5 Tips to Reduce Workplace Health and Safety Risks
Today we’re talking health and safety risks:
How To Reduce Workplace Health and Safety Risks
In 2019-2020, according to the Health and Safety Executive, (HSE), there were 111 fatal accidents that occurred on the job in the UK.
Beyond that, there were 693,000 non-fatal injuries that occurred whilst on the clock, according to an estimation of incidents reported to HSE.
Each accident, whether fatal or not, went towards the estimated 3.9 working days that were lost.
This makes health and safety not just important to workers wellbeing, but also important to employers’ bottom line.
Health & Safety Risks: Good News!
The HSE acknowledges that workplace dangers are becoming less common since 2000, due partly to enhanced improvements in health and safety.
Is this true for your workplace too?
Annual workplace injuries still cost over £16 billion; a number that stayed relatively even since 2009.
The report states “Industries with ill health rates statistically significantly higher than the rate for all industries were”:
- human health / social work
- public administration and defence
The manufacturing and transportation and storage sector both have twice the rate of deadly injuries at work, compared to other industries.
Yet, no matter the job, every workplace has a set of safety risks and hazards.
For this reason, each business must have an occupational health and safety program to safeguard its employees and clients.
While every business has a unique criteria for mitigating workplace wellbeing and safety, some are common for all businesses.
Additionally, in this time of upheaval during the COVID-19 pandemic, health and safety has become even more important.
If you’re trying to determine the next step forward in health and safety, especially in the current climate, this article is for you.
Let’s look at our 5 Tips to Reduce Workplace Health and Safety Risks:
1. Communicate your health and safety policies
Who is responsible for workplace health and safety where you work?
Chances are, it’s not someone from marketing or internal communications.
Involve them to make sure your message comes across!
Also, the answer to who is responsible for workplace health and safety should be EVERYBODY!
Whether your workplace is an office building, a vehicle, or a construction site, your policies must be communicated clearly and consistently with coworkers.
As a company, you’re held accountable for training your coworkers.
Health & safety training must be comprehensive and continuous, in the aspect that it must be rigorously maintained and updated as need be.
Communication is key and your coworkers should never feel that communication is a one way street; rather they should feel that the environment is secure and conducive for them to approach you or other supervisors with issues they feel may be unsafe.
How can one best communicate with your employees right now during a pandemic when some people are working from home or in a social distanced atmosphere?
Frequent meetings where large groups of staff are enclosed in a small space are no longer recommended due to social distancing regulations.
So consider health and safety communications to come in the form of emails, notices or fun posters. However, face-to-face conversations are still the most effective.
Maintain frequent contact with your people and ensure they feel comfortable contacting you about any of their concerns or wellbeing issues.
Mental wellbeing is increasingly becoming a topic.
Self-reported stress, depression and anxiety are on the rise.
How is this reflected in your policy and assessment? Are you prepared?
2. Ensure the workplace is safe
According to the HSE, slips, trips, and falls accounted for 29% of workplace injuries from 2019-2020.
Flooring and lighting systems are some of the most hazardous areas of the workplace.
Falls and slips may occur due to different reasons, but a carefully maintained area will help mitigate possible dangers.
Learn from the lean movement where the mantra is “a place for everything, and everything in its place.”
Keep floors dry, ensure that carpeting is installed properly, and that there are no areas where staff could trip.
Additionally, ensure that areas such as stairwells or inclines are well-marked and lit so people can see where they’re going.
Using examples from companies nearby that have reported accidents or safety incidents, is an easy way to visualize health and safety risks and make it more real.
You can also incorporate Health & Safety risks and training into initiatives like a Wellbeing Month.
Outside of pandemic times, safety would probably be relegated to keeping footpaths clear and well-marked, but if you’re a business that conducts face-to-face meetings with people, consider how you can protect your employees from COVID-19.
Plastic divisions can ensure face-to-face contact while minimising the spread of germs.
Keeping traffic moving in one direction can also mitigate the spread of germs, so ensure that the floor is well-marked.
