The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 was passed by parliament in 1992 and came into effect on 1 April 1993.
The principle object of the act is to prevent harm to employees at work and prevent an activity exposing or harming other people such as contractors, visitors and general public in the work environment.
The Act sets out to promote excellence in health and safety management, and replaces approximately 56 other Acts or regulations. There is provision in the act for guidelines regarding specific health and safety issues to be addressed through new Regulations and approved Codes of Practice.
The Act states specific responsibilities for employers, employees, principals and contractors in respect of health and safety.
When you employ a contractor or subcontractor you become known under the law as the Principal. The Principal also has duties under the Act.
If the principal hires a contractor or subcontractor, they must take all reasonable steps to ensure that they and their employees are not harmed while carrying out the work they are engaged to do. This does not apply to work a contractor does on your home.
Naturally, you would not be responsible if a carpenter, for example, injured him/herself while using the tools of their trade. However you could be responsible if they were injured by incorrect use of your tools while on site.
You are only responsible for hazards or activities you can directly control. This would include informing contractors about any hazards specific to your business.
For their part, contractors have a duty to look after themselves and their employees. They are responsible for carrying out work in a manner that will not endanger themselves, their employees or anyone else in their place of work. However it is the responsibility of the Principal to intervene should it become apparent a risk to health and safety exists. The principal should ensure the situation is corrected.
Any person who is in control of a place of work (whether it is the owner, lessee, sublessee, occupier) must ensure that people in the place of work, or in its close vicinity, are not harmed by any hazard that arises from work activities.
When employing contractors and subcontractors’ specified health and safety standards should be part of the agreement or contract. Ask contractors how they intend to manage hazards on site and/or ask to see their health and safety plans.
Employees need to be trained in the correct way to handle a fire, and as many of the fires on horticultural properties could start with different mediums an awareness of different techniques and extinguishers for different fires is very important.
Knowledge of combustible products and chemicals could also be very valuable for staff. Many departments in an establishment use these or come into contact with them, and knowing what to do with each could save lives.
Staff who are responsible for ringing the fire department need to be aware of their responsibility and how to get through quickly.
When lighting rubbish fires, contact the local council first to seek advice on permit requirements. Check the long-range weather forecast. Mow a firebreak and have the means to control the fire nearby prior to lighting. Never leave unattended.
This may mean switching off a small appliance which has exposed wires, to turning power off to the whole establishment or block.
When an employee has suffered or is suffering an electric shock, and the current cannot be turned off, the person can be pulled free of the live electricity using a dry insulating material such as cloth, wood or rubber.
Policies and procedures should be set up regarding first aid. This will mean placing first aid boxes around the establishment at strategic positions and training employees in first aid.
When further medical treatment is required establishments should have a list of emergency telephone numbers and contacts, which can be rung on short notice. All employees should know what to do if these people are required.