The Smell of Bullshit part 3 – time to talk health and safety

One of the nice things about WordPress is that as the blog controller, I can see how many views each post gets, and which links on the blog people are clicking on. The two previous Lush-related posts have had (combined) 1200 views, and I can see that people are clicking on the links I put up to the TUC site and advice re employment law. I really hope Lush employees (and employees of any other company) are able to see that they don’t have to put up with being treated badly, that they do have legal rights, and that they can get help to stand up for their rights. And of course Lush can’t have any objection to staff finding out their legal rights because – well, because we’re talking about their legal rights.

Seeing as there seems to be some interest in the employment law links, I thought it might be helpful to expand on some of it. Some of the comments on the previous posts have talked about the way pregnant employees are treated, and someone has told me privately that some Lush staff contracted Lyme disease at Lushfest last year. (This is the NHS page about Lyme disease). It never does any harm to refresh our understanding of health and safety law.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) is the overarching piece of H&S law in the UK today. All other H&S law stems from this. There are other pieces of legislation which cover specific aspects of H&S at work, such as Acts relating to manual handling and lifting, ut HSWA 1974 is the starting point. So, let’s have a look at it.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) website has some useful tips for employers about how to comply with the HSWA. They’re probably useful tips for employees too, if employees are worried that their employer is not doing what it is legally required to do.

The HSE say

As an employer, you must appoint someone competent to help you meet your health and safety duties. A competent person is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety.

You could appoint (one or a combination of):

  • yourself;
  • one or more of your workers;
  • someone from outside your business.

You probably manage most aspects of your business yourself, or with the help of your staff. But if you are not confident of your ability to manage all health and safety in-house, you may need some external help or advice.

Deciding what help you need is very important. Unless you are clear about what you want, you probably won’t get the help you need.

But how do you get competent advice? We’re not born knowing what to do and how to do it. We don’t suddenly become H&S experts when we’re employed in a post. So how do employers make sure the people they ask to deal with H&S have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience? Luckily, the HSE has some suggestions.

As an employer, you must appoint someone competent to help you meet your health and safety duties. A competent person is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety.

You could appoint (one or a combination of):

  • yourself
  • one or more of your workers
  • someone from outside your business

You probably manage most aspects of your business yourself, or with help from your staff. But if you are not confident of your ability to manage all health and safety in-house, you may need some external help or advice.

There are a number of different sources of advice. These include:

  • trade associations
  • safety groups
  • trade unions
  • consultants registered on the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register (OSHCR)
  • local councils
  • health and safety training providers
  • health and safety equipment suppliers

Deciding what help you need is very important. Unless you are clear about what you want, you probably won’t get the help you need.

Things to consider when using external help

  • Make sure you clearly explain what you need and check that they understand you. Ask them to explain what they understand the work to be and what they will do, when they will do it and what they will charge you.
  • Check for evidence of relevant training/knowledge, such as formal qualifications or practical experience of providing advice in your industry/area of work. Can they explain why they are competent to advise you on your particular problem? Are they a member of OSHCR?
  • Shop around to find the right help at the right price. If you were buying equipment or another service for your business, you wouldn’t always accept the first offer, so do the same with health and safety advice.
  • Check that the person you choose is adequately insured.
  • Consider whether you have received the help you needed. Do you have a practical, sensible solution to your problem? Or have you ended up with something completely ‘over the top’ or a mountain of useless paperwork? If you are not happy with the solution, ask for an explanation and whether there may be a simpler alternative.

Try to make sure that you get a good follow-up service and are able to get further advice on any issues that arise from implementing their recommendations.

The OSHCR provides an up-to-date list of general health and safety advisers who have a qualification recognised by the professional bodies participating in the scheme. If you require general external health and safety advice, you can search the register for a consultant by industry, topic, county or keyword(s).

HSE and a network of professional bodies and stakeholders have been working in partnership to develop this register. Together, this partnership has agreed that a minimum standard should be set for consultants to join the register. This will reassure employers that those consultants on the register have been assessed and meet the minimum standard set by the professional bodies they belong to.

