Human Resource Management

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Health, Safety and Welfare
Total Marks: 30
1. Give short answers to the following questions:
What are the main purposes of Health and Safety at Work Act?
Outline the benefits of health and safety at work place.
What is risk assessment about?
What are the different types of risk assessment?
What is Health and Safety audit?
2. Discuss different approaches that employers can adopt to help employees manage stress.
HRM Level 4
Brentwood Open Learning College
Page: 1
Health, Safety, and
Learning Outcomes
By the end of this unit the learner will be able to:
? Understand Health and Safety Laws
? Explore the Importance of Health and Safety in the Work Place
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Unit 9
Health, Safety, and Welfare
Employers have to push for increased output and employees have to ensure they are protected from any
dangers in their workplace. This can create a bit of a conflict. Originally, the tensions between employee
and employer came from long working hours and, in the case of the factory system, heavy physical
demands. In the 21st century, concerns about tensions remain great, but these concerns are varied and
subtle. These concerns are expressed by not only employers and employees, but also government
agencies, trade unions and campaign groups. International competitive pressures have been increased
and companies respond with incentives for employees so they can work faster and better. However, as
this is the case, health and safety corners are sometimes cut. Many employees today experience stress
related illnesses.
HRM and Health, Safety and Welfare
Health, safety and welfare provision development is linked, to a large extent, with the development with
human resource management. From the employees? perspective, health, safety and welfare are
important for obvious reasons. Their lives and futures can be at risk if health and safety issues are not
properly addressed. Because of these reasons, trade unions have become increasingly important to
employees and their activities are covered more in the media. The two most noticeable developments
are that:
The emphasis has moved from concern about the prevention of physical injury to a focus on
mental health and work-related stress;
The view that employers should take steps, not only to prevent injury and unnecessary stress, but
to also actively encourage healthy lifestyles amongst employees in a more general sense.
The human resource management press has articulated a convincing business case for addressing these
particular issues. Health and safety campaigns are aimed at raising awareness of their validity among
The case for business is based on three propositions. These are:
Illness and injury which is work related leads to avoidable absence.
Serious injury and illness which can lead to lawsuits and sizeable compensation being paid out by
Having a poor reputation for safety and welfare will make it harder for an organisation to recruit,
retain, and motivate all staff members.
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Health and Safety Law
Before 1974, the law contained the Factories Act 1961, the Offices, Shops, and Railway Premises Act
1963 and the Fire Precautions Act 1971. All these Acts, as well as others relating to certain industries,
were brought up to date by the Health and Safety at Work Act etc. 1974. This is still the statute which
governs law in this area.
A major piece of legislation came into law in the UK in 1998. It was in the form of the Working Time
Regulations. These also have EU origins. A lot of the regulations are supplemented by the Health and
Safety Commission codes of practice. These codes are not actually enforceable by law but they are the
standard against which authorities assess companies? actions. Health and safety law can be viewed as
two halves, these being the criminal and civil areas. The criminal aspect is based in statute and is
monitored by the Health and Safety Executive and by local authority inspectorates. Civil law in this area
relies on common law and is a process individuals who have suffered injuries in their workplace can use
to seek damages against their employers. Criminal law is meant to be preventative whereas civil law is
used to compensate employees who have become ill as a result of their work or work environment.
Criminal Law
Health and safety inspectors potentially have a lot of power, however their approach aims to be more of
an advice giving role where they can issue warnings, except if they deem that there is a high risk of
personal injury. Inspectors make visits to workplace premises to inspect equipment and also make sure
that suitable monitoring procedures are in place and working. The have the right to enter premises and
to collect information when needed. They are also able to take samples or remove pieces of equipment
for analysis.
If inspectors are unhappy with what they discover, they will issue improvement notices detailing
improvements they recommend and requiring that these improvements are in place by a set date. If
there is substantial risk to health and there have been more serious lapses, the inspectors will issue
prohibition notices which are used to stop employers using certain pieces of equipment until safety
arrangements are in place. If an organisation breaches any of these statutory notices it is a criminal
offence. Giving false information to an inspector is also a criminal offence. Every year in the UK more
than a thousand prosecutions are brought before a court for not complying with a Safety Executive
Order. This can, and often does, lead to fines of up to £20,000.
If an employee has received injuries, a prosecutor will be brought in if it can be proven or shown that
management knew the risks but refused to act. If a fatality has occurred and the company is found guilty
of corporate manslaughter, there will be fines of several hundred thousand pounds imposed. In some
cases, controlling directors who have been found to be individually liable, have also been given custodial
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The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
This Act covers most health and safety law in the UK and under this act more detailed sets of regulations
are issued. The main purposes of this Act are:
to secure the health, safety and welfare of people at work
to protect the public from risks that may come from workplace activities
to control the use and storage of dangerous substances
to control potentially dangerous environmental emissions.
