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Health and Safety Not Just About Avoiding Physical Harm


When most people think about health and safety their first thought will nearly always be about the prevention of physical harm coming to a person which would be done to them as a result of something happening whilst they were performing a task in the workplace.

It can even be an incident which was in no way caused by that specific employee, but which they happened to be caught up in. Accidents and incidents can not only affect individuals situated where the incident occurred, but can also inflict harm on people over a large radius. Sometimes this area is greater than the entire workplace site, affecting the local community and members of the public of all ages. This highlights how health and safety is not just about individual workers keeping themselves out of harm, but also how their actions can have an effect upon others and how they therefore have a responsibility for preventing harm coming to others, and not just themselves.

As mentioned in the opening paragraph however, health and safety is not just concerned about physical harm - although this will be a significant element of it - but also covers the related issues of health and welfare.


The term 'health' is more of an umbrella term to describe the overall condition of a person. Whilst physical harm would cause damage, a person's health incorporates other factors aside from physical injury, such as their psychological and mental well-being, as well as physiological conditions and illnesses. Workplace activities, conditions and breaches in normal operations can all cause a situation which endangers a person's health.


When applied in a work sense, the welfare of employees concerns the availability of facilities which allow for and increase comfort and well-being, such as clean drinking water, toilet and washing facilities, rest areas and first aid provisions.

The Changing Role of Health and Safety Managers

Subsequent legislation introduced over the years recognised the needs of workers to have access to these welfare provisions since most were spending at least eight hours a day on the premises, with others there much longer. As a result, not only was health and safety concerned with preventing injury or illness caused by working with hazardous substances or in dangerous conditions, but now also demanded that employers ensure that these welfare provisions are made available for staff members.

Environmental Responsibilities

In the last few years there has also been the introduction of tighter legislation regarding how companies affect the environment. This legislation seeks to prevent businesses damaging the environment through actions such as the disposal of hazardous substances into watercourses or releasing high concentrations/amounts of toxic emissions into the atmosphere for example.

As such the role of a health and safety manager will also more often than not incorporate environmental responsibilities into the list of expected duties. They will look to introduce environmental training to workers in order to make them more aware of the potential harm that can come to the environment as a result of them doing or not doing a certain actions(s), as well as implementing effective control measures to significantly minimise the potential for an incident to occur that causes damage to the environment on any scale.

Selected Courses

Please see below for a selection of health and safety courses and qualifications which you may be interested in:

NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is the flagship NEBOSH qualification, and is the first UK vocational qualification to be developed specifically for health and safety professionals.

The NEBOSH National Diploma provides the core health and safety knowledge (transferable across industry, commerce and the public sector) which, combined with understanding and appropriate application, underpins the competent performance of an occupational health and safety practitioner.

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NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH General Certificate is one of the most popular and widely-held health and safety qualifications in the UK. It is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who require an understanding of general health and safety issues.

The NEBOSH General Certificate covers the main legal requirements for health and safety in the UK, along with the identification and control of workplace hazards, and the practical application of this knowledge. The general content of the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus means it is suitable and relevant for those working in virtually any industry, and is often used as a solid foundation for those going on to further study and specialising in a particular area such as construction site health and safety or fire safety.

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IOSH Managing Safely Course

The IOSH Managing Safely course is designed for managers and supervisors of organisations in virtually all industry sectors, in order to give them all they need to know to effectively manage health and safety in the workplace.

Recently updated, the new high impact programme covers key health and safety issues, and includes references to international case studies.

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CITB Site Management SMSTS Course

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) is one of the most popular health and safety training courses, and is intended for construction site managers, project managers and senior supervisors, as well as proprietors of smaller companies.

Client-based personnel would also benefit from attending the SMSTS course.

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CITB Health and Safety Awareness Course

This course is for those who have entered, or are about to enter, the construction and civil engineering industry as a member of the workforce to help them understand the potential hazards that they face at work on site. It aims to provide a practical summary of health and safety, welfare and environmental health and safety issues.

The course also allows delegates to identify their individual responsibilities for looking after themselves and others, what the employer's duties are and what should be done if they think anyone's health and safety is being put at risk.

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