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Health & Safety Update - Apr 2009

Health and SafetyIn this month’s health and safety update, we look ways you can reduce the of risk slips, trips and falls in the workplace (the most common type of accident in our workplaces today). We also take a look at your health and safety requirements when employing young workers.

Preventing falls from height

Falls from height continue to be the most common kind of workplace fatality, with 61 deaths and more than 14,000 serious injuries as a result of a slip, trip or fall. These shocking statistics have prompted the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to launch an awareness campaign (Shattered Lives) to help you take necessary action to limit risk as much as possible. A number of e-learning tools are available on HSE website for your reference.

Factors to consider for your risk assessment:

  • Height: How high is the job from the ground? How is safe access to be achieved?
  • Surface: What surface will the access equipment rest on? Is this surface strong enough to take the weight of the workers and their equipment? Are there any fragile surfaces?
  • Ground: What is the ground condition under the area where access equipment might need to be set up - for example, is it sloping, muddy or uneven? The access equipment you use must be suitable for the ground conditions - stable, level and not liable to fall or collapse.
  • Weather: Is it raining hard, or very windy?
  • Task : What tools or materials will you need for the roof work? How will you get them up and down safely?
  • People: What skills are required to do the job? Is any special training required? Are other people likely to be exposed to danger?

Your legal responsibilities:

The Regulations require you to ensure:

  • all work at height is properly planned and organised;
  • all work at height takes account of weather conditions that could endanger health and safety;
  • those involved in work at height are trained and competent;
  • equipment for work at height is appropriately inspected;
  • the risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled; and
  • the risks from falling objects are properly controlled.

Young people at work

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has noted that all people are at particular risk in the first six months of a job as they may be unaware of the risks within the workplace, and young people will often fall in this category. So, if you’re employing young people you’ll need to understand the law around this, and the possible risks to young people at work. This normally includes students who are on work experience and young workers who have recently completed their compulsory studies.

Health and safety law states the following:

  • A young person is anyone under eighteen years of age (young people);
  • A child is anyone who is not over compulsory school age. He or she has not yet reached the official age at which they may leave school, also referred to as the minimum school leaving age (MSLA).

The law on working time also defines a young worker as being below 18 years of age and above the MSLA.

If you are employing someone below the MSLA, then you will be required to obtain parental consent. Also, you’ll need to provide the local authority with appropriate information on the child so that he/she can be issued with an employment permit.

Factors to consider for your risk assessment

You are required to assess risks to all young people under 18 years of age, before they start work, therefore taking the following factors into account:

  • the layout of the workplace;
  • the nature of any physical, biological and chemical agents that they will be exposed to, for how long and for what extent;
  • work equipment – how will be used and handled;
  • training and supervision

You will also need to let parents/carers of any children below MSLA know the key findings of the risk assessments – this is applicable to children that are on work experience projects.

The Working Time Regulations

Young workers who are over the minimum school leaving age but under 18,  and also those who are  under the minimum school age on approved work experience schemes have the following rights under the Working Time Regulations:

  • A limit of eight hours working time a day and 40 hours a week (unless there are special circumstances);
  • Not to work either between 10pm and 6am or between 11pm and 7am (except in certain circumstances);
  • 12 hours' rest between each working day;
  • Two days' weekly rest and a 30-minute in-work rest break when working longer than four and a half hours.

If, on any day, or, as the case may be, during any week, a young worker is employed by more than one employer, his working time shall be determined by aggregating the number of hours worked by him for each employer. For these purposes a week starts at midnight between Sunday and Monday (NB. school or college time does not count as work unless it is part of job related training).

As part of Ceridian's Pay & People offer for small businesses, we propose a Health & Safety service that not only makes sure your business stays compliant with Health & Safety legislation, but covers you in the case of a claim and acts as your competent person. To talk to one of our qualified experts, call us on 0800 0482 737 or contact us online and we'll call you back.

  • 1st April 2009
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