Environmental, Health & Safety: looking after your team

18 Nov 2015

It is an employer's duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees, as well as other people who might be affected by the activities of the business.

Assessing risks in the workplace and implementing measures to tackle them not only addresses the risks that could cause harm in the workplace, but it also protects and enhances brand reputation.

Most successful global-reaching companies do not simply operate out of one single location, so managing the compliance with Environmental and Health & Safety regulations within each workplace across multiple borders and jurisdictions can be a significant challenge. Whether managing Health & Safety issues, or creating a work environment that attracts and retains the best and brightest talent, EHS is becoming an important and integral element in the efficient operation of any company.

As well as carrying out risk assessments within the workplace, employers are also responsible for:

  • Making arrangements for implementing Health & Safety measures identified as necessary by the risk assessments;
  • Setting up emergency procedures;
  • Providing clear information and training to employees;

As an employer, a duty of care towards employees is paramount for wellbeing as well as a legal requirement; to give you an idea of some of the requirements in place, all employers – whatever size the business - must:

  • Make the workplace safe;
  • Prevent risks to health;
  • Ensure safe working practices are set up and followed;
  • Make sure all materials are handled, stored and used safely;
  • Provide adequate first aid facilities;
  • Make sure employee facilities meet health, safety and welfare requirements, e.g. heating/cooling, lighting, washing facilities;
  • Check that the correct work equipment is provided, properly used and regularly maintained;
  • Take precautions against the risks caused by flammable or explosive hazards, electrical equipment, noise and radiation;
  • Provide health supervision as needed;
  • Ensure that the right warning signs are provided and looked after;
  • Report certain accidents, injuries and dangerous occurrences;
  • Where personal protective equipment is required, employers must provide this free of charge to all employees.

These are typically the minimum requirements to achieve compliance, and companies may wish to take staff's wellbeing much further (as part of Corporate Social Governance) to include support and encouragement of a healthy lifestyle, engagement in community projects and training support for professional development, etc.. These can all help with staff retention and reduced sickness.

Also, remember to consider your environmental issues…

  • Do you recover all of your wastes through registered waste carriers and complete hazardous or non-hazardous waste notes and keep the records as required?
  • Do you place packaging, electrical goods or batteries on the market via sold products? If so are you complying with take back obligations?
  • If you have >250 employees and >€50M annual turnover, have you completed an energy audit by an accredited certifier?
  • If you operate processes that impact heavily on the environment (e.g. discharges to surface waters/emissions to air) are you aware whether you need an environmental permit or not?

For more information about how we can help your business's EHS, see our Environment, Health & Safety services.