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    Here you can find answers to the most frequently asked questions around Health & Safety, HR, Occupational Health and much more.

    We have put together these questions to help you with any queries you might have around our services, industry related topics and additional services.

    If you have any other questions please get in touch and one our team will be more than happily to assist you.

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    HR – General FAQs

    • What is an employee handbook?

      An employee handbook is given to employees, and it contains everything they need to know about the Company and their policies. It is a large document but it is beneficial for employees to have a copy so they know what the processes are and there are no disputes. Furthermore, additional details regarding employment need to be detailed here to comply with the Employment Rights Act.

    • When do I have to provide my new employee with a contract of employment?

      You have to issue a written contract of employment to your employees by day 1 of their employment.

    • Can I dismiss an employee if they don’t turn up for work?

      It’s not that simple unfortunately and you would be putting yourself at risk. There are processes that have to be followed and you need to ensure you are staying within the law. You are leaving yourself at risk for and unfair dismissal claim by not doing it correctly. We can help guide you through this process to make sure you’re safe and protected when dealing with employee absence.

    • Can I force my employees to take annual leave?

      Yes. You can enforce annual leave on your employees, but you have to give them the correct notice. Notice is double the amount of annual leave you want them to take for example, if you want them to take 1-weeks annual leave, you must give them at least 2 weeks’ notice.

      Read more on our blog here.

    • Do I have to pay notice if I dismiss an employee?

      Yes. The only time where you do not have to pay an employee’s notice is if they are dismissed due to gross misconduct, having gone through a robust disciplinary procedure.

    • What is the statutory holiday amount?

      The current statutory holiday is 28 days. This is usually broken down to 20 days plus 8 bank holidays. This is pro-rated for part time employees.

    • What are protected characteristics?

      Under the Equality Act 2010, employees are protected by discrimination if they fall under the following protected characteristics:

      • Age
      • Disability
      • Gender Reassignment
      • Marriage and Civil Partnership
      • Pregnancy and Maternity
      • Race
      • Religion or Belief
      • Sex
    • Can I use redundancy to dismiss an employee?

      No. Redundancy is about the role not the person. The role needs to be made redundant and you cannot use redundancy as a way to dismiss an employee if the role is still needed.

    • Who can an employee have as a companion in a disciplinary or grievance hearing?

      Legally, you only need to allow either a trade union representative or a work colleague as a companion. If an employee wants to bring a trade union representative, make sure you ask to see their credentials. You can allow people who don’t fall under these categories to attend as a companion if you wish, but you don’t have to. However, never allow a solicitor in as a companion!

    • What is the role of a companion in a disciplinary or grievance hearing?

      The role of a companion is to sum up the employees’ case and they can respond on the employee’s behalf. They cannot answer the question on behalf of the employee.

    • Do I have to pay full pay to an employee if I suspend them?

      Yes. If you suspend an employee for whatever reason, you need to pay them full pay for the time that they are suspended. A suspension should only last as long as necessary to complete any investigations and is not a disciplinary sanction.

    • What can I do to support employees returning to the office after lockdown?

      It has been an unsettling and unpredictable time for all of us, and some employees may be finding it harder than others to adapt to returning to normal life. One to ones with your employees will give them an opportunity to express how they are feeling and for you to discuss how you can help them with returning to work. Having managers trained in mental health awareness is also beneficial.

    HR – COVID-19 Related FAQs

    • Can I force my employees to have the Covid-19 vaccine?

      No. Unless there is a thorough medical examinations clause within their contract (which is very rare) then employers cannot force the vaccine on their employees. It is a basic human right for people to refuse vaccinations which could be for a variety of reasons such as religious reasons, health reasons etc.

      This differs slightly when looking at the care industry. Subject to parliamentary approval and a 16 week grace period, from October 2021, anyone working in a CQC registered care home in England must have 2 doses of the vaccines.

      Read more on our blog here.

    • Can I ask employees if they have had the Covid-19 vaccine?

      Yes, as long as you have a lawful basis to do so. However, you need to be careful how you approach the question as it falls under an employee medical data which is protected under GDPR. We would advise including the question in a medical questionnaire and asking for their consent to share the information with their line manager. The lawful basis would be legitimate interests and consent.

      Read more on our blog here.

    • Do I have to pay my employee if they are isolating due to Covid?

