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Preventing accidents

Health and Safety Commission statistics reveal that the most common types of accidents in the catering industry are:

• slips and trips
• falls from height
• being struck by a moving or falling object
• contact with a harmful substance
• injuries from lifting or carrying a load

Analysis by the Health and Safety Executive of accidents in the catering industry shows that the underlying cause of accidents is a failure in management systems, such as:

• equipment and workplaces being unsafe for particular tasks
• safe procedures not being in place
• equipment not installed and maintained properly
• staff not competent in the tasks and misuse of equipment or workplaces

The concept of accident prevention is included within the remit of the general duties of employers under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Included in these duties is a requirement to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that no person is exposed to risks to their own health and safety.

Training in operating procedures and health and safety requirements is part of the management system. An employer would be expected to train its staff in accident-reporting procedures.

Following an accident, it is important to remember that there may be a requirement to change or revise documents that form part of the management system, for example, risk assessments. The approved code of practice for the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations states that accidents, ill health or a dangerous occurrence should be a trigger for reviewing the original risk assessment.

In addition, employers with five or more employees are required to have a written health and safety policy that is communicated to all employees.

Roy Tozer is a Partner in the Regulatory Group of DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary UK LLP.


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