Guide

Health and safety in care service businesses

Health and safety risks for care service employees

Employees in care service businesses can face a range of specific health and safety hazards. As an employer you must do all you can to reduce the risk of harm from these hazards. Your risk assessments should consider the following topics.

Manual handling

Employees looking after the young, the ill and the very old often have to carry out manual handling tasks. These include moving equipment around and lifting or assisting those who are unable to move themselves.

You can minimise the risks these tasks pose by training employees in proper lifting techniques. You should use automation where possible. See safe manual handling at work.

Infection

Businesses providing day or residential care may need to protect employees from infection. General handcare is extremely important in infection control matters. If medical attention is being provided, protective gloves should be provided when open wounds are being treated. Immunisation against such infections as Hepatitis B should only be offered if there is a significant risk of infection, eg if there is the possibility of contact with infected needles or infected bodily fluids.

Businesses should advise members of staff who are unwell that they should stay at home to avoid the spread of the illness to others. See diseases, infections and allergies in the workplace.

Challenging behaviour and violence

Any incident in which an employee is verbally abused, threatened or assaulted can be a source of injury and distress. Aggressive or violent acts could be due to medication, age and stress.

Employees must ensure that employees have the appropriate skills to prevent or reduce the risk of injury or distress from aggressive behaviour.

The risks of violence and aggression should be assessed and appropriate steps taken to deal with it. These steps might include providing suitable training and information to staff or making changes to aspects of their roles. If necessary, you could improve the design of the working environment by providing physical security measures.

Download a guide for employers about violence at work (PDF, 105K).

Hazardous substances

Care-service businesses are likely to use a wide range of hazardous substances and items - from cleaning products to syringes, latex gloves and medical supplies.  In these instances you will need to comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH). See hygiene and hazardous substances in car service businesses.

Stress, drug and alcohol use

Looking after other people can be very demanding. Put procedures in place to help identify employees who are having difficulty coping with the stress. See how to deal with stress and workplace policies on smoking, drugs and alcohol.