The Most Common Health and Safety Violations and How to Prevent Them

The Most Common Health and Safety Violations and How to Prevent Them

Introduction

Health and safety is a vital aspect of any workplace, as it protects the well-being of employees and employers, and ensures compliance with the relevant laws and regulations. However, despite the importance of health and safety, many workplaces still experience violations that can result in injuries, illnesses, fines, or even fatalities.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there were 693,000 non-fatal injuries and 111 fatal injuries at work in Great Britain in 2019/20. Moreover, there were 28.2 million working days lost due to work-related ill health and non-fatal injuries, costing an estimated £16.2 billion to the economy.

In this blog article, we will explore the 10 most common health and safety violations that occur in the workplace, and how to prevent them.

These violations are based on the HSE’s annual statistics report, which lists the most frequent causes of enforcement notices issued by the HSE and local authorities. Read the spacebands article on the annual statistics report along with a free downloadable infographic.

By understanding these violations and implementing effective prevention measures, you can create a safer, healthier, and more productive work environment for yourself and your colleagues.

Construction site health and safety talk

10 most common health and safety violations

1. Failure to provide adequate risk assessment

A risk assessment is a systematic process of identifying, evaluating, and controlling the hazards and risks that may arise from work activities.

It is a legal requirement for employers to conduct a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for their workplace, and to review and update it regularly. Failing to do so can result in accidents, injuries, illnesses, fines, or prosecutions.

To prevent this violation, employers should follow the HSE’s guidance on how to carry out a risk assessment, which involves the following steps:

  • Identify the hazards that could cause harm to workers or others
  • Assess the likelihood and severity of the harm that could result from each hazard
  • Decide on the preventive measures and controls that are necessary to eliminate or reduce the risk
  • Record the findings and communicate them to the relevant people
  • Monitor and review the risk assessment and the controls periodically or when there are significant changes

2. Failure to provide adequate training and information

Training and information are essential for workers to perform their tasks safely and effectively. They help workers to understand the hazards and risks they may face, the controls and procedures they need to follow, and their roles and responsibilities in health and safety.

It is a legal requirement for employers to provide adequate training and information to their workers, and to ensure that they are competent and confident to carry out their work. Failing to do so can result in errors, mistakes, violations, injuries, illnesses, or complaints.

To prevent this violation, employers should follow the HSE’s guidance on how to provide training and information to workers, which involves the following steps:

  • Identify the training and information needs of workers based on their tasks, skills, and experience
  • Choose the appropriate methods and formats of delivering the training and information, such as induction, on-the-job, refresher, online, etc.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness and impact of the training and information, and provide feedback and support to workers
  • Record the training and information provided and keep track of the workers’ progress and performance

3. Failure to provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE)

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is the equipment or clothing that workers wear to protect themselves from direct contact with hazards, such as dust, noise, chemicals, etc.

It is a legal requirement for employers to provide adequate PPE to their workers, and to ensure that they use it correctly and maintain it properly. Failing to do so can result in exposure, injury, illness, or infection.

To prevent this violation, employers should follow the HSE’s guidance on how to provide PPE to workers, which involves the following steps:

  • Assess the need for PPE based on the risk assessment and the nature of the work
  • Select the appropriate type and level of PPE that is suitable for the hazard and the worker
  • Provide clear instructions and training on how to use, store, clean, and dispose of the PPE
  • Monitor and enforce the use of the PPE and check its condition and effectiveness regularly
  • Consult and involve the workers in the selection and use of the PPE and address any issues or concerns they may have

4. Failure to ensure safe use of work equipment

Work equipment is any machinery, tool, or device that workers use to carry out their work, such as drills, ladders, forklifts, etc.

It is a legal requirement for employers to ensure that the work equipment they provide is safe and suitable for the intended purpose, and that the workers who use it are trained and competent. Failing to do so can result in damage, malfunction, injury, or death.

To prevent this violation, employers should follow the HSE’s guidance on how to ensure safe use of work equipment, which involves the following steps:

  • Select the right work equipment for the job and the worker, and ensure that it meets the relevant standards and regulations
  • Provide adequate information and instructions on how to use, adjust, and maintain the work equipment safely and correctly
  • Provide adequate training and supervision to the workers who use the work equipment, and ensure that they are authorized and qualified
  • Inspect and test the work equipment regularly and keep records of the results and actions taken
  • Report and repair any defects or faults in the work equipment as soon as possible

5. Failure to ensure safe handling and storage of substances

Substances are any materials or products that workers use or come into contact with at work, such as chemicals, fuels, paints, etc. They can pose various health and safety risks, such as fire, explosion, corrosion, and poisoning.

