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Insight

We are not helpless

Following the shock of Wednesday's terror attack in Westminster, it is tempting to think that nothing can be done to prevent such attacks occurring.

Following the shock of Wednesday's terror attack in Westminster, it is tempting to think that nothing can be done to prevent such attacks occurring. However, employers should be prompted to review their health and safety arrangements to ensure that as far as reasonably practicable, they protect the health and safety of their employees and third parties.  This is especially the case where employees are operating at high risk locations, such as stations, airports, shopping centres and other public spaces that attract crowds.   No employer can reduce every risk to zero but there are opportunities to train staff, implement systems and adopt policies that could help to reduce risk.

The duty of care owed by employers to their employees stands as an implied term in any contract of employment. Consequently, employers are required to make appropriate arrangements for effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventative and protective measures. Employers are also expected to provide their employees with understandable and relevant information and training on the risks they face (at work or in connection to their employment) and how these risks can be controlled.

Employers with five or more employees must:

  • Have a written health and safety policy in place;
  • Revise the policy whenever it is required/appropriate to do so;

  • Make employees aware of the policy and any amendments; and

  • Conduct a written risk assessment of your operations conducted by a suitably competent person.

Failing to have a satisfactory Health and Safety policy and / or conducting a suitable risk assessment are criminal offences, which can lead to a range of sanctions including prosecution for employers. Therefore, it is imperative that employers are zealous in their efforts to fulfil their duty of care.

If you would like your Health and Safety Policy reviewed and updated, or would like further information on what the requirements are in relation to health and safety at work, please contact a member of our employment and /or Health and Safety team.

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