Businesses can avoid accidents in the workplace by utilizing practical steps, such as conducting risk assessments, ensuring staff is adequately trained, providing personal protective equipment and maintaining good housekeeping.
Workplace accidents can have huge financial implications for businesses. But more importantly, the injuries that can be caused by such accidents can be devastating to the employees involved, as well as to their families and friends. In the most serious of accidents, the consequences can prove to be fatal.
Taking proactive steps to create a safe working environment should, therefore, be a top priority for all businesses, small or large. This could include several different factors, which we will explore further below.
Conduct Thorough Risk Assessments
Risk assessments are often overlooked but should be an essential part of all businesses. By taking a close look at all areas of the workplace, including work practices, you can identify potential hazards and areas for improvement.
Any issues identified should be graded, with any immediate or potentially serious hazards rectified as a matter of urgency.
As well as looking at workplace risks such as trip hazards, dangerous machinery and the use of hazardous substances, you should also examine work practices. For example, should employees be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) to carry out certain tasks? If an employee is required to carry out lifting and manual handling tasks, have they been provided with sufficient training?
Taking steps to make working practices as safe as possible can help to minimize the risk of avoidable injuries.
Hire Competent Staff
Many people say that a business is only as goods as it's employees. And when it comes to workplace safety, that is certainly true. Hiring the wrong staff can put other employees, clients and your business in jeopardy. Making sure you have a rigorous recruitment process is essential.
As an employer, you can be held vicariously liable for accidents and injuries caused by the negligence of your employees. So, it is important that you hire staff that have the relevant skills, experience and temperament required to carry out their job role safely and professionally.
Provide Regular Training
In addition to actually hiring competent staff, it is important that you educate them about the importance of workplace safety. This should be thought of as a continuous process rather than a one-off occurrence.
You should make sure employees know what is expected of them, how they should perform their tasks safely and what they should do in the event of an accident to minimize the dangers to themselves and others.
Training your employees on how to lift and carry items safely is a common requirement. This can help to reduce the risk of suffering strain injuries to the body and will ensure that the staff understands the correct movements and protocol for lifting and moving items in a safe manner.
Ensure You Have Sufficient Staffing Levels
As your business grows, it is important to monitor the workload of your employees to ensure you are adequately staffed. Employees who are overworked are more likely to make mistakes, which could put themselves and other people in danger.
If the increased workload is temporary, such as over the holiday period or during sales, part-time or seasonal staff could be utilized. This would help to ease the workload during the busy times without having the financial burden of full-time permanent staff.
Provide Suitable Personal Protective Equipment
There are many different types of personal protective equipment (PPE) that can be utilized to help avoid work accidents and minimize the impact of them when they do occur.
In many cases, the use of protective equipment is essential, particularly in industries involving heavy machinery, tools, vehicles or hazardous substances.
It is important that employers look closely at where the use of PPE will be of benefit, and then ensure that suitable equipment is provided. Depending on the working environment and job role, this could include high visibility clothing, safety goggles, hard hats, gloves, safety boots or shoes, earplugs or knee pads.
As well as ensuring that PPE is provided, employers should make sure this equipment is properly maintained so that it continues to perform it's intended function. Employees should be trained on how to use the equipment, when to use it and how to keep it in good condition.
Inspect and Maintain Machinery and Company Vehicles
When machinery and vehicles are not regularly maintained, there is a greater risk of harm being caused to the operators and other people in close proximity. And when things do go wrong, the consequences can be significant, with the potential for life-changing and even life-threatening injuries.
It is therefore essential that businesses implement a system of regular inspections for all machinery and vehicles used by members of staff. Inspections and maintenance should be conducted by a person or people who are suitably qualified. If this cannot be done in-house, a third party company should be hired for this purpose.
Always Have Good Housekeeping
Poor housekeeping can result in a messy, disorganized and subsequently dangerous workplace. So keeping a tidy working environment should be a top priority for all businesses. This is the case whether it's an office building, a factory, a warehouse, a building site, a restaurant or a shop floor.
All walkways should be kept free of potential trip hazards, such as loose wiring, boxes, pallets and other debris. Any spillages or leaks should be cleaned up as soon as possible to prevent workers slipping over. The cause of such issues should also be investigated to look for possible solutions to prevent similar spills and leaks happening in the future.
Failing to take adequate health and safety measures can land your business in hot water, and may result in personal injury claims being made against you.
By taking the above steps, you will be taking a step in the right direction for providing a safe and happy working environment for staff and visitors to your premises. Not only will this help to ensure you meet your legal obligations regarding workplace health and safety, but it will also minimize the risk of injuries.