General Health And Safety

The annual health and safety risk assessment is sometimes viewed as unnecessary by some business owners. After all, nothing may have changed in the office over the previous 12 months. Nevertheless, it is through these regular examinations that ensure that safety and health levels at work remain high, and hiring health and safety consultants to do the job ensures levels are at their highest.

It is an unfortunate truth that these risk assessments can sometimes cause a disruption at work, especially if the assessment is being carried out in-house. However, while this might seem to be the prudent option, with the cost of hiring professionals saved, in the long run turning to a health and safety management company is the wiser option. The fact that, with any business, legal advice is a major asset means that such services can play a key role in ensuring compliance with regulations is accomplished in a sustainable way.

There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, consultants have a deeper understanding of health and safety requirements, meaning that the most effective safety policies can be recommended to ensure full compliance with the relevant regulations are achieved. Secondly, the minor regulation details they are familiar with, but that those not in the know are happy to glance over, can make all the difference.

In fact, glancing over the subsections is a common mistake that many business owners make. Often, a general understanding is applied to the workplace and the relevant form is filled in quickly. However, this is not enough to guarantee safety, with far greater detail required if high safety levels are to be established.

A consultant knows that there are five key steps to an assessment, with the steps involved identifying the hazard, who is as risk, evaluating the extent of the risk, the need to accurately document the risk and evaluation, and carrying out regular reviews.

So, for example, if a storeroom is overly crammed with items, the hazard identified would be the risk of items collapsing, with the stock control staff most at risk. If the stocked items are light and soft, say bed linen and pillows, then the risk of injury is low, but if they are heavy or sharp items, like garden tools, the risk level increases. The relevant paperwork contains these factors and, in line with legal requirements, is archived for a period of time.

COSHH assessments are different however. COSHH stands for Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health, which refers to the chemical risks that can exist in the work place. This is of particular relevance to factories and laboratories, or any other workplaces where substances that are harmful to workers might be used. While it may seem sufficient to fill out the paperwork that already is demanded by the authorities for general risk assessment, the nature of COSHH is such that a special assessment must be carried out to deal with the specific risks that a gas or chemical can have.

Basically, the fact that these substances can leak and, therefore, move means that dealing with an accident requires a very different approach. For example, should a hazardous liquid drip from a pipe onto the floor, the risk is not just the possibility that an employee might slip. There is also a concern over the likelihood of the liquid causing burns if it comes in contact with the skin, or illness or respiratory problems should any vapour be inhaled. In these cases, the relevant treatment must be available.

There are also the issues relating to cleaning up a spill or leak, and how to dispose of any substances safely, with environmental law also coming into play. And should the substance be flammable, how can a sudden outbreak of fire be handled best.

These factors make for a very different risk assessment that the services of properly experienced and qualified health and safety consultants should be secured for. They are best positioned to identify the most plausible and, more importantly, most necessary steps to take.

There is no doubting that in all fields of business, legal advice is hugely important, but when it comes to the implications of failing to meet health and safety regulations, it can be of no greater importance. Indeed, professional health and safety management companies can provide a thorough assessment, not only recommending the changes necessary but providing invaluable advice on the chemical aspects of workplace risks also.