Thursday, 21 June 2007

Warning on health and safety

Company directors across Shropshire must face up to their health and safety responsibilities, or risk financial penalties or even a prison sentence.

Stuart Haynes, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, said: “Health and safety law places duties on organisations and employers, and directors can be personally liable when these duties are ignored.

“Members of your Board have both collective and individual responsibility for health and safety, and it’s vital you take it seriously.

“More than 200 people are killed at work in the UK each year, and in the last 12 months alone, around 30 million working days were lost due to ill health and injuries caused at work – this cost UK business around £30 billion.”

Stuart said directors must show strong and active leadership and communicate their health and safety policies clearly with staff.

“If you employ five or more people, you must provide a written health and safety policy.

“You must also assess the risks to your employees, customers, partners and any other people who could be affected on your premises, and have effective procedures to monitor and use preventive and protective measures.”
He said it was also important for companies to seek professional advice, and consult employees on the risks they felt they faced on a daily basis at work, to develop policies which were appropriate and useful.

And it’s not just about drawing up a health and safety policy – Stuart said reviews of the procedures you put into place were just as crucial.
“If you introduce new working procedures or new machinery, or you go through major organisational changes, or there’s a change in national guidance, it’s vital you keep your policy up-to-date.

“The risks to directors on your board if you ignore such a key element of business could be disastrous – so to avoid financial penalties, or at the very worst, a prison term, think carefully about your responsibilities and take them seriously.”