A Simple Guide to Understanding Health & Safety in the Workplace

Health & Safety

8th March 2019 | Marcus

The tree industry is often considered a dangerous job as we are working at height, swinging chainsaws around. In my opinion, this is an attitude that needs to change. Yes, it is a highly hazardous job, but with the right controls, training and care, we can reduce the risks and control the hazards.

Why is health and safety important?

It is important to understand that health and safety laws apply to all businesses, and whether you are an employer or self-employed, you are responsible for health and safety in your business. Whilst it is true that if you have fewer than five employees, you do not have to have your own health and safety policy and write down your own risk assessment, it is good practice to do so as the laws are there to protect you, your employees and the public from workplace dangers.

Self-employed people should also understand that if you work with or employ other self-employed people, these rules still apply. Simply being self-employed doesn’t give you exemption from health and safety laws.

There is a simple health and safety guide on the HSE website that has all the information you may require, whether you’re just starting up in business or have been trading for a while.

Workplace Safety Considerations

The following information from the website has been considered worth highlighting for individuals in the workplace, and for those working in the tree industry.

  • Employers must have someone within their organisation who is appointed to meet their health and safety commitments. They must be a competent person with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety.
  • Health and safety is something that can be managed in-house. However, if you are not confident of your ability in a higher-risk industry like ours, then it is advisable to seek external help or advice.
  • If your company has five or more employees, you must have a written health and safety policy.
  • You must consult all of your employees on health and safety. This does not have to be complicated and can be as simple as listening and talking to them about health and safety and the work they do, how risks are controlled, and the best ways of providing information and training. It is your employees who are often the best people to understand the risks in their workplace, and involving them shows that you take their health, safety and wellbeing seriously.
  • If you employ staff, you must display the health and safety law poster or equivalent pocket cards.
  • You must provide the right workplace facilities, which include welfare and PPE.
  • There must be first aid arrangements in the workplace, and remember that under health and safety law, you must report and keep a record of certain injuries, incidents and cases of work-related disease.
  • If you employ staff, you are more than likely to be subject to the Employers Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969, and remember that this includes self-employed individuals paying for help from another self-employed person.
  • Keeping up to date with health and safety is very important, and at Directree we aim to keep everyone up to date with the latest information available for our industry.

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