The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 focuses on the proactive management of risks to Health and Safety with the penalties for not complying with the Act going all the way to the directors of the company.
The amount of record keeping and documentation to show compliance with the Act and keep everyone safe from harm is directly proportional to the size of the company, the complexity of the work undertaken and the amount of risk involved.
Small companies that undertake straightforward work that carry little risk require less record keeping than larger and more complex ones.
The basic requirements for a Health and Safety system
- A Policy that sets out your commitment to Health and Safety
- A hazard/risk management process that includes a Risk Management Template.
- A process for worker engagement and participation
- A training and supervision procedure
- A process for recording and responding to incidents (accidents and near misses) that includes an Incident Reporting Template.
- Contractor management that includes a Contractor Induction Form.
- Health monitoring where there are environmental issues that have the potential to cause harm.
- Emergency plans
- Procedures for the safe use of plant and equipment.
The Act introduces the term “Reasonably Practicable” which looks at the likelihood of a hazard or risk occurring and the degree of harm that might result from the hazard or risk. The Act then looks at what the company knows, or ought to reasonably know about the hazard or risk and the options for eliminating or minimising the risk.
The cost associated with eliminating or minimising the risks needs to be considered including whether the cost to do so is grossly disproportionate to the risk.
The hierarchy of controls for managing risks in descending order of effectiveness:
- Eliminate the risk – do not undertake the task or remove the equipment. If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, then:
- Substitute the risk – replace the task or equipment with something that carries a lower risk. If it is not reasonable practicable to substitute the risk, then:
- Provide engineering controls to isolate the risks such as guard rails and kill switches etc. If it is not reasonably practicable to provide engineering controls then:
- Provide Administrative controls such as safe work instructions, standard operating procedures and signage. In conjunction with administrative controls:
- Provide Personal Protective Equipment.
Often the controls will be a mix of substitution, engineering controls, administration and PPE until the risk has been reduced to an acceptable level.