What to do if you spot a hazard at work
Under the Health and Safety at Work (NI) Order 1978 you are entitled to remain safe at work. Due to the benefit of legally compelled risk assessments in the UK you’re safer in work now more so than ever before. However this doesn’t mean that hazards no longer present themselves. Things like new machinery, upgrades and even longstanding hazards previously slipping through the net can mean workplace health & safety policies require an update.
Do you know what to do if you spot a hazard in work?
Check the policies
Regular risk assessments typically mean that places of work in the UK are vigilant when it comes to hazards. By referring to your employer’s health and safety policies and risk assessments you might find the issue has been addressed. Furthermore, it’s not uncommon for employees to sign training documents without fully reading them. You should ensure you haven’t signed a document that states you are aware of and have been trained to safely work around the hazard that you witnessed if you remain uncomfortable around it. If you discover that you have done so, ask for additional training.
Speak to your employer
The next step is to speak with your line manager or the responsible person at work. They should assess the situation and work towards removing or limiting the risk. This could mean anything from providing additional personal protection equipment (PPE) or organising training to physical structural changes. You could do this casually, however should this fail to result in the outcome you desire you should report it again in writing.
Speak to your trade union
If you are a trade union member you might want to speak to your union representative. They can provide advice or speak with your employer directly to find a safe and legal resolution to the health and safety issue.
Report it to the Health and Safety Executive NI
If you’ve exhausted your ability to report the issue in work and believe it may breach health and safety laws then you can speak with the Health and Safety Executive NI (HSENI). You can report your employer to the HSE who will investigate if appropriate to do so. The HSE doesn’t cover all health and safety matters though and sometimes the appropriate regulator is local authorities. You can check what kind of premises are covered and which are not here.
You are legally entitled to make such a report and you're even protected by whistleblower laws. However, before reporting your employer, you might want to consider how doing so could impact your relationship with your workplace. Is resolving the issue worth risking a breakdown in this relationship?
If you become injured due to a hazard you might be able to claim. If you reported the issue already but it wasn’t addressed then the lack of action only serves to strengthen your case. We can assist you in pursuing compensation and you can learn more about our services here or contact us here for a free no obligation discussion.
You can also learn more about Health and Safety at Work (NI) Order 1978 and other regulations here.