Expert Advice: What is Health & Safety, and why is it required?
Health & Safety Specialist Nicola Walsh explains why following health and safety laws is vital for all beauty businesses.
Many business owners in the hair and beauty industry don't realise that legislation requires them to have a Safety Statement for their business. This can be provided by the employer, or a competent person such as a Safety Advisor.
The reason we are required to provide a Safety Statement is for a few reasons; firstly, financial: effective health and safety management in the workplace contributes to the success of a business. Accidents and ill-health inflict costs to a business.
Secondly, legal obligation. It is the law! Should an inspector visit a workplace they will want to know how an employer is managing safety and health. If there is an accident, they will review the risk assessment and safety statement alongside the business procedures and practices; your safety statement needs to stand up to a review.
Thirdly, there is a moral and ethical reason. Employers are ethically bound to do all they can to ensure employees are safe at work and not in danger of ill-health or an accident.
Safety Health & Welfare at Work Act 2005
The requirement to have a Safety Statement in place is governed by the law of the Safety Health & Welfare at Work Act 2005, but what does it mean?
As an employer you are required to manage the health and safety of your employees at work so as to prevent any accidents or injury. The law requires you, as an employer, to do the following:
- Identify the hazards (dangers) within the business.
- Carry out a risk assessment. This identifies the likelihood of injury, its severity and how many could be injured by it.
- Prepare a safety statement. The system must involve consultation between the employer and employees. Employees are required by law to co-operate with employers in the safety management process.
Section 20 of the Safety Health & Welfare at Work Act 2005 requires an organisation to produce a written document to safeguard the safety and health of employees while they work as well as other people who might be at the workplace including customers, visitors and members of the public.
While there is an onus and responsibility on employers to provide the safety statement, there is also good news in that employees are required by law to co-operate with employers both in engaging and complying with the safety statement and we will look at these obligations in the next issue's article. There is a drive towards involving employees and holding everyone accountable for the health and welfare of everyone at work.
Please note that employers can be prosecuted if they do not have a Safety Statement. If you haven't got one, it's not too late. While it can take up a lot of time to provide this yourself, there is the option to outsource this area of work to a professional.
COVID-19 Response Plan
Now in our COVID-19 environment, it has also become a requirement to have a COVID-19 Response Plan in place for your business. This plan details policies and practices necessary for the employer to meet the Government's ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol' and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
Nicola Walsh is a Health & Safety Specialist and founder of Ensure Health and Safety Ltd. She is also an owner of salons in Clonmel and Dungarvan and beauty educator, and an All-Ireland Business All-Star.