      Employees must be paid a minimum of SSP (Statutory Sick Pay) if they are isolating due to Coronavirus. Sick pay must also be paid from day one of their sickness rather than after 3 days as you would normally with SSP.

    General Hybrid Working FAQs

    • What is hybrid working?

      Hybrid working is a mixture of working from home and working from the office. The term ‘hybrid working’ came around after employees were starting to return to work after lockdown. During lockdown, it showed organisations that they can work effectively from home which meant that a lot of organisations made it a work benefit for their employees.

      Read more on our blog here.

    • How can hybrid working benefit my organisation?

      One benefit of hybrid working is the work life balance it creates for your employees. Employees will save on commute time meaning they can spend more time at home with loved ones. It also means that they have more of an opportunity to undertake exercise, a fundamental part of health and wellbeing, physically and mentally. This can have a positive impact on absenteeism rates.

      Additionally, employees will save money due to not having to spend on travel costs which could increase their motivation levels as they feel they have a degree of flexibility and autonomy.

      Read more on our blog here.

    • Do I need to change anything contractually to implement hybrid working?

      If an employee submits a flexible working request to work from home, you need to formally change their terms and conditions of employment to reflect this. You don’t necessarily need to change their place of work for hybrid working, however it is recommended that you do to avoid any disputes further down the line. You need to think about travel time and expense reimbursement if an employee becomes home based.

      Read more on our blog here.

    General Brexit FAQs

    PAT – Portable appliance testing FAQs

    • What is portable appliance testing?

      Portable appliance testing (PAT) is the term used to describe the examination of electrical appliances and equipment to ensure they are safe to use. Most electrical safety defects can be found by visual examination but some types of defect can only be found by testing. However, it is essential to understand that visual examination is an essential part of the process because some types of electrical safety defect can’t be detected by testing alone.

      A relatively brief user check (based upon simple training and perhaps assisted by the use of a brief checklist) can be a very useful part of any electrical maintenance regime. However, more formal visual inspection and testing by a competent person may also be required at appropriate intervals, depending upon the type of equipment and the environment in which it is used.

    • Is Portable Appliance Testing compulsory?

      No. The law simply requires an employer to ensure that their electrical equipment is maintained in order to prevent danger. It does not say how this should be done or how often. Employers should take a risk-based approach, considering the type of equipment and what it is being used for. If it is used regularly and moved a lot e.g. a floor cleaner or a kettle, testing (along with visual checks) can be an important part of an effective maintenance regime giving employers confidence that they are doing what is necessary to help them meet their legal duties. HSE provides guidance on how to maintain equipment including the use of PAT.

    • I heard that I must have my portable electrical appliances tested every year. Is this true?

      The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 require that any electrical equipment that has the potential to cause injury is maintained in a safe condition. However, the Regulations do not specify what needs to be done, by whom or how frequently (ie they don’t make inspection or testing of electrical appliances a legal requirement, nor do they make it a legal requirement to undertake this annually).

    • How frequently do I need to test my electrical appliances?

      The frequency of inspection and testing depends upon the type of equipment and the environment it is used in. For example, a power tool used on a construction site should be examined more frequently than a lamp in an office.

    • Do I need to keep records of testing and I place a label on any equipment tested?

      New equipment should be supplied in a safe condition and not require a formal portable appliance inspection or test. However, a simple visual check is recommended to verify the item is not damaged.

    Electrical safety FAQs

    • What is safer, Alternating Current (AC) or Direct Current (DC)?

      Alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) have slightly different effects on the human body, but both are dangerous above a certain voltage. The risk of injury changes according to the frequency of the AC, and it is common for DC to have an AC component (called ripple). Someone with special equipment can measure this, but the effect on a particular person is very difficult to predict as it depends upon a large number of factors. As a consequence you should always avoid contact with high-voltage electrical conductors, regardless of the type of electrical current they are carrying.

    • How Do I know if my electrical equipment is safe to use?

      You can find out if your electrical equipment is safe by carrying out suitable checks, such as inspection and / or testing. The level of inspection and / or testing should depend upon the risks. A simple visual inspection is likely to be sufficient for equipment used in a clean, dry environment. In addition, equipment that is more likely to become damaged, or is operated in a harsh environment, is likely to require more demanding electrical tests. For further information, see: Maintaining portable and transportable electrical equipment.
      Checks should be carried out often enough to ensure there is little chance the equipment will become unsafe between checks. It is good practice to make a decision on how often each piece of equipment should be checked, write this down, make sure checks are carried out accordingly and write down the results. You should change how often you carry out checks, according to the number and severity of faults found.

