Whether you are just starting out, expanding your business, or have been operating for a number of years if you run a business you will have duties under the law. Alternatively you may be an employee seeking information. The following pages are designed to assist you in discharging your duties under the Health and Safety at Work (General) (Guernsey) Ordinance 1987.
Appoint a competent person
- As an employer, you must appoint a competent person or people to help you meet your health and safety legal duties.
- They should have the training, skills, knowledge and experience to be able to recognise hazards in your business and help you put sensible controls in place to protect workers and others from harm
- What is a safety competent person
- Someone who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities, which allow them to assist you to meet the requirements of the health and safety law..
- Qualifications and training
- It's not usually essential for them to have formal qualifications and they're not required by law to have formal training. However, when appointing someone they should have sufficient training to allow them to carry out the role properly.
- Who you can appoint?
- You could appoint (one or a combination of)
- one or more of your workers
- someone from outside your business
- Usually, managing health and safety isn't complicated and you can do it yourself with the help of your workers. You know your workplace best and the risks associated with it.
Using a consultant or adviser
- If your business or organisation doesn't have the competence to manage health and safety in-house, for example, if it's large, complex or high risk, you can get help from a consultant or adviser. But remember, as the employer, managing health and safety will still be your legal duty.
Prepare a health and safety policy
- Section 1 (3) of The Health and Safety at Work (General) (Guernsey) Ordinance 1987 states: -
- Except in such cases as may be prescribed, it shall be the duty of every employer to prepare and as often as may be appropriate, revise a written statement of his general policy with respect to the health and safety at work of his employees and the organisation and arrangements for the time being in force for carrying out that policy, and to bring the statement and any revision of it to the notice of all of his employees.
- A health and safety policy sets out your general approach to health and safety. It explains how you, as an employer, will manage health and safety in your business. It should clearly say who does what, when and how. Further guidance and templates can be found here.
- If you have five or more employees, you must write your policy down and revise it as appropriate. If you have fewer than five employees you do not have to write anything down, but it is useful to do so.
- You must share the policy, and any changes to it, with your employees.
- As an employer, you're required by law to protect your employees, and others, from harm.
- The best way to do this is by conducting a risk assessment. As a minimum you should:
- identify what could cause injury or illness in your business (hazards)
- decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously (the risk)
- take action to eliminate the hazard, or if this isn't possible, control the risk
- Assessing risk is just one part of the overall process used to control risks in your workplace.
- For most small, low-risk businesses the steps you need to take are straightforward and are explained in these pages. Five Steps to risk assessment, with templates and guidance can be found here. A COVID-19 Business Risk Assessment template can be found here.
- If your business is larger or higher-risk, you can find detailed guidance in Managing for Health and Safety HSG65.
- Employers in Major Hazard Industries require more detailed arrangements for managing risks.
Consult your workers
- Involve your workers and talk about health and safety.
- You should consult all your employees on health and safety. You can do this by listening and talking to them about:
- health and safety and the hazards and risks involved in the work they do
- how risks are controlled
- the best ways of providing information, instruction, training, and supervision
- Consultation is a two-way process, allowing employees to raise concerns and influence decisions on managing health and safety.
- Your employees are often the best people to understand risks in the workplace. Involving them in making decisions shows that you take their health and safety seriously. In a small business, you might choose to consult your workers directly. Larger businesses may consult through a health and safety representative, chosen by your employees or selected by a trade union. As an employer, you cannot decide who the representative will be.
- Further advice and guidance can be found here.
Provide information and training
- Everyone who works for you needs to know how to work safely and without risk to their health. This includes contractors and self-employed people.
- You must give your workers clear instructions and information, as well as adequate training and supervision. Make sure you include employees with particular training needs, for example new recruits, people changing jobs or taking on extra responsibilities, young employees and health and safety representatives.
Decide what training and information you need
- Think about how much training you need. If you're a low-risk business, providing simple information or instructions is likely to be enough - for example if you're based in an office.
- Make sure everyone has the right level of information on:
- hazards (things that could cause them harm)
- risks (the chances of that harm occurring)
- measures in place to deal with those hazards and risks
- how to follow any emergency procedures
- Ask your workers if the training is relevant and effective. Keeping training records will help you decide if refresher training is needed and demonstrate how you meet the requirements of the health and safety law.
- The information and training should be easy to understand. Everyone working for you should know what they are expected to do and how to do it.
- Health and safety training should take place during working hours and must be free for employees. There are external trainers who could help, but you can often do effective training in-house using competent employees. Staff will need extra training if you get new equipment or your working practices change.
Include workers with particular training needs
Have the right workplace facilities
- Employers must provide welfare facilities and a working environment that's healthy and safe for everyone in the workplace, including those with disabilities.
