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Health and Safety in the Workplace Essay

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* The wiring can be temperamental, the hot water system is often not working and the canteen is in a basement room with no external lighting or windows. There are only 3 toilets in the building and these are also situated on the lower ground floor, near to the canteen. The Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that in reference to lighting; “Every workplace shall have suitable and sufficient lighting. Where it is practicable, the lighting shall be by natural light. Suitable and sufficient emergency lighting shall be provided.” To mend the lighting issue in the canteen, sufficient lighting would need to be provided & maintained otherwise the company would be breaching these regulations. These regulations also state that in regards to temperature in the workplace; “should be reasonable for indoor workplaces. There should be a sufficient number of thermometers provided to allow checking of temperature.”

With the hot water system failing to function at all times it is required; the temperature should be monitored carefully & should ideally be replaced with one that is reliable. The toilets in the canteen area will need to be well lit as well, but also very well ventilated with a high quantity of fresh air. The Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that three bathrooms are required for between 26– 50 employees, if there are more employees then additional WC facilities will be required.

Also, There must be hot and cold water, soap, and either electric hand dryers or towels provided. The Electricity at Work Act 1989 states that within the work place, those responsible must; “Have their electrical systems constructed in a way that prevents danger. This includes testing all new equipment to ensure that it is safe. Maintain their electrical systems correctly to prevent danger. Have repaired or closed any electrical system that causes danger.” The electrical system is temperamental & will need to be repaired & in some areas perhaps replaced to keep up to the standards that The Electricity at Work Act 1989 requires.

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* The lift has been out of service for some considerable time and the computers are constantly breaking down. The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states that any equipment provided must be “maintained and kept in good working order” therefore the computers & the lift are not meeting these regulations as they are continuously breaking down or in the case of the lift, not working at all. They must either be replaced or repaired so that they are available for use by all people within the building. The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 also say, with regards to the lift, that where manual handling is unavoidable, they should be mechanised with the use of trolleys, lifts and hoists. So if any lifting tasks were to occur, the lift should be available to use as it is already in place.

* None of the air conditioning units are working and none of the windows open. All files that need to be kept are stored under the stairs on each of the different floors. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 say that a minimum temperature of 16°C should be maintained in an area of normal physical activity & there should be a good number of thermometers positioned at above 0.5m off the ground to display the room temperature. There is no maximum temperature for a workplace however these regulations state that the workplace should be comfortable and reasonable.

The Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992 also say that “the supply of fresh air should not normally be below 5-8 litres per second, per occupant” so the fact that the air conditioning units don’t function & the windows do not open breach these regulations entirely & should be repaired or replaced immediately. With the files of the company being stored under the stairs, the company could well be breaching the rules of The Data Protection Act 1998 which states that information stored about people cannot be accessed by a third party without their knowledge. The inadequate storage below each of the stairs is not secure & therefore anyone within the building could access them.

The Statutory duties of employers and employees relating to health, safety and welfare as set out by the government says that the employer must explicitly provide arrangements for ensuring safe means of handling, use, storage and transport of articles and substances. All files being stored under the stairs does definitely not provide a safe means of storing documents so an alternative organisational system should be used for the company’s files. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 also sets out to “protect people at work” & “to protect people not at work from those who are”, the files could pose a trip hazard to employees & people visiting the building, another reason for an alternative storage system to be implemented.

* The offices are cleaned on a weekly basis, but all the cleaning products are kept in the canteen near the emergency exit. Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) is the law that requires employers to control substances that are hazardous to health[1] & not storing the cleaning products safely & securely if they contain any harmful ingredients (which many cleaning products do) breaches the regulations set out. You can prevent or reduce workers exposure to hazardous substances by:

* finding out what the health hazards are;
* deciding how to prevent harm to health (risk assessment[2]);
* providing control measures to reduce harm to health;
* making sure they are used ;
* keeping all control measures in good working order;
* providing information, instruction and training for employees and others;
* providing monitoring and health surveillance in appropriate cases;
* planning for emergencies.

If the cleaning products have always been stored by the emergency exit, then the company are in breach of The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 as they have failed to identify that there is a risk to its employees & have obviously failed to conduct a thorough risk assessment. With the cleaning products obstructing the emergency exit, The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that “clear fire instructions should be displayed in all buildings; escape routes should be clearly signposted and free from obstruction”. The cleaning products being stored there are a direct violation of this & they should be removed then stored safely & securely.

* The majority of photocopiers are out of action on each of the floors; this means that all staff have to go to the 5th floor to get good quality copies. The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states that any equipment provided must be “maintained and kept in good working order”, the unusable photocopiers breach these regulations & must be repaired or replaced.

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 state “to avoid the need for employees to undertake any manual handling operations at work which involve a risk of their being injured”. Under the Regulations, a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of all manual handling operations should be carried out to quantify the risks and put suitable guidance and support in place to make sure risks are kept to a minimum. The employer is also expected to train staff where necessary in the correct way to manually lift and handle objects. The employer has done neither, so to prevent accidents occurring, the employer should implement these immediately.

* On your first day at the new office, one of the receptionists, who is due to go on maternity leave in the next two weeks; falls down the stairs (after having done a large amount of photocopying) and breaks her leg, her arm and her collarbone. The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (MHOR)[3] requires an employer to carry out a risk assessment on all manual handling tasks that pose an injury risk. If the employer had assessed this properly, a system or alternative way of moving the photocopied documents could have been developed, or perhaps another member of staff could have taken on this responsibility. The employer’s duty is to avoid manual handling as far as reasonably practicable if there is a possibility of injury. If this cannot be done then they must take steps to reduce the risk of injury as far as reasonably practicable.

With the lift being available but closed due to a fault, the employer is not utilizing the available mechanisms as the lift has not been repaired. This puts any employee carrying any large object(s) at risk of injury & the lift will need to be repaired with adequate alternative carrying methods for employees who are unable to do so. Also, The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 says that rest facilities must be provided for pregnant women and nursing mothers, this may not be relevant to the woman falling down the stairs, however if this has not been provided for her, it could have contributed if she was tired & unable to find a place to rest or not allowed to take time to rest.

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