All employers are placed under the Act and have a responsibility to ?to ensure, as far as is reasonably
practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work? of every worker. There are also specific requirements
that relate to maintaining plant and equipment, to consult with trade union safety representatives, to
keep an accident reporting log, and to ensure a copy of the main provisions of the Act 1974 are clearly
displayed on a notice board. There is a further requirement to properly train employees where there are
hazardous substances or dangerous equipment. Safe arrangements for the handling, transport and/or
storage of dangerous substances or equipment must also be in place. In companies that have more than
five employees a written health and safety policy must be in place, kept up to date and made available to
Managing Health and Safety at Work
Everyone employed in an organisation and those under contract have a responsibility to ensure a healthy
and safe workplace and eliminate as much as possible, any hazardous situations. The onus, however, is
more so on management to ensure an exceptionally high standard in health and safety matters as
required by the legislation of the Health and Safety Act 1974 and various other regulations from the
Codes of Practice.
Unfortunately, the importance of health and safety practices is often underestimated by business
managers and others concerned with managing a business. However, the prevention of accidents and
removal of any health or safety hazards is of utmost importance and the responsibility falls on managers
to ensure minimal (if any) suffering and/or loss.
The Importance of Health and Safety in the Workplace
Managing health and safety at work is a matter of:
developing proper health and safety policies;
ensuring risk assessments are conducted which identify hazards and assess the risks attached to
running regular health and safety audits and inspections;
implementing occupational health programmes;
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managing stress;
accident prevention;
measuring health and safety performance;
communicating the need for good health and safety practices;
training in good health and safety practices; and
organising health and safety within the workplace.
Benefits of Workplace Health and Safety
The Health and Safety Executive (2004a) conducted research and found that, in 19 case studies, tangible
benefits were discovered from better health and safety management. Some of the companies studied
were AstraZeneca, Severn Trent Water, and Transco. These benefits included higher productivity, lower
levels of absence, avoidance of costs and litigation that come from accidents and improved staff morale
and employee relations.
Employers in the study made many savings from investing in occupational health and safety. For
Rolls Royce saved £11 million through improved absence management;
St Bartholomew?s Hospital and the London NHS Trust recouped the cost of flu injections for staff
in just one month;
manual-handling injuries were eliminated and the resultant lost hours reduced to zero at
furniture retailer MFI;
British Polythene Industries saved £12 for every £1 spent on manual handling improvements;
The Port of London Authority cut absence by 70 per cent.
Health and Safety Policies
Written health and safety policies are needed to show that top management cares about protecting the
company?s employees from any hazards at work. The written material must also indicate how this
protection will be provided. These written policies are firstly a declaration of intent by the company, and
secondly, a definition of how that intent will be realised. Thirdly, the policies are a statement of the
guidelines that everyone in the organisation must follow and implement.
The policy statement should consist of three parts:
the general policy statement
the description of the organisation for health and safety
details of arrangements for implementing the policy.
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Conducting Risk Assessments
What is a Risk Assessment?
Risk assessments are used to identify hazards or potential hazards and provide an analysis of any risks
attached to them.
A hazard would be anything that may cause harm to a person?s body. For example, lifting heavy objects,
working on construction sites, or working with chemicals is considered hazardous. A risk is the chance,
whether it is big or small, of harm actually being done by a particular hazard. So, risk assessments are
about looking for hazards and evaluating the level of risk associated with them.
There are two types of risk assessments. The first one is quantitative risk assessment. This produces an
objective probability estimate based upon risk information that is immediately applicable to the
circumstances in which the risk occurs. The second one is qualitative risk assessment. This is more
subjective and it?s based on judgement backed by generalised data. Quantitative risk assessment is
preferred if the precise data are available. Qualitative risk assessment may be acceptable when there is
little or no precise data but it must be made systematically and based on working conditions, hazards
and informed judgement on the likelihood of any real harm being done.
Looking for Hazards
Typical activities where accidents may occur or have high risks of occurring are suggested below by the
HSE and others:
Failure to wear protective equipment, such as hats, boots, and clothing;
Movement of people and materials, e.g., falls and collisions;
Stacking and storage, e.g., falling materials
Receipt of raw materials, e.g., lifting and carrying;
Processing of raw materials, e.g., exposure to toxic substances;
Maintenance of buildings, e.g., roof work and gutter cleaning;
Maintenance of plant and machinery, e.g., lifting tackle and installation of equipment;
Using electricity, e.g., using hand tools and extension leads;
Operating machines, e.g., operating without sufficient clearance or at an unsafe speed; not using
safety devices;
Distribution of finished jobs, e.g., movement of vehicles;
Dealing with emergencies, e.g. Spillages, fires, and explosions;
Health hazards arising from the use of equipment or methods of working, e.g.,vdus, repetitive
strain injuries from badly designed work stations, or poor working practices.