This minimum standard has been set at a degree level qualification, at least two years’ experience and active engagement in a continuing professional development scheme. All consultants who join the register are bound by their professional body/ bodies code of conduct and are committed to providing sensible and proportionate advice.

Not sure if you need specialist H&S advice? Here’s a leaflet to help you decide.

Right, so, you’ve got your competent, trained H&S person with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience. What  are they going to do? They are going to write the H&S policy. A written health and safety policy is a legal requirement for any employer who has over five employees. The policy should describe how the employer will manage health and safety in the workplace. It should say who does what, when they do it and how they do it. Again, the HSE have provided lots of help with this.

Health and safety is about managing risk. That might be risk to employees or it might be risk to customers of the employer or users of the employer’s service. The whole point of health and safety is about recognising that risks exist at work and trying to reduce them so that people are not killed or injured as a result of the employer’s actions or lack of action. Risk assessment is extremely important. In order to do a risk assessment, you have to think about what goes on in the business that might cause harm to people, how likely it is that harm will be caused, how severe that harm might be, and whether you are doing enough to prevent harm. Once you have identified the risks, you should decide how to control them and then ensure those steps are taken. Again, the HSE has some useful advice.

How do I assess the risks in my workplace?

A good starting point is to walk around your workplace and look for any hazards – a hazard is anything that may cause harm.

Then think about the risks – a risk is the chance, high or low, of somebody being harmed by the hazard, and how serious the harm could be.

Think about how accidents could happen and who might be harmed. Ask your employees what they think the hazards are, as they may notice things that are not obvious to you and may have some good ideas on how to control the risks. Concentrate on the real risks – those that are most likely to cause harm.

Consider the measures you are already taking to control the risks and ask if there is anything you should do to make your workplace safer.

Once you have identified the risks and what you need to do to control them, you should put the appropriate measures in place.

Then record your findings. If you have fewer than five employees you don’t have to write anything down but it is good practice to keep a record.

One of the most important factors to consider is

Few workplaces stay the same and sooner or later you will bring in new equipment, substances or procedures that could lead to new hazards. It makes sense to review your risk assessment on a regular basis. If anything significant changes, check your risk assessment and update it.

And look!

Don’t forget to consider everyone who could be harmed

  • Some workers may have particular requirements, for example new and young workers, new or expectant mothers, and people with disabilities.  
  • Think about homeworkers PDF, and people who might not be in the workplace all the time, such as visitors, contractors and maintenance workers.
  • Take members of the public into account, if they could be hurt by your work activities.
  • If you share a workplace with another business, you will need to consider how your work affects others and how their work affects you and your staff. Talk to each other and work together to make sure controls are in place.

Specific risks

  • For some risks there are particular control measures that are required by law. The HSE website homepage has information on topics and industries to help you decide what you need to do about many common types of risk.
  • A few examples of activities that carry a recognised risk of harm are working at height, working with chemicals, machinery, gas, electricity and asbestos. Depending on the type of work you do, there may be other risks that are relevant to your business.
  • If you carry out a high-risk activity, check whether you need to obtain a licence or notify someone before you start work. See our website for further information and all the necessary notification forms.

Lots of things there for Lush to think about – pregnant women, homeworkers, working with chemicals. I can only assume the pregnant employees who were not allowed to sit at work had not had an up to date risk assessment done. Risk assessments also have to be done if you’re doing something which is not your day to day business – eg Lushfest. Nobody should be expected to work in a tent in a field in a restrictive uncomfortable costume under a heavy lighting rig in a thunderstorm. Risk assessments should have been done on every single aspect of Lushfest, and that includes assessing the risks of the non-human variables, like the weather or the risk of bites from ticks in an area where ticks are known to live. If Lush do Lushfest again, I hope the staff will have the courage to demand to see the risk assessments. Because of course they will have been done. Won’t they?

Those of you who want more information about risk assessement could have a look at the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999. These regulations are more explicit than the HSWA, making it much more clear what is expected of employers and employees. Let’s have a look at what the regulations say (I’ll be deleting the bits relating to self-employment as I really want to focus on employers and employees today).

