Health & Safety in Care Homes

  • Health & Safety
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

In this guide, we'll discuss what legislation your care home must comply with, common hazards in care homes, and how to control them.

When running a care home, the Health & Safety of both your residents and staff members is crucial. You have a duty of care to protect anyone within the home. If you don’t, it could lead to serious injury - or even death.

Certain legislation must be followed to ensure the safety of any residents in your care. Not complying with them could lead to consequences from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or Care Quality Commission (CQC) - the most severe of which is care home closure, civil legal action, or criminal prosecution against directors and / or boards.

In this guide, we'll discuss what legislation your care home must comply with, common hazards in care homes, and how to control them.

Why is Health & Safety important in care homes?

Health & Safety is vitally important when running a care home. A care home provides accommodation, personal care, and nursing care for people daily. Remember, people are putting their loved ones' care in your hands - so you must keep them safe.

As well as the above, the safety of your staff, medical professionals, and visiting family members are all at potential risk from a Health & Safety hazard in your care home. Both you and your staff should work together to ensure you meet the statutory requirements expected of you.

Not complying with Health & Safety standards can lead to illness, injury, or even death. So its importance should never be ignored.

What is the legislation for Health & Safety in care homes?

Health & Safety legislation in care homes is regulated by both the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), as well as the Care Quality Commission (CQC). They have legal powers, which can include prosecution for non-compliance.

Key legislation is in place to ensure the safety of residents, staff members, and other medical professionals you may have in the home at any given time. Let's discuss them in more detail:

The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974

The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 covers a wide range of issues relating to workplace health, safety and welfare across all sectors - including care providers.

For example, it asks employers to provide a safe place for people to work at all times.

The Health and Social Care Act 2008

This act was introduced for all providers of regulated activities in England to register with the CQC. Providers must comply with the requirements and fundamental standards the act outlines.

Under these fundamental standards, each person in care has the right to:

  • Person-centered care.
  • Dignity and respect.
  • Consent.
  • Safety.
  • Safeguarding from abuse.
  • Food and drink.
  • Premises and equipment.
  • Complaints.
  • Good governance.
  • Fit and proper staff.
  • Display and ratings.

Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR)

RIDDOR are regulations that state that it's the duty and responsibility of the employer to report certain serious workplace accidents, occupational diseases, and specified dangerous occurrences to the HSE.

If you fail to comply with these regulations you could face prosecution.

The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999

The above act requires all employers to carry out risk assessments, provide training, and ensure all staff are competent in their job.

In the care industry, this is particularly important as residents in care are likely to be vulnerable. Training and risk assessments should be carried out annually, or when there's a change to legislation.

The Food Safety Act

The Food Safety Act requires all elements of food handling and food preparation to be conducted safely and in line with safety standards. Anyone working with food should have been trained in the best hygiene practices.

Any food provided to residents in a care home must be prepared safely, and sourced correctly. Not doing so could result in food poisoning, or even infectious diseases spreading - putting both the residents and staff members at risk.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires every workplace to do whatever they can to reduce the risk of fire, as well as making sure everyone can safely escape if a fire occurs.

One way you can do this is to carry out a fire risk assessment. This is an evaluation of the fire hazards within your workplace. Fire risk assessments help you to identify, reduce, or remove hazards to prevent injury from occurring.

Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

This piece of legislation protects people from the danger of improper electrical systems. Under the act, electrical equipment will require portable electrical testing (PAT testing), as well as completed service maintenance records.

Any electrical system or piece of equipment you use within your care home must be properly maintained and serviced appropriately.

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002

COSHH is in place to make sure people are protected from the effects of exposure to hazardous substances. This is done through performing risk assessments, controlling health exposure, and incident planning.

An example of this in a care home is cleaning products or products used in healthcare.

What are the common Health & Safety hazards in care homes?

When running a care home, there are many Health & Safety hazards that you need to be aware of. Each of these can lead to serious injury if not managed properly.

Below are common hazards that can be found within a care home setting:

  • Bed rails: Bed rails are both work equipment and medical devices. They must be properly tested and maintained to lower the risk of a resident having an accident getting in and out of bed.
  • Equipment safety: If the equipment used isn't properly maintained as per the manufacturer's recommendations and legal requirements, there's an increased chance of it breaking and causing injury.
  • Legionnaires disease: Systems that use or control water can be a pool for harmful bacteria, including air conditioning units. You should carry out a legionella risk assessment.
  • Hazardous substances: Not following the correct procedures when handling hazardous substances may lead to illness.
  • Slips, trips and falls: Care home residents may be particularly vulnerable to falls or slips. So be wary of wires from equipment, slippery floors, or obstructions.
  • Moving or handling: Some residents may require some form of assistance to carry out daily tasks, such as dressing or washing. Not doing this properly may lead to injury.
  • Hot water: Hot water is a hazard to vulnerable people or those with disabilities. For example, they may not be able to move away quickly enough following a spillage.
  • Inadequately trained staff: Any task carried out in a care home requires sufficient training to have been completed. If proper training hasn’t been provided, it could increase the risk of injury to patients occurring.
  • Violence and aggression: There may be residents in your care home who are suffering from cognitive conditions, such as dementia. Dementia includes symptoms such as memory loss that can link to aggression. This can lead to violence against staff members, or even between residents themselves.

