How safe is your workplace? Under Health and Safety Legislations, it is your responsibility to ensure it is as safe as possible, with the relevant risk assessments in place to minimise the dangers that may be prevalent within your industry.
Your employee’s wellbeing depends on it, and the same applies to customers, clients, and any other visitors to your place of work. If an injury takes place because you haven’t been compliant to regulations, your business will be in trouble. While general liability insurance will offer you some protection from workplace hazards, there is still the issue of your reputation to consider, as well as the inner guilt that surfaces when you realise your lack of care has resulted in the injury (or fatality) of another.
You should already have an idea of the workplace hazards within your business. Assuming you have been through health and safety training, you should understand the risks that are present. Of course, even without training, there is good old-fashioned common sense on your part. In many cases, you shouldn’t need to be told where certain risks lie. Still, to remind you of some of the more common workplace hazards, consider the following. Put a risk assessment on your itinerary today, and ensure you take steps to put safety first within your business.
Common workplace hazards
#1 Electrical dangers
Loose wiring and faulty pieces of equipment can put your employee’s lives at risk. An electrical shock can be fatal, so it is your responsibility to ensure everything is in working order. Bring an electrician in for PAT Testing, and to fix any equipment and wiring that requires it. Where need be, you should also replace any equipment that is no longer fit for purpose, so despite the expense, know that your employee’s lives should be prioritised over your bank balance.
#2 Heavy lifting
Back injuries are common in industries where heavy lifting is required. Therefore, it is your responsibility to ensure that your employees are given the correct training in manual handling, so they don’t put themselves at risk. You should also make life easier for your employees by bringing in trollies to manage and transport your heavier items, so your employee’s are less likely to do themselves an injury by carrying items that put an undue strain on their bodies.
#3 Fire hazards
Not only will fire cause serious injury or death to the people within your business, but it can also lay waste to your building. You need to be aware of anything that might cause a fire and take steps to alleviate any problems. So, you should do as we have already suggested, and ensure your electrical items are fit for purpose. You should also keep paper and other combustible materials away from heat sources and flammable liquids. Having a no-smoking policy inside the workplace is a good idea too, as this is one area where human error is often to blame for fires getting started. Ensure you take extra precautions, such as installing extra smoke alarms around your business, remembering to test them on a regular basis, and regularly conduct fire drills with your employees, ensuring they know the correct procedure should the unthinkable occur.
#4 Slips and falls
Working from heights (particularly in the construction industry), loose wiring and debris on the floor, and wet floors and unsafe surfaces, are all causes of slips and falls in the workplace. It is your responsibility to minimise any risks, so you should ensure employees are fitted with the correct safety equipment if they are working from a height, put signs up where spills have occurred to alert any passerby, remove any obstruction that could cause somebody to trip, and install safety matting in particularly hazardous areas.
We have already alluded to human error within this article, and for a good reason. While there are areas of your business that need to be risk-assessed, people can still make mistakes, and so they may be the biggest workplace hazards of them all. We mentioned smoking as one form of human error earlier, but there are other issues. Mishandling of equipment can lead to safety issues, for example, and workplace pranks and tomfoolery can also lead to harm. As an employer, you need to ensure your employees have both the correct training in health and safety and in managing equipment. You should also have policies in place about employee behaviour, with strict guidelines on what is and isn’t appropriate in the workplace.
Don’t put off your risk assessments, and never assume an injury or fatality will never happen in your workplace. Accidents do happen, and you will regret your procrastination and faulty thinking if you don’t take action to minimise risk. Get on top of any possible workplace hazards today, and you will provide a safer tomorrow for both your business and the people who operate within it.