Risk assessment

3.—(1) Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of—

(a)the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work; and

(b)the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking,

for the purpose of identifying the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon him by or under the relevant statutory provisions and by Part II of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997.
(3) Any assessment such as is referred to in paragraph (1) or (2) shall be reviewed by the employer or self-employed person who made it if—

(a)there is reason to suspect that it is no longer valid; or

(b)there has been a significant change in the matters to which it relates; and where as a result of any such review changes to an assessment are required, the employer or self-employed person concerned shall make them.

(4) An employer shall not employ a young person unless he has, in relation to risks to the health and safety of young persons, made or reviewed an assessment in accordance with paragraphs (1) and (5).

(5) In making or reviewing the assessment, an employer who employs or is to employ a young person shall take particular account of—

(a)the inexperience, lack of awareness of risks and immaturity of young persons;

(b)the fitting-out and layout of the workplace and the workstation;

(c)the nature, degree and duration of exposure to physical, biological and chemical agents;

(d)the form, range, and use of work equipment and the way in which it is handled;

(e)the organisation of processes and activities;

(f)the extent of the health and safety training provided or to be provided to young persons; and

(g)risks from agents, processes and work listed in the Annex to Council Directive 94/33/EC(1) on the protection of young people at work.

(6) Where the employer employs five or more employees, he shall record—

(a)the significant findings of the assessment; and

(b)any group of his employees identified by it as being especially at risk.

So that’s more information about the need to complete risk assessments, to pay special attention to the health and safety of young people, and the need to record the risk assessment. What else?

Health and safety assistance7.—(1) Every employer shall, subject to paragraphs (6) and (7), appoint one or more competent persons to assist him in undertaking the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon him by or under the relevant statutory provisions and by Part II of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997.
(2) Where an employer appoints persons in accordance with paragraph (1), he shall make arrangements for ensuring adequate co-operation between them.
(3) The employer shall ensure that the number of persons appointed under paragraph (1), the time available for them to fulfil their functions and the means at their disposal are adequate having regard to the size of his undertaking, the risks to which his employees are exposed and the distribution of those risks throughout the undertaking.
(4) The employer shall ensure that—
(a)any person appointed by him in accordance with paragraph (1) who is not in his employment—
(i)is informed of the factors known by him to affect, or suspected by him of affecting, the health and safety of any other person who may be affected by the conduct of his undertaking, and
(ii)has access to the information referred to in regulation 10; and
(b)any person appointed by him in accordance with paragraph (1) is given such information about any person working in his undertaking who is—
(i)employed by him under a fixed-term contract of employment, or
(ii)employed in an employment business,
as is necessary to enable that person properly to carry out the function specified in that paragraph.
(5) A person shall be regarded as competent for the purposes of paragraphs (1) and (8) where he has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities to enable him properly to assist in undertaking the measures referred to in paragraph (1).

(7) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to individuals who are employers and who are together carrying on business in partnership where at least one of the individuals concerned has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities—
(a)properly to undertake the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon him by or under the relevant statutory provisions; and
(b)properly to assist his fellow partners in undertaking the measures they need to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon them by or under the relevant statutory provisions.
(8) Where there is a competent person in the employer’s employment, that person shall be appointed for the purposes of paragraph (1) in preference to a competent person not in his employment.

OK. so, again, the law is pretty clear that every employer must have competent people appointed to oversee health and safety in the business. And remember, in a business like Lush, there are lots of workplaces. We’re talking factories, offices, shops, delivery lorries, home workers and possibly others I haven’t thought of. None of them are excepted.

Employers have an obligation to give employees information about the risks they face at work, and how to keep themselves safe.

