Occupational Health & Safety Checklist

As an employer you have a lot to deal with just to stay in business and there will be times when you have to look outside your organisation for advice. This leaflet guides you through thinking about the help you might need, specifically on health and safety.

Employers often hesitate to get help as they are uncertain about where to go and what to ask for and may doubt whether they will get value for money. But getting the right help at the right time makes good business sense and plays a part in ensuring that you meet your legal duties to protect your employees’ health and safety.

It can be money well spent both in the short term and to avoid more costly action later. Although most operations rarely experience serious incidents, an employee’s bad accident or chronic ill health can have a significant impact on the smooth running of a business.

Why you need to seek assistance?

Health and safety duties cover a wide range of issues, such as identifying hazards and assessing risks, preparing health and safety policy statements, introducing risk control measures, providing adequate training and assessing the effects of work on employee health.

You can do it yourself; if you are sure you know enough about what you would have to do to comply with your duties under health and safety law so that you can prevent accidents and ill health at work. Similarly you could appoint one or more of your employees, ensuring you give them enough training as well as sufficient time and other resources to do the job properly.

But you may have to call on outside help, if you or your employees lack sufficient knowledge or experience, for example where detailed technical advice is needed.

Do you need to do something about health and safety?

It is not always obvious that you might need help to deal with a health and safety issue.

This checklist sets out some questions to consider:

  • Do you have evidence of exposure to something that might cause harm, for example, loud noise, handling hazardous chemicals, dust on ledges, congested walkways, heavy weights being lifted, or unguarded machinery?
  • Are you unsure whether you have identified all the hazards involved in your work?
  • Are you uncertain about whether employees are at risk from them?
  • Are you unsure whether you have done enough to control the risk?
  • Are you thinking about introducing new working practices, plant equipment or processes that might have an impact on your employees’ health and safety?
  • Are sickness absence rates a problem?
  • Have you never analysed them to establish what proportion might be work-related?
  • Have you never costed them?
  • Have you noticed a pattern of ill health or accidents you can’t explain? (Think about who is affected, when, how and why)?
  • Are your employees reporting symptoms of ill health/ discomfort and saying that they think their work is the cause?
  • Have you never asked them?
  • Are you aware of reports of health and safety problems in similar jobs in other firms?
  • Have there been situations that almost resulted in injuries (‘near miss’ incidents)?
  • Have you had to deal with any compensation claims?
  • Are you intending to recruit or welcome back to work someone who has particular health and safety needs?
  • Are you unsure about what the law requires you to do on any aspect of health and safety law?
  • What next?

If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, consider whether you could do with some help.