Frequently asked questions

Q: Do I need to notify the Health and Safety Inspectorate when an accident involving my business occurs?

A: No.  There is no legal requirement to inform the Health and Safety Inspectorate of accidents although some organisations choose to do so.  Accidents which result in an employee being signed off work are reported to the Health and Safety Inspectorate by the Social Security Department when a medical certificate is submitted.

Q: What is the minimum space I am entitled to at work?

A: Your employer should ensure that each person has 11 cubic metres of space to work in. Any space above 3 metres from the floor should be discounted when calculating the area available.  11 cubic metres per person is a minimum and may be insufficient depending on the layout, contents and the nature of the work.

Q. If I report an accident, will the Health and Safety Inspectorate investigate it?

A: The Health and Safety Inspectorate is unable to investigate all accidents and will therefore take into consideration a number of factors when deciding what to investigate.  These include severity of injury or potential for severe injury, likelihood of repeat incident, safety record of employer, etc.

Q: I don't want my boss to know I've complained to you, what should I do?

A: You should be aware that the Health and Safety Inspectorate will advise the employer that a complaint has been received but will not disclose your identity. If you make a formal complaint to the Health and Safety Inspectorate, then it will be considered in accordance with their complaints procedure. They are happy to discuss concerns but unless you wish them to enter your workplace, you should not disclose the name of your employer.

Q:  We have steps at the front of our premises that we painted black and white alternating each set of steps but people seem to struggle when walking down them.  How can we remedy this?

A:  British Safety Standard code is : BS 5395 Part 1:2000 Stairs, ladders and walkways Part 1: Code of practice for the design, construction and maintenance of straight stairs and winders and states : Wherever possible, the use of surface materials or stair coverings that are made up of highly contrasting colours used in irregular, busy or regular geometric or striped patterns should be avoided.  Suggest therefore make them all one colour and then mark the nosings (edges) of the steps to define them. These markings need to be fairly substantial and can be done with proprietary nosings, paint, stick on strips etc. That way there is some visual definition within the stairs - defined nosings help to guide people - but not enough to visually disorientate them. Depending on what method is chosen to mark the edges of the steps, it will need to be monitored as it can wear off depending on how heavy the use of the staircase is.

Q: Can I ask my company to pay for my eyesight test?

A: The requirement of the  Display Screen Equipment at Work Approved Code of Practice is that employers provide an eyesight test to those DSE users in their employment that request it.  The examination must be through a registered ophthyalmic optician or medical practitioner with suitable qualifications.  Employers are also liable for the cost of a basic corrective appliance, i.e. a type and quality adequate for the function.  If users with to choose more costly appliances (eg designer frames) the employer is not obliged to pay for those.   Most employers will already have an 'agreed allowance' that the employee can claim.  

Q: The office is so hot in the summer, is there a recommended working temperature?

A:  An acceptable working environment is dependant on a number of variable factors including air temperature, humidity, even an individuals metabolic rate.  Therefore there is no specific minimum or maximum temperature set out in Jersey health and safety legislation.  In general terms, temperatures should ensure reasonable comfort and be at least 16oC, or 13oC if work involves physical activity.  If your workplace is not comfortable to work in, heating or cooling should be provided and the work area adequately ventilated so air circulates. 

Q: How often should we attend a Fire & Safety course?

A.  There is no legal requirement for a course to be re-sat but the Fire & Rescue service suggest every 3 - 4 years as a guide. This way any changes in legislation can be added or questions asked.  If in doubt contact the Fire Service for further information.

Q:.How long and how frequent should breaks be in DSE work and what should I do during breaks?

A This depends on the kind of work you are doing.  There is no legal limit but you need to break up long spells of computer work.  Short frequent breaks are better than longer but less frequent ones, eg 5-10 minutes every hour is better than 20 minutes every 2 hours.  Ideally users should have some choice about when to take breaks.  If there are no such changes of activity in your job, your employer should plan for you to have rest breaks.  Try to get up from the workstation and move around, or at least, stretch and change posture.

Q: How often should risk assessments of DSE workstations be done?

A: An assessment should be done when a new workstation is set up, when a new user starts work, or when a substantial change is made to an existing workstation (or the way it is used).  Assessments should also be repeated if there is any other reason to suspect they may no longer be valid - for example, if users start complaining of pain or discomfort.

Q: Is there a maximum weight a person can lift during their work?

A: The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended) set no specific requirements such as weight limits.
An ergonomic assessment based on a range of relevant factors is used to determine the risk of injury and point the way to remedial action.
The Regulations establish the following clear hierarchy of control measures:
1. Avoid hazardous manual handling operations so far as is reasonably practicable, for example by redesigning the task to avoid moving the load or by automating or mechanising the process.
2. Make a suitable and sufficient assessment of any hazardous manual handling operations that cannot be avoided.
3. Reduce the risk of injury from those operations so far as is reasonably practicable. Where possible, you should provide mechanical assistance, for example a sack trolley or hoist. Where this is not reasonably practicable, look at ways of changing the task, the load and working environment. 
The ergonomic approach looks at manual handling as a whole.  It takes into account a range of relevant factors, including the nature of the task, the load, the working environment and individual capability and requires worker participation.
When a more detailed assessment is necessary it should follow the broad structure set out in Schedule 1 to the Regulations.  This lists a number of questions in five categories:
1. the task;
2. the load;
3. the working environment;
4. individual capability (this category is discussed in more detail under regulation 4(3) and its guidance); and
5. other factors, for example use of protective clothing.
Each of these categories may influence the others and none of them can be considered on their own.  However, to carry out an assessment in a structured way it is often helpful to begin by breaking the operations down into separate, more manageable items.

Q: Many people wonder how does someone actually get started on a career in Health & Safety, so what qualifications are required to make a career in Health & Safety?

A: The qualifications that are required to make a career in H&S are dependent on the type of role that you take. There are many qualifications that are appropriate, but most H&S practitioners start with short introductory courses. When a greater level of knowledge is required a NEBOSH General Certificate qualification (approx. two weeks full time study) is well recognised. A NEBOSH National General Certificate is, in reality, an essential minimum qualification for any full time H&S job.