This article on health and safety awareness is for those in business who have responsibilities under health and safety law (‘duty holders’), for example, employers, the self-employed and also those in control of work environments. It clarifies what a health and safety awareness officer (HSAO) is as well as what they do. In addition, it informs you what you can anticipate when an HSAO calls and what takes place following their check out.
Also, it tells workers as well as their reps what information they might expect from an HSAO.
The person who enforces health and safety law
The health and safety law is implemented by inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or by assessors from your local government.
Inspectors are allowed to enter any office without notifying anyone. An examiner will inspect certain problems related to your work environment, the activities performed, your control of health and safety and will also examine whether you are complying with the health and safety legislation.
Unlike assessors, HSAOs do not have the right to enter your building without your agreement. They can enter your premises only with your permission. HSAOs do, nevertheless, have powers to apply some aspects of Employer’s Liability Compulsory Insurance (ELCI) legislation, as well as they will inform you of your responsibilities as a company under this important law.
Role of Health and Safety Awareness Officer
HSAOs are a well-educated team whose duty is to support HSE’s regulatory job, offer details to companies, workers and also others who may be affected by job tasks. In addition, they also promote health and safety awareness. This job consists of working with other organisations as well as partners (such as Learning and Skills Councils, training organisations, business links, ethnic organisation groups, local authorities, trade unions as well as business and safety teams) to promote greater health and safety awareness among duty holders.
When HSAOs visit your organisation, their primary duty is to provide you with details, advice as well as guidance to gain information about your business that will be used by HSE in any contact with you.
During their visit, an HSAO will observe job activities in your office along with the standards of housekeeping, the quality of welfare facilities as well as any obvious issues such as transportation, noise, dust, fumes or manual handling. They will also tell you about any assistance, publications and other suggestions as well as information that relates to your organisation. However, HSAOs are not health and safety examiners. Hence, they will not give opinions on technical matters (e.g. the suitability of a machine guard) or share a viewpoint on compliance with the law.
Before leaving, the HSAO will want to have a word with your safety representative. This is an essential part of HSE’s visiting procedures.
After the visit
Once the assessors return to their office, they will make a record of your business (which will be made use of by HSE in any more contact with you). Then, they will make a note of their visit and, if ideal, will contact you confirming the problems reviewed, enclosing any relevant brochures that they did not entrust you with throughout the checkout. They will additionally send a copy of this letter to your safety representative.
In some cases, it may be necessary for an inspector to see you. This may be because there are certain hazards in your office or the HSAO thinks that there are issues that an inspector would want to go over with you. If the HSAO feels that a visit by an examiner may be needed, they will certainly inform you at the time of their visit. However, it may not always be clear that the examiner’s visit is appropriate until the HSAO has returned to their work as well as discussed their visit with an inspector.
Report to employees or their representatives
During their visit, the HSAO will examine whether those in charge, e.g. the company(s), have systems in place for consulting and notifying employees or their agents, e.g. safety and representatives, about health and safety matters. Workers or their agents must always be given with the chance to speak privately to the HSAO.
If the HSAO does send a letter to the employer, they will also send a copy to the safety or employees’ representative separately.
Grievances against HSAOs are uncommon. Nonetheless, if you have a problem that these procedures have not been adhered to, you can get in touch with the HSAO’s supervisor to review the matter. The manager’s name will also be shown on the top of any correspondence you obtain from the HSAO. You can either talk or contact the HSAO’s supervisor. They will examine your complaint and also inform you what is most likely to be done about it.
If for some reason, you are still not completely satisfied, you can write to the President of HSE, who will see that your complaint is followed up promptly. Also, you may want to write and ask your MP to take up your case with HSE, with ministers, or with the independent Parliamentary Commission for Administration.