Information for employees10.—(1) Every employer shall provide his employees with comprehensible and relevant information on—
(a)the risks to their health and safety identified by the assessment;
(b)the preventive and protective measures;
(c)the procedures referred to in regulation 8(1)(a) and the measures referred to in regulation 4(2)(a) of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997;
(d)the identity of those persons nominated by him in accordance with regulation 8(1)(b) and regulation 4(2)(b) of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997; and
(e)the risks notified to him in accordance with regulation 11(1)(c).
(2) Every employer shall, before employing a child, provide a parent of the child with comprehensible and relevant information on—
(a)the risks to his health and safety identified by the assessment;
(b)the preventive and protective measures; and
(c)the risks notified to him in accordance with regulation 11(1)(c).
(3) The reference in paragraph (2) to a parent of the child includes—
(a)in England and Wales, a person who has parental responsibility, within the meaning of section 3 of the Children Act 1989(1), for him; and
(b)in Scotland, a person who has parental rights, within the meaning of section 8 of the Law Reform (Parent and Child) (Scotland) Act 1986(2) for him.

Has every single Lush employee been given a copy of the relevant information? Or do they know where to get it from?

The law has quite a bit to say about training too.

Capabilities and training13.—(1) Every employer shall, in entrusting tasks to his employees, take into account their capabilities as regards health and safety.
(2) Every employer shall ensure that his employees are provided with adequate health and safety training—
(a)on their being recruited into the employer’s undertaking; and
(b)on their being exposed to new or increased risks because of—
(i)their being transferred or given a change of responsibilities within the employer’s undertaking,
(ii)the introduction of new work equipment into or a change respecting work equipment already in use within the employer’s undertaking,
(iii)the introduction of new technology into the employer’s undertaking, or
(iv)the introduction of a new system of work into or a change respecting a system of work already in use within the employer’s undertaking.
(3) The training referred to in paragraph (2) shall—
(a)be repeated periodically where appropriate;
(b)be adapted to take account of any new or changed risks to the health and safety of the employees concerned; and
(c)take place during working hours.

Remember, people, H&S isn’t all down to the employer. Employees have duties and responsibilities too. The law says

Employees’ duties

14.—(1) Every employee shall use any machinery, equipment, dangerous substance, transport equipment, means of production or safety device provided to him by his employer in accordance both with any training in the use of the equipment concerned which has been received by him and the instructions respecting that use which have been provided to him by the said employer in compliance with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon that employer by or under the relevant statutory provisions.

(2) Every employee shall inform his employer or any other employee of that employer with specific responsibility for the health and safety of his fellow employees—

(a)of any work situation which a person with the first-mentioned employee’s training and instruction would reasonably consider represented a serious and immediate danger to health and safety; and

(b)of any matter which a person with the first-mentioned employee’s training and instruction would reasonably consider represented a shortcoming in the employer’s protection arrangements for health and safety,

in so far as that situation or matter either affects the health and safety of that first mentioned employee or arises out of or in connection with his own activities at work, and has not previously been reported to his employer or to any other employee of that employer in accordance with this paragraph.

So, if you’ve been trained in how to do something, you must do it the way you’ve been trained to do it. If you are aware of anything which could cause a hazard, such as lack of training, lack of safety equipment, a health problem or any other risk, you must inform your employer and your employer must take that into account.

Temporary workers aren’t excluded. They have the same rights to a safe workplace as anyone else.

Temporary workers

15.—(1) Every employer shall provide any person whom he has employed under a fixed-term contract of employment with comprehensible information on—

(a)any special occupational qualifications or skills required to be held by that employee if he is to carry out his work safely; and

(b)any health surveillance required to be provided to that employee by or under any of the relevant statutory provisions,

and shall provide the said information before the employee concerned commences his duties.

(2) Every employer and every self-employed person shall provide any person employed in an employment business who is to carry out work in his undertaking with comprehensible information on—

(a)any special occupational qualifications or skills required to be held by that employee if he is to carry out his work safely; and

(b)health surveillance required to be provided to that employee by or under any of the relevant statutory provisions.

(3) Every employer and every self-employed person shall ensure that every person carrying on an employment business whose employees are to carry out work in his undertaking is provided with comprehensible information on—

(a)any special occupational qualifications or skills required to be held by those employees if they are to carry out their work safely; and

(b)the specific features of the jobs to be filled by those employees (in so far as those features are likely to affect their health and safety);

and the person carrying on the employment business concerned shall ensure that the information so provided is given to the said employees.

