Health and Safety

Understanding the role of health and safety in business plays an important role in maintaining the general welfare of employees, making them more productive when carrying out their assigned duties. There are various health and welfare regulations put in place to ensure a safe work environment for all.  A good grasp of the topic of health and safety, therefore, is imperative to business managers. 

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Table of contents

    Health and safety: definition in business

    All productive businesses place emphasis on health and safety in the workplace in order to drive business growth and protect the employees and society.

    Health and safety refers to the guidelines and procedures set to prevent or minimise accidents or injuries in a public place.

    Health and safety in business is defined as the regulations and procedures put in place to prevent occupational or work-related injuries or accidents in a workplace or a public place. These guidelines are there to protect both businesses and employees.

    Health and safety, measurement of risk in a workplace, StudySmarterFig. 1 - Measurement of risk in a workplace

    In Figure 1, there are three regions of access to health and safety concerns in a place of business. The first region is the broadly accepted region, where health and safety issues are minimal. The second region is the tolerable region, indicating increased but minimal health and safety risks. The last region is the unacceptable region, where the risk to health and safety in a workplace and in society can no longer be ignored, thus requiring urgent management.

    For a business to have a good health and safety management system, it needs to have a strong leadership structure that understands the importance of health and safety in business, thus managing health and safety risks before it reaches an unacceptable region as shown in Figure 1 above.

    There are various health and safety regulations put in place under the law to achieve this aim. Businesses are expected to obey these regulations or risk paying fines or even facing jail time

    Health and Safety at Work Act

    The Health and Safety at Work Act is a law set by the government to guarantee health and safety at workplaces in the United Kingdom. It defines the roles of business owners and their employees in maintaining health and safety within their workplace.

    The Health and Safety at Work Act is enforced by a government-appointed body known as the Health and Safety Executive, with support coming from the local authorities. Below are the key points of the Health and Safety at Work Act:

    • Staff should be trained on health and safety procedures to ensure they are well-understood.

    • Businesses should provide adequate welfare to their employees at work.

    • The business working environment must be properly maintained, and work must be conducted safely.

    • There should be provisions for relevant information needed within the workplace and supervision provided.

    • For businesses with five or more employees, a written document detailing the business's health and safety regulations should be made available.

    • There should be a provision for adequate lighting and ventilation in a workplace.

    • All staff facilities including toilets are to be kept clean and properly maintained.

    • A competent manager or management team should be put in place to oversee health and safety in the workplace.

    • Health and safety risk assessments should be regularly carried out regularly in the business workplace.

    • Employers are to provide adequate breaks to all employees.

    The construction business offers a good example of health and safety in the workplace. In this environment, workers are expected to work at great heights on scaffolding or ladders.

    Some business owners may rush through the step of environmental risk assessment, providing little equipment to prevent falls. If an employee were to lose balance and fall from a height, serious or even fatal injury could result.

    Health and safety in this workspace might be approached by providing protective gear and training for workers. Business owners need also to run risk assessments in the workplace and identify areas where fall protection gear is necessary and regularly update their fall protection safety programme.

    Health and safety in the workplace is crucial for the following reasons:

    • Providing employees with health and safety knowledge reduces accidents and injuries in the workplace.

    • The knowledge that the business owner cares about health and safety reduces employees' fears and improves employee motivation, thus enhancing the productivity of all employees in the workspace.

    • Employers who take steps to ensure the safety of their employees by providing health and safety training and setting up necessary facilities and regulations boost the morale of their employees to work better and more productively.

    • Employee health and safety training saves businesses money that would have otherwise been spent on government fines, equipment repairs and clean-up, hiring and training of replacement workers, and time and resources spent on accident investigations.

    • Proper health and safety training saves businesses losing money and time due to accidents in the workplace.

    • A good health and safety record improves a business's public image, thus building customer trust in the business.

    • A good health and safety record shows a business's commitment toward sustainability, thus potentially attracting investors.

    Health and safety principles

    The following are the health and safety principles that businesses, owners, and employees are required to follow:

    • Everybody's health and safety should be prioritised and the policies should be reasonably practicable.

    • Businesses whose activities may bring about risks to health and/or safety are responsible for eliminating or reducing these risks.

    • Self-employed people and all business owners are to take proactive measures towards reducing or eliminating health and safety risks in their business environments.

    • Business owners and employees are to provide information to each other about health and safety risks in the workplace and come up with steps that can be taken to eliminate or reduce them.

