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European Health and Safety Week - creating healthier workplaces

Wednesday, 26 October 2016


It's European Health and Safety week and John Murphy, Secretary of the PFEW's Health and Safety Sub-Committee, reminds us that health and safety is everyone's responsibility.

The modern police station is a demanding and high pressure environment where it can be easy to lose sight of the importance of health and safety processes. However, maintaining a safe and healthy workplace is good for police officers, the work they do and for the service as a whole. It’s also worth remembering the ‘health’ aspect of health and safety; it’s not just about reducing the likelihood of physical injury at work, it’s about promoting wellbeing as well.

European Health and Safety Week 2016 began on 24 October and is designed to raise awareness of good health and safety practices in the workplace - this year’s theme is ‘healthy workplaces for all ages’, with a focus on looking after older members of the workforce. There are some great case studies available if you are looking for policy ideas to help support more experienced workers.

Today (26 October) is National Inspection Day, a day when safety representatives across the country are encouraged to inspect their workplace. If you are health and safety lead in your force, I am encouraging you to carry out your force inspection today.

Health and safety is everyone’s responsibility, not just those who take a lead on it. There is clear evidence that by reporting what might appear to be a relatively minor or trivial issue we can prevent things escalating, and more serious injuries and accidents occurring.

Here comes the legal bit…

There is clear and concise legislation that chief officers and our members have to comply with. This includes overarching laws such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, but also the more specific Police Health and Safety Act 1997 and the Police Health and Safety Regulations 1999

Highlighting the need for detailed workplace inspections on a regular basis is an important part of the role of a health and safety rep. Safety reps should have access to force accident reports and data so they can review it for trends and patterns to highlight to management.

Although police premises are generally relatively safe places, we are all human, and people still block fire exits, leave trailing power leads around or forget to take a break when they should. We also need to ensure all kit and equipment we use is properly maintained; this includes everything from vehicle inspections, Taser, door entry equipment, through to all our public order kit.

We all have a duty to make the places we work in as safe as possible, so why not use this week as an opportunity to start making your workplace a healthier and safer one for your team.

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