The Regulations are also quite explicit about pregnant women and new mothers.

Risk assessment in respect of new or expectant mothers16.—(1) Where—
(a)the persons working in an undertaking include women of child-bearing age; and
(b)the work is of a kind which could involve risk, by reason of her condition, to the health and safety of a new or expectant mother, or to that of her baby, from any processes or working conditions, or physical, biological or chemical agents, including those specified in Annexes I and II of Council Directive 92/85/EEC(1) on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding,
the assessment required by regulation 3(1) shall also include an assessment of such risk.
(2) Where, in the case of an individual employee, the taking of any other action the employer is required to take under the relevant statutory provisions would not avoid the risk referred to in paragraph (1) the employer shall, if it is reasonable to do so, and would avoid such risks, alter her working conditions or hours of work.
(3) If it is not reasonable to alter the working conditions or hours of work, or if it would not avoid such risk, the employer shall, subject to section 67 of the 1996 Act suspend the employee from work for so long as is necessary to avoid such risk.
(4) In paragraphs (1) to (3) references to risk, in relation to risk from any infectious or contagious disease, are references to a level of risk at work which is in addition to the level to which a new or expectant mother may be expected to be exposed outside the workplace.

And remember, there is lots of legislation protecting the employment of pregnant women and new mothers. It’s not acceptable to bully a woman out of a job because she’s pregnant, or sack her because she’s pregnant, or make up spurious excuses to sack her because she’s pregnant, or pay her less than her legal entitlement to maternity pay because you don’t want to, or treat her in any detrimental way at all because she’s pregnant or a mother. And there is nothing at all in the law that says “you can ignore this if you think you’re a small family business.”

Employers also have a responsibility to consult their employees. Obviously, as a union rep, I believe that the best way to do this is via a recognised trade union, either through an elected steward or a union H&S rep. If there is no recognised union in a workplace (and if not, why not?) then consultation can be done in other ways. Employees are the best people to raise management awareness of risks because they’re the ones who are dealing with it day in day out. Listen to them. Take what they say seriously.

Once management know what the risks are, they should be training staff and providing them with information. Staff must be given adequate training, clear instructions and enough information to enable them to work safely. And don’t expect your staff to remember their training for ever. It’s easy for the training to be forgotten or misremembered and bad habits to creep in.Staff need refresher training. Keeping records of who had which training and when will enable an employer to ensure all staff have the training they need and all staff get refresher training regularly. The HR department can help with this. Oh, and remember, staff don’t have to pay for workplace training. It’s management’s responsibility to make sure staff are trained to work safely.

What facilities must an employer provide? Let’s see what HSE has to say about that.

You must protect the safety and health of everyone in your workplace, including people with disabilities, and provide welfare facilities for your employees.

Basic things you need to consider are outlined below.

Welfare facilities

For your employees’ well-being you need to provide:

  • toilets and hand basins, with soap and towels or a hand-dryer;
  • drinking water;
  • a place to store clothing (and somewhere to change if special clothing is worn for work);
  • somewhere to rest and eat meals.

Health issues

To have a healthy working environment, make sure there is:

  • good ventilation – a supply of fresh, clean air drawn from outside or a ventilation system;
  • a reasonable working temperature (usually at least 16°C, or 13°C for strenuous work, unless other laws require lower temperatures);
  • lighting suitable for the work being carried out;
  • enough room space and suitable workstations and seating;
  • a clean workplace with appropriate waste containers.

Safety issues

To keep your workplace safe you must:

  • properly maintain your premises and work equipment;
  • keep floors and traffic routes free from obstruction;
  • have windows that can be opened and also cleaned safely;
  • make sure that any transparent (eg glass) doors or walls are protected or made of safety material.

The less said about faecal-stained toilets covered in glitter, the better, I think. Moving on…

With the best will in the world, accidents happen. We’ll move on to talk about industrial injuries in a minute, but we’ll just put the basics here for now.

