Frayed Plug

A recent tragedy has taken the news by storm over the past few weeks. A partner in the care home where the incident occurred has been charged with breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act following the death of an 80-year-old resident, after a wardrobe fell on top of her. 

One of the charges laid was inadequate training of staff relating to monitors that were supposed to alert them if a resident got out of bed during the night, a crucial precaution for the resident who was living with Alzheimer's disease. It has never been more important to ensure that every staff member working in residential care homes or domiciliary care services has been fully trained in Health and Safety, as well as all equipment and emergency procedures. 

As the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) states, 'All workers have a right to work in places where risks to their health and safety are properly controlled'. It is a legal requirement for every business employing more than five people to carry out and record a risk assessment. 

As an organisation providing care to individuals identified as requiring help in their day-to-day lives, there is also an obligation to ensure the safety of care home residents and visited service users. A risk assessment is one of the very best ways to be sure that your business is working as safely as it can be.

The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) advises employers to take 5 steps when carrying out a risk assessment. 

Step 1: Identify Hazards - i.e. anything that could cause harm to you, your employees or the individuals your business cares for. These can be physical, mental, chemical or biological. Don't be afraid to think outside the box, often it's unexpected accidents that cause the most damage. 

Step 2: Decide who could be harmed by these risks and how. This could cover the personal safety of clients receiving care in their own home, or lifting arrangements for care workers in a residential care home setting. 

Step 3: Assess the risks (how likely is it that the hazard will cause harm) and take action to reduce the level of risk. 

Step 4: Make a record of the findings and make them accessible. This is a working document that should be easily read by everyone, it isn't a document to lock away in a filing cabinet. 

Step 5: Review the Risk Assessment when necessary. 

There is no set time for how frequently you should review your risk assessment. As a guide, it should be reviewed when it is no longer valid or relevant, if your business or workplace conditions undergo a substantial change or if one or more of your employees changes in condition (e.g. becomes a new or expecting mother, develops a disability, etc.)

As an employer, you are also required to provide relevant Health and Safety training free of charge, make sure there are adequate first aid facilities available to all workers and take out an appropriate insurance policy that covers illness and accidents in the workplace. 

For a more comprehensive look at Risk Assessments and Health and Safety in the Workplace, watch our Training DVDs for Care Homes and Home Care


This blog post is intended only as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice. For a thorough grounding in risk assessment please refer to our official training DVDs (Care Home and Domiciliary Care) and the HSE website

Health and Safety in the Workplace