Health and Safety in the workplace continues to be a complicated situation—with regulations changing often, businesses need to make sure they are fully up to date with the precautions they are required to take. However, some companies may disagree with H&S regulations for various reasons. Below, we look at ten common myths keeping some businesses from following proper H&S rules:
1: Proper Health and Safety Precautions cost Money you don’t have.
You might think investing in the equipment or signage health and safety regulations demand will cost you more money than it should, but evidence suggests the opposite is actually true. In the UK, on average, 30 million work days are lost per year due to approximately 200 work-related deaths, nearly 150,000 injuries and two million cases of illness. Ensuring your workplace is as safe and well-managed as can be can help save you money in the long run, both through avoiding employee absences and potential fines in the aftermath of an accident.
2: Health and Safety Stops an Employee Working Alone
Concerned that health and safety regulations will stop your employees being able to work alone? Don’t be—working solo is acceptable if specific safety arrangements are made to accommodate this. These might include technological precautions as panic buttons, two-way radios or CCTV for regular check-ins.
3: The Employer, not the Employee, is responsible for all H&S
While employers have a definite duty to ensure all staff are safe and well in the workplace, employees are also required to adhere to all regulations and maintain a safety-conscious attitude towards all tasks. As long as rules and requirements are clearly specified, employees must follow them to stay safe.
4: The Employer accepts no responsibility for work-related stress.
While you may think stress amongst employees is not the employer’s problem, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires companies make sure stress is managed properly. Stress-related ill-health should be given the right amount of consideration—the H&S Executive now requests copies of businesses’ stress-risk assessment to be sure businesses give stress the proper care.
5: Health and Safety Regulations are unnecessary.
We understand how easy it can for some companies to underestimate the importance of health and safety rules, believing employees should just use their ‘common sense’ and ‘good judgement’. While employees should definitely think about the potential hazards of any tasks they’re about to embark upon, the employer cannot ignore the relevant H&S regulations—the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 demands businesses perform risk assessments to keep all staff safe.
6: Workplaces need to be a certain temperature.
Working in an environment that’s either too hot or too cold can make doing the job right incredibly difficult, depending on the season. On average, the minimum acceptable temperature for the majority of workplaces is between 13 and 14 degrees Celsius, but there are no legal requirements regarding this. Employees’ comfort should always be a priority, so try to reach a happy medium to suit all.
7: A disclaimer will protect employers from responsibilities.
Having an employee sign a disclaimer against any potential accidents has no protection from responsibility: the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 demands employers provide a safe environment for employees, and no waiver can change that. Any employees placing themselves at risk may face prosecution!
8: Just Providing PPE is enough.
Some employers may think making PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) available is enough to fulfil their duties … but this isn’t the case. Under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations Act 1992, businesses should ensure all staff use all PPE properly, at the required times; they will be held responsible for any problems that may occur as a result. There is, of course, a requirement to control risks by means other than PPE.
9: Reporting Accidents is a Waste of Time.
When an accident happens, some companies may choose to not report it, saving themselves some time. However, the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 dictates that employers are legally required to report specific accidents (anything which causes the victim to miss more than seven days of work)—you could be faced with a fine of up to £20,000 if you don’t. (That’s $33,306.00 in the U.S.)
10: The Seven-Day Rule Applies to working days only.
If an accident takes place, and an employee cannot perform their standard job for seven consecutive days (whether that includes weekends and bank holidays or not ), an employer must report it.
This article was sent to us by Gail Newland, for http://www.phoenixhsc.co.uk/ . In the United States, our rules and regulations are issued by OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and are very similar to those mentioned above. Failure to adhere to their regulations can result in unfortunate accidents, as well as dramatic costs to the employer, when an accident occurs.