Environmental Health-Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need if I run a business within Newry and Mourne District Council?

Depending on the nature of your business you may need to register your details with the Environmental Health Department under Health and Safety at Work legislation. Please contact the Environmental Health Department for further advice and a free advisory information pack “Information for Smaller Businesses on Managing Health and Safety”. Click here to download a registration form.


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What do I do if I, or a member of my staff, has an accident at work?

RIDDOR is the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (NI) 1997 and requires the reporting of work-related accidents, diseases and dangerous occurrences. It applies to all work activities, but not to all incidents. For further informationclick here to ACCIDENT AND INJURIES link.


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What is the maximum/minimum temperature in the workplace?

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1993 lay down particular requirements for most aspects of the working environment. Regulation 7 of these deals specifically with the temperature in indoor workplaces and states that:

(1) During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable.

However, the application of the regulation depends on the nature of the workplace, i.e. a bakery, a cold store, an office, a warehouse.

The associated ACOP goes on to explain:

The temperature in workrooms should provide reasonable comfort without the need for special clothing. Where such a temperature is impractical because of hot or cold processes, all reasonable steps should be taken to achieve a temperature, which is as close as possible to comfortable. 'Workroom' means a room where people normally work for more than short periods.

The temperature in workrooms should normally be at least 16 degrees Celsius unless much of the work involves severe physical effort in which case the temperature should be at least 13 degrees Celsius.


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What posters must be displayed in the workplace?

A copy of the approved poster entitled ‘Health and Safety Law in Northern Ireland’ should be displayed in the workroom, in a position where it can be read easily by the workforce. Alternatively employees may be given an approved leaflet containing the same information.

The poster and leaflet may be obtained from The Stationery Office (TSO), 16 Arthur Street Belfast. Telephone: 028 9023 8451.

(This is a requirement of the Health and Safety Information for Employees Regulations (NI) 1991).


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What details do you need to put on the new health and safety poster?

Employee Representative:

This box is for a representative that has been appointed/elected by the employees, either under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committee Regulations (NI) 1979 (if the work place has a trade union) or the Consultation with Employee Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1996, (if there is no union represented). There is a free leaflet on the Consultation with Employees regulations available from HSE Books (Tel. No. 01787 881165) reference number INDG 232. If there is no one who has been appointed/elected by the employees and the employer consults directly with the employees, then this box is left blank.

Management Representative:

This box is for the person appointed by the management, to be responsible for Health and Safety, (i.e. health and safety officer). In the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (NI) 2000, regulation 7 states that "Every employer shall, appoint one or more competent persons to assist him in undertaking the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements imposed upon him by the regulations". Ultimately this could be the employer himself, depending on the size and structure of the business, and if the employer has the relevant training and experience.

Contact Details:

Your enforcing authority for health and safety depends on the type of business you conduct. In deciding who your enforcing authority is, you need to consider the type of workplace you are employed in.

HSENI are responsible for premises such as factories, building sites, farms, motor vehicle repairs, mines and quarries, chemical plants, schools and universities, leisure and entertainment facilities (owned by District Councils), fairgrounds, hospitals and nursing homes, District Councils, fire and police, Government Departments, Railways and any other workplace not listed under District Councils. For HSENI contact details, click here.

District Councils are responsible for premises such as offices, retail and wholesale shops, tyre and exhaust fitters, restaurants, take away food shops, mobile snack bars and catering services, hotels, guest houses, residential homes, etc. Wholesale and retail warehouses, leisure and entertainment facilities (privately owned), exhibitions, religious activities, undertakers, the practice or presentation of the arts, sports, games, entertainment or other cultural or recreational activities, therapeutic and beauty services and animal care.


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Do you have any information on how to compile a health and safety policy?

By law (Health and Safety at Work (NI) Order 1978 section 2(3)), if you employ five or more people you must have a written health and safety policy. This contains a statement of general policy on health and safety at work, and the organisation and arrangements in place for putting that policy into practice.

HSE have recently produced a new free leaflet called 'An Introduction to Health and Safety: Health and Safetyin Small Businesses’, which containsguidance on preparing a health and safety policy document (Ref: INDG259).

This leaflet contains a statement of general policy based on your legal duties under the Health and Safety at (NI) Order 1978. It then contains sections in which to record your organisational responsibilities and your arrangements to ensure the health and safety of your employees. The leaflet also contains notes and references for further information.

The leaflet may be used as a template in order for you to develop your own policy.

INDG259 outlines the following areas to be covered in the statement:

HEALTH AND SAFETY POLICY STATEMENT - Statement of general policy, signed and dated.

RESPONSIBILITIES - overall, day-to-day, specific areas

HEALTH AND SAFETY RISKS ARISING FROM OUR WORK ACTIVITIES - what they are, action needed to remove / control hazards, who is responsible, timescales for review

CONSULTATION WITH EMPLOYEES - who are the employee representatives, who should provides consultation

SAFE PLANT AND EQUIPMENT - responsibility for identifying when maintenance is needed, maintenance procedures, reporting of problems, purchase of new equipment

SAFE HANDLING AND USE OF SUBSTANCES - identification of hazardous substances, undertaking COSHH assessments, informing employees, reviewing assessments

INFORMATION, INSTRUCTION AND SUPERVISION - where is the Health and Safety Law Poster displayed or who issues the equivalent leaflets, who supervises and trains new recruits and young workers

COMPETENCY FOR TASKS AND TRAINING - who provides induction training, job specific training, keeps training records

ACCIDENTS, FIRST AID AND WORK RELATED ILL HEALTH - who requires, arranges and keep records of health surveillance, where is the first aid equipment stored, who is the appointed person / first aider, who keeps records, who reports under RIDDOR

MONITORING - who monitors conditions and safe working practices, who investigates accidents and work related sickness

EMERGENCY PROCEDURES: FIRE AND EVACUATION - who carries out fire risk assessments, how often are the following checked: escape routes, fire extinguishers, alarms, evacuation procedures.

