Being Health and Safety Compliant
Health and safety legislation is vast, and if you’re not an expert, it can be all too easy to unintentionally miss the mark. As an employer, you want to know that you’re meeting legal requirements, doing everything within your power to keep people safe, and shielding your organisation from the cost of non-compliance.
But where do you start? If you don’t know the first thing about health and safety, suspect that you fall short in some areas, or just need support staying compliant, Ellis Whittam can offer much-needed peace of mind.
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How we help
Become health and safety confident
What legal duties fall upon me as an employer? What regulations govern specific activities, and am I abiding with them? Am I managing risk appropriately? Am I compliant, and if not, how do I get there?
If you’re not fully confident in your health and safety performance, our unlimited, fixed-fee Health & Safety service will help you to simplify your safety responsibilities, eliminate guesswork and get you to where you need to be.
- Set out and communicate your health and safety arrangements with a robust policy and handbook tailored to your organisation
- Identify any areas where you’re currently exposed, and take corrective action, with a full health and safety audit
- Continue to meet your responsibilities with expert advice and support from a dedicated safety specialist
- Upskill in essential health and safety topics with our interactive e-Learning courses (included free for the first 12 months)
- Manage tasks and monitor your risk status in real time with our award-winning Health & Safety Software
Proactively protect against worst-case scenarios
Employers will naturally fear the consequences of a health and safety breach. However, not all organisations will have the resource to manage health and safety internally, putting your people, reputation and bottom line at risk.
With the average fine per conviction coming in at £110,000, organisations across the UK are recognising the value of fixed-fee Health & Safety support, which will enable you to demonstrate compliance, save time, and avoid expensive mistakes – all while keeping control over costs.
“We were recently approached by the HSE. As a result of the comprehensive risk assessments, PPE records, site guidance notes, posters and materials for briefing, we were able to satisfy the HSE that we were compliant with all requirements within 48 hours. We could not have asked for a better outcome.”
Head of Compliance,
Common queries about health and safety compliance, answered by our expert consultants.
How large does my business need to be for health and safety legislation to impact me?
Health and safety legislation applies to all business regardless of size or sector, and all employers have a duty to ensure that health and safety is effectively managed within the workplace. This duty extends to both employees and any non-employees that may be affected by your activities – including clients, visitors and members of the public. It also applies regardless of whether employees are working on your premises or off site at another location. All employers, for example, must conduct risk assessments to identify and mitigate potential causes of harm. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises that the approach you take should be proportionate to the size of your business and the nature of your business activity. For most small, low-risk businesses, the steps you need to take are straightforward. If you have fewer than five employees, you don’t have to write down your risk assessment or your health and safety policy. Ellis Whittam can help you to strike the right balance and take a sensible, proportionate approach to risk.
What types of health and safety legislation do I need to follow?
The two primary pieces of health and safety legislation that all employers need to be aware of are the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. In a nutshell, the HSWA places a general duty on employers to ensure, so far as is “reasonably practicable”, the health and safety and welfare of all their employees while at work, while the Management Regulations set out more specific requirements, such as the requirement to make a “suitable and sufficient” assessment of risks, appoint “competent persons”, provide workers with information and training, and operate a written health and safety policy.
Of course, other legislation may apply depending on the activities you undertake, such as the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, Manual Handling Operations 1992 and the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 which each have their own provisions that employers must be alert to.
What could happen if I breach health and safety law?
This depends on the circumstances – penalties for contravening health and safety law range from an enforcement notice requiring you to rectify an issue identified or stop an unsafe activity, to fines and imprisonment. If an HSE Inspector visits your workplace and finds that you are in material breach of health and safety law, you will also have to pay for the time it takes to put things right. This is known as Fee for Intervention and currently costs £157 an hour.
What is the average fine for a health and safety breach?
According to the latest HSE statistics, the average fine per conviction in 2019/20 was £110,000. This represents an increase of 307% since tougher sentencing guidelines were introduced in 2016 (in 2014/15, the average fine was £27,000 per conviction). If you’re concerned about the impact this could have on your bottom line, Ellis Whittam can work with you to ensure compliance and dramatically reduce risk. What’s more, our optional Legal Expenses Insurance covers the costs of defending health and safety prosecutions (plus Fee for Intervention charges and appealing against the serving of an improvement or prohibition notice) for an added layer of protection.
Do I need to appoint someone to manage health and safety compliance?
