No matter the type of business you have, complying with health and safety regulations is a above all top priority in order to remain on the right side of the law. Failure to comply with health and safety regulations can not only result in serious penalties such as large fines but even business closure and/or a prison sentence. However, with the vast array of rules and regulations, it can at times become tricky to keep on top of all the red tape. This is where facilities management can become an asset to your business, assisting your compliance, and within this, protect employees, create a pleasant workplace and sustain reputation.
In this article, we will discuss the importance of health and safety in the workplace, the main health and safety regulations, as well as how facilities management can assist with these.
Health and Safety Law in the UK
The basis of UK health and safety law comes from the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and it outlines the general principles of health and safety compliance. It defines the obligations employers have towards their employees and the public, as well as the duties employees have towards themselves and each other. It also applies to the self-employed. Companies can face fines or even prosecution if found not adhering to the regulations. Not only this but failing to follow these regulations puts everyone involved at greater risk.
Whilst the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 covers the basic principles of health and safety, it’s also supplemented by more detailed guidelines which are more specific and cover a range of topics, for example:
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 – requires employers to assess and manage risks in the workplace.
- Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 – requires employers to provide a safe and healthy work environment for staff and customers.
Why is Health and Safety Important in the Workplace?
All employers, regardless of what type of business they’re in, must comply with health and safety rules. Health and safety in the workplace is important as it’s an employer’s moral duty to ensure staff return home safe and healthy at the end of every working day. By protecting your workforce, not only will you reduce absences, but you’ll also create a working environment that’s more efficient and productive. In fact, research shows that employees are more productive in industries that are committed to health and safety. Furthermore, by reducing down-time caused by illnesses and accidents, this will also equate to less disruption – saving your business money.
Apart from the fact that health and safety compliance is the law, non-compliance can also be extremely costly. If your business is short of effective risk management strategies, you could increase the chances of claims being made against your company. Whether it’s a minor slip, or an accident with tools – it’s vital businesses take the necessary measures to improve their risk management.
Aside from the above, other factors that make healthy and safety important in the workplace include:
- In order to be able to appeal to investors and partnerships, you may be required to demonstrate commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility – and this will include how you protect your workforce.
- More and more, customers want to purchase products and services that are produced ethically. Therefore, you’ll need to ensure you’re consistently implementing best work practices throughout your supply chain and liaise only with ethical suppliers that protect their employees.
- Those looking for jobs – particularly Millennials and Generation Z – pursue positions with employers who share similar values. Therefore, without clear and strong corporate responsibility and sustainability practices in place, you may struggle to appeal to and retain the best staff.
- An excellent health and safety record is a source of competitive advantage as it fosters trust in business reputation and brand. On the other hand, poor health and safety performance will directly impact profitability and can lead to trade losses or even business closure.
- Good health and safety practices guarantees long-term benefits for not only businesses but the wider community too.
The Fundamental Workplace Health and Safety Regulations for Your Business
As mentioned above, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is the primary piece of legislation for occupational health and safety in the UK. However, there are also additional regulations which are intended to maintain compliant and safe workplaces.
Below, we have outlined the key health and safety regulations that most workplaces will be required to comply with. As well as this, we have also included a more in-depth breakdown of these regulations that may be applicable to specific business areas/industries.
Under this regulation, the main duties of an employer include:
- Carry out risk assessments to manage risks towards the health and safety of their workforce.
- Act upon and control risks identified in order to reduce them.
- Appoint a competent individual to manage workplace health and safety.
- Provide employees with information and training on occupational health and safety.
- Have a written health and safety policy in place.
For example, to break this down further, electrical safety may be relevant to your industry. Virtually all working environments will have electrical systems, or perhaps your industry works specifically with electricals, power transmission or other electricity related platforms. In these cases, risk assessments will be required to control any risks presented by electrical systems. Therefore, you must comply with regulations related to electricity in the workplace:
The current regulations refer to all electrical systems in the workplace, and outlines that all electrical systems must be maintained safely in order to prevent any danger. Facilities are required to carry out regular Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICR) to ensure their electrical systems are in line with the IEE Wiring Regulations (BS7671).
Fixed Wire Testing is also a legal obligation for all premises to ensure all electrical installations/circuits correspond to the most recent wiring regulations. Most businesses will require one of these tests every 5 years, whilst industrial buildings should be tested every 3 years. However, it’s recommended that all industrial, commercial and domestic buildings, are inspected annually.
How can MSL help?
At MSL, our M&E (mechanical and electrical) program will ensure your business remains compliant with the electrical regulations involved in health and safety legislation. Not only that, but our expert team will also design and install electrical systems that fit your company requirements. We will also carry out the appropriate EICR, and perform electrical tests throughout your business including:
- Portable appliance testing – testing electricals that can be moved e.g. kettle and computer.
