This January, start the year right by double checking you have all of the necessary health and safety practices in place.
We don’t mean having to start your health and safety management programme from scratch, but rather take a fresh look at your overall health and safety practices to keep safety top of mind over the coming year. We’ve created a list of 10 checks that you should perform.
For more detailed health and safety information or to review our risk assessments, see here.
1. Check your first aid kit
The BS 8599-1 standard can be used as a guide to check which type of first aid kit is necessary for your workplace. There are at least four sizes: small, medium, large and travel-size – although the travel-size kits are for one person only.
It’s not a legal requirement to have this specific first aid kit brand, however we do feel the contents are often better suited to most businesses, compared to ‘standard’ first aid kits.
Here’s a quick guide to determine which size kit is right for you:
Low Risk – Offices and shops
Less than 25 employees: Small
25-100 employees: Medium
100+ employees: Large (1 kit per 100 employees)
High Risk – Factories, warehouses, and construction
Less than 5 employees: Small
5-25 employees: Medium
25+ employees: Large (1 Kit per 25 employees)
There is no mandatory list of items to be included in a first-aid kit, however, our suggestion for a low-risk environment would be.
- Medium and large sterile dressings
- Assorted plasters
- Triangular bandages
- Safety pins
- Sterile eye pads
- Disposable gloves
- Alcohol free cleansing wipes
- Adhesive tape
- Non-stick dressings
- Resuscitation face shield with valve
- Tuff cut scissors
2. Test your fire alarms and extinguishers
In addition to external fire alarm system maintenance, we encourage all of our clients to regularly check their fire detection system, where fitted.
Regular checks should include:
- Make sure the power supply is in good working order – if it’s battery-operated, consider replacing the batteries every few months.
- Testing (and recording) checks of the alarm on a weekly basis, we would always advise testing several call points at a time on a rolling programme and ensuring your alarm can be heard in all areas of the premises.
- Where fitted, ensure hold open devices on fire doors are operating correctly.
- If linked to an alarm centre, confirm that they have received an alarm.
Finally, if anything isn’t working as it should be, get it looked at by a professional.
3. Practice an evacuation drill
Fire drills are a vital part of workplace safety and essential to evaluate staff and evacuation procedures. Unfortunately, many see them as an inconvenience to the working day and they are often greeted with sighs as people slowly shuffle towards the nearest fire exit. Holding at least one fire drill annually is a legal requirement. A fire drill is simply a simulated emergency procedure to emulate the processes which would be undertaken in the event of a fire.
Each business should have a volunteer fire-safety officer who oversees fire drills and evacuations. The responsible person could be the owner, line manager or member of staff who is always on-site.
Whilst there are sometimes several practical considerations, unannounced fire drills are often the most effective and those we can learn the most from.
During the drill take note of:
- Exits – whether staff leave by the most appropriate exit
- People – do any staff members of customers have any specific fire evacuation needs?
- Signage – check that your fire exit signage is visible and where it needs to be
- Belongings – do the staff stop to collect belongings from lockers and desks
- Process – does everyone know where to go and where to assemble
- Roll Call – do you have a printed list of staff to check off at the meeting point
- Evacuation time – how long did it take to exit the premises
After the drill, record your findings and address any areas which need improving.
4. Check Health and Safety signage
Health and safety signage provides direction about aspects of health and safety in your business and forms part of the measures to control risk in the workplace, keeping your workers safe.
The types of signage needed would cover:
Warnings – to indicate dangers or hazards
Prohibition – forbidding actions that can cause harm or increase risk
Safe Condition Emergency Exits – to clearly signpost escape routes, fire exits the location of first aid supplies and similar
Mandatory signage – signage instructing on a specific behaviour, for example, PPE signage
UK Health and Safety Law Poster – It is law to have to display the health and safety law poster where your workers can easily read it, or provide each worker with the equivalent health and safety law leaflet.
5. Check all PPE - Personal Protective Equipment
Employers are responsible for the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) and its replacement when it stops affording the wearer adequate protection.
What reasons will require PPE to be replaced?
The Law – some items of PPE can only be used for a set period
It’s not working as intended – for example, filters on RPE need replacing on a regular basis
Wear and Tear – wear and tear will vary depending on the use, for example, a high viz vest worn in a warehouse won’t need replacing as often as one worn by a labourer. As soon as an item shows signs of wear and tear, it’s probably good to replace it.
Soiling – with every day use garments, shoes and other PPE equipment will become stained and grubby – even regular washing can fade and degrade clothing. Depending on its specific use, it’s worth replacing it as soon as it’s soiled in any way.
Physical Damage – if any PPE has any form of damage, it’s quite simple, get it replaced immediately!
6. Identify training requirements
Providing adequate health and safety information, instruction, and training to all employees, according to their exposure to workplace hazards, is a legal requirement.
Information, instruction, and training can take many different workplace tours, reading policies, meetings, face to face discussion and formal training courses can all form part of this. Most importantly we always advise clients to keep a written record of all staff training, however provided.
Depending on the area of health and safety, certification needs to be renewed from time to time. For some, a refresher course is recommended annually, for others it might be every three years.
Take stock of the people in your business that hold specific health and safety certification and identify anyone who may need a refresher course.
And don’t forget to review other training, such as First Aid and Fire Warden – there are regulations around how many you have to have on site at any one time, and with all of the changes over the past couple of years, you may not have enough.
7. Keep up to date with legislation
If you choose to manage your own health and safety, you’ll need to stay up to date with any legislation that applies to your business. To ensure compliance with your legal duties, you need access to someone who is competent – something you can do yourself, particularly if your business is lower risk.
Consequently, it’s worth considering getting support with health and safety so that you can concentrate your attention and expertise on what you do.
8. Risk Assessments
From time to time, it’s worth reviewing your risk assessments. Check to see if there have been any significant changes in activities or whether there are areas that need improvement.
Risk assessments aren’t necessary for every single activity in the workplace, but you should carry out an assessment where the work presents a risk of injury or ill-health. Remember, if you employ five or more people, you also need to record your risk assessment.
9. Review your Health & Safety policies
When did you last review or update your health and safety policies? We advise customers to review their policy annually. At Romero Insurance Brokers, we provide a complimentary Health and Safety review. Contact us today.
A written health and safety policy is required if you have five or more employees. As well as communicating your commitment to health and safety and the legal obligations to your staff, it also should define who is responsible and how health and safety is managed within the business.
10. Get your staff on-board
One of the biggest challenges you face is getting employees and management, the two primary influences on safety culture, to buy into the value of workplace safety.
Let’s be honest, getting your staff excited about health and safety may be a little ambitious. However, research has shown that businesses that promote and encourage a culture of safety reduce the costs associated with workplace injuries and illnesses by up to 40 per cent.
Involve all employees in all thing’s health and safety-related and take any feedback seriously. You could even offer incentives and rewards for reducing accidents and incidents across the year.