BladeLaw Logo - HealthSafety 
A lot of rubbish is spoken about health and safety. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) even has a website dedicated to myth busting. Some common examples are:

  • Children being banned from playing conkers unless they are wearing goggles
  • Office workers being banned from putting up Christmas decorations
  • Trapeze artists being ordered to wear hard hats
  • Pin the tail on the donkey games being deemed a health and safety risk
  • Candy floss on a stick being banned in case people trip and impale themselves
  • Hanging baskets being banned in case people bump their heads on them
  • Schoolchildren being ordered to wear clip on ties in case they are choked by traditional neckwear
  • Park benches having to be replaced because they are three inches too low
  • Flip flops being banned from the workplace
  • Graduates ordered not to throw their mortar boards in the air

None of the above were really a result of health and safety legislation although the relevant authority may have misunderstood their obligations. What's not a myth is the fact that obligations in health and safety are onerous and prosecutions are common. These can be extremely damaging not only to a company's finances but also to its reputation. As with most things, understanding the law is key.

The core requirement of the law can be expressed very simply indeed. Any employer or occupier of property is required to do everything reasonably practicable to protect the health and safety of those affected by their activity. Deciding what can be reasonably practicable can be difficult but, for the most part, where a business has taken proper steps to plan for safety, they will be protected from the law. Proving that you have planned appropriately is a combination of expertise and documentation. You may have the expertise yourself, but you need to be careful to document your consideration. Don't just leave it in your head. If it comes to it, the court will need to be convinced that you are not making up the risk assessment with the benefit of hindsight. Also, be careful to consider industry best practice. In some cases this is set out in statutory codes of conduct or technical standards. Otherwise, it is worth looking as carefully as you can at what others in your industry are doing. Where necessary, get expert advice from a health and safety risk assessor and make sure that you have a risk assessment document in place for everything you do.

BladeLaw will review your health and safety position in terms of legal compliance as part of a free business legal audit. If you get notice of a non-compliance that might lead to a prosecution, don't delay. You should get legal advice immediately to protect your position. Call BladeLaw to discuss your options. You will never be charged a penny until we have discussed what advice you need and what it will cost and you have decided the cost is worth it to you.