The Critical Role of Employers in Ensuring Health and Safety

Introduction

Health and safety at work is essential for protecting the well-being of the employers, customers and visitors. The risky health and safety condition at the workplace leads the organisation to lose staffs because the employees feel lack of value and fear the loss of their lives while working. The promotion of effective health and safety leads to good business and increased profitability of the organisation. In this essay, the employer’s role in securing health and safety at the workplace is to be critically reviewed and discussed.

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Scope of Health and Safety at Workplace

There is huge scope for the employers in the UK to ensure Health and Safety at the workplace. This is because various policies and legislations along with regulatory guidelines are mentioned by the employers to follow which offer them effective ideas to ensure health and safety of employees at the workplace. For instance, employers to maintain health and safety in the workplace have the scope to follow the law of Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH). The COSHH is referred to the law which needs the employers to act effectively for controlling substances that are hazardous to be the health at the workplace (hse.gov.uk, 2002). The COSHH directs the employers that they have the responsibility of controlling hazardous substances by developing the provision of appropriate protective equipment to be provided to employees where necessary. The COSHH also mentions the employers to establish control measures within the workplace regarding hazardous substances and procedures are to be mentioned for managing accidents and emergencies related to hazardous substances within the workplace (oshcr.org, 2002). In addition, the COSHH directs the employers to execute surveillance and carry out risk assessment for ensuring health and safety if the employers (legislation.gov.uk, 2002). This indicates that there are laws present in the UK which provides detailed information to the employers regarding the way to maintain health and safety ensuring its establishment to have wider scope within the organisations.

The Health and Safety Act 1974 informs various duties that are to be executed by the employers at work to ensure the health and safety of the employees (hse.gov.uk, 1974). The duties include developing safe work system, maintain safe equipment along with machineries and plants, execute risk assessment based on workplace regulations, inform employees about key hazardous related to their work nature, develop consultation with safety executive for the workplace and provide adequate facilities at work for the staff to retain safety and healthy environment within the organisation (legislation.gov.uk, 1974). Thus, following this Act the employers of any organisation have huge scope to maintain proper health and safety at work as it acts as guidance for them regarding the way hazardous activities and accidents can be avoided.

The Reporting of Injuries, Disease and Dangerous Occurrences (RIDDOR) is the regulation that allocates duties on the people controlling the workplace, employers and self-employed individuals to report any nature of serious and uncertain accidents at the workplace along with dangerous occurrences and occupational diseases within the organisation (hse.gov.uk, 1995). The use of this regulation by the employers creates huge scope for them to alert concerned authorities and access consultations from experts regarding the way they can improve their work to maintain proper safety and health of the employees. The RIDDOR also informs that a company require maintaining a record book for any accidental incidences at the workplace (legislation.gov.uk, 1995). This aspect of following RIDDOR provides scope for the employers at the workplace to determine the reason behind such accident and the way its occurrence can be further prevented in turn ensuring health and safety for the employees.

Factors influences Health and Safety at Workplace

The employers to secure health and safety at the workplace require determining the factors which may disturb and create accidents in the organisation to hinder the health and safety of the employees. The initial workplace factor which affects the health and safety in the workplace that the employers required to be concerned include temperature and humidity. The protection against heat stresses within the workplace from high thermal temperature, increased level of humidity and others are to be managed by the employers for their employees (Hansen et al. 2018). This is because increased humidity and heat stresses hinder the health of the employees by making them feel drowsy, sluggish, warm and clammy. The optimum humidity to be managed within the workplace is between 40-60% as humidity below 40% indoors would make the employees face hindered health conditions such as sinusitis within the workplace (healthknowledge.org.uk, 2019).

The employers have the role to maintain adequate indoor temperature in the workplace during cold weather so that it provides thermal comfort to the employees (Haines et al. 2017). A proper thermal temperature of at least 16ºC in case the work is of sedentary style and a temperature of at least 13ºC if the work requires physical effort by the employees is to be maintained indoors by the employers at the workplace during cold weather (healthknowledge.org.uk, 2019). This is because exposure to cold temperature at the workplace hinders the health of the employees by making them feel discomfort, increased strain and cold-related diseases. In addition, unbearable cold temperature indoors within the workplace reduces the performance of the employees which may lead them to make error in work that may create safety issues (Osman et al. 2017).

