• 14 April 2015

New employees: Your safety responsibilities

In a new blog post for International Workplace, Croftons Injury Claims solicitors look at how businesses should be protecting existing staff, and what they can do to ensure the safety of new employees.

Safety responsibilities when hiring new employees

Looking after the health and safety of employees is crucial. As a business owner and employer, you are legally responsible for the welfare of each person while they are at work.

Statistics from the HSE have revealed that many workplace accidents occur within the first six months of an employee starting within an organisation. So, it is important that you also fully understand the steps that should be taken when introducing new employees into your business.

Legal requirements

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 states that business proprietors must do whatever is reasonably practical to protect workers and visitors on their premises from harm.

This will typically involve:

Risk assessments

A risk assessment is an official record of any workplace hazards, which also contains information on how the proprietor plans to minimise or highlight the risks.

For businesses that employ five or more people, a risk assessment should be carried out by an individual in charge of health and safety responsibilities.

Suitable working environment

A safe and comfortable workplace should be of paramount importance. This can be achieved by regularly monitoring the following:

  • All machinery and work equipment is suitably maintained.
  • There is appropriate lighting, ventilation and seating.
  • The temperature is kept at a reasonable level (around 16°C).
  • The workplace remains clean and hygienic.

Advising and informing employees

Employers must ensure that employees are fully aware of any risks and the measures in place to protect against them. Training should also be provided so that workers can remain safe, while additional guidance should be given when new machinery or procedures are introduced.

Business owners also have a legal obligation under the Health and Safety Information for Employees Regulations to ensure that employees have visible access to a copy of the ‘Health and Safety Law: What You Need to Know’ leaflet.

Health and safety policies

Similarly to risk assessments, businesses consisting of five or more members must have a written health and safety policy in place, which is revised annually. The policy should clearly state who is responsible for health and safety in the workplace and how they will manage it.

Reporting incidents

According to the RIDDOR legislation, when an employee’s health and safety has been affected at work, a record must be kept of any injuries or health issues sustained.

First aid

The Health and Safety Regulations 1981 state that employers should have suitable equipment, facilities and qualified staff to be able to give first aid should an employee fall ill or become injured. Any qualified staff should be retrained on an annual basis.

Responsibilities when hiring new employees

The HSE has found that employees are more likely to have an accident in the first six months of being in a new workplace. This can be due to inexperience, a worry of raising concerns, unfamiliar surroundings and hazards, or lack of training and understanding.

Whenever a business hires a new employee, it is important to follow certain steps to minimise the chances of the person falling victim to an injury or illness:

1. Assess the employee’s competencies

Every new employee should be assessed on their previous experience in a similar working environment, as well as their physical abilities and overall health before starting work. If there is cause for concern, consider implementing a health observation during their probation period.

2. Provide relevant inductions and training

Businesses should provide new employers with an induction prior to their first day of work. This should consist of a photographic presentation highlighting any risks involved with the job, as well as a workplace tour showing where hazards can be found. Information on how to report accidents or incidents should be included.

3. Provide supervision

An employee should be supervised during their trial period to ensure that they are fully aware of procedures and how to carry out their work safely and effectively.

4. Ensure new employees fully understand

During the first few weeks, you or another responsible staff member should go over any information and training given to ensure the employee has fully understood. Within this recap, check they understand emergency procedures and how to report any health and safety concerns.

5. Always ensure health and safety measures are up to date

Keep any health and safety measures up to date, and always inform employees of any changes made. Openly invite employees to discuss issues they have regarding health and safety and use these issues to alter procedures if you believe it will be beneficial.

It is of the utmost importance that employers keep their staff safe and healthy during their time at work. Going that extra mile to ensure the safety of new, more vulnerable employees will allow your business premises to continue to be a safe environment in the future.