As a business owner, it’s up to you to keep your employees safe from harm, and that means creating a safe work environment. Every workplace has its hazards, from offices to kitchens to building sites, so whatever your company, managing risk should be a priority.
The better your workplace health and safety standards, the more likely your business is to have a good reputation, happy employees, and high levels of productivity and profitability. So how can you improve workplace health and safety and start making the most of these benefits?
1: Inspect and Assess Your Workplace
Before you can go about preventing risks in the workplace, you need to identify the hazards that pose a threat. So the first step to improving health and safety involves inspecting your workplace.
You might be able to spot some risks by simply walking around the workspace and considering hazards — however, some risks will be harder to identify. You can check which hazards to look out for by checking the HSE website — here you’ll find information about industry-specific risks.
Another way to find examples of risks your business is exposed to is by checking records of accidents and injuries. If there are any patterns — for example, multiple staff members slipping or tripping in a certain area — you may be able to identify the hazard causing harm.
Once you’ve identified hazards, you can assess the risks associated with them and put control measures in place.
2: Provide Health and Safety Training for Staff
It’s much easier to achieve health and safety compliance if your employees are on board too. Providing adequate training for employees means your staff will know how to do their bit to keep the workplace safe. It’s also your legal responsibility to provide health and safety training for anyone working on-site, be they employees, contractors, managers or directors.
How you deliver training is up to you. From group training sessions to online e-learning modules, there are several ways to provide the training your employees need. Remember, though, for training to be effective, staff need to understand and remember everything they learn. So training should be as concise and clear as possible.
3: Investigate Accidents and Injuries
If accidents or injuries occur in your workplace, investigate them fully. Most incidents — even the most minor ones — will be a result of a hazard in the workplace. By investigating, you can identify the guilty risk, and put measures in place to stop the same accident from happening again.
4: Communicate Health and Safety Policies to All Employees
Even if you have the very best health and safety policies in place, they won’t make your workplace a safe space until everyone in your company knows what they are and how to implement them.
You should share your health and safety policies with every employee and contractor, and broadcast any changes in policy to the whole company. Employees should also have access to health and safety policies and documents such as risk assessments, in case they need to refer to them or refresh their knowledge.
5: Make Sure Your Workplace Is Clean
The cleanliness of your workplace plays a big role in the safety of the site. All surfaces, including floors, walls, ceilings, fixtures and fittings must be kept clean. Equipment should also be cleaned regularly and dirt, waste and drainage should be disposed of properly.
Keeping the workplace clean can reduce health and safety risks associated with contamination and infection. Cleaning up spills quickly can also prevent injuries from slips and falls. In terms of mental health, many employees experience less stress and anxiety when working in a clean environment.
6: Ensure Equipment Is Safe to Use
If your employees use equipment to carry out tasks, you should ensure this equipment is safe to use. Materials and tools should be suitable for the tasks at hand, and it should be maintained and inspected regularly. Machine malfunctions are often one of the most dangerous workplace hazards.
When making sure equipment is safe and suitable, don’t forget to check personal protective equipment. If PPE is faulty, it can’t protect employees from harm.
7: Join a Health and Safety Accreditation Scheme
Joining a health and safety accreditation scheme can give you access to training materials and useful resources such as electronic risk assessment and method statement templates. These resources can help you ensure excellent health and safety standards across your entire company.
Accreditation schemes will also involve a thorough assessment of your health and safety policies, so you’ll be required to demonstrate effective policies and procedures. With an assessor assigned to review your company’s health and safety, this can be the motivation you need to implement the best possible risk management policies.
As well as helping and encouraging you to meet the highest of standards, the bonus of accreditation schemes is they allow you to demonstrate your compliance to potential customers and clients.
Author Bio: Jolene Osei
Jolene Osei is an experienced and qualified SHEQ Audit Manager at CHAS, the UK’s leading health and safety assessment scheme and provider of risk mitigation, compliance and supply chain management services. Jolene has worked with businesses in the public and private sector. She is committed to helping companies comply with health and safety regulations, improve risk management strategies, and increase supply chain efficiency.