It is always necessary to consider who may be harmed when carrying out a risk assessment. Those who
could be harmed include any employees, visitors, cleaning contractors, and any members of the public if
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they come in to buy any good or enlist services. All identified hazards or potential hazards must be
ranked in order of their likely severity as a basis for making one side of the risk equation. It is easy
enough to use a three-point scale to identify low, moderate or high risk.
Assessing the Risk
It is imperative to assess how high the risks are when hazards have been identified. Using these three
questions as a guide is what the HSE suggests:
What could be the worst result?
How likely is it to happen?
How many people could be hurt if things go wrong?
Using a probability system such as the one recommended by Holt and Andrews can be used. This would
Probable ? likely to occur immediately or shortly.
Reasonably probable ? probably will occur in time.
Remote ? may occur in time.
Extremely remote ? unlikely to occur.
Taking Action
Risk assessment ought to lead to action. The type of action can be ranked in order of potential
effectiveness in the form of a ?safety precedence sequence? which is again recommended by Holt and
Hazard elimination ? use of alternatives, design improvements, change of process.
Substitution ? for example, replacement of a chemical with one which is less risky.
Use of barriers ? removing the hazard from the worker or removing the worker from the hazard.
Use of procedures ? limitation of exposure, dilution of exposure, safe systems of work (these
depend on human response).
Use of warning systems ? signs, instructions, labels (these also depend on human response).
Use of personal protective clothing ? this depends on human response and is used as a side
measure only when all other options have been exhausted.
Monitoring and Evaluation
Even though an action has been initiated, it does not mean that the risk assessment is complete. It is
vital to monitor the hazard and assess the effectiveness of any action in eliminating it or, at the very
least, reduce it to an acceptable level.
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Health and Safety Audits
What is a Health and Safety Audit?
Risk assessments identify specific hazards and quantify the risks attached to them. Health and safety
audits deliver a more comprehensive review of all aspects of health and safety policies, procedures and
practice programmes. Saunders (1992) defined a health and safety audit like this:
A safety audit will examine the whole organisation in order to test whether it is meeting its safety aims
and objectives. It will examine hierarchies, safety planning processes, decision-making, delegation,
policy-making and implementation as well as all areas of safety programme planning.
Who Actually performs a Health and Safety Audit?
A health and safety audit can be performed by safety advisers or personnel specialists. However, it is
always better for employees, managers and trade union representatives to be involved. These audits are
usually conducted under the auspices of a health and safety committee with the members taking an
active role in carrying them out.
Sometimes it is managers who are responsible for carrying out audits within their own departments. It is
an even better situation when other members of a department are properly trained to conduct health
and safety audits in specific areas. Audits will be better facilitated when there are prepared check lists
and forms used to record the results.
In some cases, companies decide it is better to use outside agencies such as the British Safety Institute to
carry out independent audits.
What is Included in a Health and Safety Audit?
A health and safety audit should cover:
Are all health and safety policies able to meet legal requirements?
Are senior managers committed to health and safety?
What is the commitment of other managers, team leaders and supervisors to health and safety?
Is there a health and safety committee? If not, why not?
How effective is the committee in getting things done?
Safety practices
To what extent do health and safety practices in all areas of the company match the general
requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act and the specific requirements of the various
regulations and codes of practice?
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What risk assessments have been carried out? What were the findings? What actions were
What is the health and safety performance of the organisation as shown by the performance
indicators? Is it a positive or negative trend? If it?s negative, what is being done about it?
How carefully are accidents investigated? What actions have been taken to prevent their
What is the evidence that managers and supervisors are really concerned about health and
What should be Done with the Audit?
The main purpose of the audit is to generate action. It should cover all the questions above. For those
who are actually carrying out the audit, they must assess priorities and costs and create action
programmes for approval by the board.
Safety Inspections
The purpose of safety inspections is to examine a particular area of an organisation, whether it be the
operational department or the manufacturing process. It is carried out to locate and name any faults in
the system, plant, machines, equipment, or any operational errors that could lead to accidents. It is
necessary for these inspections to be done on a continual basis by line managers and/or supervisors
based on advice from health and safety advisors. Below are the steps that need to be taken when
conducting safety inspections:
Assign someone responsibility for conducting the inspection.
Outline the points to be covered in the form of a checklist.
Divide the department or plant into areas and list any area which needs to be given attention.
Describe the frequency with which inspections should be conducted. In critical areas this should
be done daily.
Use the check lists as the basis for the inspection.
Conduct sample or spot checks randomly.
Conduct special investigations as necessary to handle special problems like operating machinery
without guards to increase quantity.
Establish a reporting system. When recording results from inspectors, use a form.
Set up a system to check that safety inspections are being carried out properly and on schedule
and that corrective action has been taken where necessary.
Occupational Health Programmes
Work-related illnesses account for almost t …
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