Copies of INDG259 can be downloaded from the Internet or ordered from HSE Books: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg259.pdf


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Am I entitled to an eyesight if I work on a VDU?

The regulations that cover VDU work are the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations (NI) 1992.

Regulation 5 covers the employer’s responsibility for providing eyesight tests and states:

(1) Where a person -

a. Is already a user on the date of coming into force of these regulations; or

b. Is an employee who does not habitually use display screen equipment as a significant part of his normal work but is to become a user in the undertaking in which he is already employed, his employer shall ensure that he is provided at his request with an appropriate eye and eyesight test, any such test to be carried out by a competent person.

(2) Any eye and eyesight test provided shall -

a. Be carried out as soon as practicable after being requested by the user concerned; and

b. Be carried out before the employee concerned becomes a user.

(3) At regular intervals after an employee has been provided with an eye and eyesight test in accordance with paragraphs (1) and (2), his employer shall, subject to paragraph (6), ensure that he is provided with a further eye and eyesight test of an appropriate nature, any such test to be carried out by a competent person.

(4) Where a user experiences visual difficulties which may reasonably be considered to be caused by work on display screen equipment, his employer shall ensure that he is provided at his request with an appropriate eye and eyesight test, any such test to be carried out by a competent person as soon as practicable after being requested as aforesaid.

(5) Every employer shall ensure that each user employed by him is provided with special corrective appliances appropriate for the work being done by the user concerned where -

a. Normal corrective appliances cannot be used; and

b. The result of any eye and eyesight test which the user has been given in accordance with this regulation shows such provision to be necessary.

(6) Nothing in paragraph (3) shall require an employer to provide any employee with an eye and eyesight test against that employee's will.

There is no reliable evidence that work with display screen equipment causes any permanent damage to eyes or eyesight, but it may make users with pre-existing vision defects more aware of them. This (and/or poor working conditions) may give some users temporary visual fatigue or headaches. Uncorrected vision defects can make-work at display screens more tiring or stressful than it should be, and correcting defects can improve comfort, job satisfaction and performance. (Note that some display screen work may also require specific visual capabilities such as colour discrimination).


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What should we have in our first aid box?

There is no mandatory list of items that should be included in a first-aid container. Employers should decide what to include in the first-aid container from information gathered during their assessment of first-aid needs. As a guide, where no special risk arises in the workplace, a minimum stock of first-aid items would normally be:

A leaflet giving general guidance on first-aid (e.g. the HSE leaflet Basic Advice on First-aid at Work);

20 individually wrapped sterile adhesive dressings (assorted sizes), appropriate to the type of work (dressings must be of detectable type for food handlers);

2 sterile eye pads;

4 individually wrapped triangular bandages (preferably sterile);

6 safety pins;

6 medium sized individually wrapped sterile unmedicated wound dressings - approximately 18cm x 18cm;

1 pair of disposable gloves.

This is a suggested contents list only; equivalent but different items will be considered acceptable.

The contents of first-aid containers should be examined frequently and should restocked as soon as possible after use. Sufficient supplies should be held in a back-up stock on site. Care should be taken to discard items safely after the expiry date has passed.

The assessment may conclude that there is a need for additional materials and equipment, e.g. scissors, adhesive tape, disposable wipes, disposable aprons, individually wrapped moist wipes, plastic disposable bags for soiled or used first-aid dressings. These may kept in the first-aid container if there is space, but they may be stored separately as long as they are available for use if required.

In particular circumstances the assessment might identify a need for items such as protective equipment, in case, for example, first-aiders have to enter dangerous atmospheres; or blankets to protect casualties from the elements. These additional items should be securely stored near the first-aid container, in the first-aid room or in the hazard area, as appropriate. It is important that access to these items is restricted to people trained in their use.

Where mains tap water is not readily available for eye irrigation, at least one litre of sterile water or sterile normal saline (0.9%) in sealed, disposable containers should be provided. Once the seal has been broken, the containers should not be kept for re-use. The container should not be used after the expiry date.

Travelling first-aid kits

First-aid kits for travelling workers would typically contain:

A leaflet giving general guidance on first-aid (e.g. the HSE leaflet Basic Advice on First-aid at Work);

6 individually wrapped sterile adhesive dressings;

1 large sterile unmedicated dressing - approximately 18cm x 18cm;

2 triangular bandages;

2 safety pins;

 Individually wrapped moist cleansing wipes;

1 pair of disposable gloves.

This is a suggested contents list only; equivalent but different items will be considered acceptable. As with first-aid containers, the contents of kits should be kept stocked from the back-up stock at the home site.

First aid boxes should not contain any lotions, medicines or treatments (including paracetamol)

An antidote or special equipment needed to deal with a specific hazard may be kept near the hazard area or in the first-aid box, for example, in situations where there is a danger of poisoning by certain cyanides or related compounds, or a danger of burns by hydrofluoric acid. In these circumstances an employee would need to be trained in the treatment of the specific hazard and the use of the antidote/equipment.

Contact EMAS to answer queries requiring any further detail. 028 9052 2122

The regulations that apply to first aid provision at work:

Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations (NI) 1982, Approved Code of Practice and Guidance.


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