Because everyone has the right to be safe at work, employers in the UK have a duty to take the industrial accident preventative measures necessary to protect their employees.
This duty covers a range of diverse factors, most of which are covered by health and safety law. Where employers have failed to institute these measures correctly, they are much more likely to be found to be at fault if an accident occurs.
A safe workplace
The first health and safety duty an employer has is to keep the workplace as safe as possible by making sure no unnecessary risks are present. This involves making sure floors are kept clear, items on high shelves are secured and that fire exits are kept clear.
Whilst someone else might be responsible for doing the cleaning and moving large items around, it is the employer’s job to oversee how the work is carried out and it is they who are liable if things go wrong. Keeping the workplace safe is mostly about paying attention and acting promptly when risks become apparent.
Adequate signposting of hazards
Because some risks are unavoidable, employers are obliged to ensure they are properly signposted.
This covers everything from putting up a warning notice on a cupboard where hazardous chemicals are stored to using warning signs or cones to make it clear when a floor may be wet.
It may also involve informing staff about the risks involved in situations where a visual warning is inadequate.
In every working environment, employees should be properly trained to minimise risks; for example by making sure they are aware of evacuation routes.
In some jobs the work inevitably presents some risks, but effective industrial accident preventative measures can be taken by ensuring that employees understand them properly and that they are trained to use any special equipment or safety aids correctly.
The law requires that people doing jobs where there is a risk of injury should have access to the appropriate equipment. It is usually the employer’s responsibility to ensure that this equipment is in full working order when supplied, is appropriate for the employee; for instance, if a range of sizes is available and is properly maintained; even if the actual maintenance is carried out the employee.
Listening to concerns
No matter how hard they try, employers may not always succeed in spotting every hazard in the workplace. Often, this is easier for employees who spend more time engaged directly in tasks where risks present themselves.
For this reason, one of the most important things an employer can do to make the workplace safer is simply to listen to his or her employees. If concerns have routinely been dismissed, this could go against an employer in a compensation claim case.
At Accident Advice Helpline we deal with numerous types of workplace compensation claims. We have specialist industrial accident solicitors experienced in a variety of areas and are always ready to help, so if you need advice, just pick up the phone.
Date Published: October 23, 2013
Author: David Brown