A new risk-based approach to fire safety came into force on 1st October 2006 in England and Wales and affects employers and those who are responsible for non-domestic, industrial, commercial and residential premises.
At the core of the legislation lies the fire risk assessment: an organised appraisal of work activities and the workplace which identifies hazards and assesses the risk created.
Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, the Responsible Person must carry out a “suitable and sufficient” risk assessment of non-domestic premises. In a workplace, this is the employer and any other person who may have control of any part of the premises, e.g. manager or owner.
The risk assessments should be reviewed periodically and whenever significant changes are made which could affect it, e.g. after building alterations, increases in the number of people present, new materials or processes introduced.
A risk assessment is an important step in protecting your workers and your business, as well as complying with the law. It helps you focus on the risks that really matter in your workplace – the ones with the potential to cause real harm. In many instances, straightforward measures can readily control risks, for example ensuring spillages are cleaned up promptly so people do not slip, or cupboard drawers are kept closed to ensure people do not trip. For most, that means simple, cheap and effective measures to ensure your most valuable asset – your workforce – is protected.
A risk assessment is simply a careful examination of what, in your work, could cause harm to people, so that you can weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent harm. Workers and others have a right to be protected from harm caused by a failure to take reasonable control measures.
Accidents and ill health can ruin lives and affect your business too if output is lost, machinery is damaged, insurance costs increase or you have to go to court. You are legally required to assess the risks in your workplace so that you put in place a plan to control the risks.
COSHH is the law that requires employers to control substances that are hazardous to health. You can prevent or reduce workers' exposure to hazardous substances by:
finding out what the health hazards are; deciding how to prevent harm to health providing control measures to reduce harm to health; making sure they are used keeping all control measures in good working order; providing information, instruction and training for employees and others; providing monitoring and health surveillance in appropriate cases; planning for emergencies. Most businesses use substances, or products that are mixtures of substances. Some processes create substances. These could cause harm to employees, contractors and other people.
Sometimes substances are easily recognised as harmful. Common substances such as paint, bleach or dust from natural materials may also be harmful.
COSHH covers chemicals, products containing chemicals, fumes, dusts, vapours, mists and gases, and biological agents (germs). If the packaging has any of the hazard symbols then it is classed as a hazardous substance.
COSHH also covers asphyxiating gases.
COSHH covers germs that cause diseases such as leptospirosis or legionnaires' disease: and germs used in laboratories.
COSHH doesn’t cover lead, asbestos or radioactive substances because these have their own specific regulations.
What have you done about manual handling?
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 came into force on 1 January 1993 to implement the European Directive 90/269/EEC.
The manual handling regulations put a duty on employers to assess possible risks associated with manual handling, and to reduce any risks that they find.