- You must have:
- welfare facilities - the right number of toilets and washbasins, drinking water and having somewhere to rest and eat meals
- a healthy working environment - a clean workplace with a reasonable working temperature, good ventilation, suitable lighting and the right amount of space and seating
- a safe workplace - well-maintained equipment, with no obstructions in floors and traffic routes, and windows that can be easily opened and cleaned
- Toilets and washing facilities among other requirements there must be enough toilets and washbasins for those expected to use them, and showers where necessary. Facilities must be clean, well lit; with a good supply of toilet roll, soap, hot and cold running water, and include a way of drying hands
First aid in work
- There is a requirement for all places of work to provide prescribed first aid facilities and equipment (first-aid kit), and have a responsible person on that premise at all times to administer and make available first aid equipment. This is to ensure employees get immediate help if taken ill or injured at work.
- The Health and Safety at Work (General) (Guernsey) Ordinance 1987, places duties on employers to demonstrate that they have done everything reasonably practicable to ensure the Health, Safety and Welfare at work of their employees.
- Further information can be found at First Aid in the Workplace
Display the law poster
- If you employ anyone, you must either:
- display the health and safety law poster where your workers can easily read it
- provide each worker with the equivalent health and safety law leaflet
- This poster explains Guernsey health and safety laws and lists what workers and their employers should do.
- You can add details of any employee safety representatives or health and safety contacts.
Get insurance for your business
- If your business has employees, you will need employers' liability insurance. This is a requirement under The Employer's Liability (Compulsory Insurance) (Guernsey) Law, 1993.
- If an employee is injured or becomes ill as a result of the work they do for you, they can claim compensation from you. Employers' liability insurance will help you to pay any compensation.
- You can buy employers' liability insurance through authorised insurers or intermediaries like brokers or trade associations. You may find that it often comes as part of an insurance package designed to cover a range of business needs. You must ensure that you take out and maintain insurance policies with authorised insurers against liability for bodily injury or disease sustained by their employees in the course of their employment in Guernsey, Herm or Jethou and that all information, including changes to that information, are accurate.
- Find out more about employers' liability insurance here.
- Both criminal and civil law apply to workplace health and safety. They're not the same.
- As an employer, you must protect your workers and others from getting hurt or ill through work.
- If you don't:
- The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) may take action against you under criminal law
- the person affected may make a claim for compensation against you under civil law
- The HSE does not have responsibility for applying civil law or setting the rules for the conduct of civil cases. In civil matters as an: -
- employer - you should refer to your Employers liability insurance provider.
- employee - you should seek independent legal advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau, or an advocate.
The Health and Safety law (criminal law)
- All employers and self-employed people have legal duties under Guernsey health and safety legislation, this extends to all businesses and housing landlords.
- Employees also have legal duties to cooperate with their employer and to use provided health and safety equipment correctly.
- Health and safety law is enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
- Health and safety law in Guernsey is made up of:
- Orders in Council (The Health and Safety at Work etc. (Guernsey) Law 1979).
- The main piece of legislation is The Health and Safety at Work (General) (Guernsey) Ordinance 1987. You can read this in full here.
- If there is no specific Guernsey legislation applicable, HSE Guernsey will use UK legislation, approved codes of practice and guidance as the appropriate standard to benchmark health and safety compliance.
The legal status of Approved Codes of Practice (ACOPs)
- An ACoP has a special legal status. If you are prosecuted for a breach of health and safety law, and it is proved that you did not follow the relevant provisions of the ACoP, you will need to show that you have complied with the law in some other way or the court will find you at fault.
- For further information, guidance and advice, you can visit our pages: Health and Safety Guidance by sector and Health and safety guidance for specific risks
Complying with the law
- No one has to have been harmed for an offence to be committed under the Health and Safety at Work (General) (Guernsey) Ordinance, 1987 - there only has to be a risk of harm.
- The most important thing is what you actually do to manage and control risk in the workplace. Paperwork alone does not prove that you're complying with the law. However, it is an important part of what you must do to assist in demonstrating how you are complying with the law.
If you do not comply with the law
- If you do not comply with an ordinance or ACoP relevant to your work, it is likely that you are committing a criminal offence and could:
- receive a verbal warning or written advice
- receive an improvement or prohibition notice
- be prosecuted
Civil law - compensation claims
- If you meet your responsibilities under health and safety ordinance, and supporting ACoPs, you will reduce the risk of being found negligent under civil law.
- The Health and Safety Executive does not enforce civil law or set the rules for the conduct of civil cases.
- Under civil law, if someone has been injured or made ill through your negligence as an employer, the injured party may make a claim for compensation against you. You can also be found liable if someone who works for you has been negligent and caused harm to someone else.
- If a claim is successful, a court may make a judgment against you, and award money ('damages') to compensate for the pain, losses and suffering caused. This is not the same as a conviction under criminal law.
- Employers' insurance
- Employers must have employers' liability insurance. This will enable you to meet the cost of compensation for your employees' injuries or illness. It's a criminal offence if you do not have it.
- Your insurer can give you guidance on managing and controlling risks. They may ask you to keep certain types of evidence to show you've taken steps to manage the risks your work creates. Do not be tempted to overstate the measures you have or are planning to put in place to manage the risks as this may put you at a disadvantage if you have to defend a claim.
- Dealing with a claim
- If a claim is made against you, refer it to your employers' liability insurance provider