      The best way to find out if specialised equipment is safe is to have it inspected and tested by a person with specific competence on that type of equipment. This may be the original manufacturer or their authorised service and repair agent. A reputable servicing company that deals with that type of equipment should also be competent to check its safety.

    • Who should I talk to about electrical safety?

      A competent electrical contractor should be able to give advice on electrical safety and should also be able to direct you to a suitable electrical engineer for advice about specialist areas. If you can’t get satisfactory answers, contact the HSE or advice from Agility Risk & Compliance.

    • How do I know if someone is competent to do electrical work?

      A person can demonstrate competence to perform electrical work if they have successfully completed an assessed training course, run by an accredited training organisation, that included the type of work being considered. As part of that course, this person should have demonstrated an ability to understand electrical theory and put this into practice.

      A successfully completed electrical apprenticeship, with some post-apprenticeship experience, is a good way of demonstrating competence for general electrical work. More specialised work, such as maintenance of high-voltage switchgear or control system modification, is almost certainly likely to require additional training and experience.

    • When is it safe to work on live electrical equipment?

      It is never absolutely safe to work on live electrical equipment. There are few circumstances where it is necessary to work live, and this must only be done after it has been determined that it is unreasonable for the work to be done dead. Even if working live can be justified, many precautions are needed to make sure that the risk is reduced ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’. See: Electricity at work: Safe working practices for more details.

    • Who has the responsibility to make sure everyone works safely?

      It is the responsibility of everyone to make sure that work is safely undertaken. Managers have a responsibility to provide the resources, instruction and training necessary to enable their workers to work safely and in a manner that does not endanger others. Workers have a responsibility to make sure they keep themselves and others safe.

    Asbestos FAQs

    • What are the health risks from asbestos?

      Asbestos is responsible for over 5000 deaths every year. Younger people, if routinely exposed to asbestos fibres over time, are at greater risk of developing asbestos-related disease than older workers. This is due to the time it takes for the body to develop symptoms after exposure to asbestos (latency). Exposure to asbestos can cause four main diseases:

      • Mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining of the lungs; it is always fatal and is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos)
      • Asbestos-related lung cancer (which is almost always fatal)
      • Asbestosis (a scarring of the lungs which is not always fatal but can be a very debilitating disease, greatly affecting quality of life)
      • Diffuse pleural thickening (a thickening of the membrane surrounding the lungs which can restrict lung expansion leading to breathlessness.)

      It can take anywhere between 15-60 years for any symptoms to develop after exposure, so these diseases will not affect you immediately but may do later in life. You need to start protecting yourself against any exposure to asbestos now because the effect is cumulative.

      Asbestos was a widely used material within commercial buildings, homes and machinery until 1999, when it was banned. This means that asbestos is common in the general environment. However, working directly with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) can give personal exposures to airborne asbestos that are much higher than normal environmental levels. Repeated occupational exposures can give rise to a substantial cumulative exposure over time. This will increase the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease in the future.

      The majority of the current fatal cases from asbestos exposure (approximately 4000 deaths per year) are associated with very high exposures from past industrial processes and installation of asbestos products.

    • How can I identify asbestos?

      It can be difficult to identify asbestos, as it is often mixed with other materials. The HSE asbestos image gallery shows a number of common materials that contain asbestos.

      What should I do if I come across potential asbestos during my work?

      You should stop work immediately, confirm what it is or assume it is asbestos and carry out a risk assessment. This will help determine if the work requires a licensed contractor. You should only carry out non-licensed work on asbestos if you have had the appropriate information, instruction and training.

    • What is the duty to manage asbestos and who has it?

      The duty to manage asbestos is a legal requirement under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (Regulation 4). It applies to the owners and occupiers of commercial premises (such as shops, offices, industrial units etc) who have responsibility for maintenance and repair activities. In addition to these responsibilities, they also have a duty to assess the presence and condition of any asbestos-containing materials. If asbestos is present, or is presumed to be present, then it must be managed appropriately. The duty also applies to the shared parts of some domestic premises.

