Health and safety induction checklist
As an employer, complying with your statutory duty to ensure the health and wellbeing of your workforce, (as well as customers and visitors) runs throughout the lifecycle of employment, from day one. An effective induction procedure should include information about workforce health and safety best practice.
A health and safety induction checklist is a useful tool ensure new starters in your organisation understand the obligations placed on them to comply with health and safety standards in your workplace.
What are an employers’ general health and safety obligations?
Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA), all UK employers are under a statutory duty to ensure — so far as is reasonably practicable — the health, safety and welfare of their employees at work. The matters to which the HSWA duty extends include:
- the provision and maintenance of safe equipment, machinery and systems of work
- ensuring safe arrangements in connection with either the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances used at or in connection with work by employees
- ensuring that any place of work under the employer’s control is free from danger, with safe means of access to and egress from it
- the provision and maintenance of a safe working environment, with adequate facilities and arrangements for an employee’s welfare at work, and
- the provision of adequate information, instruction, training and supervision which is necessary to ensure that employees carry out their work safely.
Even in a working environment in which there are no specific risks to which an employee may be exposed, like dangerous plant or hazardous substances, the employer will still need to assess whether the workplace, and working practices, are safe for their employees. Under the HSWA, the employer is also under a statutory duty to ensure the health and safety of persons other than their employees. This includes anyone visiting the workplace, or otherwise affected by any activity related to or carried out in connection with the business.
What are an employers’ health and safety obligations on induction?
The employer’s duty to provide adequate information, instruction and training to ensure that employees carry out their work safely is especially relevant in the context of induction. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 also identify situations where health and safety training is important, including when an employee starts work.
This means that a responsible person within the business, such as a line manager or other competent person, must be tasked with carrying out a health and safety induction. This is designed to set suitable standards and instil safe working practices, raise awareness of hazards, and to explain how health and safety is managed and the part employees play in this, ensuring that they know how to work safely in the workplace and in their job roles.
However, a health and safety induction should not be reserved strictly for ‘employees’. All individuals who will be working under the employer’s control and direction, including agency workers and independent contractors, must have been given information on any health and safety risks to which they might be exposed, and the measures that must be adopted to minimise or control these risks. Anyone new to the workplace will not be familiar with the working environment, and may be inexperienced, so it is important that they are briefed on the safety systems that have been put in place and how they can help.
By treating health and safety matters as a priority, this will not only help to create a positive health and safety culture moving forward, driving down risk from day one, it can also help to foster a positive working environment in which the health and wellbeing of staff is seen to be valued. This in turn, is likely to lead to a happier and healthier workforce, one which is less likely to come to any harm or to cause anyone else affected by their activities harm.
Health and safety induction checklist: what to include
The content of a health and safety induction checklist, and how in-depth this needs to be, will depend on the nature of the business and the activities undertaken. New recruits will need to be told how to work safely and without risks to health, although a proportionate approach should be taken when determining what level of information, instruction and training is required. For example, low-risk businesses will not need to provide lengthy technical training, where simple information and clear instruction is likely to be enough.
However, in all cases, a heath and safety induction checklist should be set out in writing in clear and comprehensible terms. There should be a designated section in which the details of the new recruit can be inserted, including their name and job role, together with the details of the person carrying out the induction and completing the form. There should also be a space for both parties to sign and date the form on completion. In this way, employers can create a paper trial of what information, instruction and training has been given.
The induction checklist should ideally be completed within the first month of employment, although certain items will need to be covered much earlier, for example, matters such as fire and first aid procedures must be covered on the first day on the job.
There is no set format for a health and safety induction checklist, where this may need to be tailored to the specific requirements of the workplace or job role, especially where there are specific work-related hazards. However, common elements should include:
An introduction to the job role
This should cover details of how to carry out the job safely, identifying any specific training requirements before an individual can start work. If there are job-specific risks involved in the role to be undertaken, such as manual handling, the need to work at height or operating machinery and equipment, specific training should be undertaken to ensure that the new recruit follows a safe system of work. Anyone new to the job must not be permitted to undertake any hazardous activities until they have undertaken appropriate training or their competence has been assessed.
Any requirement for personal protective equipment (PPE)
This should cover the need for and provision of PPE in the job role to be undertaken, instructing the new recruit on the correct use of PPE, and its maintenance and storage, and how and to whom to report any faults. Staff should be made aware that it is their responsibility to use and store their PPE as instructed, and to report any damage and to request replacements where necessary.