It is a legal requirement for employers to ensure that the substances they use or produce are handled and stored safely and securely, and that the workers who deal with them are informed and protected. Failing to do so can result in spills, leaks, fires, explosions, injuries, illnesses, or environmental damage.

To prevent this violation, employers should follow the HSE’s guidance on how to ensure safe handling and storage of substances, which involves the following steps:

  • Identify the substances that are used or produced at work and their hazards and risks
  • Assess the exposure and the control measures that are needed to prevent or reduce the risk
  • Provide adequate information and training to the workers who handle or store the substances, such as safety data sheets, labels, signs, etc.
  • Provide adequate personal protective equipment and emergency equipment to the workers who handle or store the substances, such as gloves, goggles, fire extinguishers, etc.
  • Store the substances in suitable containers and locations, and segregate incompatible substances
  • Dispose of the substances safely and in accordance with the regulations and the waste management plan

6. Failure to ensure safe maintenance of premises and facilities

Premises and facilities are the buildings, structures, and utilities that workers use or occupy at work, such as offices, warehouses, toilets, lighting, heating, etc. They can affect the health and safety of workers in various ways, such as temperature, ventilation, hygiene, and lighting.

It is a legal requirement for employers to ensure that the premises and facilities they provide are maintained in a safe and suitable condition, and that the workers who use or occupy them are comfortable and satisfied. Failing to do so can result in accidents, injuries, illnesses, or complaints.

To prevent this violation, employers should follow the HSE’s guidance on how to ensure safe maintenance of premises and facilities, which involves the following steps:

  • Assess the condition and the suitability of the premises and facilities, and identify any defects or issues that need to be addressed
  • Plan and carry out regular maintenance and repairs of the premises and facilities, and keep records of the work done and the results
  • Provide adequate information and training to the workers who use or occupy the premises and facilities, such as fire safety, emergency procedures, etc.
  • Consult and involve the workers in the maintenance and improvement of the premises and facilities, and address any issues or concerns they may have
  • Comply with the relevant standards and regulations that apply to the premises and facilities, such as fire safety, electrical safety, etc.

7. Failure to ensure safe management of work-related stress

Work-related stress is the adverse reaction that people have to excessive pressure or demands at work.

It can affect both physical and mental health, and lead to anxiety, depression, fatigue, headaches, musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and more.

Work-related stress can also impair performance, productivity, and quality of work, and increase absenteeism, turnover, and conflict2.

Employers have a legal duty to protect their employees from work-related stress by doing a risk assessment and taking action to reduce or eliminate the sources of stress.


Some of the common causes of work-related stress are:

  • High workload and tight deadlines
  • Lack of control and autonomy
  • Poor communication and feedback
  • Role ambiguity and conflict
  • Lack of support and resources
  • Poor work environment and conditions
  • Change and uncertainty
  • Harassment and bullying

To prevent work-related stress, employers should adopt a proactive and participatory approach, involving the employees in the identification, assessment, and management of stress.


Some of the best practices and measures to prevent work-related stress are:

  • Designing the work to suit the skills, abilities, and preferences of the employees
  • Providing clear and realistic goals, expectations, and feedback
  • Giving the employees some choice and flexibility over how, when, and where they work
  • Encouraging and facilitating communication, consultation, and collaboration
  • Providing adequate training, support, and resources
  • Recognizing and rewarding the employees for their achievements and contributions
  • Creating a positive and respectful work culture and climate
  • Providing access to confidential and professional counselling and support services

8. Failure to ensure safe management of work-related violence

Work-related violence is any incident where a person is abused, threatened, or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work.

It can include physical attacks, verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, and bullying. Work-related violence can cause physical and psychological harm, such as injuries, bruises, cuts, burns, fractures, shock, trauma, fear, anger, and distress.

Employers have a legal duty to protect their employees from work-related violence by doing a risk assessment and taking action to prevent or reduce the likelihood and severity of violent incidents.

Some of the factors that can increase the risk of work-related violence are:

  • Working with the public, especially in situations where they may be unhappy, frustrated, or aggressive
  • Working with people who are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or mental illness
  • Working alone or in isolated or remote areas
  • Working in high-crime or conflict-prone areas
  • Working at night or in dark or poorly lit places
  • Working with cash, valuables, or sensitive information

To prevent work-related violence, employers should adopt a comprehensive and integrated approach, involving the employees, customers, clients, and other stakeholders in the prevention and management of violence.

