Health and safety is something that is becoming increasingly important in the business world. Unless you want to face legal action and huge financial losses, you need to make sure your workplace is as safe as it can be.
Carry Out Risk Assessments
Before you can start to minimise the risks to health and safety in your workplace, you need to fully understand what those risks are. It’s not particularly difficult to carry out a risk assessment. All you need is to have an understanding of health and safety and something to write on. You can hire a health and safety officer who will look after these kinds of assessments and evaluations for you if you like.
If you do decide to carry out the assessment by yourself, all you need to do is walk around your workplace identifying each and every risk and making a note of it. Once you have scrutinised the whole workplace, you’ll be able to come up with new ways in which you can stop these risks causing harm to people. That’s the difficult part of the job, but it can be done if you put in the effort and think creatively.
Make Sure Everyone Knows the Rules & Regulations
Your business is legally required to have a full and comprehensive health and safety policy if you employ more than five people. So, you need to write yours up and make sure that everyone in the office is aware of what’s in it. The policy should outline basic rules and give an effective general approach to health and safety in the workplace. That doesn’t mean it has to be complicated or full of jargon though; it can be quite simple.
Lay out in the form of a list with bullet points. Or, if you want to make it more readable and simple, you could add illustrations and things like that so it doesn’t look so dull to someone passing by. It’s important that people don’t just ignore it because it might be able to help people avoid situations that could put them at risk. You should hold a workplace meeting when the rules are first drawn up so that you have a chance to discuss them and make sure everyone understands them.
Provide Health & Safety Training
Everyone who works in your office should also have proper health and safety training. What kind of training you put them through will depend on your business and the kind of job they do. Start with the basics like telling them where all the fire exits and extinguishers are, and what the process is should the fire alarm sound. They’ll need to know where to congregate outside safely.
If their job requires them to use equipment, training needs to take place so that they can use it safely. Even if the equipment isn’t particularly dangerous to use, training is still necessary. You should also give them guidance on how to organise their workstation in a safe and proper way. Then basic things like how to lift boxes and things like that should be covered too.
Keep an Eye on Minor Hazards
There are all kinds of small hazards present in the workplace, and these are often things that people forget about. But they’re also the things behind the most common workplace injuries. For example, tripping over wires and being injured by faulty wires are infinitely more common than big accidents in the workplace. That means you have to make sure you don’t forget about these small but significant hazards.
You should test all the electrical appliances in the office regularly to check that they all meet the required safety standards. And don’t be tempted to fix up dodgy wires with some tape. If a wire is damaged and frayed, it needs to be replaced as soon as possible. Then, keep the floor space and walkways clear at all times, so that no one falls and hurts themselves.
Store Harmful Items & Substances Safely
This won’t apply to all businesses, but those that it does apply to should take it very seriously. If you work with dangerous materials in your line of work, they need to be handled and stored carefully. It seems to me that most responsible businesses can handle dangerous materials easily enough, but they pay less attention when it comes to storing them safely. This is a mistake that has potentially disastrous consequences.
They should be kept away from people when they’re not being using. It doesn’t matter whether it’s chemicals or gas cylinders; if there’s a risk of it causing harm to people, it needs to be locked away in a secure place. Wire mesh cage enclosures are a great idea for keeping materials and substances secure.
Have the Correct Protective Equipment
When carrying out specific tasks, your staff should be provided with all the equipment necessary to keep them safe from harm. If you fail to provide the necessary task specific equipment, and somebody gets hurt as a result, you will open yourself up to a lawsuit from the injured individual. It’s your legal requirement to protect your employees from specific dangers and risks, so make sure you do this.
The equipment is referred to as PPE (personal protective equipment). It could mean giving your employees goggles and gloves when handling chemicals, or providing them with a safety harness if they have to work up high on a building.
Take Out Insurance
When something does go wrong in the workplace, it’s not uncommon for employers to be on the receiving end of legal action. To avoid having to pay out huge amounts of money, you should have public liability insurance as well as employer’s liability insurance. Public liability insurance covers you against injuries and or loss to other entities and businesses.
Employer’s liability insurance covers you against legal action taken by employees and people who used to work for the business. You should do everything you can to make sure that you don’t have to face legal action from an employee, but if you do, it’s best to have insurance to fall back on.
If you take these steps, you’ll minimise the risks posed to your employees and your business.