Health and Safety Legislation in Relation to Employee Protection for Accidents at Work
Every individual within a workplace environment has the legal rights to protection against any work related risk, which may arise on the course of duty performance. Generally, the employees' health and safety legislation impose a range of duties to both employers and employees. The employees' health and safety guides apply to the self-employed as well as the diverse categories of employees such as manufacturers, designers, and suppliers. In different states, the legislation expresses a wide-based duty guideline within the Health and Safety at Work Acts. These regulations or acts are further spelt out in details within the subsidiary regulations, including those dealing with health and safety management, accident and/or risk management (Johnson & Geraldine, 2013, p. 57), as well as other emerging issues specific to health and safety of employees at work. This paper aims at providing an overview-knowledge on legislation that protect workplace health and safety with regards to employees' accidents at work, as well as how these legislation may impact on the safety and health management within a given workplace.
A number of employers view employees' accident claims as an issue of human resource. Nonetheless, there is a short-sightedness in this attitude since the workplace morale can be altered by the ongoing accident claims and litigation (Hansson, 2008, p. 36), which may in turn absorb large amounts of time for management (Chamberlin, Cottle & Neville, 2007, p. 68). Accidents may be expensive due to the time lost during the absence at work for treatment, the cost of provision for replacement or temporary cover together with the fragmentary costs of obligatory employers' liability insurance. It is essential to put in place good policies and legal procedures in order to avert accidents and effectively deal with any post or information about employee accidents at work.
The rudimentary provisions regarding the health and safety of employees at the workplace are contained within the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974. This act forms the foundation of the entire range of statutory regulations. It transversely applies to commerce and industries, creating obligatory responsibilities and/or duties upon the employers in order to ensure employees protection against accidents, injuries, or any form of risk (Occupational Health and Safety Act, 2000, p. 79). Such accidents and/or risks may result due to slips, manual handling injuries, trips, falls from high heights, as well as working with unfixed or moving parts of machinery and equipment. The 1974 Act is specific and general since it entirely covers the workplace activities, and can as well make particular references from various work sectors.
Section two of 1974 Act outlines that employers have obligations to pursue reasonable steps towards ensuring the safety, health and welfare of theirs employees. Section seven of this act lays the duties of employees, which include taking reasonable care of their own safety, as well as their colleagues' safety and health. Therefore, it implies that the employees' safety and health reasonably depends on individual circumstances such as their personal conducts and omissions. Consequently, supposing an employee takes an unnecessary risk leading to any form of injury or accident, one shall have breached or violated this section of the employment Act. Still, there are cases in which a number of employers' procedures and policies either ignore the employees' obligations for their own care and safety, or simply pay a lip service to the situation (William, 2001, p. 182).
Section 8 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 requires that every employer should practically and reasonably ensure the safety, health and welfare of all their employees at work. According to Hansson (2008, p. 34), this section sets up the general duties of an employer and broadly reflects from the criminal legislation of common law principles about care duty. Such duties may entirely cover the management and conduct during workplace activities, provision of safe systems at work, ensuring safety and preventing risks, and provision of adequate welfare facilities (Johnson & Geraldine, 2013, p. 65). Generally, the employers have a common care duty of ensuring, as reasonably and practically, the safety, health and welfare of all their employees. Also, the employers have a responsibility to protect the non-employees from any risk arising from the workplace activities. According to William (2001, p. 194), wherever five or more individuals are employed, the health and safety policy regulation outlines that every employer must take effect and offer an adequate arrangement for an effective organization, planning, monitoring, control, and review of preventive and protective measures on employees.
In any workplace where five and above employees are involved, the employer must prepare a written policy statement covering the employees' organization and work structure hence an aimed arrangement for ensuring health and safety against any risk or possible accidents. After this formulation, the law requires that the employer must bring to the attention of all employees the arrangements made for their safety and against their workplace risks (Hansson, 2008, p. 40). To assist the employers implement emergency arrangements and comply with their legal duties, they have to appoint an adequate number of competent individuals, with satisfactory time and resources at their disposal. Moreover, a competent panel of health and safety advisors, either appointed from employees with experience and adequate qualifications or qualified professional consultants, should be in charge of the employees' risk assessments, safety and health guidance (Robinson, 2000, p. 44).
Every employer must carry out or set forth a suitable and stable risk assessment strategy through appropriate and legal processes. The purpose of this is for the identification of hazards, assessment of harm or risk occurrence probability and evaluation of the effectiveness of strategic control measures (Robinson 2000, p. 37). Hazards are things or occurrences that may cause harm, such as electricity, chemicals, open drawers, working from ladders, or any other environmental agents, which may adversely impact an individual's health. Risk assessment is a careful and a close examination of what could probably cause harm to people within the workplace so that the employer can weigh precautions taken to prevent harm. It is, thereby, a legal requirement for the employer to assess the risks within their workplace in order to put up a plan or strategy towards controlling the possible risks. According to Robinson (2000, p. 34), risk assessment encompasses four basic aspects: (i) in the first place, the risk must be identified. (ii) Quantification or assessment of the risk as a statistical possibility. This includes measurement of the risk likelihood. (iii) Identification and measure of the potentially arising damage. (iv) Striving to practically avoid the actual risk.
In related endeavors, the UK Health and Safety Executive elicit detailed information on the five steps of assessing risk within the workplace. These include the hazards identification, decision on who could possibly be harmed and in what way, evaluation of the risks and decision on the possible precautions, recording and implementation of the risk assessment findings, and finally conducting a continuous review and making the necessary update on the assessment (Robinson, 2000, p. 43). For employers running both small and large organizations, they should ensure that they involve their staff or representatives in the process of risk assessment. In order to avoid accidents and/or risks to employees at work, the legislation requires that every organization produces documented programs that safeguard the employees' safety and health during work. This document should also safeguard the safety and health of other individuals who might be within or around the workplace, including visitors, customers and other public members. Hansson (2008, p. 39) elicits that safety statement represents the commitment to health and safety of the employees. It should outline the duties, and how employers can ensure the employees' health and safety hence should state the necessary resources to review and maintain health and safety laws and standards (Hansson, 2008, p. 29).
The 2001 Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act states that employees must also take practicable and reasonable care on their personal health and safety against any risk or accident, as well as the other people who may be affected by the activities of employees. They should co-operate among themselves and with their employers in achieving the health and safety goals, and reporting any deficiency on health and safety arrangements consistent with their training and knowledge (Chamberlin, Cottle & Neville, 2007, pp. 72). Also, employees should never misuse or interfere with information or anything provided for the assurance of safety, health and welfare at workplace. The most essential duties of employees in safeguarding their own safety and health include a reasonable care for one's health and safety. It is advisable for the employees to avoid wearing loose clothing or jewelry when operating a machine or performing any other manual duty. Supposing an employee has long hair or is wearing a hand scarf, one should ensure it is properly tucked as it could get caught by any part of the machine. Employees should co-operate with their employers, ensuring that they get proper training and understanding…