Managing for health and safety: How to make sure your employees are safe at work

How and how often do you convey to your employees the value of health and safety for your company? After you’ve most probably put many years of time and effort into becoming a successful business owner, the last thing you want is for someone that works for you to get injured on the job.

If you want to minimize the risk of that happening, you need to build your company culture around, and focus on, managing health and safety. This creates a win-win situation because it will show your employees that you care about them as people and not just for the profit their labour generates. They expect you, as their employers, to provide them with a safe working environment.

managing health and safetyHowever, every type of job entails a certain level of risk. Some jobs are inherently more dangerous, but even if you work at a typical office where you spend most of your time at your desk, in front of a computer, you might still slip and fall while trying to get yourself a cup of coffee. Injuries from slips, trips, and falls are among the most common occupational injuries.

We’re not living in a perfect world where everything goes according to plan, so there’s always a chance that one of your employees will have an accident and get injured. Your job and legal duty are to take the necessary precaution to minimize that risk.

If, for some reason, you choose to neglect this duty, or you fail to adequately implement the required precautionary measures, it can result in investigations, lawsuits and legal sanctions. Your employees have a right to work in an environment where they’re safe, which means that if they do get injured, they have a right to seek compensation. You can learn more about this from Compensation Calculator UK.

Any business that hires people in the UK must follow a set of official health and safety guidelines. Overcrowding in factories with entirely ineffective safety measures was not unusual a few decades ago, leading to a slew of incidents and injuries which prompted legal reform.

However, managing your health and safety standards requires more than just printing them out and giving them out to the employees. Employee participation is important for a good health and safety program. All should be aware of the rules and why following them is important.

Accidents and injuries are also detrimental in terms of productivity. An injured employee will need to take time to recover, so their workload will have to be distributed among their colleagues. Even in the best conditions, this will result in a drop in productivity because their colleagues will have their own tasks, but if this becomes a recurring issue, it can lead to employee burnout, more time off, and higher turnover rates.

Slips, trips and falls

We already mentioned in the first part of this article that slips, trips and falls are the most common types of occupational accidents. That’s because they can happen anywhere, which also makes them harder to prevent. Around 30% of workplace injuries are a result of slips, trips and falls and usually involve sprains, pulled muscles, cuts, fractures, and injuries to the head, neck and back.

There are some factors that increase the risk of slips, trips and falls, such as obstructions on the walking paths, slippery surfaces, loose or wrinkled carpeting, poor lighting and unsecured cables. They’re also more likely to happen in workplaces where employees rush from one place to another, either because they didn’t receive the proper training to understand the risks or because they have to meet excessive productivity targets. Both options have their roots in managing health and safety poorly.

To reduce the occurrence of this type of accident, you should conduct regular inspections to identify the risk factors listed above. The most effective way to do so is to encourage your employees to report any problems so they can be addressed immediately, as well as appoint someone that does these regular inspections and reports back to management.

Last but certainly not least, you need to ensure that your employees receive the appropriate training, so they know what risk factors to watch out for, how to protect themselves and what to do if an accident does happen.

Handling, lifting and carrying

Another common cause of workplace accidents is lifting, handling, or carrying large items. Lifting with your back is unsafe, so we’ve all been taught to lift with our knees. That’s precisely because our natural instinct is to use our backs, and we must be constantly reminded before we become accustomed to the proper technique. Managing the training of your employees for occupational health and safety is important.

If your workers are often required to lift, handle, and carry heavy objects, and you know that proper, safe methods are not instinctive, you must ensure that they follow protocols, so they don’t injure themselves. In some situations, it’s better to invest in equipment that can lift and move large items rather than hiring workers.

Remember that you’re legally responsible for the safety of your employees while they’re on the job. If some tasks are particularly dangerous even with proper training and this risk could be greatly reduced with equipment, it makes more financial sense to purchase the equipment. Of course, you’ll also want to provide your employees with the proper training, so they know how to use the equipment safely.

Repetitive stress and overexertion

The human body was not made to perform the same motions again and again, hour after hour and day after day. That’s why employees that do this kind of work are more likely to develop a musculoskeletal disorder. Musculoskeletal disorder can cause symptoms like pain, numbness, stiffness, swelling and weakness, which can affect their ability to work as well as perform regular tasks in their lives outside work like getting groceries or doing household chores. Jobs that involve repetitive motions can also lead to chronic back problems.

To reduce this risk, you need to implement measures that will reduce the stress repetitive motions put on the human body. To begin, make sure that the workstations your employees use are ergonomically sound and meet all applicable health and safety regulations.

It’s also important to set aside enough time for breaks. Breaks should be scheduled at regular intervals, and you should encourage your employees to take them.