Wednesday, 31 October 2012

How Health and Safety Conscious is Your Company?

Last week was the European Week for Safety and Health at Work. There were events organised across Europe in support of the ‘Working together for risk prevention’ campaign, which aimed to raise awareness and promote activities to make the workplace safer, healthier and more productive. The focus was on risk prevention, managing risks, encouraging top managers to actively engage in risk reduction and inspiring workers and other stakeholders to work with the managers to reduce risks.

Regardless of the type of the business, there is always the possibility of an accident or damage to someone’s health. The hazards may include manual handling, working with DSE (Display Screen Equipment), dangerous machinery or even stress. In the UK there are still over 600,000 workplace injuries every year and 1.8 million cases of ill health caused by work (Learn HQ 24-7 Press Release, April 2012). So when considering these high numbers, it is not only your social responsibility, but also makes good business sense, to pay attention to the company’s health and safety protocol.

How to raise health and safety (H&S) awareness in your company:
  •  Have an H&S policy in place. It doesn't have to be too complicated and should highlight clearly who does what, when and how.
  • Encourage a culture of safety by asking employees to speak out about safety issues.
  • Use safety signage to keep employees educated about possible hazards, company procedures and general safety tips.
  •  Hold regular fire and emergency drills.
  • Provide training and information. Perhaps try making your H&S inductions a bit more fun and engaging by showing videos, for example short YouTube clips.

By the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, the companies and individuals need to ensure that adequate provisions are made for health and safety at work. Without following the legal requirements, the company is in breach of the Health and Safety Law.  

In addition to following the law, it adds value to the business. The most obvious benefit of implementing health and safety practices is that it provides a safe environment for employees and visiting clients. It should also be a first priority as it helps to reduce accidents and speeds up recovery times should an incident occur. Accident prevention will in return increase employees’ productivity.

Other benefits include:
  •  Better working relationships between management and employees – employees feel that management cares about their wellbeing by offering health insurance, time off for sick days, a range of health services etc. Higher morale amongst employees results in fewer ‘duvet days’.
  • Employees consider health and safety to be a necessary part of their employment package. An extensive health and safety program can be a motivator to remain with the company, which results in employee retention.
  • A health and safety policy works to keep the workplace clear of hazards, e.g. slippery surfaces, blocked hallways, use of chemicals and dangerous machinery. A clean and safe workplace improves the overall health of the company and willingness to learn and develop work knowledge.
Do you have any tips you would like to share on how you have put together a health and safety policy at your company? Also, do you or your staff speak out when you (they) feel they cannot work safely? 

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