It doesn't matter what kind of workplace you're in, every employer is duty-bound to comply with health and safety regulations to protect employees from exposure to hazards that could affect their health or cause serious bodily harm, this can be related to manual handling tasks, the operation of workplace equipment such as machinery or display screens, therefore implementing a solid health and safety strategy is one of the wisest things you can do for your business.
How you implement such a strategy is very dependent on the nature of business you're in and the risks involved in it's the day to day operation, for instance, if you're in manufacturing and operate large pieces of machinery you must comply with PUWER regulations which places a duty on employers to ensure that work equipment they own and operate is safe to use at all times, if you don't comply then you will not be able to operate the machinery, a business without an adequate strategy leaves itself open to accidents and worse trouble with the HSE.
As an employer you must promote health and safety awareness within your organisation to reduce the chances of incidents occurring, a business that involves its employees in decision making regarding health and safety not only improves the standard of safety but helps to elevate its importance and awareness.
There are a lot of hazards that can present themselves in the workplace and many of these can be heavily reduced from regular training, increased awareness and ongoing support from senior members of staff within your organisation.
Some examples of hazards are as followed:
- Harmful Substances
- Repetitive Movements
I’ll briefly explain the meaning of each below.
Falls - A risk that can occur in any working environment caused by objects stored in incorrect places that an employee may not be aware of, falls can result in injury and long periods off work as well as a reduction in productivity.
Harmful Substances - Many types of work environments will use substances that are harmful to people for a multitude of reasons, these can include gases, chemicals and minerals such as asbestos and therefore will need to be risk assessed.
Repetitive Movements - Many businesses no matter what kind of industry they're in has some kind of an office environment with a workforce spending long periods at a computer screen, sitting in one position and the correct use of display screens can often cause injury, such as issues with posture, back and neck pain, headaches, and shoulder and arm pain, similarly in labour-intensive roles where manual handling is commonplace, repetitive heavy lifting can result in injury if a health and safety awareness strategy are not in place.
Employers can significantly reduce the chances of hazards occurring if continual awareness training is implemented to draw attention to risks, employees will then be able to respond accordingly and know who to report their concerns to so that others are not at risk. Routine evaluations would also be of benefit to these organisations furthermore, good communication and effective escalation procedures can help employers to respond to incidents with professionalism, neglecting regular training can result in undetected risks and a heightened chance of injury.
Employers are often in the best position to understand the risks associated with their working environment, collaborating with their employees can help to fast track a lot of common issues, such as:
- Identifying effective solutions
- Developing health and safety as a part of company culture
- Reduce illness and accidents
- Improve efficiency and productivity company wide
- Fully comply with legal requirements
Increasing health and safety awareness in your organisation can not only reduce the odds of accidents occurring but also help to emphasise the importance of safe working practices.
By promoting such a culture you can:
- Reduce the likelihood of employees becoming ill or injured
- Develop a company culture that promotes health and safety awareness
- Better understand risks and improve safety standards
Promoting health and safety awareness isn't just about a company meeting legal requirements and obligations, it's also about educating employees on their responsibilities to comply with regulations and to ensure that the working environment they're in is safe for them to carry out their roles and if there is a concern to report it to the appropriate appointed person, by instilling these responsibilities within your employees you will naturally adopt a safe working ethos company-wide.
When a business is fully aware of health and safety regulations and how to adapt them into a working environment, they can not only save lives but also reduce costs for unnecessary consulting and avoid large fines from the Health and Safety Executive.