    • What is an asbestos survey, and do I need one?

      An asbestos survey is an effective way to help you manage asbestos in your premises by providing accurate information about the location, amount and type of any asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). The person responsible for maintenance of non-domestic premises must either arrange a survey if it is suspected there could be ACMs in your premises or, the duty-holder may instead choose to presume the worst case of widespread asbestos in the premises and would then need to take all appropriate full stringent precautions for any work that takes place. However, it is often less troublesome and more proportionate to have an asbestos survey carried out so it is absolutely clear whether asbestos is present or not and what its condition is. You need to find out if you are responsible for maintenance and are the duty holder for the asbestos.

      The asbestos survey can help to provide enough information so that an asbestos register, a risk assessment and a management plan can then be prepared. The survey will usually involve sampling and analysis to determine the presence of asbestos so asbestos surveys should only be carried out by competent surveyors who can clearly demonstrate they have the necessary skills, experience and qualifications.

      An asbestos survey will identify:

      the location of any asbestos-containing materials in the building
      the type of asbestos they contain
      the condition these materials are in
      Following a survey, the surveyor should produce a survey report which details the findings. This information can help you prepare an asbestos risk register.

    • Is asbestos training a legal responsibility?

      The current Regulations place a legal duty on employers to provide information, instruction and training to any of their employees who are likely to be exposed to asbestos as part of their work.

      The three main types of information, instruction and training are:

      • asbestos awareness training
      • training for non-licensable asbestos work – ie the type of work described in HSE’s Asbestos essentials
      • training for licensable asbestos work

      Further information on training can be obtained from Agility Risk and Compliance.

    First aid at work FAQs

    • What is an appointed person?

      When an employer’s first-aid needs assessment indicates that a first-aider is unnecessary, the minimum requirement is to appoint a person to take charge of first-aid arrangements. The roles of this appointed person include looking after the first-aid equipment and facilities and calling the emergency services when required. They can also provide emergency cover, within their role and competence, where a first-aider is absent due to unforeseen circumstances (annual leave does not count).

      Do appointed persons need to undertake first-aid training?

      To fulfil their role, appointed persons do not need first-aid training. However, emergency first-aid training courses are available.

    • First aider First aid for travelling, remote and lone workers

      What about employees who travel regularly or work elsewhere, what should be done about first-aid provision for them?
      Employers are responsible for meeting the first-aid needs of their employees working away from the main site. The assessment of first-aid needs should determine whether:

      • those who travel long distances or are continuously mobile should carry a personal first-aid box; and
      • employees should be issued with personal communicators/mobile phones.
    • How many first aiders do I need?

      The findings of an employer’s first-aid needs assessment will help them decide how many first-aiders are required. There are no hard and fast rules on exact numbers and all the relevant circumstances of your particular workplace should be taken into account. The table in the leaflet First aid at work assessment tool provides further guidance.

    • Can legal action be taken against first-aiders?

      It is very unlikely that any action would be taken against a first-aider who was using the first-aid training they have received. HSE cannot give any specific advice on this issue as it does not fall within HSE’s statutory powers.
      It is recommended that you seek legal advice, or advice from your employer’s insurance brokers on whether their policies cover first-aiders’ liability.

    • Are first-aiders allowed to give tablets and medication to casualties?

      First aid at work does not include giving tablets or medicines to treat illness. The only exception to this is where aspirin is used when giving first aid to a casualty with a suspected heart attack, in accordance with currently accepted first-aid practice. It is recommended that tablets and medicines should not be kept in the first-aid box.

      Some workers carry their own medication that has been prescribed by their doctor (eg an inhaler for asthma). If an individual needs to take their own prescribed medication, the first-aider’s role is generally limited to helping them to do so and contacting the emergency services as appropriate.

      However, this does not apply to the administration of prescription only medication specified in Schedule 19 of the Medicines Regulations 2012, where this is for the purpose of saving life in an emergency. Adrenaline 1:1000 up to 1 mg for intramuscular use in anaphylaxis is an example.

      Where a first aid needs assessment identifies that Schedule 19 medication may be required to be administered in an emergency, the employer should consider providing workplace first aiders with additional training in their use.

    • What should a first aid box in workplace contain?

