The risks associated with the workplace are increasing all the time, as are the demands on an organisation’s ability to manage those risks. There are currently over a million workers affected by workplace injuries or illnesses each year in the UK alone, and this can cost the economy around 16.2 billion pounds. It is worth knowing that the average cost to employers per non-fatal accident is around £1,400 per person, which can rise to over £5,000 if the worker has to take seven days off work. With these figures in mind, it’s easy to justify investment in health and safety in the workplace.
To remain compliant and continue operating safely, companies are constantly looking for ways to improve the health and safety of their employees.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to improve the health and safety of your office without breaking the bank. Take advantage of them, and you’ll notice an immediate improvement in your office’s morale and a significant drop in the amount of risk-taking employees are willing to do.
Read on to learn about the top 10 ways you can improve the health and safety of your workplace.
- Undertake regular risk assessments and act on them
To ensure your office is as safe as possible, you need to undertake regular risk assessments. Often, companies make the mistake of only carrying out risk assessments when they have a safety issue on their hands. That’s not good enough, though; you need to assess the risks and act on them proactively.
What kind of risk assessments should you be undertaking? These are usually split into two categories: routine and specific. Routine risk assessments involve making sure everything is up to date – for example, all first-aid kits are stocked sufficiently in case of emergency. Detailed risk assessment tasks typically involve examining a particular area or process flagged as unsafe, such as a slippery floor or faulty machinery.
By undertaking regular risk assessments and acting on them, you’ll have a safer, more productive workplace.
- Train employees on health and safety and their responsibilities
It’s important to train your employees on their health and safety responsibilities and what to do in the event of an emergency. Providing this training can help reduce your risk of accidents, injuries, and lawsuits.
According to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, you are expected to offer your staff proper training since they must understand what they must do on their end to ensure the health and safety of themselves and their coworkers.
So, who needs training? As the employer, you’ll ensure that everyone receives appropriate training. This applies to all types of workers, including employees, contractors, managers, directors, and self-employed individuals… as well as you.
Your training options are virtually limitless regarding how you instruct your staff members. You could train them on the job, do group training in a ‘classroom-style,’ or use a computer-based, interactive technique to train them.
- Have regular building maintenance
Health and safety risks are often created by broken machinery, faulty wiring, or even a lack of regular building maintenance. One way to prevent these issues is to have routine maintenance on your office building. Not only does this help improve the safety of your employees, but it also improves the longevity of their workspace.
Your company’s building should be inspected on a semi-annual basis by a qualified, experienced professional. This process typically includes checking for possible structural defects, dangerous hazards, etc. Regular comprehensive inspections can help you identify potential issues before they cause an accident or injury. Ensure you know the types of maintenance management available if you outsource these works to make sure you understand what work will be carried out and when.
- Provide ergonomic working conditions
One of the simplest ways to improve the health of your office is to provide ergonomic working conditions. The easiest way to do this is by evaluating the physical layout of your office and ensuring that employees have ample space for work.
You should also make sure that furniture is adjustable and can be moved around so that people can find their most comfortable position. You should also ensure that desks are at a comfortable height, chairs are supportive, screens are at eye level, and computer screens are set up so they won’t cause neck or back strain.
- Keep emergency exits clear.
Make sure that emergency exits are free of any obstructions. Include a clear path to the exits if people need to leave quickly. This can be as simple as making sure that no large objects are lying around that could trip someone up or pick up trash piles and debris.
Removing potential hazards from the path to the exit will ensure that people get out without an issue. It also helps your employees feel safer in their work environment. This will also help your business stay compliant with safety regulations and show your customers you care about their well-being.
- Have a transparent chain of command
The first and most important way to improve your health and safety is to have a transparent chain of command. This means that if anyone in the company has any questions about what they should do when faced with an emergency, they know who to ask.
If you don’t already have an emergency plan, start working on one today. It may cost a little money up front, but it’ll be worth it in the long run when you reduce the risk of accidents happening without warning. It’s also essential to have one person who knows the emergency plan by heart and can coordinate it accordingly.
- Have an emergency response plan
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning. If something goes wrong, you need to have a plan in place for how to fix things. First responders can be contacted and will arrive at your office faster if they know what they need to do when they arrive.
You should also know where the nearest hospital is located, which will help paramedics get to the correct location faster. You should keep an updated list of authorised people to give instructions while tackling the problem and emergency contact details to inform family members of what is happening.
If there is an emergency in your workplace, first responders will know exactly what needs to be done with minimal confusion. With a good plan in place, your office will be able to handle any potential emergencies that might arise quickly.
- Use the right equipment for your needs.
When you start to think about the safety of your employees, it’s important to begin with their equipment.
The first item on our list is to ensure that all of your tools are safe and in good condition. It can be easy for people to overlook the importance of their tools, but they must be safe and ready to be used. This means ensuring that everything from hand tools, construction equipment and machinery is tested and prepared for use. You may want to invest in protective gear like goggles, gloves and earplugs.
However, you may need more than just these essential items depending on where you work. For example, if you have a factory or other industrial facility, you will need something much more heavy-duty than what most offices would require. The same goes for power saws or welding equipment – there are specific workplaces where these items are essential for safety but not others. Make sure that you understand what type of workplace hazards your employees will face before deciding what kind of gear needs to be purchased.
- Act on issues immediately.
The first and most important way to improve the health and safety of your workplace is to act on incidents as soon as they happen.
No matter how small the incident, you need to follow up by questioning the cause, determining what went wrong and why, and determining what steps can be taken to prevent it from happening again.
Walkthrough this process with your team – it’ll help them feel a sense of ownership over their office’s safety. You can also take some time to look over all incidents in your office recently, identify trends, and try to determine what factors may be creating these issues.
- Encourage Employee Feedback
Encourage your employees to offer feedback on their work environment. Doing so is an easy way to get a sense of what they like, what they don’t like, and where improvements need to be made.
This will allow you to tailor the office to suit your employees’ needs. Some examples of questions you can ask include:
- What do you like most about your job?
- What would you change about your workplace?
- What are some ways we can make this office more comfortable for you?
- How often would you say your work area is too hot or cold?
You want to know what they think to be sure that they are feeling satisfied with their work environment. You also want to make sure that your equipment is working correctly and not giving anyone a hard time trying to use it. This will help your business stay compliant with standards for health and safety in the workplace.