Legislation and good practice require that employers take all reasonable measures to make sure that the people they employ are not put at risk of being injured or become ill as a result of their employment.

As an employer, you are responsible for providing a healthy and safe workplace for your Personal Assistant(s). You have a duty not to do anything, or ask them to do anything that may result in their injury or illness. Employees have a duty to avoid actions that may jeopardise the safety of either party at any time.

Carefully examine the rooms that will be used by your employee. Ensure that your home is a safe environment for staff to work in.

Inspect any equipment that your employee will use in his or her work. Make sure that it is in good working order and is safe to use. Ensure that any cleaning materials and chemicals are stored securely and that your Personal Assistant knows how to use them appropriately. Employees should wear rubber gloves when working with chemicals such as those used in household cleaning.

Working safely

You should ensure that employees use the appropriate moving techniques and handling equipment. Use mechanical or electrical aids where possible and ensure that employees follow appropriate 'handling' procedures. They are designed to prevent your Personal Assistant injuring either you or him or herself.

If you feel that you need any enabling equipment, you should raise this with your Social Worker or Occupational Therapist.

Exercise caution with hazardous materials and follow good hygiene practices. Ensure that any medication you use is stored safely.

Be certain that your Personal Assistant knows how to deal with caustic substances safely such as battery acid from an electric wheelchair. Provide appropriate clothing and training on the way such substances or equipment should be handled.

General good hygiene practices with regard to daily activities should be encouraged to reduce the risk of infection.

Ensuring that your home is safe

It is very difficult for anyone to make an objective assessment of the safety of his or her own home. Below are two strategies that may help.

Training

As an employer you have a duty to ensure that your employee has a basic knowledge of good 'lifting and handling' techniques and hygiene practices. You are the expert in your own personal support requirements but Health and Social Services Trusts may be able to provide training in 'lifting and handling'.

Health and Safety Audit

You may choose to invite inspection by a suitably qualified adviser or carry out the audit yourself or ask a friend or relative to help you, using a self-assessment checklist.

More information

Information is available from Centre for Independent Living NI. Alternatively you may contact:

The Health and Safety Executive
83 Ladas Drive
Belfast BT6 9FR

Helpline 0800 320 121
Fax 028 9023 5383