Health & Safety questions

Your Health & Safety questions answered by EP Risk’s qualified health and safety consultants

A diagram which may help to answer your Health & Safety questionsMust I have a safety management system in place?
If you employ five or more employees, you have a legal duty to have a written policy describing how you will manage health and safety in your business and let others know about your commitment to it.

Do I need to complete a fire risk assessment?
You have a responsibility for fire safety in business or other non-domestic premises if you are an employer, the owner, the landlord, the occupier or anyone else with control of the premises. Part of this responsibility includes carrying out a fire risk assessment of the premises and reviewing it regularly. It may be necessary to appoint a ‘competent person’, such as an external consultant, to help assist with the completion of a fire risk assessment if you don’t have the expertise or time to do so yourself.

There has been an accident at work, what do I do?
First, take prompt emergency action, such as first aid, and ensure the area surrounding the accident is made safe. Once the casualty is removed it is important that the scene is preserved, the names of any witnesses are recorded and the person responsible for health and safety is notified. It may be necessary to report the incident to the HSE under RIDDOR. The person responsible for health and safety will determine if this is applicable or not. It is important that all accidents are investigated as it will help give an understanding of how and why things went wrong.

Why do I need to create activity risk assessments?
As an employer you have a legal duty under Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to control health and safety risks. The easiest and most commonly applied way of recording these controls is through the completion of risk assessments. Risk assessments should include any significant findings including what the risks are, what controls you already have in place and any further action that may be required.

How many first aiders do I need?
First aid regulations require employers to provide adequate and appropriate first-aid equipment, facilities and people. What is adequate and appropriate will depend on your circumstances, so you should assess your first aid needs. Smaller, low-level hazards may need only the minimum provision, whereas larger; more hazardous environments may require a greater provision. As a minimum you should provide a first aid kit, an appointed person to take charge of first-aid arrangements and information for the employees about first-aid arrangements.

DSEAR Health & Safety questions

Where does DSEAR apply?
DSEAR (Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002) apply whenever a dangerous substance is or is liable to be present at the workplace. Dangerous substances include preparations and dusts with the potential to give rise to fires, explosions and similar energetic events which can affect the safety of employees and others.

Can you give examples?
Dangerous substances may include: Petrol, LPG, paints, thinners, varnishes and certain types of dust – for example, coal, wood, grain, flour and sugar – certain metals and synthetic organic chemicals.

What’s my first step?
Check if substances or preparations in your workplace are classified under CHIP regulations as explosive, oxidising, extremely flammable, highly flammable or flammable.

And the second?
Check the information on your COSHH assessments and the material safety data sheets.

What other assessments should I make?

  • Assess the physical and chemical properties of the substance or preparations and the work processes involved to see whether the activity creates a potential for fire, explosion or similar energetic event.
  • Check if your storage of acetylene, LPG or your flammable store, could in the event of an incident compromise business continuity because of exclusion zones imposed by the emergency services.
  • Check to see if the work activity involves the creation or handling of potentially combustible or explosive dusts – for example, decanting, sawing, milling and sanding operations.
  • Check if your flammable store exceeds the guidance of HSG51, DSEAR Regulation 5. It is advised to only store internally in the working area the minimum quantity needed for frequent usage for half a day or a single shift.

Need I look beyond my own workplace?
Yes. Consider whether your neighbour’s processes could have an impact on your current fire risk assessment and your emergency procedures.

If you have any Health & Safety questions, please contact us at our office in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, where will do our best to help.