Health & Safety legislation

All extracts are taken from the “Safer Doors” book. Published by Geddes and Grossett. Copyright laws apply.

In 1974 an important piece of legislation was brought into protect both the general public and people at work. The main purpose of the Act is to encourage good standards of health and safety and to prevent people coming to harm at work. It makes health and safety an essential part of work, not an option. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, at any premises where people work, everyone has a legal duty to uphold certain standards of health, safety and welfare.

At licensed premises this includes :-

  • Employers
  • Employees
  • The self-employed
  • Suppliers
  • Those who control premises

At work people’s actions or behaviour can have a bad effect upon their own health and safety, and that of others. An employer or an employee may do, or not do, something that could result in a person having an accident.

It is important that door supervisors working at licensed premises know about the Act, and put it into practice when carrying out their normal duties. It can make the difference between working in a safe environment, and a dangerous one. Door supervisors, working in partnership with the management of the premises, can help protect themselves and their customers from accidents and injury.

The main purposes of the Act are to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all staff on the premises, to protect the general public against risks, and where applicable to control the possession, storage and use of certain dangerous substances.

EMPLOYERS
It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that people are adequately supervised at work, and that they are trained so that they understand how to do their jobs and why they need to follow certain procedures. Employers must ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees so far as is reasonably practicable by providing :-

  1. An assessment of any risks to workers’ health and safety;
  2. Safe equipment and working methods;
  3. Safe arrangements for the use, handling, storage and transport of all articles and substances;
  4. Information, instruction, training and supervision to help ensure your health and safety at work;
  5. Safe entrances and exits to and from the workplace;
  6. A safe working environment;
  7. A written health and safety policy, which should be displayed for all employees;
  8. A safety committee when required;
  9. Protective clothing, equipment and safety devices when necessary at no charge.

Employers must also ensure that their activities do not endanger members of the public visiting the premises, as they may be held responsible for any breaches of health and safety legislation.

EMPLOYEES
Door supervisors, as employees, also have certain responsibilities under the Act. They have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety when working, and to ensure that their own acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of other employees or members of the public. They should also co-operate with their employer to help promote matters of health and safety. Specific instructions include :-

  1. Following health and safety policies provided by the employer, and keeping up to date with any revisions, new requirements or regulations;
  2. Practicing safe working habits and obeying all safety rules;
  3. Using protective equipment and clothing properly, reporting any damage found;
  4. Being aware of emergency procedures and ensuring that they are followed when necessary. This includes completing the necessary fire training and knowing where alarms, fire-fighting equipment and exits are.

Your supervisor or manager must be promptly notified of any misuse of fire-fighting equipment; any such equipment which is missing; any vandalised or missing signs, notices or instructions; any blocked emergency exits or escape routes; and any damaged, misused or poorly maintained protective equipment. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act all members of staff, as well as members of the public, have a duty not to interfere with or misuse anything provided for health, safety or welfare.

ENFORCEMENT
Under civil law employers have a duty to their employees to provide a reasonable standard of care. If a person is injured at work and feels it is the employer’s fault, then the employee can take the employer to court and sue for damages.

Criminal Law, on the other hand, is set by Parliament. If a person breaks the law they can be punished. In the area of health and safety it is the Health and Safety Executive Inspectors and local authority Environmental Health Officers who can prosecute companies and individuals who break health and safety laws. These inspectors have wide powers of entry and inspection under the Act to carry out their duties. If breaches of the regulations are found, then the inspectors can issue important notices requiring that the fault be put right within a certain period, or prohibition notices in more serious cases where a potentially dangerous activity can be stopped until such times as it is made safe.

Inspectors can prosecute offenders who do not meet with the requirements of the Act, with persons found guilty facing fines, imprisonment or even both. Further penalties can be imposed for further violations that continue after conviction. They also have powers to seize, render harmless, or destroy any articles or substances that could cause immediate danger of significant personal injury to workers or others.