      The decision on what to provide will be influenced by the findings of the first-aid needs assessment. As a guide, where work activities involve low hazards, a minimum stock of first-aid items might be:

      • a leaflet giving general guidance on first aid (for example, HSE’s leaflet Basic advice on first aid at work)
      • individually wrapped sterile plasters (assorted sizes), appropriate to the type of work (hypoallergenic plasters can be provided if necessary)
      • sterile eye pads
      • individually wrapped triangular bandages, preferably sterile
      • safety pins
      • large sterile individually wrapped unmedicated wound dressings
      • medium-sized sterile individually wrapped unmedicated wound dressings
      • disposable gloves (for advice on latex gloves please see Selecting latex gloves)

      This is only a suggested contents list.

      Employers may wish to refer to British Standard BS 8599-1 which provides further information on the contents of workplace first-aid kits.

      Whether using a first-aid kit complying with BS 8599-1 or an alternative kit, the contents should reflect the outcome of the first-aid needs assessment.

      It is recommended that you don’t keep tablets and medicines in the first-aid box.

    • How often should the contents of first-aid boxes be replaced?

      Although there is no specified review timetable, many items, particularly sterile ones, are marked with expiry dates. They should be replaced by the dates given and expired items disposed of safely. In cases where sterile items have no dates, it would be advisable to check with the manufacturers to find out how long they can be kept. For non-sterile items without dates, it is a matter of judgement, based on whether they are fit for purpose.

    Lone working FAQs

    • What is a lone worker?

      Lone workers are those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision, for example:

      • as delivery drivers, health workers or engineers
      • as security staff or cleaners
      • in warehouses or petrol stations
      • at home

      There will always be greater risks for lone workers without direct supervision or anyone to help them if things go wrong. Many of them are exposed to work-related road risks.

    • What can I do to manage the risks of working alone?

      Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, you must manage the risk to lone workers.

      Think about who will be involved and which hazards could harm those working alone.

      You must:

      • train, supervise and monitor lone workers
        keep in touch with them and respond to any incident

      When a lone worker will be at someone else’s workplace you must ask that employer about any risks and control measures to make sure they are protected.

    • Risks to consider

      Risks that particularly affect lone workers include:

      • violence in the workplace
      • stress and mental health or wellbeing
      • a person’s medical suitability to work alone
      • the workplace itself, for example if it’s in a rural or isolated area
    • High-risk work

      Certain high-risk work requires at least one other person. This includes work:

      • in a confined space, where a supervisor may need to be there, along with someone
      • in a rescue role
        near exposed live electricity conductors
      • in diving operations
      • in vehicles carrying explosives
      • Working from home

      You have the same health and safety responsibilities for homeworkers and the same liability for accident or injury as for any other workers.

      This means you must provide supervision, education and training, as well as implementing enough control measures to protect the homeworker.

    • Is a lone worker at a higher risk of violence?

      Lone working does not always mean a higher risk of violence, but it does make workers more vulnerable. The lack of nearby support makes it harder for them to prevent an incident.

      The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines violence as ‘any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work’ – this includes verbal threats.

      Some of the key workplace violence risks include:

      • late evening or early morning work, when fewer workers are around
      • lone workers, such as security staff, who have authority over customers and are enforcing rules
      • people affected by alcohol or drugs
        carrying money or valuable equipment
      • Support and training
      • Put measures in place to support any worker who’s experienced violence.
      • Workers can play their part by identifying and reporting incidents.

      Training in personal safety or violence prevention will help workers:
      recognise situations where they feel at risk
      use conflict resolution techniques or leave the workplace

      Impact of violence and how to prevent it
      The impact of violence can lead to physical injury and work-related stress, which may have serious and long-term effects on workers’ physical and mental health.

      Violence can also lead to high staff turnover, low productivity and damage to business reputation.

    • Lone working can cause work-related stress and affect people’s mental health.

      Being away from managers and colleagues could make it difficult to get proper support.

      Keep in touch

      Put procedures in place that enable direct contact with the lone worker so their manager can recognise signs of stress as early as possible.
      If contact is poor, workers may feel disconnected, isolated or abandoned. This can affect their performance and potentially their stress levels and mental health.

      Working alone with a medical condition

      If you are unsure whether someone’s health condition means they are safe to work alone, get medical advice. Think about both routine work and possible emergencies that may put additional physical and mental burdens on the lone worker.

