The Health and Safety Act 1974 is the umbrella piece of legislation covering all workplaces in the U.K. Alongside this is a raft of other legislation which has to be applied to the GP practice. An audit will check if all the health and safety legislation and regulations are being adhered to. This should help to prevent accidents, and subsequent claims against NHS Primary Care Trusts.
Many people attend the GP practice daily. Some of these patients may spread infection. Others may need to be helped to and from the building or on and off examining couches. Some patients may be aggressive or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Equipment and drugs will be stored in the building. Use of computers and display screens will be prevalent. Disabled access and fire safety measures must be in place. An overall risk assessment considering all these areas should be in place.
The audit, which should be carried out independently, looks at every aspect of the GP practice from the point of view of general workplace safety to the specifics risks inherent to a GP practice. These will relate to the number and type of person attending the building and any dangers this might present. A good example of this might be to check if the practice has a policy to deal with patients attending who are mentally ill and disturbing others in the waiting area.
Policies and Risk Assessments
The audit will check that risk assessments are in place and also regularly reviewed and updated. a range of policies and procedures should also be in place. This should include a policy on storage of drugs or equipment. Here the provisions of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) legislation would have to be followed. All staff should receive health and safety training and this should be recorded on a log. Some of this training, for example, manual handling is mandatory.
In order for policies and risk assessments to mean anything all members of staff should be involved in their development and monitoring, and the audit will check this. All staff will be asked questions by the auditors.
The audit is not the end of the process. A report will be prepared by the auditors and must be read by all staff. There will be areas for improvement and these will be presented in the form of an action plan, or action points. These form an important baseline for the next audit, which will check whether these have been met.