Ten Tips That Help to Keep Your Employees Safe
In 2014, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported 1.2 million cases of illness in the workplace, with 620,000 of these being caused by an accident. This cost companies an estimated £14.2 billion, as 28.2 million working days were lost over the year. The most common accidents include the lifting of heavy objects, use of dangerous machinery, chemical exposure, and slips, trips and falls. Accidents will always happen in the workplace, and they aren’t restricted by industry, as working environments expose employees to a variety of dangers. However, there are a number of ways that you can keep employees safe in the workplace.
If you own a business, it is your duty (and legal responsibility) as an employer to keep your employees safe from harm, and this should take precedence over deadlines, workloads and orders. If you neglect health and safety, this can prove extremely costly – financially as well as reputationally.
We take a look at ten tips that could help to keep your employees safe in the workplace:
1. Shout about your health and safety policy
Every business is required to create a health and safety policy, with companies employing more than five people legally obliged to write it down. This policy should then be made available to employees, which might be in the form of a training session, including it in induction packs or staff handbooks, or displaying it on a notice board.
2. Make sure to carry out a risk assessment
You’re not going to be aware of the hazards in your workplace if you don’t get out there and look for them. All businesses are obliged to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, which is a report of anything and everything that could cause an accident. For example, will employees need to carry heavy objects, work from a height or be at risk to slips, trips and falls?
Once you’ve identified the risks, you need to note any steps required to reduce the chance of accidents. Your risk assessment should be written and kept in your records.
3. Hazards should be dealt with quickly
Reducing a risk is much more straightforward than dealing with someone that has had an accident while at work, so you should swiftly clear up any spillages, repair damaged steps, tidy away wires, etc. It’s also important that you encourage your staff to report any hazards or faults straightaway.
4. Encourage feedback from staff on how to improve health and safety
Although health and safety is the employer’s responsibility, you haven’t got eyes and ears everywhere, so making your staff are aware that it is their duty as much as yours will help to create a safer workplace. You should consult with staff on risk managements, invite feedback and suggestions on safety issues, as well as encourage them to flag up any hazards.
5. Display health and safety information clearly
It is a legal requirement to display safety signs that conform to ISO 7010 standards and the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996. These should be clearly displayed for employees, visitors and the general public and include emergency exit procedures, warnings about moving vehicles and providing information on the location of the nearest first-aid kit.
6. Make sure your business is always clean and comfortable
As a business owner, it is your responsibility to make sure the basics are provided for, such as access to drinking water, clean and working toilets and adequate lighting. You must also provide the right tools to make sure your employees can work in comfort, for example, ergonomic chairs and desks to reduce the chances of back problems.
7. Provide a first-aid kit
The minimum requirement of businesses is to provide a fully-stocked first-aid box with basic medical supplies, appoint a person to take charge of first-aid management and display information on your company’s arrangements for all staff to see. First-aid training should be provided or arranged for the appointed person, including how to action cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and how to help someone who is unconscious or bleeding.
8. Ensure you meet fire safety standards
As well as a health and safety risk assessment, you are obliged to conduct regular fire safety risk assessments that identify potential hazards. Dangers to look out for include blocked fire exits and propped open fire doors. Finally, how you plan to manage fire safety should be communicated to your team, along with evacuation procedures.
9. Constantly learn from your mistakes
Don’t think your health and safety policy is incorrect if someone injures themselves. Instead, take steps to ensure it won’t happen again and keep a record of the incident – this is also a legal requirement.
10. Keep your procedures up to date
Health and safety is an ongoing process, and not a one-off event. Your policies should be reviewed at least once a year, or more often if you’re company is expanding fast. It’s also your job to keep up to date with legislation from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Having health and safety procedures in place will not only keep your employees safe, they are also a proven tool for aiding a business’s success by reducing costs and time wasted on dealing with issues and increasing staff morale and productivity.
SafetyBuyer.com is a health and safety specialist with decades of experience, and provides products and equipment to businesses and organisations across the UK to improve safety in the workplace.