      First aid and emergencies.

      Put emergency procedures in place and train lone workers in how to use them.

      Your risk assessment may indicate lone workers should:

      • carry first aid equipment
      • receive first aid training, including how to use first aid on themselves
      • have access to adequate first aid facilities

      Emergency procedures should include guidance on how and when lone workers should contact their employer, including details of any emergency contact numbers.

      Find out more on first aid.

      Monitor lone workers’ health

      Some lone workers can have specific risks to their health. For example, lone HGV drivers have high physical and mental demands on them, with long periods behind the wheel. You should monitor their health and adapt drivers’ work to allow for any specific health needs.

    Health Surveillance FAQs

    • What is health surveillance?

      Health surveillance is a system of ongoing health checks. These health checks may be required by law for employees who are exposed to noise or vibration, ionising radiation, solvents, fumes, dusts, biological agents and other substances hazardous to health, or work in compressed air.

      Health surveillance is important for:

      • detecting ill-health effects at an early stage, so employers can introduce better controls to prevent them getting worse
      • providing data to help employers evaluate health risks
      • enabling employees to raise concerns about how work affects their health
      • highlighting lapses in workplace control measures, therefore providing invaluable feedback to the risk assessment
        providing an opportunity to reinforce training and education of employees (eg on the impact of health effects and the use of protective equipment)

      Your risk assessment should be used to identify any need for health surveillance. You should not use health surveillance as a substitute for undertaking a risk assessment or using effective controls.

      Health surveillance can sometimes be used to help identify where more needs to be done to control risks and where early signs of work-related ill health are detected, employers should take action to prevent further harm and protect employees.

    • Involving employees

      Employees should be encouraged to get involved in developing and using health surveillance because it is only effective with their co-operation. Workplaces where employees are involved in taking decisions about health and safety are safer and healthier. Collaboration with your employees on health surveillance will help you to manage in a practical way by:

      • helping you spot workplace risksmaking sure your arrangements are practical
      • increasing the level of commitment to health surveillance and control measures

      You are legally required to consult all your employees on health and safety matters, including health surveillance. In workplaces where a trade union is recognised this will be through your union health and safety representatives. In non-unionised workplaces, you can consult either directly or through other elected representatives. Consultation involves employers not only giving information to employees but also listening to them and taking account of what they say before making health and safety decisions. Your consultation should include describing the preventative and protective measures that are already in place, as well as the system of health surveillance required. You should tell employees why health surveillance is important. You should also share general anonymised information from the results of the health surveillance process with employees and privately tell individual employees what you will do with the information received about them.

    • What information should be included in health records?

      Individual, up-to-date health records must be kept for each employee placed under health surveillance. These should include details about the employee and the health surveillance procedures relating to them.

      Employee details should include:

      • surname
      • forename(s)
      • gender
      • date of birth
      • permanent address, including post code
      • National Insurance number
      • date present employment started

      Recorded details of each health surveillance check should include:

      • the date they were carried out and by whom
      • the outcome of the test/check
      • the decision made by the occupational health professional in terms of fitness for task and any restrictions required. This should be factual and only relate to the employee’s functional ability and fitness for specific work, with any advised restrictions.
      • The record should be kept in a format that it can be linked with other information (eg, with any workplace exposure measurements).

      If you are collecting an historical record of jobs or tasks completed during current employment, involving exposure to identified substances requiring health surveillance it is useful to store them with this record.

    • What health records should not contain?

      Health records are different to medical records in that they should not contain confidential medical information. Health records and medical records must therefore be kept separate to avoid any breaches of medical confidentiality.

      Any personal medical information should be kept in confidence and held by the occupational health professional responsible for the health surveillance programme.

    • Is Health Surveillance required in my workplace?

      The starting point is your risk assessment. Through this you will have found out the hazards in your workplace, identified who is at risk and taken measures to do something to control the risks.

      Where some risk remains and there is likely to be harm caused to your employees, you will need to take further steps. Consider health surveillance if your employees are at risk from:

      • noise or vibration
      • solvents, dusts, fumes, biological agents and other substances hazardous to health
      • asbestos, lead or work in compressed air
      • ionising radiation

      Control measures may not always be reliable, despite appropriate checking and maintenance, so health surveillance can help make sure that any ill health effects are detected as early as possible.