The main purpose of the Health and Safety at Work Act, however, is to promote safety awareness. Enforcement officers spend a lot of their time giving advice and guidance on improving workplace health and safety, as it is obviously far better to prevent accidents than to prosecute people after they have happened.

RISK AND HAZARDS
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations require every employer to carry out a risk assessment of the premises. This enables him to identify all workplace hazards, assess the risks and to take appropriate steps to eliminate or reduce risks of accidents or injuries. A hazard is anything that has the potential to cause harm, and the risk is how likely it is that a hazard will actually cause harm.

All potential risks to the health and safety of door supervisors, other members of staff and customers must be rectified on the spot where possible, or reported promptly to a supervisor or manager. This way everyone will be protected within the working environment, and accidents and injuries can be avoided.

PERSONAL SAFETY
Door supervisors need to take particular care during their various duties to prevent the risk of contracting either Hepatitis B or the HIV virus. Infection is most likely to occur during searching an infected person, by coming into contact with dirty needles, whilst administering first aid, or whilst handling violent or disorderly people. Having said that, there have been no recorded cases to date of occupational transmission of the HIV virus.

HIV ( Human Immunodeficiency Virus ) attacks certain white blood cells which protect the body from infection. It can also attack certain cells in the nervous system.

AIDS ( Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome ) often follows HIV, although scientists still cannot say for definite that someone who is HIV positive will inevitably develop AIDS. Some people with AIDS have developed specific infections and cancers that occur because the body’s immune system has been damaged. One of the ways that people catch the virus is through receiving blood from an infected person into their own bloodstream.

Hepatitis B can be transmitted in the same way but is much more infectious that HIV. It has also been found in virtually all body secretions and excretions in infectious quantities. Hepatitis causes a serious inflammation of the liver and although is much more infectious than HIV, there is a vaccination available through your own doctor to prevent infection, and there is a treatment for people who become infected. It is strongly recommended that all door supervisors get themselves vaccinated against this disease at the earliest opportunity.

PRECAUTIONS

Always wear disposable plastic, latex or vinyl gloves whenever you have to come into contact with another person’s blood or other body fluids.

Cover any cuts, grazes or abrasions you have with a waterproof plaster or dressing whilst at work.

Do not deal with blood, vomit, excreta or other body fluids if you are suffering from weeping eczema, severely chapped hands or any other complaint leaving open lesions on the skin.

Wash your hands at the earliest opportunity after contact with another person’s blood or other body fluids whether you were wearing protective gloves or not. Hot soapy water should be used. If your eyes have been splashed, flush with lots of clean cold water.

When washing up spillages of blood or vomit, use a solution of 1:10 bleach/water to clean the affected surface. When the surface is dry it should be washed down again with hot soapy water.

Clothing which has been contaminated with blood or other body fluids should be left for one minute in a very hot rinse, or rinsed under hot running water then left to dry in the air. Another method of drying the affected area would be to use a hair dryer if one was available as the heat would help to ensure that any virus present was destroyed.

When attempting mouth to mouth resuscitation during emergency first aid procedure, an approved face shield should be used if available. If not, then covering the casualty’s mouth with a handkerchief or something similar would help prevent you from contracting any infectious diseases.

When searching customers at the point of entry, be especially aware of the possibility of customers having dirty unguarded needles in their possession. Where possible ask customers to empty their own pockets out onto a table, turning their pocket linings inside out for inspection.

Any sharp or pointed articles seized from customers should be stored safely until they can be disposed of in the appropriate manner. Needles should be handled as little as possible. Always wash your hands well using soap and water after handling anything related to the misuse of drugs.

GENERAL
If you, any of your colleagues or your employer have any questions with regards to health and safety issues, you can get up to date advice from :-

The Health and Safety Executive
INFO-LINE
Tel:- 0845 345 0055
Website:- www.hse.gov.uk

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