- Microwave emission testing – testing for microwave radiation leakage.
- Thermal image testing – measures surface temperatures via infrared video and still cameras.
Under this regulation, the key provisions require employers to provide:
- Adequate lighting, heating, ventilation and workspaces (and keep them clean and hygienic).
- Staff amenities, such as toilets, washing facilities and refreshments.
- Safe passagewaysg. to prevent slip and trip hazards.
On the topic of adequate lighting, for instance, health and safety is crucial in industrial environments. Having the correct lighting will give peace of mind by improving the safety of your facility and preventing accidents from happening. MSL can assist with this with a range of LED lighting, which is typically the most cost-effective industrial lighting solution, and accommodates this industry’s long working hours and bright lighting. Our lighting solutions don’t just end there either – we cater to many different areas from schools to commercial businesses.
Furthermore, as stated in the regulation, all workplaces require air conditioning to create a comfortable workspace. Therefore, businesses must comply with regulations regarding this:
The Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations 2007 requires air conditioning systems to be regularly inspected. These must be carried out by an approved inspector who surveys the whole system, including the design, installation and operation. How frequently these occur depends on the weight and number of units:
- Every 3 months – buildings over 300kg refrigerant, usually more than 75 air conditioning units.
- Every 6 months – buildings over 30kg refrigerant, usually 15 – 75 air conditioning units.
- Every 12 months – buildings over 3kg refrigerant, usually 1 – 15 air conditioning units.
As well as this, the F Gas Regulations 2015 also requires that any systems with more than 3kg of refrigerant gas must be inspected every 12 months (larger systems will need more frequent inspection).
How can MSL help?
Our team of experts will carry out all essential inspections, including TM44 assessments and F Gas certification. As well as this, to keep staff productive, regular maintenance of HVAC systems can assist, by maintaining a comfortable temperature and decreasing humidity. MSL can provide you with a planned maintenance program to keep on top of eliminating indoor air pollutants and provide fresh air in the workplace. Our team of specialists will organise scheduled checks, making breakdowns less likely, and keep you compliant with health and safety legislation.
Whilst the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 requires employers to provide adequate lighting, ventilation, heating and workspaces, it also requires these be kept clean too. Our hygiene services will ensure workplaces maintain a safe and healthy environment. Whether you require sparkle cleans, industrial cleans or commercial cleans – MSL is a one stop shop for all your hygiene needs to keep your facility health and safety compliant.
Under this regulation, employers are required to:
- Ensure the safety and suitability of work equipment for its purpose.
- Properly maintain equipment, regardless of how old it is.
- Provide information, instruction and training for using equipment.
- Protect staff from dangerous components of machinery.
Many workplaces will have different pieces of equipment, for example restaurants, manufacturing businesses and hospitals. Therefore, it’s an employer’s duty to ensure such machinery continues to operate safely and to a good standard.
How can MSL help?
Ensuring that your equipment is checked regularly through our planned maintenance program means that they’re likely to last longer. This is because any problems, which could pose a risk to safety, will be identified early on and dealt with instantly. Plus, our routine checks will also keep an eye on your business’s structure, for example pipes, boilers and roofing – expanding the life of the building too.
Under this regulation, employers are required to:
- Undertake fire risk assessments to identify hazards and risks.
- Consider everyone at risk in the event of a fire e.g. staff, visitors, contractors and customers.
- Eliminate risks as much as possible and have safety measures in place to deal with any remaining risk.
- Ensure flammable materials are safely stored.
- Have an emergency plan in place and regularly review the plan and any findings.
Fire safety is an extremely important aspect of any facility’s health and safety compliance. The Regulatory Reform Order 2005 requires that fire safety be overseen and managed by the business employer, manager or owner. This individual is required to put in place several fire safety reviews and preventions. Likewise, they must ensure that all fire safety equipment complies with the relevant British Standard.
How can MSL help?
Our BAFE accredited Safepartner can design, install and maintain all the fire safety equipment your facility requires, including fire alarm systems, sprinklers systems and fire extinguishers. We can also undertake fire risk assessments, fire door servicing and maintenance, as well as conducting safety training for your staff. Our highly skilled compliance team will ensure that all fire safety equipment complies with relevant British Standards.
These health and safety regulations may seem overwhelming and intricate. However, our compliance maintenance service will ensure a detailed health and safety compliance checklist is created, so that your entire business operates safely and lawfully. When it comes to compliance, you can have peace of mind that you’re in safe hands with MSL.
If you are interested in finding out more about how our services can keep your business health and safety compliant, get in touch with us on 0333 1234 450.