      Help on how to carry out a risk assessment can be found on HSE’s risk management website. Your trade association may also have useful advice and guidance. For complex situations and work with very hazardous material or agents you may wish to seek help from a competent advisor.

      If you have already carried out health surveillance as described here, factor in the results in your revised risk assessment.
      If there is still a risk to health after the implementation of all reasonable precautions, you may need to put a health surveillance programme in place, see: Health surveillance Decision-making map. Health surveillance is required if all the following criteria are met:

      • there is an identifiable disease/adverse health effect and evidence of a link with workplace exposure
      • it is likely the disease/health effect may occur
      • there are valid techniques for detecting early signs of the disease/health effect
      • these techniques do not pose a risk to employees

    Risk assessments

    • What is a risk assessment and do I need them?

      A risk assessment is a careful examination of what, in your workplace, has the potential to cause harm to people – whether that be employees, volunteers or members of the public.

      Under The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974  an employer is required by law to protect their employees, and others, from harm, so far as what is reasonably practical. 

      Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the minimum you must do is:

      • identify what could cause injury or illness in your business (hazards)
      • decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously (the risk)
      • take action to eliminate the hazard, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk

      Assessing risk is just one part of the overall process used to control risks in your workplace. It is important to note that If you employ five or more members of staff, it is a legal requirement to keep a written record of the the main findings of your risk assessment. If you have fewer than five members of staff, it’s good practice to document your risk assessments, as this will help you to demonstrate the steps you have taken to create a safe and compliant working environment.

    • How do I complete a Risk Assessment?

      When it comes to completing a risk assessment there is no need to overcomplicate things.  It is important that you follow the 5 steps to completing a risk assessment.  The steps are as follows:

      Step 1

      Identify hazards

      Look around your workplace and think about what may cause harm (these are called hazards). Think about:

      • how people work and how plant and equipment are used
      • what chemicals and substances are used – COSHH (control of substances hazardous to health)
      • what safe or unsafe work practices exist
      • Fire
      • Manual handling
      • the general state of your premises

      Look back at your accident and ill health records as these can help you identify less obvious hazards. Take account of non-routine operations, such as maintenance, cleaning or changes in production cycles.

      Think about hazards to health, such as manual handling, use of chemicals and causes of work-related stress.

      For each hazard, think about how employees, contractors, visitors or members of the public might be harmed.

      Step 2

      Assessing the risks – Who might be harmed and how

      Once you have identified the hazards, decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how serious it could be. This is assessing the level of risk.


      • Who might be harmed and how
      • What you’re already doing to control the risks
      • What further action you need to take to control the risks
      • Who needs to carry out the action
      • When the action is needed by

      Step 3

      Control the risks

      Look at what you’re already doing, and the controls you already have in place. Ask yourself:

      • Can I get rid of the hazard altogether?
      • If not, how can I control the risks so that harm is unlikely?

      When considering control measures it is vital that you follow the Hierarchy of controls:

      • eliminate the risk altogether, for example my employee needs to clean a second floor window how can I eliminate the need to work at height by having the cleaner complete the job from ground level
      • Substitution/Reduce
      • Isolate
      • Engineering Controls
      • Administrative controls
      • PPE

      You will note that PPE is last on the list, this is because It does not eliminate the hazard and will present the wearer with the maximum health risk if the equipment fails.  PPE should be seen as an additional layer of protection.

      Put the controls you have identified in place. You’re not expected to eliminate all risks but you need to do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm. This means balancing the level of risk against the measures needed to control the real risk in terms of money, time or trouble.

      Step 4

      Record your findings

      If you employ 5 or more people, you must record your significant findings, including.

      • the hazards (things that may cause harm)
      • who might be harmed and how
      • what you are doing to control the risks

      Step 5

      Review the controls

      You must review the controls you have put in place to make sure they are working. You should also review them if:

      • they may no longer be effective
      • there are changes in the workplace that could lead to new risks such as changes to:
        • staff
        • a process
        • the substances or equipment used

      Also consider a review if your workers have spotted any problems or there have been any accidents or near misses.

      Update your risk assessment record with any changes you make.

    • How often should I review a risk assessment

      Risk assessments should be reviewed at least annually. There are a number of things that may also prompt a review sooner than planned, including:

      • Accidents, ill health and dangerous occurrences (or ‘near misses’);
      • Significant changes to personnel or work practices; and
      • If there is a reason to believe that the current risk assessment is no longer valid.