The workplace factors such as ventilation and space, lighting and cleanliness of the workplace are found to affect the health and safety within the workplace and the employers have the role to manage the factors to prevent any accidents or harm or injury to employees while working (healthknowledge.org.uk, 2019). As mentioned by Kim et al. (2018), adequate movement of air is required within the workplace to maintain proper air quality. This informs the employers have to arrange the workplace in such a way so that adequate air enters the environment. As argued by Goddard (2018), lack of proper quality of air in the workplace makes the employees experience shortness of breath as a result of build-up of carbon monoxide. This information that ventilation is an important factor to be considered by the employers as it hinders health condition and safety of the employees. It is evident as intense suffocation due to lack of proper ventilation in the workplace as a result of build-up of harmful gases may lead employees to experience fatigue and in intense cases experience fatal consequences (Kim et al. 2018).

The employers have the role to maintain proper lighting in the workplace to maintain health and safety (healthknowledge.org.uk, 2019). This is because proper lighting without shadows and glares increases visibility of machines and equipment for the employees that lead them to work properly and avoid safety hazards and accidents. It is evident as good quality lighting avoids the development of momentary blindness, in turn, reducing chances of incidences and injury at the workplace (Jayawardena et al. 2017). In addition, proper lighting at the workplace reduces eye fatigue as well as headaches, in turn, helping to maintain proper health of the employees which also promotes their performance and efficiency at work (Pachito et al. 2016). The cleanliness of the workplace is to be ensured by the employers for health and safety of the employees as unclean places at work leads to develop various types of diseases as a result of contamination through microorganisms (Naccarella et al. 2018). The ergonomics is the other factors which the employers have the role to manage for protecting health and safety in the workplace. The ergonomics is referred to the physical arrangement at work which is ensured to be maintained properly so that no health issues are raised (healthknowledge.org.uk, 2019).

The factors related to the management of health and safety in the workplace also includes controlling of hazardous agents, devices and equipment and other physical aspects (healthknowledge.org.uk, 2019). The hazardous agents are the materials which are extremely harmful to the health of the workers and can cause direct or indirect infection or harm to the workers. They are to be properly controlled and managed by the employers so that no workers are unnecessarily exposed to them to get harmed (Booth et al. 2019). The physical aspects such as gates, doors and windows are to be constructed properly and fitted with safety devices where necessary to avoid injury or accidents to the employees. In addition, the railings and fencing where required to be checked and installed as well as covering of pit tanks are to be ensured by the employers so that they can avoid falls from heights, in turn, ensuring safe environment at the workplace (Reiman et al. 2016).

The welfare factors such as washing rooms, resting places, drinking water and others are required to be effectively managed by the employers (healthknowledge.org.uk, 2019). The provision of safe drinking water is required at the workplace so that no disease-causing agents or microorganisms enter the body of the employees which could deteriorate their health (McInnes et al. 2017). The role of the employers is to ensure that proper meals are provided to employees along with safe and clean lavatories and washing facilities. This is because it influences the health and safety in the workplace as dirty lavatories are regarded as place for birth of harmful microorganisms which when enters the body causes immense damages resulting individuals to develop illness (Jaju et al. 2018). Moreover, proper meals at the workplace ensure the employees can avail needed nutrients and minerals which in turn influence to maintain their good health (Jaju et al. 2018).

The slips and trips at the workplace negatively influence health and safety management. This is because slips and trips from heights and mainly of ladders lead employees to face unnecessary falls which contributes to serious injuries and workplace deaths (healthknowledge.org.uk, 2019). Thus, the employers have the role to develop effective slip and trip preventive measures so that the health and safety of the employees can be ensured. The manual handling in the workplace also influences the health and safety of the employees. This is because it leads employees to experience repetitive strains and musculoskeletal disorders that make them leave work and reduce performance (Goode et al. 2019). The stress among the employees is regarded as psychological factor that influences health and safety in the workplace. This is because stress leads the employees face adverse mental conditions such as depression, anxiety, anger and others hindering their workflow (Gökçe et al. 2017). The employers have the role to arrange work activities in such a way so that it does not lead the employees to get stressed as it would lower performance and negatively affect their mental health making the employers fail to manage proper healthy environment in the workplace.

