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The Legal Column

31 March 2012

The experts at Workplace Law address your legislative and compliance issues.

Is fall reportable?

Q: An employee fell and hit her head on a wall while climbing down the company’s stairs on her way to the shop at the end of her lunch break. She went to hospital and is currently at home. Can you please let me know if this is a RIDDOR reportable accident as she wasn't strictly performing her work?

A: Yes, it is reportable under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR), even though she was not strictly carrying out working duties – as she is an employee on your premises and has been in hospital for more than 24 hours.

Seizure danger

Q: A member of our staff is an electrical engineer and so can work on critical equipment / at heights etc. They recently had an epileptic seizure at work, and it turns out that they were aware of having the condition and take medication to control it. We were not aware of this. Where do we stand in being able to request details of the condition, what it means, and what impact it can have on working ability?

A: I suggest that you carry out a risk assessment of the activities where having a seizure could be dangerous to his/her safety. Involve the employee in the process; they are the best person to provide advice on the condition.

Now that you have knowledge of the condition it becomes foreseeable where there could be an accident so you cannot ignore it. To comply with the Equality Act you must put in place suitable arrangements to ensure your staff safety, as epilepsy is under the scope of this Act. Sometimes there are signs of when a seizure is going to happen, or in some cases it always happens at the same time of the day. If the illness is controlled with medicine you need to take all this into consideration.

The best path to follow is to involve an occupational doctor to assess his/her condition, and hear recommendations from their GP/doctor; you are within your rights to request a statement that this person is able to carry out their duties including working from height etc.

You must be careful and not discriminate on grounds of health and safety, but if their condition is putting themselves and others at danger you must act on the findings of the investigation.

Locker facilities

Q: I manage the facilities at a site with approximately 200 employees. Are we legally obliged to provide changing room lockers for all members of staff? Most of the employees are working with freight in a warehouse environment.

A: Paragraphs 218-220 from the L24 (Health, Safety and Welfare regulations Approved Code of Practice) states that:
? Accommodation for work clothing and workers’ own personal clothing should enable it to hang in a clean, warm, dry, well-ventilated place where it can dry out during the course of a working day if necessary. If the workroom is unsuitable for this purpose then accommodation should be provided in another convenient place. The accommodation should consist of, as a minimum, a separate hook or peg for each worker.
? Where facilities to change clothing are required by Regulation 24 (Facilities for changing clothing), effective measures should be taken to ensure the security of clothing. This may be achieved, for example, by providing a lockable locker for each worker.
? Where work clothing (including personal protective equipment) which is not taken home becomes dirty, damp or contaminated due to the work it should be accommodated separately from the worker’s own clothing. Where work clothing becomes wet, the facilities should enable it to be dried by the beginning of the following work period unless other dry clothing is provided.

Therefore, while you should be providing a secure changing room with sufficient pegs, you may not need to provide personal lockers for all individual members of staff, but you may need to have sufficient available for each shift to ensure the security of personal belongings.

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