Do you employ staff or manage employees? Do you provide a service or product to the general public or service users? If so then you owe a duty of care to employees, service users, and visitors as enshrined in UK law, and this is inescapable. Under Section 2 The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974,
“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.”
Furthermore, Section 3 The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states “
“(1) Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of—
(a) The risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work; and
(b) The risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking.”
What does this mean? Well, in order to fulfill the duty of care owed to employees, service users and the general public, a suitable and sufficient risk assessment must be carried out in order to identify risks, and then identify and implement control measures to reduce or even eliminate that risk.
This process is not a difficult one, in fact it can be very easy. The consequences of not conducting a suitable and sufficient risk assessment can be nothing short of devastating to all concerned as highlighted in the case of Lothian Health Board who have been fined a total of £32,000 after pleading guilty to a breach of Section 2 of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.
A lone working psychiatric nurse was assaulted by a service user that suffers from psychiatric illness, while providing her with domiciliary care. “During the incident the nurse was forced to the floor, threatened and had her hair pulled so violently that several clumps were pulled out. Since the incident, she has been understandably apprehensive about undertaking home visits and has experienced unwelcome ‘flashbacks’.”
The full report from the Health & Safety Executive website can be found here.
Could you imagine the consequence if the nurse had died? How far could the courts prosecute the managers? In short, if it is found the duty of care owed was breached by the acts or omissions of managers, then they could very well find themselves with hefty fines and potentially a prison sentence under the Corporate Homicide and Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007.
Conducting a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and then implementing identified control measures will help reduce incidents and injury at work; in turn reducing the devastation suffered by all concerned.
Don’t get caught short, ensure you have your risk assessments in place and that they are reviewed regularly. If you need advice and guidance on how to conduct a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, the team at COVIC Training Solutions are here to help.