3 Health and safety in your workplace

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) requires employers to have a health and safety policy which sets out how they will protect everyone in their workplace, including employees, visitors, contractors and any individuals who access services. Your awareness and practice of health and safety will contribute to a safety culture at work. Accidents have causes, and steps must be taken to prevent them otherwise accidents will continue to happen.

In Section 2 you were introduced to the '6 Cs' set in place by NHS England (2012): Care, Compassion, Competence, Communication, Courage and Commitment. Competence ensures that you are keeping the individuals you support as safe as possible; only undertaking certain activities once you are competent to do so. Your workplace will have Health and Safety Representatives who are the key 'watchdog' on behalf of workers to ensure employers provide a safe and healthy workplace. Health and Safety Representatives have a legal right to carry out regular inspections and to be consulted by the employer over risk assessments and accidents or incidents at work.

The Health and Safety Executive identifies a number of health and safety risks for workers. They include:

  • slips and trips in the physical environment caused by uneven floors, spilled liquids, poorly lit or unlit areas, trailing cables and wires, and so on
  • musculoskeletal disorders, that is, sprains, strains and pains from lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, reaching, repetitive movements, and so on
  • stress, for example, from too much work, too many demands, conflicting demands or excessive pressure of any kind.
Described image
Figure 4 The physical environment can cause slips and trips (left); activities at work can cause musculoskeletal disorders (centre); people can experience work-induced stress (right)

Now you can listen to Gail talking about some real examples of health and safety in the workplace, and what sort of incidents or accidents might occur.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: Health and safety on the ward
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Transcript: Health and safety on the ward

Health and safety is ongoing, daily, all through the day.
You have to make sure that you are working in a safe environment for your patients and for the staff that are on with you, so you are always looking, always making yourself aware of what could happen – that’s the key – what could happen. If you see something lying on the floor, a patient could slip on that – you pick it up, you deal with it. If there’s a wire on the floor, they could trip over it. If the patient doesn’t have any footwear on, they could slip. All the day, all the time that you are looking for patients, health and safety is on your mind, you’re looking around at things, you’re making sure that the area is safe for that patient – and for yourself!
End transcript: Health and safety on the ward
Health and safety on the ward
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2 Fluids and nutrition

3.1 Infection prevention and control