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How do I deal with Health and safety violations?

Ensuring health and safety in the day-to-day running of your business is essential. But what should you do in the event of a health and safety violation? This guide aims to help by explaining why violations can happen and the process that you follow when one does.   

How do I deal with Health and safety violations?

Defining health and safety violations

Health and safety UK law states it’s left to you, the employer, to ensure the welfare of your employees in your workplace. This means it’s your responsibility to follow and roll out rules and regulations across your company and make sure your staff follow them.

A health and safety violation is where you have failed in your legal duties to protect your employees. If this happens, regardless of who is at fault in your company, you have committed a health and safety violation.

Reasons why violations can happen

You might think you have covered all areas of health and safety in your business. But things can get missed and there can be those times when incidents or accidents happen that you weren’t prepared for.

While it might be easy to blame your employees for an incident happening in your workplace, violations can occur in your company because of many reasons where you’re at fault, perhaps when you don’t realise it. This includes:

  • Failing to place a warning sign in a hazardous area, such as a slippery floor or next to high-voltage machinery
  • Not providing your staff with the correct safety gear and equipment to carry out certain types of work, such as safety goggles, hard hats, or protective gloves
  • Failing to reduce the length of time your employees are exposed to certain conditions, such as loud machinery or toxic chemicals
  • Not providing employees with sufficient rest periods when doing repetitive work, like typing and using certain equipment
  • Not providing the adequate training for staff to use types of equipment or do certain jobs, like those involving manual handling  
  • Failing to conduct a sufficient risk assessment in certain areas of your company
  • Not enforcing the importance of following health and safety guidelines to your employees

The process of dealing with a violation

In the event that a health and safety violation happens, there are a series of actions you should take to make sure it is dealt with, resolved and the incident doesn’t happen again. This includes:

Tending to staff affected by the violation – It’s important to deal with the violation straight away and help those affected by it. For instance, tend to staff and carry out first aid if they’re injured. You might also have to contact the emergency services. Also, make sure their okay before continuing their work.

Recording details of the violation – You should find out all the details about the incident or accident and record them. Report in your accident book where and when the violation happened and why, as soon as you can. It’s also a good idea to have an employee in charge of your health and safety who can do this for you.

Note that your affected employees might be in shock and not be able to give you all the information you need at the time. So it’s wise to make a note to add more details at a later date.

Finding a temporary resolution – It’s also important to make sure you find a way of stopping the violation from happening again as soon as possible. For instance, if an employee has slipped and hurt themselves on a mopped floor, make sure a warning sign is placed in the area right away to prevent another employee from slipping too.

If you can, it’s a good idea to seal off the area of where the accident took place until you have resolved the violation. You should also make sure all your employees are aware of the hazard too, so consider sending out an email or holding a short meeting with managers. This way all staff and teams can quickly be informed.

Conducing a risk assessment Once you have all the details you need, you should carry out a risk assessment to know what you should do to prevent the violation from happening again in the future.

Although you may have recently carried out a risk assessment, the violation might have happened because of a hazard you missed. So it’s important to conduct a thorough examination and make sure you make the necessary changes – see below. For more information about this process, please read our guide to risk assessments.

Making changes to prevent violations

Once you know what you need to do to help prevent a health and safety violation from happening again, you should make changes to provide a permanent resolution.

Changes could involve:

  • Retraining staff to use machinery and equipment
  • Providing sufficient safety gear or clothing  
  • Adding short rest breaks for staff who use certain machinery for long periods of time
  • Keeping more up-to-date on health and safety regulations and updating your policy frequently
  • Reinforcing to your staff the importance of following health and safety guidelines, such as during employee appraisals
  • Encouraging staff to approach you, or your selected representative if you have one, when they have concerns about your health and safety
  • Conducting risk assessments more frequently, such as whenever changes, however big or small, are made in your company

How FSB can help prevent health and safety violations

Violations can easily be prevented in the workplace by following necessary rules and regulations. However, the day-to-day running of a busy business can make this difficult. To help, FSB offers members advice and support across all areas of business health and safety. This includes access to:

  • Policy guidance written by experts across the field
  • Health and safety fact sheets and documents, including accident reporting and risk assessments
  • Health and safety regulations and news updates

If you’d like to find out more about how we can help resolve and prevent health and safety violations in your company, and learn about the benefits of the key services we offer, please visit our FSB Health and Safety Advice page or get in touch with a member of our team.

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