And lastly, set up reminders to ensure coworkers and guests stay 2 metres apart at all times.
Check your local regulations.
3. Stay Alert
Ensure that there are signs to communicate to employees about any sort of dangers or hazards in the workplace.
Even something as simple as a “wet floor” sign can prevent a dangerous fall.
Or positive prevention like “nobody gets hurt” stickers for hard hats to minimize health and safety risks.
These can help you to promote and visualize a zero-injury target.
High-traffic areas should always be well-marked and lit and preferably fitted with anti-slip panels or pads to reduce slips and falls on the premises.
Remind your employees frequently to stay vigilant and keep an eye on their surroundings.
Use daily huddle meetings or monthly meetings to update your people on new hazards, legislation changes, and to remind your workforce about the risks in the workplace.
Staying alert has rarely been a more frequent phrase in our vocabulary, as 2020 saw the rise of COVID-19, and “stay alert” became a near constant phrase.
In this particular era, “stay alert” means we should stay home as much as possible, maintain social distancing and wash our hands to stay healthy.
As the danger of COVID-19 passes, the concept of staying alert and being aware of others and our surroundings is still important, but in other ways.
This is always an important aspect of maintaining health and safety and reducing hazards.
4. Tackle Hazards Swiftly
Once you notice a health and safety risks, you should have it fixed as quickly as possible.
Slippery floors, clutter, and hanging fixtures are a danger to everyone.
Since most of them are preventable hazards, you can call in for assistance from professional experts and have them fixed as soon as possible.
It may be helpful to have a platform for employees to report hazards, thus ensuring that hazards are spotted and fixed quickly.
When asked why workers DON’T report hazards, lack of time is frequently mentioned.
This is where your business needs to encourage reporting, as part of your health & safety policy.
Here’s an example to positively reward those who report Health and Safety Risks and incidents in the workplace. Let’s say 5 people reported hazards in the last month. Surprise them with fuel vouchers and communicate it to everyone!
Additionally, by looking at previous compliance and incident records you can see where accidents have happened in the past, to prevent them from occurring in the future.
Equipment that causes repeated accidents should be replaced to ensure the safety of your workforce.
While employees, especially those in the construction sphere, should be trained on large equipment and understand the danger that large equipment poses, equipment should be carefully maintained and kept in good working condition to ensure the safety of staff.
This aspect also goes hand-in-hand with communicating with employees.
If an employee feels unsafe either due to COVID-19 or other hazards, they should feel comfortable coming to you or your leadership team to explain their discomfort.
5. Have proper equipment
Safety equipment is perhaps the first thing people think of when it comes to health and safety risks.
While this is imperative for those especially in the construction and medical fields, depending on your place of employment, having the proper equipment is vital to all workers.
Those in the construction industry should have hard hats and various other equipment to ensure their safety.
In the medical field, they should be supplied with effective PPE to prevent transmission of diseases. Professional drivers need vans and trucks to be stocked with proper safety equipment.
And until the challenges of COVID-19 are minimized, proper masks should be worn in the workplace to prevent the spread of disease.
Supplying your employees with proper equipment and ensuring that it is used appropriately keeps your coworkers safer and helps prevent dangerous accidents from occuring.
Reward your people for safe behaviour. Catch someone doing something right, and give official praise. That’s how you create a healthy workplace where safety comes first.
Health and safety risks conclusion
Employers must oversee the health and safety training of their employees and do as much as possible to mitigate any risks to their wellbeing.
Health and safety is more than training; it is a way of thinking and preparing done by employers and employees alike to ensure a workplace stays safe for all.
As COVID-19 has affected every aspect of our working culture, it is important that your business provides a safe place for coworkers until the threat of the pandemic has passed.
If you properly manage the health and safety risks in your business it means fewer costs, higher efficiency and improved employee relations and morale.
Measure employee morale!
What’s the impact of your leadership activities?
Holly is part of the content team at Engage EHS. She’s worked in the health and safety industry since graduating from university. When not writing about health and safety practices, Holly can be found researching new travel locations.