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Health and Safety in the General Practice Medical Centre
The general practice medical centre has a duty of care to its staff, patients and visitors. The practice partners have an overall responsibility of the health and safety of the practice, whilst the practice manager has to ensure that health and safety arrangements are implemented. All personnel at the surgery have equal responsibility to ensure that they put into practice any procedures or instructions that they have received. They are responsible for themselves and others that they come into contact with.
Personnel must also cooperate with the practices policies and must report any identified health and safety issues that emerge during the working day, that may have potential impact on the patients or others. Any person working outside the actual general practice medical centre, such as in the community, are also responsible to adhere to the policies of the centre and notify the practice manager of any potential hazards that they come into contact with whilst in the community.
Management and Implementation of Health and Safety
Communication is key to the management and implementation of health and safety in the practice.
The key person nominated for developing a health and safety management system must be competent, which means they must have the necessary experience, knowledge and training to undertake the role.
Health and Safety Management System
The different aspects of the health and safety management system are:
- Risk Assessments Strategy: The key component of health and safety management is risk assessment. The employer, which is the medical practice, has a duty to ensure the safety of all patients, visitors and staff. Risk assessments must be recorded and communicated to all staff. They should be reviewed on a regular basis.
- Information, Instruction and Training: All personnel working at the GP practice must be competent and have received information, instruction and training on the work they undertake. This is unique and specific to each role, for example a cleaner will require different training to a receptionist or to a nurse.
- Accidents, Incidents, Near Miss and Dangerous Occurrences: The practice will need to have an accident book which is stored in a secure place for data protection purposes. All incidents including near misses should be investigated thoroughly to understand what happened and put controls in place to prevent a recurrence.
- First Aid Management: A first aid risk assessment should be undertaken to identify what is required and how many first aiders are needed. Provisions such as first aid boxes need to be in place.
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health: Material safety data sheets and COSHH risk assessments need to be available on each hazardous substance.
- Fire Arrangement and Precautions: A fire risk assessment needs to be concluded to identify any fire hazards and controls that may need to be considered. A fire drill should be undertaken to ensure staff are aware of the assembly points and they know what to do in the event of a fire.
- Management of Work Equipment: A list of all work equipment should be available and subject to work equipment risk assessments. The work equipment will need planned preventative maintenance. Some of the work equipment will require mandatory inspections in addition to scheduled visual inspections.
- Manual Handling Management: All personnel should attend manual handling training where appropriate and understand the basic principles of good manual handling techniques.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): All personnel should wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) where required and ensure PPE such as gloves and aprons are disposed of correctly.
- Personal Safety and Security: Working in a general practice medical centre can be challenging especially during busy periods when there are long waiting times. The practice should have a zero tolerance to any form of abuse of staff.
QCS have guidance and policies to support your service in meeting the requirements of health and safety.
Sally Beck RGN, BSc (Hons), MSc, CMIOSH – QCS Expert Health and Safety Contributor