Introduction to Health and Safety
Health and safety is an important aspect of employment. The moment a person becomes an employee the Personal Assistant (PA) Employer is responsible for their health, safety and welfare at work. It also applies to those people who work on their premises such as self-employed, agency staff or contractors. Whilst employees are also expected to work in a safe manner, you still have responsibilities.
What do PA Employers need to do?
- Firstly, they will need to undertake a risk assessment as employers have a legal duty to protect their employees from harm. A risk assessment should identify what could cause injury or illness ( hazards), decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously (the risk) and take action to eliminate the hazard, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk.
- Secondly, they must make their employee(s) aware of the risk assessment through the induction process.
- Thirdly they will have to ensure that their employee(s) are trained to use equipment to ensure they are working in a safe manner.
Normally the Employer’s Liability Insurance will require that they undertake a risk assessment to minimise and hopefully eliminate claims against the PA Employer.
We recommend that you view the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) leaflet called ‘Five Steps to Risk Assessment – INDG163’ found in the resources below.
The five steps are:
- Identify the hazards
- Decide who may be harmed and how
- Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions
- Record your findings and implement them
- Review your risk assessment and update if necessary.
In identifying the hazards you should consider the following:
- In what areas of your home will the PA work?
- Will the PA need to assist you to move around your home?
- Are there hazards outside the home?
- Will the PA work outside the home?
- Will the PA be using your car or their car to transport you?
- Will the PA be assisting you with mobility inside or outside the home?
- What weights will the PA be expected to lift?
- What type of equipment will the PA use – is this mechanical or electrical?
- Will the PA be cooking for you?
- Don’t forget to include smoking as a hazard if you are a smoker.
In deciding who may be harmed, the PA Employer should identify the PA, themselves and any other members of their family and friends who may be affected by what work the PA does. They may also include official visitors (Social Services, Care services etc).
Once the risks can be identified these can be put onto a risk assessment form so the PA Employer can show what action is in place to prevent any harm from the hazard and also what precautions need to be taken to minimise the risk.
The PA Employer will have to show how the risks can be reduced and by whom.Normally the aim is to eliminate the risk by removing it from the premises but where this is not possible they will have to ensure that the people affected by the hazard are trained in how to avoid the risk of injury or harm.Training records will have to be kept to provide evidence that training has taken pace and the PA is aware of their responsibility to work in a safe manner.
Health and Safety Training
This is an important responsibility for PA Employers.
The PA Employer must show that they have trained their PA(s) in Health and Safety matters on their first day of employment. It is not a job which can be done later because if that person has an accident on their first day and training has not been carried out, the PA Employer could be liable for prosecution depending on the seriousness and likelihood of the accident.
In addition to general training on Health and Safety you will need to have some simple documents listing all the equipment the PA will be required to use to demonstrate that training has been given and that the PA is competent to use the equipment.
You can also contact the Health and Safety Executive on their website below. Additionally, Workplace Health Connect is a free service to provide practical advice for small employers. You can contact them on 0845 609 6006 or see their website here: www.workplacehealthconnect.co.uk