Every employee and employer needs to feel safe in their workplace, whether they are a laborer on a building site or they are a software developer in a cozy office. Health and safety has a rather bad reputation for stopping fun and games, but it is vital for any business to be clued up on the implications of health and safety regulations and how to implement the correct procedures. If you’re the owner of a small company or your business is expanding rapidly, it’s important that you understand how health and safety impacts yours and your employees’ daily working life and the area where they work. Below are key steps to consider to ensure your business is compliant with the recent regulations.
A Correct & Detailed Policy
The very first place for any business to start when considering health and safety is to create a correct and concise policy. A health and safety policy is a document which details how your organization will react to any accidents, how to report any incidents, and how you will assess risks. It also details the responsibilities both you and your employees have to ensure you uphold all health and safety regulations, how you manage specific activities and any issues such as equipment. It is the law that any company employing five or more members of staff must have a policy. When hiring new staff, the policy must be available for them to view and it must be relevant to every employee. It means that you need to review and create new policies if you continue to grow, if you begin to use new equipment, or job roles change. By having a detailed policy, new and existing staff will have a document which they can refer to should any accidents or malfunctions of equipment happen.
Following on from creating a health and safety policy, any business must identify any risks which may happen while employees are carrying out their duties. There are a variety of risks that might seem obvious, and these include falling off a ladder if employees are using a ladder or tripping over electrical cables. However, it’s vital that you take into account different hazards that necessarily don’t first jump into your mind. Workplace hazards can also include any allergy and skin complaints if working with substances, White Finger Vibration (Hand-Arm vibration syndrome) which is an industrial injury occurring if a worker is using heavy vibrating hand tools such as pneumatic drills, and stress. As stress can be one of the biggest causes of staff being absent from work, it’s important you assess and control the risk of your staff being under excessive pressure and demand. You should also regularly review any risks you’ve already identified and included in your health and safety policy in case anything has changed, or new employees are undertaking those duties.
While having a detailed policy is key for your business from an owner’s perspective, you should also provide adequate training to all your employees to ensure they have the correct information on how to deal with any risks and hazards they may encounter and how to prevent risks themselves. By educating your workforce on the procedures and how to report hazards, you are effectively reducing one large job for yourself. If you are expanding your business, you may consider employing a new member of staff to become your health and safety officer. A dedicated officer will be able to provide training to your existing staff, as well as highlighting areas of your business where you can continuously improve your standards and regulations. It is worthwhile for this key employee to attend a safety show where they can participate in networking opportunities with fellow safety professionals and increase their expertise on a wide variety of health and safety areas. Once your health and safety officer has attended a conference or you’ve provided extra training, they will be inspired to reassess your company policy to see how they can evolve it.
The Facilities You Provide
From specialized equipment to the desks and chairs your workforce uses every day, the facilities you provide as a business must also fall into the correct regulations to ensure the well-being of all staff members. The workplace you provide for your staff should have good ventilation and a good temperature. Your employees won’t be as productive as they could be if they are sat at their desks shivering, for example. Providing well-lit areas for members of staff to carry out their duties, as well as enough space to work in, will all contribute towards their well-being at work. By providing comfortable chairs and a clean area, your staff will be happier and more comfortable at work. Within your building, your facilities must include toilets and hand basins, clean, fresh drinking water, and somewhere to eat their lunch.
Your facilities must also take into account whether any existing or future staff members may have a disability. It means that you should have ramps to enter and access any buildings if someone uses a wheelchair, for example.
Within your health and safety policy, you should detail every facility you provide and consider if there are any risks and hazards which may occur while an employee is using them. For example, your policy should include what to do if there is a fire while members of staff are at their desks and if there is a leak from a restroom or kitchen area. If you educate every member of staff on how to deal with risk at their own workstation, it can minimize any potential damage as they will be equipped to react quickly and efficiently.
Accident & Ill Health Policy
Within any workplace, you must have first aid arrangements in case an accident was to happen. OSHA recommends that all businesses have kits readily available which are sufficient for all needs. There are a variety of minor and major accidents and injuries that can happen in any workplace, depending, of course, on the business and equipment you are using. In an office environment, accidents can include paper cuts and tripping over, while in factories, an accident might be sustaining a major bleeding laceration. Therefore, your first aid kit should be tailored towards your specific industry but must feature essential pieces, such as plasters, bandages, and first aid creams. It’s important that every member of staff knows the location of the first aid kit and how to use it if there is ever an incident they need to deal with. As a business owner, you need to ensure you replenish the items when you need to and you ensure that any creams are in date.
It is vital to have the policies in place, that every staff member has been briefed and trained on every aspect of your company’s health and safety, and perhaps you now have a dedicated health and safety officer. However, these steps will be useless if you do not ensure you and your workforce are consistently compliant. It is your job as the owner to carry out routine checks to make sure any risks and hazards you have identified aren’t being ignored, and your employees aren’t taking shortcuts which could increase the risks. Shortcuts may include how and when they are using the complicated equipment. However, it may also apply to how they enter or leave the office building. If you have detailed a specific area where employees must leave and enter the building because another route could pose tripping hazards, it’s important you make sure that employees are adhering to these conditions. If they don’t, it could cause your policy to be void if they do get hurt.
Health and safety is the backbone of how your business runs. By ensuring you have a detailed policy, educate and train every member of staff on correct procedures, and make sure everyone is compliant, your workplace will be a safer and happier place to be, and your employees will look forward to their daily work.