Yes. Under Regulation 7 of the Management Regulations, “every employer shall, subject to paragraphs (6) and (7), appoint one or more competent persons” – someone with the necessary training, experience, knowledge and “other qualities” to help you comply with the requirements of health and safety law. If you don’t have somebody in-house who meets this criteria, the HSE says you can appoint an external professional such as Ellis Whittam to help you.
Do I need to consider work organisation hazards for staff currently working at home?
Regulators have a number of options if they believe that a breach of health and safety law is taking place. These include: 1) Writing to you to explain the breach they believe has taken place. Under the Fee For Intervention (FFI) scheme, the regulator can choose to charge you for the time taken to investigate and inform you of this and write the letter. The cost of FFI at the present time is £157 per hour. 2) Improvement or prohibition notices. These may be issued by the enforcing agent whilst on site or remotely. Improvement notices specify specific improvement(s) that must been implemented within a specified length of time. Prohibition notices prohibit specified activities from being carried out until such time as steps are taken to improve health and safety protection as detailed in the notice. If either type of notice is not complied with, further action can be brought in court. 3) Prosecution. Inspectors may choose to bring prosecutions in court under relevant statutory provision, including (but not limited to) the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and related regulations under this Act.
What powers to HSE Inspectors have on site?
HSE Inspectors and Environmental Health Officers have a number of powers they may exercise when enforcing health and safety law. These include the power to:
– Enter premises at any time and without notice;
– Inspect and investigate;
– Take measurements, samples and photographs;
– Require an area or machine to be left undisturbed;
– Seize, render harmless or destroy dangerous items;
– Obtain information, including written documents; and
– Take statements including under caution as defined in the Police and Criminal evidence Act 1984.
Explore other Health & Safety advice and support
Audit and Inspection
From a procedure that isn’t being executed properly to a policy or risk assessment that’s out of date, we can conduct a thorough examination of your premises, practices and procedures to identify and remedy any areas where you’re exposed.
What form does the audit take?
There are a number of different models and templates for conducting health and safety audits. Most commonly, and the approach we adopt at Ellis Whittam, is what’s known as a General Risk Assessment (GRA). This is a systematic examination of your workplace to identify possible causes of harm, the likelihood and severity of that harm occurring given the safeguards already in place, and any further control measures needed to reduce risk to as low a level as is “reasonably practicable”.
Will you just provide a report of the issues identified?
No. The report will provide clear solutions and recommendations to address particular areas of concern. Unlike some providers, we won’t insert default ‘corrective action required’ responses unless it is absolutely clear what you need to do; we edit to provide clarity. Plus, if you have any questions or concerns, your dedicated Health & Safety Consultant will be more than happy to assist.
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Experts in Health & Safety
Why choose us?
If you’re not confident in your current practices, or don’t have professional support in place, our network of qualified Health & Safety Consultants can help you to build a safe and compliant working environment through expert support tailored to your organisation.
- Approved by a Primary Authority
- Dedicated specialists with recognised qualifications
- Genuine hands-on experience of managing risk
- Unlimited 24/7 advice, award-winning software and policy support
- The confidence to act as one of your competent persons
Who you'll be working with
“I’ve taken Ellis Whittam into every organisation that I’ve worked with. I’ve introduced them to many teams and many colleagues and referred them with absolute pleasure because I genuinely trust in the service that we get.”
Debbie Jamieson, People Director
“We get a great deal of comfort and satisfaction knowing that we have support as and when we need it, in a decisive and responsive way.”
Richard Berry, Group HR Director
Bluestone National Park Resort
“What we recognised in Ellis Whittam is the background that they have. They are able to supply knowledge and experience in a number of disciplines, which enables us to develop our business in a way that’s safe, to do it on time and with a quality to it.”
Debbie Rainbow, Director of Human Resources and Health & Safety
“As the company started to get larger, we knew we had to protect our employees and our contractors both onsite and in the offices. Ellis Whittam is exactly what we needed to move the company forward.”
Joanne Beaver, Operations Director
“We have found Ellis Whittam to be responsive and aligned with our business in terms of our processes and expectations. Their pragmatic approach has proven to be a great fit – nobody wants to be fighting their adviser on basic employment decisions.”
Jonathan Green, COO
“Ellis Whittam supports our 280 staff members with Employment Law and Health & Safety and has provided quality management training too.”
Lisa Best, Head of Service Delivery
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