Home Business & Industry Cleaning Stairs, Climbing Ladders and Changing Light Bulbs: Which of These Activities Are Allowed Under Health and Safety Rules?

Cleaning Stairs, Climbing Ladders and Changing Light Bulbs: Which of These Activities Are Allowed Under Health and Safety Rules?

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In UK health and safety, there are recommended guidelines and official law. It is an employer’s responsibility to understand the difference and try to follow advisory practices from the government and HSE.

Sometimes laws can be written that you would never believe to be true or vice versa. You may be unaware of specific rules that are legal requirements in your workplace. To help educate staff and employers, or simply to refresh your memory if you are aware of safety laws, Horizon Platforms has created a true or false quiz to test your knowledge. Take a look below and see how many you can guess correctly before reading the official rules.

Can you tell which of these health and safety rules are real?

1. You are not legally allowed to change lightbulbs at your workplace

False. Your employer should ensure you are capable of doing the task but there is no legal restriction on this. A previous poll of UK workers revealed that some employers have actually banned the changing of light bulbs in their staff handbook policies, but this is at the discretion of the employer and not a rule specified in official health and safety advice.

2. All offices are legally obligated to have a first aid kit

True. Every workplace should be equipped with a first aid kit, with specific items suitable for delivering basic first aid. Workplaces are obliged to provide workers with first aid information and each workplace should have a designated first aider who has received adequate health and safety training. All workers should be able to access first aid instructions at their work site.

3. Employers are legally obligated to provide the right equipment for those working at heights

True. Working at height is the biggest cause of workplace fatalities in the UK so there are strict laws and guidelines to ensure worker safety. Businesses must take care to plan work, have proper supervision and hire competent professionals to undertake any work at heights. This includes using the correct equipment, such as mobile elevated working platforms.

4. Employers are not responsible for noise levels in the workplace

False. While there are additional requirements for workers themselves to take responsibility for noise levels at work for things they are in control of, employers do bear a legal responsibility to prevent or reduce risks caused by loud noise at work. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (Noise Regulations 2005) outlines this for employers.

5. Employees are obligated to have proper health and safety training before using a ladder

False. While using ladders can be classified as a dangerous activity, there is no law or health and safety guidelines that say staff need formal training to use a ladder. It is advised that workplaces ensure the competency of staff and check that they are confident climbing ladders safely before they start.

6. Your employer is legally obligated to provide you with an eye test if you use a screen

True. If you use display screen equipment (DSE) at work, you are entitled to an eye test if you ask your employer to provide one. Your employer is additionally responsible for providing glasses if you request them for DSE-related work as part of your role.

7. Employers are legally obligated to clean staircases in your office

True. Employers are responsible for the space and cleanliness of their workspace. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that any workplace floor should be of suitable construction, free of obstructions and not be a hazard for the risk of slips. Other parts of these regulations state that every workplace and the furniture, furnishings and fittings therein shall be kept sufficiently clean.

8. Your employer legally has to let you use the toilets whenever you need

False. There is no official rule around being able to use the toilet as many times as you want established currently, for the majority of workers. This could change depending on individual circumstances, such as pregnancy or disability. As long as workers have breaks, they are not entitled to unlimited toilet breaks, although it is recommended to be fair to your workers to promote a healthy working environment.

9.  It is illegal to work in a space without windows

False. You may be asked to work in a building without windows, in fact it is fairly common. Health and safety rules dictate that places of employment should be well ventilated and have a reasonable amount of light, other than that it doesn’t specify around windowless rooms. It could be worth assessing the impact of working environments without windows to ensure employee mental wellbeing is being considered.

10. Your boss is legally obligated to risk assess your workplace stress

True. Workplace stress unfortunately affects many workers but the good news is employers have a legal responsibility to risk assess this and take action to protect employee wellbeing. Action from employers could include identifying risks in advance, managing workload and taking appropriate action to reduce worker stress.

11. It is illegal to work in a confined space without unavoidable reason

True. Confined spaces pose several risks to workers so it is legally required that your employer not ask you to work in confined spaces unless it is absolutely necessary for your role. In the situation where you must work in a confined space, your employer should conduct a risk assessment in advance to consider health and safety risks. Some risks can include: lowered oxygen, fire hazards or contamination risk.

12. Workplaces must have a set number of toilets and washbasins

True. To meet health and safety standards, workplaces must have a designated number of toilets and washbasins allocated to the number of staff they employ. There is a code of practice that dictates the number of toilets and washbasins per person, starting at 1 basin and toilet per 1–5 staff members for mixed-gender use.

13. It is illegal to carry planks of wood along a pavement unless there is the intention of it being unloaded from a vehicle

True. This is an old law dating back to the 19th century and was written at a time when carts would be overloaded and wood would fall off and become a safety risk. The law restricting carrying planks is the Metropolitan Police Act, 1839.

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