Our team of health and safety experts have developed a good resource of answers to some common questions asked by our customers. If you have a question on workplace compliance, please email us at info@assurityconsulting.co.uk

    Is it a legal requirement to carry out a stress risk assessment?

    Yes. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) clearly states that “employers have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it”.

    There are six main areas of work design which can affect stress levels. These should be managed properly and include:

    • Demands
    • Control
    • Support
    • Relationships
    • Role
    • Change

    Employers should assess the risks in these areas to manage stress in the workplace. If a business has fewer than five employees then this does not need to be written down, though it is useful to do this. If a business has five or more employees, then this risk assessment must be written down by law.

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    Is it law to have to display a health and safety law poster?

    Yes, unless you’ve provided all your workers with the equivalent leaflet. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advice is: 

    “Employers are required, by law, to either display the HSE-approved law poster or to provide each of their workers with the equivalent leaflet”

    The previous 1999 poster was updated in 2009 and the approved version should be placed in a prominent position in each workplace. The poster is available for purchase in A2 and A3 size, as well as for offshore installations, Northern Ireland and in Welsh.

    The “equivalent leaflet” or pocket card is free to order from the HSE.

    The regulations that apply are the Health and Safety Information for Employees Regulations (HSIER) 1989.

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    Do I need a health and safety policy and does it need to be signed?

    The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (Section 2(3)) states “It shall be the duty of every employer to prepare and as often as may be appropriate revise a written statement of his general policy with respect to the health and safety at work of his employees and the organisation and arrangements for the time being in force for carrying out that policy, and to bring the statement and any revision of it to the notice of all of his employees.”

    However, if you have fewer than five employees, you do not need to have your health and safety policy written down.

    There is no formal requirement to sign a policy, but as the purpose of the document is to demonstrate management from the top, most organisations do. The example policies on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also have boxes for signature.

    It is far more important that the policy and arrangements are shared and implemented (for which top drive is usually needed). You can have a beautifully documented and signed policy, however, if it isn’t shared and implemented it, means little legally or organisationally.

    Managing Health and Safety

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    What is the situation regarding the provision of alcohol and licensing requirements?

    Relevant legislation that relates to alcohol would include the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974 and for example the Transport and Works Act 1992. It is also available for the HSE guidance covering alcohol-related issues i.e. Don't mix it: A guide for employers on alcohol at work (INDG240). Historic research by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has "estimated that up to 40% of accidents at work involved, or are related to alcohol use" (ibe Briefing 44 December 2014). So even though work parties have come under the spotlight as a potential issue, alcohol in the workplace is a much broader issue.

    While there is no formal legal requirement for specific alcohol policy, many organisations have introduced them as part of HR and/or health and safety. These policies are often broadened to include drugs too. So whether you provide free alcohol routinely in the office for your staff or just at "special occasions" it should be this policy that identifies and directs what is acceptable - both employer and employee have a responsibility in the eyes of the law too. If you are looking to sell alcohol or provide 'licensable activities' from a particular venue then they need a Premises Licence, a Licence Holder and a Designated Premises Supervisor. Applications are made through the local council, licensable activities include:

    • Selling alcohol
    • Serving hot food and drinks between 11pm and 5am
    • Theatrical performance
    • Showing a film
    • Indoor sporting event
    • Boxing or wrestling (indoor or outdoor)
    • Live music
    • Recorded music
    • Dance
    • Facilities for making music
    • Dancing facilities

    You still need a license even if the activities are for charity. 

    With decades of collective experience, specialist teams and competent individuals, and 1,000's of risk assessments completed every year across the UK, you can be assured that we have the necessary skills and ability to ensure your assessments are both suitable and sufficient. 

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    What are display screen equipment assessments and when do I need to review them?

    Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSD) are the most common cause of occupational ill health in the UK, affecting over 500,000 people in 2015/16 according to Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

    “Work activities that present a risk of WRMSD range from lifting heavy loads and assembly-line work through to using display screen equipment. Back injuries are most commonly associated with lifting and handling activities, upper limb disorders with repetitive tasks and display screen use”

    Display screen equipment risk assessment (also known as a workstation assessment) has been a requirement since 1992 through the Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Regulations. The Regulations are designed to protect “people who habitually use DSE for the purposes of an employer’s undertaking as a significant part of their normal work.”

    Covering aspects including screen, keyboard, mouse, chair, desk, environment and software, the assessment should consider the users set up. Where appropriate, simple adjustments could make them more comfortable and the equipment easier to use. Length of time working at the screen and the type of work being undertaken are other factors to consider.

    Employers need to identify how they are going to comply with the regulations as well as the means with which they will assess and implement any adjustments required.

    Assessments should be reviewed periodically (depending on the company policy), or where there is a reason to suspect that the existing is no longer valid or there has been a significant change in the matters to which it relates; and where as a result of any such review changes to an assessment are required.

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    I want to benchmark my work environment health and safety performance, what do I need to do?

    A whole science of its own, health and safety is a fundamental part of all business activities, or at least should be.

    Dependent on the nature of your business, the list of activities you undertake and the impact they have will vary. Breaking down these activities is the key to understanding how they support the business.

    We offer an array of solutions from strategic, high-level policy issues to specific operational controls, covering reviews, risk assessments and training, as well as documentation and policy development or support that can all help you to achieve your aims.

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    Do I need to do a risk assessment for washing up liquid used in an office?

    Where you have chemicals or substances that can be harmful to health, there is a requirement under the COSHH Regulations to carry out a risk assessment and ensure that there is suitable access to the Material Safety Data Sheet that corresponds to the products in question. Whilst substances such as washing up liquid or dishwasher tablets are considered to be harmful to health if used inappropriately, e.g. when ingested, in their normal use these domestic products are designed to be safe for use with no additional protection therefore we would consider it disproportionate to carry out a risk assessment for such items when used in a setting where there are no vulnerable persons such as young children.

    Related services: Health and Safety Risk Assessments

    How are ladders allowed to be used in the workplace?

    There are a lot of work activities that involve being able to reach higher than most people can manage from ground level e.g. changing light bulbs or reaching items stored on high shelves. The first consideration should always be towards eliminating the need to work from height (keeping all regularly used items on lower shelves in a store room ) but when this isn’t possible, ladders provide the safest means of your staff being able to do these activities and are therefore a useful aid to have in the workplace.

    It is important, however, that ladders are kept in good condition and used safely. Staff should have some level of training in how to use a ladder safely and carry out pre-user checks, but this needs to be proportional to the risk of the tasks they are involved in. A basic ladder safety poster could be sufficient in a stationary cupboard with a three rung stepladder, whereas maintenance staff accessing roof areas should have more formal training. Ladders should only be used for short duration work.

    Related services: Health and Safety Training

    How do I know I’m getting the best possible service from my contractors?

    Ensuring that your contractors are doing a good job is not just satisfying a Service Level Agreement (SLA), but making sure what they are actually delivering is right for your organisation.

    With everything from total facilities management (TFM) style contracts in place to a specialist “on call” providers, it remains your responsibility from a duty holder perspective to ensure you have the right levels of compliance, understanding and roles and responsibilities in place.

    We offer a range of tailored assessments, backed, where needed, with testing and examination work, to help you identify the work being undertaken and how valuable it really is.

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Assurity Consulting

Let us help you to take care of your workplace compliance, in a cost effective and clear manner, so allowing you to focus on developing your core activities. Please contact us for a detailed, confidential and without-obligation discussion of your requirements.

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