Health and Safety: The Employer’s Obligations

Health and Safety: The Employer's Obligations

If you own a business and you have all your employees in an office, then you are responsible for the health and safety of those people. There are a number of things required of you by law with regards to health and safety. Imagine that something goes wrong in your office. If an employee is injured because some vital safety measure was missing then that employee can take legal action against you. So the result is an injury, a lawsuit and a potential closure of your business. I’m a pretty optimistic person, but even I can’t see the silver lining in that particular cloud!

Make absolutely sure you have taken all the measures required of you in your office. Have a look through this list. If you notice anything missing, get to work on it immediately. And remember: a safe employee is a productive employee!

Safety equipment

There are a number of things that must be available in your office for safety reasons. One of the most obvious is a fire extinguisher. These things usually come with the office when you rented it. In the unlikely event that you don’t have a fire extinguisher, you must get some as soon as possible. And yes, I said some! There should be a clearly marked fire extinguisher within immediate sight and a few seconds reach of everyone in the office. In your average office, this could mean housing anywhere between three and six fire extinguishers.

You also need to have first aid kits available on site. These should contain your usual first aid equipment. Plasters, bandages, antiseptic cleaning wipes, that sort of thing. There should also be essential safety signs around the office. Signs pointing out emergency exits, smoking prohibition and fire extinguisher locations must be present.

First aid training

Someone on your site must have first aid training. Ideally, the employer should have first aid training, but this isn’t absolutely necessary. It is, however, illegal to run a business without first aid specialists. It’s recommended that at least four people in your office have adequate first aid training. A strong number here means that one or more of the first aiders can be away from the office. If you only have one first aider in your office, then you could be in trouble when they go on holiday!

An employer can take extra precaution by attending first aid training themselves. You can attend a first aid training course and receive your senior first aid certificate on the day you require it.

Safety drills

Do your employees know exactly what to do if your office alarm goes off? That is, assuming you have an alarm! Alarms should have been included with the office. Test these periodically to ensure functionality. If there’s a problem, speak to your landlord.

You should also ask the office landlord (or a security guard) about the safety guidelines of the building. There may be established fire drill processes in place. The company who worked at the office before you probably met at the same external meeting point that you will. As for the in-office fire drill procedure, you need to arrange one. Practice fire drills periodically so that employees know what to do and where to meet. You also need to be aware of anyone in the office that may require assistance to leave the building.

Planning ahead and being prepared is one of the smartest things you can do.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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