Some of the best practices and measures to prevent work-related violence are:

  • Developing and implementing a clear and consistent policy and procedure on work-related violence
  • Providing adequate training, information, and guidance on how to deal with and report violent incidents
  • Designing the work environment and equipment to enhance security and visibility
  • Installing and maintaining physical and technical security measures, such as locks, alarms, cameras
  • Providing personal protective equipment (PPE), such as panic buttons, radios, etc.
  • Establishing and maintaining good relationships and communication with the customers, clients, and other parties
  • Providing support and assistance to the employees who have experienced or witnessed work-related violence
  • Investigating and reviewing all violent incidents and taking corrective and preventive actions

9. Failure to ensure safe management of work-related driving

Work-related driving is any driving activity that is undertaken by an employee for work purposes, such as delivering goods, visiting clients, attending meetings, etc.

It can involve driving a company-owned or a personal vehicle, or a vehicle hired or leased for work. Work-related driving can pose various risks to the driver, the passengers, the vehicle, and the public, such as collisions, injuries, fatalities, damage, theft.

Employers have a legal duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees and others who may be affected by their work-related driving activities. This means that employers should do a risk assessment and take action to manage the risks associated with work-related driving.

Some of the factors that can affect the risk of work-related driving are:

  • The driver’s competence, experience, and health
  • The vehicle’s suitability, condition, and maintenance
  • The journey’s purpose, duration, and route
  • The road and traffic conditions
  • The weather and visibility conditions
  • The driver’s behaviour, attitude, and fatigue

To prevent work-related driving accidents, employers should adopt a systematic and proactive approach, involving the employees, the vehicle providers, and the insurance companies in the management of work-related driving.

Some of the best practices and measures to prevent work-related driving accidents are:

  • Developing and implementing a clear and consistent policy and procedure on work-related driving
  • Providing adequate training, information, and guidance on safe and efficient driving practices
  • Selecting and providing suitable, safe, and well-maintained vehicles and equipment
  • Planning and scheduling the journeys to avoid unnecessary or excessive driving
  • Monitoring and controlling the driving performance and behaviour of the employees
  • Providing support and assistance to the employees who have been involved or affected by work-related driving accidents
  • Investigating and reviewing all work-related driving accidents and taking corrective and preventive actions

10. Failure to report and investigate accidents and incidents

Accidents and incidents are unplanned and unwanted events that can cause harm, damage, or loss to people, property, or the environment.

They can range from minor injuries, near misses, or property damage, to major injuries, fatalities, or environmental disasters. Accidents and incidents can have various causes, such as human error, equipment failure, process deviation, environmental factors.

Employers have a legal duty to report and investigate certain types of accidents and incidents that occur in the workplace, such as those that result in death, serious injury, occupational disease, or dangerous occurrence. This is required by the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).

Reporting and investigating accidents and incidents can help to:

  • Identify the causes and consequences of the accidents and incidents
  • Prevent the recurrence or escalation of the accidents and incidents
  • Learn from the mistakes and improve the health and safety performance
  • Comply with the legal and regulatory obligations
  • Demonstrate the commitment and accountability of the employer

To report and investigate accidents and incidents effectively, employers should adopt a structured and systematic approach, involving the employees, the health and safety representatives, and the relevant authorities in the reporting and investigating process.

Some of the best practices and measures to report and investigate accidents and incidents are:

  • Developing and implementing a clear and consistent policy and procedure on reporting and investigating accidents and incidents
  • Providing adequate training, information, and guidance on how and when to report and investigate accidents and incidents
  • Establishing and maintaining a reliable and accessible reporting and recording system
  • Conducting a thorough and impartial investigation of the accidents and incidents
  • Identifying and implementing appropriate corrective and preventive actions
  • Communicating and sharing the findings and recommendations of the investigation
  • Reviewing and evaluating the effectiveness of the reporting and investigating process

Accident in the workplace

Conclusion:

In this blog article, we have explored the 10 most common health and safety violations that occur in the workplace, and how to prevent them. These violations are based on the HSE’s annual statistics report, which lists the most frequent causes of enforcement notices issued by the HSE and local authorities.

By understanding these violations and implementing effective prevention measures, you can create a safer, healthier, and more productive work environment for yourself and your colleagues.

We hope you have found this article informative and useful. Health and safety is a vital aspect of any workplace, as it protects the well-being of employees and employers, and ensures compliance with the relevant laws and regulations. This can bring various benefits, such as reducing injuries, illnesses, and costs, improving performance, productivity, and quality, and enhancing reputation, trust, and loyalty.

If you need further guidance or support on health and safety issues, you can contact the HSE or your local authority, or visit their websites for more information and resources. You can also consult a professional health and safety consultant or trainer, who can provide you with tailored advice and solutions. Alternatively, you can check out some of the online courses and tools that are available to help you improve your health and safety knowledge and skills.

Stay safe and healthy.

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