Whether you are based in an office or are managing a construction site, there are hazards present in your work environment. These hazards have the potential to cause harm if not properly managed. Taking steps to identify and minimise risks is therefore essential to ensuring employee health and safety in the workplace.
Health and safety in business
Health and safety is a vital part of business management for a variety of reasons.
Firstly, employers are responsible for the welfare of their employees and anyone else who visits the workplace. This means that your company could be liable in the event of an accident that could have been prevented.
Secondly, hazards in the workplace have the capacity to cause serious injuries or even fatalities which no organisation wants to be responsible for. There were 135 UK workers killed in work-related accidents in 2022 alone, with 565,000 reporting a workplace injury in the same year.
Having a reputation for poor health and safety will lower staff morale and make you a less attractive option to prospective employees. This, alongside the potential financial implications of being found at fault for a workplace accident, has the power to inhibit your business success.
How to prevent accidents at work
While you can never remove all risks, following these basic rules and regulations will be hugely beneficial in ensuring employee health and safety in the workplace.
The first and most important step is to conduct a risk assessment.
Begin with an inspection of the workplace and identify the hazards. These will include physical dangers such as heavy machinery and human action like the mishandling of tools. Be clear about who could be harmed and how.
Once you have evaluated the risks, decide how they could be minimised and implement these measures. For example, incorporate signage to flag dangers and replace outdated equipment. Encourage staff to report any issues and record any incidents in a logbook.
Training is hugely important to health and safety at work. Whether your employees are brand-new to the business or long-standing staff, make sure that they are involved in regular training sessions.
Some of these sessions should cover behaviour in the workplace. They might remind staff of certain processes or regulations and explain why it is important that these are followed.
You should also train staff on how to use or handle any tools or objects that are considered a risk or could cause harm. Again, make sure that you run regular refresher sessions to ensure that standards stay high.
Lastly, providing the right equipment at work is vital to ensuring employee health and safety.
For example, introducing hoists to assist with heavy lifting tasks will severely reduce strain on the body. Similarly, something as simple as ear plugs will minimise long-term ear damage in a noisy workplace. In an office, ergonomic desk equipment helps to avoid computer-related repetitive strain injury (RSI).
The right equipment can protect workers from harm in dangerous situations and could prevent an accident from occurring altogether. Make sure that all employees are kitted out with the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for their role – and go above and beyond where possible.