Workplace Health and Safety
Every year UK workers experience injury, illness and even death as a result of accidents or conditions in their place of work. Often this can be due to poor workplace heath and safety practice. Health and safety law requires employers to provide an environment that is free from risk and hazards, where the safety of workers is a priority. UK law has a number of undertakings designed to enforce these requirements and there are a number of regulations in place to which employers have to adhere.
What is a dangerous workplace?
People commonly imagine that a dangerous workplace is one where heavy-duty equipment is employed – such as on a construction site or in a factory. Whilst this is certainly true to an extent, an ordinary office or shop can be just as dangerous if basic health and safety procedures are not followed.
Trips and falls at work that result from slippery or wet floors remain the most common cause of injury.
Loose cables or other obstacles such as worn carpet or linoleum can also create problems.
When equipment is not properly maintained and regularly serviced it can also become a hazard, whether it’s an electric kettle in a kitchenette or an industrial machine. Appliances should be tested based on Risk and Industry recommendations and supplies of gas and electricity should also be thoroughly checked and appropriate precautions taken.
Employers are duty bound to ensure that office workers and those who use a computer take regular breaks, especially during periods of intensive work, as it is harmful to spend long periods of time in one position staring at a screen. Ensuring that desks and chairs are at the correct height will help to minimise the potential for experiencing repetitive stress injury (RSI) problems and avoid the possibility of developing neck or back strain. Employers are also obliged to protect staff from injury by making them aware of the possible threats to their safety and offer training and advice in how to ensure that risk in the workplace is minimised.
Finally, work related stress is increasingly common, and employers have a duty to assign a workload to employees that is fair and appropriate to their abilities.