How can care workers manage Health & Safety risks in a care home?

Although the responsibility for Health & Safety in care homes is the duty of the employer, there are also ways that staff members themselves can manage any risks posed.

Staff can take the following steps:

  • Report any Health & Safety concerns they have.
  • Move any obstacles that could pose a risk, for example, move objects out of walkways.
  • Watch out for trailing wire from electrical equipment.
  • Check water temperatures before using it with a resident.
  • Always maintain good hygiene practices.
  • Gently encourage residents to use walking aids to prevent falls.
  • Ensure bed rails are used correctly.
  • Read care plans and completed risk assessments for each resident.

Although some of the above may seem small, each of them is equally important as the rest. The slightest relaxation on your Health & Safety management could lead to serious injuries.

How to control hazards in a care home

It's vital you know how to identify and control any potential Health & Safety risks in your care home. Some hazards are unavoidable, and when this is the case you must control them as best as possible. Not doing so could mean you're breaching Health & Safety legislation.

There are several ways you can ensure the safety of anyone on your site, including residents and staff members. Let's discuss some of them in more detail:

Perform a risk assessment

One of the ways you can control potential hazards is to perform risk assessments. Carrying out a risk assessment is a great way to manage Health & Safety and ensure you're meeting the expected standards.

There are steps you should follow when carrying out risk assessments, such as:

  • Identify any potential hazards: This should be done via a walkaround across the whole care home. Identify each hazard, noting down the type of equipment used, the way it's used, and the environment it's used in.
  • Who can be harmed by the hazard: Make a note of all residents or staff members who use or work in the area where the hazard is.
  • How the level of risk has been established: How you have come to the decision of it being a hazard, and how much of a risk there is to harm.
  • The precautions taken to eliminate or control the risk: What current protective measures are in place to control the risk, and whether they're working or not.

Here at Peninsula, we offer a full risk assessment service for your care home. We can work with you to ensure all hazards are managed, and the risks to both your staff and residents are minimised.

Act on the results of the risk assessment

You must act upon the results from completed risk assessments. For example, if current control measures don't go far enough - make adjustments so they do. And as ever, make a record of any changes made.

Provide employee training

Another way to control potential hazards in a care home is to ensure all your workers have Health & Safety training. Inadequately trained staff will pose a higher threat to the Health & Safety of your residents, and as their employer - you must train them properly.

You should provide the following:

  • Manual handling training (in line with lifting equipment regulations, and the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992).
  • Training to understand the values of the six C's of care: care, commitment, courage, compassion, competence, and communication.
  • Training on using equipment safety.
  • Training on how to work with residents, and move them safely.
  • Training on all your safety and emergency procedures.

You must keep a record of all completed training. This'll prove to be important when you have a Health & Safety inspection on-site.

Provide personal protective equipment (PPE)

On top of your risk assessment, you should also provide all your workers with PPE. PPE is a great way of protecting staff from hazards such as burns, trips, infections, falls, and electrocution.

In the care industry, there are certain PPE which is specific to the job they do. This includes, but isn't limited to:

  • Disposable gloves and plastic aprons.
  • Fluid-repellent surgical masks.
  • Respirator masks.
  • Eye protection.

What happens if you breach Health & Safety standards?

If you breach Health & Safety standards, it can have a severe impact on your business. The HSE, local authority trading standards, and the CQC have the legal power to pursue prosecution against care providers.

On top of this, not complying with safety legislation risks the safety of the people in your care. Remember, these people are often vulnerable - so any risks to them are heightened. This can include illness, serious injury, and even the potential for fatalities.

How Peninsula can help with Health & Safety in care homes

Peninsula's expert Health & Safety support will ensure compliance with the CQC, HSE, and local authority standards. We'll work with you to make sure you pass a CQC inspection, including conducting a risk assessment for you.

And that isn't all, our team of experts will create watertight Health & Safety documentation and policies, meaning you keep both your employees and your residents safe at all times.

Get expert advice on Health & Safety in schools from Peninsula

Ensuring the Health & Safety of everyone in your care home is vital. You have a duty of care to protect anyone within the home, including staff and visitors.

Certain legislation must be followed to ensure the safety of any residents in your care. Not complying with them could lead to consequences from the HSE or CQC, such as business closure. Failure to follow legislation could also result in serious injury, or even death.

Peninsula offers expert advice on Health & Safety in care homes. Our teams provide 24/7 HR advice which is available 365 days a year. We take care of everything and when you work with our HR experts.

Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 028 2420 and book a free consultation with an HR consultant today.


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