    • Business owners should be monitoring and reporting on health and safety issues.

    The Health and Safety at Work Act was made to improve the standards of working conditions and the overall welfare of employees in a business environment, thus preventing accident, illness, and injury. Here are the four main objectives of the Health and Safety at Work Act in business environments:

    • The Health and Safety at Work Act aims to ensure the welfare, health, and safety of employees and people in the business environment.

    • The Health and Safety at Work Act aims to protect the general public from the health and safety risk that may arise due to business activities,

    • The Health and Safety at Work Act aims to ensure workplace risks are eliminated at the source.

    • The Health and Safety at Work Act aims to involve businesses, employees, and employers in the formulation and implementation of the health, safety, and general welfare standards.

    Eliminating and reducing health and safety risks in a business environment is important for the growth of a business. This starts with business owners understanding what those risks are and providing adequate information to their employees to manage the risks they may face on the job.

    The Health and Safety at Work Act is crucial for the promotion and maintenance of a good health and safety culture in business.

    In conclusion, The Health and Safety at Work Act was created to protect both employers and employees. In certain industries it is highly important to conduct regular health and safety trainings, update health and safety programmes, and consistently report on overall health and safety. But overall, maintaining health and safety is the responsibility of all employees and owners in a business.

    Health and Safety - Key takeaways

    • The term 'health and safety' refers to guidelines and procedures set to prevent or minimise accidents or injuries in a public place.
    • Health and safety in business is about managing operational or any other risk, in order to protect the business employees and the business itself.

    • For a business to have a good health and safety management system, it needs to have a strong leadership structure that understands the importance of health and safety in business.

    • The Health and Safety at Work Act is a law set by the government to guarantee health and safety at workplaces in the United Kingdom. It defines the roles of business owners and their employees in maintaining health and safety within their workplace.

    • The Health and Safety at Work Act is enforced by a government-appointed body known as the Health and Safety Executive with support coming from the local authorities


    Sources

    1. Worksmart, What are the main health and safety regulations?, https://worksmart.org.uk

    2. Donna Foulis, The 6 essential points of the Health and Safety at Work Act, Ideagen, 2021

    3. Britsafe, The Health and Safety at Work Act Explained, https://www.britsafe.org

    4. Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974, Gov.uk, https://www.legislation.gov.uk

    5. Essential principles, Health and Safety Executive, https://www.hse.gov.uk

    6. Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 | A guide for employers, Worknest, 1974

    7. Health and safety made simple, Health and Safety Executive, https://www.hse.gov.uk

    Frequently Asked Questions about Health and Safety

    What is health and safety in business?

    Health and safety refers to the guidelines and procedures set to prevent or minimise accidents or injuries in a public place. 

    why are health and safety important in business?

    Health and safety in the workplace are important for the following reasons: 

    1.  reduces accidents and injuries 
    2. reduces employees' fears and improves employee motivation 
    3. Save money on government fines, equipment repairs and clean-up, hiring and training of replacement workers, and time and resources spent on accident investigations. 
    4. saves businesses from losing money and time due to accidents in the workplace
    5. shows a business's commitment toward sustainability 

    What are the five principles of health and safety?

    The following are the health and safety principles that businesses, owners, and employees are required to follow:


    • Everybody's health and safety should be prioritised and the policies should be reasonably practicable.

    • Businesses whose activities may bring about risks to health and/or safety are responsible for eliminating or reducing these risks.

    • Self-employed people and all business owners are to take proactive measures towards reducing or eliminating health and safety risks in their business environments.

    • Business owners and employees are to provide information to each other about health and safety risks in the workplace and come up with steps that can be taken to eliminate or reduce them.

    • Business owners should be monitoring and reporting on health and safety issues.

    What are the main objectives of the Health and Safety at Work Act?

     The four main objectives of the Health and Safety at Work Act in business environments:


    •  to ensure the welfare, health, and safety of employees and people in the business environment. 

    • to protect the general public from the health and safety risk that may arise due to business activities. 

    • to ensure workplace risks are eliminated at the source.

    • to involve businesses, employees, and employers in the formulation and implementation of the health, safety, and general welfare standards. 

    What is the UK health and safety act?

    The Health and Safety at Work Act is a law set by the government to guarantee health and safety at workplaces in the United Kingdom. It defines the roles of business owners and their employees in maintaining health and safety within their workplace.  

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