Health and safety awareness matters. Every workplace has the potential to expose employees to certain hazards, whether this is related to manual handling tasks or associated with the regular use of display screen equipment. Consequently, implementing an effective health and safety strategy is one of the best business decisions that you can make.
The way in which this strategy is developed and implemented will very much depend on the nature of your business and the level of risk, but a business without an adequate plan can leave itself open to accidents, illness and at worst problems with the Health and Safety Executive. As an employer you should actively promote health and safety awareness to your employees to reduce the likelihood of accidents occurring and dangerous working practices developing. A business that involves employees in decision making about health and safety not only improves safety standards but helps to increase awareness, particularly if the process is combined with high quality health and safety training.
There are many hazards in the workplace and many of these can be reduced by training, increased health and safety awareness and ongoing support. Risks can include:
Falls – A risk that can occur in any working environment caused by anything from incorrectly stored items to unsafe working practices. Falls can result in lengthy periods of time off work and reduced productivity.
Harmful Substances – Certain substances particularly those under the COSHH Regulations are harmful to health. Gases, chemicals and minerals such as asbestos are all harmful substances that employers need to risk assess.
Repetitive Movements – Many businesses have a significant proportion of the workforce who are office based which involves long periods using a computer screen. Sitting in the same position for long periods of time and the incorrect use of display screen equipment can cause injury. Similarly, in labour intensive industries where manual handling is commonplace, heavy lifting throughout the day can result in injury if adequate health and safety awareness strategies are not in place.
Employers can reduce hazards by providing regular awareness training to draw attention to the risks, how employees can respond and who they should communicate their concerns to so that others are not put at risk. To supplement the development of knowledge, employers may also evaluate staff understanding either through assessments or routine evaluations. Furthermore, good communication and effective escalation procedures can help employers respond to incidents quickly and professionally. Without up to date training and processes, hazards can remain undetected putting the health and safety of employees at risk.
Employees are often in the best position to understand the risks associated with their working practices. Collaborating with employees helps to:
- Identify effective solution
- Develop a culture of health and safety where risks are sufficiently managed
- Reduce accidents and illness
- Instigate key organisational improvements across multiple areas such as productivity, efficiency and quality
- Better meet customer requirements
- Fully comply with legal requirements
Increasing health and safety awareness can help reduce accidents and emphasise the importance of good working practices. Through raising awareness, you can:
Reduce the likelihood of your employees becoming ill or injured as a direct result of their work
Develop and maintain a strong health and safety culture where safe working practices become second nature across all areas of the business
Better understand the risks and improve safety standards
Health and safety awareness training isn’t just about meeting your obligations as an employer. It is also about educating employees on their responsibilities. Educating them on health and safety requirements makes them aware of their obligations and consequently their level of awareness is heightened meaning that a culture of safety will naturally be adopted across the entire workforce.
Efficient procedures and practices not only keep your employees healthy and safe, they can keep people focused on what you need them to be doing.
When businesses are more aware of health and safety, they can make significant cost savings, not only in terms of their investment in e-learning but eliminating the need for unnecessary consultants and avoiding hefty fines from the Health and Safety Executive.