extinguishers may have, say, a BC class meaning that they can be used for both flammable liquid (class B fire) and electrical fires (class C fire).

It is important that you maintain your fire equipment and have it regularly checked by a fire authority (e.g. the fire brigade) to make

sure they are in constant working order. Aside from the use of equipment, your employees should be trained on how to evacuate the premises as quick and safely as possible. This will require you to make sure that fire escapes are clear at all times.

c) Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

Back in the times when typewriters were the only form of word processing, the degree of repetitive strain injury was reduced by the regular breaks of inserting paper. Today, because computers allow us to type freely with no interruptions, the risk has increased. When typing, very few of us think about the high risks of injury associated with our fingers, wrists and tendons. Those people that are employed only to type (e.g. secretaries) are usually the ones that keep quiet when they suffer from RSI caused by constant typing because they fear for their job.

Employees now have the backing of the law for employers to provide action to reduce the risk of RSI and are an issue that should be covered in the risk assessment (if used). To reduce the risk, you should provide adequate workstations that allow the employee to feel more comfortable when using a computer for typing or manoeuvring the mouse. Further, you should allow the employee to have regular breaks from typing by rotating their tasks.

Products have also been made available to assist RSI sufferers, which includes the ergonomically designed keyboard (available at all big office equipment stores) that reduces the need to bend and flex the wrists when typing. Similar products are available to assist with using the mouse.

d) Machinery Safety

If your business uses machinery in the premises, then they can possess a high

degree of risk to Health & Safety if not used and installed properly. The extent that this issue can go to is extremely wide and therefore it will be hard for this article to bring justice to the subject. As a result, we will only cover the main issues that should be considered when using machinery.

When you first purchase a piece of machinery, you should check that it has a recognized safety mark and secondly, you should obtain any licenses that may be needed to use such machinery. Further, you should consult an expert to acknowledge that the piece of machinery is installed properly and that the environment in which it is to be used is acceptable. This may have specific concern to its isolation so that there is a safe distance between the user and the people that work close by.

It is your responsibility that all employees are fully trained on how to use the machinery and the consequences of its miss-use. It is further important that the machinery is checked before use and also that periodic checks are made by yourself (or a competent person) to ensure the continued safety of its users. This will mean financing the budget for regular maintenance.

e) First Aid Kits

First aid kit is required by all businesses. By law, you must provide adequate and appropriate equipment to allow first aid to be given to employees that become injured or ill at work.

There are no mandatory contents for first aid equipment, although the minimum is generally accepted to be a properly stocked first aid box. In the event of an accident

you could be liable if your first aid equipment was seen to be insufficient