Health and safety at work is serious business. The Health and Safety Executive
(HSE) suggest that around 100,000 are seriously injured at work annually, with 170 injuries resulting in death. Increasing laws and work-based policies outline that employers are responsible for the safety of their staff. This means that if health and safety procedures are not in place, an employer can be held liable.
Given the risk, both to a person and to a business, it is important to get health and safety right. It could be said that most of these work based injuries are caused by avoidable mistakes. So what can we do to ensure our staff are safe?
Ladders – Ladders are accountable for around one in five work-based injuries every year. These injuries can be a result of poorly maintained ladders and being used in unsafe conditions. A leaning ladder should have stiles and feet which are in good condition, and the rungs should all be intact, secure and straight. Step ladders should have locking bars, stiles, platform and feet which are in good condition. The steps should be strong stable, and free from any erosion as this can make steps slippery. Ensuring that ladders are in good condition, and fit for purpose can go a long way to reduce injuries.
Remember to check see if it is safe to use a ladder. Ladders are not always the correct piece of equipment to use, and are best suited to work which is fairly quick. Conducting a risk assessment prior to use will indicate whether a ladder should be used.
Machinery – Using a machine at work can be dangerous, especially if safety isn’t taken seriously. Injuries caused by machinery can be devastating, but by taking simple steps, risks to personal safety can be reduced. Ensuring safety guards are in correct working order, and used by staff can be extremely helpful, as can having supporting safety equipment in place, such as gloves. Strictly enforcing the use of safety measures can help to keep staff safe and also demonstrates that the welfare of staff is taken seriously by a business. Remember, employers can be fined if machinery does not have adequate guards.
Repetitive use of vibrating power tools can cause serious injury to workers, such as Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). Employers have a duty to protect their staff against HAVS. More details on HAVS and legal obligations to protect against it, can be found here.
Unhygienic Warehouse facilities – Bathrooms and kitchens should be clean and in good working even in warehouses and outdoor areas. In absence of adequate facilities a higher number of illness is likely, resulting in a reduced workforce, meaning both staff and business suffer.
Training – Many health and safety risks can be greatly reduced if every member of staff understands and adheres to health and safety procedures. Ensuring that staff are trained, and receive refresher sessions can do much to reduce health and safety risks. Documenting such sessions also demonstrates that health and safety is taken seriously by an organization.
Next Steps – Health and Safety can be complicated, but there are many organizations which can provide guidance. The HSE and Healthy Working Lives (Scotland), both have comprehensive guides which can provide guidance
Featured image source : http://myblogguest.com/forum/uploads/articles/2015/2/safety-44435_640.png. License: Royalty Free or iStock from http://pixabay.com/static/uploads/photo/2012/04/28/20/30/safety-44435_640.png. This article was guest written by Martyn Lloyd, the Founder of the leading health and safety signs online retailer Cube Safety Signs