Increasing health and safety awareness among employees
Guest Blog By Chris Pendrey, SHEQ Manager at Actavo Direct
Government figures show over half a million workplace injuries occurred in 2016/17 alone. The cost of employee accidents can have a huge impact on business, causing absenteeism, loss of productivity and possibly even a pay-out in compensation.
There’s obviously a huge responsibility on business and HR directors to keep employees safe at work. However, we can’t control every move our employees make, especially in larger companies. So, how can you encourage staff to invest more in their own workplace safety?
Every workplace is different and there’s no one-size-fits-all health and safety plan that works for every business. The best way to begin creating your own health and safety strategy is to complete a thorough workplace risk assessment.
Record every possible workplace health risk, including the hazard level posed and which employees could be affected. This will help you identify the biggest threats currently facing your workforce.
Begin implementing control measures for each hazard you find. Sometimes this will mean completely removing the threat, but in a lot of cases this isn’t possible, so it’s about minimising the chance of injury as much as possible.
For those hazards that can’t be completely avoided, it’s important to educate employees on how to avoid potential accidents. Consider the best way to offer health and safety training. Would on-site or classroom training be most effective? Or would your employees prefer to learn independently through an online training course?
Health and safety training is an extra responsibility you’re adding to employees’ busy schedules and it’s important to be aware it might not necessarily be top of their agenda. The easier you can make it for them to participate, the greater engagement you’ll achieve.
Find out how they prefer to learn and tailor it to suit. Once the training is in place, constantly review it by asking for feedback.
For the record
All details regarding workplace and employee safety need to be logged. This should cover a complete history of all injuries and illnesses, plus near misses too, as these can help prevent future incidents.
Any notes taken during risk assessments should also be recorded along with steps taken to avoid hazards, as this can help cover you if an incident was to occur.
Lastly, you should produce a step-by-step plan of action for all possible safety incidents like a workplace fire. As a general guideline for the level of detail, you should be aiming for, the plan should be clear enough that anyone could read the document and know the safest way to react to an incident.
Embracing a culture of health and safety can help with awareness around the workplace. Produce detailed health and safety plans and show employees you value their wellness. The positive safety culture should trickle down to impact staff attitudes.
You can add to this by encouraging people to take greater responsibilities within the health and safety plans. Allow employees to volunteer for first aid training or elect themselves as the company’s fire marshal.
Make it as easy as possible for everyone to engage with health and safety by adapting procedures to their working habits. Instead of holding formal meetings to introduce new safety notices, create an online forum where they know they can access all the information they need, at any time.
Organisation is key
New risks arise all the time so it’s crucial to be prepared. Keeping your safety plans documented is a great first step and the other important precaution is to maintain a tidy and organised workplace. It gives you the perfect platform to react to any incident, as you don’t have to worry about any tripping hazards or objects blocking exits.
Keep all equipment safely stored away, all food preparation areas hygienic and any health risks that can’t be avoided, make sure they’re clearly labelled.
Labels can also be used around the workplace to highlight health risks like low ceilings, sharp objects and hot water. You can even hang up informative posters on correct lifting techniques and workstation ergonomics to prevent musculoskeletal disorders.
In order to create the most beneficial health and safety set-up for both your business and employees, you need to constantly review and update your plan.
Regularly review your incident log. If a certain type of injury or illness keeps re-occurring, consider why your current approach is ineffective and what fresh steps you can take to avoid future injury. The chances are your employees will have some helpful suggestions, especially if it’s a risk they keep facing.
Observe staff putting plans into practice by running example drills to see if they are following protocol properly. If they’re not, ask for feedback on how you can make it easier for them to learn.