For 2020 we are supporting you with ways for you to assess the health, safety and environmental systems you have in place and how well they are working. The concept is for you to consider areas of your management you may not routinely review, by investing 15 minutes of your time once a month to challenge them.
Here, there are three questions for you to investigate and identify whether you are meeting the level of compliance you are expecting.
By being random questions across a suite of health safety and environmental topics, the outcomes will not only provide an insight into the level of compliance you are actually achieving, but the extent to which your in-house or contracted services are supporting you.
For January 2020 your three questions are...
1. Select two hazardous substances you currently have on site. For each of these:
- Review the COSHH risk assessment and safety data sheets to see whether the handling, usage and storage procedures are being followed; and
- Can either of these substances be removed or replaced with a less harmful, less flammable and/or more environmentally friendly alternative?
You may have in place a COSHH register that is controlled by either you or a number of contractors, for example cleaning, M&E and catering will usually have/provide a list or register.
A COSHH assessment/risk assessment should have been carried out to identifying hazardous substances you may use, whether the precautions you have taken are acceptable and what control measures you need to have in place.
Any specific storage or handling requirements for each chemical, as well as being on the corresponding data sheet, should be with the chemical where it is stored and used.
When considering how you can reduce your risk, advice from the Health and Safety Executive is - in order of priority:
- Eliminate the use of a harmful product or substance and use a safer one.
- Use a safer form of the product, e.g. paste rather than powder.
- Change the process to emit less of the substance.
- Enclose the process so that the product does not escape.
- Extract emissions of the substance near the source.
- Have as few workers in harm’s way as possible.
- Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, coveralls and a respirator. PPE must fit the wearer.
- Do you have COSHH risk assessments and risk register(s) in place and are they up to date?
- Look for any specific storage information to see if it is being met or PPE needed and whether it is present and is being used?
- Ask those responsible for procuring the item whether they have considered an alternative which is safer, less flammable or more environmental friendly as relevant?
- Are you still storing chemicals you are no longer using?
2. Have all of your customer-facing staff had disability and equality awareness training? Have all of your customer-facing staff had disability and equality awareness training?
- When did this last take place?
- Is a refresher session required?
Your front of house staff are usually the first contact someone has with your organisation, so from an access, discrimination and equality perspective, they set the first impression.
From greeting customers and visitors to using facilities such as induction loops and asking the right questions for any help or assistance that may be needed, awareness training can be the difference between a good or bad first impression.
The language we use, our understanding and operation of any aids provided, even the way we approach people as we speak to them can have a significant effect. Knowing not just what to do and how to do it but the reasons why we are doing it is key. So, having your front of house staff trained makes good sense legally and morally.
- How many front of house staff do you have and how many of them have had formal disability and equality awareness training from your organisation?
- Are there other members of staff who routinely come into contact with visitors, customers etc. as their first point of contact? What training might they need?
- Are aids available for support or assistance and do your staff know how to use them?
- What information has been provided from an access, discrimination and equality perspective and when was this last updated?
3. Read your most recent fire risk assessment.
- How many actions/recommendations have been successfully completed?
- What still needs to be done?
A fire risk assessment is a legal requirement, but it is the actions identified in the document that will help you manage and reduce risk. Therefore, making sure the recommendations within the risk assessment have been reviewed and actioned are a fundamental part of your compliance.
Most recommendations/actions in a fire risk assessment will have some level of priority attached to them, indicating the significance of the required action. This can be in words (high/medium/low), numbers or other system, for example a red/amber/green traffic light system.
Review the status of each recommendation/action, whether it has been given a priority (i.e. high/medium/low) and if it has been carried out.
- If it has, has it been signed off, what evidence do you have and who has checked it is completed?
- If it hasn’t, why not and what are the plans and timescales for it to be actioned?
- Have issues raised with any of the actions highlighted reoccurred?