As a bare minimum, each workplace must have a suitably stocked first aid box, an appointed person to take care of first aid arrangements and information for all employees giving details of first aid arrangements. Personal details should be protected by storing them confidentially in a secure place. The HR department can help with this. If an employer has more than ten employees, or if the employer owns or occupies a mine, quarry or factory, there must be an accident book. This is the law. Oh, and don’t forget to display the health and safety poster.

Now I want to talk about reporting. The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 are really pretty important but even good employers don’t always report when they should. It’s hard to keep all the managers trained and aware of all requirements. This is why refresher training and an HR department are important. RIDDOR lays out instructions for employers, contractors, self-employed persons, members of the public and employees. Employers MUST report any work-related death and certain injuries, diseases and near misses involving their employees wherever they are working.

If you are an employee and have suffered a work-related injury, or have been diagnosed as suffering from a work related reportable disease, you should inform your employer. If you are concerned that your employer has not made a required report you should ask them if they have reported the incident, and/or approach your employee or TU representative. If you still feel that your accident or work related disease has not been properly reported, you may raise your concern with the HSE.

So, what does the employer need to report?

  • death
  • fractures, other than thumbs, fingers or toes
  • amputations
  • dislocations of hips, shoulders, knees, spine
  • permanent or temporary loss of sight
  • chemical or hot metal burn or penetrating injury to the eye
  • injury resulting from an electric shock or electrical burn leading to unconsciousness, or requiring resuscitation or admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours
  • any other injury leading to hypothermia, heat-induced illness or unconsciousness, or requiring resuscitation, or requiring admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours
  • unconsciousness caused by asphyxia or exposure to a harmful substance or biological agent
  • acute illness requiring medical treatment, or loss of consciousness arising from absorption of any substance by inhalation, ingestion or through the skin
  • acute illness requiring medical treatment where there is reason to believe that this resulted from exposure to a biological agent or its toxins or infected material (I think it could be argued this covers Lyme disease)
  • injuries that lead to an employee or self-employed person being away from work, or unable to perform their normal work duties, for more than seven consecutive days as the result of an occupational accident or injury (not counting the day of the accident but including weekends and rest days). The report must be made within 15 days of the accident.

And there’s lots more information on this page about occupational disease and dangerous occurrences which must be reported. The box on the top left of this page has lots of information about how to report.

There is lots and lots of information available for workers and employers regarding H&S legislation. There’s lots of help available too, so there really is no excuse for employers to neglect their responsibilities. If you want to have a look at more information you could try the list on the last page of this, or of course you can contact your trade union or HR department. And do bear in mind that none of the Regulations or Acts make any exceptions for multi-national companies which like to portray themselves as small family businesses. The law is the law.

If people find this post helpful, I’d be happy to do more relating to specific aspects of employment law and employee/employer relations. I am not a lawyer, and although I am a trade union rep, I am not YOUR trade union rep (unless a colleague is reading this, in which case I really fancy a bit of cake, go buy one for us 🙂 ). I can give very general advice and point you to the relevant bits of legislation, but I cannot advise on specific cases, and if you are having problems at work, my advice is always get help from your union.

12 thoughts on “The Smell of Bullshit part 3 – time to talk health and safety

  1. Interesting stuff. I did once ask some of the ‘compounders’ in the Lush factory if they were provided with face masks (after I got a nose bleed in there and was told ‘sorry, that does happen with some formulas’!!!)… to my surprise, they said no; I also asked them if they had any equipment other than (admittedly copious quantities of) latex/rubber gloves to help them handle the often hot infusions and sometimes unpleasant ingredients they have to handle. (Ingredients that are nasty whilst ‘raw’ often go into perfectly nice products; this isn’t a swipe at the products.) Again, the answer was no. One of them asked me to raise a couple of related issues with some of my colleagues who had a more direct influence over how the factories are run. I did, but was essentially told it was not my place to do so. One can only imagine it wasn’t my place because in fact an up-to-date risk assessment had been done (and found that things such as face masks weren’t necessary), or was in hand to address concerns such as those I’ve mentioned and those the factory workers raised? But the factory workers who spoke to me were far too anxious about potential repercussions on them to raise the issues themselves with ‘management’. That didn’t seem right to me.

