Author: Martin Davies
We all need to play our part when it comes to workplace safety. We outline the most effective ways to mitigate workplace risk as recommended by HSE.
When It Goes Wrong
One man was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, as well as having to pay upwards of £5k. This was because he was found to have put his workers at risk of getting severe lung disease when they were exposed to aerosol paints containing chemicals, without the proper procedures to prevent inhaling them. This has lead to at least one person getting a life-changing condition. It turns out that the man hid the inadequate work practices from HSE inspectors on purpose.
How To Avoid This
The following 3 simple actions could have prevented this prosecution:
- Completing a COSHH risk assessment for the harmful substance/work activity.
- Implementing controls aligned to the control hierarchy including the use of less harmful substances, effective extraction and the use of respiratory protection equipment by workers.
- Training and educating workers in the dangers of exposure to the substance.
What To Do If An Investigation Happens
How you respond to formal investigations will inevitably result in harsher sentences under the Sentencing Guidelines. All business leaders should:
- Co-operate fully with formal investigations.
- Take prompt action to tackle risks as soon as they are known and put things right.
- Learn from previous incidents or near misses to make improvements.
- Not put profit before safety.
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