      Generally speaking, whenever there is a change that could lead to new hazards, or a suggestion that existing controls aren’t effective, an up-to-date risk assessment will be required.

    • Ive completed my risk assessment – What should I do next

      Its important that once your risk assessments have been completed that you share the information with relevant persons. Remember you are legally obliged to inform those that may be harmed of the risks associated with their works and the implemented control measures.  These documents should be at the forefront of your working activities, not filed away in a draw never to be seen. 

      Once your risk assessments are completed you should create an Action plan, this should detail what new or remedial measures you will need to implement with a practical time frame.

    • Can I complete my own risk assessment

      It is important that as an employer you ensure that you are meeting the legal requirements as set out by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 – employers must have access to support from competent persons – somebody with ‘sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities’ – to help them to meet the requirements of health and safety legislation.

      It is important that the person completing your risk assessments is competent to do so, considering factors such as:

      • Relevant Training
      • Experience
      • Appropriate skills and technical ability.

      Agility Risk and Compliance employ professional Health and Safety consultants who have vast amount of training, skills and experience and are able to act as your competent person assisting you in writing up a risk assessments.

    Employees Handbook

    • What is an Employees Health and Safety Handbook

      An employee’s Health and Safety handbook should be made available to your employee on the first day of employment, however if you have not drawn one there is no time like the present to implement a staff handbook.  This document should provide an overview of your companies Health and Safety Policy, providing guidance on all the information your employees need to carry out their role safely. 

    • Is it a legal requirement

      There is no legal requirement to have a Health and Safety Handbook, however the handbook will enable you to fulfil the legal duties as set out by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. 

      • Regulation 1(1) of The Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 places a general duty onto the employer and states that ‘It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.
      • Regulation 2 (3) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 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.’

      An employee Health and Safety Handbook is an efficient way of communicating your Health & Safety Policy to staff whilst also providing health and safety information, including company rules, policies and safe working procedures for employees to follow.  This document will also show your commitment as a business to health and safety.

    • What should I include in a Health and Safety Handbook

      Your Health & Safety Handbook should help employees understand how health and safety is managed in your workplace, and how work activities may affect them or others. It should therefore set out, in detail, employees’ duties and the general safety rules they must follow.  Depending on your business you may wish to include the following:

      • Health and Safety Policy Statement
      • General personal safety;
      • accident or incident reporting procedures;
      • first aid arrangements;
      • fire and emergency procedures;
      • Manual handling aids and techniques;
      • The use of display screen equipment;
      • Electrical safety;
      • Storing and handling hazardous substances;
      • Advice on work-related stress;
      • Using personal protective equipment (PPE);
      • Working at height;
      • alcohol, drugs and smoking policy;
      • Safe driving and use of mobile phones;
      • Arrangements for vulnerable workers, such as young people or expectant mothers;
      • The safe use of machinery and equipment; and
      • Occupational health provisions.

      Once the Health & Safety Handbook has been issued it is important for employees to familiarize themselves with its contents, that is why it is recommended that the language used in an employee handbook is kept clear, simple and concise. Employees should also have information on who to contact for any further clarification if required.

      As an employer you should ask employees to sign a statement to show that they have read and understood your Health & Safety Handbook and accept the rules contained therein.

    • Can I produce my own Health and Safety Handbook

      It is important that as an employer you ensure that you are meeting the legal requirements as set out by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 – employers must have access to support from competent persons – somebody with ‘sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities’ – to help them to meet the requirements of health and safety legislation.

      It is important that the person responsible for producing your Health & Safety Handbook is competent to do so, considering factors such as:

      • Relevant Training
      • Experience
      • Appropriate skills and technical ability.

      Agility Risk and Compliance employ professional Health and Safety consultants who have vast amount of training, skills and experience and are able to act as your competent person assisting you in writing up a Health and Safety Handbook bespoke to your company. 

    Contact Agility R&C

    Agility Risk & Compliance Ltd provide tailored solutions to mitigate risk and improve compliance in Health and Safety, HR, Training, and Occupational Health.

    If you have an enquiry please call us on 01527 571611 or email us on

    Existing clients call our 24-hour service and you will be directed to your expert consultant.

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