The specific hazards related to powered hand tools, use of asbestos, electricity systems, radiation and others are also the key factors which influence health and safety management at the workplace. The asbestos is regarded as the single most work-related fatal consequences due to exposure among employees at work (healthknowledge.org.uk, 2019). The powered hand tools are seen to cause vibration syndrome due to passing of continuous vibration resulting to hinder the health condition of the employees at work (healthknowledge.org.uk, 2019). The noise in the workplace can lead to hearing problems among the employees and ionising radiation risks arises among the employees as a result of exposure to x-rays or radionuclides (healthknowledge.org.uk, 2019). Therefore, employees have the role to manage the specific hazards through installation of safety precautions and safety equipment to be used by employees to protect them from harm, in turn, acting to ensure protecting health and safety at the workplace.

Discussing effectiveness of employer’s role for improving health and safety standards at workplace

The role of the employers to secure the health and safety of the employees of the workplace as mentioned under policies and legislations is to perform risk management at the workplace. The risk management is the process which is employed by the employers to forecast and analyse the issues or problems to be faced in the work environment (Warmerdam et al. 2017). The effectiveness of performing risk management by the employers is that it helps them to determine the type of hazards and the factors which are creating the risks at the workplace (Pollack et al. 2017). This makes them aware to control risky conditions and factors, in turn, ensuring improved health and safety in the organisation. The risk management by employers is effective to develop awareness among the employees regarding the aspects in work which are risky and where they require to be more concerned to perform their tasks to avoid unnecessary injuries and accidents (Taufek et al. 2016). Thus, it improves health and safety of the work environment by educating employees to be cautious at work.

The employers’ role of performing risk management is beneficial as it leads them to determine the existing skills employees have to avoid and control risks along with the added skills and knowledge needed to make the employees more competent to ensure safe working (Alston, 2017). Thus, it improves health and safety of the workplace as it leads the nature of risk management training to be provided to the employees to avoid further risks at work. Moreover, the employers performing risk management is effective to improve health and safety at the workplace as it reduces unnecessary incidences to happen in the environment (Szymański, 2017). This is because risk management makes employers aware where in the work environment safety signs are to be installed, nature and number of personal protective equipment for employees to be arranged, changes in physical environment at work is to improved and others. Thus, risk management by employers is effective for them to proactively manage health and safety in the work environment, in turn, raising the overall standards of the health and safety measures at the workplace.

The role of the employers to develop plan for improving the health and safety factors in the workplace is effective to improve overall health and safety standards in the workplace (Wong et al. 2019). This is because during planning the employers can determine the hazards and safety risks present in the workplace and the way to eliminate or lower them in protecting employees. The safety consultants have expertise to determine in the best way the inner risks present within the workplace. They have the role to train safety officers in the workplace in different posts to promote their ability to improve health and safety of the employees (Rost and Alvero, 2020). Thus, the employer’s role mentioned through policies to include safety consultant in the workplace is effective to improve health and safety as it advises the safety officers to become more competent to ensure better safety standards for employees at work.

The inclusion of risk management policies and procedures at work to be strictly followed by employees leads the workers understands the rules to be followed to avoid risky error at work which are vulnerable to their health ns safety (Leitão and Greiner, 2017). Thus, this role of the employers to include risk management procedure to be followed by workers is effective to improve health and safety at work by avoiding accidents and injuries due to error. The investigation of accidents or injuries at the workplace and keeping their records helps to determine the reason behind it happening and the steps to be taken to avoid its reoccurrence (Cañamares et al. 2017). Thus, this role by the employers improves health and safety standards at the workplace as information is available to control and avoid reoccurrence of any negative incident.

Conclusion

The above discussion informs that the employers by following RIDDOR, COSHH and Health and Safety Act 1974 have huge scope to maintain health and safety at the workplace. The workplace factor such as temperature, ventilation, lighting, ergonomics, space and others are essential to be considered by the employers while executing their role to bring health and safety of the employers. In addition, the factors such as cleanliness of lavatories, proper management of physical aspects at work, maintenance of equipment, controlling stress at work and others are other factors to be considered by employers in playing the role top manage health and safety of the employees. The risks management role of employers helps to create risk awareness among employees reduce negative incidents and work and others to improve overall standards of health and safety at workplace.

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