Wherever and whenever we work, all our employers have a responsibility to ensure our health, safety and wellbeing whilst we’re fulfilling the remits of our individual roles. Wellbeing also applies to the psychological as well as physical. Both core elements of the duty of care which extends to all employees and should be upheld throughout our working days.
Additionally, employers have a legal obligation to protect any visitors to their premises, including customers, suppliers and the broader general public, while regulations and recommendations are in place to deal with particular hazards for certain industries which operate within more rigid HSE protocols.
The Health and Safety Work Act is the Recognised Benchmark for UK Employers to Adhere to
All employers have a duty of care and overarching responsibility to their employees, encapsulated within the long-established framework of The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The ‘at-a-glance’ – yet primary – points which this governance highlights are as follows:
- Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe place – and system – of work
- Employers have a responsibility for ensuring safe equipment, plant and machinery is available
- Employers have a responsibility to ensure that safe and competent people work alongside you at all times (employers are also liable for actions of staff and managers)
- Employers have a responsibility to perform risk assessments as determined in clear regulations, subsequently legally obliged to take steps to eliminate or control any risks outlined as a result
- Employers have a responsibility to inform employees fully about all potential hazards, including work processes, chemical substances or activity. This incorporates the provision of instruction, training and supervision, once familiarity is established
- Re: the above – employers have a responsibility to appoint a competent person to be further responsible for every day health and safety issues and oversee management, inspections, employee liaison, etc
- Employers have a responsibility to provide adequate facilities for staff welfare at work
All employers with five or more employees must have a written health and safety policy, and one which is brought to the notice of all employees.
The above serve to cover all the predominant touchpoints regarding more wide-ranging and historic health and safety concerns, and are typically followed by employers across all sectors and industries here in the UK.
Yet above and beyond these traditional key strategies, the employer’s responsibility landscape is always subject to unforeseen change. And to quickly adapt to new threats to a workforce. With the unprecedented emergence of the recent global pandemic a point in question.
Covid-19 Risk Management in The Workplace
Post-pandemic lockdowns and significant easing of measures introduced to curb the spread of Covid-19 will have seen a staggered re-entering of familiar work environments, perhaps. More than the imagined rush of footfall back to offices, warehouses, factories, retail establishments and public sector occupations, once a cautious green light was given in July.
Largely because risks associated with the virus will remain genuine for the foreseeable future in the eyes of many in the workforce. Meaning employers will have a delicate balancing act in terms of keeping their businesses prosperous and complying with legal responsibilities in light of employees’ anxieties about contracting coronavirus in a work scenario.
Focusing on virus concerns in direct relation to an employer’s health and safety aspects and overriding duty of care to employees, and in the majority of cases we’d hope that business owners will have conducted risk assessments for their specific workplace settings, bearing in mind the very nature of interactions and potential areas in which contamination might have the opportunity to present.
Universal-fit desk-spacing, ventilation, cleaning, social distancing, provision of hand sanitisers and protective shields to safeguard customer engagement will all be in evidence across the UK.
While wearing face coverings, insistence on lateral flow testing and any talk of ‘no jab, no job’ with reference to employees who haven’t received a double vaccination, will be at the discretion of individual employers and their attitude and approach. And also reflected in the revised government guidance.
Accidents at Work and Compensation
As we’ve just identified above, an employer’s responsibility – whilst shaped of old – needs to remain fresh and subject to change. When an employer fails to comply with their duty of care and far-reaching responsibilities to their employees, then accidents at work can become more of a latent risk. And arguably, an avoidable one at that. Which of course raises the question of negligence.
Should you, as an employee, suffer an injury caused by what’s later proven to be an avoidable accident at work, then you may well be entitled to claim some form of workplace compensation. If in the event an employer’s aversion to following HSE protocols and practices are legally proven, then anyone who has experienced a work-based injury can pursue a claim.
Said injury might now always be of a physical nature, as psychological injuries can also have a devastating impact and enduring effect on victims.
Help is at hand in these situations though, and here at DIYPI we are grounded in the processes of helping people like you claim for an accident at work. It’s just one of the many services we’ve been providing to our customer base for nearly two decades now. Our free service enables you to challenge an employer who you believe has neglected their duty of care, and who might ultimately be responsible for your workplace injury.
Speak to our friendly team today to find out more.