  2. Well, I’m sure Lush,as a responsible employer, will have had competent people doing suitable and sufficient risk assessments, especially in the factories where it’s obvious people will be dealing with numerous substances, some of which might be hazardous in their raw state. It sounds like perhaps they just haven’t provided that information to the staff, and that should be easy enough to address.

  3. The health and safety training that was done 3 years ago told shop managers to do their risk assessments and log them with head office. If this wasn’t done, or was done incorrectly the managers themselves, not the company, would be personally financially liable for anything that went wrong in the shops – and could be expected to pay up to 20,000 (more than most managers annual salary). So it was always in the best interest for shop managers to do their risk assessments!

    However, prior to my leaving last year there had been no further health and safety training done, so new managers were expected to be liable with no training at all. So it’s little wonder that some managers don’t have a clue when it comes to pregnant women etc. And highly likely that risk assessments are no longer up to date. Although common sense should dictate, in most cases fear of reprisals from head office would mean that managers can’t use their gut instinct and must abide by the rules.

  4. ha ha ha ha ha

    having visited the factories they are a bloody death trap. there is grease all over the floors from the massage bars and other products and I nearly broke my neck a few times.

  5. Having worked in a lush shop where 3 people gained injuries which left them with chronic pain despite Lush being told NUMEROUS times over several years that there was a problem and it being flagged in all health and safety reports as ‘almost certain to result in a serious accident’, I can categorically say that Lush could not give a flying fuck about their staff.

    I have had to give up a career I trained for 10 years for as a result of my injuries and not once did Lush apologise or offer to help in any way.

  6. Pingback: The Smell of Bullshit: the comments post | Mitherings from Morningside

  7. I once worked in a shop where there was a leak and water was pouring through the ceiling through light fitments onto the floor and some steps up into the main body of the shop. Hugely dangerous. the manager was new at the time. she switched the lights off and phoned head office to see what to do. However, being a saturday, there was no one there – as head office don’t work weekends or bank holidays like the shops do. She eventually phoned Mark himself and he told her under no circumstances to close the shop but to keep trading, ferrying customers round in the dark! She refused and closed the shop and sent us all home. It didn’t do her a lot of favours.

  8. My stories don’t really compare to the atrocities above, but I wanted to inform everyone reading this of how our Lush store is “cleaned” and taken care of. I worked as a Lush North America sales associate for two years, and just recently quit because I couldn’t stand being treated like the village idiot anymore. I am also a full time student with an 18 hour credit load. I closed the shop nearly every day during the week because I’d be attending classes beforehand. Closing shifts at my store are pretty damn grueling. We are one of the largest (if not the largest) stores in America. That being said, I was always the only person closing shop during the week, and if I was lucky, there’d be one other associate scheduled on the weekends. There is also a key holder, however they are assigned to closing down the til. While a couple of the key holders were great coworkers, and would help me clean after finishing their own tasks, I usually closed with the key holders that sat on their butts and procrastinated while writing the daily email to the manager. These emails are supposed to talk about our daily sales and how we as a team can improve. What they often ended up becoming was a way to talk smack about “bad employees” in order to make the person writing it look better. The key holders reluctance to help me often meant that we’d get stuck in the store until anywhere from 11pm-3am.

    If I’m not mistaken, the employee handbook states that when possible, at least one manager or MIT is supposed to be on shift during the duration of the day. I know this because I had to look over the employee handbook several times in order to cover my ass, yet I still managed to be written up multiple times on numerous occasions because the manager A: didn’t like me, and B: wanted to bully me into being afraid of losing my job at all times. I’ll give the managers some credit, they did work often, even if “work” translates to: sitting around in the back room intimidating employees during individual “coaching sessions. Seeing as I worked closing almost every night, or if not close, I opened, I can attest to the fact that there was an actual manager or MIT present for opening/closing shifts a handful of times. They liked to schedule themselves with nice, late-morning or mid-day shifts. In fact, the MIT often just came and left when they felt like it, despite their actual schedule or regardless of how busy it was. During the rare times that I did close with a manager, I asked them why there were not more sales associates scheduled for closing shifts. I was fed some jargon about not having enough payroll. And yet during opening shifts, there would be multiple people standing around and twiddling their thumbs. Since I brought up the subject of money, let me just say that our deposit bag is wedged into an unsafe place between the register and the wall. It is often forgotten about the next day when it is supposed to be run to the bank right away. One time, during a busy weekend shift of mine, someone had hastily dropped the deposit bag (which had not been taken for a few days) onto the floor behind the till, in plain sight for a customer to just take it and walk off with some serious money. Talk about idiotic!

