Health & Safety in the modern workplace
A MFI Furniture Group case study

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Page 3: Health and Safety in MFI

The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) established a responsibility for both employers and employees to provide safe conditions at work. The employer's duty is to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the "health, safety and welfare at work of all employees" The employee's duty is to take reasonable care to ensure both his or her own safety and the safety of others who may be affected by what he or she does or does not do.

MFI sets out responsibilities regarding Health and Safety in its employee handbook and produces a poster which is displayed in prominent locations at all premises. The handbook also gives basic information about safety training, risk assessment and consultation with management or support departments.

All retail staff must receive a safety induction within the first week of employment, carried out by a member of management and assisted by a safety video specially produced for MFI.

Further safety training must then be given within the first two months of employment, covering the subjects of fire safety, manual handling techniques and restrictions and safety rules/procedures which arise from a specific risk assessment covering each retail job. Training videos, overheads and guidance are provided by the safety department to facilitate this task and one of the managers receives specific training on this local safety management role - called the Safety Co-ordinator role.

Incidents of customer or staff injuries resulting from the design of products are reported back to the safety department.

Recurring issues can then be passed on to a Quality Assurance Manager who is a member of the Buying Department, so that they can be resolved with suppliers, or with MFI's merchandising section if the problem lies with display. For example, a loose rug can become a hazard if displayed on the floor of a showroom.

Care must also be taken in the design of racks, shelves, plinths etc. used to display merchandise. Plinths must be very visible to avoid customers tripping, shelves must be secure so that they can withstand children who try to climb up them and racks must be positioned and designed to avoid running children having head injuries from accidental contact. A key principal is to make showrooms 'kiddie-proof'.

As a dynamic retailer, MFI stores will need refitting on a regular basis, which may involve minor or major construction work being carried out during trading. For minor refit work, contractors must work within cordoned off areas of the showroom. For major works, retailing operations take place away from the refit work. MFI works only with contractors it knows to be reliable and who have been involved in effective safety training.

MFI Furniture Group | Health & Safety in the modern workplace