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staff safety

Health and safety law - know your position

The central piece of health and safety legislation in the UK is The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 which places general duties on employers towards their employees. Employers are legally required to ensure, so far as reasonably practical, the health, safety, and welfare at work of all employees.

What do retailers need to do to ensure you are making reasonable and reasonably practicable steps to protect your staff, and your company from civil or criminal litigation?

Complying with the law

As an employer, you must protect your workers and others from getting hurt or ill through work-related activities. However, no one has to actually be harmed for an offence to be committed under the Health & Safety At Work Act: there only has to be a risk of harm.

“It is not good enough for companies to assume they are doing all they can to control the risk just because there have been no previous incidents.”
Richard Littlefair HSE Inspector
September 2020 R v Leadec Ltd 2020

It is important that workplace risks are constantly assessed, managed and controlled. Paperwork alone does not prove that you are complying with the law.

Personal liability

When duties placed on employers and organisations by health and safety law are breached, directors can be personally liable. Members of the board have both collective and individual responsibility for health and safety.

Depending on the level of culpability, sentencing can range from a personal fine all the way up to two years in custody for any director, manager, secretary or other officer of the corporate body being prosecuted.

New enforcement of the health and safety act

In 2019, the HSE appointed Sarah Albon as their new CEO with an increased focus on the number of successful health and safety offences prosecutions. The following year, the success rate of health and safety offences prosecution hit 95%.

Building on this success, a new role of ‘Legal Director’ was introduced by the HSE in 2021 to oversee the increase in prosecutions. With this role in place, there has been a 30% increase of the average health and safety related fine compared to the previous year.

HSE fines are based on the corporate body’s turnover:

Under £2m. Fines: £50 - £450k

£2m - £10m. Fines: £100 - £1.6m

£10m - £50m. Fines: £1k - £4m

£50m plus. Fines: £3k - £10m

Implementing solutions

Body worn cameras have been proven to reduce retail staff assaults by 47%. This technology has already been successfully implemented in the police force and is steadily becoming more commonplace in a retail environment.

Offering body worn video technology to all staff and ensuring that every worker is trained to use it is just one example of how retailers can protect themselves from both criminal and civil litigation. 

The body worn camera solution provided by Peoplesafe is unique to the market because it is integrated with the Peoplesafe Pro App which provides 24/7 emergency response from the accredited alarm receiving centre (ARC). The camera can be triggered to start recording via the app which will also raise an alarm and provide the user with expert incident management support.

For more information about how Peoplesafe’s body worn camera can work for you, get in touch.

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