    Our store was never cleaned properly as a result of poor scheduling and a lot of illegal practices. The manager started getting upset that it’d take so long close. This is most likely because we’re severely understaffed, and most people (key holders especially) worked up to the maximum amount of hours before running into overtime, which was inevitable if we properly cleaned during closing shifts. To avoid having to pay any kind of overtime, managers eventually implemented the rule that if we were not done and clocked out on time, we’d have to call them and explain why we were not finished yet. This terrified some of the key holders, who in turn pressured us into clocking out on time even though we’d have to stay behind and work until the store was fully cleaned. That’d be around 3-4 hours of unpaid labor most of the time. After a while, I got fed up with this and refused to clock out until I was finished. Let the manager yell. As punishment for my obstinance, I was needled into stocking and cleaning as fast as possible so that we would’t run over the hour. So, what kind of cleaning actually gets done, you ask?? Pretty much none. Stocking always takes first priority, because if our products aren’t “artfully” overflowing all over the damn store, no one will want to visit, right? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stayed late trying to make the displays look just right, like “artful waterfalls.” If it wasn’t done perfectly or if it wasn’t in the right place, we’d have to take it apart and start all over again on the other side of the room. Our manager also thought that it would be a good idea to start receiving shipments every other week, so when we were just about to run out of everything, we’d get a gigantic shipment of crap that (you guessed it!) I’d have to sort out and put away on top of all my other requirements. I was not allowed to start doing this until after close though, because I’d also be the only sales associate on the floor for the last few hours that the mall was open. By the time I even got around to cleaning, there wasn’t a whole lot of time. I’d take an already damp and used rag from our heaping pile of laundry (that I’d take home after my ridiculous shift and wash with my own money and deliver them back the next morning) and I’d half-ass dusting and wiping out the bowls that we use for arm and face treatments. No soap involved. Next time you walk into a concept store, take a look at the floor. The tile started off as a light grey, almost white color. I bet it’s not that color anymore. There are also lovely bits of soap and what-have-you stuck in clumps to the floor. Lucky sales associates are elected (on a whim) to get down on their hands and knees and chip them off with a box cutter. Demo pots are left open all day, rarely skimmed, and at night we just loosely cover them with a lid so that they don’t get too crusty the next day. The worst thing though, I’d have to say, are the foot treat bins. The idiot that thought using metal was a good idea (or a cheap one) forgot that it RUSTS. We don’t have time to wash foot treat bins out, so usually they’re just dragged into the back and left to soak a little bit until they’re used again or until close. They get dumped out and hung upside down to dry. That’s it. All the lovely bubbles are there to hide the fact that customers are sticking their feet in nasty, rusted containers that have accumulated the residue of other people’s dead skin cells and used product. But hey, it’s okay because its all soap, right?

  9. I’m so sad to hear all the problems Lush employees have encountered. I volunteer at my local Citizens Advice bureau so I just wanted to say please come and see us if you need help with any employment problems, it’s an area we deal with a lot. We can give you information about your rights and your options and we can help you to negotiate with your employer, write grievances etc. If you need more help than we can provide we’re able to refer you on to other agencies who can take over. Please don’t be scared to come and see us, it’s a free service and everything is confidential. We never contact employers or anyone else without your consent and if we see you in the street we won’t acknowledge you unless you approach us (so no one will know you’ve been to the bureau). If you’d like some help we’re here for you.

  10. Pingback: The Smell of Bullshit, part 40: Improvement Notice | Mitherings from Morningside

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