An outline of the workplace health and safety policy
This policy is the cornerstone of effective health and safety management, so new recruits must be asked to familiarise themselves with its contents. The policy should outline the employer’s approach to keeping staff and others safe from harm, as well as the arrangements in place and measures to be taken to ensure any health and safety risks are kept to a minimum.
A detailed discussion about different risk assessments and safe systems of work
This should cover the workplace procedures in relation to any specific risks, highlighting both the employers and employee’s responsibilities in minimising these risks. The employee must be advised that, along with the employer, they are also responsible for their own and others health and safety at work, where they must take reasonable care at all times.
A walk through the workplace emergency arrangements
This should cover what to do and where to go in an emergency, including how to raise the alarm in the event of fire, the location of fire exits and extinguishers, the designated assembly place and when the weekly fire alarm test takes place. It should also cover first aid provisions, including how and where to get first aid, how to call a first aider and the location of first aid kits.
An explanation of the accident reporting and recording procedures
This should cover how to report an accident or dangerous occurrence, including near misses, and how and to whom these should be raised with at work. The new recruit should also be shown how to complete an accident/incident report form and the location of these forms.
A basic guide on hazard awareness
This should cover what to look for and to whom to report any hazards, including any tripping and slipping hazards in the workplace. The new recruit should be advised that if they notice something that that may cause harm to either them or others, to report this to their line manager immediately. It is also the individual’s responsibility to keep the workplace clean and tidy so as to avoid accidents.
Any other housekeeping matters
This should cover any other matters not addressed above, such as welfare facilities, plus HR and emergency contacts. Unless already raised, the employee should also be asked if they any physical or mental health needs for which reasonable adjustments in the workplace may need to be made. This is because, in addition to any duty to ensure the health and wellbeing of employees, an employer is also under a statutory duty to make reasonable adjustments to remove any disadvantage suffered by anyone with a disability falling within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010. This may also require undertaking a specific risk assessment in the context of health and safety to ensure that a disabled worker is safe in undertaking the duties required of them.
The form should be signed and dated by both parties underneath each of the following declarations, as appropriate: “I have instructed the above named new employee/agency worker/contractor in the health and safety requirements of the job” and “I have been instructed and understand the above health and safety arrangements.”
Penalties for health and safety breaches
There can be various serious consequences of failing to cover all key aspects of a health and safety induction checklist, both practically and legally speaking, including:
- Exposing a new recruit to dangers in the workplace, for example, by failing to provide adequate information, instruction and training to enable them to do their job role safely.
- Exposing other staff and members of the public to dangers in the workplace, for example, where any new recruit is not properly trained in safe working practices.
- Being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and being responsible for any costs associated with this. An employer found to be in material breach of health and safety law will be liable for the costs incurred by the HSE investigating officer in identifying any unsafe working practices and helping to put things rights, as well as the cost of rectifying any breaches, for example, by providing workforce-wide training.
- Being sued for negligence and breach of statutory duty, where any failure to keep staff and others safe from harm in the workplace can result in personal injury or even death, for which an employer will be potentially liable in damages and legal costs.
- Being criminally prosecuted for heath and safety offences, where criminal offences under the HSWA can be committed by both individuals and corporate bodies.
- Fostering a negative health and safety culture, where any irresponsible approach to health and safety taken by the employer is likely to instil a culture of carelessness all round.
- Damaging the employer-employee relationship, where the employer’s lack of regard for an individual’s health and wellbeing is likely to lead to poor employee engagement.
- Damaging the employer brand, where again the employer’s lack of regard for the health and wellbeing of its workforce is likely to result in poor recruitment and retention rates.
Even though a ‘reasonably practicable’ defence is potentially available to employers in the context of any breaches of health and safety law, working through a health and safety induction checklist is a very low-cost and effective way of ensuring that new recruits are given adequate information, instruction and training from day one of employment. In other words, the health and safety induction checklist should be regarded as a basic requirement for all staff, using this as as foundation for which any additional information, instruction and training can be given to help a new-starter keep themselves and others safe from harm.
Health & safety induction FAQs
What should be included in a health and safety induction?
A health and safety induction is an ideal opportunity to ensure safe working practices from the outset. The induction should therefore include various aspects of health and safety, from risk assessments for physical hazards to wellbeing awareness for mental health.
What should be included in an induction checklist?
There are various important matters that must be included in any health and safety induction checklist when a new recruit starts work, such as an explanation of workplace emergency arrangements, as well as how to report and record accidents.
What is a health and safety site induction?
A health and safety site induction is a safety briefing given to new recruits, informing them about any relevant safety rules, controls and procedures in place, the hazards they might be exposed to, and how to work safely on site.
The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.