International Workers' Memorial Day – a good time to review health and safety policies

Sunday 28 April marks 2019’s International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD), where we remember workers who have lost their lives through their employment, and look to the future to ensure and commit to safety at work going forward. Around the world one worker dies every 15 seconds. Up to 50,000 people die each year in the UK as a result of work (either through fatal injuries, occupational disease, work-related road traffic accidents or suicides connected to the person’s work). Staggering, heart-breaking statistics.

The theme for IWMD 2019 is “dangerous substances – get them out of the workplace”, with the main focus being on carcinogens. The TUC website provides a guide to workplace cancers here. Employers have a duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and those affected by their business.

This duty is set out in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (section 2 (3)) and expanded on in section 5 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which requires every employer with five or more employees to maintain a health and safety policy, and just as importantly to give effect to the arrangements it sets out. Employers must share the policy, and changes to it, with their employees.

Generally speaking, most policies should include:

  • a statement of intent explaining the aim of the policy;
  • the names, positions and roles of those with specific responsibility for health and safety; and
  • details of the practical arrangements in place, training and information on where further guidance may be found.

As we approach IWMD 2019, honour the day by reviewing and updating your policies and communicating their importance to your workforce. Having an up-to-date health and safety policy is not only a legal requirement, it is crucial for the safety and protection of workers. Ensuring that your employees return home safe after a day at work should be  a priority, not a bonus.

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Claire McKee

About Claire McKee

Claire is an associate in the People, Reward and Mobility practice. Whilst advising employers and employees on a wide range of employment issues, Claire focuses on advising clients on contentious employment, discrimination and equal pay matters. She appears before the Employment Tribunal in Scotland and England on a regular basis.

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